MAURYAS TO GUPTAS THE MAURYA DYNASTY 4TH- 2ND CENT. BCE THE GUPTA DYNASTY 300-500CE
THE MAURYAS • ORIGINS: BELONGED TO A MORIYA TRIBE AND VAISYA CASTE • PRIMARY SOURCES • JAINA SOURCES • BUDDHIST SOURCES • GREEK SOURCES • ASOKAN INSCRIPTIONS • KAUTILYA’S ARTHASHASTRA
THE MAURYAS: CHRONOLOGY • CHANDRA GUPTA MAURYA • ( 321 BCE TO 297 BCE) • BINDUSARA • (297 BCE TO 272 BCE) • ASOKA PIYADASI (BELOVED OF GODS) • (273-BCE TO 232 BCE) • BRIHADRATHA (THE LAST MAURYAN KING) • (194-187 BCE)
BOUNDARIES OF THE EMPIRE • IN THE NORTH: KASHMIR AND KHOTAN. • IN THE NORTH EAST: NEPAL • IN THE NORTH WEST: GANDHARA • IN THE SOUTH: MYSORE • CONTACTS AND RELATIONS: • THE BACTRIAN GREEKS (NORTH WEST), AND THE CHOLAS, PANDYAS, AND CEYLON (SOUTH).
IDEA OF AN EMPIRE • “ The Mauryan Empire was the culminating epoch of a few centuries of rational enquiry and cultural advance”… Romila Thapar (Asoka and Decline of the Mauryas). • The permanent settlements near the Ganges river revolutionalized the economic patterns of those times (from the later Vedic period). The commercial classes began to assert themselves
IDEA OF AN EMPIRE (CONTD.) but they were denied social status and this resentment was expressed in many schools of thought. These schools boasted of empirical knowledge as oppose to revealed knowledge of the Brahmans. Sixth century urban culture brought these tensions to the forefront and it became necessary to revise the existing social and cultural norms.
IDEA OF AN EMPIRE (CONTD.) • The teachings of Buddha offered some solutions to the existing situation by developing social ethics and placed the responsibility in the hands of the each individual member of the society. • With the change of economy (from pastorialism to agrarian) the old political ties began to change, as well.
IDEA OF AN EMPIRE (CONTD.) • The primitive democracy of the sabha and samiti had to give way to the concentration of power in the hands of a small centralized body, which controlled and co-ordinated the working of the new society. • Thus the confederacies and republics gave way to larger units, until the peak was reached in the Mauryan Empire.
ASOKA • At the death of Bindusara, the whole sub-continent was under the sway of the Mauryas except one hostile kingdom of Kalinga (modern Orissa). • Asoka led a successful campaign against this kingdom and made the Mauryan Empire the biggest empire India will ever see (till the 19th century under British colonialism).
POLITICAL IDEOLOGY OF THE MAURYAS • The political ideology of the Mauryas was basically derived from the Arthashastra, the treatise on government, is said to have been written by the prime minister of Chandragupta Maurya. Although often compared to Machiavelli's Prince because of its sometimes ruthless approach to practical politics, Kautilya's work is far more varied--and entertaining--than usual accounts of it indicates.
POLITICAL IDEOLOGY • He mixes the harsh pragmatism for which he is famed with compassion for the poor, for slaves, and for women. He reveals the imagination of a romancer in imagining all types of scenarios which hardly would have been a commonplace in real life.
KAUTILYA’S PRAGMATISM • Kautilya prescribed four principles of conquest: Sam, the primary principle, implies the use of rationalization but if this technique does not work then the second element is Kam i.e. bribery. If this does not produce the desired result, then the tertiary principle is Dand or the vehement use of violence.
KAUTILYA’S PRAGMATISM • If all three fail then the last machination is Bheet or sowing seeds of dissension and discord.
KAUTILYA’S PRAGMATISM • Arthashastra remains unique in all of Indian literature because of its total absence of specious reasoning, or its unabashed advocacy of realpolitik. Espionage and the liberal use of provocative agents is recommended on a large scale. Murder and false accusations were to be used by a king's secret agents without any thoughts to morals or ethics..
THE CENTRALIZING TENDENCIES • The nucleus of the Mauryan empire was the king, and the increasing power of the king was accompanied by a similar increase in the power of the chief priest (purohita), who by now had begun to assume the function of the chief minister, his religious status receded in the background (example: Kautilya).
THE CENTRALIZING TENDENCIES • The two key central officials were the Treasurer and the Chief Collector. • The treasurer was responsible for keeping the account of the income in cash and for storing the income in kind. • The chief collector, assisted by a body of clerks, kept records of taxes which came from various parts of the empire.
THE CENTRALIZING TENDENCIES • The Mauryan empire was divided into four provinces each under a prince or a member of the royal family. • Governors administrating smaller units were selected from amongst the local people. • Each province was sub-divided into districts, each of these into groups of villages, and the final unit of administration was the village.
THE CENTRALIZING TENDENCIES • The urban centres had their own hierarchy of officers. • Megesthenes describes the administration of Pataliputra (capital) in detail. According to him, the city was run by 30 officials, divided into 6 committees of 5. Each committee supervised one of the following functions: questions relating to industrial arts, matters
THE CENTRALIZING TENDENCIES relating to trade and commerce, law and order, welfare of the foreigners, supervision of the public sale of manufactured goods and collection of tax on articles sold (the tax was one tenth of the purchase price).
