If you’re an aspiring civil servant preparing for the prestigious UPSC Mains examination, you understand the significance of choosing the right optional subject. History has always been a popular choice among UPSC candidates, and delving into the annals of the past can offer valuable insights into our nation’s journey. In this blog series, we embark on an exciting journey through time, focusing on the History optional subject, one period at a time. Our first stop: the Mauryan Empire. From the year 2013 to 2023, we will delve deep into the UPSC Mains’ previous year questions related to the Mauryan Empire, exploring the nuances of this era that played a pivotal role in shaping the Indian subcontinent. By examining these questions, we aim to guide UPSC aspirants on how to approach this subject, extract essential information, and excel in their history-related preparations.
The Mauryan Empire, with its remarkable rulers like Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka the Great, and the administrative genius of Chanakya, holds a special place in Indian history. Its impact on politics, society, and culture is undeniable. By dissecting the questions from the past decade, this series will provide a comprehensive understanding of this period, including its administrative systems, socio-cultural developments, and the Mauryan expansion. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or a dedicated UPSC aspirant, join us in this captivating journey through the Mauryan Empire’s pages, as we unravel the complexities of history and help you prepare effectively for your UPSC Mains examination.
Mauryan Empire History – Previous Year Questions (UPSC CSE Mains History Optional)
Foundation of the Mauryan Empire, Chandragupta, Kautllya and Arthashastra; Ashoka; Concept of Dhanna; Edicts; Polity, Administration; Economy; Art, architecture and sculpture: External contacts; Religion; Spread of religion; Literature; Disintegration of the empire; Sungas and Kanvas.
1. Discuss critically the relative importance of the different sources for the history of the Mauryan period. (1986)
2. Write short essay of not more than 200 words on: Mauryan court art as an alien grafting.
3. Discuss the comparative merit of the Arthasastra, the Indica and Asoka Inscriptions as sources for the administration, socio-economic conditions and religious life in the Mauryan period. (1989)
4. Write short essay of not more than 200 words: The Maurya policy of regulating and controlling economic activities. (1990)
5. Write brief essay on Contents of Asoka’s dhamma and reasons for Asoka’s keenness to propagate dhamma. (1991)
6. Write brief essay on Similarities and differences between the Maurya columns and Achaemenian pillars. (1993)
7. Examine the importance of Ashoka’s Rock Edit XIII for determining the extent of the Maurya Empire. Did Ashoka’s policies and reforms contribute to the fall of the empire? (1993)
8. Determine the veracity of Megasthenes’ descri-ptions of Indian society & economy with the help of other contemporary evidences. (1994)
9. Write brief essay on Inscriptions of Asoka. (1995)
10. Write brief essay on Mauryan municipal administration. (1996)
11. Write brief essay on architectural & artistic features of the great stupa at Sanchi. (1997)
12. Examine sources of information for Mauryan dynasty. Throw light on historical significance of Ashoka’s inscriptions. (1999)
13. How did Ashoka contribute to the moral and administrative welfare of his people? (2000)
14. Examine the nature of the Mauryan State. Bring out the features of their administrative system. (2002)
15. Determine the extent of the Mauryan empire. (2005)
16. Examine the role of adhyaksa in the Mauryan administration. (2012)
17. Social norms for women in the Dharmasastra and Arthasastra tradition were framed in accordance with the Vamashrama tradition.Evaluate critically. (2013)
18. Discuss different interpretations of historians about the nature of Asoka’s ‘Dhamma’. Did his principle of Dhamma-vijaya render the Mauryan Empire militaristically weak? (2014)
19. Delineate the nature and impact of India’s contact with Western Asia and the Mediterranean world during the Mauryan period. (2015)
20. “The concept of Ashoka’s Dhamma as found through his inscriptions had its roots in Vedic-Upanishadic literature.” Discuss. (2017)
21. Do you agree with the popular view that Mauryas established a unitary and highly centralized if not monolithic state system? (2018)
22. Explain how Ashoka used religion as a tool of political aggrandizement? (2019)
23. How would you characterize the nature of Mauryan state on the basis of Kautilya’s Arthashastra? (2021)
FAQs on Mauryan Empire
1: Who was King Ashoka, and what is his significance in the Mauryan Empire’s history?
A: King Ashoka, also known as Ashoka the Great, was the third ruler of the Mauryan Empire. He is renowned for his pivotal role in the spread of Buddhism and his adoption of the principles of non-violence and religious tolerance after the Kalinga War. Ashoka’s reign is considered a turning point in the history of the Mauryan Empire, as he played a vital role in its expansion and the propagation of Buddhism.
2: What was the capital of the Mauryan Empire, and why was it significant?
A: The capital of the Mauryan Empire was Pataliputra, also known as modern-day Patna. This city was strategically located along the Ganges River and served as the administrative and political hub of the empire. Pataliputra was significant for its advanced urban planning, a massive population, and its central role in the administration, trade, and culture of the Mauryan Empire.
3: What were the primary reasons for the downfall of the Mauryan Empire?
A: The Mauryan Empire’s decline can be attributed to various factors, including weak successors after Ashoka, invasions from foreign powers, economic instability, and regional revolts. Additionally, the vast territorial expanse of the empire made it challenging to govern effectively, contributing to its eventual fragmentation and decline.
4: Who was the founder of the Mauryan Empire, and what were his achievements?
A: The Mauryan Empire was founded by Chandragupta Maurya, who ruled from around 322 BCE to 298 BCE. He was a contemporary of Alexander the Great and established one of the largest empires in ancient India. Chandragupta’s achievements included defeating the Nanda Empire, centralizing administration, and forming a strong, centralized state.
5: What can you tell me about the coins of the Mauryan Empire?
A: Mauryan Empire coins were some of the earliest examples of coinage in ancient India. They were primarily made of silver and copper, with distinct designs and inscriptions. The most common design features a punch-marked pattern with various symbols, including the sun, six-armed symbols, and animals like elephants and peacocks. These coins played a crucial role in trade and commerce during the Mauryan era and reflected the empire’s economic prosperity and administrative efficiency.
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