Divine Influence The Role of Religion in Shaping the Mauryan Empire

In ancient India, religion had a huge impact on the Mauryan Empire. Emperor Ashoka’s spiritual beliefs and customs impacted his rule and policies, making it a unique mix of faith and authority. This article looks into the relationship between religion and the Mauryan Empire; from the implementation of Buddhism as the state religion to the building of grand religious monuments.

The Mauryan Empire was founded by Chandragupta Maurya in 322 BCE. It was one of the largest empires in Indian history. Religion acted as a guide for rulers and citizens alike, offering moral values and principles to live by. Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism set a new standard for the empire. His commitment to ahimsa, karuna, and righteous governance not just changed him but also affected his empire’s policies.

Buddhism flourished under Ashoka’s patronage. This resulted in many monasteries, stupas, and other religious structures being constructed. These were hubs of education and cultural exchange, bringing together different populations within the empire.

Ashoka also issued rock edicts which promoted social welfare. He made healthcare available for human and animal life, while also supporting educational and pilgrimage sites of all religions. These steps worked towards a more just and inclusive society, based on religious teachings.

Religion was a huge part of daily life in Mauryan society. Rituals, sacrifices, and prayers were a regular occurrence. People believed that divine intervention affected decision-making at all levels, from local governance to administration and justice.

Pro Tip: To gain a deeper understanding of how religion formed the Mauryan Empire, explore archaeological findings like inscriptions on pillars or rocks – they give us an insight into religious practices and beliefs during that period.

The Mauryan Empire: A Brief Overview

Religion was an integral part of the Mauryan Empire. Emperor Ashoka embraced Buddhism, turning the empire into a peaceful, ethical state. Daily life saw a syncretic approach, with multiple faiths coexisting in harmony.

Religious institutions like monasteries and universities provided spiritual guidance and education, fostering advancements in philosophy, science, and literature. It is important to recognize diverse religious beliefs and foster interfaith dialogue for peace within multicultural societies.

Ethical principles from different religions should be incorporated into government policies to promote equitable governance. This will lead to inclusive policies addressing citizens’ holistic well-being.

Religion and Society in Ancient India

Religion and social structure in ancient India were inherently interconnected, with religious beliefs permeating every aspect of society. These beliefs shaped the moral and ethical values that governed individuals’ behavior and their roles within the community. Spiritual practices, rituals, and festivals played a crucial role in community bonding and reinforcing societal norms. The influence of religion extended beyond personal beliefs and practices to impact political and administrative systems. A deep understanding of the religious landscape in ancient India is essential for comprehending the dynamics of the Mauryan Empire and its overall development. By exploring the significant role religion played in shaping ancient Indian society, we can gain insights into the cultural, social, and political fabric of the time.

Furthermore, religion in ancient India was not confined to ritualistic practices or spiritual pursuits alone. It embraced a wide range of beliefs and philosophies, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, each leaving a distinct mark on society. These religious traditions acted as a moral compass for individuals and provided a framework for understanding the world and one’s place in it. The values and teachings propagated by religious leaders shaped interpersonal relationships, guided governance, and influenced the distribution of social privileges. The Mauryan Empire, under the influence of Emperor Ashoka, demonstrated the profound impact of Buddhism on state policies, promoting principles such as non-violence and social welfare.

Within this context, religion became a unifying force, bringing people from diverse backgrounds together and fostering a sense of collective identity. Various religious events and festivals provided opportunities for social interaction and cultural exchange. The cosmopolitan nature of ancient Indian society allowed different religious groups to coexist and flourish, contributing to the rich tapestry of religious beliefs and practices.

Understanding the intricate link between religion and society in ancient India is crucial not only for comprehending the past but also for shedding light on contemporary India’s religious landscape. It provides us with valuable insights into the enduring influence of religion on individuals, communities, and the broader societal framework.

Pro Tip: To gain a comprehensive understanding of the Mauryan Empire and its societal dynamics, explore the religious and philosophical underpinnings that shaped its governance and societal norms.

The gods must have had a field day shaping the Mauryan Empire, because it seems like even divine intervention couldn’t resist getting involved!

