. In the first half of sixth century BC, there were a number of small tribal states in north west India. There was no sovereign power to unite these warring tribes. The Achaemenid rulers of Persia or Iran took advantage of the political disunity of this region. Cyrus, the founder of the Achaemenid dynasty, and his successor Darius I annexed parts of Punjab and Sindh. It was believed to be the most fertile and populous part of the Achaemenid empire.
The cultural effects of the contacts with the Persians were significant. The Persian scribes brought into India a new style of writing. It is called kharoshthi. It was derived from the Aramaic script, which was written from right to left. Many of Asoka’s inscriptions found in north western India are witten in kharoshthi. This script continued to be used in north western India till about third century AD. The Persian influence may also be traced in the preamble of Asokan edicts. The Mauryan art and architecture were also greatly influenced by the Persian art. The monolithic pillar edicts of Asoka with their bell-shaped capitals are somewhat like the victory pillars of the Achaemenid emperors which have been found in Persepolis.
The Persian influence found in Chandragupta Maurya’s court was in the form of the ceremonial hair bath taken by the emperor on his birthday. It was in typical Persian style. It is mentioned in the Arthashastra that whenever the king consults the physician or the ascetic, he should sit in a room where the sacred fire was kept. This indicates the influence of Zorastrianism, the religion of ancient Iranians.