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Central Asians in Ancient Indian literature
Ancient India and Central Asia have long traditions of social-cultural, religious, political and economic contact since remote antiquity. The two regions have common and contiguous borders, climatic continuity, similar geographical features and geo-cultural affinity. There has always been uninterrupted flow of people, material and the ideas between the two. So much so, some ancient literary sources trace common lineage for Indians, Pakistanis, Afghans, and other nationalities of Central Asia.
The archaeological excavations in the Amu valley in Southern Uzbekistan, in Afrasiab on north-eastern edge of Samarkand and some other places in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Tak-mak in Kirghizstan add further evidence of the existence of links between ancient India and Central Asia since remote antiquity.
Further, extensive excavations have been carried out with remarkable results at Kara Tepa, Fayaz Tepa, Dalverzin Tepa, Yer Kurgan, Ak-Beshin, Kranayerezka and Isyk-Ata. The discovery of manuscripts in Xinjiang (China) and many other valuable excavational finds substantively establish that India and eastern Central Asian region of Xinjiang were also in extensive political, cultural and religious intercourse with each other.
Map showing the largest extent of the Mauryan Empire in dark blue.
Maurya Empire at its maximum extent (Dark Blue), including its vassals (Light Blue).
|Language(s)||Old Indic Languages (e.g. Magadhi Prakrit, Other Prakrits, Sanskrit)|
|Government||Absolute Monarchy as described in the Arthashastra|
|– 320–298 BCE||Chandragupta Maurya|
|– 187–180 BCE||Brhadrata|
|– Established||322 BC|
|– Disestablished||185 BC|
|Today part of|| India
The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive and powerful empire in ancient India, ruled by the Mauryan dynasty from 321 to 185 BC. Originating from the kingdom of Magadha in the Indo-Gangetic plains (modern Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bengal) in the eastern side of the Indian subcontinent, the empire had its capital city at Pataliputra (modern Patna). The Empire was founded in 322 BC by Chandragupta Maurya, who had overthrown the Nanda Dynasty and rapidly expanded his power westwards across central and western India taking advantage of the disruptions of local powers in the wake of the withdrawal westward by Alexander the Great‘s Greek and Persian armies. By 320 BC the empire had fully occupied Northwestern India, defeating and conquering the satraps left by Alexander.
It was one of the world’s largest empires in its time. At its greatest extent, the empire stretched to the north along the natural boundaries of the Himalayas, and to the east stretching into what is now Assam. To the west, it conquered beyond modern Pakistan, annexing Balochistan and much of what is now Afghanistan, including the modern Heratand Kandahar provinces. The Empire was expanded into India’s central and southern regions by the emperors Chandragupta and Bindusara, but it excluded a small portion of unexplored tribal and forested regions near Kalinga (modern Orissa), till it was conquered by Ashoka. Its decline began 60 years after Ashoka’s rule ended, and it dissolved in 185 BC with the foundation of the Sunga Dynasty in Magadha.
Under Chandragupta, the Mauryan Empire conquered the trans-Indus region, which was under Macedonian rule. Chandragupta then defeated the invasion led by Seleucus I, a Greek general from Alexander’s army. Under Chandragupta and his successors, both internal and external trade, and agriculture and economic activities, all thrived and expanded across India thanks to the creation of a single and efficient system of finance, administration and security. After the Kalinga War, the Empire experienced half a century of peace and security under Ashoka. Mauryan India also enjoyed an era of social harmony, religious transformation, and expansion of the sciences and of knowledge. Chandragupta Maurya’s embrace of Jainism increased social and religious renewal and reform across his society, while Ashoka’s embrace of Buddhism has been said to have been the foundation of the reign of social and political peace and non-violence across all of India. Ashoka sponsored the spreading of Buddhist ideals into Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, West Asia and Mediterranean Europe.
Archaeologically, the period of Mauryan rule in South Asia falls into the era of Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW). The Arthashastra and the Edicts of Ashoka are the primary sources of written records of the Mauryan times. The Lion Capital of Asoka at Sarnath, is the national emblem of India.
 Chanakya and Chandragupta Maurya
A Hindu brahmin named Chanakya (real name Vishnugupta, also known as Kautilya) traveled to Magadha, a kingdom that was large and militarily powerful and feared by its neighbors, but was dismissed by its king Dhana Nanda, of the Nanda Dynasty. Meanwhile, the conquering armies of Alexander the Great decided against going further eastward, deterred by the prospect of battling Magadha: he returned to Babylon and re-deployed most of his troops west of the Indus river. Soon after Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BCE, his empire fragmented, and local kings declared their independence, leaving several smaller disunited satraps. Chandragupta Maurya deposed Dhana Nanda. The Greek generals Eudemus, and Peithon, ruled until around 316 BCE, when Chandragupta Maurya (with the help of Chanakya, who was now his advisor) utterly defeated the Macedonians and consolidated the region under the control of his new seat of power in Magadha.
Chandragupta Maurya‘s rise to power is shrouded in mystery and controversy. On the one hand, a number of ancient Indian accounts, such as the drama Mudrarakshasa (Poem of Rakshasa – Rakshasa was the prime minister of Magadha) by Visakhadatta, describe his royal ancestry and even link him with the Nanda family. A kshatriya tribe known as the Maurya‘s are referred to in the earliest Buddhist texts, Mahaparinibbana Sutta. However, any conclusions are hard to make without further historical evidence. Chandragupta first emerges in Greek accounts as “Sandrokottos“. As a young man he is said to have met Alexander. He is also said to have met the Nanda king, angered him, and made a narrow escape. Chanakya’s original intentions were to train a guerilla army under Chandragupta’s command. The Mudrarakshasa of Visakhadutta as well as the Jaina work Parisishtaparvan talk of Chandragupta’s alliance with the Himalayan king Parvatka, sometimes identified with Porus (Sir John Marshall “Taxila”, p18, and al.).
 Conquest of Magadha
Chanakya encouraged Chandragupta Maurya and his army to take over the throne of Magadha. Using his intelligence network, Chandragupta gathered many young men from across Magadha and other provinces, men upset over the corrupt and oppressive rule of king Dhana, plus resources necessary for his army to fight a long series of battles. These men included the former general of Taxila, other accomplished students of Chanakya, the representative of King Porus of Kakayee, his son Malayketu, and the rulers of small states.
Preparing to invade Pataliputra, Maurya hatched a plan. A battle was announced and the Magadhan army was drawn from the city to a distant battlefield to engage Maurya’s forces. Maurya’s general and spies meanwhile bribed the corrupt general of Nanda. He also managed to create an atmosphere of civil war in the kingdom, which culminated in the death of the heir to the throne. Chanakya managed to win over popular sentiment. Ultimately Nanda resigned, handing power to Chandragupta, and went into exile and was never heard of again. Chanakya contacted the prime minister, Rakshasas, and made him understand that his loyalty was to Magadha, not to the Magadha dynasty, insisting that he continue in office. Chanakya also reiterated that choosing to resist would start a war that would severely affect Magadha and destroy the city. Rakshasa accepted Chanakya’s reasoning, and Chandragupta Maurya was legitimately installed as the new King of Magadha. Rakshasa became Chandragupta’s chief advisor, and Chanakya assumed the position of an elder statesman.
The approximate extent of the Magadha state in the 5th century BCE.
The Nanda Empire at its greatest extent under Dhana Nanda circa 323 BCE.
The Maurya Empire when it was first founded by Chandragupta Maurya circa 320 BCE, after conquering the Nanda Empire when he was only about 20 years old.
 Chandragupta Maurya
Chandragupta destroyed the Greeks when Seleucus I, ruler of the Seleucid Empire, tried to reconquer the northwestern parts of India, during a campaign in 305 BCE, but failed. The two rulers finally concluded a peace treaty: a marital treaty (Epigamia) was concluded, in which the Greeks offered their Princess for alliance and help from him. Chandragupta snatched the satrapies of Paropamisade (Kamboja and Gandhara), Arachosia (Kandhahar) and Gedrosia (Balochistan), and Seleucus I received 500 war elephants that were to have a decisive role in his victory against western Hellenistic kings at the Battle of Ipsus in 301 BCE. Diplomatic relations were established and several Greeks, such as the historian Megasthenes, Deimakos and Dionysius resided at the Mauryan court.
Chandragupta established a strong centralized state with a complex administration at Pataliputra, which, according to Megasthenes, was “surrounded by a wooden wall pierced by 64 gates and 570 towers— (and) rivaled the splendors of contemporaneous Persian sites such as Susa and Ecbatana.” Chandragupta’s son Bindusara extended the rule of the Mauryan empire towards southern India. He also had a Greek ambassador at his court, named Deimachus (Strabo 1–70).
Megasthenes describes a disciplined multitude under Chandragupta, who live simply, honestly, and do not know writing:
- ” The Indians all live frugally, especially when in camp. They dislike a great undisciplined multitude, and consequently they observe good order. Theft is of very rare occurrence. Megasthenes says that those who were in the camp of Sandrakottos, wherein lay 400,000 men, found that the thefts reported on any one day did not exceed the value of two hundred drachmae, and this among a people who have no written laws, but are ignorant of writing, and must therefore in all the business of life trust to memory. They live, nevertheless, happily enough, being simple in their manners and frugal. They never drink wine except at sacrifices. Their beverage is a liquor composed from rice instead of barley, and their food is principally a rice-pottage.” Strabo XV. i. 53–56, quoting Megasthenes
Ashoka the Great
|A “Chakravartin” ruler, first century BC/CE. Andhra Pradesh, Amaravati. Preserved at Musee Guimet|
|Full name||Ashoka Bindusara Maurya|
|Titles||Samraat Chakravartin; other titles include Devanampriya and Priyadarsin|
|Died||232 BC (aged 72)|
|Place of death||Pataliputra, Patna|
|Buried||Ashes immersed in the Ganges River, possibly at Varanasi, Cremated 232 BC, less than 24 hours after death|
|Offspring||Mahendra, Sanghamitra,Teevala, Kunala|
|Royal House||Mauryan dynasty|
|Mother||Rani Dharma or Shubhadrangi|
|Religious beliefs||Hinduism, later on embraced Buddhism|
Ashoka (Devanāgarī: अशोक, Bangla: অশোক, IAST: Aśoka, IPA: [aˈɕoːkə], ca. 304–232 BC), popularly known as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from ca. 269 BC to 232 BC. One of India’s greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over most of present-day India after a number of military conquests. His empire stretched from present-day Pakistan, Afghanistan and eastern parts of Iran in the west, to the present-day Bangladesh and the Indian state of Assam in the east, and as far south as northern Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. He conquered the kingdom named Kalinga, which no one in his dynasty had conquered starting from Chandragupta Maurya. His reign was headquartered in Magadha (present-day Bihar, India). He embraced Buddhism from the prevalent Brahminism tradition after witnessing the mass deaths of the war of Kalinga, which he himself had waged out of a desire for conquest. He was later dedicated to the propagation of Buddhism across Asia and established monuments marking several significant sites in the life of Gautama Buddha. Ashoka was a devotee of ahimsa (nonviolence), love, truth, tolerance and vegetarianism. Ashoka is remembered in history as a philanthropic administrator. In the history of India, Ashoka is referred to as Samraat Chakravartin Ashoka – the Emperor of Emperors Ashoka.
His name “aśoka” means “painless, without sorrow” in Sanskrit (the a privativum and śoka “pain, distress”). In his edicts, he is referred to as Devānāmpriya (Pali Devānaṃpiya or “The Beloved Of The Gods”), and Priyadarśin (Pali Piyadasī or “He who regards everyone with affection”).
Along with the Edicts of Ashoka, his legend is related in the later 2nd century Aśokāvadāna (“Narrative of Asoka“) and Divyāvadāna (“Divine narrative“), and in the Sri Lankan text Mahavamsa (“Great Chronicle“).
Ashoka played a critical role in helping make Buddhism a world religion. As the peace-loving ruler of one of the world’s largest, richest and most powerful multi-ethnic states, he is considered an exemplary ruler, who tried to put into practice a secular state ethic of non-violence. The emblem of the modern Republic of India is an adaptation of the Lion Capital of Ashoka.
||This article reads more like a story than an encyclopedia entry. To meet Wikipedia’s quality standards and conform with our Neutral Point of View policy, please help to introduce a more formal style and remove any personally invested tone. (April 2011)|
 Early life
Ashoka was born to the Mauryan emperor Bindusara and his queen, Dharma (or Dhamma). Ashokavandana states that his mother was a queen named Subhadrangi, the daughter of Champa. A palace intrigue kept her away from the king. This eventually ended, and she bore a son. It is from her exclamation “I am now without sorrow”, that Ashoka got his name. The Divyavandana tells a similar story, but gives the name of the queen as Janapadakalyani.
Ashoka had several elder siblings, all of whom were his half-brothers from other wives of Bindusara.
He had been given the royal military training knowledge. He was a fearsome hunter, and according to a legend, he killed a lion with just a wooden rod. He was very adventurous and a trained fighter, who was known for his skills with the sword. Because of his reputation as a frightening warrior and a heartless general, he was sent to curb the riots in the Avanti province of the Mauryan empire.
 Rise to power
The Divyavandana refers to Ashoka putting down a revolt due to activities of wicked ministers. This may have been an incident in Bindusara‘s times. Taranatha‘s account states that Chanakya, one of Bindusara’s great lords, destroyed the nobles and kings of 16 towns and made himself the master of all territory between the eastern and the western seas. Some historians consider this as an indication of Bindusara’s conquest of the Deccan while others consider it as suppression of a revolt. Following this Ashoka was stationed at Ujjayini as governor.
