From c. 324 BCE to c. 185 BCE, the Mauryas controlled almost the entire Indian subcontinent with efficiency and administrative finesse. Beginning with the origins of Magadha in the sixth century BCE, this definitive book on the Mauryas captures the drama, the colourful betrayals and the intrigues of the Mauryan dynasty in Magadha, starting with its enigmatic founder, Chandragupta Maurya, and his even more enigmatic mentor, Chanakya/ Kautilya, who helped him to get the throne. Chandragupta’s son and heir, Bindusara, is an extremely shadowy, elusive figure in the historical narrative of the Mauryas. Sandwiched between his well-known father and his even more well-known son, Ashoka, Bindusara has slipped through the cracks of known history. Yet the little bits of evidence that we glean about him from varied sources suggest a ruler of power and foresight. A man of eclectic and whimsical tastes, even, who ensured that his heir would inherit a vaster empire than he did. Ashoka, Bindusara’s son, was not only the most powerful Mauryan ruler but also one of the best-known monarchs in Indian history. There are several wildly imaginative tales that document his transition from Ashoka the Fierce to Ashoka the Contrite, consequent on the battle of Kalinga in c. 261 BCE where, horrified at the bloodshed, he underwent a radical personal and spiritual transformation and documented this fact all over his empire through inscriptions on pillars and rocks that have endured till today—a brilliant, pioneering method of communication. An incisive wit and humour makes Devika Rangachari’s The Mauryas sparkle even when it is disentangling grave accounts of significant battles or tedious details of city planning. Culling details from secular and religious literary traditions, Graeco-Roman accounts and archaeological evidence to elucidate this lesser-known period of our ancient past, The Mauryas concludes with an analysis of the enduring legacy of this remarkable dynasty and its strong resonances in our present.
Dr Devika Rangachari is an award-winning writer whose book, Queen of Ice, was on the White Raven list, won the Neev Young Adult Book Award, and was shortlisted for the Sahitya Akademi’s Bal Sahitya Puraskar. Her other books include The Train to Tanjore, Queen of Fire (Parag Honour List 2022), Queen of Earth(Parag Honour List 2021; shortlisted for the Neev YA and the JK Women AutHer awards), 10 Indian Monarchs Whose Amazing Stories You May Not Know, Tales of Love and Adventure, Swami Vivekananda—A Man with a Vision, Harsha Vardhana, The Merry Mischief of Gopal Bhand, The Wit of Tenali Raman and Growing Up (IBBY Honour List 2002). She also received a prestigious national fellowship of the ministry of culture in India to research aspects of gender and historical fiction in Indian children’s literature. Devika has completed her post-doctoral research on gender in Indian history. Her academic works include From Obscurity to Light: Women in Early Medieval Orissa (Seventh to Twelfth Centuries AD) and Invisible Women, Visible Histories: Gender, Society and Polity in North India (Seventh to Twelfth Century AD). She has also published widely in academic journals and been the recipient of several distinguished academic fellowships from the University Grants Commission, as well as the Charles Wallace India Trust.
Get our latest book recommendations, author news, and competitions right to your inbox.