During the classical era, China and India emerged as the two powerhouses of the East asia region. Despite both empires using similar tools to implement social and political control, there are minute differences in beliefs and regional demographics that change the way these techniques are implemented. Both cultures used military dominance, a strong leader figure and previously established social hierarchies to remain in power. However, while the Chinese formed a strong, centralized government during the Han Dynasty, the Gupta remained fragmented and regionalized.
Furthermore, while both cultures used moral codes and social guidelines to maintain social order, the Indian form was more religious, while Chinese version remained secular and focused on Confucianism and Daoism. Despite their differences, both empires were effective at maintaining order, and there methods are still being used today. If you were ever an emperor, it would be important to form a solid plan of how to enforce your rule and make sure the citizens stayed in line. Luckily for the Han and the Gupta, there were already long standing social hierarchies in place when they rose to power.
In India, the caste system was brought with the Aryans in around 500 B. C. This social system was further upheld by the formation of Hinduism, which stated that people who were in a lower caste were there due to their actions in a former life. The Chinese also had a social structure of their own, called filial piety. Much like their Indian counterparts, the chinese system had social ranks which a person fits into, with noblemen and officials on the top, peasants in the middle, and the “mean people” on the bottom.
Despite these similarities, the roots of filial piety are secular, and are derived from the works of Confucius in around 470 BC. The Han greatly endorsed the work of Confucious, viewing it as a set of moral guidelines to help society function. While both were used to maintain social order and encourage good citizenship, the Chinese system was never tied into any religion, which stands as a symbol of the enduring secularism in Chinese society. To maintain an empire, an impressive military is obviously needed.
The Han and Gupta both used their armies to maintain their land and shut down any group of would be dissenters. Both had large infantry divisions of trained soldiers who conquered surrounding areas and also acted as a security system to ensure the empire stayed in power. At the head of the military there was always a strong emperor, who many times also acted as a general and battle commander. The Gupta empire had the Chandragupta, while the Han had Liu Bang and Wu Ti as their iron fisted rulers.
Despite the military power and the strong image, the Chandragupta never managed to unite India the same way the Han was. Instead, India remained fragmented and regionalized, with local landowners and nobles playing a much more significant role. This national fragmentation can be attributed to the fact that India, unlike China, was extremely culturally diverse. There were thousands more laguanges being spoken in India at the time, while the Chinese merely had a few hundred.
This made a total unification of the region extremelyfor the Chandragupta. Due to the fact that China was more geographically and culturally isolated, the Han emporers found it much easier to unite the country. They did not have translate their decrees into multiple different languages or appeal to different types of people. As a result, the Chinese government was able to standardize and centralize the country and develop an expansive bearocratic government, while the Indian landscaped remained a local affair.
The similarities between the way the Han and Gupta impleted their political control is strinkingly similar, but there were small cultural differences that led to different belief systems and expansiveness of the government. Both empires had strong, loyal armies that expanded territory and then protected that land from invaders and internal uprisings, while powerful emperors oversaw battles, functions of the state and served as a figure-head for the citizens and the rest of the world.
But while both of these empire valued the use of established social heiarchies to aintain control, the Han’s system was based on the secural works of Confucious, while the Indian caste system caters to religion; primarily Hinduism. And while the Indian subcontinent remained regional and divided, the Han united the better part of modern day China under one central, standardized rule. So while the two dynasties may have been similar in some aspects, their political startegy split at others.