Rise that the Maurya Empire

Chandragupta Maurya established the Maurya realm in 322 BCE when he dominated the kingdom of Magadha and also the northwestern Macedonian satrapies.

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Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe Maurya realm was started in 322 BCE by Chandragupta Maurya, who had actually overthrown the Nanda Dynasty and rapidly broadened his power westward across main and western India in order come take benefit of the interruptions of local powers in the wake up of the withdrawal by Alexander the good ‘s armies.According come legend, the teacher Chanakya convinced his disciple, Chandragupta Maurya, to dominate the the kingdom that Magadha (the Nanda empire ) when he to be insulted by its king Dhana Nanda.Chandragupta Maurya expanded the Maurya realm north and also west together he dominated the Macedonian Satrapies and also won the Seleucid-Mauryan war.In its time, the Maurya empire was one of the largest empires of the world.Key TermsChandragupta Maurya: The founder of the Maurya Empire; he lived from 340-298 BCE.Nanda Empire: The kingdom led by Dhana Nanda; that was conquered by Chandragupta Maurya in 321 BCE.Chanakya: Maurya’s teacher and also loyal advisor throughout the foundation and development of the Maurya Empire.Takshashila: an early city in modern Pakistan the was believed to be among the earliest global settings the learning and culture. The is now modern Taxila.

The Maurya realm was a geographically extensive Iron age historical strength in old India, ruled by the Maurya dynasty from 322-185 BCE. Originating indigenous the kingdom that Magadha in the Indo-Gangetic level (modern Bihar, east Uttar Pradesh) in the east side of the Indian subcontinent, the empire had its funding city in ~ Pataliputra (modern Patna). The realm was the biggest to have ever existed in the Indian subcontinent, covering over 5 million square kilometres at its janice under Ashoka.

The empire was established in 322 BCE through Chandragupta Maurya, who had actually overthrown the Nanda Dynasty, and also rapidly increased his power,with Chanakya’s help, from the west across main and western India. His development took advantage of the disruptions of local powers in the wake up of the withdrawal westward by Alexander the Great’s armies. By 316 BCE, the realm had fully occupied Northwestern India, defeating and also conquering the satraps left by Alexander. Chandragupta then beat the intrusion led by Seleucus I, a Macedonian general from Alexander’s army, and gained extr territory west that the Indus River.

In its time, the Maurya realm was among the largest realms of the world. In ~ its best extent, the realm stretched come the north follow me the natural boundaries of the Himalayas, to the eastern into Assam, come the west right into Balochistan (southwest Pakistan and also southeast Iran) and also into the Hindu Kush hills of what is currently Afghanistan. The empire was broadened into India’s central and southern regions by the queens Chandragupta and Bindusara, however it exclude, a small part of unexplored tribal and also forested regions near Kalinga (modern Odisha), till it was overcame by Ashoka. It declined for about 50 year after Ashoka’s ascendancy ended, and also it liquified in 185 BCE through the foundation of the Shunga dynasty in Magadha.

Conquest that Magadha and foundation of the Maurya realm (c. 321 BCE)

According to number of legends, Chanakya traveled to Magadha, a kingdom the was large and militarily powerful and fear by the neighbors, but was insulted by its king Dhana Nanda, the the Nanda Dynasty. Chanakya swore revenge and vowed to destroy the Nanda Empire.

The Nanda realm originated native the an ar of Magadha in old India throughout the fourth century BCE, and lasted until between 345-321 BCE. At its best extent, the realm ruled by the Nanda dynasty extended from Bengal in the east, come the Punjab an ar in the west, and as far south as the Vindhya Range. The rulers the this empire were famed for the great wealth that they accumulated.

Chanakya motivated the young Chandragupta Maurya and his military to take end the throne the Magadha. Using his intelligence network, Chandragupta gathered countless young men from across Magadha and other provinces, who were upset over the corrupt and also oppressive preeminence of King Dhana, as well as the resources important for his military to struggle a long collection of battles. This men had the former general that Taxila, accomplished students the Chanakya, the representative that King Porus of Kakayee, his boy Malayketu, and the rulers of small states.

