Ashoka, The Emperor who Gave up War Class 6 History Notes

A very big kingdom = an empire

  1. Introduction
  • Ashoka was one of the greatest rulers known  to history and on his instructions inscriptions were inscribed on pillars, as well as on rock surfaces.
  • His kingdom was called an empire

2. Paterliny Was Folowed

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

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  • 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.

3. Cities and Villages

  • These 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.
  • Merchants, officials and crafts persons probably lived in these cities.
  • In other areas there were villages of farmers and herders.
  • In central India, there were forests where people gathered forest produce and hunted animals for food.
  • People in different parts of the empire spoke different languages.
  • They probably ate different kinds of food, and wore different kinds of clothes as well.


  • When members of the same family become rulers one after another, the family is often called a dynasty.
  • The Mauryas were a dynasty with three important rulers — Chandragupta, his son Bindusara, and Bindusara’s son, Ashoka

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How are empir e 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

  1. Intoduction

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  • As the empire was so large, different parts were ruled differently.
  • The area around Pataliputra was under the direct control of the emperor.
  • This meant that 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.
  • Messengers went to and fro, and spies kept a watch on the officials.
  • The emperor supervised them all, with the help of members of the royal family, and senior ministers.

2. Control

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  • There were other areas or provinces.
  • Each of these was ruled from a provincial capital such as Taxila or Ujjain.
  • There was some amount of control from Pataliputra, and royal princes were often sent as governors, local customs and rules were probably followed.

3. Resources

  • Mauryas control roads and rivers, which were important for transport, and to collect whatever resources were  available as tax and tribute.
  • Arthashastra tells us that the north-west was important for blankets, and south India for its gold and precious
  • These resources were collected as tribute.
  • There were also the forested regions.
  • People living in these areas were more or less independent, but may have been expected to provide elephants, timber, honey and wax to Mauryan officials.


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  • Unlike taxes, which were collected on a regular basis, tribute was collected as and when it was possible from people who gave a variety of things, more or less willingly.

The emper The emper The emperor and the capital city

  • Megasthenes was an ambassador who was sent to the court of Chandragupta by the Greek ruler of West Asia named Seleucus Nicator.
  • Megasthenes wrote an account about what he saw.

Ashoka, a unique ruler

  • The most famous Mauryan ruler was Ashoka.

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  • 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.

Ashoka’s war in War in Kalinga

  • Kalinga is the ancient name of coastal Orissa
  • Ashoka fought a war to conquer Kalinga.
  • He was so horrified when he saw the violence and bloodshed 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?

  1. Intoduction
  • 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

2. Problems and outcomes

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  • 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.
  • There were quarrels in families and amongst neighbours.
  • Ashoka felt it was his duty to solve these problems.
  • He appointed officials, known as the dhamma mahamatta who went from place to place teaching people about

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  • Ashoka got his messages inscribed on rocks and pillars, instructing his officials to read his message to those who could not read it themselves.

3. Message

  • 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.
  • He arranged for medical treatment for both human beings and animals.


  • Beginning of the Mauryan empire (more than 2300 years ago)

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