Difficulty in maintaining centralized imperial rule
Long and generally unbroken eras of centralized imperial rule
Coexistence with Islamic rule and culture
Excerpts from Surjit Mansingh, "Historical Setting" in India: A Country Study …Military expansion was called to a halt by Asoka, grandson of Chandragupta, once he had subdued the powerful kingdom of Kalinga in the southeast. Thereafter, Asoka expounded a new theory of social responsibility, or dhamma, as the basis for his empire. Dhamma owed much to Buddhism, which the emperor embraced as his personal religion and which he encouraged through his patronage of the monastic orders and his designation of Buddhist monks as missionaries-cum-ambassadors to feudatories and neighboring states. Asoka's political philosophy and laws were epitomized in his edicts, which were inscribed on pillars and rock surfaces located at the nodal points and outer reaches of his empire. The edicts spelled out moral principles of humanitarianism in conduct, including nonviolence and the tolerance of differences, to which all people could and should subscribe. They also proclaimed the emperor's decision to renounce force and to rule his domains through compassion and dhamma. Asoka's intentions were noble; they were also realistic in a heterodox empire where fanaticisms could be fatal. But he provided no institutions capable of carrying on a centralized administration. Recruitment of officials was not placed on a meritocratic or examination system, as in China. Loyalty was focused on the emperor's person and was quickly supplanted after his death. Strains on the treasury were heavy, and currency became debased in the later Mauryan times. Within 100 years of his death, Asoka's empire had dwindled back to Magadha. The political map of the subcontinent again became a mosaic of kingdoms with fluctuating boundaries. Yet the same centuries bridging the change of millennium saw enormous growth and syncreticism in intellectual, artistic, and economic life. Organizations of trade guilds, merchant asking houses, and caste tribunals gained privilege, autonomy, and wealth. Undoubtedly, they provided the social stability and institutional continuity that allowed cultural and economic blossoming to take place despite political fragmentation. Moreover, during these centuries interaction with other parts of the world was high and trade correspondingly lucrative. The Hindu social system was flexible enough in practice to accommodate within itself both new immigrants and older tribes without a change of theory. Inscription on one of the Pillars of Emperor Asoka: Indeed, Beloved-of-the-Gods is deeply pained by the killing, dying and deportation that take place when an unconquered country is conquered. But Beloved-of-the-Gods is pained even more by this -- that Brahmans, ascetics, and householders of different religions who live in those countries, and who are respectful to superiors, to mother and father, to elders, and who behave properly and have strong loyalty towards friends, acquaintances, companions, relatives, servants and employees -- that they are injured, killed or separated from their loved ones. Even those who are not affected (by all this) suffer when they see friends, acquaintances, companions and relatives affected. These misfortunes befall all (as a result of war), and this pains Beloved-of-the-Gods.