Services (Prelims) Examination Special
Quick Revision Notes
Maurya Empire (Indian
The most famous of the irrigation works of the early Maurya
period is the Sudarshan lake of Kathiawar, constructed by Pushyagupta
the Vaisya, an officer of Chandragupta Maurya, and provided with
supplemental channels by the Yavanaraja Tushaspha in the days of
The Mauryas divided their dominions into provinces subdivided into
districts called ahara, vishya and pardesh.
The secret emissaries who enquired
into and superintended all that went in the empire were called pativedakas.
Varna (caste) and ashram (periods of stages of
religious discipline), the two characteristic institutions of the Hindu social
polity, reached a definite stage in the Maurya period.
The philosophers, the husbandmen, the herdsmen and hunters, the traders and
artisans, the soldiers, the overseers and the councillors constituted the seven
castes into which the population of India was divided in the days of Megasthenes.
Slavery was an established institution during the Maurya period.
Broach was a major port during the Mauryan period.
The copper coin of eighty ratis (146.4 grs) was known as Karshapana.
The name was also applied to silver and gold coins, particularly in
Three works, the Kautiliya
Arthshastra, the Kalpasutra of Bhadrabahu and the Buddhist
Katha vatthu, are attributed to personages who are said to
have flourished in the Maurya period.
With the fall of the Mauryas, Indian history lost its unity for sometime.
Hordes of foreign barbarians poured through the northwestern gates of the
country and established powerful kingdoms in Gandhara (north-west
Frontier), Sakala (north-central Punjab) and other places.
In the south, the Satavahanas came to power. The founder of the
family was Simuka, but the man who raised it to eminence was his son Satakarni-I.
62. Sometimes after the death of Satakarni-I, the Satavahana power
submerged beneath a wave of Scythian invasion. But, the lost glory was
restored by Gautamiputra Satkarni, who built an empire that extended from
Malwa in the north to the Kanarese country in south.
Two cities of Vaijayanti (in north Kanara) and Amaravati (in
the Guntur district) attained eminence in the Satavahana period.
Sri Yajana Satkarni was the last great prince of the line and after him the
empire fell to pieces.
The earlier Satavahana empire had a formidable rival in the kingdom
of Kalinga, which became independent after the death of Ashoka and rose
to greatness under Kharavela.
In the far south of India, beyond the Venkata Hills, known as Dravida or
Tamil country, three important States that came into being were Chola,
Pandya and Kerala.
The Cholas occupied the present Tanjore and Trichinopoly districts
and showed great military activity.
The Pandyas occupied the districts of Madura and Tinnevelly with
portions of South Travancore. They excelled in trade and learning.
A Pandya king is said to have sent an embassy to the Roman empire in
the first century B.C.
The Kerala country embraced Malabar, Cochin and North Travancore.
The political disintegration of India after the fall of Maurya
empire renewed warlike activities on the part of the Greeks of Syria and
The last known Greek king to rule any part of India was Hermaicos.
The foreign conquerors who supplanted the Greeks in north-west India
belong to three main groups, namely, Saka, Pahlava or Parthian and
Yue-chi or Kushan.
The Sakas were displaced from their home in Central Asia by the Yue-chi
and were forced to migrate south. The territory they occupied came to be known
as Sakasthana, modern Sistan.
Kanishka is attributed by many scholars to have founded the Saka era
in A.D. 78. He is the only Scythian king known to have established an
era. Strictly speaking, though, he was a Kushan and not a Saka.
According to Hiuen Tsang, the great empire over which Kanishka
exercised his sway had its capital at Purushapura or Peshawar. His
territory extended from Gandhara to Oudh and Benaras.
Kanishka is known for his
patronage to the religion of Sakya-muni and his monuments.
In Buddhist history, Kanishkaâ€™s name is honoured as that of a prince who
summoned a great council (fourth Buddhist Council in Srinagar) to
examine the Buddhist scriptures and prepare commentaries on them.
Among the celebrities who graced Kanishkaâ€™s court was Asvaghosha, a
philosopher, poet and dramatist, who wrote the Buddha Charita.
Kanishkaâ€™s rule lasted 23 years. His immediate successor was Vasishka, followed
Mathura became the great centre of Kushan power under Huvishka.
Huvishkaâ€™s empire was spread further west, till Wardak to the west
The last great Kushan king was Vasudeva- I.
The decline of Kushan power in the northwest was hastened by the rise of the
Sassanian dynasty in Persi a.