Rise that the Maurya Empire

Chandragupta Maurya established the Maurya realm in 322 BCE when he conquered the kingdom of Magadha and the northwestern Macedonian satrapies.

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Key Takeaways

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

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

The empire was established in 322 BCE by Chandragupta Maurya, who had actually overthrown the Nanda Dynasty, and also rapidly increased his power,with Chanakya’s help, from the west across main and west India. His development took benefit of the disruptions of regional powers in the wake of the withdrawal westward by Alexander the Great’s armies. By 316 BCE, the realm had totally occupied Northwestern India, defeating and conquering the satraps left through Alexander. Chandragupta then defeated the intrusion led through Seleucus I, a Macedonian general from Alexander’s army, and gained extr territory west of the Indus River.

In that is time, the Maurya realm was one of the largest empires of the world. In ~ its greatest extent, the realm stretched to the north follow me the natural limits of the Himalayas, to the east into Assam, to the west into Balochistan (southwest Pakistan and also southeast Iran) and also into the Hindu Kush hills of what is currently Afghanistan. The empire was expanded into India’s main and southern areas by the majesties Chandragupta and also Bindusara, however it exclude, a small part of unexplored tribal and forested regions near Kalinga (modern Odisha), till it was dominated by Ashoka. It decreased for around 50 years after Ashoka’s dominion ended, and also it liquified in 185 BCE through the foundation of the Shunga empire in Magadha.

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

According to number of legends, Chanakya travel to Magadha, a kingdom the was large and militarily an effective and fear by its neighbors, yet was insulted by its king Dhana Nanda, of the Nanda Dynasty. Chanakya swore revenge and also vowed to ruin the Nanda Empire.

The Nanda realm originated from the region of Magadha in ancient India throughout the fourth century BCE, and lasted until in between 345-321 BCE. At its greatest extent, the empire ruled by the Nanda empire extended from Bengal in the east, to the Punjab region in the west, and as much south as the Vindhya Range. The rulers that this empire were renowned for the great wealth that they accumulated.

Chanakya urged the young Chandragupta Maurya and his army to take over the throne the Magadha. Making use of his knowledge network, Chandragupta gathered countless young guys from throughout Magadha and other provinces, who were upset over the corrupt and also oppressive rule of King Dhana, and also the resources important for his army to fight a long collection of battles. This men consisted of the previous general of Taxila, accomplished students of Chanakya, the representative of King Porus of Kakayee, his kid Malayketu, and the rulers of small states.

Maurya devised a strategy to attack Pataliputra, the resources of the Nanda Empire. A fight was announced and also the Magadhan army was attracted from the city to a distant battlefield in stimulate to engage Maurya’s forces. Meanwhile, Maurya’s general and also spies bribed the Nanda’s corruption general, and also created an environment of civil war in the kingdom, i beg your pardon culminated in the death of the heir come the throne.

Upon the polite unrest in the kingdom, Nanda resigned and also disappeared into exile. Chanakya contacted the element minister, Rakshasa, and convinced him that his loyalty was come Magadha, no to the Nanda Dynasty, and also that he must remain in office. Chanakya reiterated that selecting to withstand would start a battle that would certainly severely affect Magadha and also destroy the city. Rakshasa embraced Chanakya’s reasoning, and also Chandragupta Maurya to be legitimately set up as the new King the Magadha in 321 BCE, at the age of 21. Rakshasa became Chandragupta’s chef advisor, and also Chanakya assumed the position of an elder statesman.


Statue that Chandragupta Maurya at the Birla Mandir Hindu temple, Delhi: Chandragupta Maurya overcame the kingdom that Magadha to uncovered the Maurya realm in 231 BCE, in ~ the age of 21.

Northwest Expansion

With his new seat of strength in Magadha, Chandragupta Maurya beat the staying Macedonian satraps, and also consolidated his reign of the new Maurya Empire. He rapidly increased his power westward across central and western India, taking benefit of the interruptions of neighborhood powers in the wake of the withdrawal westward by Alexander the Great’s Greek armies. By 320 BCE, the empire had totally occupied Northwestern India. Chandragupta Maurya would end up being the an initial emperor to unify India into one state, producing one the the world’s largest realms in that time, and also the largest ever in the Indian subcontinent.

The Maurya empire c. 320 BCE: The Maurya empire when it was very first founded through Chandragupta Maurya c. 320 BCE, after conquering the Nanda realm when the was only about two decades old.