Bindusara’s death in 273 BC led to a four war over succession. According to Divyavandana, Bindusara wanted his son Sushim to succeed him but Ashoka was supported by his father’s ministers. A minister named Radhagupta seems to have played an important role. One of the Ashokavandana states that Ashoka managed to become the king by getting rid of the legitimate heir to the throne, by tricking him into entering a pit filled with live coals. The Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa refer to Ashoka killing 99 of his brothers, sparing only one, named Tissa.
 Early life as Emperor
Ashoka is said to have been of a wicked nature and bad temper. He submitted his ministers to a test of loyalty and had 500 of them killed. He also kept a harem of around 500 women. Once when certain lot of these women insulted him, he had the whole lot of them burnt to death. He also built hell on earth, an elaborate and horrific torture chamber. This torture Chamber earned him the name of Chand Ashoka (Sanskrit), meaning Ashoka the Fierce.
Ascending the throne, Ashoka expanded his empire over the next eight years, from the present-day boundaries and regions of Burma–Bangladesh and the state of Assam in India in the east to the territory of present-day Iran / Persia and Afghanistan in the west; from the Pamir Knots in the north almost to the peninsular of southern India (i.e. Tamil Nadu / Andhra Pradesh).
 Conquest of Kalinga
While the early part of Ashoka’s reign was apparently quite bloodthirsty, he became a follower of the Buddha‘s teaching after his conquest of Kalinga on the east coast of India in the present-day states of southern Orissa and north coastal Andhra Pradesh. Kalinga was a state that prided itself on its sovereignty and democracy. With its monarchical parliamentary democracy it was quite an exception in ancient Bharata where there existed the concept of Rajdharma. Rajdharma means the duty of the rulers, which was intrinsically entwined with the concept of bravery and Kshatriya dharma.
The pretext for the start of the Kalinga War (265 BC or 263 BC) is uncertain. One of Susima’s brothers might have fled to Kalinga and found official refuge there. Kalinga put up a stiff resistance, but they were no match for Ashoka’s brutal strength. The whole of Kalinga was plundered and destroyed. Ashoka’s later edicts state that about 100,000 people were killed on the Kalinga side and 10,000 from Ashoka’s army. Thousands of men and women were deported.
 Buddhist conversion
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A similar four “Indian lion” Lion Capital of Ashoka atop an intact Ashoka Pillar at Wat U Mong near Chiang Mai, Thailand showing another larger Dharma Chakra / Ashoka Chakra atop the four lions thought to be missing in the Lion Capital of Ashoka at Sarnath Museum which has been adopted as the National Emblem of India.
As the legend goes, one day after the war was over, Ashoka ventured out to roam the city and all he could see were burnt houses and scattered corpses. This sight made him sick and he cried the famous monologue:
What have I done? If this is a victory, what’s a defeat then? Is this a victory or a defeat? Is this justice or injustice? Is it gallantry or a rout? Is it valor to kill innocent children and women? Do I do it to widen the empire and for prosperity or to destroy the other’s kingdom and splendor? One has lost her husband, someone else a father, someone a child, someone an unborn infant…. What’s this debris of the corpses? Are these marks of victory or defeat? Are these vultures, crows, eagles the messengers of death or evil?
The brutality of the conquest led him to adopt Buddhism, and he used his position to propagate the relatively new religion to new heights, as far as ancient Rome and Egypt. He made Buddhism his state religion around 260 BC, and propagated it and preached it within his domain and worldwide from about 250 BC. Emperor Ashoka undoubtedly has to be credited with the first serious attempt to develop a Buddhist policy.
Prominent in this cause were his son Venerable Mahindra and daughter Sanghamitra (whose name means “friend of the Sangha”), who established Buddhism in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). He built thousands of Stupas and Viharas for Buddhist followers. The Stupas of Sanchi are world famous and the stupa named Sanchi Stupa was built by Emperor Ashoka. During the remaining portion of Ashoka’s reign, he pursued an official policy of nonviolence (ahimsa). Even the unnecessary slaughter or mutilation of animals was immediately abolished. Everyone became protected by the king’s law against sport hunting and branding. Limited hunting was permitted for consumption reasons but Ashoka also promoted the concept of vegetarianism. Ashoka also showed mercy to those imprisoned, allowing them leave for the outside a day of the year. He attempted to raise the professional ambition of the common man by building universities for study, and water transit and irrigation systems for trade and agriculture. He treated his subjects as equals regardless of their religion, politics and caste. The kingdoms surrounding his, so easily overthrown, were instead made to be well-respected allies.
He is acclaimed for constructing hospitals for animals and renovating major roads throughout India. After this transformation, Ashoka came to be known as Dhammashoka (Sanskrit), meaning Ashoka, the follower of Dharma. Ashoka defined the main principles of dharma (dhamma) as nonviolence, tolerance of all sects and opinions, obedience to parents, respect for the Brahmans and other religious teachers and priests, liberality towards friends, humane treatment of servants, and generosity towards all. These principles suggest a general ethic of behaviour to which no religious or social group could object.
Some critics say that Ashoka was afraid of more wars, but among his neighbors, including the Seleucid Empire and the Greco-Bactrian kingdom established by Diodotus I, none could match his strength. He was a contemporary of both Antiochus I Soter and his successor Antiochus II Theos of the Seleucid dynasty as well as Diodotus I and his son Diodotus II of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom. If his inscriptions and edicts are well studied one finds that he was familiar with the Hellenic world but never in awe of it. His edicts, which talk of friendly relations, give the names of both Antiochus of the Seleucid empire and Ptolemy III of Egypt. The fame of the Mauryan empire was widespread from the time that Ashoka’s grandfather Chandragupta Maurya defeated Seleucus Nicator, the founder of the Seleucid Dynasty.
The source of much of our knowledge of Ashoka is the many inscriptions he had carved on pillars and rocks throughout the empire. All his inscriptions have the imperial touch and show compassionate loving. He addressed his people as his “children”. These inscriptions promoted Buddhist morality and encouraged nonviolence and adherence to Dharma (duty or proper behavior), and they talk of his fame and conquered lands as well as the neighboring kingdoms holding up his might. One also gets some primary information about the Kalinga War and Ashoka’s allies plus some useful knowledge on the civil administration. The Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath is the most popular of the relics left by Ashoka. Made of sandstone, this pillar records the visit of the emperor to Sarnath, in the 3rd century BC. It has a four-lion capital (four lions standing back to back) which was adopted as the emblem of the modern Indian republic. The lion symbolizes both Ashoka’s imperial rule and the kingship of the Buddha. In translating these monuments, historians learn the bulk of what is assumed to have been true fact of the Mauryan Empire. It is difficult to determine whether or not some actual events ever happened, but the stone etchings clearly depict how Ashoka wanted to be thought of and remembered.
Ashoka’s own words as known from his Edicts are: “All men are my children. I am like a father to them. As every father desires the good and the happiness of his children, I wish that all men should be happy always.” Edward D’Cruz interprets the Ashokan dharma as a “religion to be used as a symbol of a new imperial unity and a cementing force to weld the diverse and heterogeneous elements of the empire”.
Also, in the Edicts, Ashoka mentions Hellenistic kings of the period as converts to Buddhism, although no Hellenic historical record of this event remain:
The conquest by Dharma has been won here, on the borders, and even six hundred yojanas (5,400–9,600 km) away, where the Greek king Antiochos rules, beyond there where the four kings named Ptolemy, Antigonos, Magas and Alexander rule, likewise in the south among the Cholas, the Pandyas, and as far as Tambaparni (Sri Lanka).
Ashoka also claims that he encouraged the development of herbal medicine, for human and nonhuman animals, in their territories:
Everywhere within Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi’s [Ashoka’s] domain, and among the people beyond the borders, the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Satiyaputras, the Keralaputras, as far as Tamraparni and where the Greek king Antiochos rules, and among the kings who are neighbors of Antiochos, everywhere has Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, made provision for two types of medical treatment: medical treatment for humans and medical treatment for animals. Wherever medical herbs suitable for humans or animals are not available, I have had them imported and grown. Wherever medical roots or fruits are not available I have had them imported and grown. Along roads I have had wells dug and trees planted for the benefit of humans and animals.
The Greeks in India even seem to have played an active role in the propagation of Buddhism, as some of the emissaries of Ashoka, such as Dharmaraksita, are described in Pali sources as leading Greek (Yona) Buddhist monks, active in spreading Buddhism (the Mahavamsa, XII).
 Death and legacy
Ashoka ruled for an estimated forty years. After his death, the Mauryan dynasty lasted just fifty more years. Ashoka had many wives and children, but many of their names are lost to time. Mahindra and Sanghamitra were twins born by his 2nd wife, Devi, in the city of Ujjain. He had entrusted to them the job of making his state religion, Buddhism, more popular across the known and the unknown world. Mahindra and Sanghamitra went into Sri Lanka and converted the King, the Queen and their people to Buddhism. They were naturally not handling state affairs after him.
In his old age, he seems to have come under the spell of his youngest wife Tishyaraksha. It is said that she had got his son Kunala, the regent in Takshashila, blinded by a wily stratagem. The official executioners spared Kunala and he became a wandering singer accompanied by his favourite wife Kanchanmala. In Pataliputra, Ashoka hears Kunala’s song, and realizes that Kunala’s misfortune may have been a punishment for some past sin of the emperor himself and condemns Tishyaraksha to death, restoring Kunala to the court. Kunala was succeeded by his son, Samprati, but his rule did not last long after Ashoka’s death.
The reign of Ashoka Maurya could easily have disappeared into history as the ages passed by, and would have had he not left behind a record of his trials. The testimony of this wise king was discovered in the form of magnificently sculpted pillars and boulders with a variety of actions and teachings he wished to be published etched into the stone. What Ashoka left behind was the first written language in India since the ancient city of Harappa. The language used for inscription was the then current spoken form called Prakrit.
In the year 185 BC, about fifty years after Ashoka’s death, the last Maurya ruler, Brhadrata, was assassinated by the commander-in-chief of the Mauryan armed forces, Pusyamitra Sunga, while he was taking the Guard of Honor of his forces. Pusyamitra Sunga founded the Sunga dynasty (185 BC-78 BC) and ruled just a fragmented part of the Mauryan Empire. Many of the northwestern territories of the Mauryan Empire (modern-day Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan) became the Indo-Greek Kingdom.
In 1992, Ashoka was ranked #53 on Michael H. Hart‘s list of the most influential figures in history. In 2001, a semi-fictionalized portrayal of Ashoka’s life was produced as a motion picture under the title Asoka. King Ashoka, the third monarch of the Indian Mauryan dynasty, has come to be regarded as one of the most exemplary rulers in world history. The British historian H.G. Wells has written: “Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history, their majesties and graciousnesses and serenities and royal highnesses and the like, the name of Asoka shines, and shines, almost alone, a star.”
 Buddhist Kingship
One of the more enduring legacies of Ashoka Maurya was the model that he provided for the relationship between Buddhism and the state. Throughout Theravada Southeastern Asia, the model of ruler ship embodied by Ashoka replaced the notion of divine kingship that had previously dominated (in the Angkor kingdom, for instance). Under this model of ‘Buddhist kingship’, the king sought to legitimize his rule not through descent from a divine source, but by supporting and earning the approval of the Buddhist sangha. Following Ashoka’s example, kings established monasteries, funded the construction of stupas, and supported the ordination of monks in their kingdom. Many rulers also took an active role in resolving disputes over the status and regulation of the sangha, as Ashoka had in calling a conclave to settle a number of contentious issues during his reign. This development ultimately lead to a close association in many Southeast Asian countries between the monarchy and the religious hierarchy, an association that can still be seen today in the state-supported Buddhism of Thailand and the traditional role of the Thai king as both a religious and secular leader. Ashoka also said that all his courtiers were true to their self and governed the people in a moral manner.
 Historical sources
 Western sources
Ashoka was almost forgotten by the historians of the early British India, but James Prinsep contributed in the revelation of historical sources. Another important historian was British archaeologist John Hubert Marshall who was director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India. His main interests were Sanchi and Sarnath besides Harappa and Mohenjodaro. Sir Alexander Cunningham, a British archaeologist and army engineer and often known as the father of the Archaeological Survey of India, unveiled heritage sites like the Bharhut Stupa, Sarnath, Sanchi, and the Mahabodhi Temple; thus, his contribution is recognizable in realms of historical sources. [[Mortimer Wheeler], a British archaeologist, also exposed Ashokan historical sources, especially the Taxila.
 Eastern sources
Information about the life and reign of Ashoka primarily comes from a relatively small number of Buddhist sources. In particular, the Sanskrit Ashokavadana (‘Story of Ashoka’), written in the 2nd century, and the two Pāli chronicles of Sri Lanka (the Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa) provide most of the currently known information about Ashoka. Additional information is contributed by the Edicts of Asoka, whose authorship was finally attributed to the Ashoka of Buddhist legend after the discovery of dynastic lists that gave the name used in the edicts (Priyadarsi – ‘favored by the Gods’) as a title or additional name of Ashoka Mauriya. Architectural remains of his period have been found at Kumhrar, Patna, which include an 80-pillar hypostyle hall.
Edicts of Ashoka -The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of 33 inscriptions on the Pillars of Ashoka, as well as boulders and cave walls, made by the Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty during his reign from 272 to 231 BC. These inscriptions are dispersed throughout the areas of modern-day Pakistan and India, and represent the first tangible evidence of Buddhism. The edicts describe in detail the first wide expansion of Buddhism through the sponsorship of one of the most powerful kings of Indian history.It give more information about Ashoka’s proselytism, Moral precepts, Religious precepts, Social and animal welfare .
Mahavamsa -The Mahavamsa (“Great Chronicle”) is a historical poem written in the Pali language, of the kings of Sri Lanka. It covers the period from the coming of King Vijaya of Kalinga (ancient Orissa) in 543 BC to the reign of King Mahasena (334–361).As it often refers to the royal dynasties of India, the Mahavamsa is also valuable for historians who wish to date and relate contemporary royal dynasties in the Indian subcontinent. It is very important in dating the consecration of the Maurya emperor Ashoka.
