DepartmentGlobal Asia Studies
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1) Emperor Ashoka:
The greatest Mauryan ruler was Chandragupta’s grandson Ashoka, one of the great kings of
world history; Ashoka was perhaps the greatest Indian r uler ever. He came to the throne about
269 B.C.E. and spent the f irst several years of his rule in military campaigns to round out the
empire by incor porating t he south. According to his own rock-cut inscriptions, Ashoka saw and
was grieved by the carnage that his lust for more power had brought.
During his campaign against the Kalingas of Orissa and nor thern Andhra in the northern D eccan
Plateau, he foreswore further aggression in favour of what he called “the conquest of
righteousness.” Ashoka was converted to the teachings of the Buddha, and vowed to spend the
rest of his life, and his great imperial power and prestige, in spreading those noble truths.
Ashoka clearly felt a sense of mission, not only to spread Buddhism but also to set an example of
righteousness in government that could persuade others elsewhere to follow his more human
approach to imperialism. He advocated the ancient Indian ideal of nonviolence, urged
pilgrimages as a substitute for hunt ing, and encouraged the spread of vegetarianism. But he kept
his army, law cour ts, systems of punishment, and remained an emperor in every sense. Although
his feet were firmly planted in politics, his mind reached out to higher and more worthy goals.
2) The Han Dynasty:
The Harshness of Qin rule had left the country in tur moil, exhausted the people, drained the
treasury, and alienated the upper classes. By 202 B.C.E. a new rebel leader; Liu Bang, emerged
out of this chaos. He for med a new dynasty, which he named the Han.
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