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Notice the map shows the empire covering all of modern-day India, as well as portions of modern-day Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, and China.
Boundless Centralization and taxation Centralized government also came in handy when emperors had to deal with trade and farming.
The Maurya and Gupta Empires (article) | Khan Academy
Chandragupta Maurya established a single currency across India, a network of regional governors and administrators, and a civil service to provide justice and security for merchants, farmers, and traders. Instead, they paid through a nationally administered system of taxation. The system operated under the principles of the Arthashastra, an ancient Indian treatise that included advice on how to collect taxes, administer trade and agricultural resources, manage diplomacy, and even how to wage war!
During his rule, Ashoka also made his laws clear in central public spaces on rock and pillar edicts, stone slabs that alerted citizens to the rules that governed them.
The Mauryan Empire was strict in revenue collection, but it also funded numerous public works projects to enhance productivity. Ashoka sponsored the construction of thousands of roads, waterways, canals, rest houses, hospitals, and other types of infrastructure. Would it be beneficial for Mauryan rulers to have a population that was able to read? How was a nationally administered system of taxation helpful to citizens of the Mauryan empire?
Chandragupta Maurya established a single currency across India, including these silver punch mark coins with symbols of wheel and elephant. During Ashoka's reign, government oversaw the building of major roadways, and the Mauryan international network of trade expanded. India's exports to places like Bactria and Persia included silk, textiles, and spices. Costly salaries for soldiers and government officials ended up bankrupting the central treasury.
In place of an expansive empire, local rulers began to take charge of smaller regions, placing themselves strategically along trade routes. The future leaders of the Gupta dynasty arose out of these small kingdoms a few centuries later. They conquered many regions of the former Maurya Empire and forged alliances with kingdoms that chose not to fight against them. What is one way life under a centralized government might have been different from a government under a large number of smaller kingdoms?
Sri Gupta's son and successor, Ghatotkacha, ruled from around to CE. By his death in CE, Samudragupta had incorporated over 20 kingdoms into his realm and extended the Gupta Empire from the Himalayas to the Narmada River in central India and from the Brahmaputra River to the Yamuna—the longest tributary of the Ganges River in northern India.
Gupta Empire, CE. The Gupta Empire expanded through conquest and political alliances until CE, when it extended across the entire Indian subcontinent. By CE, his control over India extended coast-to-coast.
Just like Ashoka, Chandragupta II made Pataliputra the capital of his empire and centralized the government there. He used tribute money from allies to fund government projects and salaries.
Unlike Ashoka, Chandragupta did not rely on a network of spies or closely monitor the affairs of foreigners or allies.
Instead, he let regions make their own decisions about administration and local governance. Some scholars have argued that the Gupta empire was a golden age of India. Silver punch mark coin of the Maurya empire, with symbols of wheel and elephant. Iron implements came into wider use, which would have helped the reclamation of land for farming, and led to greater productivity for farmers.
Metal coinage became more widespread, which would have stimulated trade. The expansion of trade is reflected in the spread of northern pottery styles into south India. Palitpura, the Mauryan capital, was a large and imposing city.
Links with other regions of the world The Mauryan government was in regular diplomatic relations with the Greek-speaking kingdoms to its west. This was of course specially true for the Seleucid empirethe nearest, but contacts with MacedoniaEgypt and other kingdoms of the Hellenistic world are also mentioned. There seem to have been marriage alliances between the Seleucid and Mauryan royal families.
These diplomatic relations also involved trade missions, and under Asoka, missionary expeditions as well.
The Maurya and Gupta Empires
Religion Buddhism flourished under the Maurya. Some scholars believe that it was in this period of ancient India, especially under Ashoka, that Buddhism became established as a major religion within the Indian sub-continent. Jainism also flourished, especially amongst the merchants of the cities — who, as we have seen, were experiencing a time of prosperity.
