Rise the the Maurya Empire

Chandragupta Maurya founded the Maurya empire in 322 BCE as soon as he overcame the kingdom that Magadha and also the northwestern Macedonian satrapies.

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Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe Maurya empire was established in 322 BCE through Chandragupta Maurya, who had overthrown the Nanda Dynasty and also rapidly increased his power westward across main and west India in order to take benefit of the interruptions of local powers in the wake of the withdrawal by Alexander the an excellent ‘s armies.According to legend, the teacher Chanakya convinced his disciple, Chandragupta Maurya, to dominate the the kingdom that Magadha (the Nanda realm ) when he to be insulted by its king Dhana Nanda.Chandragupta Maurya expanded the Maurya realm north and also west together he overcame the Macedonian Satrapies and won the Seleucid-Mauryan war.In the time, the Maurya realm was among the largest realms of the world.Key TermsChandragupta Maurya: The founder the the Maurya Empire; he lived from 340-298 BCE.Nanda Empire: The kingdom led by Dhana Nanda; that was dominated by Chandragupta Maurya in 321 BCE.Chanakya: Maurya’s teacher and loyal advisor during the foundation and expansion of the Maurya Empire.Takshashila: very early city in modern Pakistan that was thought to be one of the earliest an international settings the learning and also culture. It is now modern-day Taxila.

The Maurya empire was a geographically extensive Iron period historical strength in old India, ruled by the Maurya dynasty from 322-185 BCE. Originating native the kingdom of Magadha in the Indo-Gangetic level (modern Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh) in the east side that the Indian subcontinent, the empire had its capital city at Pataliputra (modern Patna). The realm was the largest to have ever existed in the Indian subcontinent, spanning over 5 million square kilometres at its zenith under Ashoka.

The realm was founded in 322 BCE by Chandragupta Maurya, who had overthrown the Nanda Dynasty, and rapidly expanded his power,with Chanakya’s help, from the west across main and west India. His growth took advantage of the disruptions of local powers in the wake up of the withdrawal from the west by Alexander the Great’s armies. By 316 BCE, the empire had completely occupied Northwestern India, defeating and conquering the satraps left by Alexander. Chandragupta then beat the intrusion led through Seleucus I, a Macedonian basic from Alexander’s army, and gained added territory west the the Indus River.

In the time, the Maurya realm was one of the largest realms of the world. At its greatest extent, the empire stretched come the north along the natural limits of the Himalayas, to the east into Assam, come the west into Balochistan (southwest Pakistan and southeast Iran) and also into the Hindu Kush mountains of what is currently Afghanistan. The empire was broadened into India’s central and southern regions by the queens Chandragupta and Bindusara, however it excluded a small portion of unexplored tribal and also forested regions near Kalinga (modern Odisha), till it was overcame by Ashoka. It declined for about 50 years after Ashoka’s preeminence ended, and it dissolved in 185 BCE with the foundation of the Shunga dynasty in Magadha.

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

According to numerous legends, Chanakya travel to Magadha, a kingdom the was huge and militarily powerful and feared by its neighbors, but was insulted through its king Dhana Nanda, that the Nanda Dynasty. Chanakya swore revenge and also vowed to ruin the Nanda Empire.

The Nanda empire originated indigenous the region of Magadha in ancient India during the fourth century BCE, and also lasted until between 345-321 BCE. In ~ its greatest extent, the realm ruled through the Nanda dynasty extended from Bengal in the east, come the Punjab region in the west, and also as far south together the Vindhya Range. The rulers the this dynasty were renowned for the great wealth that they accumulated.

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

Maurya devised a strategy to attack Pataliputra, the capital of the Nanda Empire. A battle was announced and the Magadhan military was attracted from the city come a distant battlefield in order to engage Maurya’s forces. Meanwhile, Maurya’s general and also spies bribed the Nanda’s corrupt general, and created an environment of civil battle in the kingdom, i beg your pardon culminated in the fatality of the heir come the throne.

