Menu Close

Mahajanpadas and Mauryan Empire

Table of Contents

1. Age of Mahajanpadas

Jana (small kingdoms) in Vedic period developed into Janapadas, which eventually developed into Mahajanpadas. The age of Mahajanpadas is also called and 2nd phase of urbanization, 1st being the Indus Valley Civilization.

2. Factors Behind the Rise of Mahajanpadas

2.1 Agricultural Factors

  1. Settled life in Indo Gangetic plane
  2. Development of irrigation
  3. Knowledge of seasons
  4. Use of bull and cow in agriculture
  5. All of it resulted in agriculture surplus and contributed to the rise of urbanization

2.2 Secondary Activity and Trade and Commerce

  1. As the role of iron increased in economy, number of crafts developed.
  2. There was also monetization of economy (punch marked coins)
  3. We observe the rise of guilds which were associations of craftsmen. They would keep check on prices, quality of goods, maintain standards etc.

2.3 Political Factors

  1. Since various states (mahajanapadas) gain taxes from trade, trade and commerce was encouraged and promoted
  2. Capitals of Mahajanapadas became urban centres
  3. Rising demands of courts, aided in urbanization
  4. Rise of Heterodox sects, which were more disposed towards merchants and peasants
  5. Spirit of territorial expansion and imperialism
  6. Weapons and implements became common because of invention of iron
  7. Overall rise in population
Map of Sixteen Mahajanpadas

2.4 Sixteen Mahajanpadas and their Capitals

MahajanpadaCapitalMahajanpadaCapital
1] AngaChampa9] VatsaKaushambi
2] MagadhaRajgriha, Pataliputra10] PancalaAcchihatra, Kampilya
3] MallaKusinara, Pawa11] MatsyaViratanagara
4] VajjiVaishali12] SurasenaMathura
5] KosalaSravasti13] AvantiUjjain, Mahishmati
6] KashiVaranasi14] AshmakaPratisthana/Paithan
7] ChediShuktimati15] KambojaRajapura
8] KuruIndraprastha16] GandharaTaxila

2.5 Age of Mahajanapadas as ‘Age of Republics’

In many states, the head was elected e.g. Shakya clan of Gautama Buddha, Licchavi clan of Mahavira, Vajji, Malla, Licchavi clan etc.

2.5.1 Features of Republic

The head of influential classes, by means of secret ballot would elect the king (raja) and important officials. There was provision of where legislatures would gather and discuss/debate on common and important issues.

However, most of the republics had got declined by 6th century BC. Republics existed in the foothills of mountains and not in Gangetic valley. Since they were republics, there was lack of unity in command. These factors contributed to their decline.

3. Rise of Magadh Empire

The rise of Magadh as first great empire was not result of any certain event but was facilitated by political and economic circumstances aided by typical geographical location of Magadh.

3.1 Economic Strength

  1. Availability of more resources because of agricultural surplus.
  2. Iron mines were available locally. It contributed to arts, craft and weapons.
  3. Availability of timber from nearby forests aided in development of chariots and other instruments
  4. Access to Tamralipti port.
  5. Also Magadh controlled trade routes because of its geographical location.

3.2 Political Strength

  1. Their capital like Rajagriha was surrounded by 5 hills.
  2. Pataliputra was at confluence of 3 rivers. Ganga, Son, Punpun.
  3. Access to elephants from forests made their army invincible.
  4. Role of iron in making weapons and implements which added to their imperialistic spirit.

4. Rulers of Magadh Empire

Haryanka Dynasty

1) Bimbisara
First king to have a standing army.
Bimbisara conquered Anga, set up matrimonial alliances like marrying Licchavi princess of Vaishali, sister of Prasanjit of Koshala.
Jivaka, famous physician, served under him.

2) Ajatasatru
Killed his father and became king. Also defeated Prasanjit of Koshala. Fortified Rajagriha and brought end to 16 yrs war with Vajji confederacy.
He was also contemporary of Gautam Buddha and the 1st Buddhist council was held under him.