Dipavamsa -The Dipavamsa, or “Deepavamsa”, (i.e., Chronicle of the Island, in Pali) is the oldest historical record of Sri Lanka. The chronicle is believe to be compiled from Atthakatha and other sources around the 3–4th century, King Dhatusena (4th century CE) had ordered that the Dipavamsa be recited at the Mahinda (son to Ashoka) festival held annually in Anuradhapura.
The use of Buddhist sources in reconstructing the life of Ashoka has had a strong influence on perceptions of Ashoka, as well as the interpretations of his edicts. Building on traditional accounts, early scholars regarded Ashoka as a primarily Buddhist monarch who underwent a conversion to Buddhism and was actively engaged in sponsoring and supporting the Buddhist monastic institution. Some scholars have tended to question this assessment. The only source of information not attributable to Buddhist sources are the Ashokan edicts, and these do not explicitly state that Ashoka was a Buddhist. In his edicts, Ashoka expresses support for all the major religions of his time: Buddhism, Brahmanism, Jainism, and Ajivikaism, and his edicts addressed to the population at large (there are some addressed specifically to Buddhists; this is not the case for the other religions) generally focus on moral themes members of all the religions would accept.
However, there is strong evidence in the edicts alone that he was a Buddhist. In one edict he belittles rituals, and he banned Vedic animal sacrifices; these strongly suggest that he at least did not look to the Vedic tradition for guidance. Furthermore, there are many edicts expressed to Buddhists alone; in one, Ashoka declares himself to be an “upasaka“, and in another he demonstrates a close familiarity with Buddhist texts. He erected rock pillars at Buddhist holy sites, but did not do so for the sites of other religions. He also used the word “dhamma” to refer to qualities of the heart that underlie moral action; this was an exclusively Buddhist use of the word. Finally, the ideals he promotes correspond to the first three steps of the Buddha’s graduated discourse.
 Global spread of Buddhism
Ashoka, now a Buddhist emperor, believed that Buddhism is beneficial for all human beings as well as animals and plants, so he built 84,000 stupas, Sangharama, viharas, Chaitya, and residences for Buddhist monks all over South Asia and Central Asia. He gave donations to viharas and mathas. He sent his only daughter Sanghamitta and son Mahindra to spread Buddhism in Sri Lanka (ancient name Tamraparni). Ashoka also sent many prominent Buddhist monks (bhikshus) Sthaviras like Madhyamik Sthavira to modern Kashmir and Afghanistan; Maharaskshit Sthavira to Syria, Persia / Iran, Egypt, Greece, Italy and Turkey; Massim Sthavira to Nepal, Bhutan, China and Mongolia; Sohn Uttar Sthavira to modern Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (old name Suvarnabhumi for Burma and Thailand), Thailand and Vietnam; Mahadhhamarakhhita stahvira to Maharashtra (old name Maharatthha); Maharakhhit Sthavira and Yavandhammarakhhita Sthavira to South India. Ashoka also invited Buddhists and non-Buddhists for religious conferences. Ashoka inspired the Buddhist monks to compose the sacred religious texts, and also gave all types of help to that end. Ashoka also helped to develop viharas (intellectual hubs) such as Nalanda and Taxila. Ashoka helped to construct Sanchi and Mahabodhi Temple. Ashoka never tried to harm or to destroy non-Buddhist religions, and indeed gave donations to non-Buddhists. As his reign continued his even-handedness was replaced with special inclination towards Buddhism. Ashoka helped and respected both Sramans (Buddhists monks) and Brahmins (Vedic monks). Ashoka also helped to organize the Third Buddhist council (c. 250 BC) at Pataliputra (today’s Patna). It was conducted by the monk Moggaliputta-Tissa who was the spiritual teacher of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka.
 As administrator
Ashoka’s military power was so strong that he was able to crush those empires that went to war against him. Still, he was on friendly terms with kingdoms in the South like Cholas, Pandya, Keralputra, the post Alexandrian empire, Tamraparni, and Suvarnabhumi who were strong enough to remain outside his empire and continued to profess Hinduism. According to his edicts we know that he provided humanitarian help including doctors, hospitals, inns, wells, medical herbs and engineers to his neighboring countries. In neighboring countries, Ashoka helped humans as well as animals. Ashoka also planted trees in his empire and his neighboring countries. Ashoka was perhaps the first emperor in human history to ban slavery, hunting, fishing and deforestation. Ashoka also banned the death sentence and asked the same for the neighboring countries. Ashoka commanded his people to serve the orders of their elders parents and religious monks (shramana and Brahmin). Ashoka also recommended his people study and respect all religions. According to Ashoka, to harm another’s religion is a harm to one’s own religion. Ashoka asserted his people to live with Dharmmacharana. Ashoka asked people to live with harmony, peace, love and tolerance. Ashoka called his people as his children, and they could call him when they need him. He also asked people to save money and not to spend for immoral causes. Ashoka also believed in dharmacharana (dhammacharana) and dharmavijaya (dhammavijaya). According to many European and Asian historians the age of Ashoka was the age of light and delightment. He was the first emperor in human history who has taught the lesson of unity, peace, equality and love. Ashoka’s aim was not to expand the territories but the welfare of all of his subjects (sarvajansukhay). In his vast empire there was no evidence of recognizable mutiny or civil war. Ashoka was the true devotee of nonviolence, peace and love. This made him different from other emperors. Ashoka also helped Buddhism as well as religions like Jainism, Hinduism, Hellenic polytheism and Ajivikas. Ashoka was against any discrimination among humans. He helped students, the poor, orphans and the elderly with social, political and economic help. According to Ashoka, hatred gives birth to hatred and a feeling of love gives birth to love and mercy. According to him the happiness of people is the happiness of the ruler. His opinion was that the sword is not as powerful as love. Ashoka was also kind to prisoners, and respected animal life and tree life. Ashoka allowed females to be educated. He also permitted females to enter religious institutions. He allowed female Buddhist monastics such as Bhikkhuni. He combined in himself the complexity of a king and a simplicity of a buddhist monk. Because of these reasons he is known as the emperor of all ages and thus became a milestone in the History of the world.
 Ashoka Chakra
The Ashoka Chakra (the wheel of Ashoka) is a depiction of the Dharmachakra or Dhammachakka in Pali, the Wheel of Dharma (Sanskrit: Chakra means wheel). The wheel has 24 spokes. The Ashoka Chakra has been widely inscribed on many relics of the Mauryan Emperor, most prominent among which is the Lion Capital of Sarnath and The Ashoka Pillar. The most visible use of the Ashoka Chakra today is at the centre of the National flag of the Republic of India (adopted on 22 July 1947), where it is rendered in a Navy-blue color on a White background, by replacing the symbol of Charkha (Spinning wheel) of the pre-independence versions of the flag. Ashoka Chakra can also been seen on the base of Lion Capital of Ashoka which has been adopted as the National Emblem of India.
The Ashoka chakra was built by Ashoka during his reign. Chakra is a Sanskrit word which also means cycle or self repeating process. The process it signifies is the cycle of time as how the world changes with time.
A few days before India became independent on August 1947, the specially constituted Constituent Assembly decided that the flag of India must be acceptable to all parties and communities. A flag with three colours, Saffron, White and Green with the Ashoka Chakra was selected.
 Pillars of Ashoka (Ashokstambha)
The pillars of Ashoka are a series of columns dispersed throughout the northern Indian subcontinent, and erected by Ashoka during his reign in the 3rd century BC. Originally, there must have been many pillars of Ashoka although only ten with inscriptions still survive. Averaging between forty and fifty feet in height, and weighing up to fifty tons each, all the pillars were quarried at Chunar, just south of Varanasi and dragged, sometimes hundreds of miles, to where they were erected. The first Pillar of Ashoka was found in the 16th century by Thomas Coryat in the ruins of ancient Delhi. The wheel represents the sun time and Buddhist law, while the swastika stands for the cosmic dance around a fixed center and guards against evil. There is no evidence of a swastika, or manji, on the pillars.
 Lion Capital of Asoka (Ashokmudra)
The Lion capital of Ashoka is a sculpture of four “Indian lions” standing back to back. It was originally placed atop the Aśoka pillar at Sarnath, now in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. The pillar, sometimes called the Aśoka Column is still in its original location, but the Lion Capital is now in the Sarnath Museum. This Lion Capital of Ashoka from Sarnath has been adopted as the National Emblem of India and the wheel “Ashoka Chakra” from its base was placed onto the center of the National Flag of India.
The capital contains four lions (Indian / Asiatic Lions), standing back to back, mounted on an abacus, with a frieze carrying sculptures in high relief of an elephant, a galloping horse, a bull, and a lion, separated by intervening spoked chariot-wheels over a bell-shaped lotus. Carved out of a single block of polished sandstone, the capital was believed to be crowned by a ‘Wheel of Dharma’ (Dharmachakra popularly known in India as the “Ashoka Chakra”).
The Ashoka Lion capital or the Sarnath lion capital is also known as the national symbol of India. The Sarnath pillar bears one of the Edicts of Ashoka, an inscription against division within the Buddhist community, which reads, “No one shall cause division in the order of monks”. The Sarnath pillar is a column surmounted by a capital, which consists of a canopy representing an inverted bell-shaped lotus flower, a short cylindrical abacus with four 24-spoked Dharma wheels with four animals (an elephant, a bull, a horse, a lion).
The four animals in the Sarnath capital are believed to symbolize different steps of Lord Buddha‘s life.
- The Elephant represents the Buddha’s idea in reference to the dream of Queen Maya of a white elephant entering her womb.
- The Bull represents desire during the life of the Buddha as a prince.
- The Horse represents Buddha’s departure from palatial life.
- The Lion represents the accomplishment of Buddha.
Besides the religious interpretations, there are some non-religious interpretations also about the symbolism of the Ashoka capital pillar at Sarnath. According to them, the four lions symbolize Ashoka’s rule over the four directions, the wheels as symbols of his enlightened rule (Chakravartin) and the four animals as symbols of four adjoining territories of India.
 Constructions credited to Ashoka
- Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh, India
- Dhamek Stupa, Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh, India
- Mahabodhi Temple, Bihar, India
- Barabar Caves, Bihar, India
- Nalanda University (Vishwaviddyalaya), (some portions like Sariputta Stupa), Bihar, India
- Taxila University (Vishwaviddyalaya), (some portions like Dharmarajika Stupa and Kunala Stupa), Taxila, Pakistan
- Bhir Mound, (reconstructed), Taxila, Pakistan
- Bharhut stupa, Madhya Pradesh, India
- Deorkothar Stupa, Madhya Pradesh, India
- Butkara Stupa, Swat, Pakistan
Chandragupta’s grandson i.e., Bindusara’s son was Ashokavardhan Maurya, also known as Ashoka or Ashoka The Great (ruled 273- 232 BCE).
As a young prince, Ashoka was a brilliant commander who crushed revolts in Ujjain and Taxila. As monarch he was ambitious and aggressive, re-asserting the Empire’s superiority in southern and western India. But it was his conquest of Kalinga which proved to be the pivotal event of his life. Although Ashoka’s army succeeded in overwhelming Kalinga forces of royal soldiers and civilian units, an estimated 100,000 soldiers and civilians were killed in the furious warfare, including over 10,000 of Ashoka’s own men. Hundreds of thousands of people were adversely affected by the destruction and fallout of war. When he personally witnessed the devastation, Ashoka began feeling remorse, and he cried ‘what have I done?’. Although the annexation of Kalinga was completed, Ashoka embraced the teachings of Gautama Buddha, and renounced war and violence. For a monarch in ancient times, this was an historic feat.
Ashoka implemented principles of ahimsa by banning hunting and violent sports activity and ending indentured and forced labor (many thousands of people in war-ravaged Kalinga had been forced into hard labor and servitude). While he maintained a large and powerful army, to keep the peace and maintain authority, Ashoka expanded friendly relations with states across Asia and Europe, and he sponsored Buddhist missions. He undertook a massive public works building campaign across the country. Over 40 years of peace, harmony and prosperity made Ashoka one of the most successful and famous monarchs in Indian history. He remains an idealized figure of inspiration in modern India.
The Edicts of Ashoka, set in stone, are found throughout the Subcontinent. Ranging from as far west as Afghanistan and as far south as Andhra (Nellore District), Ashoka’s edicts state his policies and accomplishments. Although predominantly written in Prakrit, two of them were written in Greek, and one in both Greek and Aramaic. Ashoka’s edicts refer to the Greeks, Kambojas, and Gandharas as peoples forming a frontier region of his empire. They also attest to Ashoka’s having sent envoys to the Greek rulers in the West as far as the Mediterranean. The edicts precisely name each of the rulers of the Hellenic world at the time such as Amtiyoko (Antiochus), Tulamaya (Ptolemy), Amtikini (Antigonos), Maka (Magas) and Alikasudaro (Alexander) as recipients of Ashoka’s proselytism. The Edicts also accurately locate their territory “600 yojanas away” (a yojanas being about 7 miles), corresponding to the distance between the center of India and Greece (roughly 4,000 miles).
Statuettes of the Maurya period, 4th–3rd century BCE. Musée Guimet.
The Empire was divided into four provinces, which one of the four, look like a giant crescents. with the imperial capital at Pataliputra. From Ashokan edicts, the names of the four provincial capitals are Tosali (in the east), Ujjain in the west, Suvarnagiri (in the south), and Taxila (in the north). The head of the provincial administration was the Kumara (royal prince), who governed the provinces as king’s representative. The kumara was assisted by Mahamatyas and council of ministers. This organizational structure was reflected at the imperial level with the Emperor and his Mantriparishad (Council of Ministers).