Upon the polite unrest in the kingdom, Nanda resigned and disappeared right 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 must remain in office. Chanakya reiterated that choosing to withstand would start a war that would certainly severely influence Magadha and also destroy the city. Rakshasa accepted Chanakya’s reasoning, and also Chandragupta Maurya was legitimately mounted as the new King the Magadha in 321 BCE, in ~ the period of 21. Rakshasa came to be Chandragupta’s cook advisor, and Chanakya assumed the position of one elder statesman.


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

Northwest Expansion

With his brand-new seat of power in Magadha, Chandragupta Maurya beat the continuing to be Macedonian satraps, and also consolidated his reign of the brand-new Maurya Empire. That rapidly increased his power westward across central and west India, taking advantage of the disruptions of local powers in the wake of the withdrawal from the west by Alexander the Great’s Greek armies. Through 320 BCE, the empire had totally occupied Northwestern India. Chandragupta Maurya would come to be the an initial emperor to unify India right into one state, creating one of the world’s largest realms in that is time, and also the largest ever in the Indian subcontinent.

The Maurya realm c. 320 BCE: The Maurya realm when the was an initial founded through Chandragupta Maurya c. 320 BCE, after dominating the Nanda realm when the was just about twenty years old.

Expansion of the Maurya Empire

After win the Seleucid-Mauryan war, the Maurya realm expanded right into the southerly Indian subcontinent under the preeminence of Ashoka the Great.

Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe Seleucid empire tried and also failed to reconquer the northwestern component of the Maurya Empire during the Seleucid-Mauryan war, native 305-303 BCE.As component of the peace offering, the Maurya realm gained five territories in exchange because that 500 battle elephants.Several Greeks continued to be at the Mauryan court as ambassadors to the Hellenistic world.Chandragupta Maurya to be succeed through his son, Bindusara, in 298 BCE, and then through Bindusara’s son, Ashoka the Great, in 272 BCE.Under Ashoka the Great, the Maurya empire expanded into the southern component of the Indian subcontinent.Ashoka put up the Edicts the Ashoka, i beg your pardon state his policies and also accomplishments, and which were composed in both Greek and Sanskrit.Key Termssatrapies: The governors of the districts of the old Median and also Achaemenid (Persian) Empires, and also several of your successors, such as the Sasanian Empire and also the Hellenistic empires.Ashoka the Great: live 304-232 BCE. As the king of the Maurya Empire, he overcame the Indian subcontinent.Seleucus: The king the the Seleucid realm who tried to reconquer northwestern Indian, but lost the Selecucid-Mauryan War.Edicts the Ashoka: stone edicts that shown the plans and success of Ashoka the Great, and were written in both Greek and Sanskrit.

The Seleucid-Mauryan War

In 305 BCE, Emperor Chandragupta Maurya led a series of campaigns to take back the satrapies left behind by Alexander the an excellent when he went back westward. Seleucus I battled to defend these territories, however both sides made tranquility in 303 BCE.

Seleucus, one of Alexander’s generals, got Babylonia and, indigenous there, increased his dominions to encompass much of Alexander’s close to eastern territories. Seleucus created himself in Babylon in 312 BC, the year supplied as the foundation date the the Seleucid Empire. He rule not only Babylonia, yet the entire substantial eastern component of Alexander’s empire. The Seleucid realm was a significant center that Hellenistic culture. In the areas where a Greek-Macedonian political elite conquered (mostly urban), it maintained the preeminence that Greek customs.

In 305 BCE, Seleucus ns tried to reconquer the northwestern components of India in order to case them for the growing Seleucid Empire. Tiny is recognized of the campaign in which Chandragupta combated with Seleucus over the Indus Valley and also the region 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 tranquility treaty. The Greeks offered a Macedonian princess for marriage to Chandragupta, and several territories, consisting of the satrapies that Paropamisade (modern-day Kamboja and also Gandhara), Arachosia (modern-day Kandhahar), and Gedrosia (modern-day Balochistan). In return, Chandragupta sent 500 war elephants, a army asset which would play a decisive duty in Seleucus’ victory versus western Hellenistic majesties at the fight of Ipsus in 301 BCE.

The Maurya empire c. 305 BCE: Chandragupta prolonged the borders of the Maurya empire 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 ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt, sent an ambassador named Dionysius to the Mauryan court. Thus, proceeding ties in between the Hellenistic world and also the Mauryan Empire.

