Rise the the Maurya Empire

Chandragupta Maurya established the Maurya empire in 322 BCE once he dominated the kingdom the Magadha and also the northwestern Macedonian satrapies.

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Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe Maurya empire was started in 322 BCE by Chandragupta Maurya, who had actually overthrown the Nanda Dynasty and rapidly increased his strength westward across central and west India in order to take benefit of the disruptions of regional powers in the wake up of the tap the money by Alexander the good ‘s armies.According to legend, the teacher Chanakya persuaded his disciple, Chandragupta Maurya, to dominate the the kingdom of Magadha (the Nanda realm ) as soon as he was insulted by its king Dhana Nanda.Chandragupta Maurya expanded the Maurya realm north and west as he dominated the Macedonian Satrapies and won the Seleucid-Mauryan war.In its time, the Maurya realm was among 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 through Dhana Nanda; that was conquered by Chandragupta Maurya in 321 BCE.Chanakya: Maurya’s teacher and loyal advisor during the structure and growth of the Maurya Empire.Takshashila: very early city in contemporary Pakistan the was believed to be among the earliest global settings of learning and also culture. The is now modern-day Taxila.

The Maurya empire was a geographically considerable Iron period historical strength in old India, rule by the Maurya empire from 322-185 BCE. Originating native the kingdom that Magadha in the Indo-Gangetic plain (modern Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh) in the eastern side of the Indian subcontinent, the realm had its resources city in ~ Pataliputra (modern Patna). The empire was the biggest to have ever before existed in the Indian subcontinent, covering over 5 million square kilometres in ~ its zenith under Ashoka.

The empire was started in 322 BCE through Chandragupta Maurya, who had actually overthrown the Nanda Dynasty, and rapidly broadened his power,with Chanakya’s help, from the west across central and west India. His growth took benefit of the interruptions of local powers in the wake of the withdrawal from the west by Alexander the Great’s armies. By 316 BCE, the empire had completely occupied Northwestern India, defeating and also conquering the satraps left through Alexander. Chandragupta then defeated the intrusion led by Seleucus I, a Macedonian general from Alexander’s army, and also gained added territory west the the Indus River.

In that is time, the Maurya empire was one of the largest empires of the world. At its best extent, the empire stretched to the north along the natural boundaries of the Himalayas, come the east into Assam, to the west into Balochistan (southwest Pakistan and southeast Iran) and also into the Hindu Kush mountains of what is currently Afghanistan. The realm was broadened into India’s central and southern regions by the emperors Chandragupta and Bindusara, yet it exclude, a small part of unexplored tribal and forested regions close to Kalinga (modern Odisha), until it was dominated by Ashoka. It decreased for about 50 years after Ashoka’s dominance ended, and also it liquified in 185 BCE v the structure of the Shunga empire in Magadha.

Conquest that Magadha and structure of the Maurya empire (c. 321 BCE)

According to number of legends, Chanakya travel to Magadha, a kingdom that was big and militarily powerful and feared by that is neighbors, yet was insulted by its king Dhana Nanda, of the Nanda Dynasty. Chanakya swore revenge and vowed to destroy the Nanda Empire.

The Nanda realm originated native the region of Magadha in ancient India throughout the 4th century BCE, and also lasted until in between 345-321 BCE. In ~ its biggest extent, the realm ruled by the Nanda empire extended from Bengal in the east, to the Punjab an ar in the west, and also as far south together the Vindhya Range. The rulers that this dynasty were famous for the an excellent wealth that they accumulated.

Chanakya urged the young Chandragupta Maurya and also his army to take over the throne of Magadha. Using his intelligence network, Chandragupta gathered plenty of young guys from throughout Magadha and other provinces, who were upset end the corrupt and oppressive preeminence of King Dhana, as well as the resources vital for his army to fight a long series of battles. This men had the previous general of Taxila, achieved students the Chanakya, the representative the King Porus that Kakayee, his boy Malayketu, and the rulers of tiny states.

Maurya devised a strategy to invade Pataliputra, the funding of the Nanda Empire. A battle was announced and also the Magadhan army was drawn from the city to a far-off battlefield in stimulate to interact Maurya’s forces. Meanwhile, Maurya’s general and spies bribed the Nanda’s corrupt general, and created an atmosphere of civil battle in the kingdom, which culminated in the death of the heir come the throne.

