the Arthasastra of Kautilya, rich details of Asoka’s inscriptions, the legends
concerning Asoka in Buddhist texts (though later in date), historical art and
field archaeological materials.
Changing Attitudes and Thrusts There has been interesting changes in
the attitudes and approaches of the historians with regard to the selection of
sources for the Maurya history. The previous dependence of the historian on
the Kautilyan Arthasastra as the primary source has somewhat lessened in
recent times. As per the statistical analysis of the text, undertaken by Dr.
Trautmann, the text seems to have taken its present shape in around third
century AD and cannot be attributed to a single author and a single period.
While this would pose some difficulties in using the materials of this famous
treatise on polity for the Maurya times straightaway, the earliest sections of
the text (Adhyakshapracara) have been assigned to the third century BC, i.e.
more or less contemporaneous with the Maurya times. The utilisation of the
Arthasastra for the Maurya times is limited to its earliest sections mentioned
above.
    The differences in the summary of and excerpts from Megasthenes’
Indica, which was after all written by the Greek ambassador out of his
impressions of the Maurya realm, have also raised some doubts about its
reliability as a source of primary importance. On the other hand, our
knowledge about the realm during Asoka’s reign has definitely advanced
because of the discovery of many new edicts which still remain the earliest
known written documents in India. New versions of his Minor Rock Edicts
(MREs) and Rock Edicts (major REs) have thrown new lights on the Maurya
times.
Importance of Greek and Aramaic Edicts of Asoka The most
spectacular evidence is found in Asoka’s edicts in Greek, Aramaic and
Graeco-Aramaic (bilingual) languages and scripts, found from Afghanistan
(two Aramaic edicts from Laghman, one stone tablet from Pul-i-Darunta,
Graeco-Aramaic bilingual record from Shar-i-Kuna, a Greek and an Aramaic
edict from Kandahar) and Taxila in Pakistan. The very find spots of the edicts
are clear indicators of the vastness of the Maurya realm, which Asoka himself
recognised as mahalaka or extensive. The discovery of the Greek and
Aramaic edicts of Asoka from Afghanistan and Taxila leaves little room for
doubt that Asoka retained the