You are Ashoka the Great, autocratic ruler of the Mauryan Empire in Southern Asia. It is 268 BCE, and you have just assumed the throne, having proven yourself the rightful ruler by winning a brief power struggle. You have been dreaming of ruling the empire since childhood and are eager to take action now that your time has come to rule. Having spent your life steeped in Mauryan history, you are well aware of the challenge before you. Your grandfather, Chandragupta, founded the Mauryan empire when he killed the brutal king of Magadha and freed its people from oppression. He was a ruthlessly efficient autocrat, always pushing to conquer surrounding territories and swallow them up into his vastly expanding empire. He accumulated a powerful and extensive army, complete with chariots, cavalry, and war elephants. Chandragupta was not focused on the welfare of his citizens, who were burdened by his strict yet productive government. He had a vision of conquering all of Southern Asia and building a powerful empire that he passed on to his son, who did his best to continue its development. And now, it is your turn. Will you take up your grandfather's style of ruling, or will you govern in your own way?
[[We cannot stop the expansion now, so close to acheiving our goal.->h1]]
[[The empire is large enough and the expansion will stop.->nh1]]
[[Bibliography ->bibliography]] The empire functions as it did when your predecessors governed. Laws are strictly enforced and even the smallest of crimes can be punishable by torture. After farming, warfare is the second most common profession, enabling the army to have incredible power due to its size. In addition, the empire maintains a group of spies. It has come to your attention that there is a small feudal state just outside the empire named Kalinga. It seems your grandfather intended to conquer it, but never did. Conquering Kalinga would prove your strength as a military leader and help you begin to complete your grandfather's vision. However, there is no reason to rush into battle unprovoked. The citizens of Kalinga are content with their independence and have never harmed your people. For this reason, you are hesitant. Do you wish to invade Kalinga?
[[Yes. With the vast army, it will be easy to conquer them.->h2]]
[[No. We have no reason to invade now. ->nh2]]
The people are happy that they are no longer governed with cruelty. The surrounding territories thank you for having mercy on them. However, the army appears to be at a loss for an occupation. Warfare is the second most common profession after farming. In Chandragupta's government, the soldiers were free to roam only when they were not at war or employed in some other way. With a surplus of time on their hands, they have no way to make a livelihood simply because they do not possess the skills to provide for themselves and their families in other ways. You have been warned that there will be an uprising if they are not given the means to make a living. There may be a way to employ the army without going to war. There are portions of the empire that have been left disheveled by the wars of previous rulers. Desperate for more land, Chandragupta made little effort to improve the landscape after a territory was conquered. If the army is employed to restore these sites, they will have a way to make money.
[[Perfect! This is the solution; the community needs to come together for the greater good of the empire.->nh4]]
[[We have no need of a beautiful landscape. They will never turn against me.->nh5]]In 262 BCE, your army invaded Kalinga. The annexation was meant to be quick and simple, given the superior military strength of the Mauryan empire. Kalinga was expected to give in quickly. However, they have put up a fight and defended their freedom, forcing your army to fight back with force. The conflict has escalated into one of the most barbarous wars the Mauryan empire has ever seen, causing great devastation on both sides. Eventually, Kalinga falls, leaving 300,000 casualties and thousands of people displaced by the war. You are afraid of how the people will react to such a devastating mistake. Will they lose confidence in you? Will they claim you have no right to the throne? You need a way to look like a peaceful ruler - a father to all within your borders. There is a small tribal religion called Buddhism that advocates for pacifism and respect for all people. If you claim to be a convert and dedicate yourself to its teachings, you may escape this tragedy unharmed.
[[Pacifism is a good place to start, but I can do more to make them see.->h3]]
[[The expansion must continue. Every other Mauryan ruler before me has dedicated his life to making this empire the most powerul in the world, and I refuse to be the first to give in.->nh3]] Kalinga remains unharmed, and the citizens continue to suffer under your tyranny. On the surface, the empire seems to be functioning well, even though the people are being tortured. You begin to worry that your decision to hold off on the expansion may be misinterpreted by the public as a sign of weakness. At first, you brush it off and remind yourself of the power you have as an autocrat. But it slowly grows on you that you have done nothing to deserve the throne on which you sit. You did not build its borders from nothing. You did not gather forces to build an empire. And you certainly did not win the confidence of the people with your superior leadership tactics. You become paranoid that your public image has been ruined and your people will revolt. Desperate for a solution, you consider increasing military control.
