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The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's pa ...
historical power in
South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The region consists of the countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri La ...

South Asia
based in
Magadha Magadha was an ancient Indian kingdom in southern Bihar Bihar (; ) is a states and union territories of India, state in eastern India. It is the list of states and union territories of India by population, third-largest state by populatio ...

Magadha
, founded by
Chandragupta Maurya Chandragupta Maurya (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Europea ...

Chandragupta Maurya
in 322 BCE, and existing in loose-knit fashion until 185 BCE. Quote: "Magadha power came to extend over the main cities and communication routes of the Ganges basin. Then, under Chandragupta Maurya (c.321–297 bce), and subsequently Ashoka his grandson, Pataliputra became the centre of the loose-knit Mauryan 'Empire' which during Ashoka's reign (c.268–232 bce) briefly had a presence throughout the main urban centres and arteries of the subcontinent, except for the extreme south." The Maurya Empire was centralized by the conquest of the
Indo-Gangetic Plain#REDIRECT Indo-Gangetic Plain Image:India-Pakistan Borderlands at Night.JPG, 250px, Clusters of yellow lights on the Indo-Gangetic Plain reveal numerous cities large and small in this astronaut photograph of northern India and northern Pakistan, ...

Indo-Gangetic Plain
, and its capital city was located at
Pataliputra Pataliputra (: ), adjacent to modern-day , was a city in , originally built by Magadha ruler in 490 BCE as a small fort () near the river.. Udayin laid the foundation of the city of Pataliputra at the confluence of two rivers, the and the . H ...
(modern
Patna Patna ( ), historically known as ''Pataliputra'', is the List of state and union territory capitals in India, capital and largest city of the state of Bihar in India. According to the United Nations, as of 2018, Patna had a population of 2.35&n ...

Patna
). Outside this imperial center, the empire's geographical extent was dependent on the loyalty of military commanders who controlled the armed cities sprinkling it. Quote: "The geography of the Mauryan Empire resembled a spider with a small dense body and long spindly legs. The highest echelons of imperial society lived in the inner circle composed of the ruler, his immediate family, other relatives, and close allies, who formed a dynastic core. Outside the core, empire travelled stringy routes dotted with armed cities. Outside the palace, in the capital cities, the highest ranks in the imperial elite were held by military commanders whose active loyalty and success in war determined imperial fortunes. Wherever these men failed or rebelled, dynastic power crumbled. ... Imperial society flourished where elites mingled; they were its backbone, its strength was theirs. Kautilya's ''Arthasastra'' indicates that imperial power was concentrated in its original heartland, in old ''Magadha'', where key institutions seem to have survived for about seven hundred years, down to the age of the Guptas. Here, Mauryan officials ruled local society, but not elsewhere. In provincial towns and cities, officials formed a top layer of royalty; under them, old conquered royal families were not removed, but rather subordinated. In most ''janapadas'', the Mauryan Empire consisted of strategic urban sites connected loosely to vast hinterlands through lineages and local elites who were there when the Mauryas arrived and were still in control when they left." During
Ashoka Ashoka (; Brāhmi: 𑀅𑀲𑁄𑀓, ''Asoka'', IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit ...

Ashoka
's rule (ca. 268–232 BCE) the empire briefly controlled the major urban hubs and arteries of the Indian subcontinent excepting the deep south. It declined for about 50 years after Ashoka's rule, and dissolved in 185 BCE with the assassination of Brihadratha by
Pushyamitra Shunga Pushyamitra Shunga (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit and related Indic languages. ...
and foundation of the
Shunga dynasty The Shunga Empire (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scien ...
in
Magadha Magadha was an ancient Indian kingdom in southern Bihar Bihar (; ) is a states and union territories of India, state in eastern India. It is the list of states and union territories of India by population, third-largest state by populatio ...

Magadha
. Chandragupta Maurya raised an army, with the assistance of
Chanakya Chanakya (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit and related Indic languages. It is bas ...

Chanakya
, author of
Arthasastra The ''Arthaśāstra'' ( sa, अर्थशास्त्र, ) is an ancient Indian Sanskrit treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy. Kautilya, also identified as Vishnugupta and Chanakya, is traditionally credited as t ...
, and overthrew the
Nanda Empire The Nanda dynasty ruled in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent during the 4th century BCE, and possibly during the 5th century BCE. The Nandas overthrew the Shaishunaga dynasty The Shaishunaga dynasty (IAST: Śaiśunāga, literally ...

Nanda Empire
in . Chandragupta rapidly expanded his power westwards across central and western India by conquering the
satrap Satraps () were the governors of the provinces of the ancient Medes, Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as in the Sasanian Empire and the Hellenistic period, Hellenistic empires. The satrap served as viceroy to ...
s left by
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
, and by 317 BCE the empire had fully occupied northwestern India. The Mauryan Empire then defeated
Seleucus I Seleucus I Nicator (; ; grc-gre, Σέλευκος Νικάτωρ, Séleukos Nikátōr, Seleucus the Victorious) was a Ancient Macedonians, Macedonian Greek general, a Diadochi of Alexander the Great and ultimately king who fought for control over ...
, a and founder of the
Seleucid Empire The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Greece, Greek state in Western Asia, during the Hellenistic period, Hellenistic Period, that existed from 312 BC to 63 BC. The Sele ...
, during the
Seleucid–Mauryan war The Seleucid–Mauryan War was fought between 305 and 303 BCE. It started when Seleucus I Nicator, of the Seleucid Empire, sought to retake the Indian satrapies of the Macedonian Empire which had been occupied by Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, of t ...
, thus acquiring territory west of the
Indus River The Indus ( ) is a transboundary river A transboundary river is a river that crosses at least one political border, either a border within a nation or an international boundary. Bangladesh has the highest number of these rivers, including t ...

Indus River
. Under the Mauryas, internal and external trade, agriculture, and economic activities thrived and expanded across South Asia due to the creation of a single and efficient system of finance, administration, and security. The Maurya dynasty built a precursor of the
Grand Trunk Road The Grand Trunk Road formerly known as ''Uttarapath'', ''Sarak-e-Azam'', ''Badshahi Sarak'', ''Sarak-e-Sher Shah'' is one of Asia's oldest and longest major roads. For at least 2,500 years, it has linked Central Asia Central Asia is a region ...

Grand Trunk Road
from Patliputra to Taxila. After the Kalinga War, the Empire experienced nearly half a century of centralized rule under Ashoka. Ashoka's embrace of
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
and sponsorship of Buddhist missionaries allowed for the expansion of that faith into
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...

Sri Lanka
, northwest India, and Central Asia. The population of South Asia during the Mauryan period has been estimated to be between 15 and 30 million. Quote: "Yet Sumit Guha considers that 20 million is an upper limit. This is because the demographic growth experienced in core areas is likely to have been less than that experienced in areas that were more lightly settled in the early historic period. The position taken here is that the population in Mauryan times (320–220 bce) was between 15 and 30 million—although it may have been a little more, or it may have been a little less." The empire's period of dominion was marked by exceptional creativity in art, architecture, inscriptions and produced texts, Quote: "A creative explosion in all the arts was a most remarkable feature of this ancient transformation, a permanent cultural legacy. Mauryan territory was created in its day by awesome armies and dreadful war, but future generations would cherish its beautiful pillars, inscriptions, coins, sculptures, buildings, ceremonies, and texts, particularly later Buddhist writers." but also by the consolidation of
caste Caste is a form of social stratification Social stratification refers to a society's categorization of its people into groups based on Socioeconomic status, socioeconomic factors like wealth, income, Race (human categorization), race, educati ...
in the Gangetic plain, and the declining rights of women in the mainstream Indo-Aryan speaking regions of India. Quote: "Accordingly, as tribal societies were encountered by the expanding Indo-Aryan societies, so the evolving caste system provided a framework within which—invariably at a low level—tribal people could be placed. For example, by the time of the Mauryan Empire (c.320–230 bce) the caste system was quite well established and the Aranyachará (i.e. forest people) were grouped with the most despised castes. ... The evolution of Indo-Aryan society in the centuries before c.200 bce not only saw increased segregation with respect to caste, it also seems to have seen increased differentiation with respect to gender. ... Therefore, by the time of the Mauryan Empire the position of women in mainstream Indo-Aryan society seems to have deteriorated. Customs such as child marriage and dowry were becoming entrenched; and a young women's purpose in life was to provide sons for the male lineage into which she married. To quote the Arthashāstra: 'wives are there for having sons'. Practices such as female infanticide and the neglect of young girls were possibly also developing at this time, especially among higher caste people. Further, due to the increasingly hierarchical nature of the society, marriage was possibly becoming an even more crucial institution for childbearing and the formalization of relationships between groups. In turn, this may have contributed to the growth of increasingly instrumental attitudes towards women and girls (who moved home at marriage). It is important to note that, in all likelihood, these developments did not affect people living in large parts of the subcontinent—such as those in the south, and tribal communities inhabiting the forested hill and plateau areas of central and eastern India. That said, these deleterious features have continued to blight Indo-Aryan speaking areas of the subcontinent until the present day." Archaeologically, the period of Mauryan rule in South Asia falls into the era of
Northern Black Polished Ware The Northern Black Polished Ware culture (abbreviated NBPW or NBP) is an urban Iron Age Indian culture of the Indian Subcontinent, lasting c. 700–200 BCE (proto NBPW between 1200 and 700 BCE), succeeding the Painted Grey Ware culture and Blac ...
(NBPW). The ''
Arthashastra The ''Arthaśāstra'' ( sa, अर्थशास्त्र, ) is an ancient India According to consensus in modern genetics, anatomically modern humans first arrived on the Indian subcontinent from Africa between 73,000 and 55,000 ye ...

