The Mauryan Empire (324–185 BCE) in India was one of many small political dynasties of the early historic period. Under the leadership of Ashoka, the Mauryan Dynasty was the first empire to cover most of the Indian subcontinent.
Maurya's wealth was based on land and sea trade with China and Sumatra to the east, Ceylon to the south, and Persia and the Mediterranean to the west. These trade networks moved along the Silk Road and a merchant navy for the exchange of goods such as silks, perfumes, precious stones, ivory, and gold.
The Mauryan dynasty founder, Chandragupta Maurya, established the dynasty after Alexander the Great left the area.
Roman sources provide much of what we know about the Mauryans. Romans such as Pliny and Tiberius felt that their empire was weakened due to resources paid to support Roman imports from and through India.
Ashoka left written records in the form of inscriptions on native bedrock and movable pillars. They are the earliest inscriptions in South Asia. Ashoka's inscriptions convey royal activities in support of the young religion of Buddhism, which he embraced.
Ashoka proclaimed Buddhist beliefs such as absolute allegiance to the king; an end to violence and hunting; being kind, liberal, truthful, and grateful; avoidance of sectarian differences. Ashoka built 84,000 brick and stone stupas (sepulchers) honoring the Buddha.
Scholars disagree about how much control Ashoka had over the regions he conquered. Some political centers of the Mauryan Empire were ruled by royal princes while others were controlled by non-royals. Ashoka also wrote of unconquered regions in south India. The empire disintegrated after Ashoka's death when the Bactrian Greeks invaded and the last Maurya ruler was overthrown.
Source: The Mauryan Empire Was the First Dynasty to Rule Most of India
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