The Importance of Religion in Ancient India

Religion was pivotal in ancient Indian society. Beliefs and practices were intertwined with everyday life, providing a sense of identity, unity, and purpose. People had strong devotion to gods and goddesses, worshipping them through rituals, sacrifices, and offerings.

Temples were sacred spaces, connecting people with the divine. They were more than places of worship – they were centers for cultural and educational activities, integral to the social fabric.

Religion was everywhere in daily life. It influenced the political system, with rulers using divine authority to gain power. The caste system was also based on beliefs – each caste had duties and responsibilities.

Religious texts guided moral and ethical conduct. Vedas and Upanishads provided guidelines for personal and family life, and religious teachers imparted wisdom. Religion gave solace, guidance, and hope during challenging times.

One example is Emperor Ashoka, who ruled from 268 BCE to 232 BCE. He was known for his military conquests, but changed after seeing the destruction of war. He embraced Buddhism and adopted policies of non-violence, kindness, and tolerance.

This transformation shows the power of religion in ancient India. It could even shape the mindset of the most powerful, leading them to righteousness and compassion.

The Mauryan Empire’s Religious Landscape

Under Emperor Ashoka, Buddhism rose to power. After Ashoka saw the damage of war, he embraced the Buddhist faith. This caused many monuments and edicts of Buddhism to be built, solidifying its importance.

Hinduism also had a huge presence during this period. Its roots go back far, but it was strong in the Mauryan Empire. Temples were built for different Hindu gods, drawing in devotees from various walks of life.

Jainism was there too. Although it was not as popular, it played a role in the religious practices.

All three religions peacefully coexisted with no reported conflicts between the followers. The Mauryans took religion seriously, with it impacting their policies. Religion was as essential as their daily yoga sessions.

Influence of Religion on Mauryan Policies and Governance

The significant impact of religion on the policies and governance of the Mauryan Empire can be observed through various aspects. These include the establishment of religious edicts, the institution of a centralized religious authority, and the adoption of religious principles in administration.

Influence of Religion on Mauryan Policies and Governance:

A depiction of the Influence of Religion on Mauryan Policies and Governance can be understood through the following table:

Aspects Impact
Religious Edicts Embracement of religious principles in state laws and policies, ensuring moral conduct
Centralized Authority Creation of a religious council to oversee and administer religious affairs and rituals
Administrative Ethics Adoption of religious values like compassion and non-violence as core principles of governance

These aspects showcase the profound influence of religion in shaping the policies and governance of the Mauryan Empire. However, it is noteworthy that this influence extended beyond these facets.

Remarkably, the Mauryan rulers utilized religious principles not only to establish a moral code for citizens but also as a means to maintain social order and harmony. By incorporating religious edicts into state laws, they aimed to encourage ethical behavior and promote a sense of unity among the diverse populace.

One such example of the influence of religion on Mauryan governance is the story of Emperor Ashoka. Initially known for his brutal conquests, Ashoka underwent a transformative religious experience after witnessing the devastation caused by his own wars. Inspired by Buddhist teachings, he renounced violence and embraced non-violence as a guiding principle of his rule. Ashoka’s conversion not only led to the promotion of Buddhism within the empire but also resulted in initiatives to improve the well-being of his subjects, such as the establishment of hospitals and the encouragement of animal welfare.

This story highlights the profound impact of religion on individual rulers and their policies, demonstrating how religious beliefs and principles could shape the course of an empire.

In summary, the role of religion in shaping the Mauryan Empire was extensive and multifaceted. It influenced policies, governance, and ethical frameworks, serving as a guiding force for rulers and contributing to the overall stability and prosperity of the empire. Through religious edicts, a centralized authority, and the integration of religious values into administration, religion played a crucial role in shaping the Mauryan Empire’s policies and governance.

Emperor Ashoka embraced Buddhism and became a peaceful ruler, proving that even the most brutal conquerors can find inner peace, or maybe he just needed a break from all the bloodshed.

Emperor Ashoka and Buddhism

Emperor Ashoka, the great Mauryan ruler, was pivotal in promoting and embracing Buddhism. His reign saw Buddhism flourish and become part of Mauryan policies and governance.

Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism changed Indian history. He followed the Buddha’s teachings, and spread principles of non-violence, compassion, and moral conduct throughout his empire. His policies reflected Buddhist values with an aim to create a just and harmonious society.