Maurya devised a strategy to invade Pataliputra, the funding of the Nanda Empire. A fight was announced and the Magadhan military was drawn from the city to a remote battlefield in order to interact Maurya’s forces. Meanwhile, Maurya’s general and also spies bribed the Nanda’s corrupt general, and created an environment of civil battle in the kingdom, i m sorry culminated in the death of the heir come the throne.

Upon the civil unrest in the kingdom, Nanda resigned and also disappeared into exile. Chanakya contacted the prime minister, Rakshasa, and convinced him that his commitment was to Magadha, no to the Nanda Dynasty, and that he need to remain in office. Chanakya reiterated that picking to resist would begin a battle that would severely influence Magadha and also destroy the city. Rakshasa accepted Chanakya’s reasoning, and also Chandragupta Maurya to be legitimately installed as the new King of Magadha in 321 BCE, in ~ the period of 21. Rakshasa ended up being Chandragupta’s chef advisor, and also Chanakya suspect the position of an elder statesman.


Statue of Chandragupta Maurya at the Birla Mandir Hindu temple, Delhi: Chandragupta Maurya dominated the kingdom that Magadha to uncovered the Maurya empire in 231 BCE, in ~ the age of 21.

Northwest Expansion

With his new seat of strength in Magadha, Chandragupta Maurya defeated the continuing to be Macedonian satraps, and consolidated his reign of the new Maurya Empire. He rapidly expanded his strength westward across central and west India, taking benefit of the interruptions of local powers in the wake up of the withdrawal from the west by Alexander the Great’s Greek armies. By 320 BCE, the empire had completely occupied Northwestern India. Chandragupta Maurya would come to be the an initial emperor come unify India right into one state, creating one that the world’s largest empires in that time, and the largest ever before in the Indian subcontinent.

The Maurya realm c. 320 BCE: The Maurya empire when the was first founded by Chandragupta Maurya c. 320 BCE, after conquering the Nanda realm when that was only about twenty years old.

Expansion of the Maurya Empire

After win the Seleucid-Mauryan war, the Maurya empire expanded into the southerly Indian subcontinent under the rule of Ashoka the Great.

Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe Seleucid realm tried and also failed to reconquer the northwestern part of the Maurya Empire during the Seleucid-Mauryan war, indigenous 305-303 BCE.As part of the tranquility offering, the Maurya realm gained 5 territories in exchange because that 500 war elephants.Several Greeks continued to be at the Mauryan court together ambassadors come the Hellenistic world.Chandragupta Maurya was succeed by his son, Bindusara, in 298 BCE, and also then by Bindusara’s son, Ashoka the Great, in 272 BCE.Under Ashoka the Great, the Maurya empire expanded right into the southern component of the Indian subcontinent.Ashoka erected the Edicts that Ashoka, i beg your pardon state his policies and also accomplishments, and which were written in both Greek and also Sanskrit.Key Termssatrapies: The governors of the provinces of the old Median and Achaemenid (Persian) Empires, and also several of your successors, such together the Sasanian Empire and also the Hellenistic empires.Ashoka the Great: live 304-232 BCE. Together the king of the Maurya Empire, he conquered the Indian subcontinent.Seleucus: The king that the Seleucid realm who tried to reconquer northwestern Indian, yet lost the Selecucid-Mauryan War.Edicts the Ashoka: stone edicts that portrayed the plans and accomplishments of Ashoka the Great, and were written in both Greek and Sanskrit.

The Seleucid-Mauryan War

In 305 BCE, Emperor Chandragupta Maurya led a series of campaigns to retake the satrapies left behind by Alexander the an excellent when he went back westward. Seleucus I battled to protect these territories, however both political parties made peace in 303 BCE.

Seleucus, among Alexander’s generals, got Babylonia and, indigenous there, increased his dominions to include much that Alexander’s close to eastern territories. Seleucus developed himself in Babylon in 312 BC, the year offered as the foundation date of the Seleucid Empire. He ruled not only Babylonia, yet the entire massive eastern part of Alexander’s empire. The Seleucid realm was a major center the Hellenistic culture. In the areas where a Greek-Macedonian political elite overcame (mostly urban), it kept the preeminence that Greek customs.

