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Maurya Dynasty

The rise of Chandragupta Maurya

Chandragupta Maurya by 322 BC established the first Mauryan Empire. Before that Nanda dynasty, very unpopular, ruled the Magadh kingdom. Chandragupta Maurya with the help of Chankya (Kautilya) ruined the Nanda Empire and laid the foundation of Maurya Empire. Chankya was one of the important ministers in the court of Nandas. It is believed that Chankya was maltreated by Nanda king and then he vowed to ruin their kingdom. Chandragupta had a meeting with Chankya in the forest of Vindhya, after being offended by Nanda king. They both formed their own army.

Since Chankya was very well versed in politics and other state affairs, under his assistance, Chandragupta declared the war and overthrew the Nanda ruler. After that he won the regions which were annexed by Alexander. Chandragupta defeated the Selucus Nicator, the Macedonian ruler of the Northwestern territories. He not only seized Kabul, Punjab, Khandhar, Persia and Gandhara from Seluces but also married his daughter.

The Empire

In a very short time span, Chandragupta’s empire was recognized as the superpower in Western countries. A political alliance with Licchavis rulers and an advantageous marriage brought Chandragupta I total control of the kingdom of Magadha, one of the richest kingdoms of the former Mauryan Empire. Chankya was the prime advisor in his court. The kings of Syria and Egypt sent representatives to his court. After 25 years of his kingdom, he gave his throne to his son, Bindusara (296 BC-273 BC), and became a Jain ascetic. Bindusara, son of Chandragupta Maurya, became the new Mauryan Emperor by inheriting an empire including the Hindukush, Vindhyas, Mysore, Narmada, Bihar, Orissa, Bengal, Assam, Afghanistan, and Baluchistan. Nowadays the Maurya Empire is considered as the golden ages of Indian history.

Chandragupta’s Birth

The history of Chandragupta Maurya’s birth has been a mystery event. According to some sources, Chandragupta might have born in a low caste. Other sources said that he originated from Magadha as the son of Mura, a servant in Magadha court and Nanda king.

Mauryan Administration

Maurya Empire was the foremost significant federal empire in India. Under his rule, Indian subcontinent saw first time in history the considerable degree of political unity. Thanks to political unity, Maurya Empire was independent and very much strong. His empire lasted till 187 BC. Maurya Empire was very well administered, with monocracy at the top positions and democratic organization at the grass root levels. Pataliputra (modern day Patna) was the capital of Maurya Empire. The Arthashastra (by Chanakya) and Indica (by Megasthenes, an ancient Greek writer) were the two main literary sources enlightened us about the Maurya empire and Chandragupta policies. Megasthenes was the ambassador of Seleucus Nikator and came to the court of Maurya.

The Administration

The Greek ambassador Megasthenes had openly admired the effective administration of Maurya Empire. In his book Indica, he mentioned about the prosperity and the living standards of the Mauryan people. He also wrote about the caste system in Indian society, based on the occupation in the Maurya Empire. The Mauryan people were divided into seven groups: peasants, philosophers, herdsmen, councilors, soldiers, traders, and government officials. The Mauryan religious policy was to encourage the tolerance level. He also mentioned the lifestyle of Mauryan people in the cities and villages and the prosperity of the Mauryan capital. On the other hand, Arthashastra gives the information about the rules of administration and the principles of governance. It also talks about the rate of taxation, the role of the king and his duties, laws for governing the society and use of espionage.

During the reign of Chandragupta Maurya, trade and commerce were flourished. It was the state’s responsibility to provide sanitation, irrigational facilities, succor, and famine relief to people. The whole empire was divided into different administrative zones and districts with a hierarchy of officials. And the topmost officials of this hierarchy reported to Mauryan ruler. These officials were responsible for maintaining law and order, collecting the taxes, completing irrigational projects, maintaining the army, etc.

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