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Founded by Chandragupta Maurya, the Mauryan Empire dominated ancient India from 322 BCE to 187 BCE. It became one of the largest empires of its time. The capital city of the empire was at Pataliputra (now Patna,) and the empire extended across Magadha in the Indo-Gangetic Plan towards the east. At its zenith under the reign of Ashoka, the Mauryan Empire spanned over five million square kilometres, making it the largest empire in the Indian subcontinent that ever existed.
All the economic activities, including external and internal trade and agriculture bloomed. The credit for this goes to the single and methodical system of security, finance and administration. During the reign of Ashoka, after the Kalinga War, the Mauryan Empire sustained peace and security for approximately half a century. A long period of religious transformation, expansion of knowledge and sciences and social harmony was also enjoyed in the Mauryan Empire.
Chandragupta Maurya converted to Jainism. Similarly, Buddhism was embraced by Ashoka that resulted in non-violence, political and social peace across the empire. Buddhist missionaries were also sent to Mediterranean Europe, Southeast Asia, North Africa, Sri Lanka and West Asia by Askhoka.
With an estimated population of more than 55 million, the Mauryan Empire was one of the most populous empires. The primary sources of written records of Mauryan times are the Edicts of Ashoka and the Arthashstra.
History of the Maurya Empire
Chandragupta Maurya founded the Mauryan Empire with the help of Chanakya. Chandragupta’s rise to power is surrounded in controversy and mystery. The throne of Magadha was seized by Chandragupta Maurya from the last Nanda king. He then moved to conquer the northern India that was beyond the Magadha borders. Alexander’s successors were driven out by Chandragupta from the western region and he went ahead to extend his reach towards eastern Iraq and Afghanistan. Chandragupta Maurya laid the foundation of a robust and efficient central government. Chanakya, his highly capable chief minister, played a prominent in achieving this with the help of his intelligence network.
Chandragupta Maurya’s son Bindusara succeeded him and reigned from 298-272 BCE. Bindusara continued to extend the Mauryan Empire by conquering central India. Unlike Chandragupta, who was an ardent believer of Jainism, Bindusara was a follower of Ajivika sect. His guru was a Brahmin and so was his wife. He is accredited with providing a number of grants to Brahmin monasteries, also known as Brahmana-bhatto.
Bindusara was succeeded by his son Ashoka, who ruled from 272 to 232 BCE. He is recognized as one of the most remarkable and brilliant commanders not only in the history of India but also across the globe. He re-asserted the Empire’s superiority in western and southern India. He was an aggressive as well as an ambitious monarch. The most significant political event of Ashoka’s life was his conquest of Kalinga.
Although he was able to expand his empire after a bloody Kalinga war, the bloodshed and sufferings of people forced him to renounce warfare and embrace Buddhism. Thereafter, he decided to rule by ‘Bhamma’ and sent out missionaries to spread the message of peace and non-violence. The principles of ahimsa were implemented by Ashoka by banning violent sports activity and hunting. A powerful and large army was maintained by him to ensure peace and authority. Friendly relations were expanded with states across Europe and Asia. Buddhist missions were also sponsored by him. He became one of the most famous monarchs in the history of India with more than half a century reign of harmony, peace and prosperity.
Edicts of Ashoka can be found across the subcontinent, from Afghanistan to Andhra. His policies and accomplishments are stated in his edicts, spread across several parts of India.
The Mauryans were the first ones to provide a unified political entity in the country.
Forests were viewed as resources by the Mauryas. The elephant was regarded as the most significant forest product. They were used in battles, since it was cheaper to catch, tame and train the wild elephants for warfare.
Separate forests were designated by the Mauryas in order to protect lions and tigers for skin. This was also done to eliminate theft and make woods safe for grazing animals.
The forest tribes were seen with distrust and were controlled with political subjugation and bribery. Some of them were employed to trap and guard animals while some were employed as food-gatherers.
During the reign of Ashoka, significant changes were made in the style of governance. The royal hunt was discontinued and special emphasis was laid on protecting the fauna. He became the first ruler who not only advocated conservation measures but also got the rules pertaining to that inscribed on stone edicts.
Image Credit : https://www.ancient.eu/Mauryan_Empire/
The imperial capital of the Mauryan Empire was at Pataliputra and the empire was categorized into four territories. According to tThe Ashokan edicts, the four provincial capitals were Taxila, Ujjain, Tosali and Suvarnagiri. Kumara or the royal prince was the chief of the provincial administration. He served as king’s representative and governed the provinces. The council of ministers and Mahamatyas served as assistants to the kumara. The same organizational structure was seen at the imperial level that consisted of the Emperor and his Council of Ministers or the Mantriparishad.
As described by the Kautilya in the Arthashastra, the administrative organisation of the Empire was in sync with the bureaucracy. Historians theorise that municipal hygiene to international trade was all governed by a sophisticated civil service. The defence and expansion of the empire is accredited to the army, regarded as the largest army during the Iron Age. Going by Megasthenes, the empire commanded a military of thirty-thousand cavalry, nine thousand war elephants, six lakh infantry and eight thousand chariots, besides numerous attendants and followers. A vast surveillance system helped in gathering intelligence for both external and internal security.
Though Ashoka renounced warfare, he continued to maintain his large army in order to instil peace and stability across his Empire.
It was during the Mauryan Empire that the military security and political unity in South Asia allowed for a collective economic system that resulted in enhancing trade and commerce. The agricultural productivity also increased. There was a disciplined central authority and farmers were freed of crop collection burdens and tax from regional kings. The farmers instead paid tax to a strict yet fair nationally administered system as devised by the principles mentioned in the Arthashastra. A single currency across India was established by Chandragupta Maurya. Justice and security for farmers, traders and merchants was secured by a well-laid out network of administrators and regional governors.
A number of powerful chieftains, gangs of bandits and regional private armies who tried to impose their own supremacy in small areas were wiped out by the Mauryan army. The revenue collection was systematized, and a number of public works and waterways were commissioned. The new found internal peace and political unity resulted in expanding the internal trade.
The exports of the country comprised of exotic foods, silk goods, spices and textile. The exchange of technology and scientific knowledge with West Asia and Europe further enriched the Empire.
The construction of hospitals, roads, canals, rest-houses, waterways and other public works were also sponsored by Ashoka.
Image Credit : https://www.pinterest.com/pin/485544403560820353/?lp=true
Decline of the Mauryan Empire
Approximately half a century after the demise of Ashoka, the great Mauryan Empire began to crumble. By the mid-2nd century BCE the empire shrunk to its core areas with outlying provinces falling apart. The primary cause of the decline of the great Empire was successive weak rulers after the death of Ashoka. The vastness of the empire, internal revolts, and foreign invasions are some of the few other factors that resulted in the decline of the Mauryan Empire.
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Mauryan empire, in ancient India, a state centred at Pataliputra (later Patna) near the junction of the Son and Ganges (Ganga) rivers. It lasted from about 321 to 185 bce and was the first empire to encompass most of the Indian subcontinent.
The Mauryan empire was an efficient and highly organized autocracy with a standing army and civil service. That bureaucracy and its operation were the model for the Artha-shastra (“The Science of Material Gain”), a work of political economy similar in tone and scope to Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince.
In the wake of the death of Alexander the Great in 323 bce , Chandragupta (or Chandragupta Maurya), founder of the Mauryan dynasty, conquered the Punjab region from the southeastern edges of Alexander’s former empire. The Seleucids, a contending dynasty for Alexander’s legacy, attempted to advance into India in 305 bce . They were defeated and, after the conclusion of a treaty, the Seleucids and the Mauryans maintained friendly relations. Now enjoying peace along the western border, Chandragupta was free to focus his military exploits to the east and to the south. By the end of his reign, he had extended his empire across northern India. His son, Bindusara, continued the empire’s expansion well into the Deccan, stopping around the region known today as Karnataka.
Bindusara’s son, Ashoka (reigned c. 265–238 bce or c. 273–232 bce ), added Kalinga to the already vast empire. That addition would be the last, however, as the brutal conquest of that region led Ashoka to abandon military conquest. Rather, he embraced Buddhism and instituted dharma as the state ideology.
Much is known of the reign of this Buddhist Mauryan emperor from the edicts inscribed on exquisitely executed stone pillars that he had erected throughout his realm. Those edicts constitute some of the oldest deciphered original texts of India. After his conversion, his notion of conquest consisted of sending many Buddhist emissaries throughout Asia and commissioning some of the finest works of ancient Indian art.
After Ashoka’s death the empire shrank because of invasions, defections by southern princes, and quarrels over ascension. The last ruler, Brihadratha, was killed in 185 bce by his Brahman commander in chief, Pushyamitra, who then founded the Shunga dynasty, which ruled in central India for about a century.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Zeidan, Assistant Editor.
This period marked an imaginative and impressive step forward in Indian stone sculpture much previous sculpture was probably in wood and has not survived. The elaborately carved animal capitals surviving on from some Pillars of Ashoka are the best known works, and among the finest, above all the Lion Capital of Ashoka from Sarnath that is now the National Emblem of India. Coomaraswamy distinguishes between court art and a more popular art during the Mauryan period. Court art is represented by the pillars and their capitals,  and surviving popular art by some stone pieces, and many smaller works in terracotta.