Upon the polite unrest in the kingdom, Nanda resigned and disappeared into exile. Chanakya contacted the element minister, Rakshasa, and also convinced him the his commitment was to Magadha, not to the Nanda Dynasty, and that he should remain in office. Chanakya reiterated that picking to resist would start a battle that would severely influence Magadha and also destroy the city. Rakshasa accepted Chanakya’s reasoning, and also Chandragupta Maurya was legitimately set up as the brand-new King that Magadha in 321 BCE, in ~ the period of 21. Rakshasa became Chandragupta’s chief advisor, and Chanakya assumed the position of one elder statesman.


Statue the Chandragupta Maurya in ~ the Birla Mandir Hindu temple, Delhi: Chandragupta Maurya conquered the kingdom that Magadha to found the Maurya realm in 231 BCE, in ~ the period of 21.

Northwest Expansion

With his brand-new seat of power in Magadha, Chandragupta Maurya defeated the remaining Macedonian satraps, and also consolidated his power of the new Maurya Empire. The rapidly increased his strength westward across main and western India, taking advantage of the disruptions of local powers in the wake up of the withdrawal from the west by Alexander the Great’s Greek armies. By 320 BCE, the realm had totally occupied Northwestern India. Chandragupta Maurya would end up being the an initial emperor to unify India right into one state, developing one that the world’s largest empires in the time, and also the largest ever in the Indian subcontinent.

The Maurya realm c. 320 BCE: The Maurya empire when it was an initial founded by Chandragupta Maurya c. 320 BCE, after overcoming the Nanda realm when the was only about twenty years old.

Expansion the the Maurya Empire

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

Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe Seleucid empire tried and also failed to reconquer the northwestern part of the Maurya Empire during the Seleucid-Mauryan war, native 305-303 BCE.As component of the peace offering, the Maurya realm gained 5 territories in exchange for 500 battle elephants.Several Greeks continued to be at the Mauryan court together ambassadors to 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 realm expanded right into the southern part of the Indian subcontinent.Ashoka set up the Edicts the Ashoka, i beg your pardon state his policies and accomplishments, and also which were created in both Greek and Sanskrit.Key Termssatrapies: The governors that the districts of the ancient Median and also Achaemenid (Persian) Empires, and also several of their successors, such as the Sasanian Empire and 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 of the Seleucid empire who tried to reconquer northwestern Indian, however lost the Selecucid-Mauryan War.Edicts of Ashoka: rock edicts that depicted the policies and success of Ashoka the Great, and also were created in both Greek and also Sanskrit.

The Seleucid-Mauryan War

In 305 BCE, Emperor Chandragupta Maurya led a collection of campaigns to retake the satrapies left behind by Alexander the great when he reverted westward. Seleucus I combated to defend these territories, but both sides made peace in 303 BCE.

Seleucus, one of Alexander’s generals, received Babylonia and, indigenous there, increased his dominions to incorporate much that Alexander’s near eastern territories. Seleucus created himself in Babylon in 312 BC, the year offered as the structure date of the Seleucid Empire. He rule not just Babylonia, but the entire enormous eastern part of Alexander’s empire. The Seleucid realm was a significant center of Hellenistic culture. In the locations where a Greek-Macedonian politics elite dominated (mostly urban), it kept the preeminence of Greek customs.

In 305 BCE, Seleucus ns tried to reconquer the northwestern parts of India in bespeak to case them for the cultivation Seleucid Empire. Little is well-known of the project in i beg your pardon Chandragupta fought with Seleucus over the Indus Valley and the an ar of Gandhara—a really wealthy kingdom that had submitted decades earlier to Alexander the Great.

Seleucus shed the Seleucid-Mauryan War, and also the two rulers reconciled v a peace treaty. The Greeks available a Macedonian princess for marriage to Chandragupta, and also several territories, including the satrapies that Paropamisade (modern-day Kamboja and also Gandhara), Arachosia (modern-day Kandhahar), and also Gedrosia (modern-day Balochistan). In return, Chandragupta sent out 500 battle elephants, a army asset which would play a decisive duty in Seleucus’ victory against western Hellenistic majesties at the battle of Ipsus in 301 BCE.

