The Imperial Guptas had the chance to achieve their successes through force of arms with an proficient fighting system. Historically, the best accounts of this come not from the Hindus themselves but from Chinese and Western observers. However, a contemporary Indian document, regarded as a military classic of the time, the Siva-Dhanur-veda, offers some insight into the
military system of the Guptas.
The Guptas relied heavily on infantry archers, the bow being one of the dominant weapons of their army. The Hindu version of the longbow was composed of metal, or more typically bamboo, and fired a long bamboo cane arrow with a metal head.
Unlike the composite bows of Western and Central Asian foes, bows of this design would be less prone to warping in the damp and moist conditions often prevalent to the region.
The Indian longbow was apparently a very powerful and capable of great range and penetration and provided an effective counter to invading horse archers. Iron shafts were used against armored elephants and fire arrows were also part of the bowmen's arsenal.
Archers were protected by infantry equipped with shields, javelins, and longswords.
The military also had knowledge of siegecraft, catapults, and other sophisticated war machines.
There success stemmed from the concerted use of elephants, armored cavalry, and foot archers in tandem against both Hindu kingdoms and foreign armies invading from the Northwest. The Guptas also maintained a navy, allowing them to control regional waters.
During the reign of Chandragupta II, Gupta empire maintained a large army consisting of 500,000 infantry, 50,000 cavalry, 20,000 charioteers and 10,000 elephants along with a powerful navy with more than 1200 ships. Chandragupta II controlled the whole of the Indian subcontinent; the Gupta empire was the most powerful empire in the world during his reign, at a time when the Roman Empire in the west was in decline.