Bust of king right in Kshatrapa style / Formalized Garuda standing facing with spread wings, Brahmi legend Parama-bhagavata mahrajahiraja Sri Kumaragupta Mahendraditya ("Absolutely holy King of Kings Lord Kumaragupta Mahendraditya"). The early Gupta drachmas were derived from the earlier coins of Kshatrapas (obverse was practically unchanged, while the mountain on reverse was replaced with the image of Garuda). 14mm, 2.12 grams. Mitchiner ACW 4845ff.
The origins of the Guptas are shrouded in obscurity. The Chinese traveller I-tsing provides the first evidence of the Gupta kingdom in Magadha. He came to India in 672 CE and heard of 'Maharaja Sri-Gupta' who built a temple for Chinese pilgrims near Mrigasikhavana. I-tsing gives the date for this event merely as '500 years before'. This does not match with other sources and hence we can assume that I-tsing's computation was a mere guess. The most likely date for the reign of Sri-Gupta is c. 240-280 CE His successor Ghatotkacha ruled probably from c. 280-319 CE In contrast to his successor, he is also referred to in inscriptions as 'Maharaja' Chandragupta II was succeeded by his son Kumaragupta I. Known as the Mahendraditya, he ruled until 455 CE. It was during his reign that the Buddhagouda is thought to have originated. Towards the end of his reign a tribe in the Narmada valley, the Pushyamitras, rose in power to threaten the empire. Kumaragupta's successor Skandagupta defeated this threat, but then was faced with invading Huns from the north-west. The expense of the wars drained the regime and led to its decline.