Canberra, 27 April 2013
Section II
Ashoka the Great (269-232 BC)
(aka ‘Devanampriya Piyadassi’ – The Beloved of the Gods)
The Mauryan capital of Pataliputra has been described by Megasthenes as well as by other Greek sources. It stood at the junction of the rivers Ganges and Son-Hiranyabahu (Erranoboas in Greek); stretched 10 miles along the Ganges, was about 2 miles deep and had a circumference of 22 miles; and it had 64 gates and 570 towers—all of this confirmed at a later date through the excavation of the remnants of the city. Pataliputra has also been described in the Yuga Purana, thought to be published in 1st century BC, as the ‘fruition of urban life in India’.
I have seen the great cities of the east, I have seen the Persian palaces of Susa and Ecbatana, but this is the greatest city in the world.
Megasthenes, describing Pataliputra, capital of the Mauryan Empire
The third king of the Mauryan dynasty—Ashoka—the greatest ruler of ancient India, whose name should be included in any list of great emperors that the world has seen became virtually unknown about 150 years after the end of his magnificent reign. The noble king—who’s Dharma Chakra (wheel of virtue), is the centrepiece of the modern Indian flag—was ‘discovered’ only about 175 years back. Till then he was just another name in the long list of Indian kings.
Discovering Ashoka. In 1837, James Prinsep who was an officer of the Calcutta (today’s Kolkatta) mint and an ardent philologist deciphered Brahmi the earliest known Indian script. Almost immediately the name of a king called Devanampriya Piyadassi came to light in a number of inscriptions, although the name was not to be found in any other contemporary source. However, around the same time the name was also found in the ancient Pali chronicles in Ceylon (current Sri Lanka), which mentioned that Piyadassi was the title of the Mauryan king Ashoka. This was also correlated by the king’s list in the Puranas that established Ashoka as the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya. In 1915, the rock edict in Maski (in northern Karnataka) was discovered in which the king identified himself as ‘Devampiyasa Ashokasa’. In bits and pieces inscriptions emerged all over India and beyond, which made it possible to collate information about this, till then elusive, king. From the mist of uncertainties and an unverifiable mixture of myths and facts, the portrait of a great emperor emerged. There were inscriptions on cliff faces and colossal cylindrical pillars, most beginning with the words, ‘Thus speaks Devanampiya Piyadassi…’. The inscriptions are not Vedic invocations and even though some contained the same message, they were all very clear and focused statements of policy—the directives of a single sovereign. In the inscriptions, the Emperor exhorted his successors to uphold and implement dharmic policies, ‘as long as the sun and moon shall shine.’ [It is ironic that the entire Maurya dynasty lasted only for half a century after Ashoka’s death!]
A Gandhian ring would be detected in his emphasis on human values, non-violence and moral regeneration; and to Nehru it would be self-evident that the exquisite capital of one of these inscribed pillars should serve as the national emblem of the republic of India. As usual it mattered not that, featuring a four-faced lion rather than a tiger, it bespoke the Maurya’s association with regions of the sub-continent now largely in Pakistan.
John Keay, A History of India, p. 89 
Birth, Early Life, and Coronation
Ashoka was the son of Bindusara, born to one of his queens Subhadrangi who was a Brahmin of the Ajivika sect and the daughter of Champ of Telengana. [This could have been a marriage of convenience if the belief that Bindusara was the conqueror of the Deccan is correct.] The story goes that the queen, being from a foreign land was kept away from the king for a period of time after their marriage because of palace intrigue. However, she subsequently managed to be united with the king and later bore him a son on whose birth she is supposed to have exclaimed, ‘now I am without sorrow’. Therefore, the son was named Ashoka meaning without sorrow! Subsequently Bindusara and Subhadrangi had one more son named Vitasoka who is at times also referred to as Tisya. As is usual with ancient monarchs, there is another story of Ashoka’s birth that is reported in later Buddhist chronicles. It is written that when pregnant Subhadrangi had an insatiable craving to ‘eat up the forests, stride over the sun and moon and play with the stars.’ The seers interpreted this to mean that the child, which would be a son, would kill his brothers, rule over a large kingdom and destroy all heretical sects while patronising Buddhism. [It is clearly apparent that this account was written at a much later date, probably even after his death, with an understanding and insight into the events that took place during Ashoka’s reign. It is also clear that it was meant to boost the status of Buddhism. Most of these stories that indicate future ‘greatness’ even before the birth of kings who go on to distinguish themselves are certain to be later-day fabrications to buttress/glorify the status of the individual and the dynasty.]
Ashoka had a number of elder siblings [obviously half-brothers, sons of Bindusara from different queens] and along with them was given the standard education and military training that was almost compulsory for all princes of the time. During this period he developed a reputation as a fearless and capable hunter. It is believed that Bindusara was not overly fond of Ashoka although he recognised Ashoka’s ability to excel in ‘kingly’ duties. When Ashoka was 18 years old, there were riots in the distant Avanti province and Bindusara appointed him as the Viceroy of Ujjain, the provincial capital, to curb the riots. This was successfully accomplished with Ashoka gaining further reputation as a ruthless general and subsequently also as a just and competent but tough ruler. A few years later there was a rebellion in Taxila, which had by then become a very ‘Persianised’ city, and Ashoka was duly deputed to suppress it. On his approach to the city, the rebels submitted tamely, perhaps a testimony to the ruthlessness of Ashoka when carrying out the role of a general.
