Mauryan Empire

The Mauryan Empire started in Magadha and was founded in 321 BC by Chandragupta Maurya. Mudrarakshasa, written by Vishakadatta, beautifully summarizes the rise of Chandragupta Maurya with the help of Chanakya. Chandragupta Maurya patronized Jainism.
Pataliputra, or modern-day Patna, was the capital city of the Mauryan Empire.

Expansion of the Mauryan Empire

The Mauryan Empire was the first and most powerful Indian empire to bring the entire Indian subcontinent under a single rule.
The Mauryan Empire was one of the world’s largest empires at the time, covering 5,000,000 km2. Leaving parts of NE India, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, the Mauryans ruled over the rest of the Indian Subcontinent.

Imperial Organization of the Mauryan Empire

  1. Accounts of Megasthenes in his book Indika and the Arthashastra (written by Kautilya) describe the elaborate arrangements made in the Mauryan administration, society, and economy.
  2. The empire was divided into provinces which were under Princes. Along with this, a dozen departments, the armed forces containing six wings were also maintained. Chandragupta established a well-organized administrative system and gave it a sound financial base.
Expansion of the Mauryan Empire

Chandragupta Maurya (321-297 BC)

  • The Mauryan Empire was founded in Magadha in 321 BC by Chandragupta Maurya.
  • The Maurya dynasty was founded by replacing the Nanda Dynasty.
  • Chanakya was instrumental in the rise of Chandragupta Maurya to the throne. The entire sequence of events was outlined in Vishakadatta’s Mudrarakshasha.
  • Pataliputra (modern-day Patna) was used as the capital city of the Mauryan Empire.
  • Chandragupta Maurya was a patronizer of Jainism, and a lot of Jain literature is based on him.
  • Chandragupta went with Bhadrabahu to the hills of Chandragiri, Sravanbelgola, where he died of slow starvation.
  • He was the first king in Indian history who extended his empire beyond the barriers of the Vindhyas and united north and south India.
  • He was succeeded by his son Bindusara. By continuing his father’s conquest, he annexed all 16 states between the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian sea except Kalinga.
  • He was born in Nanda’s court to a Shudra woman named Mura, according to the Brahmanical tradition.
  • The ruling clan of the republican state of Pipphalivana, which probably lay between Rummindei in the Nepalese Tarain and Kasia in the Gorakhpur district, was Maurya according to the Buddhist tradition.
  • The widely accepted story was that Chandragupta was orphaned at an early age and was raised by a shudra family. His adoptive family was the peacocks’ farmer and keeper, so he attributed his name to ‘Maurya.’
  • This was the first time in the history of India that most of the Indian subcontinent came under the same royal umbrella.
  • After ally Pravataka’s death, Chandragupta became the undisputed ruler of Northern India with a large army standing.
  • He annexed the territory of his ally to the north and gained more kingdoms to the south of the Vindhya mountain range.
  • Chandragupta was not just a great conqueror and soldier but also a great administrator.
  • Around 312 BC, Seleucus I Nicator became Babylon’s new emperor, and Persia began to reconquer the lost territories of Alexander, east of the Indus.
  • Chandragupta launched a counterattack and drove Seleucus back across the Indus and deep into his own territory.
  • The unequal peace treaty forced Seleucus to abandon Gandhara south of the Hindukush Mountain Range, including what is now modern-day Kabul, Ghazi, Kandahar, Herat, and Baluchistan.
  • In return, Chandragupta gave him 500 war elephants and also got married to the daughter of Seleucus.

Bindusara (298-273 BC)

  • Bindusara, also known by the name Amitrochates/Amitraghata, was the son of Chandra Gupta Maurya and his queen Durdhara.
  • Bindusara expanded his empire southward with the help of Chanakya as his advisor.
  • He brought 16 states of the Indian peninsula under his control except for the Kalinga kingdom.
  • He had good relations with King Antiochus I of Syria and received from him a Greek ambassador Daimachos.
  • He asked Antiochus I of Syria to send some sweet wine, dried figs, and a sophist. Antiochus-I sent wine and figs but politely replied that sophists are not for sale.
  • Bindusara patronized Ajivikas.
  • Very little is known about Bindusara’s rule other than that he maintained links with his western neighbor.
  • He died in 272 BCE.