In 305 BCE, Seleucus i tried come reconquer the northwestern parts of India in order to claim them because that the growing Seleucid Empire. Tiny is recognized of the project in i beg your pardon Chandragupta battled with Seleucus over the Indus Valley and also the an ar of Gandhara—a very wealthy kingdom that had actually submitted years earlier to Alexander the Great.

Seleucus lost the Seleucid-Mauryan War, and also the 2 rulers reconciled through a tranquility treaty. The Greeks available a Macedonian princess for marriage to Chandragupta, and several territories, consisting of the satrapies the Paropamisade (modern-day Kamboja and Gandhara), Arachosia (modern-day Kandhahar), and Gedrosia (modern-day Balochistan). In return, Chandragupta sent 500 battle elephants, a military asset which would certainly play a decisive duty in Seleucus’ victory against western Hellenistic monarchs at the fight of Ipsus in 301 BCE.

The Maurya empire c. 305 BCE: Chandragupta prolonged the borders of the Maurya realm toward Seleucid Persia, after defeating Seleucus c. 305 BCE.

In enhancement to this treaty, Seleucus dispatched two Greek ambassadors, Megasthenes and, later, Deimakos, come the Mauryan court in ~ Pataliputra. Later, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the leader of Ptolemaic Egypt, sent out an ambassador called Dionysius come the Mauryan court. Thus, proceeding ties in between the Hellenistic world and also the Mauryan Empire.

Expansion Under Bindusara

Chandragupta Maurya rule from 322 BCE until his voluntarily retirement and abdication, in favor of his son, Bindusara, in 298 BCE. Bindusara (320-272 BCE) to be the boy of Maurya and also his queen, Durdhara. Throughout his reign, Bindusara expanded the Maurya empire southward, v Chanakya together his advisor. He brought 16 states under the Maurya Empire and also thus overcame almost every one of the Indian peninsula. Bindusara ignored the friendly Dravidian kingdoms that the Cholas, rule by King Ilamcetcenni, the Pandyas, and also Cheras. Except these southern states, Kalinga (modern-day Odisha) was the just kingdom in India independent native Bindusara’s empire.

The Maurya empire c. 290 BCE: Bindausara (ruler 298-272 BCE) prolonged the borders of the realm southward into the Deccan Plateau c. 290 BCE.

Ashoka the Great

Bindusara passed away in 272 BCE, and also was thrived by his son, Ashoka the great (304-232 BCE). Together a young prince, Ashoka (r. 272-232 BCE) was a brilliant commander that crushed revolts in Ujjain and Taxila. Together monarch, he to be ambitious and aggressive, reasserting the Empire’s superiority in southern and also western India. However it was his occupation of Kalinga (262-261 BCE) that verified to it is in the pivotal event of his life. Although Ashoka’s military succeeded in overwhelming Kalinga forces of imperial soldiers and also civilian units, an estimated 100,000 soldiers and also civilians were eliminated in the furious warfare, consisting of over 10,000 the Ashoka’s very own men. Numerous thousands of people were adversely influenced by the destruction and fallout the war. As soon as he personally experienced the devastation, Ashoka began feeling remorse. Back the annexation of Kalinga to be completed, Ashoka embraced the teachings the Buddhism, and renounced war and violence. He sent missionaries come travel roughly Asia and also spread Buddhism to other countries.

Extent the the Maurya empire at its height in 265 BCE: Ashoka the great extended right into Kalinga during the Kalinga battle c. 265 BCE, and also established superiority over the southerly kingdoms.

As ruler, Ashoka applied principles that ahimsa (the rule of “to not injure”) by banning hunting and also violent sporting activities activities, and ending indentured and also forced labor (many thousands of world in war-ravaged Kalinga had actually been forced into hard labor and also servitude). While he kept a huge and an effective army to store the peace, Ashoka broadened friendly relationships with states throughout Asia and Europe, and also sponsored buddhist missions. He carried out a substantial public works building campaign throughout the country. Amongst these works were the building and construction of stupas, or Buddhist spiritual structures, containing relics. One significant stupas developed during the reign of Ashoka to be The good Stupa, which stands in Sanchi, India. Over 40 years of peace, harmony, and prosperity make Ashoka among the many successful and famous majesties in Indian history. He stays an idealized number of inspiration in modern-day India.

