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The Maurya family dynasty succeeded to the throne of Magadha in 324 B.C.E. Its founder, Chandragupta Maurya (r. c. 321-c. 297 B.C.E.) may have first imagined an India-wide empire from a possible meeting with Alexander the Great, and he conquered much of northern India between 321 and 297 B.C.E. His son, Bindusara (r. c. 297-c. 272 B.C.E.) expanded still further the empire that his father created, and Bindusara’s son, Asoka (r. c. 265-238 B.C.E.) brought the empire of the Mauryas to its greatest extent, ruling from modern Afghanistan in the northwest to the Bay of Bengal in the east and well into the Deccan peninsula in the south…

With so many responsibilities for regulating the interests of conflicting groups internally, and recognizing the need to remain constantly vigilant against powerful neighbors, Chandragupta Maurya and his son Bindusara attempted to build a highly centralized administration with a group of well-paid central ministers and bureaucrats, a powerful military, and an efficient system of spies dispersed throughout the empire.
At first Asoka followed similar policies, and he was especially effective at enlarging the empire through military force, but nine years into his administration, he abruptly changed course. In 260 B.C.E. Asoka defeated Kalinga (now Orissa), incorporating this eastern kingdom into his empire. The killing and chaos required to win the victory soured his heart, and he determined to become a different person and a different ruler. He converted to Buddhism, a religion firmly committed to nonviolence, and began to dispatch missionaries throughout his realm as well as to parts of south India beyond his own borders, and to Syria, Greece, Egypt, and probably, Southeast Asia. He sent his own son on a mission to Sri Lanka and the island kingdom permanently converted to Buddhism…
Following Asoka’s death in 238 B.C.E., no emperor was strong enough to maintain centralized power, and the Mauryan Empire went into a half century of decline. One of his military commanders assassinated the last Maurya king in 184 B.C.E. The Mauryan dynasty came to an end, and with it the unity of India.” ~ The World’s History

  1. How did Chandragupta Maurya change Indian history? ________________________________________________________________________

  2. Why did Chandragupta Maurya and Bindusara build a highly centralized state? ________________________________________________________________________

  3. Describe the highly centralized state of the Mauryan Empire. ________________________________________________________________________

  4. How did the battle of Kalinga affect Asoka? ________________________________________________________________________

  5. Why did Asoka convert to Buddhism? ________________________________________________________________________

  6. How did Asoka spread Buddhism? ________________________________________________________________________

  7. What led to the decline of the Mauryan Empire? ________________________________________________________________________

  1. Overview

  1. In the Indus River valley flourished the largest of the First Civilizations (The cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro – urban planning)

  2. But in the Indus Valley little evidence of any central political authority

  3. At its demise by 1500 BCE, creation of new civilization along Ganges River

  4. Scholars debate the role of the Aryans: whether they invaded and destroyed or were already a part of the Indus Valley population

  1. Political Fragmentation and Diversity

  1. By 600 BCE, the classical civilization of South began to emerge

  2. But fragmented collection of towns and cities

  3. The source of an identity in the midst of diversity was Hinduism

  1. But Empires Had Been Known

  1. Northwestern India had been briefly ruled by Persian Empire

  2. Northwestern India had been briefly conquered by Alexander the Great

  1. The Mauryan Empire

  1. With a population of perhaps 50 million

  2. A large military force (reported 600,000 infantry soldiers - 30,000 cavalry - 8,000 chariots - and 9,000 elephants)

  3. Ashoka (reigned c. 268-232 BCE)

  1. Left a record in his edicts carved on rocks and pillars (Pillars of Ashoka)

  2. Reign began in a ruthless fashion of conquest and expansion

  3. But a particularly bloody battle, Battle of Kalinga, changed Asoka

  1. Disgusted by the violence and carnage, converted to Buddhism

  2. Adopted a more peaceful approach to government

  1. Encouraged nonviolence and tolerance

  2. Abandoned the royal hunts/Ended animal sacrifices in capital

  3. Eliminated most meat from the royal menu

  4. Generously supported Buddhist monasteries and building of stupas (shrines which housed relics of important Buddhists)

  5. Ordered digging of wells, planting of shade trees, building of rest stops along major highways (integrating economy)

  6. But retained the power to punish wrongdoing

  7. After his death, political fragmentation and competing states

  1. The Gupta Empire (320 C.E. – 550 C.E.)

  1. Another short-lived experiment in empire building in South Asia

  2. A golden age of Hindu culture

  1. Developed concept of zero, decimal system, and concept of infinity

  2. Scientists experimented with vaccinations

  3. Artists created beautiful paintings in the caves of Ajanta and great works of literature in Sanskrit, the holy language of Hinduism

