|भगवतोर्हतः चन्द्रप्रभस्य प्रतिमेऽयं कारिता महाराजाधिराज-श्री-रामगुप्तेन उपदेशात् पाणिपात्रिक-चन्द्रक्षमाचार्य्य-क्षमण-श्रमण-प्रशिष्य-आचार्य्य सर्प्पसेन-क्षमण-शिष्यस्य गोलक्यान्त्या-सत्पुत्रस्य चेलु-क्षमणस्येति || |||
|The Ramagupta Inscription found near Vidisha 375 CE|
Ramagupta was the elder son and immediate successor of Samudragupta and succeeded by is younger brother Chandragupta II. Initially, he was known from the traditional narratives only. But later, three inscriptions on Jaina tirthankara images were discovered from Durjanpur near Vidisha, which mention him as the Maharajadhiraja. A large number of his copper coins also have been discovered from Eran-Vidisha region.
Though no inscriptions or coins explains Rama Gupta well, there are materials such as Natyadarpan, and the historical drama "Devichandraguptam" which described Rama Gupta as son and successor of Samudragupta. According to Devichandraguptam in Shringararupakam, Rama Gupta sustains a humiliating defeat at the hands of Saka King. In order to secure the security of his people, Rama Gupta agrees to surrender his queen to the Sakas which provokes his brother Chandragupta-II.
Chandragupta-II in disguise of queen Dhruvadevi enters enemies camp and kills the Saka king to restore the huge empire, queen and the dynasty. This incident raises Chandragupta in the eyes of people and Dhruvadevi. The conduct of Rama Gupta gets betrayed by the brother and Rama Gupta kills him and sits on the throne. He then marries the widow of his brother.
दिलीपसिंह अहलावत लिखते हैं -
रामगुप्त (सन् 375 ई० से 380 ई० तक) - समुद्रगुप्त की मृत्यु के पश्चात् उसका बड़ा पुत्र रामगुप्त राजगद्दी पर बैठा। उसने 375 ई० से 380 ई० तक राज्य किया। इसकी माता महारानी दत्ता महादेवी यौधेय जाटवंश की राजकुमारी थी। रामगुप्त की पटरानी ध्रुवदेवी मालव या मल्ल जाटवंश की राजकुमारी थी जो बड़ी सुन्दर व चरित्रवान् थी। रामगुप्त बहुत कमजोर तथा कायर शासक था। उसे शकों से युद्ध करना पड़ा जिसमें वह बुरी तरह पराजित हुआ। उसी समय शकराज के दूत ने आकर रामगुप्त को यह शर्त पेश की कि “शकराज, रामगुप्त को अभयदान देने को तैयार है, यदि वह अपनी पटरानी महादेवी ध्रुवदेवी देने को तैयार हो।”
रामगुप्त ने हां कर ली किन्तु ध्रुवदेवी ने ऐसा करने से इन्कार कर दिया। उसने चन्द्रगुप्त द्वितीय को यह बात बतला दी। रामगुप्त का वह छोटा भाई था। वह भी इस अपमान को सहन न कर सका। चन्द्रगुप्त ने ध्रुवदेवी के वस्त्र पहने और अपने वीर साथियों को भी स्त्री वेश में सजाया। 500 पालकियों के साथ वह अरिपुर की ओर चला और यमुना के उस पार शकराज की छावनी में पहुंचे। चन्द्रगुप्त ने उस शक के कलेजे में छुरा घोंपकर मार दिया। उसी छुरे से रामगुप्त को भी मार दिया। ध्रुवदेवी भी इससे प्रसन्न हुई। चन्द्रगुप्त व ध्रुवदेवी का विवाह हो गया। चन्द्रगुप्त अपनी पटरानी ध्रुवदेवी को ‘स्वामिनी’ या ‘ध्रुवस्वामिनी’ कहता था। बाण के हर्ष-चरित्र से इस घटना की पुष्टि होती है कि चन्द्रगुप्त ने स्त्री के भेष में शक राजा का वध किया था। रामगुप्त की मृत्यु सन् 380 ई० में हुई। इसके पश्चात् उसका छोटा भाई चन्द्रगुप्त द्वितीय अथवा विक्रमादित्य राजसिंहासन पर विराजमान हुआ। 
Ramagupta in tradition
The modern scholars first became aware about the traditional accounts on Ramagupta, in 1923, when Sylvain Levi published some extracts of a Sanskrit play, named Devichandragupta, now lost, from Natyadarpana, which contains six quotations from this text. Natyadarpana is a Sanskrit work on dramaturgy, written by two Jaina writers, Ramachandra and Gunachandra. In the same year, R. Saraswati also found three passages of Devichandragupta, quoted by Bhoja in his Shringaraprakasha and Sarasvatikanthabharana. In 1924, Rakhaldas Banerjee supplemented it by the information found from a verse of the Sanjan copper plate inscription of Amoghavarsha I dated 1924 and a brief remark made by Banabhatta in his Harshacharita, which was illucidated by the commentator Shankararya.
A.S. Altekar, on the basis of the evidences from the fragments of the Devichandragupta, copper plate inscriptions of Rashtrakuta kings Amoghavarsha I and Govinda IV from Sanjan, Khambhat and Sangli, brief reference of Banabhatta, a stray verse quoted by Rajashekhara in his Kavyamimamsa and the narrative of Rawwal and Barkamaris found in a Persian text, Mujmal-ut-Tawarikh (which is a translation of an Arabic work by Abu-al Hasan Ali, which in turn is a translation of an unknown Sanskrit work), concluded that Ramagupta mentioned in the traditional accounts really existed.
Ramgupta was a coward. He married the woman, Dhruvaswamini who was engaged with his brother Chandragupta 2 by force. He also became the King of the Gupta empire, though his brother was declared as the future King of the Gupta empire after Samudragupta's death.
According to traditional accounts, Ramagupta decided to expand his kingdom by attacking the Sakas in Gujarat. The campaign soon took a turn for the worse and the Gupta army was trapped. The Saka king, Rudrasimha III, demanded that Ramagupta hand over his wife Dhruvswamini in exchange for peace. The weak king was inclined to accept these terms, to the outrage of his wife and his brother Chandragupta. Using subterfuge, Chandragupta went to the Saka camp, killed the Saka king and won the victory and also the esteem of the people and the queen. A short while later, Ramagupta was deposed and killed by his brother, who became Chandragupta II. Chandragupta II also married his erstwhile sister-in-law, Dhruvswamini.
This tale has parallels to the story of Rani Padmini of Chittor and the subterfuge she used to free her husband. Dhruvadevi was the chief queen of Chandragupta II and the mother of his heir Kumara Gupta I. Chandragupta II also claimed the conquest of the Saka kingdom. What part the shadowy figure of Ramagupta played in these stories is unclear.
Ramagupta in Devichandragupta
In the play Devichandragupta by Vishakhadatta, Ramagupta is portrayed as a weak and impotent king, afraid and incapable of warfare. The play holds that Ramagupta usurped the right to the throne of his younger brother Chandragupta II and also married his betrothed Dhruvasvamini by force.
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