Arthashastra
'' and the
Edicts of Ashoka The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of more than thirty inscriptions on the , as well as boulders and cave walls, attributed to Emperor of the who reigned from 268 BCE to 232 BCE. Ashoka used the expression ''Dhaṃma '' ( in the : , "Ins ...
are the primary sources of written records of Mauryan times. The
Lion Capital of Ashoka The Lion Capital of Ashoka is a sculpture of four Asiatic lions standing back to back, on an elaborate base that includes other animals. A graphic representation of it was adopted as the official Emblem of India in 1950. It was originally plac ...

Lion Capital of Ashoka
at
Sarnath Sarnath (Hindustani pronunciation: aːɾnaːtʰ is a place located 10 kilometres north-east of Varanasi Varanasi (; ), officially so revived after 1947, but still widely known as Banaras or Benares (; ), and in ancient times as ...

Sarnath
is the national
emblem An emblem is an abstract art, abstract or representational pictorial image that represents a concept, like a moral truth, or an allegory, or a person, like a king or saint. Emblems vs. symbols Although the words ''emblem'' and ''symbol'' are ...

emblem
of the
Republic of India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...
.


Etymology

The name "Maurya" does not occur in Ashoka's inscriptions, or the contemporary Greek accounts such as
Megasthenes Megasthenes ( ; grc, Μεγασθένης, c. 350BCE– c. 290 BCE) was an ancient Greek historian, diplomat and Indian ethnographer and explorer in the Hellenistic period The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history b ...
's ''
Indica__NOTOC__ Indica is classical Greek and Latin for "of India". It may refer to: Indian Species plant for example Mangifera indica (Mango tree) or Azadirachta indica (Neem tree) Historical ethnographic accounts of India * Indica (Arrian), ''Indica' ...
'', but it is attested by the following sources: *The
Junagadh rock inscription of Rudradaman The Junagadh rock inscription of Rudradaman, also known as the Girnar Rock inscription of Rudradaman, is a Sanskrit prose inscribed on a rock by the Western Satraps ruler Rudradaman I. It is located near Girnar hill near Junagadh, Gujarat, India. ...
(c. 150 CE) prefixes "Maurya" to the names Chandragupta and Ashoka. * The
Puranas Purana (; sa, , '; literally meaning "ancient, old"Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature (1995 Edition), Article on Puranas, , page 915) is a vast genre of Indian literature about a wide range of topics, particularly about legends and ...
(c. 4th century CE or earlier) use Maurya as a dynastic appellation. * The Buddhist texts state that Chandragupta belonged to the "Moriya" clan of the Shakyas, the tribe to which
Gautama Buddha Gautama Buddha, popularly known as the Buddha (also known as Siddhattha Gotama or Siddhārtha Gautama or Buddha Shakyamuni), was an , a religious leader and teacher who lived in (c. 6th to 5th century BCE or c. 5th to 4th century BCE). He ...

Gautama Buddha
belonged. * The Jain texts state that Chandragupta was the son of a royal superintendent of peacocks (''mayura-poshaka''). * Tamil Sangam literature also designate them as '' and mention them after the * Kuntala inscription (from the town of Bandanikke, North Mysore ) of 12th century AD chronologically mention Mauryya as one of the dynasties which ruled the region. According to some scholars, Kharavela's
Hathigumpha inscription The Hathigumpha Inscription (Trans lit. in Odia as "Elephant Cave" inscription), from Udayagiri, near Bhubaneswar Bhubaneswar () is the capital and largest city of the States and territories of India, Indian state of Odisha. The region, esp ...

Hathigumpha inscription
(2nd-1st century BC) mentions era of Maurya Empire as Muriya Kala (Mauryan era), but this reading is disputed: other scholars—such as epigraphist D. C. Sircar—read the phrase as mukhiya-kala ("the principal art"). According to the Buddhist tradition, the ancestors of the Maurya kings had settled in a region where peacocks (''mora'' in
Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan invasion theory (disambiguat ...
) were abundant. Therefore, they came to be known as "Moriyas", literally, "belonging to the place of peacocks". According to another Buddhist account, these ancestors built a city called Moriya-nagara ("Moriya-city"), which was so called, because it was built with the "bricks coloured like peacocks' necks". The dynasty's connection to the peacocks, as mentioned in the Buddhist and Jain traditions, seems to be corroborated by archaeological evidence. For example, peacock figures are found on the Ashoka pillar at Nandangarh and several sculptures on the Great Stupa of
Sanchi Sanchi is a Buddhist complex, famous for its Great Stupa, on a hilltop at Sanchi Town in Raisen District of the States and territories of India, State of Madhya Pradesh, India. It is located in north-east of Bhopal, capital of Madhya Pradesh. ...

Sanchi
. Based on this evidence, modern scholars theorize that the peacock may have been the dynasty's emblem. Some later authors, such as Dhundiraja (a commentator on the ''
Mudrarakshasa The Mudrarakshasa मुद्राराक्षस( IAST: ''Mudrārākṣasa'', ''The Signet of the Minister'') is a Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical la ...
'') and an annotator of the ''
Vishnu Purana The Vishnu Purana (IAST: Viṣṇu Purāṇa) is one of the eighteen Puranas#Mahapuranas, Mahapuranas, a genre of ancient and medieval texts of Hinduism. It is an important Pancharatra text in the Vaishnavism literature corpus. The manuscrip ...

Vishnu Purana
'', state that the word "Maurya" is derived from Mura and the mother of the first Maurya king. However, the Puranas themselves make no mention of Mura and do not talk of any relation between the Nanda and the Maurya dynasties. Dhundiraja's derivation of the word seems to be his own invention: according to the Sanskrit rules, the derivative of the feminine name Mura (
IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It ...
: Murā) would be "Maureya"; the term "Maurya" can only be derived from the masculine "Mura".


History


Founding

Prior to the Maurya Empire, the
Nanda Empire The Nanda dynasty ruled in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent during the 4th century BCE, and possibly during the 5th century BCE. The Nandas overthrew the Shaishunaga dynasty The Shaishunaga dynasty (IAST: Śaiśunāga, literally ...

Nanda Empire
ruled over most of the Indian Subcontinent. The Nanda Empire was a large, militaristic, and economically powerful empire due to conquering the
Mahajanapadas The Mahājanapadas ( sa, great realm, from ''maha'', "great", and ''janapada'' "foothold of a people") were sixteen Realm, kingdoms or oligarchy, oligarchic republics that existed in Northern History of India, ancient India from the sixth to ...
. According to several legends, Chanakya travelled to
Pataliputra Pataliputra (: ), adjacent to modern-day , was a city in , originally built by Magadha ruler in 490 BCE as a small fort () near the river.. Udayin laid the foundation of the city of Pataliputra at the confluence of two rivers, the and the . H ...
,
Magadha Magadha was an ancient Indian kingdom in southern Bihar Bihar (; ) is a states and union territories of India, state in eastern India. It is the list of states and union territories of India by population, third-largest state by populatio ...

Magadha
, the capital of the
Nanda Empire The Nanda dynasty ruled in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent during the 4th century BCE, and possibly during the 5th century BCE. The Nandas overthrew the Shaishunaga dynasty The Shaishunaga dynasty (IAST: Śaiśunāga, literally ...

Nanda Empire
where Chanakya worked for the Nandas as a minister. However, Chanakya was insulted by the Emperor
Dhana Nanda Dhana Nanda (died c. 321 BCE), according to the Buddhist text ''Bodhi Vamsa, Mahabodhivamsa'', was the last ruler of the Nanda dynasty of ancient India. He was the youngest of the eight brothers of the dynasty's founder Ugrasena (also known as Ma ...
, of the
Nanda dynasty The Nanda dynasty ruled in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent during the 4th century BCE, and possibly during the 5th century BCE. The Nandas overthrew the Shaishunaga dynasty The Shaishunaga dynasty (IAST: Śaiśunāga, literally ...

Nanda dynasty
and Chanakya swore revenge and vowed to destroy the Nanda Empire. He had to flee in order to save his life and went to Taxila, a notable center of learning, to work as a teacher. On one of his travels, Chanakya witnessed some young men playing a rural game practicing a pitched battle. He was impressed by the young Chandragupta and saw royal qualities in him as someone fit to rule. Meanwhile,
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
was leading his Indian campaigns and ventured into Punjab. His army mutinied at the
Beas River The Beas River (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European lang ...

Beas River
and refused to advance further eastward when confronted by another army. Alexander returned to
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bavel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babili'' *Kassite The Kassites ...

Babylon
and re-deployed most of his troops west of the
Indus River The Indus ( ) is a transboundary river A transboundary river is a river that crosses at least one political border, either a border within a nation or an international boundary. Bangladesh has the highest number of these rivers, including t ...

Indus River
. Soon after Alexander died in
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bavel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babili'' *Kassite The Kassites ...