The highly polished surface of court sculpture is often called Mauryan polish. However this seems not to be entirely reliable as a diagnostic tool for a Mauryan date, as some works from considerably later periods also have it. The Didarganj Yakshi, now most often thought to be from the 2nd century CE, is an example.
Pillars and their capitals Edit
The Pataliputra capital, dated to the 3rd century BCE, has been excavated at the Mauryan city of Pataliputra. It has been described as Perso-Iionic, with a strong Greek stylistic influence, including volute, bead and reel, meander or honeysuckle designs. This monumental piece of architecture tends to suggest the Achaemenid and Hellenistic artistic influence at the Mauryan court from early on.  
Emperor Ashoka also erected religious pillars throughout India. These pillars were carved in two types of stone. Some were of the spotted red and white sandstone from the region of Mathura, the others of buff-coloured fine grained hard sandstone usually with small black spots quarried in the Chunar near Varanasi. The uniformity of style in the pillar capitals suggests that they were all sculpted by craftsmen from the same region. It would therefore seem, that stone transported from Mathura and Chunar to the various sites where the pillars have been found and here the stone was cut and carved by craftsmen  They were given a fine polish characteristic of Mauryan sculpture.
These pillars were mainly erected in the Gangetic plains. They were inscribed with edicts of Ashoka on Dhamma or righteousness. The animal capital as a finely carved lifelike representation, noteworthy are the lion capital of Sarnath, the bull capital of Rampurva and the lion capital of Lauria Nandangarh. Much speculation has been made about the similarity between these capitals and Achaemenid works.
Pillars of Mauryan period Art Edit
- In Mauryan period art, mainly pillars were monolithic.
- Pillars are on sacred sites.
- The height of the pillars are 30-40 feet and they are crown by animal figures.
- Pillars are inscribe with Buddhist concept of morality or Dhamma.
Purpose of pillars of Mauryan period art UPSC
- Pillars were mainly the symbol of the state.
- They are also use to declare victory.
- Pillars also used for spread of moral ideas or Dhamma.
Different type of capitals
- Lotus column (bell shaped)
- Lotus column (bud shaped)
- Papyrus column (bell shaped)
- Papyrus column ( bud shaped)
Features of Mauryan period art Pillars Edit
- Mauryan pillars were mainly monolithic unlike the achaemenian type of pillar.
- Uniformity in all the pillars of Mauryan art.
- Chunar sandstone used for pillar making.
- Use of animal to decorate the pillar or to give the some moral message.
- Pillar at that time are highly polish which shows Iranian influence.
- Different type of abacus use like round, circular etc.
- Bell shaped capital shows Achaemenian influence.
Sarnath Pillar Edit
- Sarnath pillar was most remarkable pillar of that time.
- Highly polished and lion capital used on it. ( which is also Government of India’s emblem.
- In lion emblem 4 lions represent cardinal direction.
- Round abacus is used with four Dharma chakra or wheel of law.
- Elephant, bull, Horse and lion are depicted on the abacus, all are well polished.
- Lion shows the great power and dignity.
- Animal on the abacus make us know that they were animal friendly.
Bull capital Rampurva Bihar Edit
- It construction is of around 3rd century bc.
- its mixture of Indian and Persian elements.
- it have lotus capital.
- motifs on the abacus are beautiful.
- Decorative elements like rosette, palmetto and acanthus ornament used in which none of the Indian.
- its called as masterpiece of Indian crafts man.
"Popular" sculpture Edit
The work of local sculptors illustrates the popular art of the Mauryan period. This consisted of sculpture which probably was not commissioned by the emperor. The patrons of the popular art were the local governors and the more well-to-do subjects. It is represented by figures such as the female figure of Besnagar, the male figure of Parkham and the whisk-bearer from Didarganj (although its age is debated). Technically they are fashioned with less skill than the pillar capitals. They express a considerable earthiness and physical vitality. 
The stone elephant at Dhauli was also probably carved by local craftsmen and not by the court-based artists who were responsible for the animal capitals. The image of the elephant emerging from the rock is a most impressive one, and its purpose was probably to draw attention to the inscription nearby. 
Popular terracotta objects of various sizes have been found at Mauryan sites, and elsewhere, and are probably the most numerous Mauryan works of art. Made by local people who may not have been specialists, but for example potters with a sideline, they are very difficult to date if not recorded as coming from an identifiable archaeological context. Many are regarded as pre-Mauryan, but a continuation of the tradition of making mother-goddesses in clay, which dates back to the prehistoric period is revealed by the discovery of these objects at Mauryan levels during the excavations at Ahicchatra.
They are found more commonly from Pataliputra to Taxila. Many have stylized forms and technically they are more accomplished, in that they have a well-defined shape and clear ornamentation. Some appear to have been made from moulds, yet there is little duplication. Terracotas from Taxila consists of deity figures, votive reliefs with deities, toys, dice, ornaments and beads. Among the ornaments were round medallions, similar to the bullae worn by Roman boys.  Terracotta images of folk gods and goddesses often have an earthy charm (some of them are perhaps dolls). Many animal figures are probably toys for children.
The Mauryan Empire was the first pan-Indian empire. It covered most of the Indian region and was founded around 321 B.C.E.
Anthropology, Archaeology, Social Studies, Ancient Civilizations
Pillars of Ashoka
The masterfully sculpted Ashoka pillars tower over the municipal garden in Panjim, Goa, India. These are one of the last remaining relics from the Mauryan Empire.
Photograph by Dinodia Photos
The Mauryan Empire, which formed around 321 B.C.E. and ended in 185 B.C.E., was the first pan-Indian empire, an empire that covered most of the Indian region. It spanned across central and northern India as well as over parts of modern-day Iran.
The Mauryan Empire&rsquos first leader, Chandragupta Maurya, started consolidating land as Alexander the Great&rsquos power began to wane. Alexander&rsquos death in 323 B.C.E. left a large power vacuum, and Chandragupta took advantage, gathering an army and overthrowing the Nanda power in Magadha, in present-day eastern India, marking the start of the Mauryan Empire. After crowning himself king, Chandragupta took additional lands through force and by forming alliances.
Chandragupta&rsquos chief minister Kautilya, sometimes called Chanakya, advised Chandragupta and contributed to the empire&rsquos legacy. In addition to being a political strategist, Kautilya is also known for writing the Arthashastra, a treatise about leadership and government. The Arthashastra describes how a state should organize its economy and maintain power. Chandragupta&rsquos government closely resembled the government described in the Arthashastra. One notable aspect of the Arthashastra was its focus on spies. Kautilya recommended the king have large networks of informants to work as a surveillance force for the ruler. The focus on deception reveals a pragmatic, and borderline cynical, view of human nature.
Bindusara, Chandragupta&rsquos son, assumed the throne around 300 B.C.E. He kept the empire running smoothly while maintaining its lands. Bindusara&rsquos son, Ashoka, was the third leader of the Mauryam Empire. Ashoka left his mark on history by erecting large stone pillars inscribed with edicts that he issued. After leading a bloody campaign against Kalinga (a region on the central-eastern coast of India), Ashoka reevaluated his commitment to expanding the empire and instead turned to Buddhism and its tenet of nonviolence. Many of his edicts encouraged people to give up violence and live in peace with each other&mdashtwo important Buddhist principals.
After Ashoka&rsquos death, his family continued to reign, but the empire began to break apart. The last of the Mauryas, Brihadratha, was assassinated by his commander in chief&mdasha man named Pushyamrita who went on to found the Shunga Dynasty&mdashin 185 B.C.E.
The masterfully sculpted Ashoka pillars tower over the municipal garden in Panjim, Goa, India. These are one of the last remaining relics from the Mauryan Empire.
Mauryan Empire NCERT Notes FAQs
Pushyamitra Shunga of the Shunga dynasty defeated the Mauryan empire in 185 BCE. He is said to have killed Brihadratha and captured the throne forcibly. The Sungas ruled Central India and Pataliputra.
Ashoka the great, was the son of Bindusara. He succeeded to the throne after his father. His reign framed a crucial part for continued links with Greeks
The Mauryan empire (322 – 185)BCE was the largest Indian empire. Except Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the entire country came under the Mauryan empire.
Chandragupta Maurya founded the Mauryan empire in 322 BCE. He defeated the weak Nandas with the help of Kautilya and captured the throne.
Ashoka was succeeded by his grandson Dasharatha Maurya. The Mauryan empire was under the weak successors of Ashoka for about fifty years.
Ashoka (273- 232 BC)
After the death of Bindusara in 273 BC Ashoka succeeded to the throne. According to the Buddhist sources his mother was Janapada Kalyani or Subhadrangi. As a prince he served as a victory first at Ujjain and then at Taxila. According to the Buddhist tradition Ashoka was very cruel in his early life and captured the throne after killing his 99 brothers. Ashoka is the first king in the Indian history who has left his records engraved on stones. The history of Ashoka and his reign can be reconstructed with the help of these inscriptions and some other literary sources. The inscriptions on rocks are called Rock edicts and those on pillars, Pillar edicts.
The Ashokan inscriptions are found in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Afganistan. Altogether they appear at 47 places. However the name of Ashoka occurs only in copies of Minor Rock Edict I found at three places in Karnataka and one in MP. All other inscriptions refer to him as devanampiya (beloved of the gods) and piyadasi. The inscriptions of Ashoka were written in different scripts. In Afghanistan they were written in Greek and Aramaic languages and script and in Pakistan area in Prakrit language and Kharosthi script. Inscriptions from all other places are in Prakrit language written in Brahmi script.
