(Notes) Civil Services (Prelims) Examination : Indian History (The Maurya Empire) - Quick Revision Notes (I)

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Quick Revision Notes


Indian History forms an important part of the General Awareness paper of Civil Services (Prelims) Examination. Based on analysis of types of questions asked in previous years, we have compiled this feature to help you to be better prepared for the examination, as also to make your preparation easier. This will be a regular feature in the magazine and in coming months we will also provide you with similar notes on Indian Constitution and other topics.

The Maurya Empire (Indian History)

1. Chandragupta Maurya was the founder of the empire. His family is identified by some with the tribe of Moriya mentioned by Greeks. According to one tradition, the designation is derived from Mura, the mother or grandmother of Chandragupta, who was wife of a Nanda king.

2. Buddhist writers represent Chandragupta as member of Kshatriya caste, belonging to the ruling clan of little republic of Pipphalivana, lying probably between Rummindei in the Nepalese Tarai and Kasai in the Gorakhpur district.

3. Chandragupta is referred to as Sandrocottos in the Greek accounts.

4. Chandragupta was the protege of the Brahman, Kautilya or Chanakya, who was his guide and mentor, both in acquirnig a throne and in keeping it.

5. Chandragupta met Chanakya in the forests of Vindhya. Chandragupta had been forced to flee to the forest after having offended Alexander, who had ordered for him to be killed.

6. The Seleucid provinces of the trans-Indus, which today would cover part of Afghanistan, were ceded to Chandragupta by Seleucus Nikator, a prefect of Alexander, in 303 B.C.

7. According to Jain scriptures, Chandragupta was converted to Jainism towards the end of his life and he abdicted in favour of his son and became an ascetic and passed his last days at Sravana Belgola in Mysore.

8. Chandragupta was succeeded by his son Bindusara in 297 B.C. To Greeks Bindusara was known as Amitrochates.

9. Tradition credits Bindusara with the suppression of a revolt in Taxila.

10. The kingdom of Kalinga (modern day Orissa), is known to have been independent during the reign of Bindusara.

11. A Greek named Deimachos was received as Ambassador of Greece in Bindusara’s court.

12. Bindusara extended Mauryan control in Deccan as far south as Mysore.

13. After Bindusara’s death in 272 B.C., Ashoka, one of his many sons, seized power after putting his eldest brother to death.

14. During Bindusara’s reign, Ashoka successively held the important viceroyalties of Taxila and Ujjain.

15. Ashoka is referred to as Devanampiya (the beloved of gods) Piyadassi (of amiable appearance) in inscriptions.

16. It was during Ashoka’s reign that Kalinga was captured and made part of the Maurya empire. The conquest of Kalinga resulted in the Maurya empire embracing the whole of non- Tamil India and a considerable portion of Afghanistan. The Mauryan empire under Ashoka stretched from the land of Yonas, Kambojas and Gandharas in the Kabul valley and some adjoining territory, to the country of the Andhras in the Godavari-Krishna basin and the district of Isila in the north of Mysore, and from Sopara and Girnar in the west to Dhauli and Jaugada in the east.

17. As per some traditional records, the dominions of Ashoka included the secluded hill-regions of Kashmir and Nepal, as well as plains of Pundravardhana (North Bengal) and Samatata (East Bengal). The discovery of inscriptions at Mansehra in the Hazra district, at Kalsi in the Dehradun district, at Nigali Sagar and Rummindei in the Nepalese Tarai and at Rampurva in the Champaran district of North Bengal are proofs to this.

18. According to the Kashmir chronicle of Kalhana, Ashoka’s favourite deity was Shiva.

19. The Kalinga war proved to be a turning point in Ashoka’s career. The sight of misery and bloodshed awakened in him sincere feelings of repentance and sorrow, and made him evolve a policy of dharamvijaya (conquest by piety). He also got deeply influenced by Buddhist teaching and became a zealous devotee of Buddhism.

20. Ashoka claimed of spiritual conquest of the realms of his Hellenistic, Tamil and Ceylonese neighbours.


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