Post Mauryan India – Sunga Dynasty in Ancient India

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The Mauryan Empire was separated into north and south after Ashok’s passing. The north crumpled due to Bactrian intrusions. The south was abridged as Kalinga pronounced freedom. Satvahana administration additionally pronounced autonomy.

The end of the Mauryan was put by Pushpamitra Sunga. The Sunga line needed to confront Bactrian and Greek intrusions which caught Patliputra for quite a while. The Sunga dynasty was Brahmins yet they disparaged Buddhist workmanship as well.

The Sungas had the option to control a piece of the Mauryan domain. They attempted to resuscitate brahmin rehearsals by leading Vedic customs and penances. A few sources guarantee an abuse of Buddhists under them.

Sungas were trailed by the short rule of Kanva tradition. Sunga kings advanced in Sanskrit and Vaishnavism. The following are the sub-topics that are going to be covered in this Post Mauryan India article.

  • Local Powers
  • Sunga Dynasty
  • Central Asian contacts
  • Satavahanas
  • Bactrian invasions
  • Kushana Dynasty
  • Sangam Age
  • Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Jainism, Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism
  • Art and Architecture

Post Mauryan Period

Local Powers

  • The ancestral states in North India which surrendered to Mauryan dominion presently advocated for themselves post Mauryan Period. The Audumbras involved the valley among Ravi and Beas.
  • The Kunindas got noticeable in the valley among Beas and Yamuna in the lower regions of the Siwalik mountains. Trigartas controlled the plain nation among Ravi and Sutlej. Yaudhevas governed among Satluj and Yamuna and standards of eastern Rajasthan.
  • Another locale that became a force to be reckoned with was the Kalinga area of Odisha. The Mahameghavahana line managed over it. King Kharavela was an amazing ruler and raided Magadha, Satvahana, and Pandya domains.
  • The decline of the Mauryans made numerous nearby rulers in eastern Deccan, Vidarbha, Western Maharashtra, and Karnataka to come into force. Progressively the group of Satavahanas rose triumphant and developed a realm in the Deccan and united numerous nearby central.
  • Shaka Era: The Indo greek realms in Northwest India didn’t keep going long. The Central Asian clans were influenced because of new political and climatic conditions. The development of the extraordinary mass of China likewise prompted the development of traveling clans towards the east. The Scythians or Shakas assaulted Bactria and involved it. The Shaka had the option to overcome northwest India and expand their standard over Kathiawar and Malwa.
  • They administered Kathiawar and Malwa for four centuries. They were the reasons the Satvahanas couldn’t expand their realm North of the Narmada. The aspiration of Shakas to expand their realm toward the north was checked by the Kushanas. The Shaka additionally began the Satrap framework in India. This had the realm to be partitioned into territories and every territory was under a military chairman. The Shaka lord held titles, for example, King of Kings or Maharaja otherwise called Rajadhi-Raja. This training was taken over by the Greeks.
  • Parthians: These were rulers of Iranian point. They too managed over various pockets of North India. Their standard corresponded with the Shakas. The Parthian state had a shortage of silver coins and this vouches for the financial states of the realm. The Parthians utilized the silver coins given by their ancestors who might have been the Bactrians or the Shakas. St Thomas, the messenger because of whom the nation came into contact with Christianity came to the court of the Parthians.

Sunga Dynasty

  • The Founder of the Sunga dynasty was Pushyamitra Sunga, who was commander in chief under the Mauryas.
  • He assassinated the last Mauryan ruler and took power post Mauryan Period.
  • After the intrusion from Bactrian Greeks from N-W, Greeks progressed up to Patliputra and involved it for quite a while however Pusyamitra sunga recovered it.
  • He likewise battled against Kharvela of Kalinga who attacked N-India.
  • Pushyamitra was an ardent adherent of Brahmanism and persecution of Buddhists, anyway he disparaged Buddhist craftsmanship and during his rule Buddhist landmarks of Bharhut (MP) and Sanchi were redesigned
  • After death of Pushyamitra, his child Agnimitra turned into the ruler
  • The last Sunga ruler was Devabhuti but was killed by his own priest Vasudeva Kanva, Founder of Kanva dynasty.

