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ASHOKA, THE EMPEROR WHO GAVE UP WAR
Roshan clutched the crisp notes that her grandfather had given her on her birthday. While she badly wanted to buy a new cassette, she also wanted to just see and feel the brand new notes. It was then that she noticed that all of them had a smiling face of Gandhiji printed on the right, and a tiny set of lions on the left. What were the lions there for, she wondered.
A very big kingdom = an empire
The lions that we see on our notes and coins have a long history. They were carved in stone, and placed on top of a massive stone pillar at Sarnath (about which you read in Chapter 7). Ashoka was one of the greatest rulers known to history and on his instructions inscriptions were carved on pillars, as well as on rock surfaces. Before we find out what was written in these inscriptions, let us see why his kingdom was called an empire.
The empire that Ashoka ruled was founded by his grandfather, Chandragupta Maurya, more than 2300 years ago. Chandragupta was supported by a wise man named Chanakya or Kautilya. Many of Chanakya’s ideas were written down in a book called the Arthashastra.
There were several cities in the empire (marked with black dots on the map). These included the capital Pataliputra, Taxila, and Ujjain. Taxila was a gateway to the northwest, including Central Asia, while Ujjain lay on the route from north to south India. Merchants, officials and crafts persons probably lived in these cities.
In other areas there were villages of farmers and herders. In some areas such as central India, there were forests where people gathered forest produce and hunted animals for food. People in different parts of the empire spoke different languages. They probably ate different kinds of food, and wore different kinds of clothes as well.
1. Make a list of the occupations of the people who lived within the Mauryan empire.
2. Complete the following sentences:
(a) Officials collected ———————— from the area under the direct control of the ruler.
(b) Royal princes often went to the provinces as ——
(c) The Mauryan rulers tried to control ———————— and ———————— which were important for transport.
(d) People in forested regions provided the Mauryan officials with ————————
3. State whether true or false:
(a) Ujjain was the gateway to the north-west.
(c) Chandragupta’s ideas were written down in the Arthashastra.
(d) Kalinga was the ancient name of Bengal.
(e) Most Ashokan inscriptions are in the Brahmi script.
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