The Maurya Empire was the first major Indian empire and also the largest created by Indian dynasty. The Maurya Empire was founded by Chandragupta Maurya, with help from Chanakya, at Takshashila, a noted centre of learning.
Role of Chanakya in forming Mauryan empire
According to several legends, Chanakya also known as Kautilya, travelled to Magadha, a kingdom that was large and militarily powerful and feared by its neighbours but was insulted by its king Dhana Nanda, of the Nanda dynasty. Chanakya swore revenge and vowed to destroy the Nanda Empire.
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.
Chandragupta Maurya the founder of Mauryan Empire 324/321-297 BC
In the wake of Alexander the Great’s invasion of northwest India, Chandragupta Maurya took over Magadha and created the Mauryan Empire with the help of Chanakya and his greatest political ideas. Chanakya also wrote a book advocating a strong, centralised, authoritarian state, The Arthashastra.
- Founder of Mauryandynasty by overthrowing nandas
- He was also known as palibrotham&sandrokotta
- Contemporary of alexander
- He liberated the north western India from the thraldom of SelucusNikator
- He spent his early life in Taxila
- It’s been mentioned in the Jain texts that he adopted Jainism and later went to Sravanbelgola with Bhadra bahu and committed selakhana (death by slow starvation)
The three great rules of Mauryan Empire were Chandragupta Maurya, Bindusara and kind Ashoka. History does not have many records of Bindusara.
King Ashoka of Mauryan Empire 268-232 BC
Considered to be one of India’s greatest emperors, Ashoka expanded Chandragupta’s Empire to reign over a realm stretching from present-day Afghanistan in the west to Bangladesh in the east.
It covered the entire Indian subcontinent except for parts of present-day Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. Mauryan Empire’s capital was Pataliputra (in Magadha, present-day Patna), with provincial capitals at Taxila and Ujjain.
Ashoka was famously known for embracing Buddhism due to remorse after his bloody conquest of Kalinga (today’s Orissa) around 260 B.C.E. This elevated the nascent religion.
The Maurya dynasty collapsed after the demise of king Ashoka 232 B.C.E. Some historians have argued that the elevation of Buddhism was responsible for this as it is not as compatible with running a state as Hinduism.
- After the death of Bindusara there was 4 years of war of succession among his sons and as per Buddhist texts Ashoka acquired the throne of Magadha after killing his 99 brothers.
- Ashoka literally means without sorrow
- He was the greatest Mauryan ruler and his other names are- Buddha Shakya, Dharmasoka, Devanampriya, Piyadassi etc.
- He was the viceroy of Ujjain and Taxila during the reign of Bindusara
- Mother of Ashoka was the daughter of a brahmana of Champa named Subhadrangi.
- Ashoka’s dhamma was inspired by the Buddhistupasaka dhamma.
- The main aim of dhamma was to preserve the social and intellectual order on the basis of tolerance.
- It ordained that people should obey their parents,pay respect to the brahmanas and Buddhists monks, and show mercy towards slaves and peasants.
- The basic attributes included- compassion,charity, truthfulness and gentleness.
Decline of Mauryan Empire
However, the Mauryan Empire’s fragmentation reveals the problems of actually maintaining an empire in a region as diverse as South Asia. Despite Chanakya’s book, the Maurya Empire depended less on institutions than on able rulers, the lack of which doomed it and led to increasing local rule.
Also See: चालुक्य वंश (Chalukya Dynasty)