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Decline of Mauryan Empire

Ashok ruled over 40 years and met with his death in 232 BC. The decline set in and soon after the empire decline set in and soon after the empire broke up. Seven kings followed Ashoka in succession in a period of 50 years. The empire was divided into an eastern and western part. The western part was governed by Kunala, Samprati and others and the eastern part with southern India with its capital at Pataliputra by six later Mauryan Kings from Dasarath to Brihadratha. The revolt of the Andhras in the south and victorious raids of Greek king in the west gave a blow to the power and prestige of the Mauryan Empire. Due to the concern for the empire and total disillusionment on kings unworthiness Pushyamitra the commander-in-chief killed the King Brihadratha while he was reviewing the army. This is the only recorded and undisputed incident in the history of India till the 12th century AD where the king was murdered and replaced.

Most of the historians agree that after Ashoka his successors were weak who could not control the unrest and revolt in various parts of the empire. Some historians hold Ashoka responsible for this decline. Ashoka's pacifist policies weakened the empire in terms of wars and military strength. The centralised empire needed very strong willed rulers which were not the case with Ashoka's successors. Some historians think that Ashoka's welfare measures must have eaten away a large chunk of income and overall income must have been very inadequate to maintain the army and the administrative machinery.