A very big kingdom = an empire
- Ashoka was one of the greatest rulers known to history and on his instructions inscriptions were inscribed on pillars, as well as on rock surfaces.
- His kingdom was called an empire
2. Paterliny Was Folowed
- The empire that Ashoka ruled was founded by his grandfather, Chandragupta Maurya, more than 2300 years ago.
- Chandragupta was supported by a wise man named Chanakya or Kautilya.
- Many of Chanakya’s ideas were written down in a book called the Arthashastra.
3. Cities and Villages
- These included the capital Pataliputra, Taxila, and Ujjain. Taxila was a gateway to the northwest, including Central Asia, while Ujjain lay on the route from north to south India.
- Merchants, officials and crafts persons probably lived in these cities.
- In other areas there were villages of farmers and herders.
- In central India, there were forests where people gathered forest produce and hunted animals for food.
- People in different parts of the empire spoke different languages.
- They probably ate different kinds of food, and wore different kinds of clothes as well.
- When members of the same family become rulers one after another, the family is often called a dynasty.
- The Mauryas were a dynasty with three important rulers — Chandragupta, his son Bindusara, and Bindusara’s son, Ashoka
How are empir e empires different from kingdoms?
- Emperors need more resources than kings because empires are larger than kingdoms, and need to be protected by big armies.
- So also they need a larger number of officials who collect taxes.
Ruling the empire
- As the empire was so large, different parts were ruled differently.
- The area around Pataliputra was under the direct control of the emperor.
- This meant that officials were appointed to collect taxes from farmers, herders, crafts persons and traders, who lived in villages and towns in the area.
- Officials also punished those who disobeyed the ruler’s orders.
- Many of these officials were given salaries.
- Messengers went to and fro, and spies kept a watch on the officials.
- The emperor supervised them all, with the help of members of the royal family, and senior ministers.
- There were other areas or provinces.
- Each of these was ruled from a provincial capital such as Taxila or Ujjain.
- There was some amount of control from Pataliputra, and royal princes were often sent as governors, local customs and rules were probably followed.
- Mauryas control roads and rivers, which were important for transport, and to collect whatever resources were available as tax and tribute.
- Arthashastra tells us that the north-west was important for blankets, and south India for its gold and precious
- These resources were collected as tribute.
- There were also the forested regions.
- People living in these areas were more or less independent, but may have been expected to provide elephants, timber, honey and wax to Mauryan officials.
- Unlike taxes, which were collected on a regular basis, tribute was collected as and when it was possible from people who gave a variety of things, more or less willingly.
The emper The emper The emperor and the capital city
- Megasthenes was an ambassador who was sent to the court of Chandragupta by the Greek ruler of West Asia named Seleucus Nicator.
- Megasthenes wrote an account about what he saw.
Ashoka, a unique ruler
- The most famous Mauryan ruler was Ashoka.
- He was the first ruler who tried to take his message to the people through inscriptions.
- Most of Ashoka’s inscriptions were in Prakrit and were written in the Brahmi script.
Ashoka’s war in War in Kalinga
- Kalinga is the ancient name of coastal Orissa
- Ashoka fought a war to conquer Kalinga.
- He was so horrified when he saw the violence and bloodshed that he decided not to fight any more wars.
- He is the only king in the history of the world who gave up conquest after winning a war.
What was Ashoka’s dhamma?
- Ashoka’s dhamma did not involve worship of a god, or performance of a sacrifice.
- He felt that just as a father tries to teach his children, he had a duty to instruct his subjects.
- He was also inspired by the teachings of the Buddha
2. Problems and outcomes
- There were a number of problems that troubled him.
- People in the empire followed different religions, and this sometimes led to conflict.
- Animals were sacrificed.
- Slaves and servants were ill treated.
- There were quarrels in families and amongst neighbours.
- Ashoka felt it was his duty to solve these problems.
- He appointed officials, known as the dhamma mahamatta who went from place to place teaching people about
- Ashoka got his messages inscribed on rocks and pillars, instructing his officials to read his message to those who could not read it themselves.
- Ashoka also sent messengers to spread ideas about dhamma to other lands, such as Syria, Egypt, Greece
and Sri Lanka.
- He built roads, dug wells, and built rest houses.
- He arranged for medical treatment for both human beings and animals.
- Beginning of the Mauryan empire (more than 2300 years ago)