While he was the Viceroy at Ujjain, Ashoka had a love affair with the daughter of a local merchant, Vidisha-Mahadevi, (Mahadevi from Vidisha) with whom he had a son and a daughter although there is no evidence of a formal marriage. In fact it is believed that the two did not get married. It is very likely that this lady (Mahadevi) was already a Buddhist since Vidisha, about 120 kilometres from Ujjain, was already a stronghold of Buddhist traditions. There is a reference to Vidisha in the monument in Sanchi which was deciphered by Prinsep. In any case, the son, Mahinda, was later made the head of the mission that was sent to Sri Lanka and managed to convert that island to Buddhism.
On Bidusara’s death a war of succession ensued, as reported in the Divyavandana (Divine Narrative) written in the 2nd century BC that narrates the legend of Ashoka. Bindusara favoured his eldest son Sushima to succeed to the throne, but Ashoka with the help of the Prime Minister Radhagupta and some other ministers, all of whom jointly played a crucial role in the struggle, managed to kill the legitimate heir to the throne and become the ruler. There is reference in some works to his having killed 99 brothers, but this is an exaggeration meant to indicate that he commenced his reign as a tyrant. [As would be expected, this fact is not mentioned in any of the inscriptions that Ashoka later erected to commemorate his reign and to spread the word of Dharma.] There is nothing unusual to be read into these events—fratricide and even patricide was a common occurrence in all the royal families of the time across the world. However, by doing away with all possible claimants to the throne, Ashoka firmly established himself on the throne while also gaining a reputation for cold-blooded efficiency in the pursuit and achievement of his goals.
The Issue of Information. The main source of information regarding Ashoka’s coronation and subsequent reign are the Buddhist Chronicles of the time. However, they suffer from being tainted by a conspicuous religious bias and the attempt to make the sovereign to be thought of as a benevolent ruler in keeping with Buddhist beliefs. The chronicles are not history but the story of Buddhism and about the events that helped or hurt it in its progress, to an extent where even manifestly secular events were also modified to suit the Buddhist ethos and message. Further, it is almost certain that they exaggerated the alleged cruelty of Ashoka prior to his conversion to Buddhism in order to emphasis the ‘goodness’ of the religion. The biggest drawback that the Buddhist Chronicles suffer from is that the three major works that are concerned with Ashoka’s life were written at later dates and therefore there is no assurance that the accounts are completely truthful. The three works are—the Divyavandana, written between 2nd and 3rd centuries AD; the Dipavamsa, written a century later; and the Mahavamsa, written in 5th century AD with some commentaries being added as late as in the 10th century AD. The Brahminical works inexplicably ignored Ashoka and there is no mention of him in the Greek or later Roman chronicles. The Chinese pilgrims mention Ashoka many times but it must be remembered that the first Chinese pilgrim Fa Hsien arrived in India only in the 5th century AD and therefore his impressions would be garnered from hearsay more than six centuries after the events. The other source is the edicts that Ashoka created but they are explicitly about his aspirations rather than a record or description of events. The one aspect that comes out as a common element in all the sources is the fact that Ashoka was an efficient and competent, if ruthless, ruler. In a manner of objective realism it has to be understood that only ruthless and single-minded rulers could aspire to be competent in an age of vicious competition.
The Kalinga War
Kalinga was a feudal republic located on the eastern coast of India that encompassed most of the area that is covered by what is modern day Odisha and some of the bordering areas of Andhra Pradesh. It was a rich and fertile country that extended from the Damodar River in the north to the Godavari River in the south; and from the Bay of Bengal to the Amarkantak range in the west. Kalinga is mentioned in the Mahabharata and its king Srutayu is stated to have taken part in the Kurukshetra War on the side of the Kauravas. In Megasthenes’ book Indica, Kalinga is mentioned as Calingae, a Jain dominant kingdom (as quoted by Pliny). It is possible that Kalinga was part of the Nanda-ruled Magadhan Empire, which declared or regained independence in the chaos of the change in dynastic rule when the Mauryas took power. This ties-in with the report of Chandragupta Maurya being repulsed when he attempted to annex Kalinga during his reign of conquest and consolidation. This would have been considered not only a setback in the purely military sense, but also as a loss of political prestige on two counts—one, that a ‘province’ of the erstwhile Magadha Empire had the temerity to break away when the Maurya’s established their rule, and two, that an attempt to bring Kalinga back into the fold was unsuccessful, which demonstrated a lack of strength within the new dynasty.