[[continue->nh6]] Since choosing to become a Buddhist, you have allowed the empire a chance to grow in ways other than expanding the boarders. First, a formal apology is issued. It needs to be personal, so you write edicts and have them carved on stone pillars and stationed throughout the empire. They promote and encourage Buddhist principles such as tolerance of all people and pacifism. You promise surrounding territories that they have no reason to fear the Mauryan empire, and promise to protect your people whom you see as your children. The judicial system is reformed as well to ensure the cruelty the empire endured in the past will not be allowed to resurface. Once this has been done, you dedicate yourself to improving the quality of life for all citizens of the Mauryan empire, and as a result, it is transformed into a prosperous environment. To further spread the teachings of Buddhism, you go on many journeys to rebuild Buddhist stupas and places of worship, preaching the dhamma, or proper behavior including respect, tolerance, and generosity. Buddhism slowly grows into a popular religion in south eastern Asia. In 232 BCE, it is on its way to becoming a world religion. Although you did not complete your grandfather's vision of expanding the empire by conquering other territories, the empire has grown economically and in diversity through the introduction of Buddhism. As soon as the dust settles on Kalinga, you move onward to neighboring feudal states. The losses the army suffered at Kalinga have a minimal effect due to its size. The territory you have chosen to attack is slightly larger than Kalinga, but still no match for your superior military. As the troops enter its borders hidden by darkness, their usual sharp focus feels dulled by their recent catastrophe. They come to a city and begin to crawl through the streets. It seems unusual that there is no one blundering around in the brief pause between night and day. Uneasiness settles like thick fog, impairing their senses. A sound is heard from far off. It races closer to them with every passing second, revealing itself to be a war cry. Someone knows you have entered the city! The soldiers wade through the confusion and prepare themselves for battle. Within moments, the enemy is visible around them. The army is trapped! With no choice but to defend themselves, a battle in the streets begins. They quickly realize they are woefully outnumbered. Someone must have called in allies to rally against you and destroy your army. The battle doesn't last very long. After losing a fair number of soldiers, they have no choice but to surrender. With no army, you cannot continue the expansion and the empire is left with no protection. It will take years to build and train an elite force of warriors like the one you lost, and by the time you do you will surely have been invaded. Afraid of how your people will see you, you flee the empire and seek refuge in a distant land, never to be heard from again. The landscape solution has given the army a livelihood once more, and they are grateful. They have made improvements not only to the disheveled areas of the empire, but also the roads and towns, adding shade trees and drinking wells for travelers, inspiring a movement in the government to work towards creating an atmosphere of economic growth. An empire once ravaged by tyranny is now a prosperous home for all its citizens. The soldiers and the civilians are upset that you refuse to take action and rebuild the empire and have formed a resistance. You have been aware of this group for some time, but you suspect it will fizzle out quickly. Unfortunately, they have been growing stronger and rapidly gaining support and resources. One morning, you are looking out over the capital Patalliputra and wondering if there is a way to make your people believe in you again. Someone knocks from within, but you are oblivious to the distraction, lost in your perplexity. A second knock is heard, and once more you are preoccupied. A deafening pound sends a jolt of fear through the room, forcing you out of a daze. Someone is trying to break down the door! You frantically look around for something to defend yourself with. The walls shake as the thunderous buffeting continues, creating an artificial earthquake. The next strike is accompanied by a crack. You turn towards the door and see your general-in-cheif, accompanied by a group of soldiers. They drag you from the room to a disgraceful ending to your short reign. The people are suffocated by the army's firm grip within the community. With no room for freedom, they find it difficult to live under your oppressive rule. Slowly but surely, the economy drops. Artisans are unable to make a living and trade slows significantly. The empire moves at the pace of a slug, using every ounce of breath to progress. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to move backwards and establish a growth focused governing strategy. To wake the empire from its stagnant crisis, a new reign must be established. Realizing you have run the empire into the ground, you elect to abdicate the throne. The Mauryan Empire has come to a miserable end. Bibliography
Basu, Anindita. "Mauryan Empire." Ancient History Encyclopedia. Last modified October 6, 2016. Accessed February 5, 2018. https://www.ancient.eu/Mauryan_Empire/.
Dhammika, Venn S. "The Edicts of King Asoka." Translated by C. D. Sircar and D. R. Bhandarkar. Colorado State University. Last modified 1993. Accessed February 2, 2018. http://www.cs.colostate.edu/~malaiya/ashoka.html.
Violatti, Christian. "Ashoka." Ancient History Encyclopedia. Last modified September 2, 2013. Accessed February 2, 2018. https://www.ancient.eu/Ashoka/.