Maurya Dynasty – Indian Ancient History
Maurya Empire was the ancient dynasty in Indian history. The geographical area was spread very large. The empire ruled by Great Chandragupta Maurya, Bindusara, and Samrat Ashoka.
In ancient India, the Maurya Empire geographically was very large. The Maurya Empire was founded by Chandragupta Maurya in 322 BCE. The dynasty ruled by Mauryan from 322 to 185 BCE. The capital of the empire was Pataliputra. The geographical area of the Mauryan Empire originating from Magadha (Bihar) stretched in the east Assam, and north the Himalayas. The empire extended to the west modern Pakistan, Baluchistan and some parts of Iran, Afghanistan. The Empire was one of the world’s largest empires in its time and the largest ever in the Indian subcontinent.
The Maurya Empire ruled by Chandragupta Maurya, Bindusara, and King Ashoka. This empire reached its peak point under Ashoka.
Chandragupta Maurya was the first king and founder of the Maurya dynasty. The name ‘Maurya ’came from his mother name‘Mur, that’s why he was called Maurya, In Sanskrit which means the son of Mur, and thus his empire was called ‘Maurya Empire’. Under Chandragupta, the Mauryan Empire conquered the trans-Indus region, which was under Macedonian rule. Then Chandragupta has defeated the invasion led by Seleucus I, a Greek general from Alexander’s army.
With the help of Chanakya, a Brahmin teacher at Takshashila, Chandragupta Maurya established the Maurya Empire. Chandragupta spread his influence into a big territory. His lands stretched west into present-day Afghanistan, east to the Himalayas, and south almost to the tip of India. By 321 B.C. Chandragupta Maurya captured the capital of the Nanda Empire, Pataliputra, after defeating Nandas.
Alexander’s death in 323 B.C. was another opportunity for Chandragupta to extend his empire. Chandragupta was a noble member of the Kshatriya caste (the warrior-ruler caste). Pataliputra remained the imperial capital and the initial territory controlled by Chandragupta extended all across Northern India from the Indus River in the west to the Bay of Bengal in the East.
Chandragupta established a strong state with an administration at Pataliputra. The state was surrounded by wooden wall consists of 64 gates and 570 towers. Chandragupta later converted his religion into Jainism and handed over his throne to Helen and his son Bindusar and moved away to Karnataka where he died at the age of 42.
About the Mauryan period and the knowledge about the Chandragupta Maurya, we gather from two important literary sources: The Arthashastra, written by Chanakya, and Indica, written by the ancient Greek writer Megasthenes. Kautilya Chanakya who was the minister of the Chandragupta Empire wrote the Arthashastra which described on Economics, Politics, Foreign Affairs, Administration, Military Arts, War, and Religion. In Arthashastra also discusses the rules of administration and detail role of the king, his duties, rate of taxation, use of espionage, and laws for governing the society.
On the other hand, the Indica described of the Mauryan society under the rule of Chandragupta. It’s also described the glory of the Mauryan capital of Pataliputra. It’s also talked of the lifestyle in the cities and villages and the prosperity of the cities. Square silver coins issued between 321 and 181 B.C. by the Maurya Empire. During Chandragupta reign, the state regulated trade levied taxes, and standardized weights and measures.
Chandragupta Maurya became the first Indian ruler to initiate a religious transformation at the highest level. At the older age, Chandragupta renounced his throne and material possessions to join a wandering group of Jain monks.
Bindusara, son of Chandragupta Maurya (297-273 B.C.E) was the second Mauryan emperor of India. He was the father of famous ruler Ashoka. Samrat Bindusara’s mother Durdhara died when he was born. The name ‘Bidusara’ was come from ‘Bindu’ is a Hindi word means ‘Spot’ and ‘Sara’ means head, collectively Bindusara indicates a spot on the head. Actually, Bindusara was born with a spot on his head. The spot came from a drop of poison that developed a spot on his head.
According to many stories believed that Bindusara had 4 wives while according to some books represent there are 16 wives of Bindusara. The famous Tibetan writer named Tarantha; Bindusara had totally eight sons including the Ashoka. King Ashoka later killed other six brothers to get into the royal power.
Bindusara has conquered sixteen states between the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. But he did not conquer one state Kalinga. His son Ashoka later got a victory over Kalinga (present day name – Orissa). Bindusara was famous as Amitrochates among the Greeks that means the killer of an enemy and therefore, he was rewarded with the title of Ajatashatru – A man without any enemies. He had a warm relationship with his step-uncle who was a Syrian king and also with the Egyptian king.
According to the Puranas, Bindusara died in 273 B.C.E. His death was the result of a war that indicates to kill each other’s of his sons – Ashoka and Sushmita.
The third ruler of Maurya Empire was Samrat Ashoka. After a death of his father, Ashoka ruled the entire Maurya dynasty and he was one of the greatest emperors of India who ruled almost the entire Indian subcontinent from 268 to 232 BCE. He was famously known as “Ashoka the Great”. He was born in 304 B.C. in Pataliputra. He was also known as “Dharma Ashoka”. He was aggressive, ambitious, and courageous. He has totally dedicated his life to Buddhism, that’s why he is spreading the Buddhism in many parts of the world.
In Sanskrit language, Ashoka means “Without any Sorrow”. He carried his entire empire administration very smoothly. That’s why he is famous as “Indian Emperor of the Maurya Dynasty”. He built up numerous stupas across his empire and got many pillars constructed, the most significant of them being the Ashoka Pillar, containing the Lion Capital of Ashoka which is today India’s national emblem. In addition to this, his Ashoka Chakra, inscribed on many of his relics (most prominent among which is the Lion Capital of Sarnath and The Ashoka Pillar), is at the center of the National flag of India.
He attacked Kalinga in 261 B.C. to further extend his emperor. He led a huge army and fought a gruesome battle with the army of Kalinga. The battle of Kalinga made him pledge to never wage a war again. The battle took place on the Dhauli hills that are located on the banks of River Daya. After conquered Successfully Kalinga, he was shocked to see the massive destruction caused in terms of both property and human lives. Thus, this turned him heartbroken and thus, made a pledge to never ever fight a battle again. To seek solace, he converted to Buddhism.
According to Buddhist sources, he was so influenced by the teachings of Buddhism that he converted into a Buddhist and made it his state religion. He was the first Emperor to make a serious attempt at developing Buddhist policies. He died in 232 BC, aged 72.
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