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Decline and Disintegration of the Mauryan Empire:

Decline and Disintegration of the Mauryan Empire:

The Mauryan Empire was the first empire in the history of India. It witnessed many great rulers such as Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka who carried out their rule in their own unique ways and maintained a huge empire for decades. But the empire turned unfortunate in its last few years and began to decline due to the following reasons:

  • The neutral policies of Ashoka failed to support supremacyof the Brahmins:

This view was given by Pandit Harprashad Shastri. According to him Ashoka’s policies agitated the Brahmins which led to their anti-reactions and ultimately to the Brahmanic revolution. This is proved by the murder of Brihadratha the last Mauryan emperor by his Brahmin commander-in-chief Pushyamitra Sunga. But this view was condemned by Hem Chandra Rai Chaudhary who produced that if the policies if Mauryas was anti-brahmin they would never have a Brahmin as their commander-in-chief. In the real sense it was only an armed revolt for the usurpation of power which should not be viewed as a religious battle.

  • The non-violent and peaceful policies of Ashoka:

This was the view of Hemchandra Rai chaudhary. He has criticized Ashoka by calling him a ruler away from reality and a dreamer. Though this cannot be considered as being completely as he did not completely adopt the policy of peace. As in his  13th Major  Rock  Edict he talks about the punishment to be given to those who did not follow Dhamma. Bhandarkar too condemned his policy  of Dhamma and considered it to be  a reason for the decline of Mauryan empire.

  • Exploitative rule of provincial Amatyas:

There are evidences of local revolts during the time of Bindusara as well as Ashoka  at Taxila. The subjects of Taxila declared that they were not against the emperor Ashoka but were against the local Amatyas. This depicts that the Amatyas were turning despotic gradually. According to Niharranjan Rai the main reason behind the decline of Mauryan empire was the revolts of the subjects.

  • Economic decline:

This view was given by D.D Koshambi. It is clear that the Mauryas exhibited a huge empire.  Thus, they maintained a huge amount of taxes . On the other hand Ashoka  gave huge grants to the Buddhist monks and monasteries. According to Divyavadana when Ashoka was denied to use  his royal treasury for grants he began to make those grants using his personal property which led him to empty his personal wealth as well as the royal treasury. According to Patanjali the

Mauryan kings in the end began to sell the idols of their Gods and Goddess in order to fill their empty treasury. Thus, this became a major factor for their decline.

  • Extreme centralization of administration and power:

According to Romila Thappar there was a lack of sovereignty among all the administrative units as right from centre to the lowest unit of administration was intervened by the state. A strong network of bureaucrats and  spies established in every nooks and corners of the empire. This complicated the whole system. After the death of Ashoka the weak successors led to the weakening  of the state which led to the transformation of administration from centralized to decentralized and ultimately contributed to the decline of the empire.

  • The spread of new scientific knowledge to the extreme parts of India:

It is believed that the Magadha empire witnessed a few new discoveries and inventions in its last decades for example use of coins, cross sectional and mixed crops cultivation, etc. Prof. Ramsharan Sharma is of  view that industrial and scientific development is a factor for the development and building of any empire thus, when these developments began to reach to  extreme parts of India which led to the rising of new powers for example Satvahanas. These new powers led to the weakening of Mauryas.

  • Weak successors and disintegration of the empire:

One of the most important factor behind the success of the Magadha imperialism was the the  rise of strong rulers one after another but after Ashoka the graph declined and weak successors succeeded him one after another. Thus, they took the empire towards its decline.  Moreover, after the death of Ashoka  the  empire was disintegrated which ultimately led to its decline.

Author Name :Pratibha Singh

Department : History

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