- (с 321–с 185 BC) In ancient India, a state centred at Pataliputra (later Patna) near the junction of the Son and Ganges (Ganga) rivers.After the death of Alexander the Great, Chandragupta Maurya (Candra Gupta), the dynastic founder, carved out an empire that encompassed most of the subcontinent except for the Tamil south. Ashoka (r. с 269–232 BC), the famous Buddhist emperor, left stone edicts that include some of the oldest deciphered original texts of India. The empire declined after Ashoka's death, but in its heyday it was an efficient and highly organized autocracy. See also Gupta dynasty; Nanda dynasty.
* * *▪ ancient state, India(c. 321–185 BC), in ancient India, a state centred at Pataliputra (later Patna) near the junction of the Son and Ganges rivers. In the wake of Alexander the Great's death, Chandra Gupta, its dynastic founder, carved out the majority of an empire that encompassed most of the subcontinent except for the Tamil south. The Mauryan empire was an efficient and highly organized autocracy with a standing army and civil service. This bureaucracy and its operation were the model for the Artha-shastra (Artha-śāstra) (“Treatise on the Aims of Life”), a work of political economy similar in tone and scope to Machiavelli's The Prince.Much is known of the reign of the Buddhist Mauryan emperor Ashoka (reigned c. 265–238 BC or c. 273–232 BC) from the exquisitely executed stone edicts that he had erected throughout his realm. These comprise some of the oldest deciphered original texts of India. Ashoka campaigned little to expand the realm; rather, his conquest consisted of sending many Buddhist emissaries throughout Asia and commissioning some of the finest works of ancient Indian art.After Ashoka's death the empire shrank because of invasions, defections by southern princes, and quarrels over ascension. The last ruler, Brihadratha, was killed in 185 BC by his Brahman commander in chief, Pushyamitra, who then founded the Shunga dynasty (Śuṅga Dynasty), which ruled in central India for about a century.
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