Numerous notable empires developed in ancient India. It included the Mauryan empire. Chandragupta Maurya established the Mauryan empire, which was a significant dynasty in human history. For the IAS Exam, this article will contain NCERT notes on the Mauryan Empire. Additionally, these notes will be beneficial for other competitive exams like banking PO, SSC, state civil service exams, and so forth. An important topic in the history syllabus for the IAS exam, the establishment and expansion of the Maurya Empire in ancient India, is discussed in this article.

Rise of the Mauryas in the Mauryan Empire

  • Dhana Nanda, the last of the Nanda kings, was very disliked because of his onerous tax policy.
  • Additionally, once Alexander invaded North-Western India, there was a lot of turbulence there caused by foreign powers.
  • The Seleucid Dynasty, established by Seleucus Nicator I, ruled over some of these areas. He was one of Alexander the Great’s generals.
  • In 321 BC, Chandragupta overthrew Dhana Nanda with the aid of a clever and cunning Brahmin, and Kautilya then took the crown.

Chandragupta Maurya-Founder of Mauryan Empire

  • The history of Chandragupta is obscure. The oldest sources, those from Greece, mention him as having no warrior ancestry. According to Hindu scriptures, he was a Kautilya student who was of low birth (probably born to a Shudra woman). He was a Kshatriya, according to most Buddhist scriptures.
  • It is generally acknowledged that he was an orphaned young man raised by Kautilya who was born into a poor family.
  • He is referred to as Sandrokottos in Greek sources.
  • After Alexander gave up on conquering India in 324 BC, Chandragupta took over some of the Greek-ruled cities in the nation’s northwest within a year.
  • The plan was put forth by Kautilya, and Chandragupta carried it out. They had built up their own mercenary army.
  • They then made their way into Magadha to the east.
  • He established the Maurya Empire by winning a series of battles against Dhana Nanda in the early 321 BC.
  • In 305 BC, Chandragupta made a contract with Seleucus Nicator that gave him sovereignty over Baluchistan, eastern Afghanistan, and the region west of the Indus. Additionally, he married Seleucus Nicator’s daughter. 
  • In return, Seleucus Nicator received 500 elephants. When Seleucus Nicator avoided a full-scale battle with the powerful Chandragupta in exchange for receiving military supplies that assisted him in defeating his adversaries in the Battle of Ipsus, fought in 301 BC, Megasthenes was the Greek ambassador to Chandragupta’s court.
  • Chandragupta adopted an expansionist strategy that saw him consolidate his empire, with the exception of a few places like Kalinga.


  • Chandragupta’s son
  • He ruled between 297 and 273 BC.
  • In Greek sources, this person is also known as Amitrochates or Amitraghata (Slayer of Foes).
  • At his court, Deimachus served as the Greek ambassador.
  • He had named Ashoka, his son, as the ruler of Ujjain.
  • It is thought that Bindusara also expanded the Mauryan Empire to Mysore.

Ashoka-The Great Ruler of Mauryan Empire

  • He was Bindusara’s son.
  • Ashoka shown tremendous promise in the realm of administration even as a young child.
  • His talent and wisdom delighted Bindusara, who appointed him as the governor of Ujjain/Avanti.
  • Ashoka only engaged in one combat after ascending to power, the Battle of Kalinga.
  • The 13th Major Rock Edict makes reference to this conflict.
  • The bloodshed in this battle profoundly affected Ashoka, transforming him from a warrior to a saint. 
  • As a result, he abandoned Digvajaya’s policy and adopted Dhammavijaya. Ashoka fought this battle in the eighth year of his reign, in 261 BC.

Societal Structure of Mauryan Empire

  • The Varna system was fully developed during the Mauryan era.
  • There were four different types of Varna: Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra. Each group’s work was determined by its Varna.
  • In addition to these four Varnas, Kautilya discussed other Varna Sankara in his Arthashastra, including Nishad, Magadh, Sut, Veg, Chandals, etc.
  •  They were classified as Shudras by Kautilya.

Art and Architecture of Mauryan Period- The Golden Period of Art and Architecture

  • The Mauryan empire’s palaces were dubbed one of the finest human creations by the Greek historian Megasthenes and were referred to as divinely bestowed buildings or monuments constructed by god rather than by humans by the Chinese traveller Fa-Hian.
  • Megasthenese reports that Patliputra had 570 towns and 64 gateways.
  • The magnificent stand-alone The axis of the globe that divided heaven and earth is represented by the Ashokan pillars.
  • These pillars were primarily utilised by Ashoka to spread the Dhamma.
  • Koluha Pillar, Ashoka’s first pillar, was discovered at Vaishali.
  • The outstanding example of it in terms of art and architecture is the Sarnath pillar of Ashoka.
  • Symbols connected to pillars
  • One Lion: This lion may be seen on the Rampurva, Lauriya Nandangarh, and Vaishali pillars.
  • Elephant – At Sankisha, an elephant capital was discovered.
  • Bull: It was discovered on the pillars of Rampurva.
  • On the pillars of Sarnath and Sanchi are four lions.


  • During the Mauryan era, the architecture of rock-cut caves first emerged.
  • There are a number of caves that Ashoka and Dasharatha constructed on the Barabar and Nagarjuni hills.
  • The caverns’ interiors are finely polished despite their simplicity.
  • A relief carving on the doorway of a cave known as Lomas Rishi Cave serves as the sole sculpture’s adornment.
  • Ashoka and Dashratha dedicated these caverns to the Ajivikas.


  • Stupas were burial mounds that were common in India during the Vedic era.
  • Stupas have a Harmika and a Chhatra on top of a cylindrical drum with a circular dome.
  • The dome is surrounded by a circular terrace (medhi) with a railing that the faithful must circle in a clockwise direction. This gallery is referred to as
  • A low wall known as Vedika surrounds the entire building and is punctuated with Toranas at each of the four cardinal points (gateways).
  • The Ashokan stupas are located in Madhya Pradesh, with Sanchi being the most well-known.

Revenue System and Economy

  • Land revenue served as the state’s main source of income.
  • The term “Bhaga” refers to the royal portion of the harvest, which often amounted to one-sixth.
  • Cash and in-kind tax payments were both accepted.
  • The land was measured by Rajukka.
  • Tax-free settlements were referred to as Pariharaka, and tax-free territory as Udwalik or Parihar.
  • The Pranay tax was another idea for an emergency tax.
  • This tax, according to Kautilya, could only be levied once during a king’s reign.
  • These were some of the state’s other revenue streams. 
  • On the item sold, the state levied trade and toll taxes. There were taxes on forests, alcohol, mines, irrigation, and other things.

Decline and Disintegration of the Mauryan Empire

  • The first empire in Indian history was the Mauryan Empire.
  • The following factors contributed to the empire’s sad collapse in its final few years:
    • Ashoka’s impartial policies failed to sustain the Brahmins’ dominance.
    • The Brahmins were upset by Ashoka’s policies, which sparked backlash and ultimately resulted in the Brahmanic revolution.
    • This was demonstrated by the assassination of Brihadratha, the final Mauryan monarch, by Pushyamitra Sunga, his Brahmin commander-in-chief.
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