One of the greatest persons who lived at the same time as Alexander the Great of Macedon and the Achaemenid king Darius III was the founder of the Mauryan empire Chandragupta (340-297 BC). Chandragupta Maurya is recorded on the Bible Timeline with World History around 315 BC. He was known to Greek and Roman historians as Sandrocottus (or Androcottus). He ruled from 321 BC until his death in 297 BC. The Mauryan dynasty he founded in India and parts of modern Pakistan would last until 185 BC.
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Chandragupta was the illegitimate child of a Nanda prince Sarvathasiddhi and a maid from a lower caste. Other sources such as the Mudrarakshasa by Visakhadatta linked him directly to the Nanda dynasty, but a later Buddhist text linked him to the Kshatriya (warrior-ruler caste) tribe called Maurya. The Jain version of his origin offered a different explanation and linked him to a family of peacock-tamers of the Magadha kingdom.
After the death of his father, Chandragupta was left to a cowherd but was later bought by Kautilya, the Brahman teacher, and politician who would help him build an empire. He was taken to Taxila (in modern-day Rawalpindi in Pakistan) and there he learned warfare under Kautilya. He probably met Alexander of Macedon in Taxila but would escape later and raise his own army on the advice of his mentor Kautilya.
Together they removed the Nanda Dynasty, who ruled the Magadha kingdom in northern India and reigned from its capital Paliputra starting in 322 BC. After Alexander’s death, his empire split apart, and his infantry general Seleucus I Nicator fought with other generals for control over Asia including the Indus Valley region. He tried to reconquer the region that Chandragupta claimed after Alexander’s death but was defeated by the Mauryan king in 305 BC. As part of their peace treaty, Chandragupta gave hundreds of war elephants to Seleucus. The Macedonian ruler also sent the explorer Megasthenes to the Mauryan court as an ambassador.
Chandragupta expanded his empire and at its height, its territory spanned from modern-day Afghanistan to the Vindhya mountain range in central India. Kautilya became Chandragupta’s prime minister during his reign and later wrote Arthrashastra (classic Indian text on running an empire).
Chandragupta expanded his empire and conquered the southern portion of India except for the kingdom of Kalinga on the coast of the Bay of Bengal and the Tamil regions. The kingdom of Kalinga would be annexed many years later by Chandragupta’s grandson Ashoka Vardhana.
He converted to Jainism later in life and led the life of an ascetic (monk) in the city of Shravanabelagola. He abdicated the throne for his son Bindusara and died in the same city after a self-imposed starvation.
Kainiraka, Sanu. From Indus to Independence – A Trek Through Indian History: Vol I Prehistory to the Fall of the Mauryas. Vij Books India Pvt, 2016
Kautalya, and L. N. Rangarajan. The Arthashastra. New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 1992
Mookerji, Radhakumud. Chandragupta Maurya and His times. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1966
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