  1. Ashoka ascended the throne in 273 BC and ruled up to 232 BC. He was known as ‘Devanampriya Priyadarsi’ the beautiful one who was the beloved of the Gods.
  2. Ashoka fought the Kalinga war in 261 BC. Kalinga is in modern Orissa.
  3. Ashokan inscriptions were deciphered by James Princep.
  4. After the battle of Kalinga, Ashoka became a Buddhist, being shocked by the horrors of the war, he replaced Bherighosha with Dhammaghosha
  5. Ashoka was initiated to Buddhism by Upagupta or Nigrodha, a disciple of Buddha
  6. For the propagation of Buddhism Ashoka started the institution of Dharmamahamatras.
  7. Ashoka’s Dhamma cannot be regarded as a sectarian faith. Its main objective was to preserve the social order; it ordained that people should obey their parents, pay respect to Brahmanas and Buddhist monks, and show mercy to slaves and servants.
  8. He ruled over most of India, South Asia, and beyond that extending from Afghanistan today, parts of Persia in the west to Bengal and Assam in the east, and Mysore in the south.
  9. Ashokan inscriptions were deciphered by James Princep.
Mauryan Empire During Ashoka

Ashokan Inscriptions

  1. Ashokan inscriptions carried royal orders through which he was able to speak directly to the people. There were rock edicts and pillar edicts which were again divided into major and minor.
  2. The 14 Major Rock Edicts of Ashoka tell about the principles of Dharma
  3. The Kalinga rock edict explains the principles of administration after the Kalinga war. In his Kalinga edict, he mentions ‘‘All men are my children’’
  4. The Major Rock Edict XII of Ashoka deals with the conquest of Kalinga.
  5. The term ‘Ashoka’ was mentioned only in the Maski Minor rock edict.

Ashoka and Buddhism

  • Ashoka held the third Buddhist council at his capital Pataliputra in 250 BC under the presidentship of Moggaliputa Tissa.
  • He sent his son and daughter to Sri Lanka for the spread of Buddhism (Mahendra and Sanghamitra)
  • Ashoka spread Buddhism to Sri Lanka and Nepal. He is known as the Constantine of Buddhism.
  • Ceylon’s ruler Devanmpriya Tissa was Ashoka’s first convert to Buddhism.
  • The broad objective of Ashoka’s Dhamma policy was to preserve the social order.
  • Ashoka ruled for 40 years and died in 232 BC.

Mauryan Empire Administration

The highly centralized administrative structure. Chanakya mentions the seven elements of the Saptanga theory in administration. The king is assisted by his Mantri Parishad. Important officials were appointed for various administrative activities.

1. UttarapathaTaxila
2. AvantiratthaUjjayini
3. DakshinapathaSuvarnagiri
4. KalingaTosali
5. Prachya, PrachinaPataliputra

The administration was divided into four units

  • The chakra or the province
  • The Ahar or the district
  • The Sangrahana or a group of villages
  • The Gram or village

The municipal administration headed by a Nagarak was also found in Arthashastra.

Mauryan Empire Administration

Mauryan Art and Architecture

  • Royal Art – The Royal palaces, pillars, caves, stupas, etc.
  • Popular art – Figure sculptures, Terracotta objects, etc.

The emblem of the Indian Republic has been adopted from the four-lion capital of one of the Ashokan pillars, which are located in Sarnath. Another four-lion capital at Sanchi, a single lion capital at Rampurva and Lauria Nandangarh, a single bull at Rampurva, and a carved elephant at Dhauli are found.

The Mauryas introduced stone masonry on a large scale. They started the process of “hewing out” caves from rocks and the construction of stupas to store the relics of Buddha and the Bodhisattvas, which in later stages were expanded by the Guptas.

Mauryan Empire Art

Ashoka’s 7 Pillar Edicts:

These were found at Topra (Delhi), Meerut, Kausambi, Rampurva, Champaran, Mehrauli:

  • Pillar Edict I: Asoka’s principle of protection to people.
  • Pillar Edict II: Defines Dhamma as the minimum of sins; many virtues viz. compassion, liberality, truthfulness, and purity.
  • Pillar Edict III: Abolishes sins of harshness, cruelty, anger, pride, etc.
  • Pillar Edict IV: Deals with the duties of Rajukas.
  • Pillar Edict V: List of animals and birds not to be killed on a few particular days, and a further list of animals not to be killed at all.
  • Pillar Edict VI: Dhamma policy.
  • Pillar Edict VII: Works done by Ashoka for Dhamma policy.

Minor Pillar Inscriptions

  • Rummindei Pillar Inscription: Asokha’s visit to Lumbini and exemption of Lumbini from tax.
  • Nigalisagar Pillar Inscription, Nepal: It mentions that Ashoka increased the height of the stupa of Buddha Konakamana to its double size.

Major Pillar Inscriptions

  • Sarnath Lion Capital: Near Varanasi; was built by Ashoka in commemoration of Dharmachakrapravartana (the first sermon of Buddha).
  • Vaishali Pillar: Bihar; single lion, with no inscription.
  • Sankissa Pillar: Uttar Pradesh
  • Lauriya-Nandangarh: Champaran, Bihar.
  • Lauriya-Araraj: Champaran, Bihar.
  • Allahabad Pillar: Uttar Pradesh.