Central Asian Powers

  • Central Asia was available to exchange routes navigating through oases and valleys. One of these routes was the Old Silk route. This route was of extraordinary pay to the Kushanas. Merchants were required to pay charges for utilizing this route. They at that point built up trading provinces along the route.
  • Buddhist teachers followed the dealers and arrived in central Asia and SouthEast Asia through these courses.
  • The contact with foreigners brought fresher war strategies like mounted force fighting and presentation of reins, saddles, tops, head protectors, and boots for the military.
  • Contacts with foreigners additionally improved Indian culture. Gandhar’s school of workmanship developed which was impacted by Greek and Roman craftsmanship. Enlarging of information in the fields of medication and space science is additionally reflected. Significant impacts were found in medical procedures.


  • On the remains of the Mauryan realm, in the northwest Deccan, the Satvahanas assembled their domain. The central point of their realm was Prathisthana. They were otherwise called Andhras. Their realm may have been stretched out toward the Eastern shoreline of the landmass.
  • The originator of the realm was Simuka who is believed to be of Brahmanical causes. The replacement of Simuka was Satakarni who was occupied with strife with the Sakas at Nasik. It was the Shakas who kept on keeping up their predominance over the Satavahanas.
  • The best of the Satavahana kings was Gautamiputra Satakarni who broadened his realm by victory. He vanquished the Kshatrapas in Kathiawad and Gujarat. The realm stretched out under his children’s rule to Kathiawad on the western coast, Krishna delta, North Tamil Nadu, and Andhra on the east coast.
  • The Satavahana realm was later partitioned under powerless rulers and one line kept on administering Andhra. The Satavaha needed to manage the Kharavela realm in Kalinga and furthermore with the Kshatrapas. The major difference between Mauryans and Satvahanas was the absence of a solid administration. The Satvahana rulers used to give land to brahmins and Buddhists.
  • The trade was a major income for the state. Trade routes and expressways were built to connect inland focus on the ports on the western coast. Significant ports for trade on the western coast are Kalyan, kathiawad, Bharuch, etc.

Bactrian Invasions

  • Greek rulers of Bactria captured Ujjain, Sind, Punjab, and Afghanistan however they couldn’t maintain Patliputra due to the Sunga dynasty.
  • The Greeks embraced Buddhism. Some were influenced by Vaishnavism too.
  • The Sakas or Scythians ruled over the North West and captured them from Bactrian’s. The northern satraps ruled over Taxila and southern ruled over Maharashtra.
  • Saka’s of Taxila were overthrown by Parthian’s.


  • They were living close to the steppes of north-central Asia close to China. Because of the incredible divider, they were driven towards the Hindukush district. The Kushanas were credited with the annihilation of the last ruler of Greeks in Kabul.
  • The principal ruler was Kujula Kadphises and his child was Vima Kadphises. Vima was credited for printing gold coins yet after him the kings favored coins produced using a combination of gold and copper. Kanishka was the best lord of the Empire. He rose to the seat around 78 AD and that period turned into the beginning of the Saka time.
  • It was under Kanishka that the standard stretched out to Sanchi in the south and Benaras in the East. His period was renowned for blending individuals of various geological settings. His territory was in central Asia and Peshawar was his capital. Mathura was the second most significant city in the realm. Anyway after his demise, Kushana’s power declined and the state turned into a vassal for the Persian administration of Sassanian.

Sangam Age

The Sangam Age was the time of the history of old Tamil Nadu and Kerala and parts of Sri Lanka (at that point known as Tamilakam) from c. sixth century BCE to c. third century CE.

It was named after the popular Sangam academies of writers and researchers focused in the city of Madurai. Below are some of the key points that one needs to know about the Sangam Age.

  • The caste division was prevalent.
  • Brahmins were a part of society. They were ambassadors, priests, ascetics, merchants, judicial advisors. (North Indian Brahmins were known. Vadanar)
  • Kshatriya & Vaishya were — not regular.
  • Child Marriage was not known in this period.
  • Sati was common, especially among the higher classes.
  • Eight types of marriage were prevailing in the society but generally, two types of marriage were prevailing.
  • “Kannagi or Pauni Cult” was an established institution. Images of Pattini Devi were placed in temples. Pattini Cult was started by Seguttavan.