The Edicts that Ashoka

Perhaps among the greatest-known achievements of Ashoka to be his creation of his edicts, which were erected in between 269 BCE and 232 BCE. The Edicts the Ashoka, collection in stone, are discovered throughout the Subcontinent. Varying from as far west as Afghanistan, and as far south as Andhra (Nellore District), Ashoka’s edicts state his policies and accomplishments. Although mostly written in Prakrit, two of castle were created in Greek, and one in both Greek and also Aramaic. Ashoka’s edicts refer to the Greeks, Kambojas, and also Gandharas together peoples creating a frontier region of his empire. They likewise attest come Ashoka’s envoys’ travel to the Greek rulers in the west as far as the Mediterranean. Ashoka’s edicts additionally mentioned social and cultural attributes the his empire, emphasizing Buddhism, though no condemning various other religions. For this, the Edicts of Ashoka are well-known as an early file that promoted religious tolerance.


An Edict that Asoka: Bilingual inscription (Greek and also Aramaic) by king Asoka, native Kandahar. Kabul Museum

Centralization in the Maurya Empire

The Mauryan realm encouraged economic prosperity through political stability and also a unified central government.

Learning Objectives

Describe the significance of the political stability readily available by the Mauryan Empire

Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe Mauryan empire was split into four provinces, every governed by the Kumara, who offered as the king’s representative.Emperor Ashoka maintained a massive standing army to defend the Mauryan Empire and also instill stability and also peace across West and also South Asia.Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka’s grandfather, had created a single currency across India, a network of local governors and administrators, and also a civil company to carry out justice and security for merchants, farmers and also traders that continued throughout the Mauryan Dynasty.The Mauryan international network the trade extended to the Greek states and also Hellenic kingdoms in West Asia and also into south-east Asia.Key TermsKhyber Pass: A strategically crucial trade stop on the modern boundary that Pakistan and Afghanistan.Arthashastra: an old Indian treatise on government, statecraft, military, and economy.Kumara: A imperial prince who looked after the Mauryan districts on instead of of the emperor.standing army: A permanent army composed of full time soldiers the is not disbanded during times the peace.

Employing a closely organized bureaucratic system, the Maurya realm was may be to maintain security and political unified across large parts of western and southern Asia. This included a typical economic system supporting stable farming in its vast landholdings, as well as successful trade and also commerce. Through this central authority, which included a an effective military, the rulers that the empire bound together the previously fractured regions that the Indian Subcontinent.

Unification and Military

Chandragupta Maurya, the founder the the Maurya Empire, rule from 324-297 BCE, prior to voluntarily abdicating in donate of his son, Bindusara, who ruled native 297 BCE till his death in 272 BCE. This caused a battle of sequence in i m sorry Bindusara’s son, Ashoka, beat his brother, Susima, and rose to the throne in 268 BCE, eventually ending up being the greatest ruler of the Maurya Dynasty.

Before the Mauryan Empire, the Indian subcontinent was fragmentised into numerous kingdoms. These to be ruled by an effective regional chieftains with little armies that engaged in internecine warfare. The Mauryan military eliminated local chieftains, private armies, and even gangs that bandits, that sought come impose their own prominence in little areas.

The Mauryan Army, the biggest standing military force of the time, sustained the expansion and defense of the empire. According to scholars, the realm wielded 600,000 infantry, 30,000 cavalry, and also 9,000 war elephants, when a vast espionage system built up intelligence because that both internal and external protection purposes. Although Emperor Ashoka renounced offensive warfare and also expansionism, he preserved this standing military to safeguard the realm from external threats and maintain stability and also peace throughout Western and Southern Asia.


The Mauryan realm was divided into 4 provinces, with the imperial resources at Pataliputra, close to the Ganges flow in the modern state of Bihar in India. The Edicts the Ashoka, a arsenal of engravings made during Ashoka’s power from 268-232 BCE, give the surname of the Maurya Empire’s four provincial capitals: Tosali in the east, Ujjain in the west, Suvarnagiri in the south, and Taxila in the north.