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

In enhancement to this treaty, Seleucus dispatched 2 Greek ambassadors, Megasthenes and, later, Deimakos, to the Mauryan court at Pataliputra. Later, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the leader of Ptolemaic Egypt, sent an ambassador called Dionysius come the Mauryan court. Thus, continuing ties between the Hellenistic world and also the Mauryan Empire.

Expansion Under Bindusara

Chandragupta Maurya ruled from 322 BCE until his voluntary retirement and abdication, in favor of his son, Bindusara, in 298 BCE. Bindusara (320-272 BCE) to be the kid of Maurya and his queen, Durdhara. Throughout his reign, Bindusara broadened the Maurya empire southward, through Chanakya as his advisor. He carried 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, ruled by King Ilamcetcenni, the Pandyas, and also Cheras. Except these southerly states, Kalinga (modern-day Odisha) to be the just kingdom in India independent native Bindusara’s empire.

The Maurya realm c. 290 BCE: Bindausara (ruler 298-272 BCE) prolonged the boundaries of the empire southward right 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 good (304-232 BCE). As a young prince, Ashoka (r. 272-232 BCE) was a excellent commander who crushed revolts in Ujjain and also Taxila. As monarch, he to be ambitious and aggressive, reasserting the Empire’s superiority in southern and western India. Yet it to be his conquest of Kalinga (262-261 BCE) that showed to it is in the pivotal event of his life. Return Ashoka’s military succeeded in overwhelming Kalinga forces of imperial soldiers and also civilian units, an estimated 100,000 soldiers and civilians were killed in the furious warfare, including over 10,000 the Ashoka’s own men. Numerous thousands of people were adversely impacted by the destruction and also fallout the war. As soon as he personally observed the devastation, Ashoka started feeling remorse. Back the addition of Kalinga was completed, Ashoka embraced the teachings that Buddhism, and also renounced war and violence. He sent out missionaries to travel roughly Asia and spread Buddhism to other countries.

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

As ruler, Ashoka applied principles of ahimsa (the principle of “to not injure”) by banning hunting and violent sports activities, and also ending indentured and also forced labor (many thousands of world in war-ravaged Kalinga had actually been forced into difficult labor and servitude). If he preserved a huge and an effective army to save the peace, Ashoka increased friendly relations with states across Asia and also Europe, and sponsored buddhism missions. He took on a massive public works building campaign across the country. Amongst these works were the construction of stupas, or Buddhist spiritual structures, containing relics. One remarkable stupas produced during the regime of Ashoka was The good Stupa, i beg your pardon stands in Sanchi, India. End 40 year of peace, harmony, and prosperity do Ashoka one of the many successful and also famous queens in Indian history. He remains an idealized figure of inspiration in modern India.

The Edicts of Ashoka

Perhaps one of the greatest-known achievements of Ashoka to be his creation of his edicts, which to be erected in between 269 BCE and 232 BCE. The Edicts the Ashoka, collection in stone, are uncovered throughout the Subcontinent. Varying from as far west as Afghanistan, and also as much south together Andhra (Nellore District), Ashoka’s edicts state his policies and also accomplishments. Although primarily written in Prakrit, two of lock were written in Greek, and also one in both Greek and Aramaic. Ashoka’s edicts describe the Greeks, Kambojas, and Gandharas together peoples forming a frontier region of his empire. They likewise attest to Ashoka’s envoys’ travel to the Greek rulers in the west as far as the Mediterranean. Ashoka’s edicts also mentioned social and social attributes of his empire, emphasizing Buddhism, though no condemning various other religions. Because that this, the Edicts that Ashoka are recognized as one early paper that promoted spiritual tolerance.


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

Centralization in the Maurya Empire

The Mauryan empire encouraged financial prosperity through political stability and also a unified main government.

Learning Objectives

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

Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe Mauryan realm was separated into 4 provinces, each governed through the Kumara, who offered as the king’s representative.Emperor Ashoka kept a massive standing army to protect the Mauryan Empire and also instill stability and also peace throughout West and South Asia.Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka’s grandfather, had developed a single currency across India, a network of local governors and administrators, and a civil service to carry out justice and also security for merchants, farmers and also traders that continued throughout the Mauryan Dynasty.The Mauryan global network of trade prolonged to the Greek states and Hellenic kingdoms in West Asia and into southeast Asia.Key TermsKhyber Pass: A strategically essential trade prevent on the modern boundary of Pakistan and also Afghanistan.Arthashastra: an old Indian treatise on government, statecraft, military, and economy.Kumara: A royal prince who looked after the Mauryan provinces on instead of of the emperor.standing army: A permanent military composed of full-time soldiers the is no disbanded during times of peace.