Babylon
in 323 BCE, his empire fragmented into independent kingdoms led by his generals. The Maurya Empire was established in the Greater Punjab region under the leadership of Chandragupta Maurya and his mentor Chanakya. Chandragupta was taken to
Taxila Taxila (from Pāli Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan inva ...
by Chanakya and was tutored about statecraft and governing. Requiring an army Chandragupta recruited and annexed local military republics such as the
Yaudheya Yaudheya or Yoddheya Gana (Yoddheya Republic) was an ancient militant confederation. The word Yaudheya is a derivative of the word from yodha meaning warriors.“Yaudheyas.” Ancient Communities of the Himalaya, by Dinesh Prasad. Saklani, Indus P ...
s that had resisted Alexanders Empire. The Mauryan army quickly rose to become the prominent regional power in the North West of the Indian Subcontinent. The Mauryan army then conquered the satraps established by the Macedonians. Ancient Greek historians Nearchus, Onesictrius and Aristobolus have provided lot of information about the Mauryan empire. The Greek generals Eudemus and
Peithon Peithon or Pithon ( Greek: ''Πείθων'' or ''Πίθων'', c. 355 – c. 314 BC) was the son of Crateuas, a nobleman from Eordaia in western Macedonia. Peithon was of Illyrian origin. He was famous for being one of the bodyguards of Alexa ...
ruled in the Indus Valley until around 317 BCE, when Chandragupta Maurya (with the help of Chanakya, who was now his advisor) fought and drove out the Greek governors, and subsequently brought the Indus Valley under the control of his new seat of power in Magadha. Chandragupta Maurya's ancestry is shrouded in mystery and controversy. On one hand, a number of ancient Indian accounts, such as the drama ''
Mudrarakshasa The Mudrarakshasa मुद्राराक्षस( IAST: ''Mudrārākṣasa'', ''The Signet of the Minister'') is a Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical la ...
'' (''Signet ring of Rakshasa'' – ''Rakshasa'' was the prime minister of Magadha) by
Vishakhadatta Vishakhadatta ( sa, विशाखदत्त) was an Indian Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages ...
, describe his royal ancestry and even link him with the Nanda family. A kshatriya clan known as the Mauryas are referred to in the earliest
Buddhist texts Buddhist texts are those religious texts which are part of the Buddhism, Buddhist tradition. The first Buddhist texts were initially passed on orally by Buddhist monastics, but were later written down and composed as manuscripts in various Ind ...
, Mahaparinibbana Sutta. However, any conclusions are hard to make without further historical evidence. Chandragupta first emerges in Greek accounts as "Sandrokottos". As a young man he is said to have met Alexander. Chanakya is said to have met the Nanda king, angered him, and made a narrow escape.


Conquest of Magadha

Chanakya encouraged Chandragupta Maurya and his army to take over the throne of Magadha. Using his intelligence network, Chandragupta gathered many young men from across Magadha and other provinces, men upset over the corrupt and oppressive rule of king
Dhana Nanda Dhana Nanda (died c. 321 BCE), according to the Buddhist text ''Bodhi Vamsa, Mahabodhivamsa'', was the last ruler of the Nanda dynasty of ancient India. He was the youngest of the eight brothers of the dynasty's founder Ugrasena (also known as Ma ...
, plus the resources necessary for his army to fight a long series of battles. These men included the former general of Taxila, accomplished students of Chanakya, the representative of King Parvataka, his son Malayaketu, and the rulers of small states. The Macedonians (described as
Yona The word Yona in Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the '' Pāli Canon'' or '' Tipiṭaka'' and is the sacred language of '' ...
or Yavana in Indian sources) may then have participated, together with other groups, in the armed uprising of Chandragupta Maurya against the
Nanda dynasty The Nanda dynasty ruled in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent during the 4th century BCE, and possibly during the 5th century BCE. The Nandas overthrew the Shaishunaga dynasty The Shaishunaga dynasty (IAST: Śaiśunāga, literally ...

Nanda dynasty
.; : "The Mudrarakshasa further informs us that his Himalayan alliance gave Chandragupta a composite army ... Among these are mentioned the following : Sakas, Yavanas (probably Greeks), Kiratas, Kambojas, Parasikas and Bahlikas.": "Among those who helped Chandragupta in his struggle against the Nandas, were the Sakas (Scythians), Yavanas (Greeks), and Parasikas (Persians)" The ''Mudrarakshasa'' of Visakhadutta as well as the
Jain Jainism (), traditionally known as ''Jain Dharma'', is an ancient Indian religion Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent. These religion ...

Jain
a work Parisishtaparvan talk of Chandragupta's alliance with the Himalayan king Parvataka, often identified with
Porus Porus () or Poros (from Ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search ...
, although this identification is not accepted by all historians. This
Himalaya The Himalayas, or Himalaya (; Sanskrit: , "snow", "dwelling", "abode"), are a mountain range in Asia separating the plains of the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau. The range has some of the planet's highest peaks, including the ...

Himalaya
n alliance gave Chandragupta a composite and powerful army made up of
Yavana The word Yona in Pali and the Prakrits, and the analogue "Yavana" in Sanskrit, are words used in Ancient India to designate Greek language, Greek speakers. "Yona" and "Yavana" are transliterations of the Greek word for "Ionians" ( grc, Ἴων ...
s (Greeks),
Kambojas The Kambojas were a tribe of Iron Age India, frequently mentioned in Sanskrit literature, Sanskrit and Pali literature. The tribe coalesced to become one of the ''shodhasha'' (sixteen) Mahajanapadas (great kingdoms) of ancient India mentione ...
,
Shaka Shaka kaSenzangakhona ( – 22 September 1828), also known as Shaka Zulu () and Sigidi kaSenzangakhona, was the founder of the Zulu Kingdom The Zulu Kingdom (, ), sometimes referred to as the Zulu Empire or the Kingdom of Zululand, was a m ...

Shaka
s (Scythians),
Kiratas The Kirāta ( sa, किरात) is a generic term in Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo ...
(Himalayans), s (Persians) and
Bahlikas The Bahlikas ( sa, बाह्लिक; ''Bāhlika'') were the inhabitants of Bahlika ( sa, बह्लिक, located in Bactria Bactria (Bactrian language, Bactrian: , ), or Bactriana, was an ancient region in Central Asia. Bactria proper w ...
(Bactrians) who took
Pataliputra Pataliputra (: ), adjacent to modern-day , was a city in , originally built by Magadha ruler in 490 BCE as a small fort () near the river.. Udayin laid the foundation of the city of Pataliputra at the confluence of two rivers, the and the . H ...
(also called Kusumapura, "The City of Flowers"):Chandragupta Maurya and His Times, Radhakumud Mookerji, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1966, p.27 Preparing to invade Pataliputra, Maurya came up with a strategy. A battle was announced and the Magadhan army was drawn from the city to a distant battlefield to engage with Maurya's forces. Maurya's general and spies meanwhile bribed the corrupt general of Nanda. He also managed to create an atmosphere of civil war in the kingdom, which culminated in the death of the heir to the throne. Chanakya managed to win over popular sentiment. Ultimately Nanda resigned, handing power to Chandragupta, and went into exile and was never heard of again. Chanakya contacted the prime minister, Rakshasas, and made him understand that his loyalty was to Magadha, not to the Nanda dynasty, insisting that he continue in office. Chanakya also reiterated that choosing to resist would start a war that would severely affect Magadha and destroy the city. Rakshasa accepted Chanakya's reasoning, and Chandragupta Maurya was legitimately installed as the new King of Magadha. Rakshasa became Chandragupta's chief advisor, and Chanakya assumed the position of an elder statesman.


Chandragupta Maurya

After the
death of Alexander the Great The death of Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus'') of the Ancient Greece, ancient Greek kin ...
in 323 BCE, Chandragupta led a series of campaigns in 305 BCE to take satrapies in the Indus Valley and northwest India. When Alexander's remaining forces were
rout A rout is a panicked, disorderly and undisciplined retreat of troops from a battlefield, following a collapse in a given unit's command authority, unit cohesion Unit cohesion is a military concept, defined by one former United States Chief o ...
ed, returning westwards, Seleucus I Nicator fought to defend these territories. Not many details of the campaigns are known from ancient sources. Seleucus was defeated and retreated into the mountainous region of Afghanistan. The two rulers concluded a peace treaty in 303 BCE, including a marital alliance. Under its terms, Chandragupta received the satrapies of
Paropamisadae Paropamisadae or Parapamisadae (Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approx ...
( Kamboja and Gandhara) and
Arachosia Arachosia is the Hellenized name of an ancient satrapy in the eastern part of the Achaemenid, Seleucid The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Hellenistic state in W ...
( Kandhahar) and
Gedrosia Map showing Gedrosia in the Indian campaign of Alexander the Great Gedrosia (; el, Γεδρωσία) is the Hellenization, Hellenized name of the part of coastal Baluchistan that roughly corresponds to today's Makran. In books about Alexander th ...
(
Balochistan Balochistan (; bal, بلوچِستان; also romanised as Baluchistan) is an arid A region is arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or preventing the growth and development Development ...

Balochistan
). Seleucus I received the 500
war elephant A war elephant was an elephant Elephants are the largest existing land animals. Three living species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structu ...

war elephant
s that were to have a decisive role in his victory against western
Hellenistic The Hellenistic period spans the period of History of the Mediterranean region, Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as signified by the Battle of Actium in 31  ...

Hellenistic
kings at the
Battle of Ipsus The Battle of Ipsus ( grc, Ἱψός) was fought between some of the Diadochi (the successors of Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Ale ...

