Skandagupta: The Savior of India


In the 5th century, two of the ancient world’s superpowers – Rome and India – were threaten by massive migrations of nomadic peoples. But while the Western Roman Empire collapsed, the Gupta Empire managed to defeat them.



The answer lies in the story of mighty Skandagupta. He was the son of the Gupta emperor Kumara-Gupta, who faced off two deadly challenges and quite literally saved the empire. The reference of the Hun invasion is found in the 8th stanza of the Bhitari Pillar inscription.

The most formidable war of Skandagupta in his reign was against the Huns. The Huns began invading India around 455 CE. A problem that did not exist during the reign of Chandragupta or Kumaragupta had now raised its ugly head. In the mid-fifth century, Skandagupta remarkably faced the Huns with great courage. Skandagupta was able to destroy the Huns; he ensured that the Huns never set foot in India again. The famous Girnar rock inscription at Junagadh the heroic tale of Skandagupta defeating the Huns and emerging victorious.


Skandagupta took an oath, “Until I defeat the Huns and drive them away from my country, I will not sleep on a bed or eat on a plate; I will sleep on the floor and I will eat on a leaf.” The reasons for this success were simple, Skandagupta placed heavy emphasis on Cavalry archery, and this, along with the war elephants and heavy cavalry cataphracts (which formed the core of the Gupta army) made the Guptas a formidable force.

According to Dr. R.C. Majumdar, the Huns could hardly recover for the next 50 years from this stunning blow delivered by Skandagupta. He has also suggested that the conquest against the Huns was a great achievement for Skandagupta for which he is famous in ancient history as ” the savior of India”.


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