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Chandragupta Maurya (324-300 BC)


The Buddhist sources like Mahavamsa and Dipavamsa describe Chandragupta Maurya as a scion of the Kshatriya clan of the Moriyas branch of Sakyas who lived in Pipphalivana in eastern Uttar Pradesh. The Mudrarakshasa a play written by Vishakha Datta uses the terms like Vrishla and Kulahina for Chandragupta which mean a person of humble origin. Tuskin a Greek writer also says that Chandragupta was born in humble life. According to Buddhist sources Chandragupta's father was killed in a battle and he was brought up by his maternal uncle. Chanakya finding the signs of royalty in the child Chandragupta took him as his pupil and educated him at Taxila which was then a great centre of learning. Chandragupta's early life and education at Taxila is indirectly proved by the fact that the Greek sources says that he had seen Alexander in course of the latter's campaign of Punjab.


The details of Chandragupta's conquests and empire building process are not available. From the Greek and Jain sources it seems that Chandragupta took advantage of the disturbances caused by the invasion of Alexander and his sudden death in 232 BC in Babylon. He first overthrew the Greek Kshatrapas ruling in the region of north-western India. After liberating north-western India from the Greek rule, Chandragupta defeated the Nanda King and captured him. After defeating Nanda, Chandragupta became the ruler of the Magadha Empire. Chandragupta's western and southern Indian conquests are known through indirect evidences.
The Junagarh rock inscription of Rudradaman says that a dam on the Sudarshana Lake for irrigation was constructed by Pushyagupta a provinicial governor of Chandragupta Maurya. Later Yavanaraja Tushapha excavated canals for irrigation during Ashoka's reign. Similarly the find of Ashokan inscriptions at Girnar hills in Junagarh district in Gujarat and at Sopara Thane dist Maharashtra shows that these areas formed part of Mauryan empire. Ashoka's inscription have been found at Maski, Yerragudi and Chitaldurga in Karnataka.


Rock Edict II and XIII of Ashoka mentions that his immediate neighbouring states were those of Cholas, Pandyas, Satyaputras and Keralaputras. Since Ashoka and his father Bindusara are not known to have made conquest in South India it can be said that it was conquered by Chandragupta. This conclusion is further strengthened by the Jain tradition which says that in his old age Chandragupta abdicated the throne and retired to Sravangola in Karnataka with his teacher the Jain ascetic Bhadrbahu. Local inscriptions of later period refer to his giving his life as a devout Jaina by fast unto death at that place. Chandragupta defeated the invading army of the Greek Kshatrapa Seleucus who had succeeded Alexander in the eastern part of his empire.
This victory was achieved in about 305 BC. The Greek writers don't give details of the war but state that a treaty was concluded in which Seleucus conceded the territories of Kandahar, Kabul, Herat and Baluchistan and Chandragupta presented him with 500 elephants. This also led to the matrimonial alliance between the two perhaps Seleucus married his daughter to Chandragupta Maurya or to his son Bindusara. Seleucus sent Megasthenese as his ambassador to the court of Chandragupta. Chandragupta established a vast empire which with the exception of Kalinga extended from Afghanistan in the west of Assam in the east and from Kashmir in north to Karnataka in south. This is indirectly proved by the find spots of the edicts of his grandson Ashoka. Ashoka is said to have added only Kalinga to the Mauryan Empire and there is no definite evidence that his father Bindusara made only conquests at all. Chandragupta Maurya is said to have ruled for 24 years from 324 BC to 300 BC