Asoka Mauryan Empire

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As British historian H.G. Wells has written, "Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history...[the] name of Asoka shines, and shines almost alone, a star." Unlike other rulers, Asoka adopted the principles of Buddhism to run the Mauryan Empire. This led to one of the few ancient empires that cared for all of its citizens. With his ruling style, most historians consider Asoka to be the ruler that brought the Mauyran Empire to its greatest heights, and quite possibly the best ancient emperor of all. Asoka Maurya at first was a Hindu. Because of his religious beliefs, he did not follow the pacifist teachings the Buddhists highly valued. Therefore, he sought to conquer much of the Indian subcontinent. His …show more content…
Although he was a Hindu, his ruling style most closely resembles Asoka. A claim made by a Chinese pilgrim named Fa-hsien states that Chandra Gupta II’s empire had “care for the weaker members of society” and “no capital punishment” (Avari, 188). Chandra Gupta II allowed local provinces to mostly make their own choices and govern themselves. At this point, the Gupta Empire started to display characteristics of feudalism. Chandra Gupta II began giving away land in the form of land grants. The land grants came in three forms: brahmadeya grants, which were given to Hindu priests; devagrahara or devadana grants that were given to temples, monasteries, and institutions, and finally secular grants which were given to craft guilds, crown officers and sometimes military commanders. Land grants were exclusive to the Guptas, as the Mauryans acquired all the land they were able to obtain under their officers. Chandra Gupta II’s rule also affected India’s religions in various ways. Notably, Chandra Gupta II supported Buddhist monasteries and institutions for learning. It was during his rule that Buddhism split into the Theravada and Mahayana sects, leading to a flourishing of Indian culture. Hinduism grew as well, changing from a polytheistic religion to representing one god in many forms. Meanwhile, Asoka only spread Buddhism during the Mauryan rule. His ruling style created many new Buddhist architectural styles. First and foremost, Buddhist stupas were first made at this time. These were domes that contained the relics of the Buddha, and would usually be on a square or circular base with a flattened top and kiosk. Secondly, the chaitya hall was invented during Asoka’s reign. These would be made from large rocks, and workers would hollow out the inside to make a cave. Buddhist monks used these structures as places of retreat. Asoka’s edicts and pillars added to Buddhist culture, and are also occasionally

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