MAURYAN EMPIRE

  1. The most unexpected and immediate result of alexander’s invasion of the north-west was the birth of the Mauryan empire conquest of the whole country
  2. The period of the Mauryan empire marks a new epoch in the history of India

ORIGIN OF THE MAURYANS:

  • The Mauryan empire originated from the kingdom of Magadha in the Indo-Gangetic planes
  • Maurya’s ruled from the capital pataliputra
  • Both Indian and the classic sources suggest that alexander’s retreat resulted in the vacuum and therefore it was not difficult for Chandragupta to carve a kingdom for himself
  • Chandragupta founded the Mauryan empire by overthrowing the Nanda dynasty with the help of Chanakya -an important minister in the court of Nanda ruler

VIEWS ON THE ORIGIN OF MAURYANS

  • Buddhist-connection with the tribe of Sakya whose region was full of peacocks which are also called Moriya
  • Jain-linked Chandragupta to the Moriya tribe with Moriya tribe of peacock trainers
  • Brahminical-describes mauraynas as Shudras
  • Greek-they mention that sandrcottas was born of a humble origin

SOURCES OF MAURYAN HISTORY:

  1. The arthashastra – a Sanskrit comprehensive treatise on statecraft and public administration. The work is attributed to Kautilya, the prime minister of Chandragupta.it deals with the kingdom government, war, peace, state of tax collection. Army organization and diplomacy
  2. The arthashastra is divided into 15 adhikaranas or books,180 parkamas, and 6000 verses in all
  3. The jataka-stories of the buddha’s previous lives tell us about the prevalent social and economic order
  4. The Ashoka Adana and divyavadana-information about Bindusara, Ashoka’s expeditions to Taxila to suppress a rebellion, and about his conversion to Buddhism
  5. The dipavamsa and Mahavamsa-between the 3rd century BC and 4th century BC and 5th century respectively are Sri Lankan chronicles which describes the details played the Ashoka in the spread of Buddhism
  6. A commentary on Mahavamsa, known as mahavamsatvika or vamsattapakshini composed in the 10th century, containing the information about the origin of the Mauryan
  7. The Jain work sthavirvadins Charita or parisishtaparvan of hemachandra (a biography of Chanakya) provides very accurate details such as the early life, conquer, Magadha, famine, and conquest of Jainism
  8. Mudrarakshasa of Vishakadutta a 4th century a drama in Sanskrit gives an account of the prevailing socio-economic conditions.it also mentions the council of Chandragupta
  9. Rajatarangini of kalhana, kathasatitagsagar of somadeva and brihatkathamanjari of kshemdendra also provides information about the Mauryan empire

MEGASTHENES

  • Magasthanese an ambassador sent by Seleucus complied with his account about Mauryan India in his book Indica, some of them are
  • King was the pivot of the administrative superstructure
  • Magasthanese describes the king as a hardworking person
  • Criminal law was severe. one of the recognized punishment was mutilation. Death was awarded for the injuring of the royal artisans
  • Magasthanese pays high tribute to the character of the Indian people the general honesty of the people was well attested by the fact that was a rare occurrence
  • Magasthanese state that the famine never occurred in India and there has never been a general scarcity in the supply of nourishing food

CHANDRAGUPTA MAURYA (321-298 BC)

  • Chandragupta Maurya at the young age of 25 dethroned the last mandibular Dhana Nanda and occupied pataliputra in 321 BX with the help of Brahama, Kautilya also known as Chanakya or Vishnu Gupta
  • In 305 BC Chandragupta again moved towards north-west for a campaign against Seleucus nicator, which ended with the treaty of 303 BC in favor of the mauraynas. Chandragupta gave 500 elephants and in return, he got eastern Afghanistan, Baluchistan, and the areas of western Indus from Seleucus
  • The girmer record refers to Chandragupta viceroy or governor, pushyuagupta, who was told to have constructed the famous sudrasana lake, his title was simat raja
  • The sohagura copper plate inscription and mahasthan inscription deal with relief measurers to the adapted during a famine during the reign of Chandragupta Mauryan
  • Chandragupta went to south India with bhadrabahu, the Janina saint

BINDUSARA (298-273 BC)

  • Chandragupta Maurya was succeeded by his son Bindusara
  • In a Chinese text he is mentioned as bindupula, he was known to the Greeks as amitrochates or anitrakhada.
  • According to a tetranitrate Tibetan Buddhist monk who visited India in the 16thcebtiry
  • Bindusaraconquored 16states comprising the land between the Arabian and the Bay of Bengal
  • He appointed his eldest son sumana as the viceroy of Taxila and Ashoka at Ujjain
  • Bindusara had contacts with Antiochus I, the Seleucid king of Syria
  • He was a believer in the ajivika sect