Expansion Under Bindusara

Chandragupta Maurya rule from 322 BCE until his voluntary retirement and also abdication, in donate of his son, Bindusara, in 298 BCE. Bindusara (320-272 BCE) was the kid of Maurya and also his queen, Durdhara. During his reign, Bindusara broadened the Maurya empire southward, with Chanakya together his advisor. He carried 16 claims under the Maurya Empire and also thus conquered almost every one of the Indian peninsula. Bindusara ignored the familiar Dravidian kingdoms the the Cholas, ruled by King Ilamcetcenni, the Pandyas, and also Cheras. Except these southerly states, Kalinga (modern-day Odisha) was the just kingdom in India independent native Bindusara’s empire.

The Maurya empire c. 290 BCE: Bindausara (ruler 298-272 BCE) prolonged the borders of the realm southward into the Deccan Plateau c. 290 BCE.

Ashoka the Great

Bindusara died in 272 BCE, and also was flourished by his son, Ashoka the an excellent (304-232 BCE). Together a young prince, Ashoka (r. 272-232 BCE) was a brilliant commander that crushed revolts in Ujjain and Taxila. As monarch, he was ambitious and aggressive, reasserting the Empire’s superiority in southern and western India. However it was his conquest of Kalinga (262-261 BCE) that showed to it is in the pivotal occasion of his life. Back Ashoka’s army succeeded in overwhelming Kalinga forces of imperial soldiers and civilian units, an estimated 100,000 soldiers and also civilians were killed in the furious warfare, including over 10,000 the Ashoka’s own men. Thousands of thousands of world were adversely affected by the destruction and fallout the war. Once he personally witnessed the devastation, Ashoka started feeling remorse. Return the annexation of Kalinga to be completed, Ashoka embraced the teachings the Buddhism, and renounced war and also violence. He sent out missionaries to travel about Asia and spread Buddhism to other countries.

Extent of the Maurya empire at its elevation in 265 BCE: Ashoka the an excellent extended into Kalinga throughout the Kalinga war c. 265 BCE, and established superiority over the southern kingdoms.

As ruler, Ashoka applied principles of ahimsa (the principle of “to no injure”) by banning hunting and also violent sports activities, and ending indentured and also forced job (many thousands of human being in war-ravaged Kalinga had actually been compelled into tough labor and also servitude). When he preserved a large and powerful army to save the peace, Ashoka expanded friendly relationships with states throughout Asia and also Europe, and also sponsored buddhist missions. He undertook a enormous public works building campaign throughout the country. Among these functions were the building and construction of stupas, or Buddhist religious structures, comprise relics. One noteworthy stupas created during the regime of Ashoka to be The great Stupa, which stands in Sanchi, India. End 40 years of peace, harmony, and also prosperity made Ashoka one of the many successful and famous majesties in Indian history. He remains an idealized figure of incentive in modern-day India.

The Edicts that Ashoka

Perhaps one of the greatest-known accomplishments of Ashoka to be his production of his edicts, which were erected in between 269 BCE and 232 BCE. The Edicts of Ashoka, collection in stone, are uncovered throughout the Subcontinent. Varying from as much west together Afghanistan, and also as far south together Andhra (Nellore District), Ashoka’s edicts state his policies and accomplishments. Although mostly written in Prakrit, 2 of castle were composed in Greek, and also one in both Greek and Aramaic. Ashoka’s edicts describe the Greeks, Kambojas, and also Gandharas together peoples developing a frontier region of his empire. They additionally attest to Ashoka’s envoys’ travel to the Greek rulers in the west as far as the Mediterranean. Ashoka’s edicts also mentioned society and social attributes the his empire, emphasizing Buddhism, though not condemning various other religions. Because that this, the Edicts that Ashoka are recognized as an early paper that promoted spiritual tolerance.


An Edict the Asoka: Bilingual engraving (Greek and Aramaic) through king Asoka, native Kandahar. Kabul Museum

Centralization in the Maurya Empire

The Mauryan empire encouraged economic prosperity with political stability and a unified main government.