3) Udayin
Transferred capital from Rajagriha to Pataliputra

Sisunag Dynasty

1) Sisunag
Brought an end to 100 years war with Avanti.

2) Kalashoka
2nd Buddhist council was held under him.

Nandas

1) Mahapadmanada
Also called as Ekchachatra – (brought entire world into one umbrella.)
According to Hathi Gumfa inscriptions of King Kharavela (Udaygiri caves, Orissa), Mahapadmananda conquered Kalinga according to and brought image of ‘Jina’ as victory trophy from.

2) Dhananada
Alexander’s army deterred to approach Magadh during his reign. Also a contemporary of Kautilya.

Mauryan Kings

1) Chandragupta Maurya
Founder of Mauryan empire and a follower of Jainism.
He negotiated with Selukus Nictator (Greek Viceroy) and forced him to give eastern Afghanistan, Balochistan to Mauryas.
Chandragupta’s viceroy, Pusyagupta constructed famous Sudarshan lake which is described in Junagarh inscriptions of Rudraman (Saka king)

2) Bindusara
Follower of Ajivika sect. He Was in contact with Antiochus, King of Syria.

3) Ashoka
Conquered Kalinga as described in 13th Rock edict of Ashoka (other areas were already won).
He became the follower of Buddhism and carried out Ashoka Dhamma to consolidate Mauryan empire.
Buddhism received patronage under him and the religion spread to Sri Lanka and other regions under him.

5. Literature during Mahajanpada Period

5.1 Kautilya’s Arthashasra

  • It was written by Kautilya, also known as Chanakya or Vishnugupta
  • Arthashasra is a treatise on statecraft, economy and military strategy. It was discovered by R Shyamashasri. It contains 15 books and 180 chapters, divided into 3 parts
    1) King, Council of Ministers and Depts. of govt.
    2) Civil and criminal law
    3) Diplomacy of war
  • Kautilya’s book contains information on trade and market, duties of a king, spies, city administration, social welfare, agriculture, mining, forest etc.

In the happiness of his subjects, lay the happiness of a ruler. And in their troubles, lay his troubles.

Kautilya

5.2 Megasthene’s Indica

  • Greek ambassador in the court of Chandragupta Maurya, sent by Selucus Niktator
  • He says ‘there were no slaves in ancient India’. It implies condition of slaves was so better that he couldn’t recognise them
  • He also talks about division of Indian population into 7 castes
  • 1_Philosophers 2_Farmers 3_Herders 4_Artisans 5_Military 6_Councillors 7_Overseers
  • INDICA gives details about the administration of Capital city of Pataliputra
  • He talks about Indian fertile plains with several crops grown like pulses, rice, millet, wheat etc. 2 crop cycles in a year
  • He also talks about prosperity in terms of abundance of Gold, Silver, Copper, Iron etc. in India

5.3 Vishakhadatta’s Mudrarakshasa Play

  • Drama, written during Gupta age ( ~ 400 AD), but talks about socio-economic conditions of Mauryan age.
  • It talks about how Chandragupta, with the assistance of Kautilya, overthrew Nandas.
  • It is written in Sanskrit language.

5.4 Other Literatures

Some Puranas were also written down during this period.

Cylonese (Sri Lankan) chronicles – Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa.
They talk about role of Ashoka in spreading Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Mahavamsa also talks about Ashoka killing his 99 brothers to acquire the throne.

6. Mauryan Society and Administration

No society can prosper if it aims at making things easier, instead it should aim at making people stronger.

