Mauryan Dynasty: c.350BC - 150 BC

Major Accomplishments: Chandra Gupta and Ashoka are able to unite Northern India using military force and economic benefits.  Buddhism spreads rapidly because of the conversion of Ashoka.

Mauryan Video:

The Mauryans

            In 322 BC, Chandragupta Maurya founded the Mauryan dynasty in present-day Eastern India. Before the Mauryans, there had been hundreds of private kingdoms and armies, but the central government formed by Chandragupta Maurya provided a stable, unified nation. This political and military unity used regional governors to control justice and security, and let all kinds of trade expand and thrive. The trade that India engaged in along the Silk Road flourished because of the decreased number of bandits on the roads, and the internal trade also did well because of the single currency that Chandragupta established in India.


Chandra Gupta and Ashoka

            In 322 BC, Chandragupta Maurya began his rule by conquering the small kingdoms and private armies that dominated India at the time. Starting in Eastern India in the Magadha area, he spread his influence into a big territory. His lands stretched west into present-day Afghanistan, east to the Himalayas, and south almost to the tip of India. During Chandragupta’s reign, Jainism led to social and religious reform all throughout the society. Hinduism, practiced by the emperor Ashoka after the Kalinga War, brought social and political peace to all of India. The expansion of science and knowledge also benefited the Mauryan dynasty and Ashoka in the era after the Kalinga War. Ashoka was one of the best rulers in Indian history, and when he died in 232 BC, he was succeeded for fifty years by much weaker emperors. The kingdom shrunk a huge amount during that time. Brihadrata was the last Mauryan dynasty ruler, but he still followed the Buddhist faith. In 185 BC, Brihadrata was assassinated by Pusyamitra Sunga, who then took control and established the Sunga dynasty, which ended the Mauryan dynasty.


Mauryan Government and Army

An important idea of the Mauryans was the central government. Chandragupta Maurya established the imperial capital at Pataliputra, and then split the empire into four provinces for organizational and ruling purposes. Tosali was the capital of the eastern province, Ujjain in the west, Savarn in the south, and Taxila in the north. The Kumara was the head of all the provincial administration. He ruled as the king’s representative and was helped by Mahamatyas, the Council of Ministers. In the national government, the Emperor was also assisted by a Council of Ministers called Mantriparishad. The councils advised the leaders but the ultimate authority in the kingdom was the Emperor’s. A united military was also wielded by the Emperor, which made the defense and expansion of the empire possible. Consisting of 600,000 infantry, 30,000 cavalry and 9,000 war elephants, it was the largest standing army of that time. The Mauryan Emperor also controlled a vast spy system that was depended on both for internal and external security. This combination of the strong central government and the huge military force was an important part of the Mauryan dynasty.


Mauryan Trade

The economy of the Mauryans was another big accomplishment. Under the Indo-Greek friendship treaty, international trade was thriving. The Silk Road provided a way to get their goods to other areas, and the Khyber Pass, located on the modern border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, developed into a strategically important place of trade and contact with the rest of the world. Through the Khyber Pass on the Silk Road the Mauryans could trade with Greece, Hellenic kingdoms, and the Malay Peninsula in West Asia. The main exports sent to those empires were silk, textiles, spices and exotic foods. Technology and science ideas were also exchanged with Europe and West Asia. Because of the peace and tranquility that the Mauryan dynasty was experiencing, internal trade within the empire flourished as well. The political unity allowed people from different areas of Mauryan India to travel and sell their merchandise at markets around their domain. The trade and economy of the Mauryan dynasty was one of their most influential achievements.

India Unites:The Mauryan Dynasties


India begins to Unite c. 400-300BCE

Persia first united NW India under Cyrus and Darius

c. 330 Alexander the Great conquered Persia Greek empire failed when Alexander diedNow a native Indian Empire would begin.


The Mauryan Empire 321-180 BCE

Mauryan Politics

Founded by Chandragupta Maurya ( 324 to 301 B.C.)

Increased centralized govt control over regional kingdoms

large army of 700,000

secret police to watch for treason

301 BCE gave up his throne to & became a Jain monk (extreme Buddhism) Ashoka Maurya

Ashoka 268-232 BC

Most important ruler in ancient India

Brutal military commander who extended the Empire throughout S. and E. India

Battle of Kalinga - 260 BC

100,000 Kalingans died

150,000 Kalingans driven from their home

More died from disease & starvation in the aftermath of the destruction brought on by the war

“What have I done?” he is credited with saying after the battle

Ashoka and many Indian leaders converted to Buddhism after this battle and became pacifists

He spent the rest of his life encouraging non-violence, moderation and Buddhist principles to India

Mauryan Trade/Economy

Indian Agriculture

State farms operated and cultivated by slaves.

Grew Rice, Pepper, Wheat, Barley, Mustard, Sugar Cane, Medicinal Roots


Mauryan Religion

Buddhism grows

built thousands of Stupas for Buddhist followers.

built Buddhist schools and universities

the unnecessary eating of animals was abolished.

Wildlife became protected including the first national parks in the world

promoted vegetarianism and built animal hospitals.

Ashoka’s empire died out slowly after he died

Buddhism architecture spread from India when Buddhism spread aver the next 1000 years

After the Mauryans: Regional Rule and the Rise of Jainism and Buddhism

Regional Kingdoms and local rule - 185 BCE to CE 300

Northern India

Invading HUNS built new small regional kingdoms

Hindu Kush civilizations

Most powerful regional kingdoms for trade across the region and along the Silk Road

Jainism grew in influence during this time of confusion since the leaders pushing Hindu and Buddhism were weakened

Jainism – somewhat like Hindu and Buddhism

Believe in karma, dharma and Moksha

expected to follow five principles of living:

Ahimsa: "non violence in all parts of a person -- mental, verbal and physical."

Satya: speaking truth; avoiding falsehood

Asteya: to not steal from others

Brahma-charya: (soul conduct); remaining sexually monogamous to one's spouse only

Aparigraha: detach from people, places and material things. Avoiding the collection of excessive material possessions, abstaining from over-indulgence, restricting one's needs,