According to Tholpakiyam (a book), Tamil Society was divided as the following:

  1. Arasar – Ruling class
  2. Andner – Brahmins
  3. Vahigar – Poet, Warrior, Middle class, etc.
  4. Bellalar – Agriculturist (Rich & Poor).
  5. Pullain – Rope Makers
  6. Malvar – Thieves
  7. Aniars – Hunters
  8. Kanigaichar – Prostitutes
  9. Panar – Dancers
  10. Valaidiyar – Dancers

Sangam Literature

Sangam literature mainly revolved around
i. Aabam — Love or internal.
ii. Puram—War or external.


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1. Manimekalai

  • This was written by poet Settalai Sattanar of Madurai.
  • The book was influenced mostly by Buddhism.

2. Silappadikaram

  • This is the oldest and greatest of Sangam epics.
  • The main characters were Kovalan who was a trader and his wife Kannagi.
  • This was written by Illango Anadigal (grandson of the Chola king Karikala).
  • His Books were influenced by the Hindu religion.

3. Sivaga Sinthamani / Jivak Chintamani

  • This was written by Tinittakkadevar who was a Jain by religion.
  • Hence his books were influenced by Jainism.

4. Valayapathi

5. Kundalakesi

6. All the names of the epics are the Tamil names for ornaments worn by a woman.

7. Tolkappiyam

  • This was written by Tolakapiyar, one of the 12 disciples of Saint Agastya and who played a dynamic role in Aryanisation of South India.
  • This work is of Tamil grammar.


  • There were 3 streams revolved around the worship of Vishnu or Bhagawat
    1. Vishnu was a minor god in Vedic occasions. He was adored as the Sun and fertility god.
    2. Narayana was a non-Vedic innate god. He was additionally called Bhagavat.
    3. Vishnu came to be distinguished as the saint of the Vrishni clan known as Krishna-Vasudeva.
  • By 200BC all these 3 streams converged into one and prompted the making of Bhagvatism. It was during the Gupta Period that this was named as Vaishnavism.


  • In contrast to Vaishnavism, Shaivism had its starting point in ancient history. Panini alludes to a gathering of Shiva worshippers as Shiva-Bhagavata.
  • They were portrayed by the iron spears and clubs they conveyed and their skin articles of clothing.
  • The Shaiva development in the South had 63 holy people referred to in Tamil as Nayanars (Siva-bhaktas).
  • Their engaging enthusiastic melodies in Tamil were called Tevaram Stotras. They were otherwise called as Dravida Veda. They were formally sung in the nearby Shiva temples.
  • The Nayanars hailed from all standings.


  • Buddhism kept on getting imperial support. Numerous rulers of this time were Buddhists. Kanishka’s court was embellished by such scholars as Parsva, Vasumitra, Ashvaghosha, Charaka, and Nagarjuna.
  • A significant improvement in Buddhism was its separating into two orders – The Hinayana and the Mahayana.
  • Kanishka composed the fourth Buddhist council where this split occurred.
 Hinayana BuddhismMahayana Buddhism
1-Followed as a teaching or Philosophy.1-Followed with reference to higher beings, more like a religion.
2-Found mostly in the South and West covering Indochina and Ceylon (Sri-Lanka).2-Found mostly in the North and West, covering   China, Korea, Japan, and Tibet.
3-Early work written in Pali (e.g. Kamma, Dhamma).3-Early texts are in Sanskrit (e.g. Karma, Dharma)
4.Worshipped only in the form of symbols that represent various stages in the life of Buddha4. Worshipped in human form, Bodhisattvas.
5. Treat Buddha has a guide5. Treat Buddha as a God


  • Jainism is an antiquated religion from India that encourages that the best approach to freedom and joy is to carry on with lives of innocuousness and renunciation.
  • The essence of Jainism is a concern for the welfare of every being in the universe and for the health of the universe itself.
  • Jainism, traditionally known as Jain Dharma, is an ancient Indian religion.
  • Followers of Jainism are called “Jains”, a word derived from the Sanskrit word Jina, meaning “victor”.