King Ashoka
Expansion of Kingdom under Ashoka, By Avantiputra7 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

6.1 Mauryan Society

  • Arthashasra has mentioned 9 types of slaves. But Megasthenes has said that there was no slavery. This means that conditions of slaves was good and not exploitative
  • Position of women was high but the decline would be seen as compared to the earlier times. Puranas talk about seclusion of women
  • Amputation of limbs was quiet common as a form of punishment
  • Spy system existed, which indicates interference from political class in social life
  • Education was the most important factor developed. Taxila was a world renowned university
  • Aitreya was a medical science teacher in Taxila uni. And his teachings have been compiled in CharakSamhita by Charak
  • 7 types of castes are mentioned by Megasthenes
  • 8 types of marriages mentioned in Arthashasra
  • Child marriage was not in practice, post-puberty marriage was practiced

6.2 Economy

  • Economic progress was at the peak because of state’s high role in the economy
  • Agriculture – canals and irrigation would be developed under state as evident from Sudarshan Lake, mentioned in Junagarh inscription, built by  Pusyagupta
  • Sitadhyaksa would be appointed to take care of the agricultural lands
  • Land was divided on basis of productivity
  • Tax exemption was given for the cultivation of new land
  • Vivita Adhyaksha would take care of pastoral lands

6.3 Trade and Commerce

  • Trade routes were developed and promoted. Like Uttarpatha, Dakshinapatha
  • Promotion of guilds. States patronised them and gave autonomy
  • State itself would organize workshops
  • Large Scale minting of coins was undertaken by Mauryan rulers
  • Mining of minerals like Iron was also in practice
  • Every part of the activity was taxed
  • Nava-adhyaksha would take care of river-navigation
  • Samharta would collect the taxes
  • Sannidhata was treasurer and responsible for funds going out
  • Iron played an important role in economy
  • Use of script on large scale, so the records of transactions could be kept safely
  • High, divesified foreign trade existed
  • Urban centres like Pataliputra, Vaishali, Rajagriha etc. prospered

6.4 Mauryan Polity

  • It was the first great empire owing to its advanced politico administrative structure.
  • Semi-divine monarchy evolved as evident from the title like Devanampiyadasi assumed by Ashoka.  (Devanampiya – Dear to God, Piyadasi – Good looking) While Devanampiya was a common title used by kings before Ashoka, Piyadasi was specific to Ashoka.
  • Large army was maintained by the King.
  • Six wings of the military were maintained in the form of
    1_Army 2_Navy 3_Elephants 4_Chariots 5_Cavalry 6_Transport
  • There was a developed spy system to keep check on activities of people

6.5 Administration

  • Highly centralized polity with huge power of king and developed machinery of officials to assist the king.
  • Beaurocratic machinery, which was highly developed with officials like
    Tirtha – Highest officer
    27 Adhyaksas – For economic and military officers
    Mahamatya (High ranking official)
    Amatya (Civil servants)
  • 6 committees of 5 members each would be carrying on the activities like sanitation, birth and death registration, care of foreigners, regulation of weights and measures.
  • Provincial and sub-provincial administration was also developed.
  • City administration was also quiet developed.
    Provinces – Kumara (administrator
    District – Rajaka and Yukta (administrators)
    Village
  • There was strong imperialistic outlook in Mauryan rulers. The Berighosha strategy (through military we’ve to control territory) of earlier Mauryan rulers was replaced by Dhammaghosha (Through dhamma, soft means) by Ashoka.

6.6 Tax Structure

  • Elaborate system of taxation existed and most of the economic activities were taxed by the state
  • Samaharata – In charge of tax collection. (one who does samah – collects)
  • Sannidhata – In charge of storage and release of funds. (One who keeps close, sannidha)
  • Both cash and kind were accepted as tax. 1/6 th of produce was collected as tax.
  • Agricultural farms were maintained under Sitaadhyaksha.
  • Steps were also taken for irrigation as revealed by construction of Sudarshan Lake during Chandragupta Maurya.
  • Construction of roads and trade networks was carried out by state.
  • State promoted Art and Craft as well as some industries like mines, metallurgy, textile etc.
Sudarshan lake built under Mauryan rule.

