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Class VI - social: The First Empire and an Inspiring Emperor
One Word Answer Questions:
Q) Name the Macedonian King who was a great conqueror?
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Q) Who was the mentor of Chandragupta?
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Q) Who wrote the book Indika?
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Q) Name the greatest king of the Mauryan dynasty?
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Q) Royal princes often went to the provinces as?
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Q) Where did Jainism spread in India?
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Q) Kalinga was the ancient name of Bengal. True or False?
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Q) Which was the biggest ever empire in the history of India?
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Q) Ashoka was deeply influenced by the teachings of which great thinker of his time?
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Q) Our National Emblem is inspired by which historic monument?
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Q) Which dynasty was replaced by the Mauryan dynasty?
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Q) The Mauryan Empire was founded in which year?
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Q) Which language was used in most of the inscriptions by Ashoka?
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Short Answer Questions:
Q) What regions were taken over by Chandragupta after the defeat of Seleukos?
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Q) What were Shrenis?
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Q) What are the possible reasons for the decline of the Mauryan Empire?
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Q) Name the branches of the Mauryan army?
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Q) How did the invasions of Alexander helped Chandragupta Maurya?
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Long Answer Questions:
Q) Explain the affect of Kalinga war on Ashoka?
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Q) Explain the features of administration in the Mauryan Empire?
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Q) Describe how Chandragupta turned a small kingdom into a mighty empire?
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Q) What was the nature of trade and industry during the Mauryan period?
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Q) What were the changes made by Kautilya in transforming the society?
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The Expansion of the Empire
  • An empire consists of several kingdoms or states that have been brought under the control of a single ruler.
  • The stronger janapadas captured neighbouring states to form mahajanapadas or kingdoms. Magadha was the strongest of the 16 mahajanapadas that emerged.
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16 Mahajanapadas

Alexander the Great
  • The Macedonian king, Alexander the Great, was one of the world's greatest conquerors.
  • His empire stretched from Macedonia in Greece to the borders of the river Beas in Punjab.
  • Alexander wanted to conquer India, tempted by the stories he had heard of India's wealth.
  • Alexander's invasion weakened all the smaller kingdoms in the north of the Indian subcontinent, making it easier for Chandragupta Maurya to conquer them.
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Macedonian king Alexander

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

  • Chandragupta was supported by a wise man named Chanakya or Kautilya. Many of Chanakya's ideas were written down in a book called the Arthashastra.
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  • There were several cities in the empire, included the capital Pataliputra, Taxila, and Ujjain.
  • Chandragupta and Kautilya finally captured the capital of Magadha, in 321 BC.
  • then extended his empire up to the river Indus, taking back parts of Alexander's empire, and laying the basis for the Mauryan Empire.
  • Megasthenes, a Greek ambassador, stayed at Chandragupta's court at Pataliputra for several years.
  • His book Indika is a valuable source of information about life in India during Mauryan times.
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  • By the end of Chandragupta's rule, the kingdom of Magadha had become an empire.
  • The Mauryan Empire stretches from the Hindu Kush in the west to Bengal in the east, and from the Himalayas in the north to the Narmada in Central India.
  • Chandragupta was succeeded by his son, Bindusara.
  • Bindusara ruled from 297 to 273 BC.
  • An able son of an able father, he is said to have conquered 16 states and extended the Mauryan Empire greatly.
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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.
  • Most of Ashoka's inscriptions were in Prakrit and were written in the Brahmi script.
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The Kalinga War (261 BC)
  • Kalinga is the ancient name of coastal Orissa. Ashoka fought a war to conquer Kalinga.
  • Kalinga was a powerful kingdom at the centre of important trade and pilgrimage routes. It had been annexed by the Nandas earlier, but regained its independence quickly.
  • Bindusara tried to capture it but failed. For Ashoka, possession of Kalinga became essential.
  • The conquest of this kingdom was bloody and many thousands of soldiers and common people were killed.
  • The king Ashoka was terribly shocked after the battle of Kalinga and decided never to wage war again.
  • He became Buddhist.
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Landscape of Kalinga

