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INDIAN HISTORY: Maurya Empire

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  1. The Maurya Empire: Historians have used a variety of sources to reconstruct the history of the Mauryan Empire. These include archaeological finds, especially sculpture.

    • Also valuable are contemporary works, such as the account of Megasthenes (a Greek ambassador to the court of Chandragupta Maurya), which survives in fragments.

    • Another source that is often used is the Arthashastra, parts of which were probably composed by Kautilya or Chanakya, traditionally believed to be the minister of Chandragupta.

    • Besides, the Mauryas are mentioned in later Buddhist, Jaina and Puranic literature, as well as in Sanskrit literary works.

    • While these are useful, the inscriptions of Asoka (c. 272/268-231 BCE) on rocks and pillars are often regarded as amongst the most valuable sources.

    • Mudrarakshasa of Vishakhadatta describes how Chanakya won the diplomatic battle against the Nanda minister Rakshasa, how Rakshasa was compelled to work for Chandragupta and also how the Nandas were finally over thrown.

  2. Chandragupta Maurya:

    • Chandragupta Maurya was the founder of the empire in 305 BC. 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 member of Kshatriya caste, belonging to the ruling clan of little republic of Pipphalivana, lying probably between Rummindei in the Nepalese Tarai and Kasai in the Gorakhpur district.

    • Under Chandragupta Maurya, for the first time, the whole of northern India was united.

    • Chandragupta became a Jain and went to Sravanbelgola with Bhadrabahu, where he died by slow starvation.

    • Chandragupta was the protege of the Brahman, Kautilya or Chanakya, who was his guide and mentor, both in acquirnig a throne and in keeping it.

    • Megasthenese was a Greek ambassador sent to the court of Chandragupta Maurya by Seleucus.

  3. Bindusara:

    • Chandragupta was succeeded by his son Bindusara in 297 B.C. To Greeks Bindusara was known as Amitrochates.

    • 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.

    • Bindusar patronized Ajivikus.

  4. Asoka:

    • According to the Buddhist tradition, Asoka usurped the throne alter killing his 99 brothers and spared Tissa, the youngest one. Radhagupta a Minister of Bindusar helped him in fratricidal struggle.

    • 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.

    • Under Asoka. the Mauryan Empire reached its climax. For the first time, the whole of the subcontinent, leaving out the extreme south, was under imperial control.

    • Asoka (ought the Kalinga war in 261 BC in the 9th years of his coronation. The king was moved by massacre in this war and therefore abandoned the policy of physical occupation in favour of policy of cultural conquest. In oilier words, Bherighosha was replaced by Dhammaghosha.

    • Asoka was not an extreme pacifist. He did not pursue the policy of peace for sake of peace under all conditions. Thus he retained Kalinga after its conquest and incorporated it into his empire.

    • According to the Kashmir chronicle of Kalhana, Ashoka's favourite deity was Shiva. 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 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).

    • Asoka’s Dhamma cannot be regarded as sectarian faith. Its broad 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 slave and servants.He held that if people behaved well they would attain Swarga (heaven). He never said that they would attain Nirvana, which was goal of Buddhist Teaching.

    • During Ashok's reign the Buddhist church underwent reorganization, with the meeting of the third Buddhist Council at Patliputra in 250 B.C.

    • 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.

    • 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. Kunalawas 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 commanderin- chief, Pushyamitra, who laid the foundation of the Sunga dynasty.

  5. The Mauryan Administration:The establishment of elaborate bureaucracy appear to be a remarkable feature of the Mauryas.

    • Central Administration:

      • The Mauryan government was a centralised bureaucracy of which the nucleus was the king.

      • 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.

    • Provincial Administration:

      • The empire was divided into a number of provinces. Probably, five. The northern province, called Uttarapatha had Taxila as its capital. Western province, known as Avantipatha had its capital in Ujjain. Prachyapatha with its capital Toshali (Kalinga) formed the Eastern province while Dakshinapatha with its capital Surarnagiri was the Southernmost province. Central province. Magdha, with its capital at Pataliputra, was the headquarters of the entire kingdom.

      • The terms used in the Ashokan edicts for provincial governors are Kumara and Aryaputra. The former may have been the title of the sons of the king and later may have referred to close relatives.

    • District Administration:

      • Provinces were sub-divided into districts for purposes of administration, and a group of officials worked in each district. 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).

    • Urban Administration:

      • Urban administration had its own hierarchy offcials. Kautilya lays down in detail the duties of the Nagaraka which included maintenance of law and order, supervision of sanitation arrangement and to take measures against outbreaks of fire. The Nagaraka has under him subordinate officials called sthanika and gopa who were placed in charge of the wards into which the town was divided.

    • Rural Administration:

      • The rural areas were governed by Gramika Head of a village. He was generally elected by the people. He was not a paid servant.

    • Military Administration:

      • The most striking feature of Mauryan military administration was maintanence of a huge army.They also maintained a Navy.According to Megasthenes the administration of Army was carried by a board of 30 officers divided into six committees, each committee consisting of 5 members. They are:

        1. Army

        2. Cavalry

        3. Elephants

        4. Chariots

        5. Navy

        6. Transport

      • Beside this Ashoka appointed Dhammamahamatra, the most important official entrusted with establishing and promoting Dhamma. Authorized to tour and alleviate the woes of people.