Employing a closely organized governmental system, the Maurya empire was maybe to preserve security and also political unit across huge parts that western and southern Asia. This contained a common economic device supporting stable farming in its vast landholdings, and also successful trade and commerce. Through this central authority, which had a powerful military, the rulers that the empire bound together the previously broken regions the the Indian Subcontinent.

Unification and Military

Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya Empire, ruled from 324-297 BCE, before voluntarily abdicating in favor of his son, Bindusara, that ruled from 297 BCE until his fatality in 272 BCE. This resulted in a war of sequence in i m sorry Bindusara’s son, Ashoka, defeated his brother, Susima, and rose to the throne in 268 BCE, eventually ending up being the greatest ruler the the Maurya Dynasty.

Before the Mauryan Empire, the Indian subcontinent was fragmentised into thousands of kingdoms. These were ruled by an effective regional chieftains with tiny armies that engaged in internecine warfare. The Mauryan army eliminated local chieftains, private armies, and also even gangs the bandits, who sought to impose their own dominance in little areas.

The Mauryan Army, the biggest standing military force of that time, supported 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 substantial espionage system gathered intelligence for both internal and also external protection purposes. Although Emperor Ashoka renounced offensive warfare and expansionism, he preserved this standing military to defend the empire from external threats and also maintain stability and peace across Western and also Southern Asia.


The Mauryan realm was split into 4 provinces, through the imperial capital at Pataliputra, close to the Ganges flow in the contemporary state of Bihar in India. The Edicts that Ashoka, a repertoire of engravings made throughout Ashoka’s power from 268-232 BCE, provide the surname of the Maurya Empire’s 4 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 v the emperor and also his Mantriparishad, or the supervisory board of Ministers. The head the the provincial management was the Kumara, or imperial prince, that governed the districts as the king’s representative, v the help of Mahamatyas, that were essentially regional prime ministers. Through this sophisticated system that bureaucracy, the realm governed all elements of government at every level, native municipal toilet to global trade.

Maurya realm at the greatest degree (dark orange), consisting of vassal kingdoms (light orange), 265 BCE: The Maurya Empire detailed political stability with a unified main government, which subsequently encouraged financial prosperity.

Centralization and also Taxation

Chandragupta Maurya, the dad of the dynasty, established a solitary currency across India, a network of local governors and administrators, and a civil business to carry out justice and security because that merchants, farmers, and also traders.

Through the disciplined central authority the the Mauryan Empire, farmers were freed of tax and also crop arsenal burdens from regional kings. Instead, they paid a nationally administered mechanism of taxation that was strict yet fair. The mechanism operated under the values of the Arthashastra, an ancient Indian writing on financial policy, statecraft, and military strategy. Created in Sanskrit and also adhering come Hindu philosophies, the Arthashastra includes publications on the nature that government, law, civil and criminal courts, ethics, and also economic topics, consisting of markets and trade, agriculture, mineralogy, mining and also metals, forestry, and also others.

Although regimental in revenue collection, the Mauryan realm funded plenty of public works tasks to boost productivity. Choose his father and also grandfather, Ashoka funded the building of hundreds of roads, waterways, canals, rest houses, hospitals, and other types of infrastructure.

Under ongoing Mauryan rule, political unity and military security motivated a typical economic system, increased farming productivity, and intensified widespread trade and commerce for the an initial time in West and South Asia.


Coins that the Maurya Empire: Chandragupta Maurya created a single currency across India, consisting of these silver punch note coins with signs of wheel and elephant, third century BCE

Trade and Commerce

The Maurya Empire’s politics unity and also internal peace motivated the expansion of profession in India. Under the Indo-Greek friendship treaty during Ashoka’s reign, the Mauryan global network of profession saw great expansion.

The Khyber Pass, on the contemporary boundary the Pakistan and also Afghanistan, ended up being a strategically important point of trade and also interaction v the outside world. Greek states and also Hellenic kingdoms in West Asia came to be trading partners. Trade additionally extended with the Malay Peninsula intoSoutheast Asia. India’s exports consisted of silk, textiles, spices, and also exotic foods. The outside world gained new scientific knowledge and modern technology through increased trade v the Mauryan Empire.

