Literary Sources


Of the religious sources the Buddhist and Jain traditions the early Dharmashastra are of great importance. The Ashokavadana and Divyavadana are two Buddhist texts containing information about Bindusara, Ashoka's expeditions to Taxila to suppress a rebellion and about his conversion to Buddhism. DipVamsa and Maha Vamsa describe in detail the role played by Ashoka in the spreading of Buddhism in SriLanka. Chaitra or Parisisthaparvan (biography of Chanakya) of Hemachandra provides very interesting information on Chandra Gupta Maurya.

Amongst the Brahmanical works the Puranas give information on the history of the Mauryas. Megasthenese 's Indica is another source in which he had described the physical features of the country-soil, climate, animals and plants, its government and religion, the manners of the people and their art.


This book in original form has been lost. But most passages have been preserved in form of epitomes and quotations which are found scattered here and there in the later writings of various Greek and Roman authors such as Strabo, Arrian and Plinius. Another important source which gives valuable information on the Mauryan period is the Arthashastra. It is believed to be the work of Vishnu Gupta Kautilya also known as Chanakya. He was the chief advisor of Chandragupta Maurya. His book Arthashastra is a standard work on politics and art of government.

It is considered to be the most valuable work in the field of secular literature. Mudra Rakshasa is another important work which throws some light on Chandragupta Maurya's career. It is a drama written by Vaisakha Dutta in the Gupta period. The author collected all the information available to him in the 5th century AD. This drama gives the detail of the revolution by which Chandragupta Maurya overthrew the Nandas. It also mentioned that Chandragupta belonged to a low caste