Mauryan Dynasty

Maurya Dynasty

Mauryan Dynasty History

The Mauryan Empire was the first major empire in Indian history. Chandragupt Maurya was the first king and founder of the Maurya dynasty in 322 B.C.E (1516 B.C.E as per recent translations). after overthrowing the Nanda Dynasty. His mother’s name was Mur, so he was called Maurya in Sanskrit which means the son of Mur, and thus, his dynasty was called Maurya dynasty.

The Maurya Empire was one of the largest empires of the world in its time. The capital city of Mauryan dynasty was Pataliputra (modern Patna). The kingdom of Magadha stretched from the eastern side of the Indian subcontinent to the north along the natural boundaries of the Himalayas, to the east into Assam, to the west into Balochistan (south west Pakistan and south east Iran) and the Hindu Kush mountains of what is now Afghanistan. Emperor Bindusara expanded the Empire into India's central and southern regions, but it excluded a small portion of unexplored tribal and forested regions near Kalinga, India.

Archaeologically, the period of Mauryan rule in South Asia falls into the era of Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW). The “Arthashastra” and the Edicts of Ashoka are the primary sources of written records of Mauryan times. The Lion Capital of Ashoka at Sarnath has been made the national emblem of India. During the Mauryan empire there is only a single and efficient system of finance, administration, and security. The Mauryan dynasty enjoyed an era of social harmony and religious transformation. Chandragupta Maurya fallowed Jainism and spread Jainism all over his dynasty. Later Ashoka fallowed Buddhism and spread it across the boundaries of his region.

In 185 BC, Military General Pushyamitra Shunga Killed Brihadratha, the last ruler of Mauryan Empire. He established Shunga Dynasty in the year 185 BC (1217 BCE as per recent translations).

Mauryan Empire Beginning

Chanakya was once badly insulted by the then cruel ruler of Nanda dynasty, Dhana Nanda, in his royal court and in front of all the Courtiers. Chanakya vowed at that time that he would dethrone Dhana Nanda at any cost and left the royal court. He was passing through the Vinjha forest in search of a person who can replace Dhana Nanda. He saw a group of children playing a king game and the child playing the role of king was Chandragupta Maurya. Chanakya was very much impressed by the boy for the role he played in the game and the Leadership qualities he showed in the game. He decided to make the child the king who replaces Dhana Nanda. He took Chandragupta with him and trained the boy.

After the training, Chandragupta Maurya raised a small army with assistance from Chanakya, who went on to become his chief advisor and prime minister after establishing Mauryan Empire. The military strength lacked by Chandragupta's force was balanced out by cunning strategies of Chanakya or Kautilya. Chandragupta along with Chanakya entered Magadha kingdom, Pataliputra where he triggered a civil war using Chanakya's intelligence. After many attempts, he finally managed to seize the throne putting an end to Nanda dynasty and he established the Mauryan dynasty which would rule India till 185 B.C.E (1218 BCE as per recent translations).

Art and Architecture in Mauryan Dynasty

Mauryan Dynasty art and architecture

The origins of monumental stone sculpture and architecture in the Indian subcontinent go back to the Harappan civilization. However, after decline of that civilization, there is a long gap and it is only in the Maurya period that monumental stone sculpture and architecture appeared on the scene again.

Mauryan Dynasty architecture

Many of the surviving remains of art and architecture were the direct result of the patronage of Mauryan kings specially Ashoka and fall within the category of court art. However, there are also stone sculptures and terracotta figurines, ring stones and disc stones which represent popular art i.e. the art connected to the lives, activities and patronage of ordinary people.

Mauryan Dynasty art and architecture

Mauryan Dynasty Kings

Maurya was the fifth dynasty of Magadha after the Mahabharat war (3138 BC). Many Puranas contains the chronology of Mauryan kings. However, there were inconsistencies in the list of Mauryan rulers and period of their rule. Because of uncertainty it is difficult to give absolute dates of Mauryan kings rule.
Based on the work of Pandit Kota Venkata Chelam the fallowing were the rulers of Mauryan Empire.

Mauryan Dynasty Kings

Totally Mauryans ruled for 316 Years.
Mauryan Dynasty Kings

of the Above Sloka:-"These twelve Maurya kings Chandragupta etc., will rule for 316 years."

Important rulers of Mauryan Dynasty

Chandragupta Maurya

Main article: Chandragupta Maurya

Chandragupta Maurya was one of the important and prominent kings of India. He was the founder and first ruler of Mauryan Dynasty. He ruled from 322 to 298 B.C as per Greek translations (1534 to 1500 B.C according recent translations). He was the father of second ruler of Mauryan dynasty Bindusara and grandfather of well known and great king Ashoka, who was the third Mauryan ruler. The journey of Chandragupta and Chanakya for throne was already published in our earlier article.


Main article: Bindusara

Bindusara was second ruler of the Mauryan dynasty. Greek scripts refer him as Amitrochates or Allitrochades which was from the Sanskrit word "Amitraghata", which means "The slayer of enemies." According Jain scripts, Bindusara's original name was "Simhasena." He was also given other title by Neighbouring states as "Ajathashatru", which means "Man without enemies." One interesting fact about Bindusara was, he wanted his eldest son Sushima as his heir and not Ashoka.

Ashoka the Great

Main article: Ashoka, the Great
Contemporary historians consider Chandragupta's grandson Ashokavardhan Maurya, better known as Ashoka, as perhaps the greatest of Indian monarchs, and perhaps the world. H.G. Wells calls him the "greatest of kings."

Major References

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