History Optional Paper-1 Solution – 1997: Q.1 (c)
Q.1 (c) Write a short essay on: “Skandagupta’s war with the Hunas”
Skandagupta was a king of Gupta Dynasty. He came upon the throne after the death of his father, Kumaragupta. At the close of the reign of Kumargupta, Pushyamitra, probably a tribe associated with the Hunas, had invaded Gupta Empire and defeated it. But, Skandagupta, the crown prince, restored the fortunes of Gupta Empire by defeating Pushyamitra. Bhitari Pillar inscription mentions Skandagupta defeating Pushyamitras.
Invasion of the Hunas
When Skandagupta came to the throne in 455 AD, he encountered several wars. The Pushyamitra danger had been averted, but one more formidable closely followed it: an invasion of the Hunas.
Hunas were ferocious barbarian hordes who belonged to the Central Asia. One branch of them, known as Epithalites or White Hunas invaded India through the north-western passes and threaten Gupta Empire. Threats were even more fearful due to the tale of the terrible atrocities and destruction which marked the advance of the Hunas.
Defeat of the Hunas
Once again, Skandagupta rose to the occassion and inflicted upon the barbarians a defeat so decisive that India was saved and for half a century, Hunas dared not to disturb Gupta Empire.
In the light of the Hunas raids and conquests in other countries like Persia, the victory of Skadagupta can be considered as one of the greatest achievements of the age.This heroic feat fully entitled Skandagupta to the title of Vikramaditya, which Samudragupta and Chandraguta2 did before him.
Evidences of Skandagupta’s war with Hunas
(1) Bhitari pillar inscription mentions Huna invasion and defeat by Skandagupta.
(2) Junagarh inscription also mentions the defeat of mlechhas (most probably Hunas) at the hand of Skandagupta.
(3) In the year 465, a Brahman, when endowing a temple to the Sun in Gupta Empire, described the rule of his king in the central parts of the empire as “augmenting and victorious” probably indicating Skandagupta victory over Hunas.
Impact of Huna invasion
Huna war and other battles must have proved a great strain on the financial resources of the empire. Probably that is the reason, gold coins issued by Skandagupta were not only comparatively small in numbers but also show depreciation in the purity of gold.
Huna’s invasions also occured probably at the close of Sakandagupta’s reign and also after his death. Huna invasions were one of the main reasons of the decline of Gupta Empire.