Expansion the the Maurya Empire

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

Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe Seleucid empire tried and failed come reconquer the northwestern part of the Maurya Empire during the Seleucid-Mauryan war, from 305-303 BCE.As part of the peace offering, the Maurya empire gained 5 territories in exchange because that 500 war elephants.Several Greeks stayed at the Mauryan court as ambassadors to the Hellenistic world.Chandragupta Maurya was succeed through his son, Bindusara, in 298 BCE, and then by Bindusara’s son, Ashoka the Great, in 272 BCE.Under Ashoka the Great, the Maurya realm expanded into the southern part of the Indian subcontinent.Ashoka set up the Edicts the Ashoka, i m sorry state his policies and accomplishments, and which were written in both Greek and also Sanskrit.Key Termssatrapies: The governors that the districts of the ancient Median and also Achaemenid (Persian) Empires, and also several of your successors, such together the Sasanian Empire and also the Hellenistic empires.Ashoka the Great: lived 304-232 BCE. As the king of the Maurya Empire, he dominated the Indian subcontinent.Seleucus: The king of the Seleucid empire who tried to reconquer northwestern Indian, but lost the Selecucid-Mauryan War.Edicts the Ashoka: rock edicts that illustrated the policies and success of Ashoka the Great, and also were created in both Greek and Sanskrit.

The Seleucid-Mauryan War

In 305 BCE, Emperor Chandragupta Maurya led a collection of campaigns to retake the satrapies left behind through Alexander the good when he reverted westward. Seleucus I combated to defend these territories, but both political parties made tranquility in 303 BCE.

Seleucus, one of Alexander’s generals, got Babylonia and, native there, expanded his dominions to incorporate much the Alexander’s near eastern territories. Seleucus established himself in Babylon in 312 BC, the year provided as the foundation date that the Seleucid Empire. He rule not just Babylonia, but the entire enormous eastern component of Alexander’s empire. The Seleucid empire was a significant center the Hellenistic culture. In the areas where a Greek-Macedonian politics elite dominated (mostly urban), it kept the preeminence of Greek customs.

In 305 BCE, Seleucus i tried come reconquer the northwestern parts of India in bespeak to claim them because that the cultivation Seleucid Empire. Small is well-known of the campaign in i m sorry Chandragupta dealt with with Seleucus over the Indus Valley and also the region of Gandhara—a really wealthy kingdom that had actually submitted years earlier come Alexander the Great.

Seleucus lost the Seleucid-Mauryan War, and also the 2 rulers reconciled with a peace treaty. The Greeks available a Macedonian princess for marriage to Chandragupta, and also several territories, consisting of the satrapies the Paropamisade (modern-day Kamboja and Gandhara), Arachosia (modern-day Kandhahar), and also Gedrosia (modern-day Balochistan). In return, Chandragupta sent out 500 battle elephants, a military asset which would certainly play a decisive duty in Seleucus’ victory versus western Hellenistic queens at the fight of Ipsus in 301 BCE.

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

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

Expansion Under Bindusara

Chandragupta Maurya rule from 322 BCE until his spontaneous retirement and abdication, in favor 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 increased the Maurya empire southward, with Chanakya as his advisor. He brought 16 states under the Maurya Empire and thus overcame almost every one of the Indian peninsula. Bindusara ignored the friendly Dravidian kingdoms of the Cholas, ruled by King Ilamcetcenni, the Pandyas, and also Cheras. Apart from these southern states, Kalinga (modern-day Odisha) to be the only kingdom in India independent indigenous Bindusara’s empire.

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

Ashoka the Great

Bindusara died in 272 BCE, and also was flourished by his son, Ashoka the great (304-232 BCE). Together a young prince, Ashoka (r. 272-232 BCE) to be a brilliant commander who crushed revolts in Ujjain and also Taxila. Together monarch, he was ambitious and aggressive, reasserting the Empire’s superiority in southern and also western India. But it was his occupation of Kalinga (262-261 BCE) that showed to it is in the pivotal event of his life. Although Ashoka’s military succeeded in overwhelming Kalinga pressures of imperial soldiers and civilian units, an approximated 100,000 soldiers and also civilians were killed in the furious warfare, consisting of over 10,000 of Ashoka’s own men. Numerous thousands of world were adversely influenced by the destruction and also fallout that war. As soon as he personally observed the devastation, Ashoka started feeling remorse. Although the addition of Kalinga to be completed, Ashoka adopted the teachings of Buddhism, and also renounced war and violence. He sent out missionaries to travel about Asia and also spread Buddhism to other countries.