Battle of Ipsus
in 301 BCE. Diplomatic relations were established and several Greeks, such as the historian
Megasthenes Megasthenes ( ; grc, Μεγασθένης, c. 350BCE– c. 290 BCE) was an ancient Greek historian, diplomat and Indian ethnographer and explorer in the Hellenistic period The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history b ...
,
Deimakos Deimachus (; Greek Δηίμαχος) was a Greek of the Seleucid Empire who lived during the third-century BCE. He became an ambassador to the court of the Mauryan ruler Bindusara "Amitragatha" (son of Chandragupta Maurya) in Pataliputra in I ...
and
Dionysius The name Dionysius (; el, Διονύσιος ''Dionysios'', "of Dionysus Dionysus (; grc-gre, Διόνυσος) is the god of the grape-harvest, winemaking and wine, of fertility, orchards and fruit, vegetation, insanity, ritual madness, r ...
resided at the Mauryan court. Megasthenes in particular was a notable Greek ambassador in the court of Chandragupta Maurya. According to
Arrian Arrian of Nicomedia (; Ancient Greek, Greek: ''Arrianos''; la, Lucius Flavius Arrianus; ) was a Greek people, Greek historian, public servant, military commander and philosopher of the Roman Greece, Roman period. ''The Anabasis of Alex ...

Arrian
, ambassador Megasthenes (c. 350 – c. 290 BCE) lived in Arachosia and travelled to
Pataliputra Pataliputra (: ), adjacent to modern-day , was a city in , originally built by Magadha ruler in 490 BCE as a small fort () near the river.. Udayin laid the foundation of the city of Pataliputra at the confluence of two rivers, the and the . H ...
. Megasthenes' description of Mauryan society as freedom-loving gave Seleucus a means to avoid invasion, however, underlying Seleucus' decision was the improbability of success. In later years, Seleucus' successors maintained diplomatic relations with the Empire based on similar accounts from returning travellers. Chandragupta established a strong centralised state with an administration at Pataliputra, which, according to Megasthenes, was "surrounded by a wooden wall pierced by 64 gates and 570 towers".
Aelian Aelian or Aelianus may refer to: * Aelianus Tacticus Aelianus Tacticus ( grc-gre, Αἰλιανὸς ὀ Τακτικός; fl. 2nd century AD), also known as Aelian (), was a Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Gr ...
, although not expressly quoting Megasthenes nor mentioning Pataliputra, described Indian palaces as superior in splendor to
Persia Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Tu ...

Persia
's
Susa Susa (; Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the ...

Susa
or
Ecbatana Ecbatana (; peo, 𐏃𐎥𐎶𐎫𐎠𐎴 ''Hagmatāna'' or ''Haŋmatāna'', literally "the place of gathering"; Elamite language, Elamite: 𒀝𒈠𒁕𒈾 ''Ag-ma-da-na''; Middle Persian: 𐭠𐭧𐭬𐭲𐭠𐭭; Parthian language, Parthian: ...

Ecbatana
. The architecture of the city seems to have had many similarities with Persian cities of the period. Chandragupta's son
Bindusara Bindusara (), also Amitraghāta or Amitrakhāda (Sanskrit for "slayer of enemies" or “devourer of enemies”) or Amitrochates (Greek: Ἀμιτροχάτης) was the second Mauryan emperor of India. He was the son of the dynasty's founder ...
extended the rule of the Mauryan empire towards southern India. The famous
Tamil Tamil may refer to: * Tamils, an ethnic group native to India, Sri Lanka and some other parts of Asia **Sri Lankan Tamils, Tamil people native to Sri Lanka **Tamil Malaysians, Tamil people native to Malaysia * Tamil language, a Dravidian languages, ...
poet Mamulanar of the Sangam literature described how areas south of the Deccan Plateau which comprised Tamil country was invaded by the Maurya army using troops from Karnataka. Mamulanar states that Vadugar (people who resided in Andhra-Karnataka regions immediately to the north of Tamil Nadu) formed the vanguard of the Mauryan army. He also had a Greek ambassador at his court, named
Deimachus Deimachus (; Greek Δηίμαχος) was a Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population ...
. According to
Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46 – after AD 119) was a Greek Middle Platonist Middle Platonism is the modern name given to a stage in the development of Platonic philosophy, lasting from about 90 BC&nbs ...

Plutarch
, Chandragupta Maurya subdued all of India, and Justin also observed that Chandragupta Maurya was "in possession of India". These accounts are corroborated by Tamil sangam literature which mentions about Mauryan invasion with their south Indian allies and defeat of their rivals at Podiyil hill in
Tirunelveli district Tirunelveli district is one of the 38 district A district is a type of that, in some countries, is managed by the . Across the world, areas known as "districts" vary greatly in size, spanning s or , several , subdivisions of municipalities ...
in present-day
Tamil Nadu Tamil Nadu (; ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspape ...

Tamil Nadu
. Chandragupta renounced his throne and followed Jain teacher
Bhadrabahu Ācārya Bhadrabāhu (c. 367 - c. 298 BCE) was, according to the '' Digambara'' sect of Jainism, the last ''Shruta Kevalin'' (all knowing by hearsay, that is indirectly) in Jainism Jainism (), traditionally known as ''Jain Dharma'', is an a ...
. He is said to have lived as an ascetic at
Shravanabelagola Shravanabelagola () is a town located near Channarayapatna of Hassan district Hassan is one of the 31 districts of Karnataka Karnataka (ISO 15919, ISO: , ) is a States of India, state in the south western region of India. It is the l ...

Shravanabelagola
for several years before fasting to death, as per the Jain practice of ''
sallekhana ''Sallekhana'' ( IAST: ), also known as ''samlehna'', ''santhara'', ''samadhi-marana'' or ''sanyasana-marana'', is a supplementary vow to the ethical code of conduct of Jainism Jainism (), traditionally known as ''Jain Dharma'', is an a ...
''.


Bindusara

Bindusara was born to , the founder of the Mauryan Empire. This is attested by several sources, including the various
Puranas Purana (; sa, , '; literally meaning "ancient, old"Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature (1995 Edition), Article on Puranas, , page 915) is a vast genre of Indian literature about a wide range of topics, particularly about legends and ...
and the '' Mahavamsa''. He is attested by the Buddhist texts such as '' Dipavamsa'' and '' Mahavamsa'' ("Bindusaro"); the Jain texts such as ''Parishishta-Parvan''; as well as the Hindu texts such as ''
Vishnu Purana The Vishnu Purana (IAST: Viṣṇu Purāṇa) is one of the eighteen Puranas#Mahapuranas, Mahapuranas, a genre of ancient and medieval texts of Hinduism. It is an important Pancharatra text in the Vaishnavism literature corpus. The manuscrip ...

Vishnu Purana
'' ("Vindusara"). According to the 12th century Jain writer
Hemachandra Acharya In Indian religions Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent. These religions, which include Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and ...

Hemachandra
's '' Parishishta-Parvan'', the name of Bindusara's mother was
Durdhara Durdhara was the first queen of the Maurya Empire The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age system, three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of Homo sapiens, ...
. Some Greek sources also mention him by the name "Amitrochates" or its variations. Historian Upinder Singh estimates that Bindusara ascended the throne around 297 BCE. Bindusara, just 22 years old, inherited a large empire that consisted of what is now, Northern, Central and Eastern parts of
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
along with parts of Afghanistan and
Baluchistan Balochistan (; bal, بلوچِستان; also romanised as Baluchistan) is an arid A region is arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or preventing the growth and development Development ...
. Bindusara extended this empire to the southern part of India, as far as what is now known as
Karnataka Karnataka (; ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations (intergovernmental organizations), such as Codex Alimentarius in f ...

Karnataka
. He brought sixteen states under the Mauryan Empire and thus conquered almost all of the Indian peninsula (he is said to have conquered the 'land between the two seas' – the peninsular region between the
Bay of Bengal The Bay of Bengal is the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's five ocean The ocean (also the or the world ocean) is the body of that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface ...

Bay of Bengal
and the
Arabian Sea The Arabian Sea ( ar, بحر العرب ''Bahr al-Arab'') is a region of the northern Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering or 19.8% of the water Water is an Inorganic co ...
). Bindusara did not conquer the friendly
Tamil Tamil may refer to: * Tamils, an ethnic group native to India, Sri Lanka and some other parts of Asia **Sri Lankan Tamils, Tamil people native to Sri Lanka **Tamil Malaysians, Tamil people native to Malaysia * Tamil language, a Dravidian languages, ...
kingdoms of the
Cholas The Chola dynasty ( ta, சோழ வம்சம்) was a Tamil Tamil may refer to: * Tamils, an ethnic group native to India, Sri Lanka and some other parts of Asia **Sri Lankan Tamils, Tamil people native to Sri Lanka **Tamil Malaysia ...

