Maurya and Gupta emperors united much of India under their rule. How did geography limit the northward expansion of both empires? What region of the Indian subcontinent remained separate from both empires?
What was the basic structure of Chandragupta Maurya's government?
Most Indian goods shipped overseas came from cities in the Deccan. Like the northern plain, the Deccan was divided into many kingdoms. Each kingdom had its own capital with magnificent temples and bustling workshops.
Unlike the Aryan north, the peoples of the Deccan were Dravidians with very different languages and traditions. Women, for example, seemed to have attained a high status and economic power. The Tamil kingdoms were sometimes ruled by queens.
Over the centuries, Hindu and Buddhist traditions and Sanskrit writings drifted south and blended with local cultures. Deccan rulers, like their North Indian counterparts, generally tolerated all religions as well as the many foreigners who settled in their busy ports.
In the Tamil kingdoms, which occupied much of the southernmost part of India, trade was important. Tamil rulers improved harbors to support overseas trade. The various Tamil kingdoms traded with each other, as well as with China and other distant lands. Tamil merchants sent spices, fine textiles, and other luxuries westward to eager buyers throughout the Roman empire.
The Tamil kingdoms left a rich and diverse literature. Tamil poets described fierce wars, heroic deeds, and festive occasions, along with the ordinary routines of peasant and city life.
How did trade help link the separate kingdoms of the Deccan?
Although many kingdoms flourished in the Deccan, the most powerful Indian states rose in the north. About 500 years after the Mauryas, the Gupta dynasty again united much of India. Under the Guptas, who ruled from A.D. 320 to about 540, India enjoyed a golden age, or period of great cultural achievement.
Gupta emperors organized a strong central government that promoted peace and prosperity. Gupta rule was probably looser than that of the Mauryas.