Why did the Gupta Empire fall

The Maurya Empire

The last Nanda ruler was around 320 BC. Overturned by Candragupta Maurya after the latter - apparently coming from the north-west of India - successfully against those of Alexander the Elder. G. had fought troops left behind in the valley of the Indus. An attack by Seleukos I Nicator of Syria (311-281), who emerged from the Diadochian battles as ruler over the Asian parts of the Alexander Empire and who, after briefly bringing the area as far as the Indus under his rule, tried to advance further into northern India, the Maurya held out. In a peace treaty, which both 305 BC. All areas east of Kabul, i.e. the actual Gandhāra, and regions along the lower reaches of the Indus were assigned to Candragupta, while Seleucus, to whom this treaty secured the eastern border of his empire stretching from the Hellespont to India, was in return received large numbers of Indian war elephants. As a result, Seleucid ambassadors were sent to the court in Pāṭaliputra, including Megasthenes. He wrote an extensive report on the Indian Empire, Ἰνδικά with name, the original of which has not survived, but from which long passages by Strabo, Diodor (os), Pliny and Arrian are quoted. In it a vivid picture of northern India at the time of Candragupta is drawn, which has been distorted in some places by the abbreviations and paraphrases of the later authors who handed down the Ἰνδικά.
We know little about the further political development of the Maurya Empire after the peace treaty between Candragupta and Seleukos and the win of the north-west. But the fact that Candragupta's grandson Aśoka - Rudradāman's inscription names both Maurya - when he took office in 268 BC BC ruled over an area that stretched from the Hindu Kush to the present-day Indian state of Karnataka - he only mentions Orissa in his own annexations (see below) - suggests that these conquests were the work of Candragupta and his son Bindusāra (c. 293-268 BC) were. From the latter, in Greek historiography after his epithet Amitraghāta Called "butcher of the enemy" Ἀμιτροχάτης, almost nothing certain is known. We only know that he too had diplomatic relations with the West and that the ambassadors who were at his court also wrote treatises on India, which, however, have only survived to us in excerpts and quotations from later.
With the more than thirty year history of Aśoka - with this name it is only used in a few "smaller rock edicts" (Minor Rock Edicts) called, but otherwise he is called Piyadassi (n) / Priyadarśin, on the Kandahar-Bilinguis (see below) according to Πιοδάσσης / Prydrš - the darkness of early Indian history suddenly illuminates, even if ancient Western literature seems to be completely silent about it. This is largely related to the development of script. This was - at least according to our current knowledge - created especially for Aśoka's edicts, which have a clear model in the edicts of the Achaemenids. And so Aśoka is the Indian ruler who was the first to leave inscriptions. Their find and location not only mark the extent of his empire, but they also give important information about its structure and organization. For the former, those on the periphery are naturally of particular importance - the “(Great) Rock Edicts” are relevant in this regard. Kandahar near the Khyber Pass that ultima thule ʻIndiensʼ, Shāhbhāzgarhī and Mānsehrā in Gandhāra, Girnār on the Kāṭhiāwār peninsula, Sopārā on the west coast near Bombay, Dhaulī and Jaugaḍa on the Bay of Bengal and Eṛṛaguḍi in the southern Andhraushi, and the Karakorum in the southern Andhraush, and the Hindu, who are dependent on the Hindu empire of the Himalayas in the north to the coasts in the west and east and to the Penner River in the south. The area south of this river, the whole of South India, was outside the Maurya Empire. The countries of the Keralas, Coḷas and Pāṇḍyas are consequently separated on the edicts as "neighboring" from the kingdom itself. And even central India proper does not seem to have belonged to the empire. Because among the peoples named in the rock edicts V and XIII who enjoy a special status in Aśoka's realm, the Āndhras, Bhojas, Parindas and Pitinikas include those who were at home there. But even the area marked in this way did not entirely belong to Aśoka's domain. Because between large core regions that were subject to royal control, huge areas expanded that were inhabited by largely autonomous populations. Besides the center of the empire in the eastern Ganges plain with Pāṭaliputra as the capital, (at least) four such core areas can be identified over which close relatives of the king ruled: Takṣaśilā at the foot of the Paropamisads, Ujjain on the plateau of western Mālwa - the Ὀζήνη of the Periplus -, Kaliṅga in the east of the subcontinent (see below) and Suvarṇagiri in its south in today's Karnataka. These areas were - for this, Megasthenes is ultimately our source - connected by trade routes, the two most important of which are the "northern" (Uttarāpatha) and the "Südweg" (Dakṣiṇāpatha) were. The former led from Takṣaśilā via Mathurā and Kauśāmbī to Rājagṛha and on to the east coast, the latter from Pratiṣṭhāna via Ujjain to Kauśāmbī and from there in a wide arc to Śrāvastī and Vaiśālī.
Based on a reference in one of his inscriptions, Aśoka's reign can be determined with great certainty at (approx.) 273 / 267-237 / 232. The 13th Edict of the Rock names kings to whom Aśoka sent envoys. These are - here the research is largely unanimous - to Antiochus II. Theos of Syria, Ptolemaios II. Philadelphos of Egypt, Antigonos Gonatas of Macedonia, Magas of Cyrene and (probably) Alexandros of Epirus. Since it is the years 261-255 in which all these kings were alive, and Aśoka only - as he tells on a pillar edict (PE VI) - in the twelfth year after his anointing (abhiṣeka) has issued edicts to the king (see also RE IV), this 'anointing' must have taken place between the years 273 and 267.
An apparently decisive experience in the life of the king was the bloody conquest of Kaliṅga, today's Orissa, in the ninth year of his reign and thus around 260 BC. It must have been far more than just political calculation that Aśoka deeply regretted the atrocities that befell the people in this war, as he proclaims in his 13th edict of the rock, which, however, was not made in Kaliṅga. Nevertheless, he did not release the country into its freedom again. It only achieved this after Aśoka's death and the fall of his empire.