Cholas
, ruled by King
Ilamcetcenni Ilamchetchenni (''Iḷamcēṭceṉṉi''; ) was an early Tamil king of the Chola dynasty The Chola dynasty was a Tamil thalassocratic empire of southern India, one of the longest-ruling dynasties in the world's history. The earliest ...
, the
Pandyas The Pandya dynasty, also known as the Pandyas of Madurai, was a dynasty of south India, one of the three famous List of Tamil monarchs, Tamil lineages, the other two being the Chola dynasty, Chola and the Chera dynasty, Chera.Subbarayalu, Y. ...
, and
Cheras The Chera dynasty ( ta, சேரர்) (ISO 15919, or Cēra), , was one of the principal lineages in the early history of the present day state of Kerala and some parts of Tamil Nadu in southern India. Together with the Chola dynasty, Cholas ...
. Apart from these southern states,
KalingaKalinga may refer to: Geography, linguistics and/or ethnology * Kalinga (historical region) Kalinga is a historical region of India. It is generally defined as the eastern coastal region between the Mahanadi and the Godavari rivers, althoug ...
(modern Odisha) was the only kingdom in India that did not form part of Bindusara's empire. It was later conquered by his son
Ashoka Ashoka (; Brāhmi: 𑀅𑀲𑁄𑀓, ''Asoka'', IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit ...

Ashoka
, who served as the viceroy of Ujjaini during his father's reign, which highlights the importance of the town. Bindusara's life has not been documented as well as that of his father Chandragupta or of his son Ashoka. Chanakya continued to serve as prime minister during his reign. According to the medieval Tibetan scholar Taranatha who visited India, Chanakya helped Bindusara "to destroy the nobles and kings of the sixteen kingdoms and thus to become absolute master of the territory between the eastern and western oceans". During his rule, the citizens of
Taxila Taxila (from Pāli Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan inva ...
revolted twice. The reason for the first revolt was the maladministration of Susima, his eldest son. The reason for the second revolt is unknown, but Bindusara could not suppress it in his lifetime. It was crushed by Ashoka after Bindusara's death. Bindusara maintained friendly diplomatic relations with the Hellenic world.
Deimachus Deimachus (; Greek Δηίμαχος) was a Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population ...
was the ambassador of Seleucid Empire, Seleucid emperor Antiochus I at Bindusara's court. Diodorus Siculus, Diodorus states that the king of Palibothra (
Pataliputra Pataliputra (: ), adjacent to modern-day , was a city in , originally built by Magadha ruler in 490 BCE as a small fort () near the river.. Udayin laid the foundation of the city of Pataliputra at the confluence of two rivers, the and the . H ...
, the Mauryan capital) welcomed a Greek author, Iambulus. This king is usually identified as Bindusara. Pliny the Elder, Pliny states that the Egyptian king Ptolemy II Philadelphus, Philadelphus sent an envoy named
Dionysius The name Dionysius (; el, Διονύσιος ''Dionysios'', "of Dionysus Dionysus (; grc-gre, Διόνυσος) is the god of the grape-harvest, winemaking and wine, of fertility, orchards and fruit, vegetation, insanity, ritual madness, r ...
to India. According to Sailendra Nath Sen, this appears to have happened during Bindusara's reign. Unlike his father Chandragupta (who at a later stage converted to Jainism), Bindusara believed in the Ajivika sect. Bindusara's guru Pingalavatsa (Janasana) was a Brahmin of the Ajivika sect. Bindusara's wife, Queen Shubhadrangi, Subhadrangi (Queen Dharma/ Aggamahesi) was a Brahmin also of the Ajivika sect from Champa (present Bhagalpur district). Bindusara is credited with giving several grants to Brahmin monasteries (''Brahmana-bhatto''). Historical evidence suggests that Bindusara died in the 270s BCE. According to Upinder Singh, Bindusara died around 273 BCE. Alain Daniélou believes that he died around 274 BCE. Sailendra Nath Sen believes that he died around 273–272 BCE, and that his death was followed by a four-year struggle of succession, after which his son
Ashoka Ashoka (; Brāhmi: 𑀅𑀲𑁄𑀓, ''Asoka'', IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit ...

Ashoka
became the emperor in 269–268 BCE. According to the '' Mahavamsa'', Bindusara reigned for 28 years. The ''Vayu Purana'', which names Chandragupta's successor as "Bhadrasara", states that he ruled for 25 years.


Ashoka

As a young prince, Ashoka ( BCE) was a brilliant commander who crushed revolts in Ujjain and Takshashila. As monarch he was ambitious and aggressive, re-asserting the Empire's superiority in southern and western India. But it was his conquest of
KalingaKalinga may refer to: Geography, linguistics and/or ethnology * Kalinga (historical region) Kalinga is a historical region of India. It is generally defined as the eastern coastal region between the Mahanadi and the Godavari rivers, althoug ...
(262–261 BCE) which proved to be the pivotal event of his life. Ashoka used Kalinga to project power over a large region by building a fortification there and securing it as a possession. Although Ashoka's army succeeded in overwhelming Kalinga forces of royal soldiers and civilian units, an estimated 100,000 soldiers and civilians were killed in the furious warfare, including over 10,000 of Ashoka's own men. Hundreds of thousands of people were adversely affected by the destruction and fallout of war. When he personally witnessed the devastation, Ashoka began feeling remorse. Although the annexation of Kalinga was completed, Ashoka embraced the teachings of Buddhism, and renounced war and violence. He sent out missionaries to travel around Asia and spread Buddhism to other countries. Ashoka implemented principles of ''ahimsa'' by banning hunting and violent sports activity and ending indentured and forced labor (many thousands of people in war-ravaged Kalinga had been forced into hard labour and servitude). While he maintained a large and powerful army, to keep the peace and maintain authority, Ashoka expanded friendly relations with states across Asia and Europe, and he sponsored Buddhist missions. He undertook a massive public works building campaign across the country. Over 40 years of peace, harmony and prosperity made Ashoka one of the most successful and famous monarchs in Indian history. He remains an idealized figure of inspiration in modern India. The
Edicts of Ashoka The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of more than thirty inscriptions on the , as well as boulders and cave walls, attributed to Emperor of the who reigned from 268 BCE to 232 BCE. Ashoka used the expression ''Dhaṃma '' ( in the : , "Ins ...
, set in stone, are found throughout the Subcontinent. Ranging from as far west as Afghanistan and as far south as Andhra (Nellore District), Ashoka's edicts state his policies and accomplishments. Although predominantly written in Prakrit, two of them were written in Greek language, Greek, and one in both Greek and Aramaic. Ashoka's edicts refer to the Greeks,
Kambojas The Kambojas were a tribe of Iron Age India, frequently mentioned in Sanskrit literature, Sanskrit and Pali literature. The tribe coalesced to become one of the ''shodhasha'' (sixteen) Mahajanapadas (great kingdoms) of ancient India mentione ...
, and Gandharas as peoples forming a frontier region of his empire. They also attest to Ashoka's having sent envoys to the Greek rulers in the West as far as the Mediterranean. The edicts precisely name each of the rulers of the Ancient Greece, Hellenic world at the time such as ''Amtiyoko'' (Antiochus II Theos, Antiochus), ''Tulamaya'' (Ptolemy II Philadelphus, Ptolemy), ''Amtikini'' (Antigonus II Gonatas, Antigonos), ''Maka'' (Magas of Cyrene, Magas) and ''Alikasudaro'' (Alexander II of Epirus, Alexander) as recipients of Ashoka's proselytism. The Edicts also accurately locate their territory "600 yojanas away" (a yojanas being about 7 miles), corresponding to the distance between the center of India and Greece (roughly 4,000 miles).


Decline

Ashoka was followed for 50 years by a succession of weaker kings. He was succeeded by Dasharatha Maurya, who was Ashoka's grandson. None of Ashoka's sons could ascend the throne after him. Mahinda (Buddhist monk), Mahinda, his first born, was on to spread Buddhism in the world. Kunala, Kunala Maurya was blind hence couldn't ascend the throne and Tivala, son of Kaurwaki, died even earlier than Ashoka. Another son, Jalauka, does not have much story behind him. The empire lost many territories under Dasharatha, which were later reconquered by Samprati, Kunala's son. Post Samprati, the Mauryas slowly lost many territories. In 180 BCE, Brihadratha Maurya, was killed by his general
Pushyamitra Shunga Pushyamitra Shunga (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit and related Indic languages. ...
in a military parade without any heir. Hence, the great Maurya empire finally ended, giving rise to the Shunga Empire. Reasons advanced for the decline include the succession of weak kings after Aśoka Maurya, the partition of the empire into two, the growing independence of some areas within the empire, such as that ruled by Sophagasenus, a top-heavy administration where authority was entirely in the hands of a few persons, an absence of any national consciousness, the pure scale of the empire making it unwieldy, and invasion by the Greco-Bactrian Empire. Some historians, such as H. C. Raychaudhuri, have argued that Ashoka's pacifism undermined the "military backbone" of the Maurya empire. Others, such as Romila Thapar, have suggested that the extent and impact of his pacifism have been "grossly exaggerated".


Shunga coup (185 BCE)

Buddhist records such as the Ashokavadana write that the assassination of Brihadratha and the rise of the Shunga empire led to a wave of religious persecution for Buddhists, and a resurgence of Hinduism. According to Sir John Marshall, Pushyamitra may have been the main author of the persecutions, although later Shunga kings seem to have been more supportive of Buddhism. Other historians, such as Etienne Lamotte and Romila Thapar, among others, have argued that archaeological evidence in favour of the allegations of persecution of Buddhists are lacking, and that the extent and magnitude of the atrocities have been exaggerated.


