Chandragupta Maurya: The founder of the Maurya Empire
Right after Alexander’s departure from India, one of India’s greatest rulers, Chandragupta Maurya, founder of the Maurya Dynasty, invaded central and western India. With Pataliputra (near Patna) as it’s capital, he had occupied north western India in its entirety by the year 316 BC.
The great strategist and minister Chanakya (also known as Kautilya) was one of Chandragupta Maurya’s closest advisors. At Chanakya’s behest, Chandragupta took over Magadha from the Nanda dynasty.
With the aid of an intelligence network filled with young recruits from Magadha and other provinces, Chandragupta kept a close eye on the happenings within his kingdom and elsewhere. These recruits were the ones who were upset with the corrupt rule of King Dhana of Magadha. Chandragupta gathered enough of such recruits and resources needed for his army to fight long battles. The men included the former General of Taxila and accomplished students of Chanakya.
Eventually, with an elaborate plan and perseverance, Chandragupta took over the throne of Magadha. His empire went on to become one of the most widespread across India known for its great political and military rule. The empire stretched north, all the way up to the Himalayas and eastward till modern day Assam. To the west the kingdom reached present day Pakistan and parts of Afghanistan.
During this time, Chanakya went on to write the Arthashastra, one of the greatest collections of observations and manuals on economics, politics, foreign affairs, administration, warfare, military arts and religion known to man.
Under Chandragupta’s rule a single currency was established all across India. Through regional governors and administrators he governed deep into his kingdom. Justice and security of his subjects was paramount and he established strong practices to ensure that law and order was maintained. Trade and agriculture also flourished in his rule along with an efficient system for finance and administration.
The Mauryan army brought peace upon the land by wiping out bandits, gangs, private armies and powerful chiefs who tried to establish their rule. Many public works including road and water ways were built to help with travel and trade.
In 305 BC,the Greek ruler Seleucus I, ruler of the Seleucid Empire, attacked Northern India to reclaim parts of their earlier kingdoms. The campaign failed and eventually the two rulers signed a peace treaty under which the Greek ruler received 500 elephants from Chandragupta. These elephants helped Seleucus I in his conquests abroad. This also opened up a deeper friendship between the Indians and the Greeks. Greek historians and scholars like Megasthenes, Deimakos and Dionysius attended Chandragupta’s court.
In Chandragupta’s reign Jainism gained huge popularity. Jain temples and stupas were built across the length and breadth of his kingdom. As Chandragupta grew old he renounced his throne and all his wealth and joined a group of wandering monks.
Chandragupta was succeeded by his son, Bindusara around 298 BC. After Bindusura, came Ashokavardhan Maurya, better known as Ashoka the Great, one of the greatest emperors that India had ever seen.
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