The name "Maurya" does not occur in Ashoka's inscriptions, or the contemporary Greek accounts such as Megasthenes's Indica, but it is attested by the following sources: 
- The Junagadh rock inscription of Rudradaman (c. 150 CE) prefixes "Maurya" to the names Chandragupta and Ashoka. 
- The Puranas (c. 4th century CE or earlier) use Maurya as a dynastic appellation. 
- The Buddhist texts state that Chandragupta belonged to the "Moriya" clan of the Shakyas, the tribe to which Gautama Buddha belonged. 
- The Jain texts state that Chandragupta was the son of a royal superintendent of peacocks (mayura-poshaka).  also designate them as 'moriyar' and mention them after the Nandas inscription (from the town of Bandanikke, North Mysore ) of 12th century AD chronologically mention Mauryya as one of the dynasties which ruled the region. 
According to some scholars, Kharavela's Hathigumpha inscription (2nd-1st century BC) mentions era of Maurya Empire as Muriya Kala (Mauryan era),  but this reading is disputed: other scholars—such as epigraphist D. C. Sircar—read the phrase as mukhiya-kala ("the principal art"). 
According to the Buddhist tradition, the ancestors of the Maurya kings had settled in a region where peacocks (mora in Pali) were abundant. Therefore, they came to be known as "Moriyas", literally, "belonging to the place of peacocks". According to another Buddhist account, these ancestors built a city called Moriya-nagara ("Moriya-city"), which was so called, because it was built with the "bricks coloured like peacocks' necks". 
The dynasty's connection to the peacocks, as mentioned in the Buddhist and Jain traditions, seems to be corroborated by archaeological evidence. For example, peacock figures are found on the Ashoka pillar at Nandangarh and several sculptures on the Great Stupa of Sanchi. Based on this evidence, modern scholars theorize that the peacock may have been the dynasty's emblem. 
Some later authors, such as Dhundiraja (a commentator on the Mudrarakshasa) and an annotator of the Vishnu Purana, state that the word "Maurya" is derived from Mura and the mother of the first Maurya king. However, the Puranas themselves make no mention of Mura and do not talk of any relation between the Nanda and the Maurya dynasties.  Dhundiraja's derivation of the word seems to be his own invention: according to the Sanskrit rules, the derivative of the feminine name Mura (IAST: Murā) would be "Maureya" the term "Maurya" can only be derived from the masculine "Mura". 
Prior to the Maurya Empire, the Nanda Empire ruled over most of the Indian Subcontinent. The Nanda Empire was a large, militaristic, and economically powerful empire due to conquering the Mahajanapadas. According to several legends, Chanakya travelled to Pataliputra, Magadha, the capital of the Nanda Empire where Chanakya worked for the Nandas as a minister. However, Chanakya was insulted by the Emperor Dhana Nanda, of the Nanda dynasty and Chanakya swore revenge and vowed to destroy the Nanda Empire.  He had to flee in order to save his life and went to Taxila, a notable center of learning, to work as a teacher. On one of his travels, Chanakya witnessed some young men playing a rural game practicing a pitched battle. He was impressed by the young Chandragupta and saw royal qualities in him as someone fit to rule.
Meanwhile, Alexander the Great was leading his Indian campaigns and ventured into Punjab. His army mutinied at the Beas River and refused to advance further eastward when confronted by another army. Alexander returned to Babylon and re-deployed most of his troops west of the Indus River. Soon after Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BCE, his empire fragmented into independent kingdoms led by his generals. 
The Maurya Empire was established in the Greater Punjab region under the leadership of Chandragupta Maurya and his mentor Chanakya. Chandragupta was taken to Taxila by Chanakya and was tutored about statecraft and governing. Requiring an army Chandragupta recruited and annexed local military republics such as the Yaudheyas that had resisted Alexanders Empire. The Mauryan army quickly rose to become the prominent regional power in the North West of the Indian Subcontinent. The Mauryan army then conquered the satraps established by the Macedonians.  Ancient Greek historians Nearchus, Onesictrius and Aristobolus have provided lot of information about the Mauryan empire.  The Greek generals Eudemus and Peithon ruled in the Indus Valley until around 317 BCE, when Chandragupta Maurya (with the help of Chanakya, who was now his advisor) fought and drove out the Greek governors, and subsequently brought the Indus Valley under the control of his new seat of power in Magadha. 
Chandragupta Maurya's ancestry is shrouded in mystery and controversy. On one hand, a number of ancient Indian accounts, such as the drama Mudrarakshasa (Signet ring of Rakshasa – Rakshasa was the prime minister of Magadha) by Vishakhadatta, describe his royal ancestry and even link him with the Nanda family. A kshatriya clan known as the Mauryas are referred to in the earliest Buddhist texts, Mahaparinibbana Sutta. However, any conclusions are hard to make without further historical evidence. Chandragupta first emerges in Greek accounts as "Sandrokottos". As a young man he is said to have met Alexander.  Chanakya is said to have met the Nanda king, angered him, and made a narrow escape. 
Conquest of Magadha
Chanakya encouraged Chandragupta Maurya and his army to take over the throne of Magadha. Using his intelligence network, Chandragupta gathered many young men from across Magadha and other provinces, men upset over the corrupt and oppressive rule of king Dhana Nanda, plus the resources necessary for his army to fight a long series of battles. These men included the former general of Taxila, accomplished students of Chanakya, the representative of King Parvataka, his son Malayaketu, and the rulers of small states. The Macedonians (described as Yona or Yavana in Indian sources) may then have participated, together with other groups, in the armed uprising of Chandragupta Maurya against the Nanda dynasty.   The Mudrarakshasa of Visakhadutta as well as the Jaina work Parisishtaparvan talk of Chandragupta's alliance with the Himalayan king Parvataka, often identified with Porus,   although this identification is not accepted by all historians.  This Himalayan alliance gave Chandragupta a composite and powerful army made up of Yavanas (Greeks), Kambojas, Shakas (Scythians), Kiratas (Himalayans), Parasikas (Persians) and Bahlikas (Bactrians) who took Pataliputra (also called Kusumapura, "The City of Flowers"): 
Kusumapura was besieged from every direction by the forces of Parvata and Chandragupta: Shakas, Yavanas, Kiratas, Kambojas, Parasikas, Bahlikas and others, assembled on the advice of Chanakya
Preparing to invade Pataliputra, Maurya came up with a strategy. A battle was announced and the Magadhan army was drawn from the city to a distant battlefield to engage with Maurya's forces. Maurya's general and spies meanwhile bribed the corrupt general of Nanda. He also managed to create an atmosphere of civil war in the kingdom, which culminated in the death of the heir to the throne. Chanakya managed to win over popular sentiment. Ultimately Nanda resigned, handing power to Chandragupta, and went into exile and was never heard of again. Chanakya contacted the prime minister, Rakshasas, and made him understand that his loyalty was to Magadha, not to the Nanda dynasty, insisting that he continue in office. Chanakya also reiterated that choosing to resist would start a war that would severely affect Magadha and destroy the city. Rakshasa accepted Chanakya's reasoning, and Chandragupta Maurya was legitimately installed as the new King of Magadha. Rakshasa became Chandragupta's chief advisor, and Chanakya assumed the position of an elder statesman.
After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE, Chandragupta led a series of campaigns in 305 BCE to take satrapies in the Indus Valley and northwest India.  When Alexander's remaining forces were routed, returning westwards, Seleucus I Nicator fought to defend these territories. Not many details of the campaigns are known from ancient sources. Seleucus was defeated and retreated into the mountainous region of Afghanistan. 
The two rulers concluded a peace treaty in 303 BCE, including a marital alliance. Under its terms, Chandragupta received the satrapies of Paropamisadae (Kamboja and Gandhara) and Arachosia (Kandhahar) and Gedrosia (Balochistan). Seleucus I received the 500 war elephants that were to have a decisive role in his victory against western Hellenistic kings at the Battle of Ipsus in 301 BCE. Diplomatic relations were established and several Greeks, such as the historian Megasthenes, Deimakos and Dionysius resided at the Mauryan court. 
Megasthenes in particular was a notable Greek ambassador in the court of Chandragupta Maurya.  According to Arrian, ambassador Megasthenes (c. 350 – c. 290 BCE) lived in Arachosia and travelled to Pataliputra.  Megasthenes' description of Mauryan society as freedom-loving gave Seleucus a means to avoid invasion, however, underlying Seleucus' decision was the improbability of success. In later years, Seleucus' successors maintained diplomatic relations with the Empire based on similar accounts from returning travellers. 
Chandragupta established a strong centralised state with an administration at Pataliputra, which, according to Megasthenes, was "surrounded by a wooden wall pierced by 64 gates and 570 towers". Aelian, although not expressly quoting Megasthenes nor mentioning Pataliputra, described Indian palaces as superior in splendor to Persia's Susa or Ecbatana.  The architecture of the city seems to have had many similarities with Persian cities of the period. 
Chandragupta's son Bindusara extended the rule of the Mauryan empire towards southern India. The famous Tamil poet Mamulanar of the Sangam literature described how areas south of the Deccan Plateau which comprised Tamil country was invaded by the Maurya army using troops from Karnataka. Mamulanar states that Vadugar (people who resided in Andhra-Karnataka regions immediately to the north of Tamil Nadu) formed the vanguard of the Mauryan army.   He also had a Greek ambassador at his court, named Deimachus.  According to Plutarch, Chandragupta Maurya subdued all of India, and Justin also observed that Chandragupta Maurya was "in possession of India". These accounts are corroborated by Tamil sangam literature which mentions about Mauryan invasion with their south Indian allies and defeat of their rivals at Podiyil hill in Tirunelveli district in present-day Tamil Nadu.  