Historians theorize that the organization of the Empire was in line with the extensive bureaucracy described by Kautilya in the Arthashastra: a sophisticated civil service governed everything from municipal hygiene to international trade. The expansion and defense of the empire was made possible by what appears to have been the largest standing army of its time. According to Megasthenes, the empire wielded a military of 600,000 infantry, 30,000 cavalry, and 9,000 war elephants. A vast espionage system collected intelligence for both internal and external security purposes. Having renounced offensive warfare and expansionism, Ashoka nevertheless continued to maintain this large army, to protect the Empire and instill stability and peace across West and South Asia.
For the first time in South Asia, political unity and military security allowed for a common economic system and enhanced trade and commerce, with increased agricultural productivity. The previous situation involving hundreds of kingdoms, many small armies, powerful regional chieftains, and internecine warfare, gave way to a disciplined central authority. Farmers were freed of tax and crop collection burdens from regional kings, paying instead to a nationally administered and strict-but-fair system of taxation as advised by the principles in the Arthashastra. Chandragupta Maurya established a single currency across India, and a network of regional governors and administrators and a civil service provided justice and security for merchants, farmers and traders. The Mauryan army wiped out many gangs of bandits, regional private armies, and powerful chieftains who sought to impose their own supremacy in small areas. Although regimental in revenue collection, Maurya also sponsored many public works and waterways to enhance productivity, while internal trade in India expanded greatly due to newfound political unity and internal peace.
Under the Indo-Greek friendship treaty, and during Ashoka’s reign, an international network of trade expanded. The Khyber Pass, on the modern boundary of Pakistan and Afghanistan, became a strategically important port of trade and intercourse with the outside world. Greek states and Hellenic kingdoms in West Asia became important trade partners of India. Trade also extended through the Malay peninsula into Southeast Asia. India’s exports included silk goods and textiles, spices and exotic foods. The Empire was enriched further with an exchange of scientific knowledge and technology with Europe and West Asia. Ashoka also sponsored the construction of thousands of roads, waterways, canals, hospitals, rest-houses and other public works. The easing of many over-rigorous administrative practices, including those regarding taxation and crop collection, helped increase productivity and economic activity across the Empire.
In many ways, the economic situation in the Mauryan Empire is analogous to the Roman Empire of several centuries later. Both had extensive trade connections and both had organizations similar to corporations. While Rome had organizational entities which were largely used for public state-driven projects, Mauryan India had numerous private commercial entities. These existed purely for private commerce and developed before the Mauryan Empire itself. The Economic History of the Corporate Form in Ancient India. University of Michigan.</ref> (See also Economic history of India.)
Hinduism was the only religion at the time of inception of the empire, Hindu priests and ministers use to be an important part of the emperor’s court, like Chanakya also known as Vishnu Gupt. Ajivikas, an ascetic Hindu movement was also practiced, Bhattotpala, in 950 A.D. identified them with the “Ekandandins” (One-staff men) writes that they are devotees of Narayana (Vishnu), although Shilanka speaking of the Ekandandins in another connection identifies them as Shaivas (devotees of Shiva). Scholar James Hastings identifies the name “Mankhaliputta” or “Mankhali” with the bamboo staff. Scholar Jitendra N. Banerjea compares them to the Pasupatas Shaivas. It is believed by scholar Charpentier that the Ajivikas before Makkhali Goshala worshiped Shiva. Chanakya wrote in his text Chanakya Niti, “Humbly bowing down before the almighty Lord Sri Vishnu, the Lord of the three worlds, I recite maxims of the science of political ethics (niti) selected from the various satras (scriptures)”
Even after embracing Buddhism, Ashoka retained the membership of Hindu Brahmana priests and ministers in his court. Mauryan society began embracing the philosophy of ahimsa, and given the increased prosperity and improved law enforcement, crime and internal conflicts reduced dramatically. Also greatly discouraged was the caste system and orthodox discrimination, as Mauryans began to absorb the ideals and values of Jain and Buddhist teachings along with traditional Vedic Hindu teachings.
Ashoka initially practiced Hinduism but later embraced Buddhism, following the Kalinga War, he renounced expansionism and aggression, and the harsher injunctions of the Arthashastra on the use of force, intensive policing, and ruthless measures for tax collection and against rebels. Ashoka sent a mission led by his son Mahinda and daughter Sanghamitta to Sri Lanka, whose king Tissa was so charmed with Buddhist ideals that he adopted them himself and made Buddhism the state religion. Ashoka sent many Buddhist missions to West Asia, Greece and South East Asia, and commissioned the construction of monasteries, schools and publication of Buddhist literature across the empire. He is believed to have built as many as 84,000 stupas across India i.e. Sanchi and Mahabodhi Temple, and he increased the popularity of Buddhism in Afghanistan, Thailand and North Asia including Siberia. Ashoka helped convene the Third Buddhist Council of India and South Asia’s Buddhist orders, near his capital, a council that undertook much work of reform and expansion of the Buddhist religion.
Emperor Chandragupta Maurya embraced Jainism after retiring. At an older age, Chandragupta renounced his throne and material possessions to join a wandering group of Jain monks. Chandragupta was a disciple of Acharya Bhadrabahu. It is said that in his last days, he observed the rigorous but self purifying Jain ritual of santhara i.e. fast unto death, at Shravana Belagola in Karnataka. However, his successor, Emperor Bindusara, was a follower of a Hindu ascetic movement, Ajivika and distanced himself from Jain and Buddhist movements. Samprati, the grandson of Ashoka also embraced Jainism. Samrat Samprati was influenced by the teachings of Jain monk Arya Suhasti Suri and he is known to have built 125,000 Jain Temples across India. Some of them are still found in towns of Ahmedabad, Viramgam, Ujjain & Palitana. It is also said that just like Ashoka, Samprati sent messengers & preachers to Greece, Persia & middle-east for the spread of Jainism. But to date no research has been done in this area. Thus, Jainism became a vital force under the Mauryan Rule. Chandragupta & Samprati are credited for the spread of Jainism in Southern India. Lakhs of Jain Temples & Jain Stupas were erected during their reign. But due to lack of royal patronage & its strict principles, along with the rise of Shankaracharya & Ramanujacharya, Jainism, once the major religion of southern India, began to decline.
 Architectural remains
Architectural remains of the Maurya period are rather few. Remains of a hypostyle building with about 80 columns of a height of about 10 meters have been found in Kumhrar, 5 km from Patna Railway station, and is one of the very few site that has been connected to the rule of the Mauryas was extremely conducted in that city. The style is rather reminiscent of Persian Achaemenid architecture.
The grottoes of Barabar Caves, are another example of Mauryan architecture, especially the decorated front of the Lomas Rishi grotto. These were offered by the Mauryas to the Buddhist sect of the Ajivikas.
The most widespread example of Maurya architecture are the Pillars of Ashoka, often exquisitely decorated, with more than 40 spread throughout the sub-continent.
 Natural history in the times of the Mauryas
The protection of animals in India became serious business by the time of the Maurya dynasty; being the first empire to provide a unified political entity in India, the attitude of the Mauryas towards forests, its denizens and fauna in general is of interest.
The Mauryas firstly looked at forests as a resource. For them, the most important forest product was the elephant. Military might in those times depended not only upon horses and men but also battle-elephants; these played a role in the defeat of Seleucus, Alexander‘s governor of the Punjab[clarification needed]. The Mauryas sought to preserve supplies of elephants since it was cheaper and took less time to catch, tame and train wild elephants than to raise them. Kautilya‘s Arthashastra contains not only maxims on ancient statecraft, but also unambiguously specifies the responsibilities of officials such as the Protector of the Elephant Forests:
On the border of the forest, he should establish a forest for elephants guarded by foresters. The Office of the Chief Elephant Forrester should with the help of guards protect the elephants in any terrain. The slaying of an elephant is punishable by death..
The Mauryas also designated separate forests to protect supplies of timber, as well as lions and tigers, for skins. Elsewhere the Protector of Animals also worked to eliminate thieves, tigers and other predators to render the woods safe for grazing cattle.
The Mauryas valued certain forest tracts in strategic or economic terms and instituted curbs and control measures over them. They regarded all forest tribes with distrust and controlled them with bribery and political subjugation. They employed some of them, the food-gatherers or aranyaca to guard borders and trap animals. The sometimes tense and conflict-ridden relationship nevertheless enabled the Mauryas to guard their vast empire.
When Ashoka embraced Buddhism in the latter part of his reign, he brought about significant changes in his style of governance, which included providing protection to fauna, and even relinquished the royal hunt. He was the first ruler in history to advocate conservation measures for wildlife and even had rules inscribed in stone edicts. The edicts proclaim that many followed the king’s example in giving up the slaughter of animals; one of them proudly states:
Our king killed very few animals.
However, the edicts of Ashoka reflect more the desire of rulers than actual events; the mention of a 100 ‘panas’ (coins) fine for poaching deer in royal hunting preserves shows that rule-breakers did exist. The legal restrictions conflicted with the practices freely exercised by the common people in hunting, felling, fishing and setting fires in forests.
 Contacts with the Hellenistic world
 Foundation of the Empire
Relations with the Hellenistic world may have started from the very beginning of the Maurya Empire. Plutarch reports that Chandragupta Maurya met with Alexander the Great, probably around Taxila in the northwest:
- “Sandrocottus, when he was a stripling, saw Alexander himself, and we are told that he often said in later times that Alexander narrowly missed making himself master of the country, since its king was hated and despised on account of his baseness and low birth”. Plutarch 62-3
 Reconquest of the Northwest (c. 310 BCE)
Chandragupta ultimately occupied Northwestern India, in the territories formerly ruled by the Greeks, where he fought the satraps (described as “Prefects” in Western sources) left in place after Alexander (Justin), among whom may have been Eudemus, ruler in the western Punjab until his departure in 317 BCE or Peithon, son of Agenor, ruler of the Greek colonies along the Indus until his departure for Babylon in 316 BCE.
- “India, after the death of Alexander, had assassinated his prefects, as if shaking the burden of servitude. The author of this liberation was Sandracottos, but he had transformed liberation in servitude after victory, since, after taking the throne, he himself oppressed the very people he has liberated from foreign domination” Justin XV.4.12–13
- “Later, as he was preparing war against the prefects of Alexander, a huge wild elephant went to him and took him on his back as if tame, and he became a remarkable fighter and war leader. Having thus acquired royal power, Sandracottos possessed India at the time Seleucos was preparing future glory.” Justin XV.4.19
 Conflict and alliance with Seleucus (305 BCE)
Silver coin of Seleucus I Nicator, who fought Chandragupta Maurya, and later made an alliance with him.
Seleucus I Nicator, the Macedonian satrap of the Asian portion of Alexander’s former empire, conquered and put under his own authority eastern territories as far as Bactria and the Indus (Appian, History of Rome, The Syrian Wars 55), until in 305 BCE he entered in a confrontation with Chandragupta:
- “Always lying in wait for the neighboring nations, strong in arms and persuasive in council, he [Seleucus] acquired Mesopotamia, Armenia, ‘Seleucid’ Cappadocia, Persis, Parthia, Bactria, Arabia, Tapouria, Sogdia, Arachosia, Hyrcania, and other adjacent peoples that had been subdued by Alexander, as far as the river Indus, so that the boundaries of his empire were the most extensive in Asia after that of Alexander. The whole region from Phrygia to the Indus was subject to Seleucus”. Appian, History of Rome, The Syrian Wars 55
Though no accounts of the conflict remain, it is clear that Seleucus fared poorly against the Indian Emperor as he failed in conquering any territory, and in fact, was forced to surrender much that was already his. Regardless, Seleucus and Chandragupta ultimately reached a settlement and through a treaty sealed in 305 BCE, Seleucus, according to Strabo, ceded a number of territories to Chandragupta, including southern Afghanistan and parts of Persia.
Accordingly, Seleucus obtained five hundred war elephants, a military asset which would play a decisive role at the Battle of Ipsus in 301 BCE.
 Marital alliance
It is generally thought that Chandragupta married Seleucus’s daughter, or a Greek Macedonian princess, a gift from Seleucus to formalize an alliance. In a return gesture, Chandragupta sent 500 war–elephants, a military asset which would play a decisive role at the Battle of Ipsus in 302 BC. In addition to this treaty, Seleucus dispatched an ambassador, Megasthenes, to Chandragupta, and later Deimakos to his son Bindusara, at the Mauryan court at Pataliputra (modern Patna in Bihar state). Later Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt and contemporary of Ashoka the Great, is also recorded by Pliny the Elder as having sent an ambassador named Dionysius to the Mauryan court.
Mainstream scholarship asserts that Chandragupta received vast territory west of the Indus, including the Hindu Kush, modern day Afghanistan, and the Balochistan province of Pakistan. Archaeologically, concrete indications of Mauryan rule, such as the inscriptions of the Edicts of Ashoka, are known as far as Kandhahar in southern Afghanistan.
|“||“He (Seleucus) crossed the Indus and waged war with Sandrocottus [Maurya], king of the Indians, who dwelt on the banks of that stream, until they came to an understanding with each other and contracted a marriage relationship.”||”|
|“||“After having made a treaty with him (Sandrakotos) and put in order the Orient situation, Seleucos went to war against Antigonus.”||”|
|—Junianus Justinus, Historiarum Philippicarum libri XLIV, XV.4.15|
The treaty on “Epigamia” implies lawful marriage between Greeks and Indians was recognized at the State level, although it is unclear whether it occurred among dynastic rulers or common people, or both. .
 Exchange of ambassadors
Seleucus dispatched an ambassador, Megasthenes, to Chandragupta, and later Deimakos to his son Bindusara, at the Mauryan court at Pataliputra (Modern Patna in Bihar state). Later Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt and contemporary of Ashoka, is also recorded by Pliny the Elder as having sent an ambassador named Dionysius to the Mauryan court.
