The Mauryas of the medieval period: A rough sketch

Written by Vikrant Parmar

The existence of the Medieval Mauryas is supported by abundant evidence, but there is insufficient data to construct a coherent picture of their reign.


Many people assume that after Brihadratha Maurya’s assassination in roughly 180 BCE, the glorious clan of Mauryas died out, however, the truth is that only the main branch of the Mauryas died out, while their junior branches were already spread across the vast Mauryan empire. The aim of this essay is to highlight the historical evidence of Mauryan branches, particularly those from Rajasthan, that lasted into the medieval era. This study delves into inscriptions and literary materials to support the place of Medieval Mauryas in that period’s polity.

The epigraphs and numerous other evidence of Mauryas ruling in the Medieval period, suggest that there were many principalities of Mauryas which can be clubbed in at least three branches, viz. Malwa-Rajasthan branch, Mathura branch, Konkan-Khandesh branch.

In the 7th and 8th centuries CE, the Mauryan branch of Malwa-Rajasthan, also known as the Mori Rajputs, ruled strong principalities in various parts of South-Eastern Rajasthan. Interestingly, among Rajputs, there is still a Mori or Maurya sub-clan of the Parmars (Shukla 1978, p.185). Historians reckon that the Malwa-Rajasthan branch of the Medieval Mauryas appears to have descended from one of the Kumara viceroys of the western province of the ancient Maurya Empire, which had its headquarters at the city of Ujjayini (EI Vol. XXXII, 1957-58, pp. 209-10).

Regarding the Mathura branch of Medieval Mauryas, a fragmentary Mauryan inscription from Mathura (palaeographically dated to the 7th-8th century) provides a few details on the kings of the Medieval Mauryas in the region around Mathura. In this inscription, Dindiraja Maurya is mentioned to have burnt the city of Kanyakubja (Kannauj). Interestingly, Chandragupta is the name of one of the monarchs in the line of Medieval Mauryas of Mathura, keeping the legacy intact of the renowned founder of the ancient Maurya dynasty of Magadha. The Mauryas of the Mathura region were perhaps related to the Malwa-Rajasthan branch ruling in Kota (Rajasthan) as suggested by the close palaeographical resemblance of this Mathura epigraph to that of the Kanaswa inscription of Dhavala Maurya found in Rajasthan.

The Mauryas ruled in the Konkan-Khandesh area from at least the second half of the sixth century, as evidenced by inscriptions of their rivals, the Chalukyas. According to Chalukyan inscriptions, the Chalukya Kings, Kirtivarman-I (r. 567-92 CE) and Pulakesin-II (610–42 CE) subjugated the Mauryas of Konkan. Another intriguing inscription from Waghli (in Khandesh) dated 1069 CE sheds information on the origins of the Mauryas in this area. It mentions a feudatory Maurya chief named Govindaraja and states that the original town of the Khandesh branch of the Mauryas was Vallabhi, Gujarat (GBP, 1896, Volume-1, Part -II, pp. 282-84).

This was a brief sketch of the numerous branches of the Medieval Mauryas, the article now will focus on the Medieval Mauryas in Rajasthan.

Medieval Mauryas of Rajasthan

In the seventh century, Rajasthan was divided into separate kingdoms, with the Chapas governing at Bhinmal, the Mauryas dominating at Chittor, Jhalrapatan, and parts of Kota, the Guhilas ruling only a small section of Mewar, and the Pratiharas ruling at Mandore. One can observe that the Malwa-Rajasthan branch of the Medieval Mauryas was ruling in the south-eastern Rajasthan. This section will segregate the evidence of Medieval Mauryas with respect to three areas of Rajasthan, viz., Chittor, Kota, and Jhalarpatan.

Chittor developed as a power centre in the 7th century CE under the Mauryan branch of Rajasthan (also called as Mori Rajputs). It is important to note that Maurya (मौर्य) of Sanskrit language is same as Moriya (मोरिया or मोरिय) of Pali (Malalasekera 1938, p. 673) and other Prakrit (Das 1925, p. 869) languages, which in turn changes to Mori in local dialects of Rajasthan. Chitrangada Mori, one of the earliest kings in the line of Mori Rajputs, is reported to have built the fort of Chittor as well as the Chitrangada tank (Somani 1976, p. 28). This is further supported by the fact that the lines 102-105 in the second stone of the Kumbhalgarh inscription (1460 CE) contains an account of Chitrangada Mori’s construction of the Chitrangada lake, with exquisite palaces on its sides (Sharma 1951, pp. 367-372).