Art and Architecture

Post Mauryan art and architecture can be classified as four.

1. Bharhut

  • Figures are tall like the Yakshas and Yakshinis of the Mauryan time.
  • A figment of three-dimensionality is available.
  • Accounts or stories are spoken to pictorially.
  • At first, the carvings appeared with level pictures, i.e., projection of hands and feet were unrealistic, yet later on, they rose with profound carvings and a much-naturalized portrayal of human and creature structures.
  • One important sculpture at Bharhut: Queen Mayadevi (the Buddha’s mother) dreaming of an elephant descending towards her womb.
  • Jataka stories are likewise observed.
  • A typical attribute of all the male pictures after the first and second hundreds of years is the hitched headgear.

2. Mathura, Sarnath, and Gandhara schools

  • Gandhara (in present-day Pakistan), Mathura and Sarnath rose as significant workmanship creations from the first century AD onwards.
  • Buddha gets a human structure in Mathura and Gandhara. Beforehand he was spoken to by means of images.
  • Gandhara’s work of art had an impact on Indo-Greek components, for example, Bactria and Parthia customs other than the nearby Gandhara convention.
  • The Mathura workmanship custom turned out to be solid to the point that it spread to different pieces of northern India
  • Sarnath and Kosambi likewise rose as significant focuses of workmanship other than the conventional focus Mathura.
  • The Buddha pictures in the Mathura school are demonstrated on the before Yaksha pictures.
  • Mathura artistic expression additionally has a few pictures of the Shaiva and Vaishnava beliefs however pictures of the Buddha are various.
  • There is less imagery in Mathura when contrasted with the Gandhara School.

3. Early temples

  • Aside from Stupas, Brahmanical temples additionally began getting constructed.
  • Temples were beautified with the pictures of divine beings and furthermore portrayals of the Purana legends.
  • Each temple had a standard picture of a divine being.
  • There were 3 sorts of places of worship of the temples:
    i. Sandhara type: without pradakshina patha (circumambulatory path)
    ii. Nirandhara type: with pradakshina patha
    iii. Sarvatobhadra: which can be accessed from all sides
  • Significant temple destinations from this period: Deogarh (UP); Eran, Udaygiri, Nachna-Kuthara (close Vidisha in MP).
  • These are basic structures with a veranda, a corridor, and the place of worship at the back.

4. Buddhist monuments in South India

  • The Vengi district in Andhra Pradesh has numerous stupas, in Jaggayyapeta, Amaravati, Nagarjunakonda, Bhattiprolu, Goli, and so on.
  • The models of Goli and Nagarjunakonda in the third century have decreased in liveliness yet at the same time three-dimensional.
  • Autonomous Buddha pictures at Amaravati, Nagarjunakonda, and Guntapalle. Guntappale: Rock-cut cavern site close to Elluru.
  • Other stone cut stupas are found at Anakapalle (close Visakhapatnam); and Sannati (biggest in Karnataka).
  • Aside from Buddha pictures, pictures of Bodhisattvas like Avalokiteshvara, Vajrapani, Padmapani, Amitabha, and Maitreya Buddha are additionally observed.


Post Mauryan Empire in the second century BC, different rulers controlled the locales which were once under the Mauryas, similar to the Shungas, Kanvas, Kushanas and Guptas in the north and focal India; and the Satavahanas, Abhiras, Ikshvakus, and Vakatakas in the south and western India.

This period additionally observed the development of Brahmanical orders like the Shaivas and the Vaishnavas.

Chief instances of the fine figures are found at Bharhut and Vidisha (Madhya Pradesh); Mathura (Uttar Pradesh); Bodhgaya (Bihar); Jaggayyapeta (Andhra Pradesh); Bhaja and Pavani (Maharashtra); and Khandagiri and Udayagiri (Odisha).

After the Mauryans, we can say the most powerful empire that rose to power was the Gupta Empire.

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