The merchants were to some extent on the margins of the early Hindu scheme of society. They would probably have been less patient than other social groups with the traditional Brahmin dominance over religious matters, and hence more attracted to the new heterdox faiths of Buddhiam and Jainism. Outlying provinces fell away, and by the mid-2nd century BCE the empire had shrunk to its core areas.
Why did this decline set in, and why was it so rapid? Ashoka has sometimes been blamed for sowing the seeds of decline by his too-gentle rule. He might have left unchecked destabilizing forces, which came to full power after he was gone. For this idea there is no evidence; indeed the edicts scattered around the empire suggest a firm and vigorous ruler.
- The Mauryan Empire of Ancient India
The causes of decline probably lie elsewhere, and can be summarized as follows: Causes of decline First, Ashoka seems to have been followed by a succession of weak rulers, who could not exert their will over such a large empire. Unlike the Han empire in China, which continued to run smoothly for almost years, even when the emperors were nonentities, the effectiveness of Mauryan rule was always directly dependent upon the personal ability and energy of the king. Later experience from around the world — for example, from China and the Roman empire — shows that, unless there is a well-working system for selecting and promoting capable and comparatively honest officials, a bureaucracy can soon become fragmented amongst the followers of over-powerful ministers and provincial governors.
Something like this may well have occurred in late Maurya times, culminating in the breaking-away of large provinces from the empire. Finally, the fragmentation of the Mauryan empire was, to some extent, a product of its very success. During the peace and unity the Mauryan kings had brought ancient India, Aryan culture had spread throughout much of the sub-continent.
Towns and cities had sprung up — normally as centres of Mauryan administration — in places distant from the old seats of civilization. Economic development had come to areas which were previously the abode of forest peoples, of nomads and hunter-gatherers. All this had put in place the economic and administrative foundations upon which new, independent states could be built; and, with the firm hand of the early Mauryan kings gone, such states soon appeared.
The Mauryan legacy In later Indian records, the Mauryan empire appears only as an entry in the long list of kingdoms that made up the vast and complex history of India; no special significance was attached to it. No magnificent architecture was left — the towns where the Maurya carried out most of their building work continued to be lived in right up to the present day, and so Mauryan remains are buried under streets and buildings used by later generations. Apart from a few brief mentions in some accounts, this great empire was all but forgotten — an astonishing fact given the great importance accorded by peoples in other parts of the world to their ancient empires.
In the 19th century, however, some British officials began to wonder, who built those mysterious pillars dotted around India? How come they are hundreds — thousands — of miles apart from one another?
What do the inscriptions on them mean? Then the truth about the Maurya gradually began to emerge. When it was realised that these pillars were the work of one king, Ashoka, whose realm covered a vast area of India and beyond, it was realised that here was a phenomenon of huge significance for the history of ancient India.
The Mauryan empire in world history The Mauryan empire was the first great empire of the history of ancient India, and that in itself gives it major importance in world history. Mauryan architecture in the Barabar Mounts. Grottoe of Lomas Richi. It was one of the great empires of the ancient world; in size if not in longevity it was on a par with the PersianRoman and Han empires. It stimulated the economic development of then-peripheral regions, as these were incorporated into Aryan society.
In accomplishing this, the Mauryan empire vastly expanded the horizons of ancient Indian civilization, and so made it a more powerful force in world history. In due course, southern India, which only under the Maurya began to be drawn into what we today think of as Indian culture, would play a pivotal role in the development of Indian Ocean trade networks, and act as a bridge for goods and ideas between the Middle East and South East Asia. The spread of Buddhism The Mauryan empire played a key role in the spread of Buddhism.
This will have helped establish the sub-continent as a base from which Buddhism could later spread to other parts of Asia. Moreover, the Maurya directly promoted Buddhist missions to other regions, and although in most cases it was only later that the peoples of many of these countries became Buddhist to any large extent, these Maurya missions seem to have been directly responsible for the conversion of the ruling class of at least one country, Sri Lanka.