AD 300)
Introduction The period following the decline of the Mauryan empire is
often labelled as one of the ‘dark’ periods of Indian history – a
characterisation which assumes political centralisation to be the sole criterion
of civilisation. Shorn of such an assumption, the period presents some
significant developments in the socio-economic and cultural history of the
Post-Mauryan Changes One major post-Mauryan change, revealed mostly
by archaeology, was the transition from the proto-historical to the historical
over a large part of India. For example, in the south, the early megalithic
culture representing a tribal stage was succeeded by the early historical,
which accommodated elements of culture from north India. The process of
this transition is, of course, not well preserved in any literary document, but
even so, various details of early historical culture in the three southern
kingdoms – Chola, Pandya and Chera – may be brought out from Sangam
literature. Variously dated – and possibly incorporating both pre-Christian
and post-Christian materials – the Sangam anthologies represent a culture
which had transcended the tribal stage and had yet retained some of it.
     Two other important post-Mauryan changes had, similarly, an earlier
origin, and in accelerating the pace of these changes, the Mauryans had
played a significant part. Despite the geographical isolation which has shaped
India into a subcontinent, Indian culture owes much to what was once ‘non-
indigenous’, and evidence is available in plenty to show that contact with the
outside world increased considerably in the post-Mauryan period.
Two Main Channels of Interaction with the Outside World There were
two main channels of contact         through which the Indian socio-political