Mauryan India

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by Davidlane
Last updated 7 years ago

Social Studies
Ancient History

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Mauryan India


Founding of the EmpireIn the 4th century BCE, Chandragupta Maurya took control of the kingdom Magadha and expanded it into the Mauryan Empire. It is possible that he may have met and been inspired by Alexander the Great. Legend has it that Chandragupta was guided by a monk named Kautilya. Together they expanded the Empire to become the largest unification in Indian history. Although his grandfather's land was vast, Ashoka, son of Chandragupta, expanded the empire and made it even more powerful.

This is a mauryan ring stone. It is a religious item; represented on the inner ring are impressions of four godesses who were likely linked with fertility.

Mauryan sculptures. Scultpture was a very important part of Mauryan art and culture. These likely represented godesses

These coins show not only the advances of Mauryan economy but also their technology. Coins were printed into cast iron or bronze, showing that The Mauryans were capable of advanced metallurgy.

This is the lion capital of Ashoka. It was placed near the important Buddhist site Sarnath by Emperor Ashoka in 250 BCE. In present times it is the national emblem of India.

Important Concepts

The Caste System: In Mauryan India, all people were separated into social orders known as Castes. Castes determined your job and status in society. At the top were the Brahmain, the Preists, and at the bottom were the Shudra, The peasants. The only way to progress out of your caste was to work hard and diligently in your caste in this life in order to be reincarnated into a higher caste. People were so commited and respectful of the system that it even lessened revolt and discontent amongst citizens.

Buddhism: Buddhism arose around 500 BCE as an alternative to the Caste Sytem. Siddartha Guatama, "The Enlightened One," was the founder of Buddhism. His teachings stressed a life of moderation to curb desires and since desire causes pain, eliminate pain. This teaching was broken down into "The four Noble Truths" and "The Eightfold Path." If both of these were followed, one could reach Nirvana, a state of absolute peace that allowed your trapped soul to leave the reincarnation cycle of the Caste System. Buddhism became a popular alternative to the Caste System.

An Edict of Ashoka. Ashoka spread his law throughout the Indian subcontinent with Edicts like this one. This particular one was found in the Northwestern part of the Empire and is unique because it was written in Greek and Aramaic.

Hinduism: Hinduism begun when Buddhism began to become very popular in India and started to threaten the Caste system. Hinduism was a more spiritual variant of the basic Caste System, a sort of compromise between Buddhism and Caste. In Hinduism one could work hard enough to eventually have their spirit leave the reincarnation cycle just like in Buddhism. Hinduism became the most popular religion in India.


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