Chandragupta renounced his throne and followed Jain teacher Bhadrabahu.    He is said to have lived as an ascetic at Shravanabelagola for several years before fasting to death, as per the Jain practice of sallekhana. 
Bindusara was born to Chandragupta, the founder of the Mauryan Empire. This is attested by several sources, including the various Puranas and the Mahavamsa.  [ full citation needed ] He is attested by the Buddhist texts such as Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa ("Bindusaro") the Jain texts such as Parishishta-Parvan as well as the Hindu texts such as Vishnu Purana ("Vindusara").   According to the 12th century Jain writer Hemachandra's Parishishta-Parvan, the name of Bindusara's mother was Durdhara.  Some Greek sources also mention him by the name "Amitrochates" or its variations.  
Historian Upinder Singh estimates that Bindusara ascended the throne around 297 BCE.  Bindusara, just 22 years old, inherited a large empire that consisted of what is now, Northern, Central and Eastern parts of India along with parts of Afghanistan and Baluchistan. Bindusara extended this empire to the southern part of India, as far as what is now known as Karnataka. He brought sixteen states under the Mauryan Empire and thus conquered almost all of the Indian peninsula (he is said to have conquered the 'land between the two seas' – the peninsular region between the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea). Bindusara did not conquer the friendly Tamil kingdoms of the Cholas, ruled by King Ilamcetcenni, the Pandyas, and Cheras. Apart from these southern states, Kalinga (modern Odisha) was the only kingdom in India that did not form part of Bindusara's empire.  It was later conquered by his son Ashoka, who served as the viceroy of Ujjaini during his father's reign, which highlights the importance of the town.  
Bindusara's life has not been documented as well as that of his father Chandragupta or of his son Ashoka. Chanakya continued to serve as prime minister during his reign. According to the medieval Tibetan scholar Taranatha who visited India, Chanakya helped Bindusara "to destroy the nobles and kings of the sixteen kingdoms and thus to become absolute master of the territory between the eastern and western oceans".  During his rule, the citizens of Taxila revolted twice. The reason for the first revolt was the maladministration of Susima, his eldest son. The reason for the second revolt is unknown, but Bindusara could not suppress it in his lifetime. It was crushed by Ashoka after Bindusara's death. 
Bindusara maintained friendly diplomatic relations with the Hellenic world. Deimachus was the ambassador of Seleucid emperor Antiochus I at Bindusara's court.  Diodorus states that the king of Palibothra (Pataliputra, the Mauryan capital) welcomed a Greek author, Iambulus. This king is usually identified as Bindusara.  Pliny states that the Egyptian king Philadelphus sent an envoy named Dionysius to India.   According to Sailendra Nath Sen, this appears to have happened during Bindusara's reign. 
Unlike his father Chandragupta (who at a later stage converted to Jainism), Bindusara believed in the Ajivika sect. Bindusara's guru Pingalavatsa (Janasana) was a Brahmin  of the Ajivika sect. Bindusara's wife, Queen Subhadrangi (Queen Dharma/ Aggamahesi) was a Brahmin  also of the Ajivika sect from Champa (present Bhagalpur district). Bindusara is credited with giving several grants to Brahmin monasteries (Brahmana-bhatto). 
Historical evidence suggests that Bindusara died in the 270s BCE. According to Upinder Singh, Bindusara died around 273 BCE.  Alain Daniélou believes that he died around 274 BCE.  Sailendra Nath Sen believes that he died around 273–272 BCE, and that his death was followed by a four-year struggle of succession, after which his son Ashoka became the emperor in 269–268 BCE.  According to the Mahavamsa, Bindusara reigned for 28 years.  The Vayu Purana, which names Chandragupta's successor as "Bhadrasara", states that he ruled for 25 years. 
As a young prince, Ashoka ( r . 272–232 BCE) was a brilliant commander who crushed revolts in Ujjain and Takshashila. As monarch he was ambitious and aggressive, re-asserting the Empire's superiority in southern and western India. But it was his conquest of Kalinga (262–261 BCE) which proved to be the pivotal event of his life. Ashoka used Kalinga to project power over a large region by building a fortification there and securing it as a possession.  Although Ashoka's army succeeded in overwhelming Kalinga forces of royal soldiers and civilian units, an estimated 100,000 soldiers and civilians were killed in the furious warfare, including over 10,000 of Ashoka's own men. Hundreds of thousands of people were adversely affected by the destruction and fallout of war. When he personally witnessed the devastation, Ashoka began feeling remorse. Although the annexation of Kalinga was completed, Ashoka embraced the teachings of Buddhism, and renounced war and violence. He sent out missionaries to travel around Asia and spread Buddhism to other countries. [ citation needed ]
Ashoka implemented principles of ahimsa by banning hunting and violent sports activity and ending indentured and forced labor (many thousands of people in war-ravaged Kalinga had been forced into hard labour and servitude). While he maintained a large and powerful army, to keep the peace and maintain authority, Ashoka expanded friendly relations with states across Asia and Europe, and he sponsored Buddhist missions. He undertook a massive public works building campaign across the country. Over 40 years of peace, harmony and prosperity made Ashoka one of the most successful and famous monarchs in Indian history. He remains an idealized figure of inspiration in modern India. [ citation needed ]
The Edicts of Ashoka, set in stone, are found throughout the Subcontinent. Ranging from as far west as Afghanistan and as far south as Andhra (Nellore District), Ashoka's edicts state his policies and accomplishments. Although predominantly written in Prakrit, two of them were written in Greek, and one in both Greek and Aramaic. Ashoka's edicts refer to the Greeks, Kambojas, and Gandharas as peoples forming a frontier region of his empire. They also attest to Ashoka's having sent envoys to the Greek rulers in the West as far as the Mediterranean. The edicts precisely name each of the rulers of the Hellenic world at the time such as Amtiyoko (Antiochus), Tulamaya (Ptolemy), Amtikini (Antigonos), Maka (Magas) and Alikasudaro (Alexander) as recipients of Ashoka's proselytism. [ citation needed ] The Edicts also accurately locate their territory "600 yojanas away" (a yojanas being about 7 miles), corresponding to the distance between the center of India and Greece (roughly 4,000 miles). 
Ashoka was followed for 50 years by a succession of weaker kings. He was succeeded by Dasharatha Maurya, who was Ashoka's grandson. None of Ashoka's sons could ascend the throne after him. Mahendra, his first born, was on to spread Buddhism in the world. Kunala Maurya was blind hence couldn't ascend the throne and Tivala, son of Kaurwaki, died even earlier than Ashoka. Another son, Jalauka, does not have much story behind him.
The empire lost many territories under Dasharatha, which were later reconquered by Samprati, Kunala's son. Post Samprati, the Mauryas slowly lost many territories. In 180 BCE, Brihadratha Maurya, was killed by his general Pushyamitra Shunga in a military parade without any heir. Hence, the great Maurya empire finally ended, giving rise to the Shunga Empire.
Reasons advanced for the decline include the succession of weak kings after Aśoka Maurya, the partition of the empire into two, the growing independence of some areas within the empire, such as that ruled by Sophagasenus, a top-heavy administration where authority was entirely in the hands of a few persons, an absence of any national consciousness,  the pure scale of the empire making it unwieldy, and invasion by the Greco-Bactrian Empire.
Some historians, such as H. C. Raychaudhuri, have argued that Ashoka's pacifism undermined the "military backbone" of the Maurya empire. Others, such as Romila Thapar, have suggested that the extent and impact of his pacifism have been "grossly exaggerated". 
Shunga coup (185 BCE)
Buddhist records such as the Ashokavadana write that the assassination of Brihadratha and the rise of the Shunga empire led to a wave of religious persecution for Buddhists,  and a resurgence of Hinduism. According to Sir John Marshall,  Pushyamitra may have been the main author of the persecutions, although later Shunga kings seem to have been more supportive of Buddhism. Other historians, such as Etienne Lamotte  and Romila Thapar,  among others, have argued that archaeological evidence in favour of the allegations of persecution of Buddhists are lacking, and that the extent and magnitude of the atrocities have been exaggerated.
Establishment of the Indo-Greek Kingdom (180 BCE)
The fall of the Mauryas left the Khyber Pass unguarded, and a wave of foreign invasion followed. The Greco-Bactrian king, Demetrius, capitalized on the break-up, and he conquered southern Afghanistan and parts of northwestern India around 180 BCE, forming the Indo-Greek Kingdom. The Indo-Greeks would maintain holdings on the trans-Indus region, and make forays into central India, for about a century. Under them, Buddhism flourished, and one of their kings, Menander, became a famous figure of Buddhism he was to establish a new capital of Sagala, the modern city of Sialkot. However, the extent of their domains and the lengths of their rule are subject to much debate. Numismatic evidence indicates that they retained holdings in the subcontinent right up to the birth of Christ. Although the extent of their successes against indigenous powers such as the Shungas, Satavahanas, and Kalingas are unclear, what is clear is that Scythian tribes, renamed Indo-Scythians, brought about the demise of the Indo-Greeks from around 70 BCE and retained lands in the trans-Indus, the region of Mathura, and Gujarat. [ citation needed ]
Megasthenes mentions military command consisting of six boards of five members each, (i) Navy (ii) military transport (iii) Infantry (iv) Cavalry with Catapults (v) Chariot divisions and (vi) Elephants. 