  6. Arthashastra:

    • Arthashastra, written by Chandragupta Maurya’s Prime Minister Chanakya, primarily delves into the statecraft and administration.The Arthashastra has 15 adhikarnas or books. Of which, the first five deal with tantra or internal administration of the state, eight deal with avapa or its relations with neighboring stales, and the last two are miscellaneous in character.

  7. Economy:

    • In order to raise resources to meet the heavy expenditure on an ever increasing bureaucracy and huge standing army, the Mauryan state founded new settlements. The shudras for the first time were aided by the state in settling down as farmers in the settlements. In the newly- settled areas, which formed the crown land or crown village(sita), land was granted to retired village officials and priests.

    • The state controlled almost all economic activities.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 state also provided irrigation facilities and charged water-tax.Tolls were also levied on commodities brought to town for sale and they were collected at gate.The slate enjoyed monopoly in mining, sale of liquor, manufacture of arms etc.

    • During Mauryan period, the punch marked coins were the common units of transactions.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 south.

    • Tamralipti m the Gangetic delta was the most prosperous port on the East Coast of India.Broach was a major port during the Mauryan period.

  8. Society:

    • Megasthenes had mentioned 7 castes in Mauryan society. They were philosophers, farmers, soldiers, herdsmen, artisans, magistrates and councilors.

    • Slavery was an established institution during the Maurya period.

    • 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.

  9. Art & Architecture: The Mauryas were famous for their art and architecture.

    • The Mauryas introduced stone masonry on large scale.Fragments of stone pillars and slumps indicating the existence of an 80-pillared hall have been discovered at Kumarhar on outskirts of Patna.The pillars represent the Masterpiece of Mauryan sculpture. Each pillar is made of single piece of sandstone. only their capitals which are beautiful pieces of sculpture in form of lion or bulls are joined with pillar on the top.

    • The most important art remains are animal capitals of the pillars, single Lion capital at Rampurva and Lauriya Nandangarh, single bull capital at Rampurva, four lion capital at Sarnath and Sanchi.

    • The Mauryan artisans also started the practice of hewing out caves from rocks for monks to live in. the earliest example are Barabar caves in Gaya.

    • Stupas were built throughout the empire to enshrine (he relics of Buddha). Of these, the most famous are at Sanchi and Bui hut.

  10. Ashokan Inscriptions:

    • Ashoka used the mediumof his edicts to expound the policy of Dhamma. These inscriptions are inscribed on rocks, pillars and cave.

    • 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.

    • MAJOR ROCK EDICTS:

      • Manshera - Hazara, Pakistan

      • Shahbazgarhi - Peshawar, Pakistan

      • Girnar (Junagarh) - Gujarat

      • Sopara - Thana, Maharashtra

      • Yerragudi - Kurnool, A.P

      • Jaugarh or Jaugada - Ganjam, Orissa

      • Dhauli - Puri, Orissa

      • Kalsi - Dehradun, Uttrakhand

    • MINOR ROCK EDICTS :

      • Ahraura - U.P.

      • Sahasram - Bihar

      • Rupnath - M.P.

      • Gujjarra - M.P.

      • Panguraria (Budhni)- M.P.

      • Bhabru - Rajasthan

      • Bairat - Rajasthan

      • Yerragudi - Andhra Pradesh

      • Maski - Andhra Pradesh

      • Rajul-Mandagiri - Andhra Pradesh

      • Govimath - Karnataka

      • Palkigundu - Karnataka

      • Siddhapur - Karnataka

      • Jatinga-Rameshwar - Karnataka

      • Brahmagiri - Karnataka

      • Udayagolam - Karnataka

      • Mittur - Karnataka

      • Sannatai - Karnataka

      • New Delhi - Amarpuri colony of Lajpat Nagar

      • Bahapur - New Delhi.

    • PILLAR EDICTS:

      • Delhi –Topara

      • Delhi – Meerut

      • Lauriya – Araraj – Bihar

      • Lauriya – Nandangarh – Bihar

      • Rampurva

      • Prayag – Kaushmbi – U.P.

    • Minor Pillar Edicts :

      • Rummindei - Nepal border

      • Nigliva-Sagar - Nepal, near Rummindei

      • Sanchi - M.P.

      • Sarnath - U.P.

      • Prayag - U.P. (Warning to monks)

      • Queen’s Edict - Prayag

    • CAVE EDICTS:

      • Ashoka’s Edicts have been located in the caves in the Barabar Hills (old name Khallitak and Pravaragizi), which were donated to Ajivikas. These caves are called – Sudama, Karnachopar and Vishwajhonpadi.

      • A cave of Lomash Rishi was also found here but with no inscriptions.

      • Dusharatha’s Cave Edicts: In the Ajivika caves in the Nagarjuni Hills which were called – Gopi, Vapi and Vadathik.

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2 comments:

Md nadeem Alam said...

is it possible to get all thing in bengali version pls.

MURSHID ALAM said...

Salute you all who gave us a great blog
Thank you so much.

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