Skandagupta and Purugupta1 also style themselves Vikramaditya and Vikrama on their coins
Chandragupta was succeeded by his son, Samudragupta. In the Allahabad pillar inscription there is a stanza which refers to this succession. Once when the Durbar was being held,
the father seeking for real worth, called the son to him in the open assembly, and, having
embraced him with his hair standing on end, addressed the words: “do protect the whole
earth,” with the consequence that the other princely claimants cast jealous looks of dis
appointment though the courtiers themselves breathed cheerfully. Fleet takes this verse “to
indicate that Chandragupta I specially selected Samudragupta, from among several brothers,
to conquer the land and to succeed him on the throne.”3 What Fleet apparently means is that
Chandragupta selected Samudragupta to succeed him to the throne forthwith. The words
in question are denuded of all meaning, if we suppose that Samudragupta was appointed
merely as heir-apparent. It, therefore, seems that after leading a hard and strenuous life,
during which he raised himself to the rank of Mahārājādhirāja, Chandragupta abdicated the
throne4 after formally appointing Samudragupta as his successor. It thus appears that Samudragupta was not the only son of Chandragupta, or even the eldest amongst them, and that he
was so chosen for his valour, tact, and other extraordinary powers.
If Samudragupta was thus selected as immediate successor to the empire, to the exclusion
of other princes of equal birth, it must have naturally created jealousy amongst them and
consequently incited some of the frontier kings also to challenge his accession, at such a
supremely psychological moment. This, in fact, follows from stanza 7 of the Allahabad inscription. In this verse there is a clear mention of Achyuta and Nāgasēna, and along with them
has been associated in one compound word (in line 13) a third prince whose name is lost.
The initial letter of his name, however, has been preserved, and is ga. In this connection it is
worthy of note that the names of Nāgasēna and Achyuta have been mentioned also in line 21
of this record and in this order in the list of the Āryāvarta rulers destroyed by Samudragupta. And it is further worthy of note that contiguously with, and immediately preceding,
Nāgasēna, occurs the name of Gaṇapatināga, which doubtless begins with the letter ga. The
conclusion is almost irresistible that the name of the third prince mentioned along with
Achyuta and Nāgasēna in verse 7 (line 13) in the same compound word, must be restored to
Gaṇapati or some such word. And, as has been pointed out below, where the text of the
inscription has been set forth, it can be easily and safety restored to Gaṇapa which is synonymous with Gaṇapati. We have thus three princes, namely, Achyuta, Nāgasēna and Gaṇapati
mentioned together in one Sanskrit compound. And we are further told that through the
prowess of his arm which was at once overflowing and impetuous, Samudragupta, singly
(ēkēna) and in a moment (kshaṇāt), uprooted the three kings just mentioned. Here the words
1 Allan, Catalogue of the Coins of the Gupta Dynasty, Intro., p. cxxii.
2 It is worthy of note that in the Gupta inscriptions Ghaṭōtkacha has been called Mahārāja, but Chandragupta I, Samudragupta, Chandragupta II, etc., have been styled Mahārājādhirāja. In the Vākāṭaka plates, however, whereas the Poona plates designate Ghaṭōtkacha and Chandragupta I. Maārāja, Samudragupta and
Chandragupta II, Mahārājādhirāja, the Riddapur plates call Chandragupta II alone as Mahārājādhirāja and the
rest simply Mahārāja. It seems that the Vākāṭaka court writers were not great sticklers in regard to the royal
3 CII., Vol. III, 1888, p. 12, note 1.
4 The idea of a king entrusting the royal insignia to one of his sons and betaking himself to a forest like
Vānaprastha has been repeatedly expressed by Kālidāsa in his Raghuvaṁśa (I. 8; III. 70; XIX. 1).