hesitation in describing the Gupta emperor as a mere maharaja. The use of
this title for Kumaragupta I in the Mankuwar Buddhist image inscription led
Dr Fleet to conjecture that it may indicate an actual historical fact—the
reduction of Kumaragupta I toward the close of his life to a feudal rank by
Pushyamitras and Hunas, whose attacks on the Guptas are so pointedly
alluded to in the Bhitari inscription of Skandagupta. Out of the 42
inscriptions available to us, 23 are private records, the rest (19) being official.
Official Records They are either in the nature of prasastis or charters
recording land grants, known as tamra sasanas or tamra patras (copper
plates). The tamra sasanas are replete with genealogical information either of
the donor or the recipient. They are more useful in determining the economic
condition of the times. They also contain more or less detailed accounts of
political events. Such grants have been useful, for instance, in tracing the
events of the reign of Chandragupta II and Buddhagupta.
Stone and Copper Plate Edicts Forty-two inscriptions related to the
period of the imperial Guptas are known, out of which 27 are engraved in
stone. Of these, 22 are private endowments, one is an official grant and the
remaining 4 are prasastis (two of Samudragupta and two of Skandagupta). Of
the remaining 15, one is on an iron column and is the prasasti of
Chandragupta II. The others are copper plates—three of them record royal
grants of land, 10 record the sale of lands by the state authority for the
purpose of endowments to Brahmins and temples, and the remaining one is a
private record of an endowment.
Utility of Gupta Inscriptions These inscriptions furnish a good deal of
valuable information about the political history as well as the religious, social
and economic conditions of the Gupta period. Their provenance indicates the
area over which the rulers held sway. The Junagarh record of Skandagupta,
for instance, proves, not only by its contents, but also by its position, that his
authority was acknowledged in Saurashtra. The provenance of the early
inscriptions of a family may also indicate the area in which it originated. The
prasastis and the tamra sasanas usually provide us information on the
genealogy of the kings mentioned in them.
Non-Gupta Contemporary Inscriptions Inscrip-tions of Kakusthavraman
of the Kadamba dynasty reveal