What are the differences and similarities between China's Han Dynasty and India's Mauryan Dynasty in terms of politics, society, culture, geography, and religion?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The Han Dynasty developed into the strongest and longest lasting Chinese Empire in 206 B.C., enduring until 220 A.D. The dynasty was as powerful as the later Roman Empire. Their government was structured with power being centered around the emperor, but the emperor also set up a bureaucracy in which he selected many officials to govern alongside him based on their abilities as opposed to social status.

Some of the government officials included the Excellencies, which functioned similarly to a cabinet; the Chancellor, who managed the government's budget; the Imperial Counselor, who was responsible for countering government corruption; the Grand Commandant, who was the head of the military; advisers to the Excellencies; and ministers who oversaw such things as religious ceremonies, imperial security, justice, and finance, as well as many other government officials. Government officials were appraised in three-year cycles and either dismissed or promoted (Ancient History Encyclopedia, "Han Dynasty"; Boston University, "The Han Dynasty").

In contrast, the Mauryan Empire (322 B.C. to 185 B.C.) of ancient India was established earlier than the Han Empire and lasted only 137 years. Regardless, similarly to the Han Dynasty, the government of the Mauryan Dynasty was also constructed as a complex bureaucracy. One difference, however, concerns the fact that the Mauryan government was sectioned off into four different provinces centered around the imperial capital Pataliputra, the seat of the Emperor. The four provinces were called the Tosali, the Ujjain, the Suvarnagiri, and the Taxila. Each province was ruled by a royal prince called a Kumara, and each Kumara had a Council of Ministers that advised the Kumara. The emperor also had his own Council of Ministers (New World Encyclopedia, "Maurya Empire: Administration"). Both the central imperial government and each province were also divided into various administrative roles, just like the Han Dynasty, which included overseeing the government's budget, overseeing justice, overseeing the military, and many others.

Hence, similarities between the governments of the Han Dynasty and the Mauryan Dynasty are that both were bureaucracies and both divided government responsibilities among officials. The biggest difference between the two governments was that the government of the Han Dynasty was far more centralized than the government of the Mauryan Dynasty.

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