Extent of the Maurya realm at its height in 265 BCE: Ashoka the great extended into Kalinga throughout the Kalinga war c. 265 BCE, and also established superiority over the southern kingdoms.

As ruler, Ashoka enforced principles of ahimsa (the rule of “to not injure”) by banning hunting and violent sporting activities activities, and also ending indentured and also forced job (many thousands of human being in war-ravaged Kalinga had actually been required into difficult labor and also servitude). If he preserved a big and powerful army to save the peace, Ashoka expanded friendly relations with states across Asia and also Europe, and also sponsored buddhist missions. He undertook a massive public works building campaign across the country. Among these works were the building of stupas, or Buddhist religious structures, comprise relics. One remarkable stupas developed during the regime of Ashoka to be The good Stupa, i beg your pardon stands in Sanchi, India. Over 40 years of peace, harmony, and prosperity make Ashoka among the most successful and also famous emperors in Indian history. He remains an idealized figure of impetus in modern-day India.

The Edicts that Ashoka

Perhaps one of the greatest-known accomplishments of Ashoka was his production of his edicts, which to be erected between 269 BCE and also 232 BCE. The Edicts of Ashoka, collection in stone, are discovered throughout the Subcontinent. Ranging from as much west as Afghanistan, and as much south together Andhra (Nellore District), Ashoka’s edicts state his policies and accomplishments. Although mainly written in Prakrit, two of them were written in Greek, and also one in both Greek and also Aramaic. Ashoka’s edicts refer to the Greeks, Kambojas, and Gandharas as peoples forming a frontier region of his empire. They additionally attest come Ashoka’s envoys’ travel to the Greek rulers in the west as far as the Mediterranean. Ashoka’s edicts likewise mentioned society and cultural attributes of his empire, emphasizing Buddhism, though not condemning other religions. Because that this, the Edicts that Ashoka are recognized as an early paper that promoted religious tolerance.


An Edict the Asoka: Bilingual inscription (Greek and Aramaic) by king Asoka, indigenous Kandahar. Kabul Museum

Centralization in the Maurya Empire

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

Learning Objectives

Describe the meaning of the political stability offered by the Mauryan Empire

Key Takeaways

Key PointsThe Mauryan realm was divided into 4 provinces, each governed by the Kumara, who served as the king’s representative.Emperor Ashoka maintained a massive standing army to defend the Mauryan Empire and also instill stability and peace throughout West and also South Asia.Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka’s grandfather, had created a single currency across India, a network of local governors and also administrators, and also a civil organization to carry out justice and also security for merchants, farmers and traders that continued throughout the Mauryan Dynasty.The Mauryan global network that trade prolonged to the Greek states and also Hellenic kingdoms in West Asia and into south east Asia.Key TermsKhyber Pass: A strategically vital trade stop on the contemporary boundary that Pakistan and also Afghanistan.Arthashastra: an ancient Indian treatise on government, statecraft, military, and also economy.Kumara: A royal prince who supervised the Mauryan provinces on behalf of the emperor.standing army: A permanent army composed of permanent soldiers that is no disbanded during times of peace.

Employing a closely organized administrative system, the Maurya realm was able to maintain security and also political unified across large parts the western and also southern Asia. This consisted of a typical economic device supporting stable agriculture in its substantial landholdings, and also successful trade and also commerce. With this centralized authority, which included a an effective military, the rulers of the empire bound together the previously broken regions that the Indian Subcontinent.

Unification and also Military

Chandragupta Maurya, the founder that the Maurya Empire, ruled from 324-297 BCE, prior to voluntarily abdicating in favor of his son, Bindusara, who ruled native 297 BCE till his death in 272 BCE. This caused a war of sequence in i m sorry Bindusara’s son, Ashoka, beat his brother, Susima, and also rose come 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 hundreds of kingdoms. These to be ruled by an effective regional chieftains with tiny armies that engaged in internecine warfare. The Mauryan military eliminated local chieftains, exclusive armies, and also even gangs of bandits, that sought to impose their own dominance in tiny areas.

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


The Mauryan empire was divided into four provinces, with the imperial resources at Pataliputra, near the Ganges river in the modern-day state of Bihar in India. The Edicts the Ashoka, a arsenal of engravings made during Ashoka’s power from 268-232 BCE, provide the names 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 began at the royal level with the emperor and also his Mantriparishad, or the supervisory board of Ministers. The head of the provincial management was the Kumara, or imperial prince, who governed the provinces as the king’s representative, with the help of Mahamatyas, who were essentially local prime ministers. With this sophisticated system of bureaucracy, the realm governed all aspects of government at every level, indigenous municipal toilet to worldwide trade.

