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Cultural developments between end of the Mauryan and the rise of the Gupta dynasty

Updated on March 21, 2016

Chandragupta Mauryan dynasty


The first emperor of India was Chandragupta Mauryan dynasty

An empire is a kingdom which is spread over a vast area and is much larger in size than a kingdom. The ruler of an empire is called an emperor. The first emperor of India was Chandragupta Mauryan dynasty.

His empire was spread over the Indo – Gangetic plains (modern Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bengal) in the eastern side of the Indian sub – continent. The empire had its capital city at Pataliputra (modern Patna).

There are three main sources of information about the Mauryan Empire. First Arthashastra, a book written by Kautilya. It gives detailed information about the administration of the Empire. Second is Indika, a book written by Megasthenes (the Greek ambassador in Chandragupta's court). It tells about the city administration and about the social, political and economics conditions.

Third are the rock and pillar edicts of Emperor Ashoka. Ashokan edicts inscribed on rocks and stones have been found in large numbers. This is considered as the most reliable source of information. Coins are also another source of information.

chanakya niti


Wonderful to know

Chankaya was the teacher of the first Mauryan Emperor, Chandragupta. Chanakya was a planner, philosopher, and an economist of the age. Chanakya wrote two books `Arthashasrta' and `Nitishastra'. Chanakya was also identified by the names Kautilya and Vishnugupta.

1st Century, B.C., Sculpture and painting


Bodhisattva Ajanta


Ajanta art


The Gupta and post - Gupta periods - main trends

Cultural developments AD 300 – 750

The Cultural developments between the end of the Mauryan rule and the rise of the Gupta dynasty form the back ground to the remarkable developments of the Gupta and post – Gupta periods. It was during that period that the Sanskrit language first came to be used for composition of secular literature and for inscriptions. The earliest known plays (dramas) in Sanskrit like those of Ashvaghosha, Bhasa and Sudraka were written during the early centuries of the Christian era. Important contributions were also made to Buddhist philosophy by scholars like Dignaga and Nagarjuna who wrote their works philosophy by scholars like Dignaga and Nagarjuna who wrote their works in Sanskrit. Patanjali's Mahabhashya, a commentary on Panini's grammar, was also written during the second century BC.

In the field of art, the Post – Mauryan period marked the increasing replacement of wood by stone as the material for sculpture and architecture the famous stupas of Sanchi, Bharhut, Amravati and Nagarjunakonda were considered between second century BC, and second century AD. Impressive rock – cut caves at Karle, Kondane (Maharashtra State) and those belonging to the early period at Ajanta were caved during the same period. The Mathura, Gandhara and Amravati (Andhra) schools (styles) of stone sculpture had become well established by AD 300. it should, therefore, be noted that the cultural trends of the Gupta and post - Gupta period were a continuation and further development and not a break from the developments of the preceding centuries.

The Gupta and post – Gupta periods – main trends

The Gupta period marked the climax of Indian achievement in the fields of literature and in the arts like sculpture and painting. In the field of temple architecture, however, higher standards were reached in the post – Gupta period. In the field of religion and philosophy, the Gupta period was marked by the growing popularity of worship of images in temples and the composition of a large number of religious and philosophical works. Significant contributions were also made in the area of scientific and technical literature.


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