Romila Thapar

in Aśoka and the Decline of the Mauryas

Third edition

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780198077244
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081073 | DOI:

Series: Oxford India Perennials Series


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This chapter sums up the key findings of this study on the reign of Aśoka Maurya and the collapse of the Mauryan dynasty. It describes the place of Aśoka against the background of the third century BC in India and the distinction between Aśoka the man and Aśoka the monarch. It suggests that Aśoka's greatness lay in the fact that he was equipped both by his own endeavour and by circumstances, to understand the culture to which he belonged and its then rapidly changing requirements. It also clarifies a popular misconception about the Mauryan period which describes it as one which was politically decentralised and individually democratic; whereas in fact it was the beginning of political centralisation and it also saw the triumph of a social order which did not permit of much individual liberty.

Keywords: Mauryan dynasty; political centralisation; social order; individual liberty

Chapter.  2107 words. 

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