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

Centralization and also Taxation

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

Through the disciplined central authority of the Mauryan Empire, farmers were freed that tax and also crop arsenal burdens from local kings. Instead, they payment a nationally administered device of tax that was strict however fair. The system operated under the ethics 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 publications on the nature the government, law, civil and criminal courts, ethics, and economic topics, including markets and also trade, agriculture, mineralogy, mining and also metals, forestry, and others.

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

Under continued Mauryan rule, political unity and also military security urged a common economic system, increased agricultural productivity, and magnified widespread trade and also commerce because that the very first time in West and also South Asia.


Coins of the Maurya Empire: Chandragupta Maurya developed a solitary 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 political unity and also internal peace urged the development of trade in India. Under the Indo-Greek friendship treaty during Ashoka’s reign, the Mauryan global network of profession saw great expansion.

The Khyber Pass, ~ above the modern boundary that Pakistan and Afghanistan, came to be a strategically important allude of trade and also interaction with the outside world. Greek states and also Hellenic kingdoms in West Asia became trading partners. Trade additionally extended through the Malay Peninsula intoSoutheast Asia. India’s exports had silk, textiles, spices, and exotic foods. The outside civilization gained brand-new scientific knowledge and modern technology through increased trade through the Mauryan Empire.

Ashoka’s Conversion

Mauryan emperor Ashoka taken on Buddhism after witnessing the massive deaths of the Kalinga War, which he himself had actually 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 became a follower of the Buddha’s teachings after ~ his conquest of Kalinga.According come a contemporary text, the Edicts of Ashoka, Ashoka convert to Buddhism due to the fact that he “felt remorse on account that the conquest of Kalinga because, throughout the subjugation that a formerly unconquered country, slaughter, death, and taking far captive of the civilization necessarily occur.”In one source, his counter is presented as a gradual procedure coming native intense personal anguish, quite than spurred through a certain event.As a buddhist emperor, Ashoka thought that Buddhism is useful for all person beings, as well as animals and also plants, so he constructed a variety of stupas. He likewise well spread Buddhism to bordering kingdoms.Key TermsDharma: Cosmic law and also order, behaviors that are thought about to be in accord v the order that provides life and also the cosmos possible, consisting of duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues, and ‘‘right method of living.” additionally specifically signifies the teachings the the Buddha.Edicts of Ashoka: A arsenal of 33 engravings on the Pillars the Ashoka, as well as boulders and also cave walls, do by the Emperor Ashoka that the Mauryan Empire during his reign, indigenous 269 BCE to 232 BCE.

Background: occupation of Kalinga

While the early part of Ashoka’s reign was apparently rather bloodthirsty, he ended up being a monitor of the Buddha’s teachings after ~ his occupation of Kalinga ~ above the east coast of India in the contemporary states of Odisha and North seaside Andhra Pradesh. Kalinga to be a state the prided chin on its sovereignty and democracy. V its autarchic parliamentary democracy, that was quite an exemption in old Bharata where there exist the principle of Rajdharma. Rajdharma method the duty the the rulers, i m sorry was inherently entwined v the principle of bravery and dharma. The Kalinga War happened eight year after his coronation. Indigenous Ashoka’s 13th inscription, we come to know the the fight was a enormous one and also caused the deaths of an ext than 100,000 soldiers and also many civilians who climbed up in defence; end 150,000 were deported. As soon as he was walking with the grounds that Kalinga after his conquest, rejoicing in his victory, that was relocated by the number of bodies strewn there and the wails the the bereaved.

Conversion come Buddhism

Edict 13 ~ above the Edicts the Ashoka Rock engravings reflect the an excellent remorse the king feel after observing the destruction of Kalinga:

His Majesty feeling remorse on account the the occupation of Kalinga because, during the subjugation of a previously unconquered country, slaughter, death, and taking far captive of the people necessarily occur, vice versa, His Majesty feels extensive sorrow and regret.

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

Legend says that at some point after the battle was over, Ashoka ventured out to roam the city and also all he can see were scorched houses and scattered corpses. The lethal war v Kalinga revolutionized the vengeful Emperor Ashoka right into a stable and also peaceful emperor, and he came to be a patron that Buddhism. Follow to the influential Indologist, A. L. Basham, Ashoka’s personal religion became Buddhism, if no before, then absolutely after the Kalinga War. However, follow to Basham, the Dharma officially propagated through Ashoka was no Buddhism at all. Nevertheless, his patronage caused the development of Buddhism in the Mauryan empire and other kingdoms during his rule, and worldwide from about 250 BCE.