THE CENTRALIZING TENDENCIES • Espionage system was the fundamental aspect of the Mauryan administration. • Arthashastra advocates the frequent use of spies, and recommends that they should work in the guise of recluses, householders, merchants, ascetics, students, mendicants, women, and prostitutes.
ASOKA’S DHAMMA: A NEW POLITICAL ORDER? • Asoka’s dhamma should be studied against this background, the extension of the empire, centralized bureaucracy, prosperous industries, the commercial activities, and the agrarian economy. • What was Asoka’s Dhamma? • Literal translation: Universal Law • Dhamma is Prakrit form of Sanskrit word Dharma.
ASOKA’S DHAMMA • Was Asoka an exception or a visionary or a prophet of some sort, or he was too advanced for his age? • Interpreting his dhamma can lead to some answer? • Equally important is the question why Asoka adopted the policy of Dhamma and what purpose did it serve?
ASOKA’S DHAMMA • The people of the Mauryan empire needed a common perspective to face all the divergent forces; the power of mercantile community, the influence of urban guilds, the strain of centralized political system, the multiplicity of races, cultures and languages in the empire. • The adoption of a new faith and its active propagation acted as a cementing force.
ASOKA’S DHAMMA • Examples of this policy can be seen in the histories of other civilizations. • Charlemagne conquered the Saxons and then used Christianity as a cementing factor. • A new religion can be used as an emblem or a symbol of new unity.
ASOKA’S DHAMMA • What were the political implications of this policy? • Was it an early attempt for Chakravartin idea (the universal emperor)? • Or was there a contractual based argument that early Buddhism had taught in the theory of Mahamsammata: elected king by the populace?
ASOKA’S DHAMMA • Asoka did not regard himself as a Great Elect in his relations with his subjects, but rather a father figure. • “ All men are my children, and just as I desire for my children that they should obtain welfare and happiness, both in this world and the next, so do I desire (the same) for all men.”
ASOKAS’ DHAMMA • A centralized monarchy demanded more dependence on the part of the population. The monarch is now regarded as the paternal benefactor and not as the servant of the state. • Asoka’s dhamma was his own invention and in essence an attempt to suggest a way of life which was both practical, and convenient, as well as highly moral.
ASOKA’S DHAMMA • The policy of Dhamma was the exposition of his personal relationship with Buddhism and his role as the emperor of the Mauryan empire. • He used certain aspects of Buddhism to further his own ideas, thus treating this religion not merely a religious philosophy but also as a social and intellectual force upon society. • The Edicts gave him the opportunity to expound his dhamma to its fullest context.
ASOKA’S DHAMMA • Was this a political order too advanced for its age? • The examination of his proclamations in his Edicts is the best way to determine that…
PROHIBITION OF ANIMAL SACRIFICES AND FESTIVE GATHERINGS Arthashastra has listed the killing of animals as an inviolable punishable act. And Asoka’s order was the continuation of the same policy. ROCK EDICTS # 1
MEASURES OF SOCIAL WELFARE Medical centres for men and animals. Construction of roads and highways. Plantation of trees and herbs on the roads. It is interesting to note that these measures facilitated trade, commerce and communications, and were recommended in Arthashastra. ROCK EDICT # 2
SHOWING RESPECT TO BRAHMANAS AND SHRAMANAS IS A VIRTUE There was lack of civility and morality in the empire by showing disrespect to Brahmans, and relatives, killings of the animals and other forms of immoral practices. ROCK EDICT # 3 &4
INSTITUTION OF DHAMMA-MAHAMATTAS The special cadre of officials were appointed by Asoka who were directly responsible for the practical working of Dhamma. A centralized administration is always more efficient if social welfare at all levels is well attended to and Asoka’s centralization included the welfare of his subjects. ROCK EDICT #5
THE MAHA-MAHATTAS ARE TOLD TO REPORT TO THE KING ANY TIME The availability of the king was regarded as an important characteristic of a good monarch and was stressed in all theoretical sources. Arthashastra prescribes this in his chapter on Duties of the Kings. Megesthenes’s statement about Chandra Gupta that he attended the matters of state while being massaged and giving audiences. ROCK EDICT # 6
PLEADING FOR TOLERENCE FOR ALL SECTS DESCRIPTION OF SYSTEM OF DHAMMA-YATRAS THE VALUE OF PRACTISED CEREMONIES IS QUESTIONED AND ATTACKED ASOKA DENOUNCES FAME AND GLORY AND DESIRES THAT HIS SUBJECTS SHOULD FOLLOW THE DHAMMA ROCK EDICT # 7, 8, 9 & 10
CONQUEST BY DHAMMA The idea of conquest through Dhamma is a logical development of the theory of Dhamma. It is opposed to conquest by force and thus eliminates aggressive warfare. The use of term conquest implies the adoption of these principles. DESCRIPTION OF EDICTS BEING INSCRIBED THROUGHOUT THE EMPIRE Asoka Dhamma was promulgated to consolidate the achievements of his ancestors and to fulfill his moral obligations and to achieve an unparallel place in the annals of history. EDICT # 11 & 12
THE GUPTA DYNASTY • PRIMARY SOURCES: • INSCRIPTIONS • SANSKRIT LITERARY WORKS • JAINA LITERATURE • BUDDHIST LITERATURE • FA-HIEN’S ACCOUNT (CHINESE TRAVELLER)
BRAHMANICAL RENAISSANCE • The Guptas who ruled in northern India from third century onwards were ardent followers of Vedic religion and rituals. • Does it mean that only the Vedic gods were reified in this period? • OR ASCENDENCE OF SHRAMANIC TRADITIONS • The best Buddhist and Jaina art was produced during this time