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ashoka and the maurya dynasty

Fall | 2022

The definitive history of the largest empire ever known to the Indian Subcontinent, distinguished not only for its size but for its greatest ruler, Ashoka. 

 

At its peak the Maurya empire (326-180 BCE) stretched over five million square miles, covering the entire Subcontinent (including part of what is now Afghanistan and southeast Iran). In the ninth year of his reign, Ashoka abandoned war and violence and and advocated vegetarianism, becoming a model for Buddhist rulers of Southeast Asia and China and an inspiration for the founders of Independent India. H.G. Wells said his reign was “one of the brightest interludes in the troubled history of mankind,” while India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, called him “a man, who though an emperor, was greater than any king or emperor.” So great was Nehru’s admiration that he incorporated the wheel symbolizing Ashoka’s dhamma into the flag of modern India, while the four-lion capital on Ashoka’s pillar at Sarnath was adopted as the official seal of the Indian Republic. This book will trace the history of the Maurya Empire, from its founding by Ashoka’s grandfather Chandragupta, to its collapse.