Ashoka’s Conversion

Mauryan emperor Ashoka adopted Buddhism ~ witnessing the massive deaths the the Kalinga War, which the himself had actually waged out of a desire for conquest.

Key Takeaways

Key PointsWhile the early part of Ashoka’s power was apparently fairly bloodthirsty, he came to be a monitor of the Buddha’s teachings after his conquest of Kalinga.According come a modern text, the Edicts the Ashoka, Ashoka converted to Buddhism because he “felt remorse top top account the the conquest of Kalinga because, throughout the subjugation of a formerly unconquered country, slaughter, death, and also taking away captive that the civilization necessarily occur.”In one source, his counter is presented together a gradual process coming indigenous intense personal anguish, quite than spurred by a certain event.As a buddhism emperor, Ashoka thought that Buddhism is useful for all human being beings, and also animals and plants, so he developed a number of stupas. He likewise well spread out Buddhism to surrounding kingdoms.Key TermsDharma: Cosmic law and order, behaviors that are taken into consideration to be in accord with the bespeak that renders life and also the universe possible, consisting of duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues, and ‘‘right way of living.” additionally specifically signifies the teachings that the Buddha.Edicts that Ashoka: A collection of 33 engravings on the Pillars that Ashoka, as well as boulders and also cave walls, made by the Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan Empire during his reign, indigenous 269 BCE to 232 BCE.

Background: conquest of Kalinga

While the early component of Ashoka’s reign was apparently fairly bloodthirsty, he ended up being a follower of the Buddha’s teachings after ~ his occupation of Kalinga on the east coastline of India in the present-day states of Odisha and also North seaside Andhra Pradesh. Kalinga was a state the prided chin on the sovereignty and democracy. V its autarchic parliamentary democracy, the was rather an exemption in old Bharata where there exist the principle of Rajdharma. Rajdharma way the duty of the rulers, which was fundamentally entwined through the ide of bravery and also dharma. The Kalinga War taken place eight years after his coronation. Native Ashoka’s 13th inscription, we come to know the the fight was a huge one and caused the deaths of more than 100,000 soldiers and also many civilians who increased up in defence; end 150,000 to be deported. Once he was walking with the grounds the Kalinga after ~ his conquest, rejoicing in his victory, the was moved by the number of bodies strewn there and also the wails the the bereaved.

Conversion come Buddhism

Edict 13 on the Edicts the Ashoka Rock inscriptions reflect the good remorse the king feeling after observing the damage of Kalinga:

His Majesty feel remorse ~ above account that the occupation of Kalinga because, throughout the subjugation that a previously unconquered country, slaughter, death, and also taking away captive that the human being necessarily occur, whereas His Majesty feels profound sorrow and regret.

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

Legend claims that one day after the war was over, Ashoka ventured out to roam the city and all he can see were charred houses and scattered corpses. The lethal war through Kalinga transformed the vengeful Emperor Ashoka right into a stable and peaceful emperor, and also he became a patron of Buddhism. According to the prominent Indologist, A. L. Basham, Ashoka’s an individual religion came to be Buddhism, if not before, then certainly after the Kalinga War. However, follow to Basham, the Dharma officially propagated through Ashoka was not Buddhism at all. Nevertheless, his patronage led to the development of Buddhism in the Mauryan empire and also other kingdoms throughout his rule, and an international from about 250 BCE.

After the Kalinga War and also Ashoka’s conversion, the realm experienced nearly fifty percent a century that peace and also security. Mauryan India additionally enjoyed one era of society harmony, spiritual transformation, and also expansion of the sciences and also of knowledge. Chandragupta Maurya ‘s embrace of Jainism enhanced social and spiritual renewal and reform across his society, if Ashoka’s adopt of Buddhism has been said to have actually been the foundation of the reign of social and political peace and non-violence across all that India.