6.7 Positives of Mauryan Empire

  • Empire provided unity and integrity to the entire subcontinent
  • Peace and stability because of efficiency and administration
  • Economic progress was given special attention
  • Welfare state and paternal state appeared for the first time
  • Social and cultural progress was quite significant
  • Active contact with external world and foreign relations were maintained as evident from number of foreign ambassadors living in Mauryan court
  • Safety from foreign invasion could be ensured and for more than 100 yrs, there was not serious external threat

6.8 Negatives of Mauryan Empire

  • Top heavy administration which required the king of exceptional abilities to manage the affairs of state.
  • Till the time efficient rulers like Ashoka were there, administration was efficient, but once weak rulers sat on throne, empire started declining.
  • Spy system took away the liberty and freedom of people.
  • Judicial system was harsh and amputation of limbs and capital punishment were common features (it is disputed if the practice existed during times of Ashoka as well)
  • Beaurocratic machinery was quiet powerful which exploited the masses by misusing their authority

7. Ashoka Dhamma

7.1 Ashoka Dhamma

Ashoka Dhamma played a very important role in consolidating the pan Indian Mauryan empire. Generally mis-interpreted as a religion, many scholars also equate it with Buddhism. However, a closer examination reveals that it was not a religion because there was no canon, no priestly class, no temple/religious institution, no philosophy. It was a set of moral principles and a code of conduct propounded by him for ethical and moral upliftment of his subjects.

7.2 Contents of Dhamma

Based on the contents of 2nd and 7th pillar edicts, Ashoka Dhamma can be classified into categories of do’s and don’ts.

Dos – tolerance, kindness, truthfulness, care towards elders, parents, respect towards teachers. Good behaviour towards friends, relatives and Bramhanas. Kind behaviour towards slaves and servants.

Don’ts – Not to harm living beings, not to have pride, jealousy, anger, selfishness, excess accumulation of wealth etc.

7.3 Why Ashoka Propagated Dhamma?

  • To maintain peace and stability in the kingdom.
  • It was part of his welfare approach and paternal outlook.
  • Part of his pragmatic approach to consolidate the empire.
  • He would try to maintain tolerance and peacefulness in society.
  • Imperialistic outlook, where he would spread his territory through Dhamma Ghosha.

7.4 Nature of Dhamma

  • It was secular in nature, no emphasis on any particular religion.
  • It was based on equality. No discrimination.
  • It was simple, liberal, progressive. No complex rituals associated with it.
  • It was based on the ideas of tolerance and peaceful co-existence.
  • It was reflection of his welfare approach, paternal outlook.
  • It was a comprehensive concept, touching upon all the dimensions of human life.
  • Humanistic outlook. Purpose was to uplift the masses and work for their all-round development.
  • Emphasized on non-violence.

7.5 Significance / Achievement or Impact of Dhamma.

  1. Ashoka Dhamma ensured that there was peace and stability in the society and socio-religious conflicts would be avoided.
  2. It helped in consolidating the empire and bringing about political unification.
  3. Welfare state was achieved.
  4. It helped in establishing his authority as ruler, who wanted to ensure all round progress of his subjects.

7.6 Methods of Promotion of Dhamma

  • 5th major rock edict says that he would appoint Dhamma Mahamatras.
  • Dhamma Yatras would be organized and he himself would undertake these yatras to propagate Dhamma e.g. King Ashoka’s visit to Lumbini.
  • Through his pillars and inscriptions, he would spread Dhamma.
  • He would send ambassadors to foreign nations to spread his ideas.
  • Public exhibitions.

7.7 Decline of Ashoka Dhamma after his Death

  • Successors of Ashoka did not pay attention to the spread and promotion of Ashoka Dhamma. They failed to understand its political and cultural significance.
  • Dhamma Mahamatras, who were entrusted the task of promoting Ashoka Dhamma, could not themselves understand the ideology of Dhamma after death of Ashoka. Also there was a degeneration among these Dhamma Mahamatras, which turned them away from the masses.
  • People themselves were conservative and could not appreciate the liberal and progressive spirit of Dhamma.

