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Amir Amanullah Khan Award (Afghanistan)

Politics & War

Chandragupt Maurya

Chandragupt Maurya
PART – 1







• Chandragupta’s ancestry, birth year and family as well as early life are unclear. The Greek and Latin literature phonetically transcribes Chandragupta, referring to him with the names “Sandrokottos” or “Androcottus“.
• The Greek sources are the oldest recorded versions available, and mention his rise in 322/321 BCE after Alexander the Great ended his campaign in early 324 BCE. These sources state Chandragupta to be of non-princely and non-warrior ancestry, to be of a humble commoner birth.
• The Buddhist sources, written centuries later, claim that both Chandragupta and his grandson, the great patron of Buddhism called Ashoka, were of noble lineage. Some texts link him to the same family of Sakyas from which the Buddha came, adding that his epithet
Moriya (Sanskrit: Maurya, Mayura) comes from Mora, which in Pali means peacock.


• Chandragupta was a student of Chanakya . He was born to a Shudra woman, alternatively in a peacock rearing family – a profession that is neither priestly nor warrior.
• An Ashokan pillar discovered and excavated in Nandangarh, suggests that a peacock was the emblem of Maurya dynasty and likely linked to the dynastic lineage.
• Chandragupta Maurya and the Nanda dynasty he replaced were of Shudra lineage. After his birth, he was orphaned and abandoned, raised as a son by a cowherding pastoral family, then, according to Buddhist texts, was picked up, taught and counselled by Chanakya.
• Chandragupta, though born near Patna (Bihar) in Magadha, was taken by Chanakya for his training and education to Taxila, a town in what is now northern Pakistan. There he studied for eight years.


• Chanakya knew that he was prophesied to become a power behind the throne. So, he started searching for a person worthy of being a king.
• When Chandragupta grew up, Chanakya came to his village and saw him playing “king” among a group of boys. To test him, Chanakya asked him for a donation. The boy told Chanakya to
take the cows nearby, declaring that nobody would disobey his order. This display of power convinced Chanakya that Chandragupta was the one worthy of being a king.


• Chandragupta and his guru Chanakya began recruiting an army after he completed his studies at Taxila.
• Alexander and the Greeks abandoned further campaigns of expansion in 324 BCE, and began a retreat to Greece, leaving a legacy of Indian subcontinent regions ruled by new Greek governors and local rulers.
• A supply of warriors was already in place, and the future emperor and his teacher chose to build alliances with local rulers and a small mercenary army of their own. Chanakya also identified talent for future administration.
• By 323 BCE, within a year of Alexander’s retreat, this newly formed group had defeated some of the Greek-ruled cities in the northwest subcontinent. Each victory led to an expanded army and territory. Chanakya provided the strategy, Chandragupta the execution, and together they began expanding eastward towards Magadha (Gangetic plains).


• Magadha was ruled by the evil Nanda dynasty, which Chandragupta, with
Chanakya’s counsel, easily conquered to restore dhamma.In contrast,
Hindu and Jain records suggest that campaign was bitterly fought,
because the Nanda dynasty had a well trained, powerful army.
Chandragupta and Chanakya built alliances and a formidable army of their
own first.
• Chandragupta allied with a Himalayan king called
Parvataka.Chandragupta and Chanakya were initially rebuffed by the
Nanda forces.
• He was eventually able to defeat Bhadrasala and Dhana Nanda in a series
of battles, culminating in the siege of the capital city Pataliputra and the
conquest of the Nanda Empire around 322 BCE. With the end of the
Nanda dynasty, and possessing the resources of the Gangetic plains,
Chandragupta put to work the statecraft strategies of Chanakya

PART – 2



• Finally, they captured Pataliputra and Chandragupta became the king.
They allowed the king Nanda to go into exile, with all the goods he could
take on a cart. As Nanda and his family were leaving the city on a cart, his
daughter saw Chandragupta, and fell in love with the new king. She chose
him as her husband by svayamvara tradition.
• Meanwhile, Parvataka fell in love with one of Nanda’s visha kanyas (poison
girl). Chanakya approved the marriage, and Parvataka collapsed when he
touched the girl during the wedding. Chanakya asked Chandragupta not to
call a physician. Thus, Parvataka died and Chandragupta became the
sole ruler of Nanda’s territories
• Chanakya then started consolidating the power by eliminating Nanda’s
loyalists, who had been harassing people in various parts of the kingdom.
Chanakya learned about a weaver who would burn any part of his house
infested with cockroaches. Chanakya assigned the responsibility of crushing
the rebels to this weaver. Soon, the kingdom was free of insurgents.


