The greatest achievement of the Gupta period was its cultural flowering. This growth was exhibited in many diverse areas, including literature, sculpting and scholarship, and fortunately, many examples still survive.
The Gupta empire's emphasis on cultural production can be traced in part to one of the empire's most influential early rulers, Samudragupta, whose patronage of the arts is celebrated in a number of period coins and inscribed pillars. Unlike many places in the ancient world, Gupta India compensated artists quite generously, a factor that likely encouraged such extensive and dynamic output throughout the period. Religious sculpture, in particular, was the most prolifically expressive medium, with the Gupta period presiding especially over the birth of the iconic sculpting of Hindu deities. Scholarship in Gupta India was equally impressive. Aryabhata, for example, is believed by some to have been the first person to arrive at the concept of zero, and to have posited that the Earth revolves around the sun. He also argued the lunar year to be 365.358 days, which is only about three hours off modern estimates.
In the realm of literature, Gupta writers produced such vastly different forms of utterance as poetry, drama, narrative histories and meditative writing. Kalidasa, one of the era's dominant playwrights and poets, was a likely influence on the German literary giant, Goethe, and he provided the acme of Sanskrit literature during his own time. Gupta culture also produced the famous Kama Sutra, a guide to household management, love and marriage based on Hindu law.