Besides the creation of one of the world's largest empires and the largest empire ever on the Indian subcontinent, the achievements accomplished during the Mauryan Empire included a widespread bureaucracy and civil service that governed all aspects of society and a common economic system with a single currency that encouraged local and international trade. During the empire's era of peace and security, science, the arts and theology flourished.
The Mauryan Empire ruled the Indian subcontinent from 322 to 185 B.C. Much of its early history was taken up by conquest. The empire had a huge standing army of cavalry, infantry and war elephants. In addition, an extensive espionage network secured intelligence both domestically and internationally. The central bureaucracy imposed taxation fairly upon all the empire's citizens, and the peace the army imposed enabled a vast expansion of trade. The Mauryan Empire traded with nations as distant as the Greek states of western Asia and to the east all the way to Southeast Asia.
At the pinnacle of the empire's expansion and strength, Ashok Vardhan Maurya, who became known as Ashoka the Great, came to power. Though he initially followed his ancestors in the conquest of nearby lands, after a particularly horrendous battle in which there were many casualties, he converted to Buddhism. He banned hunting and other violent sports, ended indentured servitude, sent ambassadors and Buddhist missionaries throughout Asia and Europe and called for the building of extensive public works. The 41 years of his reign from 273 to 232 B.C. are unrivaled in India for peace and prosperity. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, after his death, the empire deteriorated due to invasions, dissensions and internal struggles for succession.