Chandragupta Maurya was the founder of the Maurya Empire in India. He is credited with bringing together the small fragmented kingdoms of the country and combining them into a single large empire. As per the Greek and Latin accounts, King Chandragupta Maurya is known as Sandracottos or Andracottus. During his reign, the Maurya Empire stretched from Bengal and Assam in the East, to Afghanistan and Balochistan in the West, to Kashmir and Nepal in the North and to the Deccan Plateau in the South. Read on this biography cum life history of Chandragupta Maurya to know more about the great king:
Conflicting Views about His Lineage
Chandra Gupta Maurya was born in 340 BC. However, there is not much
information about his ancestry. Some of the historians believe that he
was an illegitimate child of a Nanda prince and his maid, Mura. Others
believe that Chandragupta belonged to Moriyas, a Kshatriya (warrior)
clan of a little ancient republic of Pippalivana, situated between
Rummindei (Nepali Tarai) and Kasia (Gorakhpur district of Uttar
Pradesh). Two other views are that he belonged either to the Muras (or
Mors) or to the Kshatriyas of the Indo-Scythian lineage. Last but not
the least, it is also claimed that Chandragupta Maurya belonged to the
Assakenoi or Ashvaka Kshatriya clan of Swat/Kunar valley.
There is not much information about the childhood days of King
Chandragupta Maurya. As per the traditional records, Chanakya, a teacher
at Takshila University, found him in the Magadha kingdom. Thereafter,
Chanakya brought Chandragupta to Takshila, where he took him under his
guidance. Further reports state that Chandragupta once met Alexander the
Great and told him on his face that the ruling of the Nanda Empire was
Foundation of the Maurya Empire
A major part of the credit for the building of the Maurya Empire goes
to Chanakya. He was a teacher at the Takshila University when Alexander
started invading India. Since the King of Takshila and Gandhara had
surrendered to Alexander, Chanakya sought help from other kings to unite
and fight against him. Porus (Parvateshwar), a king of Punjab,
challenged Alexander at the Battle of the Hydaspes River. However, he
got defeated in the battle. Chanakya also sought help from Dhana Nanda,
the ruler of Nanda Empire, but was refused. After this incident, he
started instilling the idea of building an empire that could fight
against foreign invasion into his disciple, Chandragupta. Chanakya
became his chief adviser or prime minister.
Chandragupta Maurya defeated the Macedonian satrapies in the northwest
of the Indian subcontinent in 317 BC. Thereafter, he turned his
attention towards Northwestern India. Chandragupta allied with the
Himalayan king Parvatka and launched an attack against Dhana Nanda of
the Nanda Empire. The battle ended around 321 BC, with the siege of the
capital city of Kusumapura and the conquest of the Nanda Empire. Thus
was born the powerful Maurya Empire in Northern India.
Conquest of Seleucus' Eastern Territories
After the conflict with Seleucus in 305 BC, Emperor Chandragupta Maurya
extended his empire towards Seleucid Persia. Through a treaty sealed in
305 BC, Seleucus gave up the country around the Indus River to
Chandragupta, including the Hindu Kush, present day Afghanistan and the
Balochistan province of Persia. In return, he received five hundred war
elephants, increasing his military strength.
After annexing the eastern Persian provinces Seleucus, Chandragupta's
empire stretched across the northern parts of Southern Asia, from the
Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea. Thereafter, began his conquests in
south, beyond the Vindhya Range and into the Deccan Plateau. Most of the
Southern Asia got united under the rule of Chandragupta Maurya.
It is believed that in the last days of his life, King Chandragupta
Maurya gave up his throne and adopted asceticism under the Jain saint,
Bhadrabahu Swami. He breathed his last in 298 BC at Shravanabelagola (in
present day Karnataka), ending his days of self-starvation. A small
temple marks the cave (called Bhadrabahu Cave) where he died.
Chandragupta Maurya's son Bindusara succeeded him to the throne. He
gave birth to Asoka, who went on to become one of the most powerful
kings of the Indian subcontinent.