The business structure started at the imperial level with the emperor and his Mantriparishad, or council of Ministers. The head of the provincial management was the Kumara, or imperial prince, that governed the provinces as the king’s representative, v the assistance of Mahamatyas, that were essentially regional prime ministers. Through this advanced system of bureaucracy, the empire governed all aspects of government at every level, from municipal toilet to global trade.

Maurya empire at that greatest extent (dark orange), including vassal kingdoms (light orange), 265 BCE: The Maurya Empire noted political security with a unified main government, which subsequently encouraged economic prosperity.

Centralization and also Taxation

Chandragupta Maurya, the father of the dynasty, developed a solitary currency throughout India, a network of local governors and also administrators, and a civil organization to carry out justice and security for merchants, farmers, and traders.

Through the disciplined main authority the the Mauryan Empire, farmers were freed of tax and crop arsenal burdens from local kings. Instead, they payment a country administered device of taxation that was strict yet fair. The system operated under the principles of the Arthashastra, an ancient Indian writing on economic policy, statecraft, and military strategy. Composed in Sanskrit and also adhering to Hindu philosophies, the Arthashastra includes publications on the nature of government, law, civil and also criminal courts, ethics, and also economic topics, consisting of markets and also trade, agriculture, mineralogy, mining and also metals, forestry, and others.

Although regimental in revenue collection, the Mauryan realm funded many public works tasks to improve productivity. Like his father and grandfather, Ashoka funded the building of thousands of roads, waterways, canals, remainder houses, hospitals, and other species of infrastructure.

Under ongoing Mauryan rule, politics unity and also military security motivated a typical economic system, increased agricultural productivity, and enhanced widespread trade and also commerce for the first time in West and South Asia.


Coins of the Maurya Empire: Chandragupta Maurya established a solitary currency throughout India, consisting of these silver punch mark coins with symbols of wheel and also elephant, third century BCE

Trade and Commerce

The Maurya Empire’s political unity and internal peace motivated the development of trade in India. Under the Indo-Greek friendship treaty during Ashoka’s reign, the Mauryan international network of trade saw an excellent expansion.

The Khyber Pass, top top the modern-day boundary of Pakistan and Afghanistan, ended up being a strategically important allude of trade and interaction v the outside world. Greek states and Hellenic kingdoms in West Asia became trading partners. Trade likewise extended v the Malay Peninsula intoSoutheast Asia. India’s exports contained silk, textiles, spices, and exotic foods. The outside civilization gained brand-new scientific understanding and technology through increased trade with the Mauryan Empire.

Ashoka’s Conversion

Mauryan emperor Ashoka taken on Buddhism ~ witnessing the fixed deaths that the Kalinga War, which he himself had actually waged out of a desire because that conquest.

Key Takeaways

Key PointsWhile the early component of Ashoka’s power was apparently quite bloodthirsty, he ended up being a monitor of the Buddha’s teachings after ~ his conquest of Kalinga.According to a modern-day text, the Edicts the Ashoka, Ashoka convert to Buddhism since he “felt remorse top top account that the conquest of Kalinga because, during the subjugation that a formerly unconquered country, slaughter, death, and taking away captive that the world necessarily occur.”In one source, his conversion is presented together a gradual procedure coming native intense an individual anguish, fairly than spurred by a specific event.As a buddhism emperor, Ashoka thought that Buddhism is beneficial for all human being beings, as well as animals and plants, for this reason he built a variety of stupas. He also well spread Buddhism to neighboring kingdoms.Key TermsDharma: Cosmic law and order, behaviors that are considered to be in accord v the bespeak that provides life and the cosmos possible, consisting of duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues, and ‘‘right way of living.” additionally specifically signifies the teachings of the Buddha.Edicts the Ashoka: A arsenal of 33 inscriptions on the Pillars the Ashoka, as well as boulders and also cave walls, made by the Emperor Ashoka the the Mauryan Empire during his reign, native 269 BCE to 232 BCE.

