The Ashokan inscriptions give us a lot of information about the Mauryas.
• Mauryan kings engraved their orders and doctrines on rocks and stones.
• The inscriptions were written in Pali and Sanskrit so that common person can easily understand. In northwestern parts of the sub continent, the inscription was in the Kharoshti script. Thus, the local languages of the people were valued.
• Ashoka proclaimed the principle of dhamma according to which included respect towards elders, generosity towards Brahmanas and those who renounced worldly life, treating slaves and servants kindly, and respect for religions and traditions other than one’s own.
Following are the limitations of the inscriptional evidence:
• Technical limitations: Faintly engraved letters make the task of reconstruction uncertain and difficult. Inscriptions may be damaged or letters missing.
• Although several thousand inscriptions have been discovered, not all have been deciphered, published and translated.
• Inscriptions have not been able to survive the ravages of time. Thus, we have only limited inscriptions.
• Not all economically and politically significant things and events have been recorded in inscriptions. For instance, routine agricultural practices and the joys and sorrows of daily existence find no mention in inscriptions.
• The inscriptions can be biased as they project the perspective of the person who commissioned them. Thus, it may not be completely fair and may not cover all aspects or sides of the issue.
Following were the features of Mahajanapadas:
• Mahajanapadas were forms of early states and were mostly ruled by kings. However, there was oligarchy also known as Gana and Sanghas where a group of people shared power and were collectively known as Rajas.
• Each mahajanapada had a capital city, which was often fortified.
• Mahajanapadas developed standing armies and bureaucracy. The system of taxation was carried out.
Magadha was regarded as the most powerful mahajanapada because:
• The region was agriculturally productive. Thus, it was self-sufficient and was able to fulfill the requirements of the people.
• Iron mines provided resources for tools and weapons. Thus it was used for manufacturing swords with sharp edges.
• Elephants formed the major component of the army. Their power and strength were unmatched and unrivaled. they could crush the enemy in just one go.
• The Ganga and its tributaries provided a means of cheap and convenient communication. Water, thus became a substantial element for developing trade.
• Most importantly the policies of Magadha rulers such as Bimbisara, Ajatasattu, and Mahapadma Nanda and their ministers further strengthened Magadha.
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