The Maurya Dynasty at its height.
|Religion||Buddhism, Indian Polytheism, Jainism|
|Historical Era||Classical Era|
|•||Victory of Maurya against the Nanda Empire.||320 B.C.|
|•||Assassination of the Emperor and fragmentation.||187 B.C.|
The Maurya Empire was the first major power to arise within India and incorporate most of it into a single united realm. Established in 320 B.C. by Chandragupta Maurya following his successful revolt and war of conquest against the native Nanda Empire, the Maurya Empire was greatly expanded by his successors, conquering or subduing much of India and beginning to look to the east and west, pushing outward and spreading its influence. Treaties were made with other powers such as the Seleucids that enabled greater trade and cooperation.
Perhaps the most important influence of the Maurya Empire came about during the reign of Emperor Ashoka Maurya, who succeeded, at great cost, in the conquest of Kalinga in about 261 B.C. Horrified at the tremendous suffering the conflict caused, Ashoka looked for answers and found them in the relatively new religion of Buddhism. Adopting the new religion with considerable fervor, Ashoka sponsored and spread Buddhism throughout his empire, although he continued to permit others to practice their own faiths as well. Buddhist missionaries traveled in every direction, seeking to spread the religion to all nations and peoples of the world. Buddhism grew from a relatively small cult centered around the capital region into a major world religion as a result.
Despite its adoption of this seemingly peaceful creed, the Empire would ultimately not last even though it was experiencing a long period of peace and prosperity. In 187 B.C. the final Maurya Emperor was assassinated by one of his generals, who seized the majority of the kingdom and established the Shunga Dynasty to take its place. Other regions of the empire, more removed from the Shunga's control, split off and formed their own independent kingdoms. Shortly after, nomadic invaders called the Sakas penetrated into the Indus Valley, establishing a powerful kingdom of their own that would last for centuries. The Maurya Dynasty and all of its holdings had collapsed.