• After Alexander’s death in 323 BCE, Chandragupta began their empire building in the north-western Indian subcontinent (modern-day Pakistan).
• Alexander had left satrapies Chandragupta’s mercenaries may have
assassinated two of his governors, Nicanor and Philip. The satrapies he fought probably included Eudemus, who left the territory in 317 BCE; and Peithon, governing cities near the Indus River until he too left for Babylon in 316 BCE.
• During the government of Chandragupta, we find the Greek Magasthenes, an ambassador of Seleucus, who lived in the court of Pataliputra from 317-312 BCE. He wrote many different reports about India and although his original work is lost


• Magasthenes also reports that Pataliputra was nine miles in length and about
two miles in width. Chandragupta’s palace was full of luxuries and all type of
ostentatious possessions. Inside his palace, he lived in it for 24 years, almost
as a recluse, with very limited public exposure, solely devoted to the growth
of the empire.
• He managed to extend his empire westwards and became the master of
all Northern India. According to the reports of Magasthenes,
Chandragupta’s army was composed of 600,000 foot soldiers, 30,000
horses, and 9,000 war elephants.
• After becoming the master of all Northern India, Chandragupta began a
campaign to conquer the southern half of the Indian subcontinent. Battle after
battle, the Mauryan forces absorbed most of the independent Indian states
until eventually, in 300 BCE, the borders of the Mauryan Empire extended
southward into the Deccan Plateau


• Seleucus I Nicator, a Macedonian general of Alexander, who, in 312
BCE, established the Seleucid Kingdom with its capital at Babylon,
reconquered most of Alexander’s former empire in Asia and put under his
own authority and in 305 BCE he entered into conflict with Chandragupta.
• Since Seleucus was busy on the western borders, Chandragupta took this
opportunity to attack and assassinate two Macedonian satrapies, Nicanor of
Parthia and Philip, son of Machatas.After defeating Seleucus,
Chandragupta signed a peace treaty with him, according to which he
got hold of Punjab in exchange of 500 war elephants.
• In addition to this treaty, Seleucus dispatched an ambassador,
Megasthenes, to Chandragupta, and later Antiochos sent Deimakos to his
son Bindusara, at the Maurya court at Pataliputra


• In 298 BCE, Chandragupta voluntarily abdicated the throne in
favour of his son Bindusara, who became the new Mauryan
• It is said that Chandragupta turned into an ascetic and follower of
Jainism. Jain tradition claims that Chandragupta migrated south
and, consistent with the beliefs of Jainism.
• He starved himself to death inside a cave. This event
supposedly took place in Sravana Belgola, a city about 150
kilometers away from Bangalore, which is one of the most important
places of pilgrimage in Jainism


• The Maurya rule was a structured administration, where Chandragupta had a council of ministers (amatya), the empire was organized into territories (janapada), centers of regional power were protected with forts (durga), state operations funded with treasury (kosa).
• Chandragupta Maurya, under counsel from Chanakya, started and completed many irrigation reservoirs and networks across the Indian subcontinent in order to ensure food supplies for civilian population and the army, a practice continued by his dynastic successors.
• Chandragupta, were “great road builders”. Megasthenes credited to Chandragupta with the completion of a thousand-mile-long highway connecting Chandragupta’s capital Pataliputra in Bihar to Taxila.The other from Pataliputra in various directions: one connecting it to
Nepal, Kapilavastu, Kalsi (now Dehradun), Sasaram (now Mirzapur),
Kalinga (now Odisha), Andhra and Karnataka