Background: occupation of Kalinga

While the early part of Ashoka’s regime was apparently quite bloodthirsty, he came to be a follower of the Buddha’s teachings ~ his conquest of Kalinga on the east coast of India in the contemporary states of Odisha and also North seaside Andhra Pradesh. Kalinga was a state that prided chin on the sovereignty and also democracy. V its autarchic parliamentary democracy, that was rather an exception in old Bharata wherein there existed the ide of Rajdharma. Rajdharma method the duty that the rulers, which was inherently entwined v the principle of bravery and also dharma. The Kalinga War occurred eight years after his coronation. Native Ashoka’s 13th inscription, we pertained to know the the fight was a massive one and caused the deaths of more than 100,000 soldiers and also many civilians who increased up in defence; over 150,000 to be deported. When he to be walking with the grounds the Kalinga after his conquest, rejoicing in his victory, he was moved by the number of bodies strewn there and the wails the the bereaved.

Conversion to Buddhism

Edict 13 ~ above the Edicts that Ashoka Rock engravings reflect the good remorse the king felt after observing the devastation of Kalinga:

His Majesty feeling remorse ~ above account the the conquest of Kalinga because, throughout the subjugation the a previously unconquered country, slaughter, death, and also taking away captive the the civilization necessarily occur, vice versa, His Majesty feels profound sorrow and regret.

The edict go on to deal with the even greater degree of sorrow and regret result from Ashoka’s understanding that the friends and families of deceased would certainly suffer significantly too.

Legend states that someday after the battle was over, Ashoka ventured the end to roam the city and also all he might see were charred houses and scattered corpses. The lethal war with Kalinga reinvented the vengeful Emperor Ashoka right into a stable and also peaceful emperor, and also he came to be a patron of Buddhism. According to the significant Indologist, A. L. Basham, Ashoka’s an individual religion ended up being Buddhism, if no before, then absolutely after the Kalinga War. However, follow to Basham, the Dharma officially propagated by Ashoka was not Buddhism at all. Nevertheless, his patronage led to the growth of Buddhism in the Mauryan empire and also other kingdoms during his rule, and an international from around 250 BCE.

After the Kalinga War and Ashoka’s conversion, the realm experienced nearly half a century the peace and security. Mauryan India likewise enjoyed one era of social harmony, religious transformation, and also expansion of the sciences and of knowledge. Chandragupta Maurya ‘s adopt of Jainism raised social and religious renewal and reform across his society, when Ashoka’s adopt of Buddhism has been stated to have actually been the foundation of the power of social and political peace and also non-violence across all that India.

Buddhist Kingship

One that the more enduring legacies of Ashoka Maurya to be the model that he noted for the relationship in between Buddhism and also the state. Transparent Theravada Southeastern Asia, the version of rulership embodied by Ashoka changed the concept of divine kingship that had actually previously conquered (in the Angkor kingdom, because that instance). Under this design of “Buddhist kingship,” the king sought come legitimize his rule, not v descent native a divine source, but by supporting and also earning the approval that the buddhism sangha. Adhering to Ashoka’s example, kings created monasteries, sponsor the building and construction of stupas, and also supported the ordination the monks in their kingdom. Countless rulers likewise took one active role in resolving problems over the status and regulation that the sangha, as Ashoka had by calling a conclave to resolve a variety of contentious concerns during his reign. This breakthrough ultimately caused a close combination in countless Southeast oriental countries in between the monarchy and also the religious hierarchy, an combination that deserve to still be seen today in the state-supported Buddhism that Thailand, and also the traditional duty of the Thai king as both a religious and secular leader. Ashoka also said that his courtiers always governed the civilization in a ethical manner.

As a buddhism emperor, Ashoka thought that Buddhism is advantageous for all human being beings, as well as animals and plants, so he developed a variety of stupas, Sangharama, viharas, chaitya, and also residences for Buddhist monks all over South Asia and main Asia. According to the Ashokavadana, that ordered the construction of 84,000 stupas to residence the Buddhas relics. In the Aryamanjusrimulakalpa, Ashoka takes offerings to each of these stupas, travel in a chariot adorned with priceless metals. He provided donations to viharas and mathas. He sent out his just daughter, Sanghamitra, and son, Mahindra, to spread Buddhism in Sri Lanka (then well-known as Tamraparni).


