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Introduction to the Mauryan Dynasty

In around 325 BC, Alexander the Great attacked the Indus River region and captured large areas and ruled till his death in 323 BC. In 321 BC Chandragupta Maurya (disciple of Chanakya) established the Mauryan Empire after driving the Greeks out in a well planned strategy. His goal was to unite the country as one Nation and was persued until the time of King Asoka (grandson of Chandragupta) But the loss of hundreds of thosands lives in war changed his mind and he gave up war for peace and converted to Buddhism.


Chandragupta

After defeating the Greeks, Chandragupta ruled his empire in a highly organised way from his capital Pataliputra. HIs empire was divided into provinces each under a rule of a viceroy and the cities of his empire were ruled by 6 committees. However, Chandragupta had a final say over all matters of his government.

Chandragupta's army consisted of 700000 soldiers, 8000 chariots and 9000 elephants. The army was used to put down rebellions and to protect his empire.

After ruling for 24 years, he gave up his throne to his son, Bindusara.


Bindusara

Bindusara ruled for 25 years from 298 B.C. to 273 B.C. and continued to extend the empire and maintain contact with the Greeks in the north whom his father, Chandragupta, had defeated. However, his son, Asoka was the one that was the best known Mauryan ruler.


Asoka ( The Best Known Mauryan Ruler )

Asoka went through a 4 year war of succession after his father's death before recieving the throne. Then, he started conquering new lands. The turning point came during the war of Kalinga which killed thousands of people. With feelings of regret, he became a Buddhist convert.

After the conversion, he made many changes aimed at improving the lives of the people. He stopped all waging wars and freed all captives, he built hospitals, rest houses, wells and roads. Asoka also reduced the slaughter of animals and gave up his favourite pastime, hunting.

Asoka tried to convert people to Buddhism, as he had done, by leaving messages on rocks in the cities, but didn't force conversion onto anyone. Though he didn't force these conversions, he did send missionaries abroad. Under Asoka's reign, the implementation of the caste system was further advanced, along with the advancement of Hindu philosophy and legal codes.

Asoka died in 232 BCE. After the death of Asoka, the Mauryan empire started to deteriorate. The empire was constantly invaded by tribes and in 185 B.C. , the last of the Mauryan rulers was murdered.

Lion Pillar

Summary

Chandragupta Maurya is notable in the history of India as the founder of the Mauryan Empire. Although this dynasty lasted only a little more than a century (321-185 BC), it was the first to exert control over nearly all of the Indian subcontinent. Chandragupta took the throne in about 321 BC and ruled until 297. He became a religious mystic and abdicated in favor of his son Bindusara, who extended the conquests of his father as far south as Mysore. It is probable that he went no farther because the southern provinces were already friendly to him. Bindusara was succeeded by his son Asoka, the best known of the Maurya emperors (see Asoka). He came to the throne in about 274 and remained in power for 42 years. More is known about Asoka's reign because of the many edicts he issued. These were often carved on rocks or pillars in public places. The empire was divided into four provinces, and at the head of each was placed a prince of the royal family. The provinces were subdivided into districts, and these in turn were divided into smaller units. The basic unit of administration was the village. Society was divided into seven castes: philosophers, farmers, soldiers, herdsmen, artisans, magistrates, and councillors. The philosophers included monks, priests, and teachers. The farmers, herdsmen, and artisans paid taxes to support the empire. After Asoka's death the empire shrank because of invasions, disaffections, and quarrels over the throne. The last emperor, Brhadratha, was killed in 185 BC by his military commander, who founded the Sunga Dynasty.


You have reached the end of your tour for the Mauryan Period, please click the picture at the bottom to continue your journey to The Gupta Dynsaty