Establishment of the Indo-Greek Kingdom (180 BCE)

The fall of the Mauryas left the Khyber Pass unguarded, and a wave of foreign invasion followed. The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, Greco-Bactrian king, Demetrius I of Bactria, Demetrius, capitalized on the break-up, and he conquered southern Afghanistan and parts of northwestern India around 180 BCE, forming the Indo-Greek Kingdom. The Indo-Greeks would maintain holdings on the trans-Indus region, and make forays into central India, for about a century. Under them, Buddhism flourished, and one of their kings, Menander I, Menander, became a famous figure of Buddhism; he was to establish a new capital of Sagala, the modern city of Sialkot. However, the extent of their domains and the lengths of their rule are subject to much debate. Numismatic evidence indicates that they retained holdings in the subcontinent right up to the birth of Christ. Although the extent of their successes against indigenous powers such as the Shunga Empire, Shungas, Satavahanas, and
KalingaKalinga may refer to: Geography, linguistics and/or ethnology * Kalinga (historical region) Kalinga is a historical region of India. It is generally defined as the eastern coastal region between the Mahanadi and the Godavari rivers, althoug ...
s are unclear, what is clear is that Scythian tribes, renamed Indo-Scythians, brought about the demise of the Indo-Greeks from around 70 BCE and retained lands in the trans-Indus, the region of Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, Mathura, and Gujarat.


Military

Megasthenes mentions military command consisting of six boards of five members each, (i) Navy (ii) military transport (iii) Infantry (iv) Cavalry with Catapults (v) Chariot, Chariot divisions and (vi) Elephants.


Administration

The Empire was divided into four provinces, with the imperial capital at
Pataliputra Pataliputra (: ), adjacent to modern-day , was a city in , originally built by Magadha ruler in 490 BCE as a small fort () near the river.. Udayin laid the foundation of the city of Pataliputra at the confluence of two rivers, the and the . H ...
. From Ashokan edicts, the names of the four provincial capitals are Tosali (in the east), Ujjain (in the west), Suvarnagiri (in the south), and
Taxila Taxila (from Pāli Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan inva ...
(in the north). The head of the provincial administration was the ''Kumara'' (royal prince), who governed the provinces as king's representative. The ''kumara'' was assisted by Mahamatyas and council of ministers. This organizational structure was reflected at the imperial level with the Emperor and his ''Mantriparishad'' (Council of Ministers).. The mauryans established a well developed coin minting system. Coins were mostly made of silver and copper. Certain gold coins were in circulation as well. The coins were widely used for trade and commerce Historians theorise that the organisation of the Empire was in line with the extensive bureaucracy described by Chanakya, Kautilya in the
Arthashastra The ''Arthaśāstra'' ( sa, अर्थशास्त्र, ) is an ancient India According to consensus in modern genetics, anatomically modern humans first arrived on the Indian subcontinent from Africa between 73,000 and 55,000 ye ...

Arthashastra
: a sophisticated civil service governed everything from municipal hygiene to international trade. The expansion and defense of the empire was made possible by what appears to have been one of the largest armies in the world during the
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's pa ...
. According to Megasthenes, the empire wielded a military of 600,000 infantry, 30,000 cavalry, 8,000 chariots and 9,000 war elephants besides followers and attendants. A vast espionage system collected intelligence for both internal and external security purposes. Having renounced offensive warfare and expansionism, Ashoka nevertheless continued to maintain this large army, to protect the Empire and instil stability and peace across West and South Asia..Even though large parts were under the control of Mauryan empire the spread of information and imperial message was limited since many parts were inaccessible and were situated far away from capital of empire.


Local government

Arthashastra The ''Arthaśāstra'' ( sa, अर्थशास्त्र, ) is an ancient India According to consensus in modern genetics, anatomically modern humans first arrived on the Indian subcontinent from Africa between 73,000 and 55,000 ye ...

Arthashastra
and
Megasthenes Megasthenes ( ; grc, Μεγασθένης, c. 350BCE– c. 290 BCE) was an ancient Greek historian, diplomat and Indian ethnographer and explorer in the Hellenistic period The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history b ...
accounts of
Pataliputra Pataliputra (: ), adjacent to modern-day , was a city in , originally built by Magadha ruler in 490 BCE as a small fort () near the river.. Udayin laid the foundation of the city of Pataliputra at the confluence of two rivers, the and the . H ...
describe the intricate municipal system formed by Maurya empire to govern its cities. A city counsel made up of thirty commissioners was divided into six committees or boards which governed the city. The first board fixed wages and looked after provided goods, second board made arrangement for foreign dignitaries, tourists and businessmen, third board made records and registrations, fourth looked after manufactured goods and sale of commodities, fifth board regulated trade, issued licenses and checked weights and measurements, sixth board collected sales taxes. Some cities such as Taxila had autonomy to issue their own coins. The city counsel had officers who looked after public welfare such as maintenance of roads, public buildings, markets, hospitals, educational institutions etc. The official head of the village was Gramika (in towns Nagar Palika, Nagarika). The city counsel also had some magisterial powers.


Economy

For the first time in
South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The region consists of the countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri La ...

South Asia
, political unity and military security allowed for a common economic system and enhanced trade and commerce, with increased agricultural productivity. The previous situation involving hundreds of kingdoms, many small armies, powerful regional chieftains, and internecine warfare, gave way to a disciplined central authority. Farmers were freed of tax and crop collection burdens from regional kings, paying instead to a nationally administered and strict-but-fair system of taxation as advised by the principles in the ''Arthashastra''. Chandragupta Maurya established a single currency across India, and a network of regional governors and administrators and a civil service provided justice and security for merchants, farmers and traders. The Mauryan army wiped out many gangs of bandits, regional private armies, and powerful chieftains who sought to impose their own supremacy in small areas. Although regimental in revenue collection, Maurya also sponsored many public works and waterways to enhance productivity, while internal trade in India expanded greatly due to new-found political unity and internal peace. Under the Indo-Greek friendship treaty, and during Ashoka's reign, an international network of trade expanded. The Khyber Pass, on the modern boundary of Pakistan and Afghanistan, became a strategically important port of trade and intercourse with the outside world. Greek states and Hellenic kingdoms in West Asia became important trade partners of India. Trade also extended through the Malay peninsula into Southeast Asia. India's exports included silk goods and textiles, spices and exotic foods. The external world came across new scientific knowledge and technology with expanding trade with the Mauryan Empire. Ashoka also sponsored the construction of thousands of roads, waterways, canals, hospitals, rest-houses and other public works. The easing of many over-rigorous administrative practices, including those regarding taxation and crop collection, helped increase productivity and economic activity across the Empire. In many ways, the economic situation in the Mauryan Empire is analogous to the Roman Empire of several centuries later. Both had extensive trade connections and both had organizations similar to corporations. While Rome had organizational entities which were largely used for public state-driven projects, Mauryan India had numerous private commercial entities. These existed purely for private commerce and developed before the Mauryan Empire itself.


Religion

In the early period of empire Brahmanism was an important religion. The Mauryans favored Brahmanism as well as Jainism and Buddhism. Minor religious sects such as Ajivikas also received patronage.


Jainism

Chandragupta Maurya followed Jainism after retiring, when he renounced his throne and material possessions to join a wandering group of Jain monks. Chandragupta was a disciple of the Jain monk Bhadrabahu, Acharya Bhadrabahu. It is said that in his last days, he observed the rigorous but self-purifying Jain ritual of santhara (fast unto death), at Shravana Belgola in
Karnataka Karnataka (; ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations (intergovernmental organizations), such as Codex Alimentarius in f ...

Karnataka
. Samprati, the grandson of
Ashoka Ashoka (; Brāhmi: 𑀅𑀲𑁄𑀓, ''Asoka'', IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit ...

Ashoka
, also patronized Jainism. Samprati was influenced by the teachings of Jain monks like Suhastin and he is said to have built 125,000 derasars across India. Some of them are still found in the towns of Ahmedabad, Viramgam, Ujjain, and Palitana. It is also said that just like Ashoka, Samprati sent messengers and preachers to Greece,
Persia Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Tu ...

Persia
and the Middle East for the spread of Jainism, but, to date, no research has been done in this area. Thus, Jainism became a vital force under the Mauryan Rule. Chandragupta and Samprati are credited for the spread of Jainism in South India. Hundreds of thousands of temples and stupas are said to have been erected during their reigns


Buddhism

Magadha Magadha was an ancient Indian kingdom in southern Bihar Bihar (; ) is a states and union territories of India, state in eastern India. It is the list of states and union territories of India by population, third-largest state by populatio ...

Magadha
, the centre of the empire, was also the birthplace of Buddhism. Ashoka initially practised Brahmanism but later followed Buddhism; following the Kalinga War, he renounced expansionism and aggression, and the harsher injunctions of the ''
Arthashastra The ''Arthaśāstra'' ( sa, अर्थशास्त्र, ) is an ancient India According to consensus in modern genetics, anatomically modern humans first arrived on the Indian subcontinent from Africa between 73,000 and 55,000 ye ...

Arthashastra
'' on the use of force, intensive policing, and ruthless measures for tax collection and against rebels. Ashoka sent a mission led by his son Mahinda (buddhist monk), Mahinda and daughter Sanghamitta to
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...

Sri Lanka
, whose king Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura, Tissa was so charmed with Buddhist ideals that he adopted them himself and made Buddhism the state religion. Ashoka sent many Buddhist missions to West Asia, Greece and South East Asia, and commissioned the construction of monasteries and schools, as well as the publication of Buddhist literature across the empire. He is believed to have built as many as 84,000 stupas across India, such as
Sanchi Sanchi is a Buddhist complex, famous for its Great Stupa, on a hilltop at Sanchi Town in Raisen District of the States and territories of India, State of Madhya Pradesh, India. It is located in north-east of Bhopal, capital of Madhya Pradesh. ...

