After the death of Bindusara (320–270 BCE), the second ruler of the Mauryan Empire, his son Asoka faced a civil war to establish his claim to the throne. Asoka had practical experience of administration having been governor of the Malwa region, based in the city of Ujjain. He also enjoyed the support of his father’s ministers, which gave him a significant edge over any rivals, all of whom were despatched by the time of his coronation in 269 BCE. The early years of Asoka’s rule were spent consolidating and expanding his inheritance and the area under his direct rule. Legend has it that a particularly bloodthirsty campaign in Kalinga, in 261 BCE, affected Asoka so deeply that it changed him from vengeful warrior into a stable and caring emperor, guided by Buddhist teachings. His patronage certainly led to an expansion of Buddhism within the Maurya Empire and beyond.Asoka ruled for around 36 years, and by the time of his death in 232 BCE the Maurya Empire covered almost all of the sub-continent. It survived for another 50 years until 180 BCE, when the Emperor Brihadratha, the last of the line, was assassinated.
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