Ashoka and his 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.
  • There were a number of problems that troubled him.
  • People in the empire followed different religions, and this sometimes led to conflict.
  • Animals were sacrificed. Slaves and servants were ill-treated.
  • Besides, there were quarrels in families and amongst neighbours. Ashoka felt it was his duty to solve these problems. So, he appointed officials, known as the dhammamahamatta who went from place to place teaching people about dhamma.
  • Besides, Ashoka got his messages inscribed on rocks and pillars, instructing his officials to read his message to those who could not read it themselves.
  • Ashoka also sent messengers to spread ideas about dhamma to other lands, such as Syria, Egypt, Greece and Sri Lanka.
  • He built roads, dug wells, and built rest houses. Besides, he arranged for medical treatment for both human beings and animals.
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Ashoka Dhamma on rocks
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The Ashoka Pillar at Vaishali
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Ruins of the stupa Vaishali
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Mauryan Administration
  • The Mauryan administration was a totalitarian one, though a benevolent one.
  • We get to know about the nature of administration during Mauryan times from the edicts of Ashoka, Megasthenes Indica and the Arthashastra of Kautilya.
  • Adhyaksha (superintendents), yuktas (subordinate officers), pradeshikas (provincial officers) and rajjukas (district Officers) were responsible for a variety of duties, including the collection of taxes and revenues.
  • The empire was divided into smaller units for better administration.
    Empire - Province - District - Villages
  • The Mauryan provinces were huge and were ruled by viceroys who were generally princes.
  • The empire was divided into four provinces - Magadha, Ujjain, Taxila and Swarnagiri.
Districts and Villages
  • The provinces were further divided into administrative districts called janapadas.
  • They were managed by official called sthanikas.
  • Each districts consisted of groups of five to ten villages.
  • Each village was headed by an official called the gramin.
  • The day to day affairs of the villages were managed by village elders.
The city of Pataliputra
  • The capital city of Patliputra was administered by a committee of 30 people. They were divided into six groups:
    1. Industrial activities
    2. Entertainment of foreigners, assigning them lodgings, taking care of them
    3. Registration of births and deaths
    4. Trade and commerce, checking weights and measures
    5. Supervision of manufactured articles
    6. Collection of taxes
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  • The varna system was followed strictly. Kautilya prescribes different laws for different castes; the law generally favoured the upper castes.
  • A large number people were farmers. They grow rice, wheat, barley, pulses, cotton and vegetables.
  • Mauryan state main goal was to increased agricultural production. Therefore it built facilities like dam and canals.
  • Sudarshan Lake was a well-known canal. This is currently situated at Girnar in Gujarat.
  • Mauryans were concerned about their environment. Fine was imposed for damaging trees in city parks and sanctuaries, and urinating near water tank, holy places or royal buildings.
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Sudarshan Lake at Girnar

Trade and Industry
  • Next to agriculture the main occupation of people was trade and industry.
  • The Mauryans gave importance to road construction and safety. They built a royal high way from Takshashila to Pataliputra.
  • They also introduced standard way of measuring weights.
  • The Mauryans had commercial tied with Greek kingdom of Central Asia and Middle East.
  • Textile, wooden, perfume, jewellery, precious stones and black pottery are the some trade goods bought and sold.
  • A royal highway from Takshashila to Pataliputra was built in the period of Mauryans.
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  • Punched marked coins became widespread in the Mauryan kingdom.
  • The coins were mainly made of silver and stamped with different symbols.
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Mauryan coins

  • The Mauryan army was commanded by the senapati.
  • Chandragupta had an army of 600,000. The soldiers were well trained and well equipped.
  • The army had six branches - cavalry, infantry, chariots, elephants, transport and navy.
First Empire
Mauryan Army

The End of the Empire
  • Ashoka ruled for about 37 years, and the empire continued for another 50 years.
  • After that the empire began to break up.
  • The administration might have become less efficient or it might have become financially difficult to run such a vast empire.
  • About 50 years after Ashoka's rule, the Mauryan Empire disintegrated and was overthrown by the Sungas.
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