8. Mauryan Art and Architecture

8.1 Ashokan Edicts

  •  Ashoka started this tradition. James Princep first deciphered Bramhi script of Ashokan edicts.
  • ‘True’ history would be depicted from these inscriptions, which was free from bias of British viewpoint.
  • Their discovery also helped in national movements and nationalistic sentiment.
  • Ashokan inscriptions played significant role in consolidating strength of Mauryan empire.
  • There were three types 1) Rock edicts, 2) Pillar edicts and 3) Cave edicts.

8.2 Rock Edicts

  • Major rock edicts, 14 in number, it contained information about the nature of Mauryan polity, personnel outlook of Ashoka and duties and responsibilities of various officials.
  • Minor rock edicts, found in 15 places, it contained place specific information

8.3 Pillar Edicts

  • Contain royal pronouncements.
  • Content of Ashoka Dhamma is also found in these edicts.

8.4 Cave Edicts

Found on walls of caves, dedicated to monks of Ajivika sects, located in Barabara and Nagarjuna caves.

8.5 Other Important Facts

  • First time Ashokan edicts were discovered by James Princep in 1837.
  • First inscription founds was Delhi Topra Pillar edict, found in 1750
  • In most of the inscriptions, Ashoka has been called Devanam Piyadasi
  • Most of the inscriptions are in Bramhi script, Prakrit language
  • Some inscriptions found in North Western India are in Kharosthi script in Greek language e.g. Ashokan inscription in Hamri
  • Total 3 languages (Prakrit, Greek and Aramaic) and 4 scripts (Bramhi, Kharosthi, Greek & Aramaic) have been used

9. Mauryan Architecture

9.1 Features of Mauryan Architecture

  • Mauryan art had reached advanced stage, they had advanced knowledge of civil engineering as evident from architecture
  • We see both religious and secular dimensions through them
  • While Stupa represent religious architecture, pillars & palaces show the progress in secular matters
  • It was largely court art but images of Yaksa and Yaksini represent popular images as well
  • Highly refined
  • It was pan Indian in nature with monuments and arts located not only in towns and cities but spread in the entire subcontinent

10. Stupa

Stupa symbolizes transience of this world i.e. death. They’re built over the remains of Buddha and Bodhisattvas.
Stupas were known in India even before the time of Ashoka, but when Ashoka divided the existence body relics of Buddha into 8 parts and erected monuments to enshrine them, then stupas became the object of worship. 9th stupa contained the vessel in which relics were originally deposited.

Sideview of Stupa
Topview of Stupa

10.1 Architecture

  1. Stupa consists of a cylindrical drum and a circular Anda with Harmika and Chhatra on top.
  2. The three Chhatra of stupa would reflect three jewels of Buddhism i.e. Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha.
  3. 4 gateways called Toranas were constructed in all 4 directions. Each Torana would consist of 2 vertical pillars and three horizontal bars on the top.
  4. There would be enclosed circumambulatory path called Pradakshina Patha.
  5. Events from the life of Buddha i.e. Jataka stories were depicted in the railings and Toranas of the stupas.

10.2 Famous Stupas built during Mauryan period

  1. Piprahwa stupa – made of wood in UP.
  2. Sanchi stupa. Oldest, UNESCO world heritage site.
  3. For Sanchi Stupa railings were made of wood in Mauryan period. Later it was enlarged during Sunga period and stone railings were added. It is located in Madhya Pradesh. Lord Buddha is represented by figures like throne, wheel, footprints.
  4. Bharhut stupa – 1st built by Ashoka in 3rd century BC. Many works were added during Sunga period. We find many carvings of Yaksinis on this stupa. Railings, gateaways are made up of beautiful red sandstone. Buddha is represented in forms of symbols.
  5. According to contemporary sources, Ashoka got built 84,000 stupas. Of course, only handful of them have survived so far.

