Extent of the Empire

Ashokan inscriptions corroborated by archaeological data are a reliable guide to the extent of the Maurya empire. Magadha was the home province of the Mauryas and the city of Pataliputra, its capital. Other cities mentioned in the inscriptions include Ujjain, Taxila, Kaushambi, Tosali, near Bhubaneshwar, and Suvarnagiri which was near Erragudi in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. According to unconfirmed information, Kashmir was included in the Ashokan empire, as also was Khotan in central Asia. But the latter statement seems rather improbable. The Mauryans had close connections with the area of modern Nepal, since the foothills were a part of the empire. In the east, Mauryan influence extended as far as the Ganga delta. Tamralipti, or modern Tamluk was an important port on the Bengal coast from where ships sailed for Burma, Sri Lanka as well as for south India. Another major port on the west coast was Broach at the mouth of the Narmada.

Kandahar formed the western-most limit of the Mauryan empire and Ashokan inscriptions mention the Gandhras Kambojas and the Yonas as the other borders. However in the north-west, the Mauryas maintained close contacts with their neighbours, the Seleucid empire and the Greek kingdoms. In his inscriptions, Ashoka mentions several Greek rulers with whom he exchanged envoys and gifts. Mauryan relations with Sri Lanka were very close and Ashoka sent his son, Mahindra, to preach Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Ashokan inscriptions in the south mention several people with whom he was on friendly terms – the Cholas, Pandyas, Satiyaputras and Karalaputras.

It does not appear that the Mauryas had uniform political control over a large part of the Indian subcontinent. There were several areas outside Mauryan control, even though Mauryan routes skirted these regions along their periphery. In Andhra and Karnataka it seems that the Mauryas successfully enlisted the support of local communities.

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