Ancient India was quite different from India today. Instead of the States, it had dynasties that prevailed all over the country. Many influencers and rulers came forward and established several empires. The epitome of power was solely concentrated in a single body. Two of the best-known empires of that time are the Mauryan and Gupta Empires.
Mauryan Empire vs Gupta Empire
The main difference between Mauryan and Gupta Empires is that the Mauryan empire was in power before Christ, whereas the Gupta empire came into power after Christ. Mauryan empire was comparatively larger and had a centralized administration. While the Gupta empire was smaller and had a decentralized administration.
Mauryan empire was established by Chandragupta Maurya over the Indian subcontinent. The Mauryan dynasty prevailed before Christ and followed centralized administration. Chanakya played an important role in the Mauryan empire and assisted Chandragupta in organising the dynasty. The empire had its capital in the city of Pataliputra, which is known as Patna in India today.
In contrast, the Gupta empire was established by Sri Chandragupta across major parts of India. It prevailed after the death of Christ and prioritised decentralized administration. Kalidasa was rewarded with an insane amount of funds during this time. Just like the Mauryans, the Gupta dynasty had its capital in Pataliputra.
Comparison Table Between Mauryan and Gupta Empires
|Parameters of Comparison||Mauryan Empire||Gupta Empire|
|Founder||Mauryan empire was formed by Chandragupta Maurya.||Gupta empire was formed by Sri Chandragupta.|
|Existence||It came into existence before Christ.||It came into existence after Christ.|
|Time-period||Starting from 325 BCE, it existed until 185 BCE.||It existed starting from 320 CE till the 4th and 5th century.|
|Extent||It was larger and established over India, Afghanistan and Pakistan.||It was comparatively smaller and was established over major parts of India only.|
|Power||All the powers were with the ruling king.||The king did not have direct control here.|
|Taxation||Heavy taxes were imposed on the people.||People here did not have to pay heavy taxes.|
|Religion||They followed Jainism and Buddhism.||They followed Hinduism.|
|Culture||It was mainly based on Persian influence and monasteries.||It included art, science, literature etc.|
|Trading||They involved in foreign trade.||They went with internal trade.|
|Fall||The empire fell due to issues after Ashoka’s death.||It fell due to military issues.|
What is Mauryan Empire?
Mauryan empire has left an extraordinary mark on Indian society. The vast, autocratic dynasty continues to maintain a unique place in the history of the Indian subcontinent.
The Mauryan empire was established by the great administrator, Chandragupta Maurya, and it flourished between 325 BCE and185 BCE. It covered all parts of India, along with Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Chanakya was the one who assisted Chandragupta in making the empire more efficient and organized. The process of building the empire started by dethroning the Nanda dynasty. Pataliputra was then made the capital of the newly formed dynasty. A centralised administration, i.e. ruler, having all the powers over the people, was finalised and followed.
The Mauryans never accepted the Hindu religion. They mainly practised Buddhism and constructed several Buddhist monasteries. Buddhist scriptures were also highly embraced. The cultural practices were a part of Persian influence. Foreign trade was very common and highly in demand in those times.
However, after the demise of Ashoka, the empire started facing issues. There was no one as efficient to manage such a huge dynasty. The Pushyamitra Sunga took advantage of it, and this further resulted in the fall of the vast Mauryan empire.
What is Gupta Empire?
After the Mauryans, the Gupta empire is known to be one of the hugest empires that ruled over Indian society in ancient times. The empire has set a remarkable footprint in the field of art and culture of the country. Founded by Sri Chandragupta, the Gupta empire existed all through 320 CE till the 4th and 5th century. It was built over the major parts of India.
The empire followed a decentralised administration, where the ruler did not have direct control. Rather separate leaders were assigned for each part. During this time, Kalidasa was highly praised and rewarded by the king due to his great work. Other details about the empire are mentioned in several documents created by Chinese travelers.
The Guptas embraced Hinduism and did put efforts to glorify the religion during their rule. Many Hindu temples with commendable architectural excellence were built. The culture of the empire included art, science, medicine, painting, which were regarded as very important and were commonly practised. The people avoided foreign trade and stuck to internal trade only.
Unfortunately, with time, the empire was filled with several issues, including corruption, fragile leadership and financial losses. This resulted in the fall of the empire, and Harsha Vardhana went on to establish the Vardhana empire over it.
Main Differences Between Mauryan and Gupta Empires
- Chandragupta Maurya established the Mauryan empire, while Sri Chandragupta established the Gupta empire.
- Mauryan empire was in power before Christ, whereas the Gupta empire was in power after Christ.
- Mauryan empire was larger and covered more areas as compared to the Gupta empire.
- The Mauryan king had all the powers, while the Gupta king did not have direct control.
- Mauryans followed Buddhism, whereas the Guptas followed Hinduism.
- The Mauryans levied heavy taxes on the common people while the Guptas did not do so.
- Guptas involved in internal trade, while the Mauryans were frequently involved in foreign trade.
Ancient India saw the rise and fall of several dynasties. The Mauryan empire and the Gupta empire were two of them. Although they had a few similarities, they actually differ from each other quite a lot.
The empires existed during different times zones and had differences in their ruling system, priority, culture, religion and what not! While the Mauryans believed in Buddhism, the Guptas followed Hinduism. Unlike in the Gupta empire, Buddhist monasteries and scriptures were given significance in the Mauryan empire. The empires even involved in two different types of trade. The Mauryans pursued external trade, whereas the Guptas pursued internal trade.
Lastly, both empires with a lot of differences have left unique footprints of their own on Indian society.