After the Kalinga War and also Ashoka’s conversion, the realm experienced nearly half a century that peace and security. Mauryan India likewise enjoyed an era of social harmony, spiritual transformation, and expansion the the sciences and of knowledge. Chandragupta Maurya ‘s adopt of Jainism boosted social and spiritual renewal and also reform across his society, when Ashoka’s take on of Buddhism has actually been stated to have been the foundation of the regime of social and also political peace and non-violence throughout all the India.

Buddhist Kingship

One that the an ext enduring traditions of Ashoka Maurya was the version that he provided for the relationship between Buddhism and also the state. Transparent Theravada Southeastern Asia, the model of rulership embodied by Ashoka changed the notion of magnificent kingship that had actually previously dominated (in the Angkor kingdom, because that instance). Under this model of “Buddhist kingship,” the king sought to legitimize his rule, not through descent indigenous a magnificent source, but by supporting and also earning the approval of the buddhism sangha. Adhering to Ashoka’s example, kings developed monasteries, sponsor the construction of stupas, and supported the ordination of monks in their kingdom. Many rulers likewise took an active function in resolving conflicts over the status and regulation that the sangha, as Ashoka had by call a conclave to resolve a number of contentious worries during his reign. This advancement ultimately resulted in a close association in countless Southeast eastern countries in between the monarchy and the religious hierarchy, an association that have the right to 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 also said that his courtiers constantly governed the world in a moral manner.

As a buddhism emperor, Ashoka believed that Buddhism is helpful for all person beings, and also animals and plants, so he built a number of stupas, Sangharama, viharas, chaitya, and also residences because that Buddhist monks everywhere South Asia and main Asia. Follow to the Ashokavadana, the ordered the construction of 84,000 stupas to house the Buddhas relics. In the Aryamanjusrimulakalpa, Ashoka bring away offerings to every of this stupas, traveling in a chariot adorned with priceless metals. He offered donations come viharas and mathas. He sent out his just daughter, Sanghamitra, and son, Mahindra, to spread Buddhism in Sri Lanka (then recognized as Tamraparni).


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

Debate around Ashoka’s Conversion and Rule

The use of Buddhist resources in reconstructing the life that Ashoka has had actually a solid influence on consciousness of Ashoka, as well as the interpretations that his Edicts. Structure on traditional accounts, early on scholars regarded Ashoka as a generally Buddhist monarch that underwent a conversion to Buddhism and also was actively engaged in sponsoring and also supporting the buddhism monastic institution. Some scholars have actually tended to question this assessment. The only resource of details not attributable come Buddhist sources are the Ashokan Edicts, and also these perform not explicitly state that Ashoka to be a Buddhist. In his edicts, Ashoka expresses support for every the major religions that his time: Buddhism, Brahmanism, Jainism, and also Ajivikaism. His edicts addressed to the population at large (there space some addressed particularly to Buddhists, i m sorry is no the case for the other religions) generally emphasis on moral themes that members of all the religions would accept.

However, the edicts alone strongly show that he to be a Buddhist. In one edict he belittles rituals, and he banned Vedic animal sacrifices; this strongly suggest that the at the very least did not look to the Vedic tradition for guidance. Furthermore, countless edicts space expressed come Buddhists alone; in one, Ashoka declares himself to it is in an “upasaka,” and in another he displayed a close familiarity through Buddhist texts. He put up rock pillars at Buddhist holy sites, however did not perform so for the website of various other religions. He additionally used words “dhamma” come refer to qualities of the heart the underlie moral action; this was an solely Buddhist use of the word. Finally, he supported ideals the correspond come the first three procedures of the Buddha’s graduated discourse.

Interestingly, the Ashokavadana, presents an alternating view that the familiar 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 an ext personal. The Ashokavadana shows that the main source of Ashoka’s conversion, and the acts of welfare the followed, space rooted instead in intense personal anguish, indigenous a wellspring inside himself quite than spurred through a specific event. It thereby illuminates Ashoka as much more humanly ambitious and passionate, with both greatness and also flaws. This Ashoka is very different from the “shadowy do-gooder” of later Pali chronicles.

