Last Mauryan Emperor Brihadrata
The Mauryan Empire which ruled from 321 BC to185 BC was one of the largest and most powerful political and military Empires of ancient India.
This kingdom originated from the kingdom of Magadha situated in the Indo-Gangetic plains of modern Bihar and Bengal, and with its capital city of Pataliputra which is the modern day Patna, the Empire was founded in 321 BC by Chandra Gupta Maurya, who defeated the Nanda Dynasty and thereby began expanding his power across central and western India.
The Empire stretched to the north along the natural boundaries of the Himalayas, and to the east stretching into the present day Assam. To the west, it reached beyond modern Pakistan and included Baluchistan in Persia and significant portions of the present day Afghanistan, including the modern Herat and Kandahar provinces.
The Empire was expanded into India's central and southern regions by Emperor Bindusara, but it excluded a small portion of unexplored tribal and forested regions near Kalinga. The Mauryan dynasty boasts of producing several emperors who are till today regarded as the one of the best rulers to have been a part of history.
Chandra Gupta - Chandra Gupta who ruled from 321BC to 298 BC was the founder of Mauryan Empire. History has very less information about the early life of Chandra Gupta. Having defeated the Nanda dynasty in the north, Chandra Gupta then went on to attack the army of Alexander the Great who had invaded India at that point of time. From here, began the journey of annexations which not only established the Mauryan Empire but also helped it reach its peak.
Bindusara – Bindusara ruled from 298BC to 272BC. He was the son of Chandra Gupta Maurya and the succeeding King of the Mauryan Empire. After Chandra Gupta’s death his son Bindusara ascended to throne of Magadha, in 298 BC. He assumed the title of ‘Amitraghata’ or ‘the slayer of foes.’
Though there is not much information available which deals with the reign of Bindusara, yet according to various scholars that like his father he was also a conqueror. During his rule the governor of Taxila rose in rebellion which was crushed by his son Ashoka. Bindusara ruled for 25 years before he died in 273 BC.
Ashoka – Ashoka was the son of Bindusara. He ruled from 273BC to 232BC and was an extremely capable ruler and a great administrator of the Mauryan Empire. He was the third and the most popular of the Mauryan Kings. He was born in about 302 BC.
During his father’s reign he had served as the governor of Taxila and Ujjain which had given him enough experience as an administrator before he finally succeeded to the throne subsequent to his father’s death in 273 BC. After Emperor Ashoka, there were several rulers who ruled the Mauryan Empire. However, not much information is available about them.
Dasaratha Maurya – Dasaratha Maurya was the king of the Mauryan Empire from 232 B.C. to 224 B.C. He was the successor of Ashoka the Great.
Samprati Maurya – Samprati Maurya was the subsequent king of the Mauryan Empire who ruled from 224 to 215 BCE. He was the successor of Dasaratha Maurya.
Salisuka Maurya- Salisuka Maurya was king of the Mauryan Empire from 215 to202 BCE who succeeded Samprati Maurya.
Devavarman Maurya – Devavarman Maurya was king of the Mauryan Empire from 202 - 195 B.C.E. and was the successor of Salisuka Maurya.
Satadhanvan Maurya – Satadhanvan Maurya succeeded Devavarman Maurya and ruled from 195-187 BCE.
Brihadrata - Brihadrata was the last ruler of the Mauryan Empire to have ruled. His rule lasted from somewhere around 197 to 185 BC. By this time, the Mauryan territories were concentrated around the capital of Pataliputra and its boundaries had reduced considerably as compared to the time when great Emperor Ashoka ruled to the time when Brihadrata took over the throne.
Brihadrata was believed to have been killed around 185 BC during a military parade by his commander-in-chief, the Brahmin general Pusyamitra Sunga, who then took over the throne and laid down the foundation of the Sunga dynasty.
Thus, the decline of one of India’s most dynamic kingdom began approximately fifty years after the conclusion of Emperor Ashoka's rule, before finally dissolving in 185 BC with the foundation of the Sunga Dynasty in Magadha.
The two main reasons for the decline of such an Empire were that firstly, there was no strong ruler after Emperor Ashoka which is quite evident from the duration of their respective reign and secondly, due to the absence of a strong, powerful army which is quite ironical considering the past records of the Mauryan army under the leadership of Chandragupta Maurya, Asoka and even for that matter Bindusara.