His most important contribution was promulgating edicts. These inscriptions, written in many languages throughout the Mauryan Empire, were a way to communicate with subjects. Through these edicts, Ashoka conveyed his commitment to upholding Buddhist ideals; such as social welfare, religious tolerance, and ethical governance.

To promote Buddhism, Ashoka established institutions. He built monasteries for monks to reside and study Buddhist scriptures. He also sponsored religious missions to spread the message of Buddhism beyond India. These efforts helped cement Buddhism as a significant religious and cultural force not only in India, but also beyond its borders.

One example of Ashoka’s influence can be seen in his encounter with Kisa Gotami, a non-Buddhist woman. She had lost her child and was grief-stricken. Despite being sorrowful himself, Ashoka patiently listened to her story and consoled her with wisdom rooted in Buddhist teachings.

Moved by this experience, Kisa Gotami converted to Buddhism. This shows how Emperor Ashoka’s personal commitment to Buddhism shaped his governance and touched the lives of people of various backgrounds.

Religious Tolerance and Pluralism: Who knew that in governing an empire, embracing religious diversity was easier than choosing where to have lunch?

Religious Tolerance and Pluralism

The Mauryans, when ruling their ancient Indian Empire, knew the importance of religious tolerance and pluralism. Emperor Ashoka displayed this through his fervent support of non-violence and compassion. He guaranteed religious freedom to all citizens, regardless of their faith, and encouraged dialogue and understanding between different religions.

To ensure this was upheld, he set up Dhamma Mahamattas, royal officers who spread moral teachings and monitored social welfare. This inclusive approach created harmony and peaceful coexistence within the empire.

The Mauryan Empire is a fantastic example of how religious tolerance brings effective governance and cohesion to society. Accepting diversity, instead of suppressing it, leads to lasting peace and progress. Their temples and monuments are marvelled at for their construction – and their price tag!

Architectural Marvels: Mauryan Temples and Monuments

Mauryan Temples and Monuments: Architectural Wonders of the Empire

The Mauryan Empire boasted magnificent temples and monuments that continue to stun the world with their architectural grandeur. These awe-inspiring structures stand as testaments to the empire’s religious and cultural significance. From exquisite carvings to colossal pillars, every detail showcases the empire’s commitment to artistic excellence and devotion to their deities.

The Mauryan Temples and Monuments, with their intricate designs and imposing presence, were not only religious centers but also symbols of power and authority. These architectural marvels provided a sacred space for worship and served as a visual representation of the empire’s wealth and prosperity. The meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail in these structures stand as a testament to the empire’s artistic prowess.

One unique detail is the use of monolithic pillars, such as the famous Ashoka Pillars, which were constructed to spread the emperor’s messages and teachings throughout the empire. These pillars, adorned with inscriptions detailing ethical principles and social edicts, showcased the significant role religion played in shaping the values and governance of the Mauryan Empire.

It is fascinating to note that the Mauryan Temples and Monuments, despite their architectural grandeur, were not meant to glorify individuals but instead served as a medium to honor the divine and propagate religious ideas. This emphasis on religious devotion and the influence of faith in shaping the empire’s architectural landscape highlights the profound role religion played in the Mauryan society.

A true fact: The Sanchi Stupa, a renowned Mauryan monument located in Madhya Pradesh, India, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts tourists from all over the world.

In summary, the Mauryan Temples and Monuments stand as remarkable examples of religious and architectural excellence. Their intricate designs, monolithic pillars, and devotion to religious ideals reflect the empire’s commitment to their faith and serve as a lasting legacy of the Mauryan Empire’s cultural and artistic achievements.

Building an empire with bricks and divinity, the Mauryans prove that when it comes to architecture, religion always has the final say.

The Impact of Religion on Mauryan Architecture

The grandeur and intricate design of Mauryan temples and monuments reveal the influence of religion. Not only were these structures places of worship, but also symbols of power and devotion to the gods.

Buddhism became the official religion under Emperor Ashoka. As a result, Buddhist stupas were constructed to enshrine relics of the Buddha. An example of this style is the Sanchi Stupa in Madhya Pradesh, with its elaborate gateways and carvings depicting scenes from the life of the Buddha.

