Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Chandra Gupta Maurya

Maurya Dynasty started with the Emperor Chandra Gupta Maurya(340BC-298BC), his tale of establishing the empire is of exemplary courage, valor & magnificence of a young man who was destined to a life of servitude until he came into contact with Chanakya, the scion of wisdom. Chandragupta Maurya is born in Patna, Bihar. His mother was Mura. Maurya Dynasty is named after her. Historian are of different opinion regarding the birth of Chandragupta, some believe him to be from Magadha, as the son of a Nanda Prince, while others connect him to Gandhara. He was the disciple of Chanakya, a teacher in Taxila.

His abilities were first identified by his teacher Chanakya. He taught Chandragupta different lessons on politics and war. Later with the help of Chanakya, he established Maurya Empire defeating Dhana Nanda of Nanda Empire. At that time he was only 20 years old. He formed many other alliances and built a composite army of Yavanas, Kambojas, Shakas, Kiratas, Parasikas and Bahlikas. After defeating Dhana Nanda he acquired his army and territory and used all this in acquiring more territories.

             Under his guidance, Chandragupta rose from being a mere commoner to one of the greatest kings of ancient India. Chanakya's motivation and encouragement helped Chandragupta become a master strategist, a diplomatic ruler as well as a sensitive & intuitive human being. Under his rule flourished the great Mauryan Empire which extended from Bengal and Assam in the east, to Afghanistan and Baluchistan in the west, Kashmir and Nepal in the north, and Deccan Plateau in the south. He was the first emperor who unified all the states of india and brings them under one state. After establishing the Maurya Empire, Chandragupta started to unify the India. He was able to conquer every part of the Indian subcontinent except for the Kalinga of Orissa and some southern subcontinent. It is the largest empire yet seen in Indian history.

After unifying India, Chandragupta and his chief advisor Chanakya passed a series of major economic and political reforms. He established a strong central administration patterned after Chanakya’s text on politics, the Arthashastra(English: Economics and Political Science). Mauryan India was characterised by an efficient and highly organised bureaucratic structure with a large civil service. Due to its unified structure, the empire developed a strong economy, with internal and external trade thriving and agriculture flourishing. In both art and architecture, the Mauryan empire constituted a landmark. There was a growth in culture which derived its inspiration from the Achaemenids and the Hellenistic world. Chandragupta's reign was a time of great social and religious reform in India. Buddhism and Jainism became increasingly prominent.

In foreign Greek and Latin accounts, Chandragupta is known as Sandrokottos and Androcottus. He became well known in the Hellenistic world for conquering Alexander the Great's easternmost satrapies, and for defeating the most powerful of Alexander's successors, Seleucus I Nicator, in battle. Chandragupta subsequently married Seleucus's daughter to formalize an alliance and established a policy of friendship with the Hellenistic kingdoms, which stimulated India's trade and contact with the western world. The Greek diplomat Megasthenes is an important source of Mauryan history.

Alexander’s invasion to India

Chandragupta Maurya, with the help of Chanakya, defeated the Magadha king and the army of the Chandravanshi clan. Following his victory, the defeated generals of Alexander settled in Gandhara (the Kamboja kingdom), today's Afghanistan. At the time of Alexander's invasion, Chanakya was a teacher in Takshasila. The king of Takshasila and Gandhara, Ambhi (also known as Taxiles), made a peace treaty with Alexander.


 Chanakya, however, planned to defeat the foreign invasion and sought help from other kings to unite and fight Alexander. Parvateshwara (Porus), a king of Punjab, was the only local king who was able to challenge Alexander at the Battle of the Hydaspes River, but he was defeated.

Chanakya then went further east to Magadha, to seek the help of Dhana Nanda, who ruled the vast Nanda Empire which extended from Bihar and Bengal in the east to Punjab and Sindh in the west, but Dhana Nanda refused to help him. After this incident, Chanakya began to persuade his disciple Chandragupta of the need to build an empire that could protect Indian territories from foreign invasion and succeeded very well. He has built a very strong empire in Indian history.

At the age of 42 he handed over his throne to his son Bindusara. He accepted Jainism and made saint Bhadrabahu his guru. He travelled to the southwest India and spent his last days in Shravana Belgola, a famous religious site where meditated without eating and drinking until he died (this process is called sallekhana or santhara). He has played a crucial role in shaping the national identity of modern India, and has been lionised as a model ruler and as a national hero.


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