The Mauryan Empire under Chandragupta c. 317 BCE


Map Code: Ax01902

Chandragupta Maurya’s rise to power is shrouded in mystery, although early in his life he is said to have met Alexander the Great and was well connected to ruling elites in the Magada kingdom and the city of Pataliputra. He founded his Empire in 323 BCE, and was aided by Chanankya, his Guru, a teacher, philosopher and royal advisor, who was also the author of the Arthashastra, a political treatise, dated roughly between the 2nd and 3rd centuries BCE. Chandragupta created a small mercenary army and began expanding his own area of influence among the eastern Greek ruled areas of Alexander’s former empire. He encouraged revolts among the tribes, then stepped in to offer ‘protection’. He then moved eastward into the Magadha heartlands, deposing the Nanda dynasty after a hard fought campaign. The area around the River Ganges would form the core of his empire with its capital at Pataliputra. From 317–305 BCE he consolidated and extended his western border. He also campaigned in the south of India with a huge army said to number 600,000, according to the Roman writer Pliny. He certainly controlled territory from the northwest, across the Ganges and the former western satraps. Having ruled for 24 years, Chandragupta renounced his throne, following his Jain teacher to south India where he lived as an ascetic, before fasting to death following the Jain practice of sallekhana. He was succeeded by his son, Bindusara (297–273 BCE), who was the father of Asoka the Great (262–232 BCE).

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