The Empire was divided into four provinces, with the imperial capital at Pataliputra. From Ashokan edicts, the names of the four provincial capitals are Tosali (in the east), Ujjain (in the west), Suvarnagiri (in the south), and Taxila (in the north). The head of the provincial administration was the Kumara (royal prince), who governed the provinces as king's representative. The kumara was assisted by Mahamatyas and council of ministers. This organizational structure was reflected at the imperial level with the Emperor and his Mantriparishad (Council of Ministers). [ citation needed ] . The mauryans established a well developed coin minting system. Coins were mostly made of silver and copper. Certain gold coins were in circulation as well. The coins were widely used for trade and commerce 
Historians theorise that the organisation of the Empire was in line with the extensive bureaucracy described by Kautilya in the Arthashastra: a sophisticated civil service governed everything from municipal hygiene to international trade. The expansion and defense of the empire was made possible by what appears to have been one of the largest armies in the world during the Iron Age.  According to Megasthenes, the empire wielded a military of 600,000 infantry, 30,000 cavalry, 8,000 chariots and 9,000 war elephants besides followers and attendants.  A vast espionage system collected intelligence for both internal and external security purposes. Having renounced offensive warfare and expansionism, Ashoka nevertheless continued to maintain this large army, to protect the Empire and instil stability and peace across West and South Asia. [ citation needed ] .Even though large parts were under the control of Mauryan empire the spread of information and imperial message was limited since many parts were inaccessible and were situated far away from capital of empire. 
Arthashastra and Megasthenes accounts of Pataliputra describe the intricate municipal system formed by Maurya empire to govern its cities. A city counsel made up of thirty commissioners was divided into six committees or boards which governed the city. The first board fixed wages and looked after provided goods, second board made arrangement for foreign dignitaries, tourists and businessmen, third board made records and registrations, fourth looked after manufactured goods and sale of commodities, fifth board regulated trade, issued licenses and checked weights and measurements, sixth board collected sales taxes. Some cities such as Taxila had autonomy to issue their own coins. The city counsel had officers who looked after public welfare such as maintenance of roads, public buildings, markets, hospitals, educational institutions etc.  The official head of the village was Gramika (in towns Nagarika).  The city counsel also had some magisterial powers.
For the first time in South Asia, political unity and military security allowed for a common economic system and enhanced trade and commerce, with increased agricultural productivity. The previous situation involving hundreds of kingdoms, many small armies, powerful regional chieftains, and internecine warfare, gave way to a disciplined central authority. Farmers were freed of tax and crop collection burdens from regional kings, paying instead to a nationally administered and strict-but-fair system of taxation as advised by the principles in the Arthashastra. Chandragupta Maurya established a single currency across India, and a network of regional governors and administrators and a civil service provided justice and security for merchants, farmers and traders. The Mauryan army wiped out many gangs of bandits, regional private armies, and powerful chieftains who sought to impose their own supremacy in small areas. Although regimental in revenue collection, Maurya also sponsored many public works and waterways to enhance productivity, while internal trade in India expanded greatly due to new-found political unity and internal peace. [ citation needed ]
Under the Indo-Greek friendship treaty, and during Ashoka's reign, an international network of trade expanded. The Khyber Pass, on the modern boundary of Pakistan and Afghanistan, became a strategically important port of trade and intercourse with the outside world. Greek states and Hellenic kingdoms in West Asia became important trade partners of India. Trade also extended through the Malay peninsula into Southeast Asia. India's exports included silk goods and textiles, spices and exotic foods. The external world came across new scientific knowledge and technology with expanding trade with the Mauryan Empire. Ashoka also sponsored the construction of thousands of roads, waterways, canals, hospitals, rest-houses and other public works. The easing of many over-rigorous administrative practices, including those regarding taxation and crop collection, helped increase productivity and economic activity across the Empire. [ citation needed ]
In many ways, the economic situation in the Mauryan Empire is analogous to the Roman Empire of several centuries later. Both had extensive trade connections and both had organizations similar to corporations. While Rome had organizational entities which were largely used for public state-driven projects, Mauryan India had numerous private commercial entities. These existed purely for private commerce and developed before the Mauryan Empire itself. 
Hoard of mostly Mauryan coins.
Silver punch mark coin of the Maurya empire, with symbols of wheel and elephant. 3rd century BCE. [ citation needed ]
Mauryan coin with arched hill symbol on reverse. [ citation needed ]
Mauryan Empire coin. Circa late 4th-2nd century BCE. [ citation needed ]
Mauryan Empire, Emperor Salisuka or later. Circa 207-194 BCE. 
In the early period of empire Hinduism was an important religion.  The Mauryans favored all dharmic religions such as Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. Minor religious sects such as ajivikas also received patronage.
Chandragupta Maurya followed Jainism after retiring, when he renounced his throne and material possessions to join a wandering group of Jain monks. Chandragupta was a disciple of the Jain monk Acharya Bhadrabahu. It is said that in his last days, he observed the rigorous but self-purifying Jain ritual of santhara (fast unto death), at Shravana Belgola in Karnataka.     Samprati, the grandson of Ashoka, also patronized Jainism. Samprati was influenced by the teachings of Jain monks like Suhastin and he is said to have built 125,000 derasars across India.  Some of them are still found in the towns of Ahmedabad, Viramgam, Ujjain, and Palitana. [ citation needed ] It is also said that just like Ashoka, Samprati sent messengers and preachers to Greece, Persia and the Middle East for the spread of Jainism, but, to date, no research has been done in this area.  
Thus, Jainism became a vital force under the Mauryan Rule. Chandragupta and Samprati are credited for the spread of Jainism in South India. Hundreds of thousands of temples and stupas are said to have been erected during their reigns
Magadha, the centre of the empire, was also the birthplace of Buddhism. Ashoka initially practised Hinduism [ citation needed ] but later followed Buddhism following the Kalinga War, he renounced expansionism and aggression, and the harsher injunctions of the Arthashastra on the use of force, intensive policing, and ruthless measures for tax collection and against rebels. Ashoka sent a mission led by his son Mahinda and daughter Sanghamitta to Sri Lanka, whose king Tissa was so charmed with Buddhist ideals that he adopted them himself and made Buddhism the state religion. Ashoka sent many Buddhist missions to West Asia, Greece and South East Asia, and commissioned the construction of monasteries and schools, as well as the publication of Buddhist literature across the empire. He is believed to have built as many as 84,000 stupas across India, such as Sanchi and Mahabodhi Temple, and he increased the popularity of Buddhism in Afghanistan, Thailand and North Asia including Siberia. Ashoka helped convene the Third Buddhist Council of India's and South Asia's Buddhist orders near his capital, a council that undertook much work of reform and expansion of the Buddhist religion. Indian merchants embraced Buddhism and played a large role in spreading the religion across the Mauryan Empire. 
The greatest monument of this period, executed in the reign of Chandragupta Maurya, was the old palace at Paliputra, modern Kumhrar in Patna. Excavations have unearthed the remains of the palace, which is thought to have been an group of several buildings, the most important of which was an immense pillared hall supported on a high substratum of timbers. The pillars were set in regular rows, thus dividing the hall into a number of smaller square bays. The number of columns is 80, each about 7 meters high. According to the eyewitness account of Megasthenes, the palace was chiefly constructed of timber, and was considered to exceed in splendour and magnificence the palaces of Susa and Ecbatana, its gilded pillars being adorned with golden vines and silver birds. The buildings stood in an extensive park studded with fish ponds and furnished with a great variety of ornamental trees and shrubs.  [ better source needed ] Kauṭilya's Arthashastra also gives the method of palace construction from this period. Later fragments of stone pillars, including one nearly complete, with their round tapering shafts and smooth polish, indicate that Ashoka was responsible for the construction of the stone columns which replaced the earlier wooden ones. [ citation needed ]
During the Ashokan period, stonework was of a highly diversified order and comprised lofty free-standing pillars, railings of stupas, lion thrones and other colossal figures. The use of stone had reached such great perfection during this time that even small fragments of stone art were given a high lustrous polish resembling fine enamel. This period marked the beginning of the Buddhist school of architecture. Ashoka was responsible for the construction of several stupas, which were large domes and bearing symbols of Buddha. The most important ones are located at Sanchi, Bharhut, Amaravati, Bodhgaya and Nagarjunakonda. The most widespread examples of Mauryan architecture are the Ashoka pillars and carved edicts of Ashoka, often exquisitely decorated, with more than 40 spread throughout the Indian subcontinent.  [ better source needed ]
The peacock was a dynastic symbol of Mauryans, as depicted by Ashoka's pillars at Nandangarh and Sanchi Stupa. 
Remains of the Ashokan Pillar in polished stone (right of the Southern Gateway).
Remains of the shaft of the pillar of Ashoka, under a shed near the Southern Gateway.
Pillar and its inscription (the "Schism Edict") upon discovery.
The protection of animals in India was advocated by the time of the Maurya dynasty being the first empire to provide a unified political entity in India, the attitude of the Mauryas towards forests, their denizens, and fauna in general is of interest. 
