July 16, 2014

The Mahajanpadadas and The Mauryas (Points to Learn)

Aryan tribes known as Janas were led by Janardhans (Tribal chiefs) during their nomadic phase. During this phase wars were fought not for territory but for the possession of cattle known as Gavasthi. During the later Vedic period Janapadas (territorial kingdoms) emerged. In this period, battles were fought not only for the possession of cattle but also for tat of territory. For example, the famous Mahabharata battle known as Kurukshetra was fought between the Pandavas and Kauravas for territory. From the 6th century BC large territorial states known as Mahajanapadas (big kingdoms) emerged.
  • The 16 Mahajanpadas have been first listed in Buddhist literature Anguttar Nikaya.
  • Bimbisara was a contemporary of Buddha.
  • The earliest capital of Megadh was at Rajgir, which was called Girivaraja at that time.
  • The city of Pataliputra was founded by Udayin of Haryanka dynasty.
  • The Shishunagba dynasty had temporarily shifted the capital to Vaishali.
  • The Nandas were the first to invade and acquire Kalinga.
  • The Greek writers called Chandragupta Sandrokottas.
  • The Achaean ruler of Iran, Darius invaded India in 516 B. C., penetrated into north west and annexed Punjab, west of Indus and Sindh. This area constituted the twentieth province or Satra of Iran.
  • The Indian subjects were also enrolled in the Iranian army for their long wars against the Greeks.
  • The Indo Iranian contact lasted for about 200 years till Alexander’s invasion of India. Besides giving a boost to Indo Iranian trade and commerce, the Iranian scribes brought into India a form of writing which came to be known as the Kharoshthi script which was written from right to left like the Arabic. There seems to be some Iranian influence even on Mauryan sculpture.
  • It was Porus who gave a tough fight to Alexander in north west
  • Alexander’s campaign has served as the sheet anchor to build Indian chronology for subsequent events on a definite basis.
  • The most important outcome of this invasion was the establishment of direct contact between India and Greece in different fields.
  • The Asokan inscription was first deciphered in A. D. 1837 by James Prinsep, a civil servant in the East India company in Bengal.
  • The Mauryas as a family patronized the heterodox sects Chandragupta a Jaina, Bindusara intersted in Ajivikas and Asoka a Buddhist
  • Bindusar was also known as Amitraghata and the master of the land between the two seas.
  • Daimachus a Greek ambassador and Dionysious an Egyptian envoy came during the reign of Bindusara.
  • Megasthanese speaks about the absence of famine in Mauryan India.
  • Megasthenese tells that the Indians did not know the art of writing.
  • 1st Major Rock Edict banning of largescale animals and birds killings in the royal kitchen, where now only three animals are killed two peacocks and a deer, and in future even these three will not be killed.
  • 2nd Major Rock Edict Asoka mentions his southern contemporaries Cholas, Cheras, Pandyas and Satyaputras who were on friendly terms with him.
  • 4th Major Rock Edict: Asoka states that Bherighosa was replaced with Dhammaghosa.
  • 5th Major Rock Edict Appointment of Dhammamahamatras and duties assigned to them.
  • 13th Major Rock Edict: Remorse and grief at the Kalinga war, and mentioning of his Hellenistic and southern Indian counterparts (kings).
  • Kalinga edict occurs the famous line of Asoka’s kingship “All men are my children”.
  • Tradition asserts that Kashmir was a part of Mauryan empire and Asoka had laid the foundation of Srinagar.
  • But Khotan in Central Asia does not seem to have been the part of Mauryan empire as we have no evidence of Indo-China relation at this stage.
  • It is also stated that Asoka had married his daughter Charumati to a Nepali prince.
  • The 3rd Buddhist council (250 B. C.) is memorable as missionaries under Asoka’s son Mehendra and daughter Sanghmitra were sent to Sri Lanka for propagating Buddhism. .
  • Asokan contemporary ruler of Sri Lanka, Tissa, was very much influenced by the former and is reported to have styled himself as Devanampiya Piyadassi.
  • Visti or forced labour first appears in Mauryan period.
  • The important fucntionaries during the Maurya period, were called Tirthas.
  • The Barbar caves were dedicated to Ajivikas by Asoka.
  • The Bhabhru inscription Asoka expresses his faith in Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.
  • A-80 pillared fall, has been discovered at Kumrahar, on the outskirts of modem Patna; it has been identified as Mauryan palace.
  • Asoka was formally initiated into Buddhism by a monk named Upgupta.
  • In Asokan inscriptions four different scripts in all have been used Prakrit, Kharosthi, Greek and Aramaic.
  • The earliest written record and also the earliest specimen of fine art belong to Asoka’s reign.
  • Though we find the culmination of Mauryan pillar art in the four headed lion capital of Samath but the most gracious and aesthetic is Bull Capital. Rampurva.
  • The Kandhar bilingual inscription (Greek and Aramaic) in which Asoka claims the success of his policy of Dhamma with the hunters and fishermen giving up killing animals.
  • Asoka’s rule over Maharashtra is testified by the location of the 14th Major Rock Edict at Sopara (Bombay).
  • The southern most inscription of Asoka is the Minor Rock Edicts at Brahmagiri (Mysore).
  • So for Asokas inscriptions have been found at 45 places, their total versions numbering 181 and were generally placed on ancient highways.
  • Indika of Megasthenes does not survive in full and has been preserved only in fragments quoted by subsequent classical writers.
  • The main sources of Mauryan history are Kautilya’s Arthashastra Megasthenes’s Indica, Asokan in scriptions and Visakhadatta’s Mudrarksha (origin of Mauryan dynasty and stablization).
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