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Fa- hien admires the administrative machinery of the Gupta emperors

Updated on August 22, 2015

King Maurya Chandragupta


architecture in Gupta period


Gupta's gold coins


The Gupta emperors

Fa- shien / Fa- hien

It was during the reign of Chandra Gupta II that fa- hien, a Chinese Buddhist pilgrim visited India. Fa -hien gives a detailed description of Pataliputra. It had big Buddhist monasteries, where hundreds of monks imparted education to students, who flocked there from all parts of India and abroad. Ashoka's palace still stood in splendid glory even after a laps of more than 600 years. The palace according to Fa- hien was not the work of men but of spirits. People of Pataliputra to out a grand procession in honour of the Lord Buddha every year. There were many free hospitals and dispensaries in the city maintained mostly by charitable householders.


Fa- hien admires the administrative machinery of the Gupta emperors. People, he says, enjoyed perfect freedom in all walks of life. There was a interference of the government in the day – to – day life of the people. Laws were mild and severe punishments were rare. At the most, the right hand of a hardened criminal was amputated. Roads and highways were safe and free from robbery. Fa – hien goes on to say, `They have not to register their households or attend to any magistrates and their rule. If they want to go, they go if they want to stay on, they stay'. Fa- hien himself travelled on foot, through the length and breadth of the country without any mishap whatsoever.

Fa- hien has also left behind valuable information regarding the overseas trade of India. He says that ships full of precious merchandise left the ancient harbours of Sopara, Broach and Cambay for distant foreign markets. India earned a lot of foreign exchange in the shape of gold and other precious metals.

Fa – hien's account of India is of great historical importance though his bias for Buddhism does not provide the true nature of Indian religion during the Gupta age.


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