Notes of Chapter 7 Ashoka, the Emperor Who Gave up War Class 6th History

A very big kingdom = an empire

• The Mauryan empire that Ashoka ruled was founded by his grandfather, Chandragupta Maurya, more than 2300 years ago.

• Chandragupta was supported by a wise man named Chanakya or Kautilya.

• There were several cities in the empire which included the capital Pataliputra, Taxila, and Ujjain. Taxila was a gateway to the northwest, including Central Asia, while Ujjain lay on the route from north to south India.

How are empires different from kingdoms?

• Emperors need more resources than kings because empires are larger than kingdoms, and need to be
protected by big armies.

• So also they need a larger number of officials who collect taxes.

Ruling the empire

• The officials were appointed to collect taxes from farmers, herders, crafts persons and traders, who lived in villages and towns in the area.
→ Officials also punished those who disobeyed the ruler’s orders.
→ Many of these officials were given salaries.

• Royal princes were often sent as governors of provinces which was ruled from a provincial capital such as Taxila or Ujjain.

• The Mauryas tried to control roads and rivers, which were important for transport, and to collect whatever resources were available as tax and tribute.

• People of forested regions were more or less independent, but may have been expected to provide elephants, timber, honey and wax to Mauryan officials.

Ashoka, a unique ruler

• The most famous Mauryan ruler was Ashoka.

• He was the first ruler who tried to take his message to the people through inscriptions which were in Prakrit and were written in the Brahmi script.

Ashoka’s war in Kalinga

• Ashoka was so horrified when he saw the violence and bloodshed in Kalinga's war that he decided
not to fight any more wars.

• He is the only king in the history of the world who gave up conquest after winning a war.

What was Ashoka’s dhamma?

• Ashoka’s dhamma did not involve worship of a god, or performance of a sacrifice.

• He felt that just as a father tries to teach his children, he had a duty to instruct his subjects.

• He was also inspired by the teachings of the Buddha.

• He appointed officials, known as the dhamma mahamatta who went from place to place teaching people about dhamma.

• Ashoka also sent messengers to spread ideas about dhamma to other lands, such as Syria, Egypt, Greece and Sri Lanka.

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