Mauryas and Guptas of India. Among all the great rulers of India. We will discuss the Mauryan dynasty and Gupta Dynasty and their work in short. In our posts, we will elaborate on and will understand the lost legacy of Indian rulers.
Table of Contents
In the old day villages in India and city-states of Greece were governed by their elected ‘panchayats’ or councils. A kind of democracy existed. But it was confined to Aryans only, while slaves, low castes, and women had virtually no status or freedom. The concept of equal rights for men was missing in the limited democracy of the Aryans. Kings and slaves stood in the way of a broader base. The caste system in some form or another other had also its contribution. Long after Greece died, the villages remained, as they are today, the core of India’s political and economic life.
The non-Aryans were looked upon with hatred as Mlechchhas. Hinduism became aggressive and intolerant though Buddhism was in the process of being absorbed into the fold of Hinduism.
When Alexander conquered the northwest part of India, Mahapadma Nanda was the ruling king in Pataliputra, the capital of Magadha ( Bihar ). Finding Chandragupta Maurya, a resident of Pataliputra, clever and ambitious, Nanda managed to force him out of his country.
Alexander’s empire did not last long after his death. Macedonia was raided by the Gauls in 279 B.C ., and was conquered by the Romans in 197 B.C.
Chandragupta Maurya went to Taxila and organized a powerful army with the support of the local tribes. He overran Punjab and drove away the Macedonians after the death of Alexander. He avenged himself on Nanda by defeating him in 321 B.C ., and established the great Mauryan Empire. Seleucus attempted to recover Punjab but was routed in 303 B.C. A Machiavellian Brahmin Chanakya was the brain behind the achievements of Chandragupta Maurya.
From Panini, the grammarian of 600 B. C ., to Chanakya of 300 B.C ., it was the age of scholars who mostly fought to save the Sanskrit language and the Brahminical supremacy from the onslaught of Pali and Buddhism respectively.
Ashoka and India’s Renaissance
Ashoka occupies a unique position among the monarchs of the world. He is noted in history as a king of outstanding moral eminence. After his victory in the Kalinga war, he abandoned war for good and this is unparalleled in the history of mankind.
The remains at Mohenjo-Daro in Sind and at Harappa in Punjab, tell of the highly developed art and culture which flourished in the Indus Valley in the third millennium B.C. Little record of art has been traced for the period between the Indus Valley civilization and the Maurya period. Sculpture in the Maurya period was at its height of magnificence. The Lion Capital at Sarnath and the railings and gateways of the monumental stupas of Bharhut and Sanchi are outstanding specimens of spontaneous eloquence of Maurya art. The period of Ashoka is the brightest in all respects. It was not only an age of peace and plenty for the people but also a moral and aesthetic renaissance for India.
Hindu Revival Under Guptas
The Kushan empire was fast losing its grip since the beginning of the third century A.C. The tribal descendants managed to establish small kingdoms all over northern India. They had become Indian in their outlook and turned Buddhists, but the people and especially the Kshatriyas treated them as aliens. About 307 A.D., Chandragupta Maurya, a petty ruler of Pataliputra declared a ‘Holy War’ against the foreign rulers and conquered a part of northern India. When his son Samudragupta became emperor, he managed to extend the Gupta empire practically all over India barring the South. The Pallavas were ruling in the South since the third century A.D., with Conjeevaram as their capital. They ruled the Tamil land for 600 years.
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