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Difference Between Mauryan And Gupta Empires


Introductory history

Mauryan empire: Mauryan dynasty was founded by Chandragupta Maurya, that existed in the subcontinent of India during 325 – 185 BCE. The empire was a highly efficient and organized autocratic state. Chandragupta was assisted by career diplomat and economist Chanakya, a high-caste north-Indian in his revolt against Nanda dynasty. Chanakya used his extensive intelligence network, which along with guerilla army led by Chandragupta overthrew the powerful but corrupt Nanda dynasty and Mauryan Empire was established with its capital in Pataliputra, modern day Patna in Bihar in north India. The Mauryan Empire was the first Indian empire to be politically united, economically robust and militarily powerful. Chandragupta was an efficient administrator and used elaborate administrative frame-work to effectively rule his empire that stretched from Bengal in east to Saurashtra in west and Afghanistan and Pakistan in north to Andhra in south. The dynasty embraced Buddhism and actively encouraged promotion of the religion through various means mainly art and culture. The Mauryan kings especially Ashoka built many Buddhist monasteries and pillars (Stupas) with edicts encrypted on those with beautiful architectural designs. Chandragupta is also said to earn plaudits for opening up relationship with the Hellenistic world. Ashoka was the most illustrious of all the successors of Chandragupta. But after his demise, all the successors appeared to be less efficient to rule such a vast empire. History has also this, that there was revolution of Hindu chauvinists led by Pushyamitra Sunga that abetted disintegration of the empire.

Gupta Empire: Gupta Empire was founded by Sri Chandragupta in 320 CE and existed through the 4th and 5th century with major portion of India within its geographical boundary. It was one of the biggest empire in ancient India. The Gupta rulers were efficient rulers and art, culture, literature, painting, science, medicine and astronomy reached new height during the rule of Gupta dynasty. The greatest Sanskrit poet and playwright Kalidasa lived during the rule of Chandragupta, and received tremendous patronage from the king. The history of this period is mainly obtained from the documents left by Chinese travelers like Fa Hien and others. Gupta rulers successfully defended raids by tribes like Huns and Sakas, and built up a united and militarily strong kingdom. Though the empire was not as vast as that of Mauryan, Gupta dynasty left a permanent footprint on the art and culture of Hindu India. The Gupta rulers were avid followers of Hinduism, and promoted the religion overtly. Many architecturally magnificent Hindu temples were built during the rule of Gupta dynasty. The empire fell due to weak leadership of successors, rampant administrative corruption and huge monetary loss caused by wars with Huns. Harsha Vardhana, the Vardhana ruler ousted the descendants of Chandragupta and established Vardhana Empire in Magadha.


The major differences between the Mauryan and Gupta dynasty are enumerated below;

Difference in time: Mauryan empire existed during 325 – 1285 BCE whereas Gupta dynasty existed between 320 and 550 CE.

Difference in extent: Mauryan Empire was very vast and the dynasty ruled almost all of India, including what is now Pakistan and Afghanistan. Area under the rule of Gupta rulers was mush less than that of Mauryan.

Administrative difference: The administrative structure of the Mauryan Empire was very mush centralized. During Gupta rule, more decentralized administrative structure was followed. Administration of villages was bestowed with local leaders, and the rulers never intervened with such administration.

Tax System: The Maurya rulers introduced very extensive tax system, and imposed heavy taxes on the people. Guptas were more liberal in imposing taxes on citizens.

Difference in religious faith: Although the Mauryan rulers were liberal in religious views, they preferred non-Hindu religions. Chandragupta, the founder of the empire was a follower of Jainism. Most of his successors embraced Buddhism, and Ashoka is historically famous for his unquestioned faith in Buddhism. Ashoka embraced Buddhism out of remorse from the grueling experience of the great Kalinga war. Gupta rulers, on the other hand, were followers of Hinduism and generously patronized the Hindu religion. During the rule of the Gupta dynasty, Hinduism experienced cultural and religious renaissance.

Difference in culture: During the Mauryan rule, architectural beauty reached its highest level, with clear influence of Persian style. Huge Buddhist monasteries and marvelous pillars were erected depicting edicts of Ashoka. The period of Gupta dynasty is known as the golden age of Indian culture as science, art, literature and astronomy reached a new height during this period. Mathura and Gandhara were two leading artistic style during Gupta dynasty, which were influenced by Buddhist and Hellenistic style.

Difference in trade and commerce: The Mauryan rulers actively entered into foreign trade. Indo-Greek friendship treaty was signed during the rule of Chandragupta. Gupta rulers on the other hand were more interested in internal trade.

Difference in decline: After Ashoka, Mauryan dynasty was ruled by weak and inefficient leaders. The empire fell due to internal strife, assassination of one ruler and revolution. The Gupta dynasty faced tremendous external threat and involved in bloody military conflict with Huns. This drained its resources.


  1. Mauryan Empire existed before Christ; Gupta Empire existed after death of Christ.
  2. Maurya Empire was vaster as compared to Gupta Empire.
  3. Mauryan rulers followed a centralized administration structure, whereas Gupta rulers followed a decentralized administrative structure.
  4. Tax system during the Mauryan dynasty was stringent; whereas Gupta rulers favored more liberal tax system.
  5. Mauryan rulers favored and promoted mainly non-Hindu religions; whereas Gupta rulers followed and promoted Hinduism.
  6. Great architectural structures and pillars were built during the Mauryan dynasty; whereas science, literature and astronomy flourished during the Gupta period.
  7. External trade and commerce flourished during Mauryan dynasty unlike Gupta dynasty.
  8. Decline of the Mauryan Empire was abetted by internal strife and assassination of ruler; Gupta dynasty faced external threat and military conflict.

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1 Comment

  1. Sir even I can’t understand about the ruler Chandragupta Maurya and Chandragupta (the father of samudra Gupta)….are they different person belong to same clan ….

    And who were the hunas ….
    Kushana ruler was existed before Mauryan empire or after Mauryan empire …
    Plz comment details

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