India has a rich and vibrant history with admirable leaders. Here are my top three picks of the best Indian kings in Indian history. These kings were chosen on the criteria that they contributed positively to Indian culture and society.
Ashoka the Great is one of India’s greatest emperors (304–232 BC). Ashoka’s early part of his reign was quite vicious. He conquered most of what is now present day India, Pakistan and western Afghanistan by waging countless wars. The legend states that after the Kalinga War, Ashoka was saddened by all the devastation that his army had caused. It was at this time that he propagated Buddhism all over his empire. Thanks to Ashoka’s efforts Buddhism is a major religion to this day. Ashoka changed his policy of conquest and violence to nonviolence and tolerance. He built roads, irrigation systems, universities and hospitals. The later part of his reign was an era of peace and that is what he is remembered for.
Akbar the Great’s (1542-1605) kingdom included present day north and central India. The kingdom of Gujarat in particular gave him power over commerce and fertile soil. Akbar’s reign was not just blood and war. He carried out a form of diplomacy with Rajput clans by marrying Rajput women. Akbar himself was a Muslim, but he tolerated Hindu members of his court. He abolished taxes that Hindus were required to pay, and allowed Hindu festivals and ceremonies to be celebrated in his court. As a result, Akbar’s reign was a period in which Hindus and Muslims lived in relative harmony.
Chandragupta II the Great is also considered one of the greatest kings of India. He ruled from 375-415. He ruled over the Gupta Kingdom, which is considered the Golden Age of Indian culture. Many great poets flourished during his reign, and archeological excavations show that Indian coin minting and metallurgy was advanced for its time. Like many rulers, Chandragupta’s successful reign was based on marital diplomacy, military expansion, and liberal policies like reduced taxation.