The Empire that Ashoka inherited covered almost the entire sub-continent and then some, with the exception of Kalinga. It was imperative for the Mauryas to reduce Kalinga to complete subjugation and Ashoka embarked on this venture as soon as he felt secure on the throne, after eight years of being the king, in 261 BC. The war that followed was savage and it is said that in the aftermath of the battle, the Daya River that flowed next to the battlefield ran red with the blood of the slain from both camps—more than 150,000 Kalinga warriors and about 100,000 of Ashoka’s soldiers. Kalinga was conquered, plundered and destroyed and in addition to the dead, 150,000 more men and women were deported. Ashoka having participated in the war and being witness to all the mayhem, it seems, was filled with remorse that prompted him—perhaps already a non-practicing Buddhist—to decide to devote the rest of his life to Ahimsa (non-violence) and to Dharma-Vijaya (victory through righteousness). The conquest of Kalinga was Ashoka’s first and only military endeavour after becoming the king. Thereafter, he put an end to expansionist policies and ruled for the next 30 years pursuing a concept on non-violent victory through the propagation of Dharma bringing relative peace, prosperity, and harmony to the vast empire. [Such a transformation in the face of victory in battle has not been duplicated in world history and therefore must be considered of great import and significance from a historical perspective. However, it does not yet find a place of honour in the broader telling of human history, perhaps because of the transient nature of the Maurya empire after the death of Ashoka, and his being forgotten till he was ‘discovered’ in the mid-19th century AD.] 
After the Battle for Kalinga, Ashoka started to inscribe his aspirations in what has subsequently been called ‘Edicts’ written on rock surfaces and on tall pillars specially constructed for the purpose. In all there are 14 Major and eight Minor Rock Edicts and seven Major Pillar edicts. The aftermath of the Kalinga War (not the military campaign by itself) and the Emperor’s reaction are recorded in the 13th Rock Edict, which is considered one of the most important of these Edicts.
The Kalinga War in the 13th Rock Edict
On conquering Kalinga the Beloved-of-the-Gods felt remorse, for, when an independent country is conquered, the slaughter, death and deportation of the people is extremely grievous to the Beloved-of-the-Gods and weighs heavily on his mind … Even those who are fortunate to have escaped, and whose love is undiminished, suffer from misfortunes of their friends, acquaintances, colleagues and relatives … Today if a hundredth or a thousandth part of those people who were killed or died or were deported when Kalinga was annexed were to suffer similarly, it would weigh heavily on the mind of the Beloved-of-the-Gods …
This inscription of Dhamma has been engraved so that any sons or great-grandsons that I may have should not think of gaining new conquests, and in whatever victories they may gain should be satisfied with patience and light punishment. They should only consider conquest by Dhamma to be a true conquest, and delight in Dhamma should be their whole delight, for this is of value in both this world and the next.
As Translated in Romila Thapar,
Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas, p.256.      
By this act of enshrining the concept of non-violence and Dharma, Ashoka turned statecraft into something not witnessed till then—abjuring war and advocating the elusive concept of Dhamma (Dharma). From then, as all his Edicts indicate, Ashoka wanted to be known only for his pursuit of victory through the propagation of Dhamma. [The word Dhamma (as written in most of the edicts) and Dhrama have been used in this chapter in an interchangeable manner.] This the greatness of Ashoka, the declaration and rigid following of a pious concept, never before, and more importantly perhaps never after, attempted by a victorious monarch or nation. The Emperor wanted to be remembered for his irrevocable surrender to Dhamma and this features prominently in all his edicts and there are many attempts at defining the concept itself. In some edicts, Dhamma is equated with ‘mercy, charity, truthfulness and purity’ that could be interpreted in English as ‘piety, duty, good conduct, and/or decency’.
The Concept of Dhamma – Explained in 11th Major Rock Edict
Thus speaks the Beloved-of-the-Gods, the King Piyadassi: There is no gift comparable to the gift of dhamma, the praise of dhamma, the sharing of dhamma, fellowship in dhamma. And this is: good behaviour towards slaves and servants, obedience to mother and father, generosity towards friends, acquaintances and relatives, and towards sramanas and brahmans, the abstention from killing living beings. Father, brother, master, friend, acquaintance, relative, and neighbour should say, ‘this is good, this should do.’ By doing so, there is gain in this world, and in the next there is infinite merit, through the gift of dhamma.
Although Ashoka had a complete change of heart after annexing Kalinga, the actions initiated to make that province an integral part of the empire was not as benign as it is made out to be in the Buddhist Chronicles and by later historians. Reparation of refugees or deportees was not even considered and Ashoka did not restore Kalinga to the original rulers. Further, even with the exhortation to follow Dhamma, the size of the army was not reduced indicating that the option to wage war was retained, while the death penalty was also not rescinded in the criminal law system. In fact a person given the death penalty was given three days to put his affairs in order and executed on the fourth day. In two of the Rock Edicts near the battlefield in Kalinga there are references to the instructions given to the officials to reconcile the people and bring them to the true fold, meaning adherence to the principles and ethos of the Maurya Empire. Ashoka’s approach to pacification of the conquered territory was a combination of pragmatic policy and conscience. In reality, Kalinga was treated according to the advice proffered in the Arthasastra regarding how to deal with a conquered state, nothing less; nothing more. This is not to say that his remorse was not sincere. The Kalinga war did indeed trouble the conscience of the Emperor; he seems to have carried out a deep introspection and decided on certain drastic actions to temper down the greater ills of the society as a whole.