  1. But India was similar to Western Europe after fall of Rome

  1. Political fragmentation was more common than unity

  2. India’s social system, caste system, increased local loyalties

  1. Yet Vibrant Economy

  1. India was focal point of extensive network of trade in the Indian Ocean basin

  2. Its cotton textile industry supplied cloth throughout the Afro-Eurasian world

  1. Identify significant facts about Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. ________________________________________________________________________

  2. Why are historians conflicted about the role of the Aryans in the subcontinent? ________________________________________________________________________

  3. What was the main source of a common identity in the diverse Indian subcontinent? ________________________________________________________________________

  4. Why are the Edicts of Ashoka particularly useful for historians? ________________________________________________________________________

  5. How did the Battle of Kalinga change the Mauryan Emperor Asoka? ________________________________________________________________________

  6. What are stupas? ________________________________________________________________________

  7. How did Asoka improve the lives of his subjects? ________________________________________________________________________

  8. How did Asoka spread Buddhism? ________________________________________________________________________

  9. How did the collapse of the Mauryan Empire affect the Indian subcontinent? ________________________________________________________________________

  10. Define political fragmentation. ________________________________________________________________________

  11. Why is the Gupta Empire known as the Golden Age of Sanskrit culture? ________________________________________________________________________

  12. What is Sanskrit? ________________________________________________________________________

  13. Identify accomplishments of scientists and mathematicians during the Gupta Era. ________________________________________________________________________

  14. Why are the caves of Ajanta significant? ________________________________________________________________________

  15. How was India similar to Western Europe after the fall of Rome? ________________________________________________________________________

  16. What “institution” in the Indian subcontinent increased local loyalties? ________________________________________________________________________

  17. Why was India significant in the world’s trade networks? ________________________________________________________________________

  18. What did Indian merchants supply throughout the Afro-Eurasian world? ________________________________________________________________________

  19. From the 2006 Change Over Time Essay from the World History AP Examination:

Analyze the cultural and political changes and continuities in ONE of the following civilizations during the last centuries of the classical era.

Write a valid thesis statement:
hinese, 100 C.E. to 600 C.E.

Roman, 100 C.E. to 600 C.E.

Indian, 300 C.E. to 600 C.E.

Identify one cultural change in the Indian subcontinent from 300 – 600 C.E.

Identify one political change in the Indian subcontinent from 300 – 600 C.E.

Identify one cultural continuity in the Indian subcontinent from 300 – 600 C.E.

Identify one political continuity in the Indian subcontinent from 300 – 600 C.E.

Questions 1 – 3 refer to the following selections from Ashoka’s edicts:
Dharma is good, but what constitutes Dharma? (It includes) little evil, much good, kindness, generosity, truthfulness and purity. Pilar Edict Nb2 (S. Dharmika)
And noble deeds of Dharma and the practice of Dharma consist of having kindness, generosity, truthfulness, purity, gentleness and goodness increase among the people. Rock Pilar Nb7 (S. Dharmika)
Contact (between religions) is good. One should listen to and respect the doctrines professed by others. Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, desires that all should be well-learned in the good doctrines of other religions. Rock Edict Nb12 (S. Dhammika)

  1. Ashoka was a(n):

  1. Charismatic Hindu warrior of the Gupta Dynasty

  2. Mauryan king who converted and spread his new belief by erecting pillars

  3. Monk who established monasteries in wide areas to promote his beliefs

  4. Indian Ocean merchant who taught as he traveled

  1. Ashoka played an important role in the spread of:

  1. Hinduism

  2. Islam

  3. Zoroastrianism

  4. Buddhism


  1. Which of the following conclusions could most reasonably be drawn from the evidence above?

  1. This belief system spread in part because doctrines it expressed were similar to some of the ideas in the pre-existing religion.

  2. This belief system was attractive to a diverse population because it claims a single truth that all must follow.

  3. Strict rules and clearly defined punishments made this belief system attractive in a chaotic world.

  4. This belief system focuses on political doctrine.

  1. Which of the following is an accurate statement about the Indian caste system?

(A) Its top stratum was the untouchables.

(B) Its top stratum was the Sikhs.

(C) People enjoyed social mobility.

(D) All Aryans were in the untouchable caste.

(E) There was virtually no social mobility.

  1. Which is NOT a significant continuity Buddhism carried over from its Hindu roots?

  1. Endorsement of caste stratification

  2. Belief in an afterlife

  3. Concern with and reverence of beauty in nature

  4. Ornate temple architecture

  5. Centrality of ritual in worship


Analyze similarities and differences in how TWO of the following empires used religion to govern before 1450.

Byzantine Empire

Islamic Caliphates

Mauryan/Gupta Empires

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