Major Stupa in India

  • Sanchi Stupa: Located in Madhya Pradesh, the most famous of the Ashokan stupas.
  • Piprahwa Stupa: Located in Uttar Pradesh, the oldest one.
  • Stupas Built after the Death of Buddha: Rajagriha, Vaishali, Kapilavastu, Allakappa, Ramagrama, Vethapida, Pava, Kushinagar, and Pippalivana.
  • Stupa at Bairat, Rajasthan: Grand stupa with a circular mound and a circumambulatory path.

Seven Caves (Satgarva):

The seven caves in Jehanabad district’s Makhdumpur area, Bihar, were built for the Ajivika sect by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka.

  • Barabar Caves (4 caves):

1. Karna Chaupar,
2. Sudama Cave,
3. Lamarshi (Lomas Rishi) Cave,
4. Vishwamitra (Vishva Zopri) Cave.

  • Nagaragunja Caves (3 caves):

During the Dasharath (grandson of Ashoka) period, Gopi Cave, Bahayak Cave, and Vedantika Cave were built in Bihar.

Rock-cut Caves:

As in the Mauryan period, the construction of rock caves continued. However, two types of rock caves—Chaitya and Viharas—were formed during this time.

Chaitya was a rectangular prayer hall with a stupa in the middle for prayer purposes, whereas Viharas were used as the monks’ residences.

  • Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves: Located in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha, they were patronized by the Kalinga king Kharavela and are also known for the Hathigumpha inscription (in Brahmi script).
  • Ranigumpha Cave: Located in Udayagiri, it is double-storied and has some beautiful sculptures.

Gandhara school was established on Punjab’s western frontiers. Rulers of both Shaka and Kushan patronized this academy.

Reasons for the decline Mauryan Empire

  • Highly centralized Mauryan administration
  • Partition after the death of Ashoka disturbed the unity of the empire
  • Weak later Mauryan rulers were also a cause of the decline of the empire  


मौर्य साम्राज्य
(Mauryan Empire)

मौर्य साम्राज्‍य का प्रारंभ चंद्रगुप्‍त मौर्य द्वारा 321 ईसा पूर्व में मगध से हुआ। विशाखादत्‍त द्वारा रचित मुद्राराक्षस में चाणक्‍य की मदद से चंद्रगुप्‍त मौर्य के उदय का सुदंरता से चित्रण किया गया है। चंद्रगुप्‍त मौर्य जैनधर्म का अनुयायी था। पाटलिपुत्र, आधुनिक पटना मौर्य साम्राज्‍य की राजधानी थी।

मौर्य साम्राज्‍य का विस्‍तार
(Expension of Mauryan Empire)

मौर्य साम्राज्‍य उस समय के सबसे बड़े साम्राज्‍यों में से एक था और 5,000,000 वर्ग कि.मी से भी अधिक क्षेत्रफल में विस्‍तारित था। उत्‍तर-पूर्व भारत के हिस्‍सों, केरल और तमिलनाडु को छोड़कर मौर्यों ने शेष भारतीय उप-महाद्वीपों पर शासन किया था।

मौर्य साम्राज्य

मौर्य साम्राज्‍य की राजव्‍यवस्‍था

  1. मेगस्‍थनीज़ की पुस्‍तक इंडिका और अर्थशास्‍त्र (कौटिल्‍य द्वारा लिखित) के विवरणों में मौर्य प्रशासन, समाज और अर्थव्‍यवस्‍था का विस्‍तृत वर्णन किया गया है।
  2. साम्राज्‍य प्रांतों में विभाजित था, जिसका शासन राजकुमारों के हाथ में था। इसके साथ, 12 विभागों, सैन्‍य बलों में छह शाखाओं का भी उल्‍लेख किया गया है। चंद्रगुप्‍त ने एक सुव्‍यवस्थित प्रशासनिक तंत्र को स्‍थापित किया और एक ठोस वित्‍तीय आधार प्रदान किया।

बिंदुसार (298 – 273 ईसापूर्व)

ग्रीक में इसे अमित्रघात के नाम से जाना जाता था और यह आजीवक सम्‍प्रदाय का अनुयायी था।


  • अशोक 273 ईसापूर्व में सिंहासन पर बैठा और 232 ईसापूर्व तक शासन किया। इसे ‘देवप्रिय प्रियदर्शी’ के नाम से जाना जाता था, जिसका अर्थ था, ईश्‍वर का प्‍यारा।
  • अशोक ने 261 ईसापूर्व में कलिंग का युद्ध लड़ा। कलिंग आधुनिक उड़ीसा में है।
  • अशोक के शिलालेखों को सबसे पहले जेम्‍स प्रिंसेप ने पढ़ा था।
  • कलिंग के युद्ध के पश्‍चात, अशोक बौद्ध हो गया, युद्ध के आंतक से विचलित होकर, उसने बेरीघोष की जगह धम्‍मघोष मार्ग अपनाया।
  • अशोक को बौद्ध धर्म का ज्ञान बुद्ध के एक शिष्‍य उपगुप्‍त या निग्रोध ने दिया था।
  • बौद्ध धर्म के प्रचार के लिए अशोक ने धर्ममहामात्रों को नियुक्‍त किया।

