Mauryan Empire – Art & Architecture – Mauryan Administration – Edicts of Ashoka



Mauryan Empire (321 – 184 BC)
Literary Sources
Kautilya’s Arthashastra
• Written in Sanskrit by Chanakya who is also known by few other names such as Kautilya / Vishnugupta / Indian Machiavelli
• The book Contains 15 books & 180 chapters; with main theme divided into 3 parts
o King & his council and departments of government
o criminal law and Civil
o Diplomacy of war
Vishakadatta’s Mudra-Rakshasa
• A drama in Sanskrit written during Gupta’s period
• Describes how Chandragupta Maurya with the help of Kautilya overthrew Nandas
• Gives socio – economic picture of condition under Maurya

Megasthenes Indica
He described India in his book Named Indika which is an account of Mauryan India by Megasthenes. The original book is now lost, but its fragments have survived in later Greek and Latin works.
Ceylonese Chronicles
• Ceylonese chronicles “Dipavamsa & Mahavamsa” throw light on Ashoka’s role in spreading Buddhism in Srilanka

Edicts of Ashoka
• Inscriptions of Ashoka were 1st deciphered by James Prinsep in 1837
• Brahmi scripts were used for writing edicts, particularly Pali & Prakrit.
Name Ashoka occurs only in few minor edicts such as Maski, Girnar, Karnataka & Madhya Pradesh.
Other edicts mention him as “Devampriya Priyadasi” which means dear to Gods
• Famous Sanchi Stupa & Sarnath Pillar constitutes to Ashoka’s rein
Chandragupta Maurya
 Chandragupta Maurya Founded Mauryan Empire by defeating Nandas with the help of Kautilya.
 In 305 BC, Chandragupta Maurya defeated Seleucus Nicator the commander in chief of Alexander the great.
 A treaty was signed, according to which, Seleucus gave Chandragupta eastern Afghanistan, Baluchistan & area west of Indus & in return Chandragupta gifted 500 elephants to Seleucus & married his daughter.emperor chandragupta book
 Megasthenes was sent to Mauryan court as a Greek ambassador
Bindusara
 Bindusara Was called “Amitragatha” which means Slayer of enemies by the Greeks
 He Conquered Deccan up to Mysore
 Nicator’s successor Antiochus 1 replaced Megasthenes with Deimachus as a Greek ambassador at Mauryan court under Bindusara’s Patronage
 Bindusara appointed Ashoka as the governor of Ujjain

Ashoka
 Victorious war with Kalinga was the most important event of Ashoka’s reign & its effect on Ashoka has been described by Ashoka himself in rock edict 13
 Abandoned policy of physical conquest in favor of policy of cultural conquest (Bherigosha replaced by Dhammagosa) as mentioned on rock pillar 13
 Appointed a class of administrative officers known as “Rajukas” vested with the power of rewarding & punishing people, wherever necessary
 Set up a very high ideal for himself as Paternal Kingship (Father of all)
Ashoka & Buddhism
Constituted Dhammayatras to Sarnath and Bodh Gaya. He also appointed special officers called Dhamma Mahamantras to propagate Dhamma among various social groups.
Ashoka Sent his son Mahendra & daughter Sangamitra to Srilanka who planted branches of original Bodhi tree there.
Mauryan Administration
Central Government
Revenue Department
Commerce & Industry
Provincial & Local administration
Art & Architecture
• Ashoka is often credited with the beginning of stone architecture in India, possibly following the introduction of stone-building techniques by the Greeks after Alexander the Great
• Lion Capital of Ashoka: The capital is carved out of a single block of polished sandstone, and was always a separate piece from the Ashoka pillar itself.
• It features four Asiatic Lions standing back to back. They are mounted on an abacus with a frieze carrying sculptures in high relief of an elephant, a galloping horse, a bull, and a lion, separated by intervening spoked chariot-wheels. The whole structure sits upon an inverted bell-shaped lotus.
• Barabar hills near Bodh Gaya were presented to Ajivikas by Ashoka & his son Dasratha forms wonderful piece of Mauryan architecture
Cause of fall of Mauryan Empire
 Ashoka’s pro Buddhist policies along with prohibition of sacrifices & rituals antagonized Brahamanas who brought about a revolution led by Pushyamitra Sunga
 Widespread use of iron led to formation of new kingdoms & neglecting of N-W front by Mauryan also led to their downfall
 Chinese ruler “Shih-Huang-Ti” constructed great wall of China to prevent its border against Scythians who were an Iranian equestrian tribe, but Mauryan did not do any such thing
 Pushyamitra Sunga (Brahmana) killed last Mauryan emperor Brihadratha publicly & persecuted Buddhists and restarted Vedic rituals & sacrifices.

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