The Humanitarian King
The transformation of Ashoka from an autocratic tyrant, variously reported as wicked and cruel, to Dharmasoka (Righteous Ashoka) is remarkable, to say the least. The keynote of the reform that he instituted was a pervasive humanity in internal administration and the abandonment of aggressive wars to achieve offensive annexation. He substituted the traditional, and so far prevalent, policy of territorial expansion with the concept of conquest through righteousness or Dhamma (Dharma). Ashoka genuinely believed that by setting an example of enlightened governance he could convince the neighbours of its merit and thereby not only have them follow his example, but also achieve the moral leadership of the civilised world. In other words, he did not give up any of his imperial ambitions, but merely tailored them to be achieved through a broad interpretation of Buddhist ethics. [This endeavour is not to be confused with any attempt at proselytising the Buddhist ‘religion’. He had borrowed and adapted the Buddhist ethics that encouraged a more humane behaviour and treatment of the people.]
In domestic affairs he instituted some far-reaching reform and declared that ‘all men were his children’. He relaxed some of the more stern measures of governance and strongly supported the doctrine of Ahimsa (non-injury to man and animal alike), banned animal sacrifice, regulated slaughter for food and completely banned the killing of some species of animals. He also substituted pilgrimages for hunting expeditions, which was the traditional sport of kings and royalty. [Ashoka’s effort at propagating Ahimsa was perhaps the first sowing of the seeds of vegetarianism in India.] Ashoka can at best be called a ‘non-practicing’ Buddhist and had very little interest in the finer points of the religion per se, proven by the fact that there is no mention of nirvana in any of his edicts. However there are frequent references to a general heavenly abode. Further, there is no mention of the ‘Noble Eight-fold Path’, the mainstay to the practice of the Buddhist religion. Once again this is not surprising. The fact is that religion as a doctrine or dogma had no traction in pre-Islamic India. The fundamental concept was of an inexorable cycle of birth, death and rebirth and the quest for various means by which an eventual escape from this cycle was possible. The essential difference was not between beliefs (religions), but between differing lifestyles that permitted the individual an escape from this eternal cycle. In this system an individual was defined only by his relationship to the rest of the society. The Dhamma or Dharma that Ashoka endorsed and emphasised was in no way a projection of Buddhism as a belief or religion. It was a system of morals to follow in life consistent with the tenets common to most of the sects then existing in the Empire, calculated to lead to peaceful coexistence of all beliefs. This was not entirely a new concept within the Indian society of the time. This is further emphasised by Ashoka’s pragmatic relationship with the Buddhist clergy with the king not hesitating to defrock ill-behaved and erring clergy.
It is therefore ironic that despite his indifference to Buddhism as a religion, Ashoka’s lasting legacy is the spread of Buddhism to an extent that it became a world religion. It was during his reign and under his patronage that the Pali canon was codified in the Great Council held in Pataliputra, and missions were send out to all corners of the Empire and the outside world. Ashoka’s son Mahinda (Pali for Mahendra) was send to Ceylon (current Sri Lanka) and successfully converted the king and the kingdom to Buddhism. [Sri Lanka continues to be a foundational stronghold of the religion to this day.] The King of Ceylon, Devanampiya Tissa, has been described as a subordinate of Ashoka, a fact that has been acknowledged even in the very nationalistic Ceylon Chronicles of a later age. While the religious embassy to Ceylon was an unqualified success, Ashoka’s attempt at the moral conquest of the Hellenic kings was an equally resounding failure. There is no reference either to Ashoka, his forward-thinking concepts or his embassies to spread the thought, in any of the classical sources.
Ashoka is the only ancient king whose personality can be reconstructed with some amount of certainty and even then the figure that emerges is not a clear entity. In later day historical analysis there is also criticism regarding his pursuit of a non-violent concept in an age of unbridled violence that is supposed to have sapped the martial spirit of the nation (an essential ingredient for a strong nation), thereby laying it open to predatory chiefs and ambitious warlords. He is also accused of ruining the Maurya Empire through the enforcement of his beliefs and by antagonising the Brahmins who subsequently supported the dynasty’s enemies. There may be some truth in this, but the blame of the rapid dissolution of the greatest Empire of its time cannot be laid purely at Ashoka’s feet.
Ashoka was by no means an other-worldly dreamer, but every inch a king, a little naïve, often rather self-righteous and pompous, but indefatigable, strong-willed and imperious.
A.L. Basham
The Wonder that was India, p. 58                     
The Legacy
