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Conquest And Expansion of Samudragupta

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  • Last Updated : 11 Jul, 2022


Samudragupta, also known as the Napoleon of India by the historian AV Smith. Samudragupta, the son of King Chandragupta I and Rani Kumaradevi, who belonged to the Lichhavi family. He possessed superior military skills and was an ambitious ruler. The Allahabad pillar inscription, composed by Harisena is a reliable source of the Samudragupta campaign and conquest. He was the greatest king of the Gupta dynasty, who ruled for the longest period, i.e 40 years.

He was succeeded by the king, Chandragupta II. He defeated many North Indian kings and annexed their territories to his empire. They marched along the southeast coast of India, heading for the Pallava Empire. He also subjugated several border states and tribal elites. Its empire is from the river Ravi in the west to the river Brahmaputra in the east, and from the foot of the Himalayas in the north to central India in the southwest. Many of the rulers of the southeast coast were its tributaries.
Shortly after he acceded to the throne, Samudragupta decided to expand the boundaries of the Gupta Empire by conquering many kingdoms and republics beyond his borders. The success of his military victories led the famous British historian Vincent Smith to call him “India’s first Napoleon”. The details of his military victories are given below:

Conquest of Samudragupta

North Indian Campaign:

The first year of his reign was to subjugate the provinces of the Ganges under a plan called “Aryavarta”.He twice led his campaigns to the north; In the first Samudragupta vanquished three kings and in the second, he defeated nine kings. He seems to have made his way to Chambal, killed all the kings of the region, and made his region a part of the Gupta Empire. As mentioned in the 14-21 lines of Prayag Prasasthi, Samudragupta attacked and defeated the ruler of the upper Ganges valley (probably the unknown king Kota in the Bulandshahr region) and then defeated nine kings in northern India.
According to the Allahabad inscription, during his northern campaigns, he defeated nine kings and annexed them to his kingdom and he called it “Digvijay”. He defeated nine kings of Aryavarta: Nandin, Balavarman, Nagasena, Rudradeva, Chandravarman, Mathila, Gangapathinaga, Nagadatta and Achyuta.

South Indian Campaign:

After consolidating his power in the north, Samudragupta turned his attention to the south and launched an expedition, and his army travelled some 3,000 miles. He defeated the twelve kings of South India. But he put it back. These kings became their trap and agreed to get respect. He called it “Dharmavijay”.
Samudragupta defeated 12 kings of South India are 

  1. Mahendra of Kosala, 
  2. Vyagraraja of Mahakantara, 
  3. Mantharaja of Kowrala, 
  4. Mahendra of Pistapura, 
  5. Swamydatta of Kottura, 
  6. Damana of Yarandapalli, 
  7. Vishnugopa of Kanchi, 
  8. Hastivarman of Vengi, 
  9. Neelaraja of Avamukta, 
  10. Ugrasena of Palakkad, 
  11. Kubera of Devarashtra,
  12. Dhananjaya of Kustalapura.

Campaign to the Forest and Tribal areas:

Having conquered the northern and the southern states, Samudragupta moved towards the tribal and the forest areas. It is presently located in Jabalpur and Deccan, Madhya Pradesh. The Line 22 of the Allahabad Prashasti provides the details of his campaign and states that the kings of the forest kingdom were enslaved as well as the defeated kings were appointed by the Gupta emperor to rule their territory.


Thus, Samudragupta’s territory extended from the northern Himalayas to the southern Narmada river and from the eastern Brahmaputra to the western Chambal. It is noteworthy here that he also personally participated in battles and won those battles that were often conducted from the front. According to Harishna’s court poet, Samudragupta was a fearless warrior, the hero of a hundred wars. He was undoubtedly very successful in building a vast empire and celebrated his victory by sacrificing a horse (Ashwamedha).

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