Stupa: great Stupa (3rd century BC), Sanchi, India. Ashoka notified the building and construction of 84,000 stupas to residence the Buddhas relics.

Debate around Ashoka’s Conversion and Rule

The use of Buddhist sources in reconstructing the life the Ashoka has had a strong influence on consciousness of Ashoka, as well as the interpretations of his Edicts. Building on timeless accounts, at an early stage scholars concerned Ashoka together a generally Buddhist monarch who underwent a conversion come Buddhism and also was actively engaged in sponsoring and also supporting the buddhist monastic institution. Part scholars have actually tended to concern this assessment. The only resource of info not attributable to Buddhist resources are the Ashokan Edicts, and also these carry out not clearly state the Ashoka was a Buddhist. In his edicts, Ashoka expresses support for all the significant religions the his time: Buddhism, Brahmanism, Jainism, and Ajivikaism. His edicts addressed to the population at large (there are some addressed especially to Buddhists, which is no the situation for the other religions) generally focus on moral themes that members of every the religions would accept.

However, the edicts alone strongly show that he to be a Buddhist. In one edict that belittles rituals, and also he banned Vedic pet sacrifices; these strongly indicate that that at the very least did not look to the Vedic tradition for guidance. Furthermore, countless edicts are expressed to Buddhists alone; in one, Ashoka declares himself to be an “upasaka,” and in another he demonstrates a nearby familiarity v Buddhist texts. He put up rock pillars at Buddhist holy sites, but did not carry out so for the sites of other religions. He additionally used the word “dhamma” to refer to features of the heart that underlie ethical action; this to be an exclusively Buddhist use of the word. Finally, he promoted ideals the correspond come the first three actions of the Buddha’s i graduated discourse.

Interestingly, the Ashokavadana, presents an alternating view of the familiar Ashoka. In this source, his conversion has nothing to execute with the Kalinga battle or his descent from the Maurya dynasty. Instead, Ashoka’s reason for adopting non-violence shows up much an ext personal. The Ashokavadana mirrors that the main resource of Ashoka’s conversion, and also the acts of welfare that followed, room rooted instead in intense an individual anguish, indigenous a wellspring inside himself rather than spurred by a details event. It in order to illuminates Ashoka as an ext humanly ambitious and passionate, through both greatness and also flaws. This Ashoka is really different indigenous the “shadowy do-gooder” of later Pali chronicles.

Decline of the Maurya Empire

The Sunga dynasty usurped the Maurya Dynasty, and also parts that the empire were included into the Indo-Greek Kingdom.

Key Takeaways

Key PointsAshoka the Great’s dominance was followed by 50 years of weak queens who did no retain strong central authority. This eventually led to the resolution of the Maurya Empire.General Pusyamitra Sunga staged a coup against the Maurya dynasty in 185 BCE. Together a result, he ascended the throne and founded the Sunga Dynasty.In 180 BCE, the Greco-Bactrian King Demetrius overcame the northwestern Indian territories and founded the Indo-Greek Kingdom.Buddhism lost favor as soon as the Sunga empire gained power, however remained leading in the Ind0-Greek Kingdom.Key TermsBuddhism: A faith encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs, and spiritual methods largely based on teachings attributed come the Buddha.Khyber Pass: A hill pass connecting Afghanistan and also Pakistan; it has been an important trade routebetween main Asia and also South Asia, and a strategic armed forces location.Demetrius: The Greco-Bactrian king who established the Indo-Greek kingdom as soon as he overcame parts that northwestern India, roughly 180 BCE.Sunga: The dynasty founded by the general Pusyamitra Sunga after that staged a coup versus the Maurya empire in 185 BCE.

A 50-year sequence of weak kings followed the regime of Ashoka the Great, the Indian emperor the the Maurya dynasty who passed away in 232 BCE. As Ashoka’s highly central government lost power, the Maurya realm lost manage over its territories. The various cultures and also economies started to break apart, although the kings preserved Buddhism as the state religion.