ASHOKA (273-232BC)

  • He succeeds his father Bindusara but seemed to succeed in the battle of Bindusara
  • According to dicyanide, Ashoka was sent to quell the rebellion at Taxila
  • He was imitated into the Buddhist fold by ingrowth a 7yr old monk,
  • Ashoka reduced the land revenue of Lumbini village of the eight of produce
  • Three different phases of Ashoka were kamasoka, chandasoka, dhammasoka
  • The dhamma according to Ashoka’s edict is not a religion or religious system, but a moral law a common code of conduct
  • He was the first ruler to issue the edicts, the maximum number of inscriptions was discovered in Mysuru
  • The First Ashokan edict was discovered by padre Tiefenthaler
  • Most of them were in Brahmi and Prakriti language
  • In kanganahali relief sculpture inscription “ranyo Ashoka” mentioned along with the stone portrait of Ashoka

EDICTS OF ASHOKA

Ashoka inscriptions can be classified into three: 

  • Pillar edicts,
  • Major rock edicts and
  • Minor rock edicts.

Pillar Edicts

  • There are seven pillar edicts.
  • Two types of stones are used: spotted white sandstone (from Mathura) and buff-colored sandstone and quartzite (from Amaravati).
  • All the pillars are monoliths (carved out of stone).
  • They have been found from different places like Kandahar (Afghanistan), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Pakistan), Delhi, Vaishali, and Champaran (Bihar), Sarnath, and Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh), Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh), and Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh).
  • Fragments of the same edict are found in different places.
  • Many pillars are as high as 50 feet high and weigh as much as 50 tons.
  • The pillars depict animals such as elephants and lions and wheels and lotuses which are all significant symbols in Buddhism.
EdictAshoka Inscription Details
Pillar Edict IAshoka’s principle of protecting his people.
Pillar Edict IIDhamma
Pillar Edict IIIAvoiding practices of cruelty, sin, harshness, pride and anger among his subjects.
Pillar Edict IVResponsibilities of the Rajukas.
Pillar Edict VList of animals and birds that should not be killed on certain days. Another list which mentions animals that should never be killed.
Pillar Edict VIDhamma policy of the State.
Pillar Edict VIIAshoka’s work for fulfilling Dhamma. Tolerance for all sects.

Ashoka’s Major Rock Edicts

Major Rock Edicts: There are 14 major rock edicts:

EdictAshoka Inscription Details
Major Rock Edict IProhibits animal slaughter and bans festive gathering.
Major Rock Edict IICare for man and animals. Mentions the Pandyas, Satyapuras and Keralaputras of South India.
Major Rock Edict IIIGenerosity to Brahmins. About Yuktas, Pradeshikas and Rajukas who would go every five years to different parts of his empire to spread Dhamma.
Major Rock Edict IVDhammaghosha (sound of Dhamma/righteousness) over Bherighosha (sound of war).
Major Rock Edict VAbout Dhammamahamatras. Talks about treating slaves right.
Major Rock Edict VIKing’s desire to know about his people’s conditions. About welfare measures.
Major Rock Edict VIITolerance for all religions.
Major Rock Edict VIIIAshoka’s first visit to Bodh Gaya and the Bodhi tree (his first Dhamma Yatra).
Major Rock Edict IXCondemns popular ceremonies.
Major Rock Edict XDisapproves of the individual’s desire for fame and glory and stresses on Dhamma.
Major Rock Edict XIElaborates on Dhamma.
Major Rock Edict XIITolerance for all religions and sects.
Major Rock Edict XIIIMentions victory over Kalinga. Mentions Ashoka’s Dhamma victory over Greek Kings Antiochus of Syria (Amtiyoko), Ptolemy of Egypt (Turamaye), Magas of Cyrene (Maka), Antigonus of Macedon (Amtikini), Alexander of Epirus (Alikasudaro). Also mentions Pandyas, Cholas, etc.
Major Rock Edict XIVEngraving of inscriptions installed in various parts of the country.

Minor Rock Edicts

  • Minor rock edicts are found on 15 rocks across the country and in Afghanistan also.
  • Ashoka uses his name only in four of these places namely:
    1. Maski,
    2. Brahmagiri (Karnataka),
    3. Gujjar (MP) and
    4. Nettur (AP).

Languages used in Ashoka Inscription

  • In the eastern part of the empire, the Magadhi language in the Brahmi script is used. (Magadhi is the dialect of Prakrit found in Magadha).
  • In western parts of the Mauryan Empire, Prakrit in karoshi script is used.
  • Major Rock Edict XIII contains an extract in Greek and Aramaic as well.

