The Maurya Empire (322 BCE – 185 BCE) was an Iron Age power in ancient India ruled by the Maurya Dynasty. With its origins in the Magadha kingdom, it was one of the world’s largest empires in its time and the largest ever in the Indian subcontinent. The Maurya Empire was known for a consistent and effective system of administration and finance that allowed for a thriving economy.
Timeline of Maurya Empire
Chandragupta Maurya seizes the Nanda Empire.(c. 322 BCE)
Though his reasoning is unclear, Chanakya, a Brahmin teacher, decides to destroy the Nanda Dynasty and guides a young man named Chandragupta Maurya in leading a guerilla campaign against the rulers. They spark a civil war, eventually forcing the current ruler into exile. The Nanda’s prime minister transfers power to Chandragupta, thereby beginning the Maurya Dynasty.
Chandragupta defeats Seleucus.(c. 305 BCE)
The Macedonians, under Seleucus I Nicator, attempt to expand their empire into India. Chandragupta defeats them and claims a large swath of their territory in the peace negotiations, thereby expanding his empire westward.
The Maurya expand into the Deccan Plateau.(c. 300 BCE)
Led by Chandragupta’s son, Bindusara, the Maurya expand east into the Deccan Plateau.
Bindusara inherits the throne.(298 BCE)
At just 22 years old, Bindusara inherits rule over the empire. He expands the empire southward, conquering sixteen states and nearly all of the Indian peninsula. Only four kingdoms resist him, including the Kalinga Kingdom.
Asoka the Great inherits the throne.(273 BCE)
Asoka, Bindusara’s son, inherits the throne following the death of his father. He proves himself to be a brilliant military commander and quickly crushes multiple revolts against his rule.
Asoka completes his conquest of Kalinga.(262 BCE)
Asoka goes on to defeat the Kalinga kingdom. Although successful, over 100,000 soldiers and civilians are killed in the conquest, including many of Asoka’s own forces. Asoka personally witnesses the consequences of his aggression and decides to renounce war. He converts to Buddhism and sends missionaries to spread Buddhism throughout Asia.
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The Edicts of Asoka spread.(c. 260 BCE)
The Edicts of Asoka are spread throughout the empire. They outline the moral teachings of the emperor, including banning slavery, equal punishment under the law, and the fair treatment of animals.
The Lion Capital of Asoka is built.(c. 250 BCE)
Asoka builds the Lion Capital of Asoka, a sculpture of four Indian lions back to back, at the important Buddhist site of Sarnath. This eventually becomes the emblem of India.
Dasaratha Maurya inherits the throne.(232 BCE)
Due a misunderstanding, Asoka disinherits and blinds his original heir, his son, Kunal. Asoka eventually realizes the manipulation and has Kunal restored to court. However, upon his death, rule instead passes to Kunal’s grandson, Dasaratha Maurya. Under Dasaratha’s rule, much of Asoka’s territory is lost to the empire.
Samprati inherits the throne.(c. 224 BCE)
Samprati succeeds Dasaratha, though sources are unclear as to whether he is Dasaratha’s son or brother. He is known for spreading Jainism and sponsoring Jain scholars.
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Salisuka inherits the throne.(215 BCE)
Salisuka succeeds Samprati and is known as a quarrelsome, unrighteous ruler.
Satadhanvan inherits the throne.(195 BCE)
Satadhanvan succeeds Salisuka, and, under his rule, the empire continues to lose territory to outside invaders.
Brihadratha Maurya comes to power.(c. 187 BCE)
Brihadratha Maurya comes to power in the Maurya Empire, but by this point, the empire’s territory has greatly been reduced. He is still loyal to Buddhism.
Brihadratha is assassinated.(c. 185 BCE)
During a military parade, Brihadratha is assassinated by the commander-in-chief of his guard, a Brahmin general. The general takes over the throne and starts the Sunga Dynasty. Under his leadership, he brings about a wave of religious persecution against Buddhists and a resurgence of Hinduism. This marks the end of the Maurya Empire.
The Indo-Greek Kingdom is established.(c. 180 BCE)
The fall of the Maurya Empire leaves the strategic Khyber Pass vulnerable, which allows Demetrius, a Greek king, to conquer parts of Afghanistan and northwestern India. Demetrius forms the Indo-Greek Kingdom.
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