ASOKA & THE DECLINE OF THE MAURYAS BY Romila Thapar
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication: Year 2012
Number of Pages: 438 Pages
Summary Of The Book
Asoka And The Decline Of The Mauryas is a historical
collection of information regarding the Mauryan Empire, by one of the most
well-known historians on the subject, Romila Thapar. It was during the Mauryan
period that the first sub continental empire began to surface. It required
correct administration to cope with the changing political economy,
communication specific to a sub continental territory, and new ideological
efforts to gain support from a multi-cultural population.
This edition provides the readers with a fresh interpretation of India’s early
history, and the developments that followed, with an emphasis on Asoka’s reign.
Thapar dwells on the success achieved by Asoka during his reign, and attempts to
throw light on the reasons behind his achievements. She then goes on to explain
that it’s the environment in which he was raised that contributed to his
success. The readers are given insight into whether Asoka’s pacifism made his
empire crumble. Thapar goes on to explain that Asoka’s empire was indeed large,
and he would have battled west of the Hindu-Kush if he wanted to enlarge his
territory, but he did not consider that suitable. Additionally, he was also in
good terms with Antiochus of Syria, who was his only serious contender in the
world known to Indians.
Thapar goes on to explain the reason for the decline of the Mauryan Empire after
Asoka’s reign. She tells the readers that the empire didn’t believe in
statehood, and thought only on the lines of maintaining the social order. She
also explains that the top order of the Mauryan administration was very heavy,
and the center couldn’t cope with the periphery once the empire started
weakening. Asoka’s death did play a major role in the downfall of the Mauryan
Empire, as his successors were not capable enough.