Learning Objectives

Describe the definition of the politics stability offered by the Mauryan Empire

Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe Mauryan empire was divided into four provinces, every governed by the Kumara, who offered as the king’s representative.Emperor Ashoka kept a massive standing army to defend the Mauryan Empire and also instill stability and also peace throughout West and also South Asia.Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka’s grandfather, had established a single currency across India, a network of regional governors and administrators, and also a civil company to administer justice and also security because that merchants, farmers and also traders that continued throughout the Mauryan Dynasty.The Mauryan international network of trade extended to the Greek states and Hellenic kingdoms in West Asia and also into southeast Asia.Key TermsKhyber Pass: A strategically vital trade protect against on the modern boundary the Pakistan and Afghanistan.Arthashastra: an ancient Indian treatise on government, statecraft, military, and economy.Kumara: A royal prince who looked after the Mauryan provinces on behalf of the emperor.standing army: A permanent army composed of full time soldiers the is no disbanded throughout times the peace.

Employing a closely organized administrative system, the Maurya realm was able to preserve security and political unit across huge parts that western and also southern Asia. This consisted of a typical economic system supporting stable agriculture in its large landholdings, and successful trade and commerce. With this central authority, which included a an effective military, the rulers the the realm bound with each other the previously broken regions that the Indian Subcontinent.

Unification and Military

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

Before the Mauryan Empire, the Indian subcontinent was broke up into thousands of kingdoms. These were ruled by an effective regional chieftains with small armies that involved in internecine warfare. The Mauryan army eliminated regional chieftains, personal armies, and even gangs of bandits, that sought to impose their own prominence in small areas.

The Mauryan Army, the largest standing military force of that is time, sustained the expansion and defense that the empire. Follow to scholars, the realm wielded 600,000 infantry, 30,000 cavalry, and also 9,000 battle elephants, when a huge espionage system collected intelligence because that both internal and external protection purposes. Return Emperor Ashoka renounced attack warfare and expansionism, he kept this standing military to safeguard the realm from external threats and also maintain stability and also peace across Western and Southern Asia.


The Mauryan realm was split into four provinces, through the imperial funding at Pataliputra, close to the Ganges river in the modern-day state that Bihar in India. The Edicts that Ashoka, a repertoire of inscriptions made throughout Ashoka’s reign from 268-232 BCE, provide the name of the Maurya Empire’s 4 provincial capitals: Tosali in the east, Ujjain in the west, Suvarnagiri in the south, and also Taxila in the north.

The business structure began at the imperial level with the emperor and also his Mantriparishad, or board of directors of Ministers. The head the the provincial administration was the Kumara, or imperial prince, that governed the districts as the king’s representative, v the assistance of Mahamatyas, who were essentially local prime ministers. V this sophisticated system that bureaucracy, the realm governed all elements of government at every level, from municipal restroom to worldwide trade.

Maurya empire at its greatest degree (dark orange), consisting of vassal kingdoms (light orange), 265 BCE: The Maurya Empire noted political stability with a unified central government, which in turn encouraged financial prosperity.

Centralization and also Taxation

Chandragupta Maurya, the dad of the dynasty, established a single currency across India, a network of regional governors and also administrators, and a civil business to administer justice and also security for merchants, farmers, and traders.

Through the disciplined central authority that the Mauryan Empire, farmers to be freed the tax and crop repertoire burdens from regional kings. Instead, they payment a nationally administered device of taxation that was strict but fair. The system operated under the values of the Arthashastra, an old Indian treatise on economic policy, statecraft, and military strategy. Composed in Sanskrit and adhering come Hindu philosophies, the Arthashastra includes books on the nature that government, law, civil and criminal courts, ethics, and economic topics, including markets and also trade, agriculture, mineralogy, mining and also metals, forestry, and also others.

Although regimental in revenue collection, the Mauryan realm funded many public works jobs to improve productivity. Prefer his father and also grandfather, Ashoka sponsored the construction of countless roads, waterways, canals, remainder houses, hospitals, and also other species of infrastructure.

Under continued Mauryan rule, politics unity and also military security encouraged a typical economic system, increased agricultural productivity, and intensified widespread trade and commerce because that the first time in West and also South Asia.


