History of Mauryan Empire

The period of the Maurya Empire lasted from 321 BC to 298 BC. The Maurya Empire was one of the most powerful dynasty of India. The main credit for the establishment of the Maurya Empire goes to Chandragupta Maurya and his Prime Minister Chanakya.

The Maurya Empire was founded by Chandragupta Maurya with the help of his guru Chanakya in 321 BC. The expansion of this empire started from the plains of the Ganges river in the state of Magadha in the east, which is presently Bihar and Bengal, and its capital was Pataliputra. By 316 BC, the Maurya dynasty had taken control over the whole of North West India. Emperor Ashoka was the greatest ruler of the Maurya dynasty, who became world famous due to his powerful and great.

Major Rulers of the Maurya Empire

Chandragupta Maurya (321 BCE to 298 BCE)

Chandragupta Maurya, with the help of his guru Chanakya (Vishnugupta, Kautilya), established the Maurya Empire by defeating the last ruler of the Nanda dynasty, Ghanananda. There is a lot of difference among scholars about the caste of Chandragupta Maurya. In Brahmin literature, they are considered as Shudras, in Buddhist and Jain texts they are Kshatriyas, Romila Thapar has considered them to be of Vaishya caste.

Sitting on the throne of Magadha, Chandragupta Maurya laid the foundation of an empire that spread all over India. Chandragupta Maurya freed North-Western India from the successors of Alexander, abolished the Nandas, defeated Seleucus, forced the treaty and established the Maurya Empire and its boundaries ranged from the border of Iran in the northwest to present-day Karnataka and Karnataka in the south. It extended from Magadha in the east to Sopara and Saurashtra in the west.

In 305 BC, there was a war between the Greek ruler Seleucus and Chandragupta Maurya, in which Chandragupta Maurya was victorious. Thereafter a treaty was concluded between the two, according to which Seleucus gave the regions of Aria, Arachosia, Jedrosia and Peripemisdai as dowry in the marriage of his daughter Helena with Chandragupta Maurya. According to Plutarch, Chandragupta gifted 500 elephants to Seleucus. Seleucus sent one of his ambassadors, Megasthenes, to the court of Chandragupta Maurya.

In the last phase of his life, Chandragupta Maurya took initiation of Jainism from the Jain sage Bhadrabahu and gave up his body by fasting in about 298 BC on the Chandragiri hill in Shravanabelagola, Mysore, Karnataka.

Chandragupta Maurya was a skilled warrior, general and great conqueror as well as a capable ruler. He was the first ruler of India to rule over a vast empire. Chandragupta Maurya established such a system of governance which was adopted by other rulers also. The main feature of Chandragupta Maurya’s rule was more decentralization of power, developed bureaucratic system, proper judicial system, many effective measures were taken by the state for the growth of city governance, agriculture, craft industry, communication, trade and commerce.

Bindusara (298 BCE to 272 BCE)

Chandragupta Maurya’s son Bindusara became the next ruler of the Maurya Empire, which the Greek writer called Amitrochides. Bindusara has been called ‘Bhadrasar’ in Vayu Purana and ‘Singhsen’ in Jain Granth. The book Divyavadana describes two rebellions of Taxila during Bindusara’s time, to suppress which Bindusara first sent his son Ashoka, followed by Susim.

According to Strabo, the Greek ruler Antiochus sent an ambassador named ‘Dymachus’ to the court of Bindusara, whom Megasthenes’ successor Bindusara ruled in the same administrative area as his father Chandragupta Maurya and he divided the kingdoms into provinces, Kumar or Kumar in each province. Appointed Uparaja. According to Divyavadana, the king of Avanti nation was Ashoka.

Bindusara was a follower of the Ajivak sect. Ajivika Paribrajak used to reside in his assembly. Chanakya had been the prime minister of the kingdom of three Mauryan emperors, after whose death Radhagupta succeeded him.

Ashoka (273 BC to 232 BC)

We get early information about the life of Emperor Ashoka from Buddhist evidences such as Divyadan and Sinhalese texts. According to Divyadan, the name of Emperor Ashoka Mata is found Subhadangri. According to Sinhala, Emperor Ashoka had ascended the throne of Magadha after killing his 99 brothers. Ashoka was consecrated in 269 BC after a power struggle of nearly four years.

Emperor Ashoka invaded Kalinga in about 261 BCE, the eighth year of his consecration. It is known from the Hathigumpha inscription that possibly Kalinga was ruled by a king named Nandraj and at that time the capital of Kalinga was ‘Tosali’. A detailed description of the Kalinga war and its consequences is found in Ashoka’s thirteenth inscription.

According to Kalhana’s Rajatarangani, Emperor Ashoka established a city named Srinagar on the banks of the river Vitasta in Kashmir. It is known from the inscriptions received by Emperor Ashoka that his empire extended up to the North-West Frontier Province (Afghanistan), Karnataka in the south, Kathiawar in the west and the Bay of Bengal in the east.

According to the Jain Shruti of Tibet, Ashoka had established a city named ‘Lalipattan’ in Nepal. During his visit to Lumbini, he reduced the rate of land tax there from 1/6 to 1/8. After the Kalinga war, Emperor Ashoka abandoned ‘Bheri Ghosh’ and adopted ‘Dhamma Ghosh’.

Ashoka’s Dhamma

The code of conduct which Emperor Ashoka spoke of following for the moral development of his subjects was called Ashoka’s Dhamma. The mention of Ashoka’s Dhamma is found only in the ‘Bhabu’ (Virat) miniature inscription. In this small inscription, Ashoka has expressed his belief in ‘Trisangh’. These are the Trisanghas – Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. It is also called as Triratna. The basic sutras of Ashoka’s Dhamma are-

  1. restraint (control of the senses)
  2. Bhava Shuddhi (purity of thoughts)
  3. gratitude
  4. steadfast devotion
  5. Mercy
  6. Shaucha (purity)
  7. truth
  8. good service
  9. charity
  10. property (assistance)
  11. disrespect (respect)

Ashoka’s inscriptions

We get complete information about the history of Emperor Ashoka from his inscriptions. So far, about 40 inscriptions of Emperor Ashoka have been received. Four scripts have been used in all these inscriptions – Brahmi, Kharoshthi, Greek and Aramaic.

Ashoka used Pali language as the national language and script. Ashoka’s inscriptions are divided into three parts – inscriptions, pillar inscriptions and cave inscriptions.

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