The ruined palace of Chitrangada Mori is still to be seen to the south of Padmini Palace. Sankshipta Kumarapala-charita, the earliest manuscript of which is dated 1328 CE, describes Shambhalish, a ruler of Kannauj who killed the Maurya monarch Chitrangada and conquered his fort, only to return it to the dead Maurya king’s son (named Varahagupta) some years later (Muktiprabhsuri 1956, p.7). According to Dasharatha Sharma, this could refer to a defeat of the Mauryas by a Chauhan general fighting as a feudatory-chief on behalf of his Imperial Pratihara overlord-king, if “Shambhalish” is equated with Shambharish (i.e., Lord of Shakambhari, meaning a Chauhan prince (Hooja 2009. p.339).

Rajvilas of Maan-kavi, composed during the reign of Maharana Raj Singh-I (r. 1652-80), also mentions the legend of Chitrangada Mori constructing the fort of Chitrakuta (Chittorgarh) and further compares him to Raghu of Suryavansha (Menariya 1958, p. 12, p.233):

चित्रकोट गढ़ चारु, मंडि चित्रांगद मोरिय।
रघू करत तहॅं राज, ढाहि अरिजन ढंढोरिय॥

It should be noted that the Medieval Mauryas claimed the Suryavanshi lineage, as evident from various inscriptions and traditions. The very starting verse of the Waghli inscription (1069 CE) of the Mauryan branch of Khandesh describes their origin from the solar race and tells us that from Mandhatri (of the solar race) sprang the Maurya family (EI 1894, p. 222). This is further corroborated by the 10th century Buddhist texts, viz., Vamsatthappaksini and Mahabodhivamsa. Both of these texts draw upon older sources and categorically state that the Kshatriya clan of Moriyas originated from the noble clan of Shakyas (Mookerji 1943, pp. 15-16). The Shakyas are undoubtedly a Suryavanshi clan, attested by Buddhist and Puranic sources. The Mansarovar (Tod 1920, pp. 919–921) and Shankarghatta (ARASI 1934–35, pp. 56–57) inscriptions of Man Mori confirm the Suryavansha lineage where his family has been described by the terms Twasta (त्वष्टा) and Grahapati (ग्रहपति), respectively. Both these terms are synonymous with the Sun/Surya.

Another famous Mauryan ruler of Chittor, in Rajasthan’s traditions, is undoubtedly Man Mori (also called Manuraja). The verse 18 (slab-IV) of the 17th century Rajprashasti inscription (EI 1951-52, Appendix, p. 14) of Mewar mentions the legend that Guhila chief Bappa, having conquered the king called Manuraja, took Chitrakuta (Chittorgarh) and reigned there like a supreme monarch:

ततः स निर्जित्य नृपं तु मोरीजातीयभूपं मनुराजसंज्ञं।
गृहीतवांश्चित्रितचित्रकूटं चक्रेत्रराज्यं नृपचक्रवर्ती॥

The Mansarovar inscription (dated 713 CE) mentions four rulers of the Mori Rajputs, viz. Maheshwar, Raja Bheem of Avanti, Raja Bhoja and Raja Man (son of Bhoja). Raja Man Mori is said to have built this sarovar (lake), hence it was known as Mansarovar. This inscription seems to imply that the ancestors of Man Mori ruled at Avanti (Malwa). Therefore, this branch of Mauryas was termed as Malwa-Rajasthan branch earlier in this article.

Another important inscription from Chittor, during the reign of Man Mori, was found in the form of a slab that was built into the wall of a modern Shiva temple just above Shankarghatta on the Gambhiri river. This inscription (dated 713 CE) records that Shri Manbhanga (identified as Man Mori) constructed a very high structure (probably a temple), tanks, and cisterns (ARASI 1934-35, p. 57). It also mentions that the glory of victories of Shri Manbhanga reached Atripur [अत्रिपुर विजयनोव्यास विश्रुतः]. The location of Atripur is unknown.

An interesting reference of Mauryas in Chittor comes from Ekalinga Mahatmya, that composed in the 15th century. In this text, the Mauryas (मौरिक) are mentioned in the list of feudatory clans serving Sisodiya chief Rana Rahap; Rahap’s descendants came to be known as Sisodiya Rajputs (Sharma 1976, p. 175):

मक्तुबांण-हूण-तोमर-परमाराद्यैः संसेव्यते भुवि यः॥

Chitrakuta (Chittor) was reported to have been ruled by a prince named Dharanivaraha in the year 831 CE, who patronised Mahuka, the author of the treatise titled “Haramekhala”. Dasharatha Sharma argues that the Bonai plates of Maharaja Ranaka Udayavaraha of a Maurya family, that came to Orissa from Chittor, also reveal Mauryan rulers with names ending in “varaha” (Sharma 2014, p. 227). The evidence from Haramekhala hints towards the existence of Mori Rajputs over Chittor even in the 9th century CE. Thus, it is observed that Mauryas (same as Moriyas or Moris) in Chittor was a renowned clan in the 8th century.