 Exchange of presents
Classical sources have also recorded that following their treaty, Chandragupta and Seleucus exchanged presents, such as when Chandragupta sent various aphrodisiacs to Seleucus:
- “And Theophrastus says that some contrivances are of wondrous efficacy in such matters [as to make people more amorous]. And Phylarchus confirms him, by reference to some of the presents which Sandrakottus, the king of the Indians, sent to Seleucus; which were to act like charms in producing a wonderful degree of affection, while some, on the contrary, were to banish love” Athenaeus of Naucratis, “The deipnosophists” Book I, chapter 32
- “But dried figs were so very much sought after by all men (for really, as Aristophanes says, “There’s really nothing nicer than dried figs”), that even Amitrochates, the king of the Indians, wrote to Antiochus, entreating him (it is Hegesander who tells this story) to buy and send him some sweet wine, and some dried figs, and a sophist; and that Antiochus wrote to him in answer, “The dry figs and the sweet wine we will send you; but it is not lawful for a sophist to be sold in Greece” Athenaeus, “Deipnosophistae” XIV.67
 Greek population in India
Greek population apparently remained in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent under Ashoka’s rule. In his Edicts of Ashoka, set in stone, some of them written in Greek, Ashoka describes that Greek population within his realm converted to Buddhism:
- “Here in the king’s domain among the Greeks, the Kambojas, the Nabhakas, the Nabhapamkits, the Bhojas, the Pitinikas, the Andhras and the Palidas, everywhere people are following Beloved-of-the-Gods’ instructions in Dharma“. Rock Edict Nb13 (S. Dhammika).
Fragments of Edict 13 have been found in Greek, and a full Edict, written in both Greek and Aramaic has been discovered in Kandahar. It is said to be written in excellent Classical Greek, using sophisticated philosophical terms. In this Edict, Ashoka uses the word Eusebeia (“Piety“) as the Greek translation for the ubiquitous “Dharma” of his other Edicts written in Prakrit:
- “Ten years (of reign) having been completed, King Piodasses (Ashoka) made known (the doctrine of) Piety (εὐσέβεια, Eusebeia) to men; and from this moment he has made men more pious, and everything thrives throughout the whole world. And the king abstains from (killing) living beings, and other men and those who (are) huntsmen and fishermen of the king have desisted from hunting. And if some (were) intemperate, they have ceased from their intemperance as was in their power; and obedient to their father and mother and to the elders, in opposition to the past also in the future, by so acting on every occasion, they will live better and more happily”. (Trans. by G.P. Carratelli )
 Buddhist missions to the West (c.250 BCE)
- “The conquest by Dharma has been won here, on the borders, and even six hundred yojanas (5,400–9,600 km) away, where the Greek king Antiochos rules, beyond there where the four kings named Ptolemy, Antigonos, Magas and Alexander rule, likewise in the south among the Cholas, the Pandyas, and as far as Tamraparni (Sri Lanka).” (Edicts of Ashoka, 13th Rock Edict, S. Dhammika).
Ashoka also claims that he encouraged the development of herbal medicine, for men and animals, in their territories:
- “Everywhere within Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi’s [Ashoka’s] domain, and among the people beyond the borders, the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Satiyaputras, the Keralaputras, as far as Tamraparni and where the Greek king Antiochos rules, and among the kings who are neighbors of Antiochos, everywhere has Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, made provision for two types of medical treatment: medical treatment for humans and medical treatment for animals. Wherever medical herbs suitable for humans or animals are not available, I have had them imported and grown. Wherever medical roots or fruits are not available I have had them imported and grown. Along roads I have had wells dug and trees planted for the benefit of humans and animals”. 2nd Rock Edict
The Greeks in India even seem to have played an active role in the propagation of Buddhism, as some of the emissaries of Ashoka, such as Dharmaraksita, are described in Pali sources as leading Greek (“Yona“) Buddhist monks, active in Buddhist proselytism (the Mahavamsa, XII).
 Subhagsena and Antiochos III (206 BCE)
Sophagasenus was an Indian Mauryan ruler of the 3rd century BCE, described in ancient Greek sources, and named Subhagsena or Subhashsena in Prakrit. His name is mentioned in the list of Mauryan princes, and also in the list of the Yadava dynasty, as a descendant of Pradyumna. He may have been a grandson of Ashoka, or Kunala, the son of Ashoka. He ruled an area south of the Hindu Kush, possibly in Gandhara. Antiochos III, the Seleucid king, after having made peace with Euthydemus in Bactria, went to India in 206 BC and is said to have renewed his friendship with the Indian king there:
- “He (Antiochus) crossed the Caucasus and descended into India; renewed his friendship with Sophagasenus the king of the Indians; received more elephants, until he had a hundred and fifty altogether; and having once more provisioned his troops, set out again personally with his army: leaving Androsthenes of Cyzicus the duty of taking home the treasure which this king had agreed to hand over to him”. Polybius 11.39
Ashoka was followed for 50 years by a succession of weaker kings. Brhadrata, the last ruler of the Mauryan dynasty, held territories that had shrunk considerably from the time of emperor Ashoka, although he still upheld the Buddhist faith.
 Sunga coup (185 BCE)
Brihadrata was assassinated in 185 BCE during a military parade, by the commander-in-chief of his guard, the Brahmin general Pusyamitra Sunga, who then took over the throne and established the Sunga dynasty. Buddhist records such as the Asokavadana write that the assassination of Brhadrata and the rise of the Sunga empire led to a wave of persecution for Buddhists, and a resurgence of Hinduism. According to Sir John Marshall, Pusyamitra may have been the main author of the persecutions, although later Sunga kings seem to have been more supportive of Buddhism. Other historians, such as Etienne Lamotte and Romila Thapar, among others, have argued that archaeological evidence in favor of the allegations of persecution of Buddhists are lacking, and that the extent and magnitude of the atrocities have been exaggerated.
 Establishment of the Indo-Greek Kingdom (180 BCE)
The fall of the Mauryas left the Khyber Pass unguarded, and a wave of foreign invasion followed. The Greco-Bactrian king, Demetrius, capitalized on the break-up, and he conquered southern Afghanistan and Pakistan around 180 BC, forming the Indo-Greek Kingdom. The Indo-Greeks would maintain holdings on the trans-Indus region, and make forays into central India, for about a century. Under them, Buddhism flourished, and one of their kings Menander became a famous figure of Buddhism, he was to establish a new capital of Sagala, the modern city of Sialkot. However, the extent of their domains and the lengths of their rule are subject to much debate. Numismatic evidence indicates that they retained holdings in the subcontinent right up to the birth of Christ. Although the extent of their successes against indigenous powers such as the Sungas, Satavahanas, and Kalingas are unclear, what is clear is that Scythian tribes, renamed Indo-Scythians, brought about the demise of the Indo-Greeks from around 70 BCE and retained lands in the trans-Indus, the region of Mathura, and Gujarat.
The decline of the Maurya Dynasty was rather rapid after the death of Ashoka/Asoka. One obvious reason for it was the succession of weak kings. Another immediate cause was the partition of the Empire into two. Had not the partition taken place, the Greek invasions could have been held back giving a chance to the Mauryas to re-establish some degree of their previous power. Regarding the decline much has been written. Haraprasad Sastri contends that the revolt by Pushyamitra was the result of brahminical reaction against the pro-Buddhist policies of Ashoka and pro-Jaina policies of his successors. Basing themselves on this thesis, some maintain the view that brahminical reaction was responsible for the decline because of the following reasons.
- Prohibition of the slaughter of animals displeased the Brahmins as animal sacrifices were esteemed by them.
- The book Divyavadana refers to the persecution of Buddhists by Pushyamitra Sunga.
- Asoka’s claim that he exposed the Budheveas (brahmins) as false gods shows that Ashoka was not well disposed towards Brahmins.
- The capture of power by Pushyamitra Sunga shows the triumph of Brahmins.
All of these four points can be easily refuted.
- Asoka’s compassion towards animals was not an overnight decision. Repulsion of animal sacrifices grew over a long period of time. Even Brahmins gave it up.
- The book Divyavadana cannot be relied upon since it was during the time of Pushyamitra Sunga that the Sanchi and Barhut stupas were completed. The impression of the persecution of Buddhism was probably created by Menander’s invasion, since he was a Buddhist.
- The word ‘budheva’ is misinterpreted because this word is to be taken in the context of some other phrase. Viewed like this, the word has nothing to do with brahminism.
- The victory of Pushyamitra Sunga clearly shows that the last of the Mauryas was an incompetent ruler since he was overthrown in the very presence of his army, and this had nothing to do with brahminical reaction against Asoka’s patronage of Buddhism. Moreover, the very fact that a Brahmin was the commander in chief of the Mauryan ruler proves that the Mauryas and the Brahmins were on good terms.
After all, the distinction between Hinduism and Buddhism in India was purely sectarian and never more than the difference between saivism and vaishnavism. The exclusiveness of religious doctrines is a Semitic conception, which was unknown to India for a long time. Buddha himself was looked upon in his lifetime and afterwards as a Hindu saint and avatar and his followers were but another sect in the great Aryan tradition. Ashoka was a Buddhist in the same way as Harsha was a Budhist, or Kumarapala was a Jain. But in the view of the people of the day he was a Hindu monarch following one of the recognized sects. His own inscriptions bear ample withness to the fact. While his doctrines follow themiddle path, his gifts are to the brahmibns, sramansa (Buddhist priests) and others equally. His own name of adoption is Devanam Priya, the beloved of the gods. Which gods? Surely the gods of the Aryan religion. Buddhism had no gods of its own. The idea that Ashoka was a kind of Buddhist Constantine declearing himself against paganism is a complete misreading of India conditions. Asoka was a kind or Buddhist Constantine declearing himself against paganism is a complete misreading of India conditions. Asoka was essentially a Hindu, as indeed was the founder of the sect to which he belonged.
Raychaudhury too rebuts the arguments of Sastri. The empire had shrunk considerably and there was no revolution. Killing the Mauryan King while he was reviewing the army points to a palace coup detat not a revolution. The organization were ready to accept any one who could promise a more efficient organisation. Also if Pushyamitra was really a representative of brahminical reaction he neighbouting kings would have definitely given him assistance.
The argument that the empire became effete because of Asokan policies is also very thin. All the evidence suggests that Asoka was a stern monarch although his reign witnessed only a single campaign. He was shrewd enough in retaining Kalinga although he expressed his remorse. Well he was wordly-wise to enslave and-and-half lakh sudras of Kalinga and bring them to the Magadha region to cut forests and cultivate land. More than this his tours of the empire were not only meant for the sake of piety but also for keeping an eye on the centrifugal tendencies of the empire. Which addressing the tribal people Asoka expressed his willingness to for given. More draconian was Ashoka’s message to the forest tribes who were warned of the power which he possessed. This view of Raychoudhury on the pacifism of the State cannot be substantiated.
Apart from these two major writers there is a third view as expressed by kosambi. He based his arguments that unnccessary measures were taken up to increase tax and the punch-marked coins of the period show evidence of debasement. This contention too cannot be up held. It is quite possible that debased coins began to circulate during the period of the later Mauryas. On the other hand the debasement may also indicate that there was an increased demand for silver in relation to goods leading to the silver content of the coins being reduced. More important point is the fact that the material remains of the post-Asokan era do not suggest any pressure on the economy. Instead the economy prospered as shown by archaeological evidence at Hastinapura and Sisupalqarh. The reign of Asoka was an asset to the economy. The unification of the country under single efficient administration the organization and increase in communications meant the development of trade as well as an opening of many new commercial interest. In the post – Asokan period surplus wealth was used by the rising commercial classes to decorate religious buildings. The sculpture at Barhut and Sanchi and the Deccan caves was the contribution of this new bourgeoisie.
Still another view regarding of the decline of Mauryas was that the coup of Pushyamitra was a peoples’ revolt against Mauryans oppression and a rejection of the Maurya adoption of foreign ideas, as far interest in Mauryan Art.
This argument is based on the view that Sunga art (Sculpture at Barhut and Sanchi) is more earthy and in the folk tradition that Maruyan art. This is more stretching the argument too far. The character of Sunga art changed because it served a different purpose and its donors belonged to different social classes. Also, Sunga art conformed more to the folk traditions because Buddhism itself had incorporated large elements of popular cults and because the donors of this art, many of whom may have been artisans, were culturally more in the mainstream of folk tradition.
One more reasoning to support the popular revolt theory is based on Asoka’s ban on the samajas. Asoka did ban festive meetings and discouraged eating of meat. These too might have entagonised the population but it is doubtful whether these prohibitions were strictly enforced. The above argument (people’s revolt) also means that Asoka’s policy was continued by his successors also, an assumption not confirmed by historical data. Further more, it is unlikely that there was sufficient national consciousness among the varied people of the Mauryan empire. It is also argued by these theorists that Asokan policy in all its details was continued by the later Mauryas, which is not a historical fact.
Still another argument that is advanced in favour of the idea of revolt against the Mauryas is that the land tax under the Mauryas was one-quarter, which was very burden some to the cultivator. But historical evidence shows something else. The land tax varied from region to region according to the fertility of the soil and the availability of water. The figure of one quarter stated by Magasthenes probably referred only to the fertile and well-watered regions around Pataliputra.
Thus the decline of the Mauryan empire cannot be satisfactorily explained by referring to Military inactivity, Brahmin resentment, popular uprising or economic pressure. The causes of the decline were more fundamental. The organization of administration and the concept of the State were such that they could be sustained by only by kings of considerably personal ability. After the death of Asoka there was definitely a weakening at the center particularly after the division of the empire, which inevitably led to the breaking of provinces from the Mauryan rule.
