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Later Mauryas (232-184 BC)


The evidence for the later Maurya is very little and whatever is there is in an uncertain form rendering the re construction of their history very difficult. The Puranas besides Buddhist and Jaina literature do provide us with some information on the later Maurya but there is no agreement among them. Even among the Puranas there is lot of variance between one Purana and another. But on one point which all Puranas are in agreement is that the Mauryan dynasty lasted 137 years. Ashoka's death was followed by the division of the Mauryan Empire into two parts-western and eastern. The western part was ruled by Kunala (son of Ashoka) and then for a short time by Samprati. It was later threatened by the Bactrian Greeks in the north-west and by the Satvahanas and others in the Deccan.
The eastern part of the empire with Pataliputra as the capital came to be ruled by Dasaratha. Dasaratha is also known as from the caves in the Nagarjuni hills which he dedicated to Ajivikas. Three inscriptions ordered by Dasartha Devanampriya state that the caves were dedicated immediately on his accession. Samprati also mentioned in the Matsya Purana is referred to in both the Buddhist and Jaina literature as the son of Kunala.


According to Jaina tradition he was a grandson of Ashoka and a patron of Jainism. He is said to have been converted to Jainism by Suhastin after which he gave the religion both his active support as a ruler and encouragement in other ways. The western part including the north-western province ,Gandhara and Kashmir was governed by Kunala. It is possible that Kunala gradually extended his territory to include the western province of the empire. According to the Puranas Dasaratha reigned for eight years. Jaina sources mention that Samprati ruled from Ujjain and Pataliputra.
This would suggest that the capital of the western part of the empire was moved from the north to Ujjain. The decade following was to see the conflict between Antiochus III of Syria and Euthydemus of Bactria with Bactria emerging as a strong power ready to threaten north-western India. A number of Principalities in the trans-indus region broke away from the empire while Samprati was occupied in establishing himself at Pataliputra. Gradually the concentration of attention moved to Magadha and the main line of the Mauryan dynasty lived out its years at Pataliputra unable to control or prevent the breaking up of the empire in the more distant regions.
After the reign of nine years Samprati was followed by Salisuka who ruled for thirteen years. The successor of Salisuka mentioned as Somavarman or Devavarman ruled for seven years. The last two kings of the Mauryan dynasty were Satadhanvan who is said to have ruled for 8 years and finally Brihadratha who ruled for seven years and was assassinated by Pushyamitra Sunga.