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The Mauryan Empire

  • The Mauryan Empire was founded by Chandragupta Maurya more than 2300 years ago.
  • When members of the same family become rulers one after another, it is called a dynasty.
  • The Mauryas were a dynasty with three important rulers- Chandragupta, his son Bindusara who was the father of Ashoka.
  • Chandragupta was supported by a wise man named Chanakya or Kautilya, many of whose ideas were written down in a book called the Arthashastra.

Read MoreClass 6 Ch 7 History

Important cities in the empire

  • Capital Pataliputra
  • Taxila- it was a gateway to the north-west, including Central Asia.
  • Ujjain- it lay on the route from north to south India.
  • Merchants, officials and crafts persons probably lived in these cities.

Empires v/s Kingdoms

  • Emperors need more resources than kings because empires are larger than kingdoms, and need to be protected by big armies.
  • They also need a large number of officials to collect taxes.

Ruling the Empire

  • The empire was very large.
  • The area around Pataliputra was under the direct control of the emperor.
  • Officials collected taxes from the area under the direct control of the ruler.
  • Royal princes often went to the provinces as governors.
  • The Mauryan rulers tried to control roads and rivers which were important for transport.
  • People in forested regions provided the Mauryan officials with elephants, timber, honey and wax.
  • Taxes and tributes were collected.
  • Unlike taxes, which were collected on a regular basis, tribute was collected as and when it was possible from people who gave a variety of things, more or less willingly.
  • Megasthenes was an ambassador who was sent to the court of Chandragupta Maurya by the Greek ruler of West Asia named Seleucus Nicator.

Ashoka

  • He was the most famous of the Mauryan rulers.
  • He was the first ruler who tried to take his message to the people through inscriptions.
  • Most of his inscriptions were in Prakrit and were written in the Brahmi script.
  • He fought a war to conquer Kalinga (ancient name of coastal Odisha).
  • Horrified by the violence and bloodshed, he decided not to fight any more wars.
  • He is the only king in the history of the world who gave up conquest after winning a war.

Ashoka’s Dhamma

  • He was inspired by the teachings of Buddha.
  • His dhamma did not involve worshiping of a God or performing a sacrifice.
  • He appointed officials known as Dhamma mahamatta, who went from place to place teaching people about dhamma.
  • Problems in his empire like religious conflicts, animal sacrifices, ill treatment of slaves and servants and family quarrels troubled Ashoka, who felt it was his duty to solve them.
  • On Ashoka’s instructions, inscriptions were carved on pillars and on rock surfaces.
  • He also sent messengers to spread ideas about dhamma to countries like Syria, Egypt, Greece and Sri Lanka.
  • He built roads, dug wells and rest houses.
  • He arranged for medical treatment for both human beings and animals.
  • The Lion Capital was carved in stone, and placed on top of a massive stone pillar at Sarnath.

lion capital

  • The Rampurva bull is a finely polished stone sculpture.

rampurvabull

 

  • It was part of a Mauryan pillar, found in Rampurva, Bihar and is now placed in the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

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