Two of these, again, belong to Vāsudēva, and one is a Later Great Kushāṇa. This last is a
coin of the third century A.D. and seems to have been issued from some part of Eastern
Bengal.1 It thus appears that when the tide of Kushāṇa conquest broke in upon North India,
it did not stop till it swept off Bihar, Bengal and Orissa also.
The Imperial Great Kushāṇas must have ruled over Āryāvarta and East India for a
century or so, that is, up till c. 230 A.D. They were succeeded by the Later Great Kushāṇas,
whose power, however, was considerably weakened, with the result that many of the provinces
in Central and East India became more or less independent of the Kushāṇa family. The
western part of Āryāvarta was held by rulers of the Nāga race. As we shall see subsequently,
three Nāga houses had risen to prominence about this time, with capitals situated at Mathurā,
Padmāvatī and Dhārā. The central part was ruled over by the Bhāraśivas, who are known
only from the copper-plate grants of the Vākāṭaka dynasty. According to them, the Bhāraśivas
performed ten Aśvamēdhas. And they are said to have obtained possession of the Bhāgīrathī
through their valour and were anointed to sovereignty with her holy waters. As there is such a
site as Daśāśvamēdha at Varanasi and as the river Gaṅgā is considered to be particularly holy
at this place, it is difficult not to agree with the late K. P. Jayaswal in saying that it was the
Varanasi province which was occupied by the Bhāraśivas.2 Years ago George Bühler3 identified the Bhāraśivas with Bhār Rājpūts, who are found chiefly in Eastern Oudh and the Basti
District in the U.P.4 Only one prince is known to us of this race, namely Bhavanāga, from
the Vākāṭaka records. It is true that this name ends in nāga ; but it is not quite safe merely
on this ground to assert that the Bhāraśivas were Nāgas,5 especially as the Bhārs are not
known to be a branch of the Nāgas. The eastern part, consisting principally of Bihar, seems
at this time to have owned the sway of the Lichchhavis, who, as we shall presently see, ruled
at Pāṭaliputra. Such was the political condition of North India when the Guptas came to
power. The Purāṇas are by no means our safe guide for this period. They make no mention
of the Kushāṇa dynasty, or, for the matter of that, any one of its celebrated monarchs such as
Kanishka, Huvishka and Vāsudēva. There is no mention, again, of the Bhāraśivas or of the
Lichchhavis, whose existence, nay, importance, at this epoch is attested by epigraphic records.
The Puranic accounts present but a jumbled mass of dynastic names and regnal years, the
confusion of which no scholar has yet been able satisfactorily to reduce to order.
The first king of the Gupta dynasty who raised himself to eminence is Chandragupta I.
This may be seen from the fact that he is the first of the Gupta family who has been styled
Mahārājādhirāja, his father and grandfather, Ghaṭōtkacha and Gupta, being called simply
Mahārāja. The former of these titles at this time denoted an overlord, and the latter, a feudatory
chieftain In the Allahabad pillar inscription (No. 1 below), the actual name given of Chandragupta’s grandfather is Śrīgupta. But Fleet has adduced cogent reasons to show that here śrī is
an honorific prefix and does not form an integral part of the name.6 His real name is thus,
according to this record, not Śrīgupta, but Gupta. To supplement Fleet’s arguments, John
1 N. G. Majumdar, JPASB., Vol. XXVIII, pp. 127 ff. Also A. R. ASI., 1911-12, Pt. II, p. 256.
2 JBORS., Vol. XIX, pp. 5-6.
3 ASWI., Vol. IV, p. 119.
4 CASIR., Vol. XI, p. 67 and Vol. XII, p. 89.
5 K.P. Jayaswal in JBORS., Vol. XIX, p. 8. In the Chaulukya line of Aṇahilapāṭaka, we have not one, but
two, kings, Kumārapāla and Ajayapāla, whose names end in –pāla. But we cannot on that evidence assert that
they were Pālas. As a matter of fact, we know that they were Sōlaṅkīs.
6 CII., Vol. III, 1888, p. 8, note 3.