After the loss-making annexation of Kaliṅga and a turn to Buddhism, Aśoka sought to rule his empire on the basis of law and morality. That should be realized in him Dharma, the connection between law and morality. The edicts called “Dharma scriptures” were used for this purpose. With their help a kind of government program was brought 'among the people', for which tellingly not Sanskrit, the high priestly language of ancient India, was used, but the language of the 'people' with Middle Indian, just like Buddhism and Jainism before Aśoka , those extra-Brahmin religions. And with the exception of the extreme south, where a Dravidian language was certainly spoken, the local variant of Central Indian was used. In the extreme northwest of his empire, Aśoka used Aramao-Iranian - an Iranian administrative language written with Aramaeograms - or Greek; the bilinguis of Kandahar even bears edicts in both languages. That was ultimately a legacy of the Achaemenid period, the (so-called) 'Imperial Aramaic', this shows the charisma of the cities founded by Alexander the Great and his successors as centers of Greek culture. In addition to the edicts, the text of which was presented to the assembly on special occasions, a staff of officials also served the king to bring his moral teaching closer to the people and to ensure its practical implementation. Parts of this official body also had to check whether the implementation of the Dharma was taking place in the interests of the king. To do this, they traveled through the country every five years and inspected (among other things) charities and checked the administration of justice in the province.

We know very little about the further fate of the Maurya dynasty. After Aśoka's death in 232 BC The Maurya empire seems to have split up into a western and an eastern half. The north of the western empire was soon overrun by the Greeks of Bactria, who invaded over the passes of the Hindu Kush, while the south became part of the dominion of the Āndhras and other dynasties of the northern Dekhan. The Eastern Empire, still ruled with Pāutaliputra as the capital and initially ruled by Daśaratha, the only one of whom later Maurya's inscriptions have survived, came under the rule of the Śuṅgas, then the Kāṇvas, after only fifty years. And so it disappeared around 180 BC. The royal house of the Mauryas, whose name is immortalized in the lexicon of Hesychius in the form Μωριεῖς as a royal statute.