अशोक के शिलालेख

  1. अशोक के शिलालेखों में राज आज्ञा थी जिसके जरिए वह जनता से सीधे संपर्क करने में सक्षम था। ये शिलालेख और स्‍तंभलेख थे जिन्‍हें दीर्घ और लघु में बांटा गया था।
  2. अशोक के 14 मुख्‍य शिलालेख धर्म सिद्धांत के बारे में बताते हैं।
  3. कलिंग शिलालेख कलिंग युद्ध के बाद प्रशासन के सिद्धांत की व्‍याख्‍या करता है। अपने कलिंग शिलालेख में, इसने जिक्र किया है ‘सभी मनुष्‍य मेरे बच्‍चे हैं’।
  4. अशोक के मुख्‍य शिलालेख XII में कलिंग युद्ध का जिक्र किया गया है।
  5. ‘अशोक’ का सर्वप्रथम उल्‍लेख केवल मास्‍की लघु शिलालेख में हुआ है।

अशोक और बौद्ध धर्म

  • अशोक ने 250 ईसापूर्व में अपनी राजधानी पाटलिपुत्र में मोगलीपुत्‍त तिस्‍स की अध्‍यक्षता में तृतीय बौद्ध संगति का आयोजन किया।
  • उसने बौद्ध धर्म के प्रचार के लिए अपने पुत्र महेन्‍द्र और पुत्री संघमित्रा को श्रीलंका भेजा।
  • अशोक ने श्रीलंका और नेपाल में बौद्ध धर्म का प्रचार किया। इसे बौद्ध धर्म के कोंसटेटाइन कहा जाता है।
  • श्रीलंका के शासक देवमप्रिय तिस्‍स अशोक के प्रथम बौद्ध धर्म धर्मांतरण थे।
  • अशोक की धम्‍म नीति का व्‍यापक उद्देश्‍य सामाजिक व्‍यवस्‍था को बनाए रखना था।
  • अशोक ने 40 वर्षों तक शासन किया और 232 ईसापूर्व में इसकी मृत्‍यु हो गई।

मौर्य प्रशासन

अत्‍यधिक केन्‍द्रीयकृत प्रशासनिक ढांचा। चाणक्‍य ने प्रशासन में सप्‍तांग सिद्धांत के 7 तत्‍वों का जिक्र किया है। राजा को मंत्रिपरिषद द्वारा सलाह दी जाती थी। विभिन्‍न प्रशासनिक क्रियाकलापों के लिए महत्‍वपूर्ण अधिकारी नियुक्‍त किए जाते थे।

प्रशासन चार इकाईयों में विभाजित था

  • चक्र या प्रांत
  • अहर या जिला
  • संघ्राहाना या गांवों का समूह
  • गांव

नगरीय प्रशासन के अध्‍यक्षता करने वाले नगरक का उल्‍लेख अर्थशास्‍त्र में भी पाया जाता था।

मौर्य कला

1) शाही कला – राजमहल, स्‍तंभ, गुफाएं, स्‍तूप आदि
2) लोकप्रिय कला – चित्रण मूर्तियां, टेराकोटा वस्‍तुएं आदि

भारतीय गणराज्‍य के प्रतीक को अशोक स्‍तंभ के चार शेरों से लिया गया है, जो सारनाथ में स्थित है। सांची से अन्‍य चार शेर, रामपुरवा और लौरिया नन्‍दनगढ़ से एक शेर और रामपुरवा से एक बैल और धौली में नक्‍काशीदार हाथी पाए जाते हैं।

मौर्यों ने व्‍यापक स्‍तर पर पत्‍थर राजगिरी की शुरुआत की थी। इन्‍होंने चट्टानों को खोदकर गुफाएं बनाने की शुरूआत की और बुद्ध और बोधिसत्‍व के पुरावशेष संग्रहित करने के लिए स्‍तूपों का निर्माण किया जिसका बाद में गुप्‍त वंश द्वारा विस्‍तार किया गया था।

पतन का कारण

  • अत्‍यधिक केन्‍द्रीयकृत मौर्य प्रशासन
  • अशोक की मृत्‍यु के बाद विभाजन ने साम्राज्‍य की एकता में फूट डाल दी
  • उत्‍तरवर्ती कमजोर मौर्य शासक भी इस साम्राज्‍य के पतन के कारण थे 


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