Buddhist Kingship

One of the much more enduring legacies of Ashoka Maurya to be the version that he detailed for the relationship between Buddhism and the state. Throughout Theravada Southeastern Asia, the model of rulership embodied through Ashoka replaced the notion of magnificent kingship that had previously conquered (in the Angkor kingdom, for instance). Under this version of “Buddhist kingship,” the king sought to legitimize his rule, not with descent native a divine source, however by supporting and earning the approval of the buddhism sangha. Following Ashoka’s example, kings developed monasteries, sponsor the construction of stupas, and also supported the ordination that monks in your kingdom. Countless rulers also took one active duty in resolving conflicts over the status and also regulation of the sangha, as Ashoka had actually by phone call a conclave to clear up a number of contentious concerns during his reign. This breakthrough ultimately caused a close combination in many Southeast eastern countries in between the monarchy and also the religious hierarchy, an association that can still be seen today in the state-supported Buddhism the Thailand, and also the traditional role of the Thai king as both a religious and secular leader. Ashoka likewise said the his courtiers constantly governed the human being in a moral manner.

As a buddhist emperor, Ashoka thought that Buddhism is valuable for all human being beings, and also animals and plants, so he constructed a number of stupas, Sangharama, viharas, chaitya, and residences because that Buddhist monks almost everywhere South Asia and main Asia. Follow to the Ashokavadana, that ordered the building of 84,000 stupas to home the Buddhas relics. In the Aryamanjusrimulakalpa, Ashoka takes offerings to every of this stupas, traveling in a chariot adorned with precious metals. He gave donations come viharas and also mathas. He sent his only daughter, Sanghamitra, and son, Mahindra, to spread out Buddhism in Sri Lanka (then well-known as Tamraparni).


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

Debate around Ashoka’s Conversion and also Rule

The usage of Buddhist sources in reconstructing the life of Ashoka has had a strong influence on consciousness of Ashoka, as well as the interpretations that his Edicts. Building on timeless accounts, early scholars concerned Ashoka together a mainly Buddhist monarch that underwent a conversion to Buddhism and also was actively engaged in sponsoring and supporting the buddhism monastic institution. Some scholars have actually tended to concern this assessment. The only source of details not attributable come Buddhist sources are the Ashokan Edicts, and these do not explicitly state the Ashoka to be a Buddhist. In his edicts, Ashoka expresses support for all the significant religions that his time: Buddhism, Brahmanism, Jainism, and also Ajivikaism. His edicts addressed to the populace at huge (there are some addressed especially to Buddhists, which is not the case for the other religions) generally focus on moral themes the members of every the religions would accept.

However, the edicts alone strongly show that he was a Buddhist. In one edict the belittles rituals, and also he banned Vedic pet sacrifices; these strongly indicate that he at the very least did not look to the Vedic tradition for guidance. Furthermore, countless edicts space expressed to Buddhists alone; in one, Ashoka declares self to it is in an “upasaka,” and in one more he demonstrates a nearby familiarity with Buddhist texts. He erected rock pillars in ~ Buddhist divine sites, yet did not carry out so for the sites of various other religions. He additionally used words “dhamma” come refer to qualities of the heart that underlie moral action; this to be an solely Buddhist usage of the word. Finally, he advocated ideals that correspond to the very first three steps of the Buddha’s i graduated discourse.

Interestingly, the Ashokavadana, presents an alternate view the 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 factor for adopting non-violence appears much an ext personal. The Ashokavadana shows that the main source of Ashoka’s conversion, and the plot of welfare that followed, room rooted rather in intense an individual anguish, indigenous a wellspring inside himself rather than spurred by a particular event. It thereby illuminates Ashoka as an ext humanly ambitious and also passionate, v both greatness and also flaws. This Ashoka is really different from the “shadowy do-gooder” of later on Pali chronicles.

Decline that the Maurya Empire

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

Key Takeaways

Key PointsAshoka the Great’s dominion was complied with by 50 year of weak kings who did no retain strong main authority. This eventually led to the dissolution 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 dominated the northwestern Indian territories and also founded the Indo-Greek Kingdom.Buddhism shed favor once the Sunga empire gained power, but remained leading in the Ind0-Greek Kingdom.Key TermsBuddhism: A faith encompassing a selection of traditions, beliefs, and also spiritual methods largely based upon teachings attributed come the Buddha.Khyber Pass: A hill pass connecting Afghanistan and Pakistan; it has been vital trade routebetween central Asia and also South Asia, and also a strategic armed forces location.Demetrius: The Greco-Bactrian king who established the Indo-Greek kingdom when he overcame parts the northwestern India, approximately 180 BCE.Sunga: The empire founded by the general Pusyamitra Sunga after he staged a coup against the Maurya dynasty in 185 BCE.

