Chapter 7 Notes
From a Kingdom to an Empire
Class 6 – Social Science
|Chapter Name||From a Kingdom to an Empire|
|Chapter No.||Chapter 7|
|Category||Class 6 History Notes|
Question 1 What is Arthashastra?
Question 2 Who was Chanakya or Kautilya ?
Question 3 What is dynasty? Name the three rulers of Mauryas dynasty.
Question 4 Name the major cities of Ashoka Empire.
Question 5 Write a short note on Ashoka Empire.
Question 6 How are empires different from kingdoms?
Question 7 How did the Emperor Ashoka rule his empire?
Question 8 Why Ashoka was a unique ruler?
Question 9 What was Ashoka’s dhamma?
Question 10 What were the problems that Ashoka wanted to solve by introducing Dhamma?
Question 11 Who were Dhamma mahamatta and what were their duties?
Question 12 What were the occupations of the people who lived within the Mauryan empire?
Question 13 What were the means adopted by Ashoka to spread the message of Dhamma?
Question 14 Write a note on the cities of the Mauryan empire.
Question 15 Briefly describe the administration of the Mauryan Empire.
The Empire of Ashoka
Ashoka was one of the greatest rulers known to history and on his instructions inscriptions were inscribed on pillars, as well as on rock surfaces.
The empire that Ashoka ruled was founded by his grandfather, Chandragupta Maurya, more than 2300 years ago. Chandragupta was supported by a wise man named Chanakya or Kautilya. Many of Chanakya’s ideas were written down in a book called the Arthashastra.
When members of the same family become rulers one after another, the family is often called a dynasty. The Mauryas were a dynasty with three important rulers — Chandragupta, his son Bindusara, and Bindusara’s son, Ashoka.
There were several cities in the empire. These included the capital Pataliputra, Taxila, and Ujjain. Taxila was a gateway to the northwest, including Central Asia, while Ujjain lay on the route from north to south India.
Merchants, officials, and craftspersons probably lived in these cities. In other areas, there were villages of farmers and herders. In some areas such as central India, there were forests where people gathered forest produce and hunted animals for food. People in different parts of the empire spoke different languages.
They probably ate different kinds of food and wore different kinds of clothes as well.
How are empires different from kingdoms?
(1) Emperors need more resources than kings because empires are larger than kingdoms, and need to be protected by big armies.
(2) So also they need a larger number of officials who collect taxes.
Ruling the Empire
As the empire was so large, different parts were ruled differently.
The area around Pataliputra was under the direct control of the emperor. This meant that officials were appointed to collect taxes from farmers, herders, craftspersons and traders, who lived in villages and towns in the area.
Officials also punished those who disobeyed the ruler’s orders. Many of these officials were given salaries.
Messengers went to and fro, and spies kept a watch on the officials. The emperor supervised them all, with the help of members of the royal family, and senior ministers.
There were other areas or provinces. Each of these was ruled from a provincial capital such as Taxila or Ujjain. Although there was some amount of control from Pataliputra, and royal princes were often sent as governors, local customs and rules were probably followed.
Besides, there were vast areas between these centres. Here the Mauryas tried to control roads and rivers, which were important for transport, and to collect whatever resources were available as tax and tribute.
The Arthashastra tells us that the north-west was important for blankets, and south India for its gold and precious stones. It is possible that these resources were collected as tribute.
There were also the forested regions. People living in these areas were more or less independent, but may have been expected to provide elephants, timber, honey and wax to Mauryan officials.
Ashoka, a Unique Ruler
The most famous Mauryan ruler was Ashoka. He was the first ruler who tried to take his message to the people through inscriptions. Most of Ashoka’s inscriptions were in Prakrit and were written in the Brahmi script.
Ashoka’s war in Kalinga
Kalinga is the ancient name of coastal Orissa. Ashoka fought a war to conquer Kalinga. However, he was so horrified when he saw the violence and bloodshed that he decided not to fight any more wars. He is the only king in the history of the world who gave up conquest after winning a war.
Ashoka’s dhamma did not involve the worship of a god or performance of a sacrifice. He felt that just as a father tries to teach his children, he had a duty to instruct his subjects. He was also inspired by the teachings of the Buddha.
There were a number of problems that troubled him.
(1) People in the empire followed different religions, and this sometimes led to conflict.
(2) Animals were sacrificed.
(3) Slaves and servants were ill treated.
(4) There were quarrels in families and amongst neighbours.
Ashoka felt it was his duty to solve these problems. So, he appointed officials, known as the dhamma mahamatta who went from place to place teaching people about dhamma.
Besides, Ashoka got his messages inscribed on rocks and pillars, instructing his officials to read his message to those who could not read it themselves.
Ashoka also sent messengers to spread ideas about dhamma to other lands, such as Syria, Egypt, and Greece, and his son Mahendra and daughter Sanghmitra to Sri Lanka.
He built roads, dug wells, and built rest houses.
Besides, he arranged for medical treatment for both human beings and animals.