The Mauryas firstly looked at forests as resources. For them, the most important forest product was the elephant. Military might in those times depended not only upon horses and men but also battle-elephants these played a role in the defeat of Seleucus, one of Alexander's former generals. The Mauryas sought to preserve supplies of elephants since it was cheaper and took less time to catch, tame and train wild elephants than to raise them. Kautilya's Arthashastra contains not only maxims on ancient statecraft, but also unambiguously specifies the responsibilities of officials such as the Protector of the Elephant Forests. 
On the border of the forest, he should establish a forest for elephants guarded by foresters. The Office of the Chief Elephant Forester should with the help of guards protect the elephants in any terrain. The slaying of an elephant is punishable by death.
The Mauryas also designated separate forests to protect supplies of timber, as well as lions and tigers for skins. Elsewhere the Protector of Animals also worked to eliminate thieves, tigers and other predators to render the woods safe for grazing cattle. [ citation needed ]
The Mauryas valued certain forest tracts in strategic or economic terms and instituted curbs and control measures over them. They regarded all forest tribes with distrust and controlled them with bribery and political subjugation. They employed some of them, the food-gatherers or aranyaca to guard borders and trap animals. The sometimes tense and conflict-ridden relationship nevertheless enabled the Mauryas to guard their vast empire. 
When Ashoka embraced Buddhism in the latter part of his reign, he brought about significant changes in his style of governance, which included providing protection to fauna, and even relinquished the royal hunt. He was the first ruler in history [ failed verification ] to advocate conservation measures for wildlife and even had rules inscribed in stone edicts. The edicts proclaim that many followed the king's example in giving up the slaughter of animals one of them proudly states: 
Our king killed very few animals.
However, the edicts of Ashoka reflect more the desire of rulers than actual events the mention of a 100 'panas' (coins) fine for poaching deer in royal hunting preserves shows that rule-breakers did exist. The legal restrictions conflicted with the practices freely exercised by the common people in hunting, felling, fishing and setting fires in forests. 
Foundation of the Empire
Relations with the Hellenistic world may have started from the very beginning of the Maurya Empire. Plutarch reports that Chandragupta Maurya met with Alexander the Great, probably around Taxila in the northwest: 
Sandrocottus, when he was a stripling, saw Alexander himself, and we are told that he often said in later times that Alexander narrowly missed making himself master of the country, since its king was hated and despised on account of his baseness and low birth.
Reconquest of the Northwest (c. 317–316 BCE)
Chandragupta ultimately occupied Northwestern India, in the territories formerly ruled by the Greeks, where he fought the satraps (described as "Prefects" in Western sources) left in place after Alexander (Justin), among whom may have been Eudemus, ruler in the western Punjab until his departure in 317 BCE or Peithon, son of Agenor, ruler of the Greek colonies along the Indus until his departure for Babylon in 316 BCE. [ citation needed ]
India, after the death of Alexander, had assassinated his prefects, as if shaking the burden of servitude. The author of this liberation was Sandracottos, but he had transformed liberation in servitude after victory, since, after taking the throne, he himself oppressed the very people he has liberated from foreign domination.
Later, as he was preparing war against the prefects of Alexander, a huge wild elephant went to him and took him on his back as if tame, and he became a remarkable fighter and war leader. Having thus acquired royal power, Sandracottos possessed India at the time Seleucos was preparing future glory.
Conflict and alliance with Seleucus (305 BCE)
Seleucus I Nicator, the Macedonian satrap of the Asian portion of Alexander's former empire, conquered and put under his own authority eastern territories as far as Bactria and the Indus (Appian, History of Rome, The Syrian Wars 55), until in 305 BCE he entered into a confrontation with Emperor Chandragupta:
Always lying in wait for the neighbouring nations, strong in arms and persuasive in council, he [Seleucus] acquired Mesopotamia, Armenia, 'Seleucid' Cappadocia, Persis, Parthia, Bactria, Arabia, Tapouria, Sogdia, Arachosia, Hyrcania, and other adjacent peoples that had been subdued by Alexander, as far as the river Indus, so that the boundaries of his empire were the most extensive in Asia after that of Alexander. The whole region from Phrygia to the Indus was subject to Seleucus.
Though no accounts of the conflict remain, it is clear that Seleucus fared poorly against the Indian Emperor as he failed to conquer any territory, and in fact was forced to surrender much that was already his. Regardless, Seleucus and Chandragupta ultimately reached a settlement and through a treaty sealed in 305 BCE, Seleucus, according to Strabo, ceded a number of territories to Chandragupta, including eastern Afghanistan and Balochistan. [ citation needed ]
Chandragupta and Seleucus concluded a peace treaty and a marriage alliance in 303 BCE. Chandragupta received vast territories and in a return gave Seleucus 500 war elephants,      a military asset which would play a decisive role at the Battle of Ipsus in 301 BCE.  In addition to this treaty, Seleucus dispatched an ambassador, Megasthenes, to Chandragupta, and later Deimakos to his son Bindusara, at the Mauryan court at Pataliputra (modern Patna in Bihar). Later, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt and contemporary of Ashoka, is also recorded by Pliny the Elder as having sent an ambassador named Dionysius to the Mauryan court.  [ better source needed ]
Mainstream scholarship asserts that Chandragupta received vast territory west of the Indus, including the Hindu Kush, modern-day Afghanistan, and the Balochistan province of Pakistan.   Archaeologically, concrete indications of Mauryan rule, such as the inscriptions of the Edicts of Ashoka, are known as far as Kandahar in southern Afghanistan.
He (Seleucus) crossed the Indus and waged war with Sandrocottus [Maurya], king of the Indians, who dwelt on the banks of that stream, until they came to an understanding with each other and contracted a marriage relationship.
After having made a treaty with him (Sandrakotos) and put in order the Orient situation, Seleucos went to war against Antigonus.
The treaty on "Epigamia" implies lawful marriage between Greeks and Indians was recognized at the State level, although it is unclear whether it occurred among dynastic rulers or common people, or both. [ citation needed ]
Exchange of presents
Classical sources have also recorded that following their treaty, Chandragupta and Seleucus exchanged presents, such as when Chandragupta sent various aphrodisiacs to Seleucus: 
And Theophrastus says that some contrivances are of wondrous efficacy in such matters [as to make people more amorous]. And Phylarchus confirms him, by reference to some of the presents which Sandrakottus, the king of the Indians, sent to Seleucus which were to act like charms in producing a wonderful degree of affection, while some, on the contrary, were to banish love.
His son Bindusara 'Amitraghata' (Slayer of Enemies) also is recorded in Classical sources as having exchanged presents with Antiochus I: 
But dried figs were so very much sought after by all men (for really, as Aristophanes says, "There's really nothing nicer than dried figs"), that even Amitrochates, the king of the Indians, wrote to Antiochus, entreating him (it is Hegesander who tells this story) to buy and send him some sweet wine, and some dried figs, and a sophist and that Antiochus wrote to him in answer, "The dry figs and the sweet wine we will send you but it is not lawful for a sophist to be sold in Greece.
Greek population in India
An influential and large Greek population was present in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent under Ashoka's rule, possibly remnants of Alexander's conquests in the Indus Valley region. In the Rock Edicts of Ashoka, some of them inscribed in Greek, Ashoka states that the Greeks within his dominion were converted to Buddhism:
Here in the king's dominion among the Greeks, the Kambojas, the Nabhakas, the Nabhapamkits, the Bhojas, the Pitinikas, the Andhras and the Palidas, everywhere people are following Beloved-of-the-Gods' instructions in Dharma.
Now, in times past (officers) called Mahamatras of morality did not exist before. Mahdmatras of morality were appointed by me (when I had been) anointed thirteen years. These are occupied with all sects in establishing morality, in promoting morality, and for the welfare and happiness of those who are devoted to morality (even) among the Greeks, Kambojas and Gandharas, and whatever other western borderers (of mine there are).
Fragments of Edict 13 have been found in Greek, and a full Edict, written in both Greek and Aramaic, has been discovered in Kandahar. It is said to be written in excellent Classical Greek, using sophisticated philosophical terms. In this Edict, Ashoka uses the word Eusebeia ("Piety") as the Greek translation for the ubiquitous "Dharma" of his other Edicts written in Prakrit: [ non-primary source needed ]
Ten years (of reign) having been completed, King Piodasses (Ashoka) made known (the doctrine of) Piety (εὐσέβεια, Eusebeia) to men and from this moment he has made men more pious, and everything thrives throughout the whole world. And the king abstains from (killing) living beings, and other men and those who (are) huntsmen and fishermen of the king have desisted from hunting. And if some (were) intemperate, they have ceased from their intemperance as was in their power and obedient to their father and mother and to the elders, in opposition to the past also in the future, by so acting on every occasion, they will live better and more happily.
Buddhist missions to the West (c. 250 BCE)
Map of the Buddhist missions during the reign of Ashoka.
Territories "conquered by the Dharma" according to Major Rock Edict No. 13 of Ashoka (260–218 BCE).  
Also, in the Edicts of Ashoka, Ashoka mentions the Hellenistic kings of the period as recipients of his Buddhist proselytism, although no Western historical record of this event remains:
The conquest by Dharma has been won here, on the borders, and even six hundred yojanas (5,400–9,600 km) away, where the Greek king Antiochos rules, beyond there where the four kings named Ptolemy, Antigonos, Magas and Alexander rule, likewise in the south among the Cholas, the Pandyas, and as far as Tamraparni (Sri Lanka).