Also, it should be borne in mind that all the officials owed their loyalty to the king and not to the State. This meant that a change of king could result in change of officials leading to the demoralization of the officers. Mauryas had no system of ensuring the continuation of well-planned bureaucracy.
The next important weakness of the Mauryan Empire was its extreme centralization and the virtual monopoly of all powers by the king. There was a total absence of any advisory institution representing public opinion. That is why the Mauryas depended greatly on the espionage system. Added to this lack of representative institutions there was no distinction between the executive and the judiciary of the government. An incapable king may use the officers either for purposes of oppression or fail to use it for good purpose. And as the successors of Asoka happened to be weak, the empire inevitably declined.
Added to these two factors, there is no conception of national unity of political consciousness. It is clear from the fact that even the resistance against the greeks as the hated miecchas was not an organized one. The only resistance was that of the local rulers who were afraid of losing their newly acquired territory. It is significant that when Porus was fighting Alexander, or when Subhagasena was paying tribute to Antiochus, they were doing so as isolated rulers in the northwest of India. They had no support from Pataliputra, nor are they even mentioned in any Indian sources as offering resistance to the hated Yavanas. Even the heroic Porus, who, enemy though he was, won the admiration of the Greeks, is left unrecorded in Indian sources.
Another associated point of great importance is the fact that the Mauryan Empire which was highly centralized and autocratic was the first and last one of its kind. If the Mauryan Empire did not survive for long, it could be because of the failure of the successors of Asoka to hold on to the principles that could make success of such an empire. Further, the Mauryan empire and the philosophy of the empire was not in tune with the spirit of the time because Aryanism and brahminism was very much there. According to the Brahmin or Aryan philosophy, the king was only an upholder of dharma, but never the crucial or architecture factor influencing the whole of life. In other words, the sentiment of the people towards the political factor, that is the State was never established in India. Such being the reality, when the successors of Asoka failed to make use of the institution and the thinking that was needed to make a success of a centralized political authority. The Mauryan Empire declined without anyone’s regret.
Other factors of importance that contributed to the decline and lack of national unity were the ownership of land and inequality of economic levels. Land could frequently change hands. Fertility wise the region of the Ganges was more prosperous than northern Deccan. Mauryan administration was not fully tuned to meet the existing disparities in economic activity. Had the southern region been more developed, the empire could have witnessed economic homogeneity.
Also the people of the sub-continent were not of uniform cultural level. The sophisticated cities and the trade centers were a great contrast to the isolated village communities. All these differences naturally led to the economic and political structures being different from region to region. It is also a fact that even the languages spoken were varied. The history of a sub-continent and their casual relationships. The causes of the decline of the Mauryan empire must, in large part, be attributed to top heavy administration where authority was entirely in the hands of a few persons while national consciousness was unknown.
The Indus Valley Civilization flourished from about 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE. It marked the beginning of the urban civilization on the subcontinent. It was centred on the Indus River and its tributaries. The civilization is famous for its cities that were built of brick, had a road-side drainage system and multi-storied houses.
During the Maurya dynasty founded in 321 BCE most of the Indian subcontinent was united under a single government for the first time. Ashoka the Great who in the beginning sought to expand his kingdom, then followed a policy of ahimsa (non-violence) after converting to Buddhism. The Edicts of Ashoka are the oldest preserved historical documents of India, and under Ashoka Buddhist ideals spread across the whole of East Asia and South-East Asia. Gupta an important ruler during the Gupta period was also known as wise and noble person.
- 3000 BC – 1000 BC: Harappan civilization
- 2000 BC – C1500 BC: Advent of Indo-Aryan peoples (see Indo-Aryan migration for discussion)
- 1500 BC – 600 BC: Composition of the Vedas and the Brahmana
- 700 BC – 300 BC: Composition of the Upanishads
- 527 or 526 BC: Death of Mahavira, the historical founder of Jainism
- Late 6th century: Darius, the Persian king, conquers parts of Ancient India
- 486 BC: Death of Buddha; Chinese tradition records 483 BC
- 400 BC: Panini composes first Sanskrit grammar
- 4th century BC – 4th century BC: Composition of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata
- 327 BC – 25 BC: Alexander the Great invades India.
- 321 BC – 181 BC: Chandragupta Maurya founded Maurya Empire
- 300 BC: Megasthenes (Greekvisits the Maurya king
- 300 BC: Composition of the Arthashastra, though some scholars date the work to 100 AD
- 268 BC – 233: BC Reign of Ashoka the Great
- 185 BC – 75 BC: Shunga dynasty reigns over central India
- 2nd century BC – 3rd century BC: Buddhism and Jainism influences in India at its peak
- 1st Century BC – 1st century AD: Shakas, Parthians and Kushana invade India
- 1st Century BC – 2nd Century AD: Satavahana rule
- 58 BC – 57 BC: Vikrama Samvat era begins
- Chera, Chola & Pandiya Kingdoms in South
- 78 AD: Beginning of the Shaka era
- 1st – 3rd century: Reign of the Kushan dynasty; first depiction of Jaina tirthankara and muti-armed Hindu deities
- 4th-5th century: Vaktaka rule over central India and the Deccan
- 4th – 6th century: Gupta period in northern and central India
- 500 AD: Ajanta completed
- 5th – 7th century: Spread of Vaishnavism, especially Krishan cult; emergence of worship of local deities; emergence of Tantrism
- 5th – 6th century: Invasion of Huns
- 6th century: Kalachuri dynasty rules the western coast of India
- 6th – 8th century: Pallava dynasty in southern India; rock-cut architecture begins in the south; temple building flourishes at Mamallapurama and Kanchipuram
- 6th-10th century: Tamil devotional poetry
- 7th – 8th century: Decline of Buddhism in northern India; revival of Hinduism
- 7th – 10th century: Rashtrakuta dynasty rules over northern part of the Deccan
- Early 8th century: Arab merchants settle on the coast of Sindh (currently, a part of Pakistan) and the Indian state of Gujarat
- 8th – 12th century: Pala dynasty rules in Bihar, Bengal and large part of eastern India
- 788 – 820 AD: Life of Adi Shankaracharya
- 1947 – India becomes independent
Migrations from Central Asian into India
Immigration peoples and tribes from Central Asia into India, as well as expansion of Central Asian empires into India, is a recurring theme in the history of the region, from the Bronze Age Indo-Aryan migration, to the Iron Age Kushan Empire, the Indo-Scythians, the Indo-Greeks (via Bactria) and the medieval Islamic conquest of the Indian subcontinent. Intrusion is typically across the Hindukush, and influence of the intrusive population is first established in the Punjab and the Indus Valley, and sometimes further expanded into the Ganges Plain.
In classical Indian tradition clans of the Shakas, Yavanas, Kambojas, Pahlavas, Paradas etc are also attested to have been coming as invaders from Central Asia to India in pre-Christian times. They were all finally absorbed into the community of Kshatriyas of Indian society.
The Shakas were formerly the inhabitants of trans-Hemodos region—the Shakadvipa of the Puranas or the Scythia of the classical writings. Later evidence attests them in Drangiana i.e. Shakasthana (modern Seistan) located south of Herat. 1st century CE Periplus of the Erythraean Sea as well as 2nd century CE Ptolemy evidence also attest Indo-Scythia situated in lower Indus in western India.
The Paradas, the former inhabitants of Oxus and Sailoda (eastern Xinjiang), are noted by Ptolemy as Paradane and are attested to be living in western India in Sindhu or Gedrosia, during 2nd century CE.
The Kambojas and Pahlavas are known to have their original settlements in the east Iranian regions in Central Asia. Some allege the existence some of their settlements in post-Christian times in South-west/Southern India also.
The Rishikas are formerly attested as living in Sakadvipa as neighbors to the Parama-Kambojas of Transoxiana region. But later evidence also locates their section as neighbors to Ashmakas and Vidarbhas in south-west India. This Rishika settlement was located between Godavari and Tapti rivers, east of Nasika, north of Mulaka and west of Vidarbha.
The facts presented above show that the so-called 2nd century BCE Saka invasion of western India was probably carried out jointly by the Sakas, Pahlavas, Kambojas, Paradas, Rishikas and other allied tribes from the north-west (.
Thomas observes: ” It would seem probable that the tribes from eastern Iran who invaded India included diverse elements mingled indistinguishably together, so that, it is not possible to assert that one dynasty was Parthian while another was Saka…” etc.
“The nomenclature of the early Sakas in India shows an admixture of Scythian, Parthian and Iranian elements..”.
According to James Tod and other western scholars, all Central Asian tribes connected with horse-culture like the Assaceni/Aspasios, Assacanus/Assakenois (the famous Ashvaka Kambojas….i.e. the Ashvayanas/Ashvakayanas of Pāṇini), the Ari-aspi and the Asii/Asio of the classical writings etc belonged to the Scythic or Saca races. Asii/Asio appears to be Parama Kambojas living in Shakadvipa of Mahabharata/Puranas or the Scythia of classical writings.
The Common Era saw more invaders such as the Kushanas, Hunas, Turks, Mongols and Pashtuns coming to the subcontinent. They all have been absorbed into various South Asian communities, leaving in some cases, no sign of clear-cut identification.
Central Asian People in Indian Classical Literature
There are extensive references to people of Central Asia in Indian literature like Atharvaveda, Vamsa Brahmana of Samveda, Aitareya Brahmana, Satapatha Brahmana, Puranas, Manusmiriti, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Raghuvamsa, Brihat-Katha -Manjari, Katha-Saritsagara, Rajaratrangini, Mudra-rakshasa, Kavymimansa and host of other old Sanskrit literature. A brief outline is given below:
Atharvaveda makes references to Gandhari, Mujavat and Bahlika from north-west (Central Asia). Gandharis are Gandharas, the Bahlikas are Bactrians, Mujavat (land of Soma) refer to Hindukush–Pamirs (the Kamboja region).
Post-Vedic Atharvaveda-Parisista (Ed Bolling & Negelein) makes first direct reference to the Kambojas (verse 57.2.5). It also juxtaposes the Kambojas, Bahlikas and Gandharas. At another place, it juxtaposes the Shakas, Yavanas, Tusharas and Bahlikas (Saka. Yavana. Tushara. Bahlikashcha). This shows the Kambojas, Shakas, Tusharas, Bahlikas and Gandharas at this time were all located as neighbors in the Uttarapatha.
The Vamsa Brahmana of the Sama Veda refers to Madrakara Shaungayani as the teacher of Aupamanyava Kamboja. Sage Shangayani Madrakara, as his name itself shows, and as the scholars have rightly pointed out, belonged to the Madra people.
Prof Jean Przylusky has shown that Bahlika (Balkh) was an Iranian settlement of the Madras who were known as Bahlika-Uttaramadras i.e. the northern Madras, living in Bahlika or Bactria country. These Bahlika Uttara Madras are the Uttara Madras of the Aitareya Brahamana.
This connection between the Uttara Madras and the Kambojas is said to be but natural, as they were close neighbors in the north-west.
The Kambojas as neighbors of the Uttara Madras here obviously refers to the trans-Himalayan branch of the Kambojas who became known as Parama-Kambojas in epic times. Both these nations belonged to Central Asia.
Aitareya Brahmana refers to some ancient nations lying beyond Trans-Himalaya boundaries. As an illustration, the name of Uttara Kuru and Uttara Madra are given. But other literature affirms that, besides Uttara Kuru and Uttara Madra, the janapadas of Parama Kambojas, Rshikas and the Lohas etc were also located beyond Himalaya boundaries into Central Asia. These Central Asian people were undoubtedly in intensive intercourse with ancient Indian people.
The vast area across the Himalayas and Hindukush from Pamirs up to Arctic (Somagiri) is stated by some to form ancient Uttara Kuru. There is picturesque mention of this region in the epics Ramayana and the Mahabharata. There are also numerous references to the people forming part of this vast region.
The Valmiki Ramayana portrays the topography of the whole land of Central Asia in very details and in some cases, very picturesquely. It gives very vivid account of Uttarapatha and several countries located in that direction. It mentions the lands and towns of the Kambojas, Shakas, Yavanas, Varadas (=Paradas: according to Dr Jayswal, Dr Singh and others) along with Himavanta. After this mentions is made of Uttara Kuru and Somagiri (Arctica). The region is described as without the sun and yet very much lighted. There are said to be no National boundaries there.
The Bala Kanda section (1.55/2-3) of Ramayana refers to a joint mythical creation of the Central Asian tribes of the Kambojas, Yavanas, Shakas, Paradas and Mlechchas by sage Vasishatha through the divine powers of his Kamdhenu.
According to Mahabharata, the kings of the Kambojas and the Tusharas were present in the Rajasuya Yajna of Yudhisthira. They had later participated in Mahabharata war from the Kaurava side. They were very ferocious warriors.
The Shakas, Hunas, Paradas and Tusharas had paid tribute to Yudhishtra. The epic also mentions that Pandava Nakula had defeated the Hunas, Pahalvas, Yavanas and Shakas in the western horizon.
Mahabharata attests that the northern Rishikas and the Lohas were close neighbors and allied to Parama-Kambojas i.e. Trans-Hindukush Kambojas of the Trans-Himalyan territories.
At other places (5.4.18) in Mahabharata also, the Rishikas are shown as very intimitately connected with the Kambojas.
The Rishikas are said to be same as the Yuezhis (Dr V. S. Aggarwala). The Kushanas or Kanishkas are also the same people (Dr J. C. Vidyalnkara). Prof Stein says that the Tukharas were a branch of the Yue-chi or Yuezhi. Tusharas/Tukharas (Tokharois/Tokarais) and the Yuezhi are stated to be same people (Dr P.C. Bagchi).
The above references indicate that the countries of Rishikas (=Tusharas?), Parama-Kambojas, Lohas, Pahlavas, Paradas, Shakas etc were close geographical neighbors and were all located in Central Asia.