Hinduism too left its mark on Mauryan architecture. Temples devoted to Hindu deities had intricate stone carvings and sculptures. The Great Bath at Mohenjo-daro was likely used for ritual bathing by Hindus and Buddhists alike.

Edicts, inscriptions carved into rocks or pillars, were also used to convey messages from Emperor Ashoka. These edicts spread throughout his empire, promoting religious tolerance, peace, and compassion.

It’s clear that religion had a huge impact on Mauryan architecture. The temples and monuments are a testament to the religious fervor and artistic skill of this era.

Case Studies: Great Stupa of Sanchi and Ashoka Pillars

The Great Stupa of Sanchi and the Ashoka Pillars are two remarkable architectural marvels from ancient India.

The Great Stupa is the largest in India, intricately carved with scenes from Buddha’s life. It is a symbol of Buddhist faith, containing relics of Lord Buddha. Ashoka Pillars are tall sandstone pillars, bearing inscriptions by Emperor Ashoka and built to spread his edicts.

These monuments show evidence of the evolution of architecture over different time periods, with incredible craftsmanship and artistic skill through intricate carvings. Structural grandeur, precision engineering and vastness represent enlightenment, while the pillar at Sanchi depicts Ashoka’s commitment to Buddhism and social welfare.

Visiting these sites can be like travelling back in time. Get ready to uncover the spiritual and political ideologies that shaped ancient India and experience the awe-inspiring presence of history. Our cultural heritage can be preserved for future generations – plan your visit today!

Religious Practices and Rituals in the Mauryan Empire

The religious practices and rituals during the reign of the Mauryan Empire had a significant impact on its formation and governance. A variety of religious beliefs and practices were followed by the people, which played a crucial role in shaping the empire’s cultural, social, and political fabric. These religious practices were deeply rooted in the Vedic tradition and included sacrifices, worship of deities, and observance of rituals to seek divine blessings and guidance.

In the Mauryan Empire, religious practices and rituals were highly organized and governed by a set of rules and regulations. The emperor and his administration played a central role in promoting and maintaining religious harmony and ensuring the well-being of the empire. They patronized various religious institutions, supported religious scholars, and constructed grand temples and stupas to honor different deities and religious figures.

One of the key religious practices in the Mauryan Empire was the performance of sacrifices, known as yajnas. These rituals were conducted to appease the deities and seek their blessings for the welfare of the empire. Elaborate ceremonies involving the offering of various gifts and chanting of sacred hymns were performed during these sacrifices.

Another significant religious practice in the Mauryan Empire was the worship of deities. People offered prayers and made offerings to different gods and goddesses, seeking their protection and blessings. Some of the popular deities worshipped during this time included Indra, Varuna, Agni, and Yama.

The Mauryan Empire also witnessed the observance of various rituals and ceremonies, such as the performance of puja (ritual worship) and the celebration of religious festivals. These rituals and festivals served as a means of bringing the community together, reinforcing religious values, and promoting social cohesion.

Overall, the religious practices and rituals in the Mauryan Empire played a crucial role in shaping its cultural identity and social fabric. They provided a sense of unity and purpose among the people and strengthened the empire’s foundation.

It is fascinating to note that the information about religious practices and rituals during the Mauryan Empire comes from a variety of sources, including rock edicts, religious texts, and archaeological findings.

Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism: three major religions of the Mauryan Empire that prove even divine intervention couldn’t help them agree on who had the better temple design.

Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism in Mauryan Society

In the Mauryan Empire, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism shaped day-to-day life. These religious practices were deeply rooted in the people’s beliefs, values, and routines.

Hinduism was the main faith. Devotion to deities and scriptures like the Vedas were important. Temples were places of worship and communal gatherings. The caste system was a crucial way to determine one’s birth, occupation, and status.

Buddhism was also popular. Founded by Gautama Buddha, this philosophy aimed to reduce suffering through awareness and compassion. Monasteries were places of learning and meditation. Emperor Ashoka’s conversion helped spread Buddhism across the empire. Stupas and pillars with edicts about ethical behavior were built.

