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Ancient History / Mauryan Era

Rulers of Mauryan Dynasty

The important rulers of Mauryan dynasty are Chandragupta Maurya, Bindusara and Ashoka. The founder and first king of Mauryan empire is Chandragupta Maurya, who defeated Dhana Nanda of Nanda dynasty to establish the Mauryan Empire in 321 BC. Chanakya or Kauá¹­ilya, also called Vishnugupta, was the royal advisor to Chandragupta Maurya. Chanakya, who wrote Arthashastra, played a key role in establishing the Mauryan empire.

Chandragupta Maurya (321 BC to 297 BC)

There was a border dispute between Seleucus Nicator of Seleucid Empire and Chandragupta Maurya. A war was fought in 305 BC in which Chandragupta Maurya defeated Seleucus Nicator which resulted in matrimonial and diplomatic relations between the two kingdoms.

Daughter of Seleucus Nicator was given in marriage to Chandragupta Maurya. Megasthenes was the ambassador of Seleucus Nicator and came to India as part of diplomatic relationship with Mauryan empire. The religion of Chandragupta Maurya was Jainisim.

Bindusara (297 BC to 272 BC)

Bindusara, who succeeded Chandragupta Maurya, was the son of Chandragupta Maurya. Bindusara received Greek ambassador, Deimachus from Seleucid empire. Deimachus was sent by Antiochus I (who was the son of Seleucus). In Greek records, Bindusara is named as Amitrochates because he got a title Amitraghata. The meaning of Amitraghata is 'Slayer of enemies'. Bindusara followed Ajivika religion.

Ashoka The Great (268 BC to 232 BC)

  • He was the son and successor of Bindusara. There is a tradition saying that there was a war of succession among the brothers in which Ashoka succeeded.

  • During his reign, Kalinga war was fought in the 8th Regnal year (8th year after coronation i.e. around 261 BC). 13th Major Rock Edict talks about Kalinga war, which is mentioned in the in all the Major Rock Edict places. Kalinga war was fought between emperor Ashoka and the Kalinga kingdom, which is now the state of Odisha.

    There was a lot of destruction resulted in this war. About one lakh soldiers were killed and many were brought as prisoners of war and many more got perished.

  • Impact of Kalinga war on Ashoka's life was huge. From this war onwards, Ashoka followed Buddhism and dedicated his life for the propagation of Dhamma (Dharma). After this, he never fought any war in the next 30 years. Dhamma is not connected to any religion. This is code of conduct to be followed by people. He developed a logo for his Dhamma - a Chakra with 24 spokes. The meaning of 24 spokes in Ashok Chakra is that the people should follow Dhamma for 24 hours.

    The daughter, Sanghamitta and the son of Ashoka, Mahinda were sent to Tamraparni (Sri Lanka) to propagate the teachings of Buddha. Dhamma Mahamattas, a group of officers were appointed to propagate Dhamma throughout the world.

The rulers of Mauryan dynasty after Ashoka were Dasaratha Maurya (grandson of Ashoka), Samprati, Shalishuka, Devavarman, Shatadhanvan and Brihadratha. According to Harshacharita, Pushyamitra Shunga assassinated the last ruler of Mauryan dynasty, Brihadratha in 180 BC and thus Shunga dynasty came to power.