After discussing the Mauryas’ legacy in Chittor, the article will briefly address the Mauryan inscriptions found at Kota and Jhalarpatan. The Kanaswa stone inscription dated 738 CE (IA 1890, p. 56) was discovered built into the wall of the Shiva temple at Kanaswa (Kansua) in Rajasthan’s Kota district. It glorifies the Mauryan clan ruling in this region and mentions the name of King Dhavala Maurya.

Another inscription that was dated 644 CE by D.C. Sircar (EI 1963-64, pp. 100-101), which was found at Dabok, recognises King Dhavalappa as the overlord of Guhila chief Dhanika ruling at Dhavagarta (present town of Dhor, Bhilwara district). The Vansha of this Dhavalappa is not mentioned in the Dabok inscription. DC Sircar opines that Dhavalappa could be the predecessor of Dhaval Maurya of the Kanaswa inscription.

Apart from Chittor and Kota, there was probably another ruling family of Mori Rajputs in South-Eastern Rajasthan. An inscription of Vikram Samvat 746 (690 CE) was discovered in the temple of Chandramauli Mahadeva on the banks of the river Chandrabhaga, Jhalarpatan in the Jhalawar district of Rajasthan. It belonged to the time of Raja Duragagana of the Maurya family (IA 1927, p. 213).


The existence of the Medieval Mauryas is supported by abundant evidence, but there is insufficient data to construct a coherent picture of their reign. Mauryas ruled powerful principalities in the region around Mathura, Rajasthan, and Konkan in the seventh and eighth centuries CE. The strong evidence of Mori/Maurya Rajputs ruling in Chittor, Kota, and Jhalarpatan adds to the Mauryan influence in Rajasthan. Chittor was an important Maurya seat and has a special place in Rajasthani customs. Furthermore, numerous Guhila lords served as feudatories to the Mauryas. The annals of the later Guhila-Sisodiyas mention the Mori Rajputs who ruled Chittor before them.


  • Dinesh Chandra Shukla, “Early History of Rajasthan”, 1978, p. 185Epigraphia Indica (EI) Vol. XXXII, 1957-58, pp. 209-10
  • Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, 1896, Volume-1, Part -II, pp. 282-84
  • G.P. Malalasekera, “Dictionary of Pali Proper Names”, Vol.-II, 1938, p. 673
  • Pandit Hargovind Das T. Sheth, “A Comprehensive Prakrit Hindi dictionary”, Vol.-III, p. 869
  • Ram Vallabh Somani, “History of Mewar”, 1976, p. 28
  • G. N. Sharma, “The Fragmentary Second Slab of Kumbhalgarh Inscription V.S. 1517”, Journal article in Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, Vol. 14 (1951), pp. 367-372
  • Vijaymukti Prabhasuri, Kumarapala Charitra Sangraha, 1956 (read preface and Sankshipta Kumarapala Charita, p.7)
  • Rima Hooja, “A History of Rajasthan”, 2009, Section-5
  • Motilal Menariya, “Maankrit Rajvilas”, 1958, p. 12, p.233
  • EI Vol. II, 1894, p. 222
  • Radha Kumud Mookerji, “Chandragupta Maurya and his times”, 1943, pp. 15-16
  • James Tod, “Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan”, Vol. II, 1920, pp. 919-921
  • Annual Report of Archaeological Survey of India (ARASI), 1934-35, pp. 56-57
  • EI Vol. XXIX, 1951-52, Appendix, p. 14
  • James Todd, pp. 919-921
  • ARASI (refer note 15), 1934-35, p. 57
  • Premlata Sharma, “Ekalingamahatmya Ekalingam Mandir Ka Sthalpuran Va Mewar Ke Rajvansh Ka Itihaas”, 1976, p. 175
  • Dasharatha Sharma, “Rajasthan Through The Ages”, 2014, p. 227
  • The Indian Antiquary (IA), Vol. XIX, 1890, p. 56
  • EI Vol. XX, 1929-30, p. 123
  • EI Vol. XXXV, 1963-64, pp. 100-101
  • IA, Vol. LVI, 1927, p. 213

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