King Drapupada of Panchala had advised Yudhishtra to invite the Kambojas, Shakas, Pahlavas, Rishikas and the Daradas (Paradas?) in the Mahabharata war on Pandava’s side. But it was too late for Yudhishtra.
General Sudakshina of the Kambojas had joined the Mahabharata war on Kurus’ side leading one Akshauhini army of ferocious Central Asian warriors which included Shakas, and Yavanas, besides the Kambojas. Of the ten distinguished military Generals appointed by Duryodhana to efficiently manage his vast host of army, Suadakshin Kamboj was one of such distinguished Generals.
Mahabharata brackets the Kambojas, Shakas and the Khashas together and styles them as tribes of Udichya or Uttarapatha, which obviously means Central Asia.
The Bhishamaparava and Shantiparavas of Mahabharata repeatedly assert that beyond the Uttara (north) are located the Mlechcha Janas (tribes) like the Yavanas, Kambojas, Darunas, Kiratas and other Mlechchas/Barbarians.
These above references also obviously point to Central Asian fringe of people located on the north of Bharatavarsa.
However, the Anusasanaparva of Mahabharata also asserts that the clans of the Kambojas, Yavanas, Shakas, Pahlavas were formerly noble Kshatriyas, but in later time had turned into degraded Kshatriyas due to the wrath of the Brahminas.
Manusmriti asserts that the Kambojas, Sakas, Yavanas, Paradas, Pahlavas etc were originally Kshatriyas of good birth but were gradually degraded to the barbaric status due to their not following the Brahmanas and the Brahmanical code of conduct.
This statement of Manu is designed to accommodate these foreign hordes into the social set-up of the Hindus. The foreigners were expected to practice same normal pieties as the Hindus and the later, in return, regarded them henceforth as belonging to their own social organisation.
According to James Tod, this ancient testimony from Manu presents a conclusive proof of a perfect intercourse which had existed between the people of Oxus (Central Asia) and those of the Ganges region in remote antiquity.
According to Bahu-Sagara legend, the Shakas, Yavanas, Kambojas, Paradas and Pahlavas, the so-called five hordes (panca-ganah), from north-west were invited by the Haihaya Yadavas for military support against king Bahu of Ayodhya. Bahu was defeated and ran off Ayodhya. A generation later, Bahu’s son, Sagara regained Ayodhya after totally destroying the Haihaya and Talajangha Kshatriyas in the battle. He was about to annihilate the five assisting hordes, but Sagara’s priest Vashishta intervened and persuaded him to save their lives by subjecting them to lighter punishments. Story says that King Sagara consented to the advice of his spiritual guide but punished these foreigners by changing their hair-styles and turning them into degraded Kshatriyas.
Puranic traditions (Bhagavata Purana) say that Budha, the patriarchic figure the Yadu, Turvasa, Druhyu, Anu and Puru clans had come from Central Asia to Bharatkhand to perform penitential rites and he espoused Ella, the daughter of Manu, by whom was born Pururavas. Pururavas had six sons, one of whom is said to be Ayu. This Ayu or Ay is said to be the patriarch figure of the Tartars of Central Asia as well as of the first race of the kings of China.
Whatever may be value of these conjectures, this literary tradition definitely alludes to intimate relations which existed, since antiquity, between the Indian people and the Central Asians.
Puranic cosmography divides our earth into seven concentric islands, viz. Jambudvipa, Plakasadvipa, Salmalidvipa, Kushadvipa, Krounchadvipa, Shakadvipa, and Pushkaradvipa, separated by seven encircling seas. Insular continent Jambudvipa forms the innermost concentric island in the above scheme of continents. Jambudvipa includes nine varsa and nine mountains. Varsa of Illa-vrta lies at the center of Jambudivipa at whose center is located Mount Meru (Platau of Pamir). The varsa of Uttara Kuru lies to the north of Mount Meru and extending beyond north-wards. The varsa of Illa Vrta includes parts of Central Asia.
The Puranic Bhuvanakosha attests that the boundaries of Bharata varsa extended in the Uttarapatha as far as the Vamkshu or Oxus in Central Asia. The Oxus to be the northmost limit of the geographical territories once included in the Bharata varsa was a real fact in political history of ancient India. It was the most well-defined geographical feature delimiting the boundaries of Bharata Varsa in the north.
The Uttarapatha or northern division of Jambudvipa comprised very vast area of Central Asia, as far as the Urals and the Caspian Sea to the Yenisei and from Turkistan and Tien Shan ranges to as far as the Arctic (Dr S. M. Ali).
The Buddhist drama Mudra-rakshas by Visakha Dutta as also the Jaina work Parisishtaparvan refer to Chandragupta‘s alliance with Himalayan king Parvatka. The Himalayan alliance gave Chandragupta a composite formidable army made up of the Shakas, Yavanas, Kambojas, Kiratas, Parasikas and Bahlikas as attested by Mudra-rakashas.
With the help of these frontier martial tribes from Central Asia, Chandragupta was able to defeat the Greek successors of Alexander the Great and the Nanda/Nandin rulers of Magadha so as to found the powerful Maurya empire in northern India.
Poet Kalidasa provides graphic picture of northern mountainous region of India. This is especially so in the case of his works like Meghdoota, Vikramorvashiam and Raghuvamsha. He also brings refreshing reference of the Uttara Kuru.
Raghuvamsha tells of a war expedition of king Raghu (Chandragupta Vikramaditya) against the Parasikas (Sassanians), Hunas and the Kambojas located in northern division or Uttarapatha. The encounters with the Hunas and the Kambojas had occurred around river Oxus, right in Central Asia.
Rajatarangini of Kalhana makes king Lalitaditya Mukatapida of Kashmir undertake a war expedition against his neighboring countries. He launched onto the region of north (from Kashmir) against the Kambojas, Tusharas, Bhauttas, Daradas, Valukambudhi, Strirajya and Uttarakurus (mythical or not). There is also a reference to the humiliation of the Hunas by Lalitaditva in the Rajataramgini. The nations named above are all located in Central Asia.
Brahata Katha of Kshmendra
Brahata Katha indicates that king Vikramaditya of Ujjaini (60 c BC) had mobilised his forces against the invading hordes of the Mlechchas from north west. He had ridded the mother earth off the sinfuls by completely destroying the Mlechcha hordes of the Sakas, Kambojas, Yavanas, Parasikas etc.
Katha-Saritsagara of Somadeva
The Katha-Saritsagara of Somadeva also refers to the subjugation of numerous kings and the destruction of the Sanghas (republics) of the Mlechchas by king Vikramditiya. Those who survived paid tributes to him or joined him militarily. The reference to the Sanghas of the Mlechchas, undoubtedly alludes to the Sanghas of the Kambojas, Yavavans, Abhiras as well as of the Vahikas etc.
This, again affirms the ongoing inter-action between the Indian-mainland and the people of Central Asia.
Kavyamimamsa of Rajashekhara
The 10th century CE Kavyamimamsa of Pandit Rajashekhara knows about the existence of several Central Asian tribes. He furnishes an exhaustive list of the extant tribes of his times and places the Shakas, Tusharas, Vokanas, Hunas, Kambojas, Vahlika, Vahlava, Tangana, Limpaka, Turukshas etc together, styling them all as the tribes from Uttarapatha or north division.
Asia Tengah Orang-orang di India Sastra Klasik
Ada referensi yang luas kepada orang-orang Asia Tengah dalam sastra India seperti Atharvaveda, Vamsa Brahmana dari Samveda, Aitareya Brahmana, Satapatha Brahmana, Purana, Manusmiriti, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Raghuvamsa, Brihat-Katha-Manjari, Katha-Saritsagara, Rajaratrangini, Mudra- Raksasa, Kavymimansa dan host sastra Sansekerta lainnya tua. Sebuah garis besar singkat diberikan di bawah ini:
Atharvaveda membuat referensi ke Gandari, Mujavat dan Bahlika dari utara-barat (Central Asia). Gandharis adalah gandharas, yang Bahlikas adalah Bactrians, Mujavat (tanah Soma) lihat Hindukush-Pamirs (kawasan Kamboja).
Pasca-Veda Atharvaveda-Parisista (Ed Bolling & Negelein) membuat referensi langsung pertama ke Kamboja (ayat 57.2.5). Hal ini juga mendampingkan Kamboja, Bahlikas dan gandharas  Di tempat lain,. Itu mendampingkan yang Shakas, Yavanas, Tusharas dan Bahlikas (Saka. Yavana Tushara.. Bahlikashcha). Hal ini menunjukkan Kamboja, Shakas, Tusharas, Bahlikas dan gandharas saat ini semua terletak sebagai tetangga di Uttarapatha.
Brahmana Vamsa   dari Sama Veda mengacu pada Madrakara Shaungayani sebagai guru Aupamanyava Kamboja. Sage Shangayani Madrakara, seperti namanya itu sendiri menunjukkan, dan sebagai ahli telah benar menunjukkan, milik rakyat Madra.
Prof Jean Przylusky telah menunjukkan bahwa Bahlika (Balkh) adalah seorang penyelesaian Iran dari Madras yang dikenal sebagai Bahlika-Uttaramadras yaitu Madras utara, tinggal di Bahlika atau negara Baktria. Madras Bahlika Uttara Ini adalah Madras Uttara dari para Brahamana Aitareya.
Ini hubungan antara Madras Uttara dan Kamboja dikatakan tapi alami, karena mereka tetangga dekat di barat-utara. 
The Kamboja sebagai tetangga dari Madras Uttara sini jelas mengacu pada cabang trans-Himalaya dari Kamboja yang menjadi dikenal sebagai Parama-Kamboja di masa epik. Kedua negara ini milik Asia Tengah.
Aitareya Brahmana mengacu pada beberapa negara kuno berbaring di luar batas Trans-Himalaya. Sebagai ilustrasi, nama Uttara Kuru Uttara Madra dan diberikan  Tapi. Literatur lainnya menegaskan bahwa, selain Uttara Kuru Uttara Madra dan, yang janapadas dari Parama Kamboja, Rshikas dan sebagainya LOHAS juga terletak di luar batas Himalaya ke Tengah Asia. Asia Tengah ini orang diragukan lagi dalam hubungan intensif dengan orang-orang India kuno.
Daerah luas di Himalaya dan Hindukush dari Pamirs sampai dengan Arktik (Somagiri) dinyatakan oleh beberapa bentuk kuno Uttara Kuru. Ada menyebutkan indah wilayah ini dalam epos Ramayana dan Mahabharata. Ada juga banyak referensi kepada orang-orang membentuk bagian dari luas wilayah.
Ramayana Valmiki menggambarkan topografi dari tanah seluruh Asia Tengah dalam detail yang sangat dan dalam beberapa kasus, sangat picturesquely. Ini memberikan account yang sangat jelas tentang Uttarapatha dan beberapa negara yang terletak di arah itu. Ia menyebutkan tanah dan kota di Kamboja, Shakas, Yavanas, Varadas (= Paradas: menurut Dr Jayswal, Dr Singh dan lain-lain) bersama dengan Himavanta. Setelah ini menyebutkan terbuat dari Uttara Kuru dan Somagiri (Arctica). Daerah ini digambarkan sebagai tanpa matahari dan terang namun sangat banyak. Ada dikatakan tidak ada batas Nasional di sana. 
Bagian Bala Kanda (1.55/2-3) Ramayana mengacu pada penciptaan mitos bersama dari suku-suku dari Asia Tengah, Kamboja Yavanas, Shakas, Paradas dan Mlechchas dengan bijak Vasishatha melalui kuasa ilahi-nya Kamdhenu. 
Bala Kanda  Ramayana juga mengacu pada kuda terkenal diimpor oleh pangeran dari Ayodhya dari Mid India dari negara-negara Asia Tengah Kamboja dan Bahlika (Baktria).
Menurut Mahabharata, raja-raja dari Kamboja dan Tusharas hadir dalam Rajasuya Yajna dari Yudistira. Mereka kemudian berpartisipasi dalam perang Mahabharata dari sisi Korawa. Mereka prajurit sangat ganas.
The Shakas, Hunas, Paradas dan Tusharas telah membayar upeti kepada Yudhishtra. epik ini juga menyebutkan bahwa Nakula Pandawa telah mengalahkan Hunas, Pahalvas, Yavanas dan Shakas di ufuk barat.
Mahabharata menyebutkan bahwa Arjuna telah membawa upeti dari Daradas, Kamboja, LOHAS, Rishikas, Parama Kamboja dan Kuru Uttara daerah trans-Himalyan.
Mahabharata membuktikan bahwa Rishikas utara dan LOHAS adalah tetangga dekat dan bersekutu dengan yaitu Parama-Kamboja Trans-Hindukush Kamboja dari wilayah Trans-Himalyan. 
Di tempat lain (5.4.18) di Mahabharata juga, Rishikas disajikan sebagai sangat intimitately berhubungan dengan Kamboja. 
Para Rishikas dikatakan sama dengan Yuezhis (Dr VS Aggarwala). The Kushanas atau Kanishkas juga orang yang sama (Dr JC Vidyalnkara). Prof Stein mengatakan bahwa Tukharas adalah cabang-Yue chi atau Yuezhi. Tusharas / Tukharas (Tokharois / Tokarais) dan Yuezhi yang dinyatakan sebagai orang yang sama (Dr PC Bagchi).
Menurut Vayu Purana dan Matsya Purana, sungai Chakshu (Oxus) mengalir melalui negara Tusharas (Rishikas?), Lampakas, Pahlavas, Paradas dan Shakas dll
Referensi di atas menunjukkan bahwa negara Rishikas (= Tusharas?), Parama-Kamboja, LOHAS, Pahlavas, Paradas, dll Shakas adalah tetangga dekat geografis dan semua terletak di Asia Tengah.