Sanchi
and Mahabodhi Temple, and he increased the popularity of Buddhism in Afghanistan, Thailand and North Asia including Siberia. Ashoka helped convene the Buddhist Councils, Third Buddhist Council of India's and South Asia's Buddhist orders near his capital, a council that undertook much work of reform and expansion of the Buddhist religion. Indian merchants embraced Buddhism and played a large role in spreading the religion across the Mauryan Empire.


Society

The population of South Asia during the Mauryan period has been estimated to be between 15 and 30 million. Quote: "Yet Sumit Guha considers that 20 million is an upper limit. This is because the demographic growth experienced in core areas is likely to have been less than that experienced in areas that were more lightly settled in the early historic period. The position taken here is that the population in Mauryan times (320–220 bce) was between 15 and 30 million—although it may have been a little more, or it may have been a little less." According to Tim Dyson, the period of the Mauryan Empire saw the consolidation of Caste system in India, caste among the Vedic period, Indo-Aryan people who had settled in the Gangetic plain, increasingly meeting tribal people who were incorporated into their eveolving caste-system, and the declining rights of women in the Indo-Aryan speaking regions of India, though "these developments did not affect people living in large parts of the subcontinent." Quote: "... there seems to have been an interplay between the developing system of caste on the one hand, and the increased frequency with which 'tribal' societies were confronted on the other. In this context, castes and tribes can be seen as being broadly analogous-esepcially in that they tend to marry endogenously and maintain their own collective identities.62 Accordingly, as tribal societies were encountered by the expanding Indo-Aryan societies, so the evolving caste system provided a framework within which—invariably at a low level—tribal people could be placed. For example, by the time of the Mauryan Empire (c.320–230 bce) the caste system was quite well established and the Aranyachará (i.e. forest people) were grouped with the most despised castes [...] The evolution of Indo-Aryan society in the centuries before c.200 bce not only saw increased segregation with respect to caste, it also seems to have seen increased differentiation with respect to gender ... Therefore, by the time of the Mauryan Empire the position of women in mainstream Indo-Aryan society seems to have deteriorated. Customs such as child marriage and dowry were becoming entrenched; and a young women's purpose in life was to provide sons for the male lineage into which she married. To quote the Arthashāstra: 'wives are there for having sons'. Practices such as female infanticide and the neglect of young girls were possibly also developing at this time, especially among higher caste people. Further, due to the increasingly hierarchical nature of the society, marriage was possibly becoming an even more crucial institution for childbearing and the formalization of relationships between groups. In turn, this may have contributed to the growth of increasingly instrumental attitudes towards women and girls (who moved home at marriage). It is important to note that, in all likelihood, these developments did not affect people living in large parts of the subcontinent—such as those in the south, and tribal communities inhabiting the forested hill and plateau areas of central and eastern India. That said, these deleterious features have continued to blight Indo-Aryan speaking areas of the subcontinent until the present day."


Architectural remains

The greatest monument of this period, executed in the reign of
Chandragupta Maurya Chandragupta Maurya (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Europea ...

Chandragupta Maurya
, was the old palace at Paliputra, modern Kumhrar in
Patna Patna ( ), historically known as ''Pataliputra'', is the List of state and union territory capitals in India, capital and largest city of the state of Bihar in India. According to the United Nations, as of 2018, Patna had a population of 2.35&n ...

Patna
. Excavations have unearthed the remains of the palace, which is thought to have been an group of several buildings, the most important of which was an immense pillared hall supported on a high substratum of timbers. The pillars were set in regular rows, thus dividing the hall into a number of smaller square bays. The number of columns is 80, each about meters high. According to the eyewitness account of
Megasthenes Megasthenes ( ; grc, Μεγασθένης, c. 350BCE– c. 290 BCE) was an ancient Greek historian, diplomat and Indian ethnographer and explorer in the Hellenistic period The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history b ...
, the palace was chiefly constructed of timber, and was considered to exceed in splendour and magnificence the palaces of Susa and Ecbatana, its gilded pillars being adorned with golden vines and silver birds. The buildings stood in an extensive park studded with fish ponds and furnished with a great variety of ornamental trees and shrubs. Kauṭilya's
Arthashastra The ''Arthaśāstra'' ( sa, अर्थशास्त्र, ) is an ancient India According to consensus in modern genetics, anatomically modern humans first arrived on the Indian subcontinent from Africa between 73,000 and 55,000 ye ...

Arthashastra
also gives the method of palace construction from this period. Later fragments of stone pillars, including one nearly complete, with their round tapering shafts and smooth polish, indicate that Ashoka was responsible for the construction of the stone columns which replaced the earlier wooden ones. During the Ashokan period, stonework was of a highly diversified order and comprised lofty free-standing pillars, railings of stupas, lion thrones and other colossal figures. The use of stone had reached such great perfection during this time that even small fragments of stone art were given a high lustrous polish resembling fine enamel. This period marked the beginning of the Buddhist school of architecture. Ashoka was responsible for the construction of several stupas, which were large domes and bearing symbols of Buddha. The most important ones are located at
Sanchi Sanchi is a Buddhist complex, famous for its Great Stupa, on a hilltop at Sanchi Town in Raisen District of the States and territories of India, State of Madhya Pradesh, India. It is located in north-east of Bhopal, capital of Madhya Pradesh. ...

Sanchi
, Bharhut, Amaravathi village, Guntur district, Amaravati, Bodhgaya and Nagarjunakonda. The most widespread examples of Mauryan architecture are the Ashoka pillars and carved edicts of Ashoka, often exquisitely decorated, with more than 40 spread throughout the Indian subcontinent. The peacock was a dynastic symbol of Mauryans, as depicted by Ashoka's pillars at Nandangarh and Sanchi Stupa.


Natural history

The protection of animals in India was advocated by the time of the Maurya dynasty; being the first empire to provide a unified political entity in India, the attitude of the Mauryas towards forests, their denizens, and fauna in general is of interest. The Mauryas firstly looked at forests as resources. For them, the most important forest product was the elephant. Military might in those times depended not only upon horses and men but also War elephants, battle-elephants; these played a role in the defeat of Seleucus I Nicator, Seleucus, one of Alexander the Great, Alexander's former generals. The Mauryas sought to preserve supplies of elephants since it was cheaper and took less time to catch, tame and train wild elephants than to raise them. Kautilya's ''
Arthashastra The ''Arthaśāstra'' ( sa, अर्थशास्त्र, ) is an ancient India According to consensus in modern genetics, anatomically modern humans first arrived on the Indian subcontinent from Africa between 73,000 and 55,000 ye ...

Arthashastra
'' contains not only maxims on ancient statecraft, but also unambiguously specifies the responsibilities of officials such as the ''Protector of the Elephant Forests''.Rangarajan, M. (2001) India's Wildlife History, pp 7. The Mauryas also designated separate forests to protect supplies of timber, as well as lions and tigers for skins. Elsewhere the ''Protector of Animals'' also worked to eliminate thieves, tigers and other predators to render the woods safe for grazing cattle. The Mauryas valued certain forest tracts in strategic or economic terms and instituted curbs and control measures over them. They regarded all forest tribes with distrust and controlled them with bribery and political subjugation. They employed some of them, the food-gatherers or ''aranyaca'' to guard borders and trap animals. The sometimes tense and conflict-ridden relationship nevertheless enabled the Mauryas to guard their vast empire.Rangarajan, M. (2001) India's Wildlife History, pp 8. When
Ashoka Ashoka (; Brāhmi: 𑀅𑀲𑁄𑀓, ''Asoka'', IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit ...

Ashoka
embraced Buddhism in the latter part of his reign, he brought about significant changes in his style of governance, which included providing protection to fauna, and even relinquished the royal hunt. He was the first ruler in history to advocate Conservation (ethic), conservation measures for wildlife and even had rules inscribed in stone edicts. The edicts proclaim that many followed the king's example in giving up the slaughter of animals; one of them proudly states: However, the edicts of Ashoka reflect more the desire of rulers than actual events; the mention of a 100 'panas' (coins) fine for poaching deer in royal hunting preserves shows that rule-breakers did exist. The legal restrictions conflicted with the practices freely exercised by the common people in hunting, felling, fishing and setting fires in forests.


Contacts with the Hellenistic world


Foundation of the Empire

Relations with the Hellenistic world may have started from the very beginning of the Maurya Empire.
Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46 – after AD 119) was a Greek Middle Platonist Middle Platonism is the modern name given to a stage in the development of Platonic philosophy, lasting from about 90 BC&nbs ...

Plutarch
reports that Chandragupta Maurya met with
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
, probably around
Taxila Taxila (from Pāli Pali () is a Middle Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also *Aryan inva ...
in the northwest:


Reconquest of the Northwest (c. 317–316 BCE)

Chandragupta ultimately occupied Northwestern India, in the territories formerly ruled by the Greeks, where he fought the satraps (described as "Prefects" in Western sources) left in place after Alexander (Justin), among whom may have been Eudemus, ruler in the western Punjab until his departure in 317 BCE or Peithon, son of Agenor, ruler of the Greek colonies along the Indus until his departure for
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bavel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babili'' *Kassite The Kassites ...

Babylon
in 316 BCE.


