the greatest power in the Aryavarta region.
Religious differences also played a role. The Guptas were great devotees
of Vishnu, whereas most of their rivals, the Nagas, the Vakatakas, the Hunas
and the Maitrakas were staunch Saivites.
However, the most important factor which led Samudragupta to launch a
campaign against the Nagas was the opportunity provided by the internal
disturbances in the Bharasiva and Vakataka states, which followed the deaths
of Bhanaga of the Bharasivas and Pravarasena I of the Vakatakas.
Samudragupta, exploiting this situation, launched a vigorous campaign
against the Nagas and destroyed them.
After the destruction of the Nagas, a trial of strength with the Vakatakas
became an unavoidable eventuality. The Vakatakas, though a power of the
Deccan, were dabbling in the politics of the Aryavarta, a fact which no
imperial aspirant of the north could feel very happy about. Samudragupta
defeated the Vakatakas which brought down their status significantly. After
Pravarasena I no other king of the Vakataka family assumed the title of
samrat, or any other imperial title for that matter.
Sometime later Samudragupta paid attention to the south-eastern part of
the Ganga basin, i.e. modern West Bengal. Throughout the ancient period
Tamralipti enjoyed a unique position as a port for access to the East Indies,
Malay peninsula, Indo-China and Ceylon. Further, it was connected by land
routes with the principal cities of Bengal and other parts of eastern India.
Being alive to the economic necessities of his empire, he could not have
delayed for long the conquest of Bengal.
Campaigns against Tribal and Border States The question whether the
states enumerated in the 3rd category (tribal states, border states, etc.)
accepted the overlordship of the Gupta emperor voluntarily or whether he had
to undertake military expeditions against them, has been left unanswered by
Harisena. At the beginning he tried to cultivate friendship with the tribal
peoples of the Punjab and Rajasthan, who being situated beyond the Naga
kingdoms, were his natural friends; and later on, when he became the
undisputed master of Aryavarta, he reduced his erstwhile friends to the status
of his subordinate allies. Maybe, in some cases he had to exert pressure.
Dakshinapatha Campaigns Samudragupta, during his reign of more than
two decades, invaded India south of the Vindhyas perhaps more than once.