The fundamental legacy that Ashoka left behind was in the form of two ideas. One, the notion of universal dhamma—although it died at the death of the Emperor and therefore, must be considered a failed policy—that remained an enduring concept; and two, the idea of religious tolerance. Ashoka’s basic appeal is that his ideals transcend caste, creed and sect for the greater good of the population thereby keeping alive the cherished ideal of a pan-Indian empire based on the spirit of humanity. [The fundamental belief in tolerance and humanity resonates in the teachings of Guru Nanak of the Sikhs; and eventually, at a much later date, in the ideas that Mahatma Gandhi propagated.] The idea and search for religious tolerance is as old as India itself. India has always been a land of many sects and diverse cultures; as Megasthenes put it, a land of many ‘nations’; and Ashoka through his Edicts promulgated the concept of collective tolerance of all people, irrespective of their beliefs. The XII Edict instructs people to not speak ill of their neighbours, ‘…for all religions aim at the same thing in the end: that is gaining self-control and purity of mind.’ [Since ancient times, the rulers of India have understood the necessity for religious and cultural tolerance, and have grappled with the methods to achieve it. This was a key issue that Akbar, the Great Mughal (1542-1605), constantly struggled to contain in order to bring about peaceful coexistence amongst his subjects; the very same issue that the framers of the constitution of modern India attempted to overcome.]
It is almost certain that the Edicts were all written in the Emperor’s own words and therefore is all the more meaningful. The theory of universal Dhamma, although not executed perfectly in Ashoka’s attempt, is one of the greatest ideas of history and should be placed at par with the American Declaration of Independence and the Communist Manifesto as a magnificent conceptualisation of complex human emotions in history. Ashoka’s quest to provide Dhamma to all people was one of the few demonstrations of the power of an idea being superimposed on life in the real world. It tried to answer the foundational moral question regarding human life on Earth, ‘How does one persuade human beings to be good?’ In many aspects Ashoka’s reign was a lightning bolt across the pages of history. In the final analysis, Ashoka—the King of the Rock Edicts—has to be considered an Emperor who conceived, and had the courage of conviction to give life to, a concept far ahead of his time.
Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the column of history, their majesties and graciousnesses and serenities and royal highnesses and the like, the name of Ashoka shines, and shines almost alone, a star. From the Volga to Japan his name is still honoured. China, Tibet and even India, though it has left his doctrine, preserve the tradition of his greatness. More living men cherish his memory today than have ever heard the names of Constantine and Charlemagne.
H. G. Wells, Outline of History
The End of Empire
As was the custom of the time, Ashoka was also polygamous and had a number of children from different queens and/or partners. His chief queen for a major part of his reign was Asandhimitra who was compassionate and good. However, after she died, Ashoka in his old age elevated a young and beautiful junior queen, Tishyrakshila, to be the chief queen. She was supposed to be self-serving and the story goes that she made overtures to have an amorous relationship with her step-son Kunala, which the prince rejected. [This is the equivalent of the story of Phaedra and Hippolytus in Greek mythology] The queen took revenge for the rejection by having Kunala blinded when he was on a campaign in Taxila through forged royal decrees. When Ashoka came to know of this deceit he reportedly had the queen burned to death. This story is in all probabilities only partially true, but it indicates the fact that as he grew older, Ashoka had started to lose grip over the Empire and also suffered a long ailment towards the end of his reign. The long illness took a toll on the integrity of the Empire with the governors of the great provinces—mostly members of the royal family—starting to act as virtually independent rulers. However, the long illness also provided ample time for the senior ministers to facilitate amicable settlement of the rival claims and ambitions of the heirs to the throne. It is certain that they negotiated the division of the Empire into eastern and western parts between two grandsons—Dasaratha ruling the East and Samprati, said to be son of Kunala, ruling the West.
There is also a story that Ashoka age-driver senility wanted to give away the entire resources of the state to the Buddhist monastery and was thwarted by the ministers who brought the grandsons to the throne. According to the Jain tradition only Samprati is supposed to have inherited the kingdom. However, inscriptions in the cave dwelling at Nagarjuni hills put the date of Dasaratha’s accession very close to Ashoka’s death in 232 BC. The Puranas also indicate that he ruled only for a period of eight years. [Once again, the uncertainties that plague the chronology of ancient Indian history raised its head!] The Empire did not survive for long after the death of Ashoka, with four more descendants of no importance ruling after the two grandsons. These four only ruled the erstwhile state of Magadha and not the extended empire built by Chandragupta, Bidusara and Ashoka. In 212 BC, Kharavela, the king of Kalinga, overthrew Mauryan control, declared independence and went on to found a powerful kingdom. There are also some claims that the later Mauryas paid homage to him. The Mauryas eventually fell prey to the resurgent Greek kingdoms of North West India and Bactria, with the last Maurya king of any import, the week prince Brahadratha, being murdered in 181 BC by his commander-in-chief Pushyamitra Sunga, who assumed the throne. In a span of just 145 years, the great Mauryas—who at their zenith ruled the entire sub-continent and attempted to spread the concept of universal humanity and tolerance across the known world of the time—were reduced to being petty and subordinate chieftains in and around the Magadha region and vanished altogether by 8th century AD.
Like all living things, empires also grow old incompetent and die, mostly without any fanfare.
The Maurya Dynasty – Chronological Table