Drapupada raja dari Panchala telah disarankan Yudhishtra mengundang Kamboja, Shakas, Pahlavas, Rishikas dan Daradas (Paradas?) Dalam perang Mahabharata di pihak Pandawa’s. Tapi terlalu terlambat untuk Yudhishtra.
Umum Sudakshina dari Kamboja telah bergabung dengan perang Mahabharata di sisi Kurus ‘memimpin salah satu pasukan Akshauhini prajurit ganas Asia Tengah yang meliputi Shakas, dan Yavanas, selain Kamboja  Dari sepuluh dibedakan. Jenderal militer yang ditunjuk oleh Duryodana untuk efisien mengelola nya tuan besar tentara, Suadakshin Kamboj adalah salah satu Jenderal dibedakan tersebut. 
Bukti epik kuno menunjukkan bahwa ada hubungan politik dan militer yang intensif antara India Tengah dan Asia Tengah.
Mahabharata kurung Kamboja, Shakas dan Khashas bersama-sama dan gaya mereka sebagai suku Udichya atau Uttarapatha, yang jelas berarti Asia Tengah.
Para Bhishamaparava dan Shantiparavas Mahabharata berulang kali menegaskan bahwa di luar Uttara (utara) terletak pada Janas Mlechcha (suku) seperti Yavanas, Kamboja, Darunas, Kiratas dan Mlechchas lain / barbar. 
Referensi di atas juga jelas titik ke Central Asia pinggiran orang yang terletak di sebelah utara Bharatavarsa.
Namun, Anusasanaparva dari Mahabharata juga menegaskan bahwa marga dari Kamboja, Yavanas, Shakas, Pahlavas dulunya Kshatriyas mulia, tetapi pada waktu kemudian telah berubah menjadi Kshatriyas terdegradasi karena murka Brahminas. 
Manusmriti menegaskan bahwa Kamboja, Sakas, Yavanas, Paradas, dll Pahlavas awalnya Kshatriyas lahir baik, tetapi secara bertahap terdegradasi dengan status barbar karena mereka tidak mengikuti Brahmanas dan Brahmanical kode etik. 
Pernyataan dari Manu dirancang untuk mengakomodasi gerombolan asing ke dalam sosial set-up dari Hindu. Orang-orang asing tersebut diharapkan untuk berlatih pieties normal sama dengan Hindu dan kemudian, sebagai imbalannya, dianggap mereka selanjutnya sebagai milik organisasi sosial mereka sendiri. 
Menurut James Tod, ini kesaksian kuno dari Manu menyajikan bukti konklusif dari sebuah hubungan yang sempurna yang telah ada antara orang-orang Oxus (Central Asia) dan orang-orang dari daerah Gangga di zaman terpencil. 
Menurut legenda Bahu-Sagara, yang Shakas, Yavanas, Kamboja, Paradas dan Pahlavas, lima disebut gerombolan (panca-ganah), dari utara-barat diundang oleh Yadavas Haihaya dukungan militer terhadap raja Bahu dari Ayodhya. Bahu dikalahkan dan lari Ayodhya. generasi kemudian, anak Bahu’s, Sagara Ayodhya kembali setelah benar-benar menghancurkan Haihaya dan Talajangha Kshatriyas dalam pertempuran. Ia akan memusnahkan lima gerombolan membantu, tapi Sagara’s pastor Vashishta campur tangan dan membujuk dia untuk menyelamatkan nyawa mereka dengan menundukkan mereka untuk hukuman lebih ringan. Cerita mengatakan bahwa Raja Sagara menyetujui saran dari pembimbing rohani, tetapi dihukum asing tersebut dengan mengubah gaya rambut mereka dan mengubahnya menjadi Kshatriyas terdegradasi. 
Ini adalah penjajah dikenal pertama dalam sejarah tercatat sub-benua. Para penyerang akhirnya berasimilasi ke dalam masyarakat lokal sebagai Kshatriyas .
Alberuni mengacu pada cerita ini Puranic dalam buku klasiknya Alberuni’s India dan menyaksikan bahwa di atas disebut lima gerombolan milik sendiri yaitu orang-orang Asia Tengah. 
tradisi Puranic (Bhagavata Purana) mengatakan bahwa Budha, sosok patriarkis yang Yadu, Turvasa, Druhyu, Anu dan Puru klan datang dari Asia Tengah ke Bharatkhand untuk melakukan ritual tobat dan dia disertai Ella, putri Manu, oleh siapa lahir Pururavas . Pururavas memiliki enam anak, salah satunya dikatakan Ayu. Ini Ayu atau Ay dikatakan sosok patriark dari Tartar dari Asia Tengah serta dari ras pertama dari raja-raja Cina. 
Apapun mungkin nilai dugaan ini, sastra tradisi ini pasti menyinggung hubungan intim yang ada, sejak jaman dahulu, antara orang India dan Asia Tengah.
kosmografi Puranic membagi bumi kita menjadi tujuh pulau konsentris, yaitu. Jambudvipa, Plakasadvipa, Salmalidvipa, Kushadvipa, Krounchadvipa, Shakadvipa, dan Pushkaradvipa, dipisahkan oleh tujuh laut mengelilingi. Insuler benua Jambudvipa membentuk pulau konsentris paling dalam skema di atas benua. Jambudvipa mencakup sembilan varsa dan sembilan pegunungan. Varsa dari Illa-vrta terletak di pusat Jambudivipa di pusat yang terletak Gunung Meru (Platau dari Pamir). The varsa dari Uttara Kuru terletak di utara Gunung Meru dan memperluas luar utara-bangsal  varsa dari Illa Vrta termasuk bagian dari Asia Tengah..
The Bhuvanakosha Puranic membuktikan bahwa batas-batas Bharata varsa diperpanjang di Uttarapatha sejauh Vamkshu atau Oxus di Asia Tengah. Oxus menjadi batas northmost dari wilayah geografis sekali termasuk dalam Bharata varsa adalah fakta nyata dalam sejarah politik India kuno. Itu adalah fitur geografis yang paling baik didefinisikan pembatasan batas Bharata Varsa di utara.
The Bhuvanakosha Puranic membuktikan bahwa Bahlika atau Baktria-utara adalah yang paling Puranic Janapada dari India kuno dan terletak di divisi Udichya atau Uttarapatha dari India-benua. 
The Uttarapatha atau pembagian utara Jambudvipa terdiri wilayah yang sangat luas di Asia Tengah, sejauh Ural dan Laut Kaspia ke Yenisei dan dari Turkistan dan Tien Shan rentang sebagai sejauh Arktik (Dr SM Ali).
Drama Buddha Mudra-rakshas oleh Visakha Dutta seperti juga pekerjaan Parisishtaparvan Jaina lihat Chandragupta aliansi dengan raja Parvatka Himalaya. Aliansi Himalaya memberi Chandragupta tentara yang tangguh komposit terdiri dari, Shakas Yavanas, Kamboja, Kiratas, Parasikas dan Bahlikas sebagaimana dibuktikan oleh Mudra-rakashas. 
Dengan bantuan suku-suku perbatasan bela diri dari Asia Tengah, Chandragupta mampu mengalahkan penerus Yunani dari Alexander Agung dan Nanda / Nandin penguasa Magadha sehingga dapat menemukan kerajaan Maurya kuat di India utara.
Penyair Kalidasa memberikan gambaran grafis dari wilayah pegunungan utara India. Ini terutama dalam hal karya-karyanya seperti Meghdoota, Vikramorvashiam dan Raghuvamsha. Dia juga membawa referensi menyegarkan dari Kuru Uttara.
Raghuvamsha bercerita tentang ekspedisi perang raja Raghu (Chandragupta Vikramaditya) terhadap Parasikas (Sassanians), Hunas dan Kamboja terletak di bagian utara atau Uttarapatha. Para pertemuan dengan Hunas dan Kamboja telah terjadi sekitar Oxus sungai, tepat di Asia Tengah. 
Rajatarangini dari Kalhana membuat raja Lalitaditya Mukatapida Kashmir melakukan ekspedisi perang melawan negara-negara tetangga-nya. Dia diluncurkan ke wilayah utara (dari Kashmir) terhadap Kamboja, Tusharas, Bhauttas, Daradas, Valukambudhi, Strirajya dan Uttarakurus (mitos atau tidak).  Ada juga yang mengacu pada penghinaan dari Hunas oleh Lalitaditva dalam Rajataramgini.  Negara-negara yang disebutkan di atas semua terletak di Asia Tengah.
Brahata Katha dari Kshmendra
Brahata Katha menunjukkan bahwa raja Vikramaditya dari Ujjaini (60 c SM) telah mengerahkan pasukan melawan gerombolan menyerang dari Mlechchas dari barat laut. Dia telah ridded bumi ibu dari sinfuls dengan sepenuhnya menghancurkan gerombolan Mlechcha dari Sakas, Kamboja, Yavanas, Parasikas dll 
Katha-Saritsagara dari Somadeva
The Katha-Saritsagara dari Somadeva juga merujuk kepada penaklukan raja-raja banyak dan kehancuran (republik) Sangha dari Mlechchas oleh raja Vikramditiya. Mereka yang selamat membayar upeti kepadanya atau bergabung dengannya militer  referensi kepada Sangha dari Mlechchas., Niscaya menyinggung Sangha dari Kamboja, Yavavans, Abhiras serta dari Vahikas dll
Ini, sekali lagi menegaskan antar-aksi yang sedang berlangsung antara-India daratan dan orang-orang Asia Tengah.
Kavyamimamsa dari Rajashekhara
Abad ke-10 CE Kavyamimamsa dari Pandit Rajashekhara tahu tentang keberadaan beberapa suku Asia Tengah. Dia melengkapi daftar lengkap dari suku-suku yang masih ada waktu dan tempat yang Shakas, Tusharas, Vokanas, Hunas, Kamboja, Vahlika, Vahlava, Tangana, Limpaka, Turukshas dll bersama-sama, gaya mereka semua sebagai suku dari Uttarapatha atau divisi utara. [ 37]
- ^ Alberuni’s India, 2001, p 19-21, Edward C. Sachau – History; Dates of the Buddha, 1987, p 126, Shriram Sathe; Foundations of Indian Culture, 1984, p 20 sqq, Dr Govind Chandra Pande – History; India & Russia: Linguistic & Cultural Affinity, 1982, Weer Rajendra Rishi; Geographical and Economic Studies in the Mahābhārata: Upāyana Parva, 1945, Dr Moti Chandra – India; Linguistic & Cultural Affinity, 1982, Weer Rajendra Rishi; Racial Affinities of Early North Indian Tribes 1973, Myths of the Dog-Man, 1991, David Gordon White – Social Science; Sudhakar Chattopadhyaya – Ethnic Groups.
- ^ Ibid.
- ^ History and Culture of Indian People, The Vedic Age, pp 286-87, 313-14.
- ^ Migration of Kambojas#The Kambojas in West.2FSouthwest India
- ^ Mahabharata II.27.25
- ^ cf: Interaction Between India and Western World, pp 75-93, H. G. Rawlinson.
- ^ Journal of Royal Asoiatic Society, 1906, p 215.
- ^ Hist & Culture of Indian People, The Age of Imperial Unity, p 121
- ^ Annals and Antiquities of Rajashthan, pp 53-54, 64.
- ^ AV-Par, 57.2.5; cf Persica-9, 1980, p 106, Dr Michael Witzel.
- ^ Vamsa Brahmana 1/18.
- ^ Vedic Index, 138; Some Kshatriya Tribes of Ancient India, 1924, p 230-231; Dr B. C. Law.
- ^ Aitreya Brahmana, VIII.14.
- ^ Valmiki Ramayana, Kisikindhi Kanda 4.43.
- ^ Valmiki Ramayana, 1.55/2-3.
- ^ Valmiki Ramayana, Bala Kanda 1.6.22
- Lohan. Parama. Kambojan. Rishikan.uttaranapi ||II.27.25||.
- Shakanam Pahlavana.n cha Daradanam cha ye nripah |
- KambojaRishika ye cha pashchim.anupakash cha ye ||5.4.18||.
- ^ MBH 5/19/21-22.
- ^ MBH 5/155/30-33.
- Uttarashchapare mlechchha jana bharatasattama
- Yavanashcha sa Kamboja Daruna Mlechchha jatayah
- — (MBH 6/11/63-64)
- Uttarapatha janmanah kirtayishyami tanapi
- Yauna Kamboja Gandharah Kirata Barbaraih saha
- — (MBH 12/201/40).
- ^ MBH 13/33/20-21.
- ^ Manusmriti (X.43-44).
- ^ Cultural Heritage of India, I, p 612.
- ^ Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, p171-72.
- ^ Harivamsa 14.1-19.
- ^ Alberuni’s India, Trans. Sachau, p 20-21.
- ^ Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, p 172, James Tod.
- ^ Vishnu Purana, H. H. Wilson.
- ^ Kirfel‘s list of the Uttarapatha countries of Bhuvanakosa.
- asti tava Shaka-Yavana-Kirata-Kamboja-Parasika-Bahlika parbhutibhih
- Chankyamatipragrahittaishcha Chandergupta Parvateshvara
- balairudidhibhiriva parchalitsalilaih samantaad uprudham Kusumpurama
- — (See: Mudra-Rakshasa 2).
- ^ Raghuvamsa 4.66-70.
- ^ Rajatrangini 4.164-174
- ^ Rajatrangini 4.178-80
- ^ Brahata Katha, 10/1/285-86, Kshmendra.
- ^ Katha-Saritsagara, 18.1.76-78.
- ^ Kavyamimamsa Ed. Gaekwad’s Oriental Series, I (1916) Chapter 17; Introd., xxvi. Rajashekhara is dated c 880 AD – 920 AD.