Rise of Ashoka and study of Mauryan Empire

details of Ashoka the Great and his rules of Dhamma and Mauryan administration.

Rise of Ashoka and Mauryans Administrations

Ashoka- (272-232 BC)

  • He was lazy for the first 10 years and enjoyed luxury of his fathers and grandfathers inheritance of wealth

  • 10th Regnal year- 262 BCE He waged war with Kalinga Desa (disputed with trade and commerce), Naga tribes of Kalinga desa looted the ships which were to arrive in the ports of Bengal

  • After the war Ashoka met Mogali Puttatissa and he converted Ashoka to a Buddhist

  • He immediately issued Bhabru Inscription

  • He started a new policy(set of rules not religion) called Dhamma

  • It is a responsibility for every citizen to work for the betterment of society, do more good than Evil ,

  • He believed dhamma is a solution for all the problems of Heterogeneous Society irrespective of time and ages

Some rules of Dhamma:

  • Be kind , Respect elders, respect slaves, with humanity and compassion

  • Avoid Jealous, anger and Cruelty towards animals and Peoples

  • Welfare policies(gold scheme), free gold will be distributed to the people who will take care of their parents

  • Welfare measures(laid highways , laid canals and Trees(Ashoka Vana))

Almost all inscriptions talks about these Dhamma rules and Welfare Policies and measures

Ashoka appointed DhammaMahamataras (Illuminati people) to check whether people following the rules or skipping it and if anybody not following it , then they will be severely punished(Hypocrisy at its peak), at one end he talks about non violence and at other end he talks about punishment.

He used Buddhism to expand Dhamma and intern he made buddhism an International religion

Note : Late CM of Andhra Pradesh NTR appointed Mahamatras to check the corruption in his Cabinet

Symbol of dhamma is 24-spoked wheel

Later Mauryan

  • Total 6 rulers after Ashoka , no one was powerful enough to rule the mighty empire of Maurya

  • Samprithi grandson of Ashoka adopted Jainism

  • Dasaratha- ajivika

  • Brihadratha(last mauryan emperor)

Some Reason for the Downfall of Mauryan Empire

  1. Ashoka gave Land grants to Buddhist, jains and Ajivikas, there are two types of Lands in mauryan empire, one is Family lands and other is Sita Lands (Crown owned estates), he only gave Sita Lands not the family lands

  2. So the treasury started becoming empty and revenue for the King became negligible and later kings suffered heavily because of the donations of king Ashoka.

  3. Finally Bruhadratha’s couldn’t even give salaries to the Senapati(Pushyamithra Sunga) and his soldiers, so Pushyamithra Assassinated Brihadratha during the God of Honour

  4. Then started the Shunga dynasty

  5. Some theories suggest that Because of Strict policies of Ashoka, many communities got halted of their work and Economy started falling down, for example Fisherman Community

Mauryan Administrations

  • Complete Centralization

  • No checks and Balances

  • Absolute Despotism and Benevolent Despotism

  • Extended Beauracrates(27 departments)

  • Mauryans followed Paternal Kingship

Some Important officers

  1. Amatyas(minister levels)- salaries 48000 panas (silver coins, source is Arthashastra)

  2. Mantri (Less qualifies ministers) salary 12000 panas

  3. Senapathi

27 Departments:

  • Sannidhata- revenue minister

  • Sangrahithri- Treasury minister

  • Panya adakshya- trade and commerce

  • Pautava adyaksha -weights and measures

  • Lakshana adakysha- minting Department

  • Nava adyaksha- ports

  • Vivitha Adyaksha- pastures lands

  • Sita adyaksha- Agricultural lands

  • Loha Adyaksha- iron Mines

Mauryan Empire is divided into 4 provinces

  1. Taxila (North west)

  2. Ujjain(Middle)

  3. Dhauli(East orissa)

  4. Suvarnagiri (west KN)

3 important officers in Districts( Districts are called as Aharas)

  • Pradeshika (Revenue Officer)

  • Rajuka (Law and Order)

  • Yuktha (Tax Collector, Land Revenue)

Lowest officer is Gramany(Head of the village)

Pliny is from Rome Italy, wrote a book called Natural History, latin language and wrote about the strength of mauryan military strength.

  • He wrote about the war council of Mauryan and they held war meetings before the war and consisted of 6 boards and each board consisted of 5 members in to total 30 members in the war council

6 boards in Wars council are:

  1. Infantry

  2. Elephantry

  3. Cavalry

  4. Chariotry

  5. Navy

  6. Transportation

Indica says about the city Administration, it talks about Pataliputra, Ujjain, hastinapura, and taxila and others

Again there are 6 boards for administering the cities and again each board consists of 5 members each.

Boards for administering the cities:

  1. Industry(regulate prices of goods)

  2. Foreigners board(welfare of foreigners)

  3. Statistics (to register Births and Deaths)

  4. Trade boards (to look after guilds) very important for economic stability of a state and state never interfered the guilds

  5. Manufactured articles(weights and measures)

  6. Judiciary board(Dhanda) -to look after City and Law

Megasthenes describe two types of courts Dharmasya and Kantaka Shodhana (Civil and criminal courts)

  • For thefts - 40 panas fine

  • For cutting trees- Death Penalty

  • For killing handicraft workers- capital punishments

Taxes in the Mauryan Administrations

  • ⅙ th of the total produced for Farmers

  • IMP Dasamoli Bhagha Tax- Govt will protect your crop and you will have to pay 1/10 th of the produced.

  • Vartani Tax is a tax on traders(Road tax)

  • Gulma Tax- military tax

  • Hiranya Tax - tax on Forests Products

  • Nishkanya Tax- Tax on exports


Architecture in Mauryan empire

  • Pots- Northern black Polished Ware (NBPW)

  • Palaces- Ashoka built Kumrahar Palace, 80 pillared halls and found wood sculptures inspired from Persepolis achaemenid pillars from Iran.

  • Stupas found in Sanchi(MP) , Pipliwala(UP), Jaggayyapeta(Bhattiprolu), shalihunda(AP), and Amaravathi, are all these stupas described as Daathigarbhitas Stupas.

  • These are all sacred places of buddhism

  • A tibetan text called Divyavadana says that ashoka constructed 84000 stupas(conflict in reality)

  • Yaksha and Yakshi Sculptures , mother goddess(semi nudes, long drapery touching the the floor)

  • Salabhanjika sculptures

  • Mauryans built caves like Barrabarra built by Ashoka, and Nagarjuni caves by Dasarath

  • Built Lomarishi Caves (Jain Caves)

  • Ashoka built Dhowli rock cut cave orissa, has Elephant Sculpture entrance

  • Ashoka Pillars are the masterpieces in the history of India , one can find them in the highways and they are Monolithic Pillars

Sarnath Pillar:

  • Lion Capital- has 4 lions as emblem

  • Horse, elephant, Bull, and Lion are sculpted beside the Spoked Wheel (UPSC question)

  • On the bottom it has a pillar above it has an inverted Lotus on top of it it has an Abacus , on the abacus, a spoked wheel and around it 4 animals were carved and on top of the abacus we can find 4 lions facing through all directions.