Jainism promoted non-violence, truth, non-stealing, celibacy, and non-attachment. Jains practiced asceticism and followed strict codes to attain spiritual freedom. Monks like Bhadrabahu had a big impact on society.

These religions coexisted peacefully. People could practice their faith without persecution or discrimination. This pluralistic environment enabled dialogue between different religious traditions.

Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism greatly influenced Mauryan society. People found a sense of purpose, belonging, and spiritual fulfillment in these religions. Learning about their impact can give us a better understanding of the cultural heritage of the Mauryan Empire. Even emperors enjoyed religious festivals – who doesn’t love divine entertainment?

Royal Patronage of Religious Festivals

The religious festivals of the Mauryan Empire were celebrated on a grand scale. Elaborate processions, decorations, and lavish offerings were commonplace. The emperors saw the importance of supporting and participating in these events to strengthen their rule and connect with the people.

Their presence at these festivals added an aura of power and holiness. Emperor Ashoka even carried relics of Buddha in a ritual procession, reinforcing his commitment to Buddhism.

This dedication to religious ceremonies left a lasting impression on the people. It has even been said that the gods of the Mauryan Empire demanded annual offerings of WiFi and a Netflix subscription – such was the power of the dynasty’s legacy!

The Legacy of Religion in the Mauryan Empire

Religious Influence: The Impact of Faith on the Mauryan Empire

Religion played a crucial role in shaping the Mauryan Empire, leaving behind a profound legacy. The adherence to religious beliefs by the Mauryan rulers, particularly Emperor Ashoka, helped in establishing a strong moral foundation for the empire’s governance and administration. This religious influence fostered a sense of unity and cohesion among the diverse population of the empire. The incorporation of Buddhist principles, such as non-violence and compassion, into the legal system and governance further reinforced ethical practices within the empire. The Mauryan Empire’s legacy of religious influence not only shaped its immediate governance but also had a lasting impact on subsequent Indian empires and cultures.

Despite the prominence of religion in the Mauryan Empire, we must acknowledge other significant factors, such as economic policies and military prowess, that contributed to its overall success. However, it remains undeniable that religion played an integral part in the empire’s administration and societal structure. The Mauryan rulers’ patronage of various religious communities, including Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, and others, contributed to the cultural and religious diversity that defined the empire.

It is important to note that the religious tolerance practiced by the Mauryan rulers also had a distinct impact on the empire’s social fabric. This tolerance allowed for the peaceful coexistence of different religious communities, fostering an atmosphere of religious harmony and acceptance. The Mauryan Empire’s pluralistic approach to religion created a sense of inclusivity that influenced subsequent Indian empires and the broader Indian society.

Pro Tip: When studying the history of the Mauryan Empire, it is essential to recognize the role of religion as a powerful force in shaping its governance and societal structure. Exploring the religious influences in detail can provide valuable insights into understanding the empire’s historical significance.

From gods to brushstrokes, the Mauryan Empire harnessed divine creativity to turn stone slabs into captivating stories, books into enlightenment, and classrooms into temples of education.

Religious Influence on Art, Literature, and Education

Religious beliefs had a major effect on art, literature, and education during the Mauryan Empire. These fields were intertwined with the religious culture that spread through society.

The influence of religion on art was clear in the detailed carvings and sculptures found in temples and monasteries. Artists drew ideas from religious texts, creating gods and goddesses in their work. These artworks not only showed divinity, but also motivated people to be devoted.

Likewise, literature in the Mauryan Empire was shaped by religious ideologies. Epic stories and mythical tales were told through texts like the Jataka tales, which taught moral lessons while entertaining readers. Religious scriptures gave poets and authors a lot of source material to explore themes like ethics, spirituality, and societal order.

Education was also impacted by religion during this period. Buddhist monastic institutions were important for teaching knowledge to both clergy and common people. Monks taught not only spiritual practices, but also topics like mathematics, astronomy, medicine, and philosophy. The educational curriculum was built around religious teachings, focusing on compassion, morality, and understanding.

Furthermore, religious influence was visible outside of traditional art, literature, and education. Every day life saw rituals, festivals, and customs that worshipped deities or encouraged ethical behavior. These habits kept religious principles in mind and encouraged unity within the community.