Decline of the Maurya Empire

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

Key Takeaways

Key PointsAshoka the Great’s rule was complied with by 50 years of weak kings who did no retain strong main authority. This at some point led to the dissolved of the Maurya Empire.General Pusyamitra Sunga staged a coup against the Maurya empire in 185 BCE. Together a result, that ascended the throne and also founded the Sunga Dynasty.In 180 BCE, the Greco-Bactrian King Demetrius overcame the northwestern Indian territories and also founded the Indo-Greek Kingdom.Buddhism shed favor when the Sunga dynasty gained power, yet remained leading in the Ind0-Greek Kingdom.Key TermsBuddhism: A religion encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs, and spiritual methods largely based upon teachings attributed come the Buddha.Khyber Pass: A hill pass connecting Afghanistan and Pakistan; it has been critical trade routebetween main Asia and also South Asia, and a strategic army location.Demetrius: The Greco-Bactrian king who developed the Indo-Greek kingdom once he dominated parts that northwestern India, around 180 BCE.Sunga: The dynasty founded by the basic Pusyamitra Sunga after that staged a coup against the Maurya empire in 185 BCE.

A 50-year sequence of weak kings followed the power of Ashoka the Great, the Indian emperor the the Maurya dynasty who passed away in 232 BCE. Together Ashoka’s highly centralized government shed power, the Maurya empire lost manage over its territories. The various cultures and also economies began to rest apart, back the kings maintained 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 the his guard, Brahmin basic Pusyamitra Sunga, killed Brihadratha throughout a military parade and also ascended the throne. He established the Sunga Dynasty, which prospered from approximately 187 come 78 BCE. Pusyamitra was succeeded after 36 years by his son, Agnimitra, start the dynasty of ten Sunga rulers overall. They conducted wars through both foreign and 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 create the tradition of royal sponsorship that education and the arts at a time once some of the many important advances in Hindu thought were taking place. The Mathura art format took hold during this time, and many tiny terracotta images, larger rock sculptures, and also architectural monuments indigenous the Sunga period are quiet in existence.


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

Sunga and Buddhism

The Sungas favored Hinduism over Buddhism. Buddhism sources, such as the Ashokavadana, an Indian Sanskrit message describing the birth and also reign of Ashoka the Great, mention that Pusyamitra was hostile in the direction of Buddhists and also allegedly persecuted members that the buddhist faith. A huge number of buddhist monasteries, dubbed viharas, to be allegedly convert to Hindu holy places in such areas as Nalanda, Bodhgaya, Sarnath, or Mathura. Some chroniclers argue, however, that Buddhist account of Sunga persecution are greatly exaggerated.


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

Indo-Greek Kingdom

In the east, the autumn of the Mauryas left the Khyber happen unguarded, and also a tide of foreign invasion followed. The Greco-Bactrian king, Demetrius, capitalized top top the break-up and also conquered southerly Afghanistan and also parts of northwestern India around 180 BCE, forming the Indo-Greek Kingdom. The Indo-Greeks maintained territorial holdings for around a century in the Trans-Indus Region, in what is currently Pakistan and parts of main India.

Demetrius, who lived native 175 come 140 BCE, established the city the Sirkap, combine Greek and also Indian influences without indications of segregation in between thetwo cultures. The Greek development into Indian territory may have actually been plan to protect Greek populations in India, and to defend the Buddhist confidence from the alleged religious persecutions the the Sungas.


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

Demetrius was flourished by Menander, who dominated the biggest territory and also was among the many successful Indo-Greek kings. His coins that have actually been uncovered are the most numerous and also widespread of all the Indo-Greek kings. Follow to buddhism literature, Menander convert to Buddhism and is sometimes defined as the Milinda Panha. He aided Buddhism flourish and established the new capital that Sagala.


Coin depicting Menander I: explained in both Greek and also Indian accounts, Menander I came to be the most vital of the Indo-Greek rulers. He convert 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 room both assumed to it is in transliterations that “Ionians.” The buddhist scripture, Majjhima Nikaya, explains that in contrast with the many Indian castes, there were only two great of world in Indo-Greek culture: the Aryas, translated as the masters; and also Dasas, the servants.

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Indo-Greek Fall

Throughout the an initial century BCE, the Indo-Greeks significantly lost ground come the indians in the East, and also the Scythians, the Yuezhi, and the Parthians in the West. Around 20 Indo-Greek kings are known during this period, including last known Indo-Greek ruler, Strato II, who ruled in the Punjab region until around 55 BCE.