The Lion Capital of Ashoka, National Emblem of India
At its peak in 250 B.C. the Maurya Empire was the wealthiest and largest in the world, extending across Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and most of the Indian subcontinent. Founded by Chandragupta Maurya, who defeated other kingdoms in northern India and the Greek provinces left by Alexander the Great, the empire reached its apogee under his grandson Ashoka—who was more than a conqueror.
After a bloody battle, Ashoka renounced warfare and adopted a philosophy of nonviolence, religious tolerance, charity, and compassion for all beings. He disseminated his ethical code, called Dhamma, in hundreds of inscriptions on pillars and rocks throughout his empire. Discovered only starting in the mid-18th century, these inscriptions became important sources for our understanding of ancient Indian political and religious history.
Join Colleen Taylor Sen, an independent scholar who specializes in Indian cultural and culinary history, as she traces the rise of the Maurya Empire from its roots in the Indus Valley to an examination of what its legacy means for the region today.
Her book Ashoka and the Maurya Dynasty: The History and Legacy of Ancient India’s Greatest Empire (Reaktion Books) is available for purchase.
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