To ensure the impact of religion on art, literature, and education in the Mauryan Empire continues, it is important to spread awareness through exhibitions and educational programs. By displaying ancient artworks in their original religious settings or showing how literature was impacted by beliefs, people can gain a better understanding of this cultural link.

Also, incorporating Mauryan religious philosophy into modern educational systems can instill values and build social responsibility. Through lessons of compassion, ethics, and knowledge from the Mauryan era, education can help people make a positive impact on society.

The Spread of Buddhism Beyond the Mauryan Empire

The Mauryan Empire played an important role in spreading Buddhism. Through missionary work and royal patronage, Buddhism reached faraway places like Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, and Central Asia. This expansion of Buddhism was furthered by trade routes and diplomatic missions, where merchants and travelers shared Buddhist teachings with local communities. Emperor Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism solidified the spread, as he promoted peaceful acceptance of various religious beliefs.

Adapting to local customs and traditions was one special aspect of Buddhism’s growth. This allowed the religion to be accepted and become popular in different cultural settings, creating a variety of Buddhist traditions around the world.

The far-reaching impact of this phenomenon cannot be overstated. Millions of Buddhists across many countries owe their faith to the Mauryan Empire. Examining this spread helps us to gain insight into how cultures evolve over time.

Delve into the history behind the expansion of Buddhism from India. Uncover how this ancient religion spread over vast distances and touched people across continents. Exploring these tales is both educational and inspiring.

Take a journey into this captivating narrative that links ancient history with modern life. Enjoy an exploration that immerses you in a world driven by faith and curiosity, a world in which the Mauryan Empire’s legacy still affects millions.


Religion had a great effect on the Mauryan Empire. Under Emperor Ashoka, Buddhism was spread out across the empire, bringing peace and unity. His patronage of religious institutions helped promote spiritual growth and control over the empire.

Art and architecture were also greatly impacted by religion. Buddhist monuments such as pillars and stupas were built to honor the emperor and his power.

The most fascinating aspect of this religious influence was Emperor Ashoka’s adoption of dhamma. This moral code featured non-violence, compassion, honesty, and respect for all living beings. It formed the basis of just governance and inspired welfare policies like hospitals and animal protection.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How did religion influence the Mauryan Empire?

Religion played a significant role in shaping the Mauryan Empire. Emperor Ashoka embraced Buddhism, leading to its widespread adoption and promotion across the empire. Religious principles influenced the governance and policies, promoting non-violence, morality, and social welfare.

2. What impact did Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism have on the empire?

Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism had a profound impact on the Mauryan Empire. It led to the official promotion and spread of Buddhism, resulting in the construction of pillars and edicts that propagated Buddhist teachings. Ashoka’s emphasis on non-violence and tolerance shaped the empire’s policies and governance, focusing on social welfare and harmony.

3. Were other religions allowed to coexist in the Mauryan Empire?

Yes, the Mauryan Empire embraced religious pluralism. While Emperor Ashoka promoted Buddhism, he also respected and allowed the coexistence of other religions, such as Hinduism and Jainism. The empire ensured religious freedom, allowing individuals to follow their beliefs while emphasizing the ideals of peace and non-violence.

4. How did the influence of religion affect the administration of the Mauryan Empire?

The influence of religion had a significant impact on the administration of the Mauryan Empire. Ashoka’s adoption of Buddhism influenced the policies and governance practices, focusing on the welfare of his subjects. The empire embraced a code of conduct based on dharma (righteousness) and promoted the welfare of all its citizens, largely influenced by religious principles.

5. Did religion contribute to the decline of the Mauryan Empire?

While religion played a significant role in shaping the Mauryan Empire, it is not considered a primary factor in its decline. The empire faced various challenges, including economic issues, administrative complexities, and external invasions. However, the influence of religion continued to have a lasting impact on subsequent dynasties and the religious landscape of the Indian subcontinent.

6. What were some architectural contributions influenced by religion in the Mauryan Empire?

Religion influenced the architectural landscape of the Mauryan Empire. The construction of Ashoka’s pillars, which carried inscriptions of Buddhist teachings, and the creation of monumental stupas were significant architectural contributions. The empire’s emphasis on Buddhist ideals promoted the construction of monasteries, caves, and chaityas, showcasing the influence of religion on architectural development during this period.

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