Coins that the Maurya Empire: Chandragupta Maurya developed a single currency throughout India, consisting of these silver- punch mark coins with symbols of wheel and also elephant, third century BCE

Trade and Commerce

The Maurya Empire’s politics unity and also internal peace urged the expansion of profession in India. Under the Indo-Greek friendship treaty throughout Ashoka’s reign, the Mauryan global network of trade saw an excellent expansion.

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

Ashoka’s Conversion

Mauryan emperor Ashoka embraced Buddhism after ~ witnessing the massive deaths of the Kalinga War, which he himself had waged the end of a desire because that conquest.

Key Takeaways

Key PointsWhile the early part of Ashoka’s reign was apparently fairly bloodthirsty, he ended up being a follower of the Buddha’s teachings after his conquest of Kalinga.According come a contemporary text, the Edicts that Ashoka, Ashoka convert to Buddhism since he “felt remorse on account of the conquest of Kalinga because, during the subjugation the a previously unconquered country, slaughter, death, and also taking away captive of the civilization necessarily occur.”In one source, his switch is presented as a gradual process coming indigenous intense personal anguish, quite than spurred by a particular event.As a buddhist emperor, Ashoka believed that Buddhism is valuable for all human beings, and animals and also plants, therefore he constructed a number of stupas. He additionally well spread out Buddhism to neighboring kingdoms.Key TermsDharma: Cosmic law and order, behaviors that are considered to it is in in accord with the bespeak that provides life and also the cosmos possible, consisting of duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues, and ‘‘right method of living.” also specifically signifies the teachings that the Buddha.Edicts of Ashoka: A arsenal of 33 engravings on the Pillars of Ashoka, and boulders and also cave walls, make by the Emperor Ashoka the the Mauryan Empire throughout his reign, native 269 BCE come 232 BCE.

Background: conquest of Kalinga

While the early component of Ashoka’s reign was apparently quite bloodthirsty, he ended up being a monitor of the Buddha’s teachings after his occupation of Kalinga ~ above the east shore of India in the present-day states of Odisha and also North seaside Andhra Pradesh. Kalinga was a state the prided itself on the sovereignty and also democracy. With its autarchic parliamentary democracy, the was quite an exception in ancient Bharata whereby there exist the principle of Rajdharma. Rajdharma way the duty of the rulers, i m sorry was intrinsically entwined through the principle of bravery and also dharma. The Kalinga War taken place eight years after his coronation. From Ashoka’s 13th inscription, we pertained to know that the fight was a enormous one and caused the deaths of an ext than 100,000 soldiers and also many civilians who rose up in defence; end 150,000 to be deported. As soon as he to be walking v the grounds of Kalinga after ~ his conquest, rejoicing in his victory, he was moved by the number of bodies strewn there and also the wails the the bereaved.

Conversion come Buddhism

Edict 13 top top the Edicts that Ashoka Rock inscriptions reflect the an excellent remorse the king feeling after observing the devastation of Kalinga:

His Majesty feeling remorse ~ above account the the conquest of Kalinga because, during the subjugation that a previously unconquered country, slaughter, death, and taking away captive of the world necessarily occur, conversely, His Majesty feels extensive sorrow and regret.

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

Legend states that someday after the war was over, Ashoka ventured the end to roam the city and also all he can see were scorched houses and scattered corpses. The lethal war with Kalinga revolutionized the vengeful Emperor Ashoka into a stable and peaceful emperor, and he became a patron that Buddhism. Follow to the prominent Indologist, A. L. Basham, Ashoka’s an individual religion ended up being Buddhism, if not before, then certainly after the Kalinga War. However, according to Basham, the Dharma official propagated by Ashoka was not Buddhism at all. Nevertheless, his patronage led to the growth of Buddhism in the Mauryan empire and other kingdoms during his rule, and global from about 250 BCE.