Ashoka also encouraged the development of herbal medicine, for men and animals, in their territories:
Everywhere within Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi's [Ashoka's] domain, and among the people beyond the borders, the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Satiyaputras, the Keralaputras, as far as Tamraparni and where the Greek king Antiochos rules, and among the kings who are neighbors of Antiochos, everywhere has Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, made provision for two types of medical treatment: medical treatment for humans and medical treatment for animals. Wherever medical herbs suitable for humans or animals are not available, I have had them imported and grown. Wherever medical roots or fruits are not available I have had them imported and grown. Along roads I have had wells dug and trees planted for the benefit of humans and animals.
The Greeks in India even seem to have played an active role in the spread of Buddhism, as some of the emissaries of Ashoka, such as Dharmaraksita, are described in Pali sources as leading Greek ("Yona") Buddhist monks, active in Buddhist proselytism (the Mahavamsa, XII  [ non-primary source needed ] ).
Subhagasena and Antiochos III (206 BCE)
Sophagasenus was an Indian Mauryan ruler of the 3rd century BCE, described in ancient Greek sources, and named Subhagasena or Subhashasena in Prakrit. His name is mentioned in the list of Mauryan princes, [ citation needed ] and also in the list of the Yadava dynasty, as a descendant of Pradyumna. He may have been a grandson of Ashoka, or Kunala, the son of Ashoka. He ruled an area south of the Hindu Kush, possibly in Gandhara. Antiochos III, the Seleucid king, after having made peace with Euthydemus in Bactria, went to India in 206 BCE and is said to have renewed his friendship with the Indian king there:
He (Antiochus) crossed the Caucasus and descended into India renewed his friendship with Sophagasenus the king of the Indians received more elephants, until he had a hundred and fifty altogether and having once more provisioned his troops, set out again personally with his army: leaving Androsthenes of Cyzicus the duty of taking home the treasure which this king had agreed to hand over to him.
- 322 BCE: Chandragupta Maurya founded the Mauryan Empire by defeating the Nanda Dynasty.
- 317–316 BCE: Chandragupta Maurya conquers the Northwest of the Indian subcontinent.
- 305–303 BCE: Chandragupta Maurya gains territory from the Seleucid Empire.
- 298–269 BCE: Reign of Bindusara, Chandragupta's son. He conquers parts of Deccan, southern India.
- 269–232 BCE: The Mauryan Empire reaches its height under Ashoka, Chandragupta's grandson.
- 261 BCE: Ashoka conquers the kingdom of Kalinga.
- 250 BCE: Ashoka builds Buddhist stupas and erects pillars bearing inscriptions.
- 184 BCE: The empire collapses when Brihadratha, the last emperor, is killed by Pushyamitra Shunga, a Mauryan general and the founder of the Shunga Empire.
According to Vicarasreni of Merutunga, Mauryans rose to power in 312 BC. 
History of Mauryan Empire
Chandragupta Maurya was the founder of the empire. His family is identified by some with the tribe of Moriya mentioned by Greeks. According to one tradition, the designation is derived from Mura, the mother or grandmother of Chandragupta, who was wife of a Nanda king.
Buddhist writers represent Chandragupta as a member of Kshatriya caste, belonging to the ruling clan of the little republic of Pipphalivana, lying probably between Rummindei in the Nepalese Tarai and Kasai in the Gorakhpur district.
Chandragupta is referred to as Sandrocottos in the Greek accounts.
Chandragupta was the protege of the Brahman, Kautilya or Chanakya, who was his guide and mentor, both in acquiring a throne and in keeping it.
Chandragupta met Chanakya in the forests of Vindhya. Chandragupta had been forced to flee to the forest after having offended Alexander, who had ordered for him to be killed.
The Seleucid provinces of the trans-Indus, which today would cover part of Afghanistan, were ceded to Chandragupta by Seleucus Nikator, a prefect of Alexander, in 303 B.C.
According to Jain scriptures, Chandragupta was converted to Jainism towards the end of his life and he abdicted in favour of his son and became an ascetic and passed his last days at Sravana Belgola in Mysore.
Chandragupta was succeeded by his son Bindusara in 297 B.C. To Greeks Bindusara was known as Amitrochates.
Tradition credits Bindusara with the suppression of a revolt in Taxila.
The kingdom of Kalinga (modern day Orissa), is known to have been independent during the reign of Bindusara.
A Greek named Deimachos was received as Ambassador of Greece in Bindusara’s court.
Bindusara extended Mauryan control in Deccan as far south as Mysore.
After Bindusara’s death in 272 B.C., Ashoka, one of his many sons, seized power after putting his eldest brother to death.
During Bindusara’s reign, Ashoka successively held the important viceroyalties of Taxila and Ujjain.
Ashoka is referred to as Devanampiya (the beloved of gods) Piyadassi (of amiable appearance) in inscriptions.
It was during Ashoka’s reign that Kalinga was captured and made part of the Maurya empire. The conquest of Kalinga resulted in the Maurya empire embracing the whole of non-Tamil India and a considerable portion of Afghanistan. The Mauryan empire under Ashoka stretched from the land of Yonas, Kambojas and Gandharas in the Kabul valley and some adjoining territory, to the country of the Andhras in the Godavari-Krishna basin and the district of Isila in the north of Mysore, and from Sopara and Girnar in the west to Dhauli and Jaugada in the east.
As per some traditional records, the dominions of Ashoka included the secluded hill-regions of Kashmir and Nepal, as well as plains of Pundravardhana (North Bengal) and Samatata (East Bengal). The discovery of inscriptions at Mansehra in the Hazra district, at Kalsi in the Dehradun district, at Nigali Sagar and Rummindei in the Nepalese Tarai and at Rampurva in the Champaran district of North Bengal are proofs to this.
According to the Kashmir chronicle of Kalhana, Ashoka’s favourite deity was Shiva.
The Kalinga war proved to be a turning point in Ashoka’s career. The sight of misery and bloodshed awakened in him sincere feelings of repentance and sorrow and made him evolve a policy of dharamvijaya (conquest by piety). He also got deeply influenced by Buddhist teaching and became a zealous devotee of Buddhism.
Ashoka claimed of spiritual conquest of the realms of his Hellenistic, Tamil and Ceylonese neighbours.
Hellenistic neighbours of Ashoka were: Antiochos II (Theos of Syria), Ptolemy II (Philadelphos of Egypt), Antigonos (Gonatas of Macedonia), Magas (of Cyrene) and Alexander (of Epirus).
After making a deep study of Buddhist scriptures Ashoka started undertaking Dharam-yatras (tours of morality) in course of which he visited the people of his country and instructed them on Dharma (morality and piety).
It was during the second royal tour that Ashoka visited the birthplace of Sakyamuni and that of a previous Buddha, and worshiped at these holy spots.
During Ashoka’s reign the Buddhist church underwent reorganization, with the meeting of the third Buddhist Council at Patliputra in 250 B.C.
The third Council of Buddhists was the final attempt of the more sectarian Buddhists, the Theravada school, to exclude both dissidents and innovators from the Buddhist Order. Also, it was at this Council that it was decided to send missionaries to various parts of the sub-continent and to make Buddhism an actively proselytizing religion— which in later centuries led to the propagation of Buddhism in south and east Asia.
Ashoka does not refer to the third Council of Buddhism in any of his inscriptions, indicating that he was careful to make a distinction between his personal belief in and support for Buddhism, and his duty as an emperor to remain unattached and unbiased in favour of any religion.
Within two years of his first tours, Ashoka requisitioned the services of important officials like Rajukas (district judges), Pradesikas (revenue officials) and Yuktas (clerks) to publish rescripts on morality and set out on tours every five years to give instruction in morality, as well as on ordinary business. Later, Ashoka appointed exclusive officials, styled Dharma-Mahamatras or high officers in charge of religion, to do the work. Ashoka himself undertook the tours after a gap of 10 years.
The capitals of the Ashokan pillars bear a remarkable similarity to those of Persepolis and it is believed that these might have been sculpted by craftsmen from the north-western province. The idea of making rock inscriptions seems to have come to Ashoka after hearing about those of Darius.
The Ashokan inscriptions were in local script. Those found in northwest, in the region of Peshawar, are in the Kharoshthi script (derived from Aramaic script used in Iran), near modern Kandhar, the extreme west of empire, these are in Greek and Aramaic, and elsewhere in India these are in the Brahmi script.
The inscriptions of Ashoka are of two kinds. The smaller group consists of declarations of the king as a lay Buddhist, to his church, the Buddhist Sanga. These describe his own acceptance and relationship with the Sangha. The larger group of inscriptions are known as the Major and minor Rock Edicts inscribed in rock surfaces, and the Pillar Edicts inscribed on specially erected pillars, all of which were located in places where crowds were likely to gather. These were proclamations to the public at large, explaining the idea of Dharma.
Dharma was aimed at building up an attitude of mind in which social responsibility, the behaviour of one person towards another, was considered of great relevance. It was a plea for the recognition of the dignity of man, and for humanistic spirit in the activities of the society.
Ashoka’s son Prince Mahendra visited Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka) as a Buddhist missionary and convinced the ruler of the island kingdom, Devanampiya Tissa to convert to Buddhism.
Ashoka ruled for 37 years and died in 232 B.C.
