The Mauryan Empire is a vast and powerful kingdom that was established by Chandra Gupta Maurya. It was later declared the first pan-Indian empire covering the largest parts of the Indian Subcontinent as well as countries in the west. The centre of this massive kingdom was Patliputra, the pains of the river Son and Ganges (Ganga).
Rise of the Mauryan Empire
The Mauryan Empire was founded by Chandra Gupta Maurya after defeating the Nanda rulers in Patliputra, or modern-day Patna. He did so with the help of Kautilya, who was also known as Chanakya, a great scholar and learned man of the era. All this happened after the death of Alexander the Great from whom Chandra Gupta Maurya is suspected to have learned the art of war from. The details of the empire are shrouded in mist because of the lack of evidence in the earlier phases. Kautilya’s Arthshastra and Ashoka’s edicts are the main sources to shed light on the era.
Important Rulers of the Mauryan Dynasty
There were four important rulers in the Mauryan Empire. The empire was established, flourished, expanded and declined during the reign of these rulers. Chandra Gupta Maurya established the Empire and it was when Ashoka became king that it was at the peak of its glory in terms of expansion. However, the downfall of the empire started right after Ashoka fell. The four important rulers of the Mauryan Dynasty were;
- Chandra Gupta Maurya
- Samudragupta Maurya
Administration and Governance
During the reign of the Mauryan Empire, the imperial capital was Patliputra. The rest of the empire was divided into four provinces, namely Tosali (in the east), Ujjain (in the west), Suvarnagiri (in the south), and Taxila (in the north).
The princes of the Mauryan Empire used to manage these provinces. They were helped by the Mahamatyas and a council of ministers. The model of governance was centralised and Patliputra practised the same structure of council as the provinces.
The currency was in silver and copper coins and revenue was collected from land, irrigation, shops, customs, woods, ferries, mining, and pastures. Such a centralised and well-maintained system was established for the first time ever in South Asia.
This structure was strengthened and powered by a strongly divided military system and a powerful judicial system. The caste system was also breaking down as Kautilya encouraged people from all backgrounds to join the army.
Brahminism, Jainism and Buddhism were the main religions followed by the people of the Mauryan kingdom. The rulers of this massive empire were learned, trained, courageous, smart and powerful making it one of the most remarkable Empires in history.
Fall of the Mauryan Empire
After the death of Ashoka, the empire was succeded by kings with lesser values and characteristics of a Monarch. Ashoka’s sons could not succeed him and it was his grandson who succeeded him to the throne. The lesser rulers kept losing and regaining power in the region. The last Mauryan ruler Brihadratha Maurya was killed in a military presentation by Pushyamitra Shunga who started the Shunga empire in the region. As Brihadratha Maurya left no successor, this became the end of the Mauryan Empire.