11. Ashokan Pillars / Mauryan Pillars

  • Made up white spotted red sandstone and grey stone. These were found in Mathura and Chunar region.
  • This also indicates that stone cutting industry was well developed in these areas.

11.1 Purpose

  • Propagating Dhamma. Spreading Ashoka’s messages.
  • Marking a sacred site associated with life of Buddha.
  • They would be about 40 feet tall, monolith and highly polished.
  • Surmounted by an Abacus, ornamented with animal and floral motifs.
  • Capital (animal) at the top e.g. Lion (four in number) capital at Sarnath pillar, Bull capital at Rampurav pillar, Single lion capital in Loriya Nandangarh, Elephant capital in Sankisa capital.
  • Each of the pillars weighed more than 50 tones.
  • The Mauryan pillars weighing more than 50 tones used to be transported more than 500km, which shows how communication and transportation was quiet advanced during Mauryan period.
  • The polished outers surface of these pillars is still intact even after 2000 yrs. This shows that the scientific and technological advancement was quite high.
  • It is believed that Mauryan pillars were derived from Achaemenian pillars and rather than being indigenous, Mauryan art of erecting pillars is a derived art. But closer examination reveals difference between them.

11.2 Difference between Mauryan and Achaemenian Pillars

Mauryan PillarsAchaemenian Pillars
MonolithicMade of blocks
Would be independentWould form part of some monument of building.
Purpose was to spread the royal message.Purpose was to support the monument.
Base would be at top.Base at bottom.

11.3 Sarnath Lion Capital

Built by Ashoka in commemoration of 1st sermon of Buddha. This is the finest example of Mauryan advancement in architecture. The Sarnath Capital (topmost element of a column/pillar), without crowing wheel and Lotus base has been adopted as the national emblem of India.

11.4 Five components of pillar are

  1. Shaft
  2. Inverted lotus bell base,
  3. Abacus – Bull Horse Elephant Lion
  4. 4 back to back standing lions.
  5. The crowning element, Dharma Chakra (this is now broken.)
Original Pillar
Present Pillar

12. Mauryan Sculpture

  1. It often forms the Capitals (topmost element of a column/pillar) of Ashokan pillars
  2. Extremely expressive and an example of court art
  3. Images of Yaksa and Yaksini are depicted
  4. Mythical gods/demigods. Called protectors from natural forces

Famous Didarganj Yaksini is a life size image of a women and is holding Chauri (Chamara)

12.1 Pottery

Northern Black Polished Ware.
Made of alluvial clay, highly lustrous, polished, brilliant..
Used for dishes and small balls.

12.2 Caves

Barabar caves
Nagarjuna caves dedicated to Ajivika sect monks.

Barabar CavesNagarjuna Caves
4 caves3 caves
Patronized by AshokaDasaratha
Lomas Rishi (elephant figure on doorway and no Ashokan inscriptions.)
Sudama,
Karan Choper,
Visvakarma cave.
Gopi ka kubha,
Vapya ka kubha,
Vaditi ka kubha.

12.3 Palace

1st palace at Kumrahar, built under Chandragupta Maurya. This would have been wooden palace.
Megasthenes in his INDICA has said that there was such a palace, as a magnificent court. In fact he says that it would have been a work of spirits, humans cannot build such palace.
It was inspired by Achaemenian palace at Persepolis.
Ashokan palace near Pataliputra.

