namely, Vasubandhu.1 But Vasubandhu was a Buddhist mendicant. He could not have been
spoken of with favour by a Brahmanical Hindu writer on rhetoric; above all, he could hardly
be described as ‘a minister’ of any sovereign, as this, no doubt, is the primary signification
of sachiva.2 As we shall see later on, most of the big officers in the Gupta period were men of
letters. This suits Subandhu admirably, as his work Vāsavadattā is looked upon as a literary
production of great merit. He must have begun to rise in the time of Samudragupta and
attained fame in the reign of his successor Chandragupta II. This agrees with the note of
wail which he strikes in verse 10 of his introduction to the Vāsavadattā-wail at the passing
away of Vikramāditya.
The late V. A. Smith remarks that Samudragupta “was in fact a man of genius, who may
fairly claim the title of the Indian Napoleon.” Krishnaswami Aiyangar, however, says: “It
should be the most inappropriate description of him to call him ‘a Napoleon who regarded
kingdom-taking as the duty of kings’.” Samudragupta was not only a fearless warrior and
astute general like Napoleon but also a statesman like Bṛihaspati who conceived and carried
through a scheme of political reconstruction which evolved an empire and kept it together.
He thereby not only secured peace and tranquility but utilised the same for fostering and
preserving culture by developing his own poetical genius and musical talents and distributing
unstinted patronage to arts and literature. He thus endeavoured to realise the old ideal to which
the kings and ministers of Ancient India constantly aspired,-the ideal of bringing about a
unison between Śrī (Wealth-Power) and Sarasvatī (Learning-Wisdom).
Samudragupta had up till now been supposed to have been succeeded to the throne by
his son Chandragupta II. But evidence has recently come to light which shows that not
Chandragupta, but his elder and co-uterine brother, Rāmagupta, or, rather Kāchagupata,
as we shall soon see, was really the immediate successor. This evidence consists of some extracts
from a Sanskrit drama called Dēvīchandraguptam, a production of Viśākhadatta, apparently
the same as author of the Mudrārākshasa. Three extracts from this play are contained in
the Śṛiṅgāraprakāśa of Bhōja, and were brought to light by Ramakrishna Kavi and A. Rangasvami Sarasvati.4 Five more were traced by Sylvain Levi5 in a new work on dramaturgy,
called the Nātyadarpaṇa,6 a joint production of Rāmachandra and Guṇachandra, pupils of
Hēmachandra who was the well-known Jaina preceptor of the Chaulukya king Kumārapāla
(1145-71 A.D.). No systematic attempt, however, was made at reconstructing the history of
the time until A. S. Altekar wrote and published a most informing article7 on the subject,
which was followed by another,8 in which he drew the attention of scholars to the story of
Rawwāl and Barkamāris as narrated in the Mujmal-ut-Tawārīkh by Abul Hassan ‘Ali (1126-
93 A.D.) This Arab writer, we are told, translated a Hindu book into Arabic, which was
1 JPASB., Vol. I, p. 253; Ind. Ant., Vol. XL, p. 312, and Vol. XLI, p. 15, where the third reading, Vastubandhu, is also considered. This is obviously a scribe’s error for Vasubandhu.
2 The word sāchivya in Vāmana’s comment upon the couplet is taken by Hoernle to mean ‘companionship’
or ‘friendship’ (Ind. Ant., Vol. XL, p. 264). See, however, H. P. Sastri’s reply to it (ibid., Vol. XLI, p. 16).
3 The account of Kāchagupta given here is practically identical with the contents of our paper New Light
on the Early Gupta History published in the Malaviya Commemoration Volume, pp. 189-211.
4 Ind. Ant., Vol. LII, pp. 181 ff.
5 Jour. Asiatique, Vol. CCIII, 1923, pp. 193-218.
6 Since published in Gaekwad’s Or. Series, No. XLVIII. For the necessary extracts, see pages 71, 84, 86, 118,
141-42 and 193-94.
7 JBORS., Vol. XIV, pp. 223 ff.
8 Ibid., Vol. XV, pp. 134 ff.