(Last Updated on : 04/05/2015)
Literature during Mauryan Empire
witnessed less literary contributions. Very little is known regarding the Literature of that time. However the little that has survived is sufficient to give an idea of the literary and artistic development of the age. Indian literature had advanced considerably by that time as Vedic literature including the Samhitas, the Brahmanas and the Upanishads
and the six Vedangas
have been mentioned by Kautilya
The literature of the Maurya period was composed either in Sanskrit or Prakrit
languages. Only few works can be assigned to this period due to lack of evidence. Chanakya was a well known author of this age who was also the minister of Chandragupta Maurya
. He was well versed in Buddhist, Jain as well as Hindu works. He received his education at Taxila
. He was a great man of his age.
Arthashastra was the famous work of Chanakya. The work is considered as a genuine composition of the Maurya age. This claim is supported by the fact that the main features of the government set forth here agree with the description of Megasthenes
. Several early writers refer to Chanakya as a writer on statecraft, and Dandin, while referring to the work of Chanakya, mentions even its size which agrees exactly with the size, mentioned in the Arthashastra
The Arthashastra is a book on political economy and the art of government. It is a prose work divided into fifteen adhikaranas each subdivided into numerous chapters. It deals with the duties of kings, administration of public affairs, law and judiciary, relation with foreign powers, methods of warfare, and secret means to injure an enemy. In regard to slavery, Kautilya
's attitude stands apart as a glowing light of liberalism and humanity in a barbaric age. He boldly enunciated that among Aryas (freeborn) none should be unfree or enslaved. His views on other social matters are also commendable.
Chanakya also authored a collection of witty aphorisms, and a book entitled the Chanakya-sataka that is based on ethical poetry. He is also known to have written on medicine, and in this capacity is known to Arabic writers as Sanaqa.
Bhadrabahu was he greatest Prakrit author of the age, the Jain pontiff. He was the disciple of Yasobhadra who lived and wrote during the reign of Chandragupta. He has composed many Jain Prakrit works. Kalpasutra
is a prominent composition of Bhadrabahu. It has been divided into three sections: Jina charitra (lives of Jinas) Sthaviravali (list of Sthaviras) and Samachari (rules for Yatis). However it is doubtful if the whole book is the work of Bhadrabahu.
The only Pali work of the Mauryan period was the Buddhist Kathavatthu that has been ascribed to Maudgaliputra Tishya. It was composed in the reign of Ashoka
. The reign of Chandragupta was not devoid of literary achievements. During the reign of Ashoka across the empire Buddhist literature was published.