Answer :

The Maurya Empire was an Iron Age power in ancient India ruled by the Maurya Dynasty. It had its origins in the Magadha kingdom. The period was from 322 BCE - 185 BCE. It was one of the world's largest empires in its time and the largest ever in the Indian subcontinent. Chandragupta Maurya founded the Empire after overthrowing the Nanda Dynasty. He began hastily expanding his power westward across central and western India.

Chandragupta Maurya made Pataliputra as the imperial capital. He split the empire into four provinces in need of organizational and ruling purposes. This combination of the strong central government and the huge military force was an important part of the Mauryan dynasty.

Administration in Mauryan period

1) The Mauryan empire was an efficient and highly organized autocracy with a reputed army and civil service.

2) The history of Mauryan empire was taken up by conquest. The empire had a huge standing army of cavalry, infantry and war elephants.

3) The trade and economy of the Mauryan dynasty were one of their most influential achievements.

4) The Empire was divided into four provinces, with the imperial capital at Pataliputra.

5) the names of the four provincial capitals are Tosali (in the east), Ujjain (in the west), Suvarnagiri (in the south), and Taxila (in the north).

6) The head of the provincial administration was the Kumara (royal prince), was the king's representative.

7) The kumara was assisted by Mahamatyas and council of ministers.

8) There was a group called Mantriparishad (Council of Ministers).

9) The administration was similar to Kautilya in the Arthashastra: (Arthashastra is a sophisticated civil service governed everything from municipal hygiene to international trade.)

10) The empire wielded a military which was huge. It consisted of :

• 600,000 infantry,

• 30,000 cavalry,

• 8,000 chariots and

• 9,000 war elephants besides followers and attendants

11) A vast spying system collected intelligence for both internal and external security purposes.

Society during Mauryan period

The society was comprised of seven castes, namely −

1) Philosophers,

2) Farmers,

3) Soldiers,

4) Herdsmen,

5) Artisans,

6) Magistrates, and

7) Councilors

Other features of Mauryan society are:

• Chaturvarna system continued to govern the society.

• The craftsmen enjoyed a high place in the society.

• Teaching continued to be the main job of the Brahmans.

• Guilds provided the technical education, where pupils learnt the crafts from the early age.

• The joint family system existed.

• The system of dowry existed.

• The widows had given respect in the society.

• All stree-dhana (bride-gift and jewelry) was the property owned by women alone.

• Offenses against women were severely dealt with.

• Severe punishments were given to those who misbehaved with women.

• Buddhist monasteries were developed

• Taxila, Ujjayini, and Varanasi were famous educational centers.

• Slavery did not exist in India.

The economy of Mauryan kingdom

• Agriculture was the base of the economy.

• Forests were maintained and protected and the rest of the land was used for agriculture..

• A number of crops like rice, coarse grains (kodrava), sesame, pepper, and saffron, pulses, wheat, linseed, mustard, vegetable and fruits of various kinds and sugarcane were grown.

• There were many agricultural farms, cattle farms, dairy farms, etc.

• The irrigation system was well built. Water reservoirs and dams were built.

• There were strict rules and regulations in respect of agriculture, industry, commerce, animal husbandry, etc.

• Special measures were taken for economic development during this period.

• The extraordinary skill of craftsmen was another specialty.

• A huge dam was built on Sudarshana Lake near Girnar in Kathiawad.

• They had foreign trade with the western countries through land and sea with good security in trade-routes.

• The main items of trade were indigo, various medicinal substances, cotton, and silk.

• The trade was regulated by the state and license for trade had to be taken.

• The land tax was one-fourth to one-sixth of the produce.

• The toll tax was charged on all items, which were brought for sale in the market.

• All the workers, the craftsmen, herdsmen, traders, and farmers, all paid taxes.

• Those who could not pay the tax in cash or kind contributed in the form of labor.

• Sources of revenue were increased from the income of mines, forests, pasture lands, trade, forts, etc.

• The weaker section of society- children, and handicapped people were exempted from paying the taxes.

• Tax avoidance was considered a very serious crime

• The artisans and craftsmen were given special protection by the state and offenses against them were harshly punished.

• The main industries during this period were textile, mining, and metallurgy, ship-building, jewelry making, metal working, pot making, etc.

• The industries were prearranged in various guilds. Jesthaka was the chief of a guild.

• The guilds were powerful institutions. It gave craftsmen great support and security.

• The guilds settled the disputes of their members. A few guilds issued their own coins.

• The guilds also made donations to educational institutions and learned Brahmans.

Art and Architecture

• The main examples of Mauryan art and architecture are −

a) Remains of the royal palace and the city of Pataliputra;

b) Ashokan pillars and capitals;

c) Rock cut Chaitya caves in the Barabar and Nagarjuni hills;

d) Mauryan sculptures and terracotta figurines; etc.

• the famous city of Pataliputra (modern Patna) was stretched along the river Ganga in the form of a parallelogram. It was covered by a wooden wall and had 64 gates.

• The Mauryan wooden palace survived for about 700 years.

• The palace and also the wooden palisade had been shattered by the fire. The burnt wooden structure and ashes have been found from Kumrahar.

• Seven rock-cut caves in the Barabar and Nagarjuni hills were built during this period.

• Emperor Kharavela spent the first year in rebuilding the capital of Kalinga.

• Kharavela invaded the kingdom of Magadha in the 8th and 12th years of his reign.

Art and architecture had developed substantially during the Mauryan period.

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