13. Question Answers

13.1 Que. Analyze the role of Ashokan inscriptions in reconstructing Mauryan society, economy and polity.

  • It described welfare approach and paternal outlook of Ashoka towards the subject.
  • It gives idea of territorial extent of Mauryan empire.
  • Roles and responsibilities of officials which have been highlighted in these inscriptions would be forming politico-administrative base of Mauryan empire.
  • Foreign relations are conveyed through these edicts. E.g. 13th rock edict talks about Ashoka’s relation with rulers like Ptolemy of Egypt, Alexander of Epirus and Antiochus of Syria.
  • Chronology of Mauryan empire is also drawn through these inscriptions e.g. in 13th major rock edict, it is mentioned that Ashoka fought Kalinga war in his 9th year as a king.
  • One can further know about personal outlook of Ashoka, his personal qualities and practices, Ashoka dhamma, the fact that he adopted Buddhism, non-violent attitude of Ashoka etc.
  • Change of Mauryan policy under Ashoka from Berighosh to Dhammaghosha is also reflected through these edicts.

Social life

  • Lumbini pillar / Rummindei pillar inscription says that Lumbini was birthplace of Buddha
  • 5th Rock edict talks about Dhamma-mahamatras who would be responsible for spreading Ashoka Dhamma
  • Proficiency in writing at that time is also reflected through Ashokan inscriptions
  • Position of women is also evident
  • Level of advancement in science and technology is also depicted by these inscriptions which have remained intact since ages

Economy

  • State’s role in economy is depicted through these edicts.

13.2 Que. Ashoka is to be owed for the downfall of Mauryan empire because of his extreme passivism and lack of pragmatic attitude. Critically analyze.

The Mauryan empire, which was the first great empire in the history of Indian subcontinent flourished for more than 100 yrs. But this great empire came to an end when Brihadratha, the last rulers was assassinated by his commander-in-chief Pushyamitra Sunga.

There are multiple misconceptions related to the fall of Mauryan empire.

  1. ‘Mauryan empire saw the downfall as a result of Bramhinical reaction because of lack of patronage to Bramhanas under Ashoka.’ However this argument does not seem justified because the patronage to Buddhism by Ashoka did not mean loss of Patronage to Bramhanas. In his Ashoka Dhamma, Ashoka himself as asked the people to respect Bramhanas, which indicate that the Bramhanas were not completely ignored by Ashoka.
    If the discontent of Bramhanas would have been because of the policies of Ashoka, then Mauryan empire would have declined much earlier and not 50 yrs after the death of Ashoka.
  2. ‘Over emphasis on passivism by Ashoka led to the neglect of military power, which made the army weak and it could not stand against the prevailing challenges.’ However this belief does not hold much ground because Ashoka was a pragmatic ruler, he did not totally ignore the strength of army. In 13th major rock edict, he warns frontier tribes to mend their ways otherwise they would have to face repercussions. This shows that Ashoka Dhamma did not lead to over pacifism and loss of military strength.

Real reasons

  1. Fall of Mauryan empire was the result of multiple factors collaborating together to lead to disintegration and weakness of empire much before the assassination of Brihadratha.
  2. Weak successors of Ashoka, who could not handle pan-Indian empire in efficient manner.
  3. Strength of Mauryas in terms of elephants, iron did not remained restricted to Mauryans only and kingdoms like Satavahanas emerged as powerful kingdoms in peripheral areas.
  4. Centrifugal tendencies started seeping into the empire, leading to the secession by many regional kingdoms.
  5. Top Heavy administration and over reliance on bureaucratic strength needed the ruler of exceptional abilities to consolidate the empire. Once the powerful rulers died, kingdom started to crumble.
  6. Economy, which was the strength of Mauryan polity, started to decline as evident from the quality of coins which had declined in the later phases.
  7. The invasion of Indo Greeks would require high focus on the military strength to evade the threat. But last Mauryan rulers did not pay attention to the army. This discontent in the army was witnessed in the form of assassination of Brihadratha by his commander-in-chief Pusyamitra Sunga. This event was the last nail in the coffin of the Mauryan empire.
  8. Construction of great wall of China had turned warring tribes like Scythians towards Indian subcontinent, which had adversary affected Mauryan trade and defence.

5 2 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
1 Comment
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Asiya

Thank you for such an elaborate article

Join us on Telegram