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

Buddhist Kingship

One that the an ext enduring heritages of Ashoka Maurya was the version that he listed for the relationship in between Buddhism and also the state. Throughout Theravada Southeastern Asia, the version of rulership embodied through Ashoka replaced the notion of magnificent kingship that had previously overcame (in the Angkor kingdom, for instance). Under this design of “Buddhist kingship,” the king sought come legitimize his rule, not with descent indigenous a magnificent source, yet by supporting and earning the approval the the buddhist sangha. Complying with Ashoka’s example, kings developed monasteries, sponsor the construction of stupas, and supported the ordination the monks in their kingdom. Countless rulers likewise took one active duty in resolving disputes over the status and also regulation that the sangha, as Ashoka had by call a conclave to work out a number of contentious worries during his reign. This breakthrough ultimately brought about a close association in numerous Southeast eastern countries between the monarchy and the religious hierarchy, an combination that have the right to still be seen this particular day in the state-supported Buddhism the Thailand, and the traditional duty of the Thai king together both a spiritual and secular leader. Ashoka additionally said the his courtiers always governed the human being in a moral manner.

As a buddhism emperor, Ashoka believed that Buddhism is valuable for all human beings, and also animals and plants, for this reason he built a number of stupas, Sangharama, viharas, chaitya, and residences for Buddhist monks almost everywhere South Asia and main Asia. According to the Ashokavadana, the ordered the building of 84,000 stupas to house the Buddhas relics. In the Aryamanjusrimulakalpa, Ashoka take away offerings to every of this stupas, traveling in a chariot adorned with precious metals. He provided donations to viharas and mathas. He sent out his only daughter, Sanghamitra, and son, Mahindra, to spread out Buddhism in Sri Lanka (then known as Tamraparni).


Stupa: an excellent Stupa (3rd century BC), Sanchi, India. Ashoka notified the building and construction of 84,000 stupas to house the Buddhas relics.

Debate about Ashoka’s Conversion and Rule

The use of Buddhist sources in reconstructing the life of Ashoka has had a strong influence on consciousness of Ashoka, and also the interpretations of his Edicts. Structure on classic accounts, beforehand scholars regarded Ashoka together a mostly Buddhist monarch who underwent a conversion to Buddhism and also was proactively engaged in sponsoring and also supporting the buddhist monastic institution. Some scholars have actually tended to inquiry this assessment. The only resource of information not attributable to Buddhist sources are the Ashokan Edicts, and these do not clearly state the Ashoka to be a Buddhist. In his edicts, Ashoka expresses assistance for all the significant religions that his time: Buddhism, Brahmanism, Jainism, and Ajivikaism. His edicts addressed to the populace at big (there space some addressed specifically to Buddhists, i m sorry is not the case for the various other religions) generally emphasis on ethical themes the members of every the religions would accept.

However, the edicts alone strongly show that he was a Buddhist. In one edict that belittles rituals, and also he prohibition Vedic pet sacrifices; this strongly indicate that that at the very least did no look come the Vedic heritage for guidance. Furthermore, countless edicts space expressed come Buddhists alone; in one, Ashoka declares himself to be an “upasaka,” and in one more he displayed a close familiarity v Buddhist texts. He set up rock pillars in ~ Buddhist divine sites, yet did not carry out so for the sites of other religions. He also used the word “dhamma” to refer to features of the heart that underlie moral action; this was an specifically Buddhist usage of the word. Finally, he advocated ideals that correspond come the very first three actions of the Buddha’s i graduated discourse.

Interestingly, the Ashokavadana, presents an alternative view of the acquainted Ashoka. In this source, his conversion has actually nothing to execute with the Kalinga battle or his lower from the Maurya dynasty. Instead, Ashoka’s factor for adopting non-violence appears much much more personal. The Ashokavadana mirrors that the main resource of Ashoka’s conversion, and the acts of welfare that followed, are rooted instead in intense personal anguish, from a wellspring within himself quite than spurred through a details event. It thereby illuminates Ashoka as more humanly ambitious and also passionate, through both greatness and flaws. This Ashoka is an extremely different from the “shadowy do-gooder” of later on Pali chronicles.