Sunga Coup and also Rule

Brihadratha, the last ruler of the Maurya Dynasty, to be assassinated in 185 BCE. The commander-in-chief of his guard, Brahmin general Pusyamitra Sunga, killed Brihadratha throughout a military parade and also ascended the throne. He established the Sunga Dynasty, which thrived from roughly 187 come 78 BCE. Pusyamitra was thrived after 36 years by his son, Agnimitra, start the empire of ten Sunga rulers overall. They conducted wars through both foreign and indigenous powers, consisting of the Kalinga, the Satavahana Dynasty, and also the Indo-Greek Kingdom. The Sungas were succeeded by the Kanva Dynasty around 73 BCE.

Sunga rulers helped establish the tradition of royal sponsorship of education and the arts in ~ a time when some of the many important developments in Hindu assumed were taking place. The Mathura art format took hold throughout this time, and also many tiny terracotta images, larger stone sculptures, and also architectural monuments from the Sunga duration are still in existence.


Sunga imperial Family, c. 150 BCE: Art and also learning prospered under Sunga patronage, as checked out in this terracotta tablet computer of the Sunga royal family.

Sunga and Buddhism

The Sungas favored Hinduism over Buddhism. Buddhism sources, such as the Ashokavadana, one Indian Sanskrit message describing the birth and also reign of Ashoka the Great, point out that Pusyamitra to be hostile towards Buddhists and allegedly persecuted members of the buddhism faith. A big number of buddhism monasteries, dubbed viharas, were allegedly convert to Hindu temples in such places as Nalanda, Bodhgaya, Sarnath, or Mathura. Some historians argue, however, the Buddhist accounts of Sunga persecution are mostly exaggerated.


Sunga Empire, c. 185 BCE: The Sunga empire was created following a coup by basic Pusyamitra Sunga, marking the end of the Maurya Empire.

Indo-Greek Kingdom

In the east, the fall of the Mauryas left the Khyber pass unguarded, and also a tide of international invasion followed. The Greco-Bactrian king, Demetrius, capitalized top top the break-up and also conquered southerly Afghanistan and also parts the northwestern India around 180 BCE, forming the Indo-Greek Kingdom. The Indo-Greeks kept territorial holdings for around a century in the Trans-Indus Region, in what is currently Pakistan and parts of main India.

Demetrius, who lived native 175 come 140 BCE, started the city the Sirkap, combining Greek and also Indian impacts without signs of segregation in between thetwo cultures. The Greek growth into Indian territory may have been plan to protect Greek populaces in India, and to safeguard the Buddhist faith from the alleged spiritual persecutions the the Sungas.


Seated Buddha statue showing Greek influences: Buddhism was favored in the Indo-Greek Kingdom. Plenty of statues the Buddha native this duration display Greek stylistic aspects including Greek clothing.

Demetrius was prospered by Menander, who conquered the biggest territory and was one of the most successful Indo-Greek kings. His coins that have actually been discovered are the most numerous and widespread of all the Indo-Greek kings. Follow to buddhism literature, Menander convert to Buddhism and is sometimes defined as the Milinda Panha. He assisted Buddhism flourish and established the new capital of Sagala.


Coin portraying Menander I: described in both Greek and also Indian accounts, Menander I became the most necessary of the Indo-Greek rulers. He convert to Buddhism and expanded the Indo-Greek Kingdom.

In Indian literature, the Indo-Greeks are described as “Yavanas” in Sanskrit, or “Yonas” in Pali, which are both assumed to it is in transliterations of “Ionians.” The buddhism scripture, Majjhima Nikaya, describes that in contrast with the many Indian castes, over there were only two class of people in Indo-Greek culture: the Aryas, translated as the masters; and Dasas, the servants.

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Indo-Greek Fall

Throughout the first century BCE, the Indo-Greeks progressively lost ground come the indians in the East, and the Scythians, the Yuezhi, and the Parthians in the West. About 20 Indo-Greek queens are known during this period, including last known Indo-Greek ruler, Strato II, who ruled in the Punjab region until about 55 BCE.