With his death, a political decline set in, and soon after the empire broke up. The Ganga valley remained under Mauryas for another 50 years. The north-western areas were lost to Bactrian Greeks by about 180 B.C.
As per the Puranic texts, the immediate successor of Ashoka was his son Kunala. The Chronicals of Kashmir, however, mention Jalauka as the son and successor.
Kunala was succeeded by his sons, one of whom, Bandhupalita, is known only in Puranas, and another, Sampadi, is mentioned by all traditional authorities. Then there was Dasratha who ruled Magadha shortly after Ashoka and has left three epigraphs in the Nagarjuni Hills in Bihar, recording the gift of caves to the Ajivikas.
The last king of the Maurya dynasty was Brihadratha, who was overthrown by his commander-in-chief, Pushyamitra, who laid the foundation of the Sunga dynasty.
The secession of Kashmir and possibly Berar from the Maurya empire is hinted at by Kalhana, the historian of Kashmir, and Kalidas, the author of the Sanskrit play, the Malavikagnimitram, respectively.
The Maurya period was the first time in Indian history that an empire extended from the Hindukush to the valleys of Godavari and Krishna.
A remarkable feature of the period was association of a prince of the blood or an allied chieftain with the titular or real head of the government, as a co-ordinate ruler. Such a prince was called yuvaraj (crown prince). This type of rule is known as dvairajya or diarchy.
The early Maurya rulers had no contact with China. Infact, China was unknown to Indian epigraphy before the Nagarjunikonda inscriptions.
The king during the Maurya period was assisted by a council of advisers styled the Parishad or the Mantri Parishad. There were also bodies of trained officials (nikaya) who looked after the ordinary affairs of the realm.
In the inscriptions of Ashoka there are references to Rajukas and Pradesikas, charged with the welfare of Janapadas or country parts and Pradesas or districts. Mahamatras were charged with the administration of cities (Nagala Viyohalaka) and sundry other matters, and a host of minor officials, including clerks (Yuta), scribes (Lipikar) and reporters (Pativedaka).
The Arthshastra refers to the highest officers as the eighteen tirthas, the chief among them were the Mantrin (chief minister), Purohit (high priest), Yuvraja (heir-apparent) and Senapati (commander-in-chief).
The head of the judiciary was the king himself, but there were special tribunals of justice, headed by Mahamatras and Rajukas.
The protection of Chandragupta Maurya was entrusted to an amazonian bodyguard of women.
The fighting forces during Chandragupta’s time were under the supervision of a governing body of thirty divided into six boards of five members each.
The chief sources of revenue were the bhaga and the bali. The bhaga was the king’s share of the produce of the soil, which was normally fixed at one-sixth, though in special cases it was raised to one-fourth or reduced to one-eighth. Bali was an extra impost levied on special tracts for the subsistence of certain officials.
Taxes on the land were collected by the Agronomoi who measured the land and superintended the irrigation works.
In urban areas the main sources of revenue were birth and death taxes, fines and tithes on sales.
Arthshastra refers to certain high revenue functionaries styled the samaharti and the sannidharti.
The most famous of the irrigation works of the early Maurya period is the Sudarshan lake of Kathiawar, constructed by Pushyagupta the Vaisya, an officer of Chandragupta Maurya, and provided with supplemental channels by the Yavanaraja Tushaspha in the days of Ashoka.
The Mauryas divided their dominions into provinces subdivided into districts called ahara, vishya and pardesh.
The secret emissaries who inquired into and superintended all that went in the empire were called pativedakas.
Varna (caste) and ashram (periods of stages of religious discipline), the two characteristic institutions of the Hindu social polity, reached a definite stage in the Maurya period.
The philosophers, the husbandmen, the herdsmen and hunters, the traders and artisans, the soldiers, the overseers and the councillors constituted the seven castes into which the population of India was divided in the days of Megasthenes.
Slavery was an established institution during the Maurya period.
Broach was a major port during the Mauryan period.
The copper coin of eighty ratis (146.4 grs) was known as Karshapana. The name was also applied to silver and gold coins, particularly in the south.
Three works, the Kautiliya Arthshastra, the Kalpasutra of Bhadrabahu and the Buddhist Katha vatthu, are attributed to personages who are said to have flourished in the Maurya period.
With the fall of the Mauryas, Indian history lost its unity for some time. Hordes of foreign barbarians poured through the northwestern gates of the country and established powerful kingdoms in Gandhara (north-west Frontier), Sakala (north-central Punjab) and other places.
In the south, the Satavahanas came to power. The founder of the family was Simuka, but the man who raised it to eminence was his son Satakarni-I.
Sometimes after the death of Satakarni-I, the Satavahana power submerged beneath a wave of Scythian invasion. But, the lost glory was restored by Gautamiputra Satkarni, who built an empire that extended from Malwa in the north to the Kanarese country in south.
Two cities of Vaijayanti (in north Kanara) and Amaravati (in the Guntur district) attained eminence in the Satavahana period.
Sri Yajana Satkarni was the last great prince of the line and after him the empire fell to pieces.
The earlier Satavahana empire had a formidable rival in the kingdom of Kalinga, which became independent after the death of Ashoka and rose to greatness under Kharavela.
In the far south of India, beyond the Venkata Hills, known as Dravida or Tamil country, three important States that came into being were Chola, Pandya and Kerala.
The Cholas occupied the present Tanjore and Trichinopoly districts and showed great military activity.
The Pandyas occupied the districts of Madura and Tinnevelly with portions of South Travancore. They excelled in trade and learning.
A Pandya king is said to have sent an embassy to the Roman empire in the first century B.C.
The political disintegration of India after the fall of Maurya empire renewed warlike activities on the part of the Greeks of Syria and Bactria.
The last known Greek king to rule any part of India was Hermaicos.
The foreign conquerors who supplanted the Greeks in north-west India belong to three main groups, namely, Saka, Pahlava or Parthian and Yue-chi or Kushan.
The Sakas were displaced from their home in Central Asia by the Yue-chi and were forced to migrate south. The territory they occupied came to be known as Sakasthana, modern Sistan.
Kanishka is attributed by many scholars to have founded the Saka era in A.D. 78. He is the only Scythian king known to have established an era. Strictly speaking, though, he was a Kushan and not a Saka.
According to Hiuen Tsang, the great empire over which Kanishka exercised his sway had its capital at Purushapura or Peshawar. His territory extended from Gandhara to Oudh and Benaras.
Kanishka is known for his patronage to the religion of Sakya-muni and his monuments.
In Buddhist history, Kanishka’s name is honoured as that of a prince who summoned a great council (fourth Buddhist Council in Srinagar) to examine the Buddhist scriptures and prepare commentaries on them.
Among the celebrities who graced Kanishka’s court was Asvaghosha, a philosopher, poet and dramatist, who wrote the Buddha Charita.
Kanishka’s rule lasted 23 years. His immediate successor was Vasishka, followed by Huvishka.
Mathura became the great center of Kushan power under Huvishka.
Huvishka’s empire was spread further west, till Wardak to the west of Kabul.
The last great Kushan king was Vasudeva-I.
The decline of Kushan power in the northwest was hastened by the rise of the Sassanian dynasty in Persia.
The Kerala country embraced Malabar, Cochin, and North Travancore.
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Questions regarding the administration regime followed in the Mauryan empire, have been asked in various descriptive exams like IAS mains exam, State PSC exams, etc. The details about the administration under Mauryas are required to answer the MCQ type question about history. Let us look into the details now:
Chanakya or Kautilyas Arthashastra explains the kind the of administration system followed in the Maurya Empire. The book has 15 sub-parts which contain 180 chapters. This book provides the most important literary source for study of the Mauryan administration.
The Central Government in Mauryan Empire:
- The King was supreme source of all power and authorities with judicial and administrative powers.
- Mauryan Administration was a very centralized system.
- The King had a Council of Ministers to assist him. These ministers were known as ‘Mantri’, and the council of Ministers was called ‘Mantriparishad’. There was a ‘mantriparishad-adhyakshya’ to head the Council, this is similar to our present Prime-Minister.
Kautilya’s ‘Arthashastra’ mentions about the Duties of Government Superintendents (Adyakshas). These Adhyakshas formed a secretariat, which was divided into several departments. These departments and their superintendents are mentioned below:
- The espionage system in the Mauryan administration was developed and well-spread.
- According to the Arthashastra, there are two types of spies, namely, ‘Sansthana’ (the stationary) and ‘Sanchari’ (the wandering one).
- These spies acted as eyes and ears for the King, these kept the king well-informed about the whereabouts of the bureaucracy of the state.
- The detectives in Mauryan administration were known as ‘Gudhapurusha’.
- These agents included people from various segments of society, like, householders, merchants, ascetics, disciples, etc.
- There were special agents who acted as Poisonous girls called as ‘Vishkanyas’.
- Commander-in-chief was the overall in-charge of the Mauryan army, his position was immediately junior to the king. This Commander-in-chief was known as ‘Senapati’.
- The Senapati was appointed by the king.
- The salaries in Mauryan army were paid in cash.
- Their army included six lakh infantry, about 30,000 cavalry, nine thousand war elephants, eight thousand chariots.
- The Mauryans had a War Council divided into six sub-councils which formulated policy five sectors of the army – the infantry, the cavalry, the elephant forces, the chariots, the navy and the commiserate.
- The Mauryans made innvoations in field of Navy, Transport and Supply Wings.