Mauryan Empire in India – History Study Materials


Mauryan Empire in India – History Study Materials

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In 322 BC, Chandragupta Maurya, the ruler of Magadha, began to assert its authority over the neighbouring kingdoms. Chandragupta (320-300 BC), was the builder of the first Indian imperial power, the Mauryan Empire. He had his capital at Pataliputru, near Patna, in Bihar.


            Chandragupta Maurya was the founder of the Mauryan Empire. He founded the dynasty by overthrowing the Nandas around 320 BC. There is no clear account available about his early life. He was born in Pataliputra, but was raised in the forest in the company of herdsmen and hunters. It was Chanakya who spotted him and he was struck by his personality. Chanakya trained and transformed him into one of the most powerful rulers of that era. Chanakya trained him in arts, sciences, logic, administration and warfare at the Taxila University. Chanakya had decided a task for Chandragupta-to free India from Greek dominance. Some smaller kingdoms in Punjab and Sindh helped Chandragupta. Soon Chandragupta defeated the Greeks and freed Punjab. Sindh and’ otenseher north-west regions of India. He then defeated the Nancla rulers in Pataliputra and captured the throne of Magadha. Chandragupta Maurya’s army included over 6, 00,000 infantry, 50,000 cavalry, 10,000 elephants and 7,000 chariots.

Political Administration

            Chandragupta maintained a large standing army and a well- organised espionage system. He divided his empire into provinces, districts and villages. All the administrative units were governed by centrally appointed local officials who performed the functions as directed by the central administration. The capital city had magnificent palaces, temples, a university, a library, gardens and parks.


            Ashoka was the son of Bindusara. He is considered among the greatest rulers of all times. He was the first ruler who tried to maintain direct contact with his subjects. He ruled for nearly 40 years. Most of the information about the life of Ashoka can be had from the 50 edicts he placed throughout India. The most important of these edicts is the Rock Edict XIII (257-256 BC). It offers account of the eight years of the Kalinga War. The destruction and the sorrow that he witnessed in the war transformed Ashoka from a warrior to a peace loving ruler. He started propagating Buddhism. The impact of Ashoka’s moral conquest can be seen not only within India but also in the far off Empires like Syria, Egypt and Macedonia and Epirus. Significantly, Ashoka has been referred to with names of Devanumpriya or Priyadarshini throughout the edicts.

The Kalinga War

            This was an important war during Ashoka’s rule, which changed his attitude towards life. In 265 BC, Ashoka invaded Kalinga (Orissa) and occupied it after widespread destruction and bloodshed. Kalinga was an important empire as it controlled the land and the sea routes to South India. This led to Ashoka becoming a follower of Buddhism. His increased pre-occupation in the religion and emphasis on non-violence led to the weakening of his administration, which slowly led to the decline of the Mauryan Empire.

The Mauryan Dynasty

  1. Chandragupta Maurya (320-300 BC)
  2. Bindusara (300-273 BC.)
  3. Ashoka (269-232 BC)
  4. Dasaratha Kunala (232-226 BC)
  5. Samprati (226-215 BC)
  6. Salishoka (215-202 BC)
  7. Devavorma (202-195 BC)
  8. Satdhanvan (195-191 BC)
  9. Brihadratha (181-180 BC)

Mauryan Empire

Five provinces comprising the Mauryan Empire with their respective capitals are:

  1. Uttarapatha: (North): Taxila.
  2. Dakshinapatha: (South): Suvarnagiri
  3. Avantopatha: (West): Ujiain.
  4. Prachyapatha: (East): Tashali (Kalinga).

5. Central Province: (Magadh): Pataliputra.

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