Young Chandragupta Maurya meets Alexander



Seleukos Nikator assumes title of King



Seleukos invades India



Chandragupta defeats Seleukos; Treaty of Peace, Large area of Ariana ceded by Seleukos



Megasthenes, Ambassador of Seleukos in Pataliputra



Bindusara Amitraghata assumes the throne



Deimachos, Ambassador of Seleukos in Pataliputra



Accession of Ashoka-vardhana to throne



Coronation (Abhisheka) of Ashoka



Conquest of Kalinga by Ashoka



Death of Ashoka; Dasaratha accedes to throne



Sangata Maurya – King



Succession of incompetent princes as kings



Pushyamitra Sunga kills Brahadritha – End of Mauryan Dynasty!


Year BC


326 or 325




305 or 304




















224 – 185





About Sanu Kainikara

Sainik School Kazhakuttam (Kerala), National Defence Academy 39/A, 108 Pilot's Course IAF, fighter pilot, QFI, FCL, psc, HACC, Voluntary Retirement as Wing Commander. Canberra-based Defence Analyst specialising in air power and national security. PhD in International Politics from University of Adelaide Executive Masters in Public Adminsitration (ANZSOG) Adjunct Professor, University of New South Wales, Distinguished Fellow Institute For Regional Security (IFRS) Distinguished Fellow Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS)


  1. Dear Sanu,

    It is really an excellent work.The historical information depicted can not be easily found in general History books.It means in depth research on the subject.

    Best wishes,

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