Prepare Prelims-2017-Day-13-Ancient India History

Mauryan Empire (325 -183 BC): Capital was Taxila


  Written by Chandragupta Maurya’s PM Chanakya.   It had 15 books.

  First five: Internal administration

  Next eight: Relations with neighbouring nations.   Last two: Misc.

  Striking feature of Mauryan empire was huge maintenance of Army as well as Navy.   State controlled most of the economic activities.

  Banking was well developed; silver coins were in vogue for transactions.

Arts & Architecture

  Best example is of Sarnath Pillar

  It shows four lions standing back to back standing on abacus having 4 animals
      (Elephant, bull, lion & horse) & Dhamma Chakra..all this on an inverted lotus.   Stone masonry

  Huge pillars of sandstone.


  Main purpose of Stupa is to enshrine some relics of Buddha.
                           Eg: Sanchi Stupa


  Caves were served as residence for monks & assembly halls.


  After Ashoka, empire broke down & gave away quite fast.

  Pushyamitra Shungu defeated Mauryan King in 185 BC & started Shungu dynasty in

Some reasons cited are: (a) Brahmanical reactions (b) Revolution by Pushymitra by

oppressiveness of Muryas (c) Over centralization of administration (d) Financial crisis.

Post Mauryan (200 BC to 300AD)

  Disintegration of Mauryan empire gave rise to many centres of powers like:


N-W India Indo-Greeks, Shakas, Partians, Kushans.               (All foreign  invaders )

Shunglu, Kanvas (Locals)

SouthPandyas, Chelas, Cheras (3 Sangam Kingdom)

Fights for power amongst dynasties are the feature of Post-Mauryan period.

Gupta Period (320 AD to 550 AD)

  After collapse of Kushans & Murundas in mid-3rd century, they came to power.

  They rose in Magadha & establish large part of India under their control (though their
      empire wasn’t as large as Mauryans)

  The Gupta period is known as the Golden Age of India due to scientific and artistic
      achievements made possible by the sustained peace and prosperity.

  The Gupta Empire is also known for the poet Kalidasa, the writing of the Puranas and the
      astronomers Varahamihira and Aryabhata.

  The Empire collapsed in the 6th century CE following sustained invasions of Huns
      from Central Asia.

  The Chinese travellers Fa Hsien and Yijing visited India during the reign of the Guptas

Srigupta & Gatotkacha Gupta took title of Maharaja

Chandragupta I -First Gupta ruler to assume title of ‘Maharajadhiraj’

-Started Gupta Era.

Samudragupta (Napoleon

of India)

-Greatest king of Gupta dynasty.

-Believed in policy of war & quest

-Court Poet: Harisena

Chandrahupta II


– Exercised indirect influence over the Central Indian

kingdom of Prabhavati through his daughter

Social development:

  Position of Shudras as they were allowed to listen to epics & puranas though untouchability
      became more prominent.

Arts & Archi

  Buddhist university of Nalanda was built up in 4th century during this period.

  Gupta period’s formative contribution to temple archi styles of Nagara & Dravida.   Chaityas & Viharas

  Art achieved highest level of perfection (So called golde , classical age)   Art was secular, sensitive & anthropomorphic.

  The iron pillar at Delhi erected by Chandra Gupta II has defied corrosion for over 1600 years
  Aryabhata came up with the concept of zero, and postulated that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and determined the cause of eclipse.

  The works of Kalidasa marked the highest point of Sanskrit literature   Chess originated in the Gupta period

  Indian numerals, the world’s first base 10 numeral system, originated in the Gupta Empire   The Kama Sutra was written by Vatsayana in the Gupta period

  Varahamihira postulated that moon revolves around the sun

  Gupta temples were not excavated from rock but it was independent structure built up of
      dressed stone blocks.

Decline of Gupta Dynasty

  Huns were primitive pastoralists owning herds of cattle & horses knowing nothing of agri.   White Huns came to Afghanistan, destroying Kushan power, they settled there. –
      Huns then destroyed Gupta empire and occupied Central India


  Arybhata (476-550 CE) was the first in a line of great mathematicians-astronomers in India   His famous works are the Arbhatiyam and the Arya-Siddhanta

  His discoveries in mathematics include

  Value and irrationality of Pi

  Area of a triangle, concept of sine   Sum of series

  Intermediate equations

His discoveries relating to astronomy include

  Postulated Heliocentrism i.e. planets revolve around the Sun

  Calculated sidereal rotation (24 hrs) and sidereal year (365 days) o Computed
      earth’s circumference

  Discovered cause of eclipses.

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