Tafero Lesson Plan of the Day – Social Studies – Indian History and Philosophy – Lesson 5 – India’s First Imperial Unification (326 BC – 184 BC)

Lesson 5 – India’s First Imperial Unification (326BC -184 BC)

  1. By the sixth century BC, Magadha had emerged as first among many competing kingdoms within the Gangetic plain, but it took two centuries to gain control over India.
  2. At this time Alexander the great made his entrance into India.
  3. The Maurya became India’s first imperial family.
  4. The army, spies, soldiers and civil bureaucrats of the Maurya totaled over one million men. This required the monarchy to assess a tax of 1/2 of all crops raised for maintainance.
  5. The Mauryan Empire was divided into janapada (districts) which reflected earlier tribal boundries and were administered by the emperor’s closest relatives and/or most trusted generals.
  6. The “Arthashastra” expounded India’s classic mandala (circle) theory of foreign policy. The king was at the center of the circle surrounded by 12 concentric circles around him. Anything outside the circles was “the enemy”.
  7. The greatest of the Mauryan rulers was Ashoka.
  8. Although ruthless in his initial conquest, Ashoka preached compassion for all his subjects later in his rule and after his death.
  9. Ashoka contributed greatly to the institutionalization of Buddhism by building over 80000 temples or stupas dedicated to Buddha. After his death, Mauryan rule lost its vitality and went into spiritual and economic decline.

Critical Questions

  1. How did Ashoka”s association with Buddhism affect India?
  2. How did Ashoka’s reign affect India?
  3. How was the Mauryan Empire divided into janapada?
  4. How did the Mauryan bureaucracy function?
  5. Why is the Arthashastra text important in this period?
  6. How did Alexander the Great influence this time period?
  7. How did “The Persian Wars” by Herodotus shed light on this time period in India?


  1. How does the principle of separation of Church and State fit into this period of Indian History?
  2. Why is Ashoka considered one of the greatest Indian leaders of all time?

Additional Internet Research Links For This Lesson:




Mauryan Empire