Śri Gupta (240–280 CE) was a pre-imperial Gupta king in northern India and the founder of the Gupta dynasty. A portion of northern or central Bengal might have been the home of Guptas at that time; however, little evidence is available.
The first evidence of Śri Gupta comes from the writings of I-tsing around 690 CE who describes that the Poona copper inscription of Prabhavati Gupta, a daughter of Chandragupta, describes "Maharaja Sri-Gupta" as the founder of the Gupta dynasty. According to I-tsing's account, Śri Gupta ordered the construction of a temple at Mṛgaśikhāvana for the use of Buddhist pilgrims coming from China, endowing it with the revenue from 40 villages.:35
Historian A. K. Narain (1983) noted that contemporary scholarship is unaware of Śri Gupta's religious affiliation, due to the lack of surviving evidence. Narain suggested that because he constructed a temple for Chinese Buddhist pilgrims, Śri Gupta himself was a follower of the Hindu sect of Vaiṣṇavism who was tolerant of Buddhist activity in his kingdom. This latter scenario would have been comparable with the later Gupta monarchs, who were predominantly Vaiṣṇavites, but under whose regimes heterodox religious movements like Buddhism and Jainism were allowed to flourish.:44
- Mookerji, Radha Krishna. (1995). The Gupta Empire (5th ed.). Motilal Banarsidass. p. 11. ISBN 9788120804401.
- Narain, A.K. (1983). Bardwell L. Smith, ed. Essays on Gupta Culture: Religious Policy and Toleration in Ancient India with Particular Reference to the Gupta Age. Motilal Banarsidass Publications. pp. 17–52. ISBN 0836408713. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
- "Professor H.C. Raychaudhuri, as a Historian", page 89.
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