Indian Empires
1500 B.C.E-1100 C.E
Unified India?
Diverse India dating to 3000 B.C.E
Never has India been unified—British came
close (lacked Afghanistan, then part of India)
Closest person? Asoka Maurya, lacked parts
of the South
Difficult to do, India is ½ the size of the
European continent
Harappan civilization came to a close around
1500 B.C.E
Reasons still uncertain
Blended with aryans.
Emergence of Janapadas (populated
India’s revolving door
Persian conquest—500-400 B.C.E
Alexander the Great—326 B.C.E
Chandragupta Maurya
Conqueror from the “janapada” of Mahadha
known as Chandragupta Maurya expanded
into NW India.
His son—Bindusara Gupta (297-272 B.C.E)
conquered even further South.
Emerging from this is the greatest ruler of
classical India—Asoka Maurya (265-238
Asoka’s Empire
Stretched from
Afghanistan to the Bay
of Bengal in the East to
the Deccan Peninsula
in the South.
Ruled over an
estimated 100,000,000
Statecraft of the Maurya
Expressed in the Arthasastra (Arthashastra)
Kautilya: wrote of the policy
of danda niti—policy of the
scepter, the policy of the big
Cut throat view of politics.
“Justice of the Fish”
The enemy of my enemy is
my friend.
Development of Caste
The caste system had been in place since
Aryan/Harappan times. It has been ever
This system not only governs someone’s
social, economic, and ritual position which
was inherited directly from birth it also
provides unequal protection under laws.
The Arthashastra provided that the state m
ust enforce caste distinctions.
“If a king is energetic, his subjects will be
equally energetic. If he is reckless, they will
not only be reckless likewise, but also eat
into his works. Besides, a reckless king will
easily fall into the hands of his enemies”
"In the happiness of his subjects lies the
king's happiness, in their welfare his welfare.
He shall not consider as good only that which
pleases him but treat as beneficial to him
whatever pleases his subjects"
“The king shall provide the orphans, the
aged, the infirm, the afflicted, and the
helpless with maintenance. He shall also
provide subsistence to helpless women when
they are carrying and also to the children
they give birth to.”
Extent of Mauryan control
Regulated nearly everything including
Namely Hindu/Buddhist monstaries.
Regulated Indian guilds
Utilized ministers and a secret police.
Asoka and Kalinga
Victory changes a heart
Asoka and “ahimsa”
Missionary efforts
Monasteries and Stupas
Rock and Pillar Edicts
The sixth rock and pillar edit
I consider that I must promote the wealfare of
the whole world, and hard work and the
dispatch of business are the means of doing
so. Indeed there is no better work than
promoting the welfare of the whole world.
And whatever may be great deeds, I have
done them in order to discharge my debt to
all beings”
The Demise of Mauryan India
Ruled by regional
kingdoms and nomadic
invaders after Asokas
Most lasting the
Great Kushan ruler—
Kanishka similar to
Asoka in his promotion
of Buddhism.
Gupta India
Founded by Chandra
Signature ruler
Samudra Gupta—the
great military leader of
Ancient India.
Gupta “Federalism”
Often ruled indirectly.
Demanded only tribute
Much smaller than the Mauryan
Gupta Renaissance
Age of brilliant literature
and philosophy
Kalidassa—the brilliant
Sanskrit formalized as
a language
Hindu resurgence
Vedanta Upanishads
Clarification of earlier
Led to strengthening of
Demise of the Buddhist
faith in India
Gupta Demise—the Hunas (Huns)
Huna impact on
Nomadic invaders who trace
roots to Mongols.
Ravaged much of Asia in
the 5th century C.E
Destroyed Guptas
Attacked Buddhists
Stopped international trade
Led to a return of regional