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History of Chandragupta Maurya (Sandrocottus)

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Introduction: King Chandragupta Maurya was the founder of Maurya Empire. He is also known as Sandrocottus among Greek. He was born in 340 B.C. and died in about 298 B.C. He was succeeded by his son Bindusara.

Chandragupta Maurya had to struggle against Dhana Nanda twice. In his first struggle he was defeated by the Nanda king as he had failed to fortify his rear. After that he started the war of liberation against the Greeks. After attaining success he started his ultimate struggle and defeated the Nanda rulers.

He was the first emperor in Indian History to have achieved real unification of India as one state.

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Early Life: It is believed by modern scholars that King Chandragupta Maurya belonged to the Moriya Kshatriya clan.

According to Buddhist tradition, after the death of his father, his widowed mother took shelter in Pataliputra, where she gave birth to a child.

The early life of King Chandragupta Maurya was spent with cowherds and hunters. He was bought by Chanakya from his adopted father and got education and military training from him.  Chanakya  instigated him to overthrow the Nanda King and supported him to become the King of Magadha Empire.

Political Condition of North India: The most powerful Kingdom in India was Magadha under the rule of Dhana Nanda. Dhana Nanda was unpopular among his subjects. Taking advantage of the massive unpopularity of Dhana Nanda, Chandragupta Maurya attempted a bid for mastery over northern India.

Rise of Chandragupta: The rise and success of King Chandragupta Maurya can be divided into four episodes:

  • Unsuccessful attempt against Nanda Rule.
  • War and victory against the Greek rule in North-West India
  • The overthrow of Nanda King
  • War with Seleucus Nicator and Treaty of 305 B.C

Unsuccessful attempt against Nanda Rule: In his initial attempt, he was defeated by the Nanda king. The initial attempt to overthrow the Nanda rule failed. Chandragupta committed the mistake of making a direct attack on the Nanda capital. He was not fully prepared. He was outflanked, surrounded and defeated by Nanda army. The shock of defeat brought to his mind the proper course.

War against the Greeks: After the initial defeat, Chandragupta lived for sometime in the forest tract of Vindhyan region. Chandragupta raised an army from the warlike tribes of Punjab. These tribes had previously offered valiant resistance to Alexander and being defeated, reluctantly submitted to Macedonian rule. Chandragupta took full advantage of the mounting tide of the Indian unrest against the Greek rule. He mobilized it under his leadership.

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The tough task of liberating Punjab from the Macedonian rule was not an easy job for Chandragupta Maurya. The death of King Porus in the hands of Greek general eased the struggle of Chandragupta for mastery over Punjab.

The victory of Chandragupta against the Greeks wiped out the effects of Alexander’s victory in the Battle of Hydaspes. Chandragupta liberated Sind and Eastern Punjab up to the river Indus from the Greek rule.

The overthrow of Nanda King: Chandragupta now turned his attention to the second part of his mission, the overthrow of the Nanda rule from Magadha. Though Dhana Nanda was unpopular with his subjects, he was a very powerful king. The strength of his army had caused terror in the heart of world-conquering warriors of Alexander.

He began the second invasion of Magadha from the frontier after guarding his rear properly. A fierce battle was fought between the Nanda army and Chandragupta Maurya. The army of Nanda Empire was headed by its general Bhaddasala.

Chandragupta emerged victorious over opponents and won against the Nanda army. Chandragupta besieged Pataliputra and probably killed Dhana Nanda.

The victory made him the master of the Magadhan emprire of the Nandas. To the newly conquered Magadhan Empire, he added the territories of Punjab and Sind conquered from the Greeks.

War with Seleucus Nicator and Treaty of 305 B.C: Seleucus Nicator was the former general and the most powerful successor of Alexander the Great.  Seleucus invaded India in order to recover the lost territory of his master. A war was fought and Seleucus preferred to enter into a treaty with King Chandragupta. The parties entered into a friendly matrimonial alliance. As a mark of friendship, Seleucus handed over some territories to Chandragupta. Seleucus received 500 war elephants in return which helped him to continue with hit other conquests.

Extent of Empire: Chandragupta Maurya made the ideal of the political unification of India a very real one. Almost entire Indian sub-continent was under his control. The extent of his empire was from Magadha and Bengal in the East to Saurashtra in the West, from Kashmir in the North to Indian Ocean in the South.

Just and Caring: Chandragupta Maurya was very hard-working. He remained in court listening to cases and delivering judgment. Chanakya taught him that a king’s duty is constant activity for the welfare of his people.

Amusements: The life of the King Chandragupta Maurya was not just full of monotonous duties. There were arrangements to amusements as well. The king indulged in drinking although never to an excess. The king liked to witness the sports, contests and fights between the wild animals like bulls, rams, rhinos and elephants. The king also enjoyed the race of chariots drawn by mixed teams of horses and oxen.

Death: Chandragupta died in about 298 B.C.

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