A 50-year sequence of weak kings followed the reign of Ashoka the Great, the Indian emperor that the Maurya empire who died in 232 BCE. Together Ashoka’s highly centralized government shed power, the Maurya empire lost regulate over its territories. The different cultures and economies began to rest apart, although the kings maintained Buddhism together the state religion.

Sunga Coup and Rule

Brihadratha, the last ruler of the Maurya Dynasty, was assassinated in 185 BCE. The commander-in-chief the his guard, Brahmin basic Pusyamitra Sunga, killed Brihadratha throughout a armed forces parade and also ascended the throne. He created the Sunga Dynasty, which prospered from roughly 187 to 78 BCE. Pusyamitra was succeeded after 36 years by his son, Agnimitra, start the dynasty of ten Sunga rulers overall. They conducted wars with both foreign and indigenous powers, including the Kalinga, the Satavahana Dynasty, and also the Indo-Greek Kingdom. The Sungas were flourished by the Kanva Dynasty around 73 BCE.

Sunga rulers helped establish the legacy of imperial sponsorship of education and also the arts at a time as soon as some of the most important developments in Hindu believed were acquisition place. The Mathura art format took hold throughout this time, and many little terracotta images, larger stone sculptures, and architectural monuments indigenous the Sunga duration are tho in existence.


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

Sunga and also Buddhism

The Sungas favored Hinduism over Buddhism. Buddhism sources, such as the Ashokavadana, an Indian Sanskrit text describing the birth and reign the Ashoka the Great, mention that Pusyamitra to be hostile in the direction of Buddhists and allegedly persecuted members the the buddhism faith. A large number of buddhism monasteries, called viharas, to be allegedly converted to Hindu temples in such locations as Nalanda, Bodhgaya, Sarnath, or Mathura. Some historians argue, however, the Buddhist account of Sunga persecution are largely exaggerated.


Sunga Empire, c. 185 BCE: The Sunga empire was developed following a coup by general Pusyamitra Sunga, noting the finish of the Maurya Empire.

Indo-Greek Kingdom

In the east, the autumn of the Mauryas left the Khyber happen unguarded, and a tide of international invasion followed. The Greco-Bactrian king, Demetrius, capitalized top top the break-up and also conquered southern Afghanistan and parts of northwestern India roughly 180 BCE, creating the Indo-Greek Kingdom. The Indo-Greeks preserved territorial holdings for about a century in the Trans-Indus Region, in what is now Pakistan and parts of main India.

Demetrius, that lived native 175 to 140 BCE, founded the city that Sirkap, combining Greek and also Indian impacts without indicators of segregation between thetwo cultures. The Greek development into Indian territory may have actually been to plan to safeguard Greek populations in India, as well as to defend the Buddhist confidence from the alleged religious persecutions of the Sungas.


Seated Buddha statue showing Greek influences: Buddhism was favored in the Indo-Greek Kingdom. Countless statues the Buddha from this duration display Greek stylistic elements including Greek clothing.

Demetrius was succeeded by Menander, who conquered the biggest territory and was among the most successful Indo-Greek kings. His coins that have been found are the many numerous and also widespread of every the Indo-Greek kings. According to buddhism literature, Menander converted to Buddhism and is sometimes defined as the Milinda Panha. He helped Buddhism flourish and also established the brand-new capital the Sagala.


Coin portraying Menander I: explained in both Greek and Indian accounts, Menander I came to be the most vital of the Indo-Greek rulers. He converted to Buddhism and also expanded the Indo-Greek Kingdom.

In Indian literature, the Indo-Greeks are defined as “Yavanas” in Sanskrit, or “Yonas” in Pali, which room both thought to be transliterations of “Ionians.” The buddhist scripture, Majjhima Nikaya, describes that in contrast with the plenty of Indian castes, there were only two class of people in Indo-Greek culture: the Aryas, interpreted as the masters; and also Dasas, the servants.

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Indo-Greek Fall

Throughout the first century BCE, the Indo-Greeks significantly lost ground come the indians in the East, and the Scythians, the Yuezhi, and the Parthians in the West. Around 20 Indo-Greek emperors are known throughout this period, including last well-known Indo-Greek ruler, Strato II, that ruled in the Punjab an ar until around 55 BCE.