Chandragupt Maurya or Ashoka, the Great – Who was more powerful out of the two?

Often the two Samrats are compared for their power, courage, strength and determination. While, one is the founder of the Mauryan Empire, the other played a key role in its expansion.

Here we share details about both the Samrats to highlight who was more powerful than the other:

Maurya Dynasty in 265 BCE1 Who was more powerful? Chandragupt Maurya or Ashoka, the Great?

Chandrdagupt Maurya

He was merely 20 years old when he took the throne of Magadh by defeating Dhanananda. He was not just courageous and brave but also quite intelligent. This is the reason why he was personally selected by Chanakya. No wonder, he had the support of Chanakya throughout his life.

Chandragupta Maurya Who was more powerful? Chandragupt Maurya or Ashoka, the Great?

Chandragupta Maurya had well established decentralized system. It was because of this he could easily control his large territory. The subjects were happy with him and he established several entities for smooth functioning of his Empire such as bureaucratic organizations, municipalities, police station, courts etc.

Now let us consider the military power – He had six branches of military which makes him a powerful ruler. Besides, Chandragupta annexed several kingdoms and was even able to overthrow Seleucus Nicator, the general of Alexander.

Ashoka the Great 

Ashoka the Great, on the other hand, was a royal prince. He was the General of Ujjaini unlike Chandragupta Maurya who was just 20 years man. Ashoka got all the formal training in military as well as economics and other things essential.

ashoka chakra elephant Who was more powerful? Chandragupt Maurya or Ashoka, the Great?

While, Chandragupta killed enemies, Ashoka killed his own brothers to get to the throne. It is widely believed that he was initially a very cruel king who later had a change of heart after the Kalinga war.

He was the first Mauryan Samrat who took interest in architecture. He built many monolithic pillars, stupas and caves. Later, he became a liberal ruler, who wished to annexe other empire by his new found religion Dhamma.

ashoka chakra Who was more powerful? Chandragupt Maurya or Ashoka, the Great?

Post his adoption of Buddhism and dhamma, he abolished cruel punishments in his kingdom and also had a restriction on non-veg food. So, overall after his change, he became a nice and gentle person who respected others and other religion as well.

However, because of his policies of nonviolence, Ashoka’s army became weak. They lost their valor, boldness and also the zeal to acquire other areas and territories. Moreover, due to the abolishment of cruel punishments, there was a significant increase in the internal problems of the Empire. This is the reason why after his death, the entire empire was divided in two which then was annexed by Pushyamitra Sunga.

Now that Ashoka’s policies lead to the decline of the Mauryan Empire while Chandragupta Maurya’s policies expanded the empire, it highlights the fact that Ashoka might be a good person but he was not a good ruler.

Besides, Chandragupta was a commoner with no resources yet he rose to the highest political position. Ashoka, on the other hand was a royal child, properly trained and had plenty of resources at his disposal. Moreover, Ashoka just fought one war in his life (Kalinga) whereas Chandragupta fought numerous battles with the most courageous and powerful armies of the world including the Greeks.

mauryan empire palace Who was more powerful? Chandragupt Maurya or Ashoka, the Great?

Lastly, Ashoka only had to maintain ‘his’ empire while Chandragupta had built his own empire from scratch. Ashoka is often regarded as great mainly because of his humanitarian works. Needless to say, the Samrat was no match in military skills when compared to his grandfather.

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