Philosophy, Art, and Literature in the Mauryan Empire
During the time of the Mauryan Empire, there were no new innovations or breakthroughs in philosophy. We have found quite a few pieces of literature from their empire, and the Mauryans did paint and erect great pieces of work. However, if compared with other empires around its time period (e.g. Greeks, Romans), the Mauryans are rather disappointing. If one considers the vastness of the empire, it would only seem fitting that the Mauryans would also be an intellectual superpower. This, however is not the case. And although there are some impressive structures and we have found considerable amounts of their literature, to me, the amount is not nearly as much as I would have expected out of an empire with so sound an economy, government, and military. This "shortcoming" reflects a feeling of uncaring towards learning. In all fairness, there is a good amount of the arts and literature from the Mauryan Empire, but certainly not as much as one would have expected to have come from so powerful an empire.
The following is a list of texts from the Mauryan Empire.
Treatise on Polity)
written by Kautilya, one of the ministers under Chandragupta Maurya. It discusses the government, laws, and management of the Mauryan Empire. It is one of our main sources for describing the structure of the Mauryan government. (Upshur)
written Megasthenes, sent by Seleuces after failing to recapture the Indian territory, wrote about the policies and court life of Chandragupta Maurya. (IndiaVisit) Although not always truthful, it is important as it is the first description of the Mauryan Empire by a foreigner.
During Asoka's reign, many Jainist and Buddhist canons were written.
Early versions of two epics (
) were completed also during Asoka's reign. The former is about a great war involving the gods and men; while the latter is about the trials and tribulations of one man.
As one can see there were some significant pieces of literature created during the reign of the Mauryan Empire; however, there are simply not nearly as many as I would expect from such a great empire.
The Mauryans were masters in using stone. This ability becomes evident during the reign of Asoka when about 30 rock pillaras are constructed. These pillars contain a variety of messages from the king. Many of which were announcements of important actions of his reign, and the
of laws. There are also ideals of Buddhism on some. As Asoka was a convert to Buddhism, his belief reflects much of the art and literature of the time. On top of these pillars are amazing, detailed sculptures of different animals. We also know that many rock edicts were created by Asoka around his empire, containing writings about Buddhist beliefs. Cave dwellings and shelters were expanded and lavishly decorated during Asoka's reign as well. Finally, Asoka took some the remains of the Buddha and placed them around his territory, creating stupas for them. These were big mounds used as shrines for Buddhist worshippers. More art may have existed; however it was on perishable items such as wood. (Upshur) As you can see, most artistic creations were of stone during the Mauryan empire.
There were no new philosophies created during the Mauryan empire: there were only religious influences on decisions.