Decline that the Maurya Empire

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

Key Takeaways

Key PointsAshoka the Great’s dominance was complied with by 50 years of weak queens who did no retain strong central authority. This eventually led to the dissolved of the Maurya Empire.General Pusyamitra Sunga staged a coup against the Maurya empire in 185 BCE. As a result, he ascended the throne and also founded the Sunga Dynasty.In 180 BCE, the Greco-Bactrian King Demetrius conquered the northwestern Indian territories and founded the Indo-Greek Kingdom.Buddhism shed favor once the Sunga dynasty gained power, however remained dominant in the Ind0-Greek Kingdom.Key TermsBuddhism: A religion encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs, and also spiritual practices largely based on teachings attributed to the Buddha.Khyber Pass: A hill pass connecting Afghanistan and also Pakistan; it has been an important trade routebetween main Asia and also South Asia, and a strategic armed forces location.Demetrius: The Greco-Bactrian king who developed the Indo-Greek kingdom once he overcame parts the northwestern India, about 180 BCE.Sunga: The dynasty founded through the general Pusyamitra Sunga after the staged a coup versus the Maurya dynasty in 185 BCE.

A 50-year succession of weak kings adhered to the regime of Ashoka the Great, the Indian emperor the the Maurya empire who passed away in 232 BCE. As Ashoka’s highly centralized government lost power, the Maurya empire lost manage over its territories. The various cultures and also economies began to rest apart, although the kings preserved Buddhism together the state religion.

Sunga Coup and Rule

Brihadratha, the last ruler of the Maurya Dynasty, to be assassinated in 185 BCE. The commander-in-chief that his guard, Brahmin general Pusyamitra Sunga, killed Brihadratha during a military parade and ascended the throne. He established the Sunga Dynasty, which flourished from about 187 come 78 BCE. Pusyamitra was prospered after 36 years by his son, Agnimitra, beginning the dynasty of ten Sunga rulers overall. They performed wars through both foreign and also indigenous powers, consisting of the Kalinga, the Satavahana Dynasty, and also the Indo-Greek Kingdom. The Sungas were prospered by the Kanva Dynasty around 73 BCE.

Sunga rulers helped develop the tradition of royal sponsorship of education and the arts at a time when some the the many important developments in Hindu thought were taking place. The Mathura art format took hold during this time, and many small terracotta images, larger rock sculptures, and architectural monuments from the Sunga period are quiet in existence.


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

Sunga and Buddhism

The Sungas favored Hinduism over Buddhism. Buddhist sources, such together the Ashokavadana, an Indian Sanskrit text describing the birth and reign that Ashoka the Great, point out that Pusyamitra to be hostile towards Buddhists and also allegedly persecuted members of the buddhism faith. A large number of buddhism monasteries, dubbed viharas, to be allegedly convert to Hindu holy places in such locations as Nalanda, Bodhgaya, Sarnath, or Mathura. Some historians argue, however, the Buddhist accounts of Sunga persecution are largely exaggerated.


Sunga Empire, c. 185 BCE: The Sunga empire was created following a coup by basic Pusyamitra Sunga, noting the end of the Maurya Empire.

Indo-Greek Kingdom

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

Demetrius, that lived native 175 to 140 BCE, started the city the Sirkap, combining Greek and also Indian influences without signs of segregation in between thetwo cultures. The Greek development into Indian territory may have been to plan to protect Greek populaces in India, and to safeguard the Buddhist belief from the alleged religious persecutions of the Sungas.


Seated Buddha statue reflecting Greek influences: Buddhism to be favored in the Indo-Greek Kingdom. Plenty of statues that Buddha native this period display Greek stylistic elements including Greek clothing.

Demetrius was prospered by Menander, who conquered the biggest territory and was among the many successful Indo-Greek kings. His coins that have been found are the many numerous and widespread of every the Indo-Greek kings. According to buddhist literature, Menander convert to Buddhism and also is sometimes described as the Milinda Panha. He assisted Buddhism flourish and also established the new capital that Sagala.


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

In Indian literature, the Indo-Greeks are explained as “Yavanas” in Sanskrit, or “Yonas” in Pali, which space both believed to it is in transliterations the “Ionians.” The buddhist scripture, Majjhima Nikaya, defines that in comparison with the plenty of Indian castes, there were only two classes 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 an initial century BCE, the Indo-Greeks progressively lost ground to the ind in the East, and the Scythians, the Yuezhi, and also the Parthians in the West. About 20 Indo-Greek monarchs are known throughout this period, consisting of last well-known Indo-Greek ruler, Strato II, that ruled in the Punjab an ar until approximately 55 BCE.