Mauryan Empire Achievements: Thus the Mauryan dynasty was situated on rich alluvial soil and near mineral deposits, particularly iron and with Magadha as the heart of bustling commerce and trade. The capital, Pataliputra, was a city of magnificent palaces, temples, a university, a library, gardens, and parks, as reported by Megasthenes, in the third century B.C. who was a Greek historian and ambassador to the Mauryan court.
There was a highly centralized and hierarchical government with a large staff, which regulated tax collection, trade and commerce, industrial arts, mining, vital statistics, the welfare of foreigners, maintenance of public places including markets and temples, and prostitutes.
Mauryan Empire Achievements and Contributions
A large standing army and a well-developed espionage system were maintained. The empire was divided into provinces, districts, and villages governed by a host of centrally appointed local officials, who replicated the functions of the central administration. Some of the landmark accomplishments of this dynasty were:
Administration – In the field of administration also the Mauryan Empire had set exemplary standards. The entire Empire was divided into four provinces, which one of the four, looks like a giant crescent 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).
Trade– Historians theorized 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 were 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
Economy – For the very first time in South Asia, political unity and military security allowed for a common economic system which enhanced trade and commerce, and also 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.
Army– 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.
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 was similar to the Roman Empire 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.
Religion – The Mauryans were basically secular rulers and hence it was this tolerant approach which gave birth to three diverse religions in India namely Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism respectively.
Hinduism – 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 who was also known as Vishnu Gupt.
Ajivikas, an ascetic Hindu movement was also practiced. Even after embracing Buddhism, Ashoka retained the membership of Hindu Brahmana priests and ministers in his court.
Mauryan Society- 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 ideas and values of Jain and Buddhist teachings along with traditional Vedic Hindu teachings.