Conflict and alliance with Seleucus (305 BCE)

Seleucus I Nicator, the Macedonian
satrap Satraps () were the governors of the provinces of the ancient Medes, Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as in the Sasanian Empire and the Hellenistic period, Hellenistic empires. The satrap served as viceroy to ...
of the Asian portion of Alexander's former empire, conquered and put under his own authority eastern territories as far as Bactria and the Indus (Appian, ''History of Rome'', The Syrian Wars 55), until in 305 BCE he entered into a confrontation with Emperor Chandragupta: Though no accounts of the conflict remain, it is clear that Seleucus fared poorly against the Indian Emperor as he failed to conquer any territory, and in fact was forced to surrender much that was already his. Regardless, Seleucus and Chandragupta ultimately reached a settlement and through a treaty sealed in 305 BCE, Seleucus, according to Strabo, ceded a number of territories to Chandragupta, including eastern Afghanistan and
Balochistan Balochistan (; bal, بلوچِستان; also romanised as Baluchistan) is an arid A region is arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or preventing the growth and development Development ...

Balochistan
.


Marriage alliance

Chandragupta and Seleucus I Nicator, Seleucus concluded a peace treaty and a marriage alliance in 303 BCE. Chandragupta received vast territories and in a return gave Seleucus 500
war elephant A war elephant was an elephant Elephants are the largest existing land animals. Three living species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structu ...

war elephant
s, a military asset which would play a decisive role at the
Battle of Ipsus The Battle of Ipsus ( grc, Ἱψός) was fought between some of the Diadochi (the successors of Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Ale ...

Battle of Ipsus
in 301 BCE. In addition to this treaty, Seleucus dispatched an ambassador,
Megasthenes Megasthenes ( ; grc, Μεγασθένης, c. 350BCE– c. 290 BCE) was an ancient Greek historian, diplomat and Indian ethnographer and explorer in the Hellenistic period The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history b ...
, to Chandragupta, and later
Deimakos Deimachus (; Greek Δηίμαχος) was a Greek of the Seleucid Empire who lived during the third-century BCE. He became an ambassador to the court of the Mauryan ruler Bindusara "Amitragatha" (son of Chandragupta Maurya) in Pataliputra in I ...
to his son
Bindusara Bindusara (), also Amitraghāta or Amitrakhāda (Sanskrit for "slayer of enemies" or “devourer of enemies”) or Amitrochates (Greek: Ἀμιτροχάτης) was the second Mauryan emperor of India. He was the son of the dynasty's founder ...
, at the Mauryan court at
Pataliputra Pataliputra (: ), adjacent to modern-day , was a city in , originally built by Magadha ruler in 490 BCE as a small fort () near the river.. Udayin laid the foundation of the city of Pataliputra at the confluence of two rivers, the and the . H ...
(modern
Patna Patna ( ), historically known as ''Pataliputra'', is the List of state and union territory capitals in India, capital and largest city of the state of Bihar in India. According to the United Nations, as of 2018, Patna had a population of 2.35&n ...

Patna
in Bihar state, Bihar). Later, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt and contemporary of
Ashoka Ashoka (; Brāhmi: 𑀅𑀲𑁄𑀓, ''Asoka'', IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit ...

Ashoka
, is also recorded by Pliny the Elder as having sent an ambassador named
Dionysius The name Dionysius (; el, Διονύσιος ''Dionysios'', "of Dionysus Dionysus (; grc-gre, Διόνυσος) is the god of the grape-harvest, winemaking and wine, of fertility, orchards and fruit, vegetation, insanity, ritual madness, r ...
to the Mauryan court. Mainstream scholarship asserts that Chandragupta received vast territory west of the Indus, including the Hindu Kush, modern-day Afghanistan, and the Balochistan, Pakistan, Balochistan province of Pakistan. Archaeologically, concrete indications of Mauryan rule, such as the inscriptions of the
Edicts of Ashoka The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of more than thirty inscriptions on the , as well as boulders and cave walls, attributed to Emperor of the who reigned from 268 BCE to 232 BCE. Ashoka used the expression ''Dhaṃma '' ( in the : , "Ins ...
, are known as far as Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. The treaty on "Epigamia" implies lawful marriage between Greeks and Indians was recognized at the State level, although it is unclear whether it occurred among dynastic rulers or common people, or both.


Exchange of presents

Classical sources have also recorded that following their treaty, Chandragupta and Seleucus exchanged presents, such as when Chandragupta sent various aphrodisiacs to Seleucus: His son
Bindusara Bindusara (), also Amitraghāta or Amitrakhāda (Sanskrit for "slayer of enemies" or “devourer of enemies”) or Amitrochates (Greek: Ἀμιτροχάτης) was the second Mauryan emperor of India. He was the son of the dynasty's founder ...
'Amitraghata' (Slayer of Enemies) also is recorded in Classical sources as having exchanged presents with Antiochus I:


Greek population in India

An influential and large Greek population was present in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent under Ashoka's rule, possibly remnants of Alexander's conquests in the Indus Valley region. In the Edicts of Ashoka, Rock Edicts of Ashoka, some of them inscribed in Greek, Ashoka states that the Greeks within his dominion were converted to Buddhism: Fragments of Edict 13 have been found in Greek, and a full Edict, written in both Greek and Aramaic, has been discovered in Kandahar. It is said to be written in excellent Classical Greek, using sophisticated philosophical terms. In this Edict, Ashoka uses the word Eusebeia ("Piety") as the Greek translation for the ubiquitous "Dharma" of his other Edicts written in Prakrit:


Buddhist missions to the West (c. 250 BCE)

AiKhanoumAndIndia.jpg, The distribution of the
Edicts of Ashoka The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of more than thirty inscriptions on the , as well as boulders and cave walls, attributed to Emperor of the who reigned from 268 BCE to 232 BCE. Ashoka used the expression ''Dhaṃma '' ( in the : , "Ins ...
. Asoka̠ Buddhist Missions.png, Map of the Buddhist missions during the reign of
Ashoka Ashoka (; Brāhmi: 𑀅𑀲𑁄𑀓, ''Asoka'', IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit ...

Ashoka
. Territories conquered by the Dharma according to Ashoka.jpg, Territories "conquered by the Dharma" according to Major Rock Edicts, Major Rock Edict No. 13 of Ashoka (260–218 BCE).Thomas Mc Evilly "The shape of ancient thought", Allworth Press, New York, 2002, p.368
Also, in the
Edicts of Ashoka The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of more than thirty inscriptions on the , as well as boulders and cave walls, attributed to Emperor of the who reigned from 268 BCE to 232 BCE. Ashoka used the expression ''Dhaṃma '' ( in the : , "Ins ...
, Ashoka mentions the Hellenistic kings of the period as recipients of his Buddhist proselytism, although no Western historical record of this event remains: Ashoka also encouraged the development of herbal medicine, for men and animals, in their territories: The Greeks in India even seem to have played an active role in the spread of Buddhism, as some of the emissaries of Ashoka, such as Dharmaraksita, are described in Pāli, Pali sources as leading Greek ("
Yona The word Yona in Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the '' Pāli Canon'' or '' Tipiṭaka'' and is the sacred language of '' ...
") Buddhist monks, active in Buddhist proselytism (the Mahavamsa, XII''Mahavamsa'
chapter XII
).


Subhagasena and Antiochos III (206 BCE)

Sophagasenus was an Indian Mauryan ruler of the 3rd century BCE, described in ancient Greek sources, and named Subhagasena or Subhashasena in Prakrit. His name is mentioned in the list of Mauryan princes, and also in the list of the Yadava dynasty, as a descendant of Pradyumna. He may have been a grandson of
Ashoka Ashoka (; Brāhmi: 𑀅𑀲𑁄𑀓, ''Asoka'', IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit ...

Ashoka
, or Kunala, the son of Ashoka. He ruled an area south of the Hindu Kush, possibly in Gandhara. Antiochos III, the Seleucid king, after having made peace with Euthydemus II, Euthydemus in Bactria, went to India in 206 BCE and is said to have renewed his friendship with the Indian king there:


Timeline

*322 BCE: Chandragupta Maurya founded the Mauryan Empire by defeating the Nanda Dynasty. *317–316 BCE: Chandragupta Maurya conquers the Northwest of the Indian subcontinent. *305–303 BCE: Chandragupta Maurya gains territory from the Seleucid Empire. *298–269 BCE: Reign of Bindusara, Chandragupta's son. He conquers parts of Deccan, southern India. *269–232 BCE: The Mauryan Empire reaches its height under Ashoka, Chandragupta's grandson. *261 BCE: Ashoka conquers the kingdom of Kalinga. *250 BCE: Ashoka builds Buddhist stupas and erects pillars bearing inscriptions. *184 BCE: The empire collapses when Brihadratha, the last emperor, is killed by
Pushyamitra Shunga Pushyamitra Shunga (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit and related Indic languages. ...
, a Mauryan general and the founder of the Shunga Empire.


In literature

According to ''Vicarasreni'' of Merutunga, Mauryans rose to power in 312 BC.


See also

*Pradyota dynasty *Gupta Empire *History of India *List of Hindu Empires and Dynasties


Notes


Sources

* * * Burton Stein (1998). ''A History of India'' (1st ed.), Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. * * * * * * J. E. Schwartzberg (1992). ''A Historical Atlas of South Asia''. University of Oxford Press. * John Keay (2000). ''India, a History''. New York: Harper Collins Publishers. * * * * * * * * * *


External links


Livius.org: Maurya dynasty
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