Ashoka’s Inscription Excerpt

Major Rock Edict VI

Beloved of the Gods speaks thus: Twelve years after my coronation I started to have Dhamma edicts written for the welfare and happiness of the people, and so that not transgressing them they might grow in the Dhamma. Thinking: “How can the welfare and happiness of the people be secured?” I give my attention to my relatives, to those dwelling far, so I can lead them to happiness and then I act accordingly. I do the same for all groups. I have honoured all religions with various honours. But I consider it best to meet with people personally.

JUDCIARY

The sources of law were mentioned bykatuliya were as follows

  • Dharma
  • Legal codes
  • Customs
  • Royal decree
  • The chief justice was called the dharmadhikarina and he presided over the supreme court

There were two types of court

  • Dharmasathiya-cvil court
  • Kantakasodhan-criminal court

THE ARMY

  • According to magasthanese Chandragupta had at his disposal 600000 members of the army
  • The army consisted of foot solider, elephants and horses
  • It had 30000 cavalierly and 900 elephants

THE ESPIONAGE NETWORK

  • The spies were of two types Sansthan and sanchari
  • The former worked by remaining stationed in a public place and the latter moving from place to place
  • They were known as gudhaprushas

THE MAURYAN SOCEITY

  • There was a well-developed cate system as per the accounts of magasthanese
  • The chief sources of income were land tax

THE MAURYAN ART

Mauryan art is the art, mostly sculpture, produced during the period of the Mauryan Empire, which was the first empire to rule, at least in theory, over most of the Indian subcontinent, between 322 and 185 BCE. It represented an important transition in Indian art from the use of wood to stone

PILLARS

  • The erection of pillars was common in the Achaemenian Empire (Persian Empire) also. While there were commonalities like the use of polished stones, motifs like lotus, there are also differences. While the Achaemenian pillars were constructed in pieces, the Mauryan pillars were rock-cut, displaying the superior skill of the carver.
  • Stone pillars can be seen all over the Mauryan Empire. These had proclamations inscribed on them and were used to spread the message of the Buddha by Emperor Ashoka.
  • The top portion of the pillar is called capital and it typically has animal figures like bull, lion, elephant, etc. These capital figures are carved standing on a square or circular abacus. The abacuses are on the base which could be a stylized inverted lotus.
  • Example of pillars with capital figures: Sarnath, Basarah-Bakhira, Rampurva, Sankisa, and Lauriya-Nandangarh.
  • The Lion Capital at Sarnath is the most famous example.
  • Monumental figures of Yakshas and Yakshinis have been found in various parts of India thus showing the popularity of Yaksha worship.

ROCK CUT ARTS

  • Ashoka also patronized rock-cut architecture.
  • Rock-cut Elephant at Dhauli, Odisha – shows modeling in the round with linear rhythm. It also has an Ashokan edict.
  • Lomas Rishi Cave – Rock-cut cave at Barabar Hills near Gaya. The cave entrance is decorated with a semicircle chaitya arch. An elephant is carved in high relief on the chaitya. The interior hall of the cave is rectangular; it also has a circular chamber at the back. Ashoka patronized this cave for the Ajivika sect.
  • Stupas and viharas were constructed as part of the Buddhist and Jaina monastic tradition but most of the constructions belong to Buddhism.
  • Some Brahmanical gods were also represented in the sculptures here.
  • Stupas were constructed over the relics of the Buddha at Rajagriha, Kapilavastu, Vaishali, Ramagrama, Allakappa, Pava, Vethadipa, Pippalvina, and Kushinagar.
  • Stupas consist of a cylindrical drum with a circular anda and a harmika and a chhatra on the top. Sometimes there were circumambulatory pathways and gateways. In many cases, additions were added in later centuries.
  1. Anda: hemispherical mound symbolic of the mound of dirt used to cover Buddha’s remains (in many stupas actual relics were used).
  2. Harmika: square railing on top of the mound.
  3. Chhatra: central pillar supporting a triple umbrella form.

DECEPTION OF BUDDHA

  • In the early periods, Buddha is represented through symbols like footprints, lotus thrones, chakras, stupas, etc.
  • Later on, stories were portrayed on the railings and torans of the stupas. These were mainly the Jataka tales.
  • The chief events from Buddha’s life which are narrated in the arts are birth, renunciation, enlightenment, the first sermon (dharmachakrapravart, ana), and mahaparinirvana (death).
  • The Jataka stories that find frequent depiction are Chhadanta Jataka, Sibi Jataka, Ruru Jataka, Vessantara Jataka, Vidur Jataka and Shama Jataka.

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