Chandragupta Maurya

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Chandragupta Maurya
Modern depiction of the imprisonment of Chandragupta Maurya by the king of Nanda.
Allegiance: Magadhan Empire
Rank: Emperor
Succeeded by: Bindusara Maurya
Reign: 322 BC-298 BC
Place of birth: India

Chandragupta Maurya (Sanskrit: चन्द्रगुप्त मौर्य; Greek: Sandrakottos) (born c. 340 BCE, ruled c. 320 BCE<ref>Kulke, Hermann, Rothermund, Dietmar [1986] (1998). A History of India, Third Edition, London: Routledge, 59. ISBN 0-415-15481-2.</ref> to 293 BCE<ref>Kulke and Rothermund 1998:62</ref>) was the founder of the Mauryan Empire.

Chandragupta succeeded in bringing together almost all of the Indian subcontinent. As a result, Chandragupta is considered the first unifier of India and the first genuine emperor of India.<ref name=Boesche>Template:Cite journal</ref>

Prior to Chandragupta's consolidation of power, small regional kingdoms dominated Northern and Eastern India.

In Chandragupta's time, the Mauryan Empire spanned from Afghanistan and Balochistan in the West, Bengal in the East, the Deccan plateau in the South, and Kashmir in the North [1].

There are different theories regarding Chandragupta Maurya’s origins. Most regard Chandragupta to have originated from Magadha, possibly as the son of a Nanda prince.<ref>Biographies: Chandragupta Maurya</ref> A kshatriya people known as the "Mauryas" who had received the relics of the Buddha are also mentioned in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta of the Digha Nikaya. Then the Moriyas of Pipphalivana came to know that at Kusinara the Blessed One had passed away. And they sent a message to the Mallas of Kusinara, saying: "The Blessed One was of the warrior caste, and we are too. We are worthy to receive a portion of the relics of the Blessed One. We will erect a stupa over the relics of the Blessed One and hold a festival in their honor."

There is however an alternative school including noted Buddhist scholar B.M. Barua and others like Dr J.W. McCrindle, Dr D.B. Spooner, Dr H. C. Seth, Dr Hari Ram Gupta, Dr Ranajit Pal who connect Chandragupta to Gandhara (in modern day Pakistan).<ref>Indian Culture, vol. X, p. 34, B. M. Barua.</ref>

Claims that the Mauryas were the Muras or rather Mors and were jatt kshatriyas of Indo-Scythian origin have been proposed.<ref>Jats the Ancient rulers, Dahinam Publishers, Sonipat, Haryana, by B. S. Dahiya I.R.S</ref> <ref name=" Ram Swarup Joon "> Ram Swarup Joon, History of the Jats, Rohtak, India (1938, 1967)</ref> <ref>Mahavamsa :Geiger Trans p 27, Mahavamsa describes Chandragupta as coming of Kshatriya clan of Maurya: "Mauryanam Khattyanam vamsha jata". (Geiger Trans p 27). It means "Mauryas are Kshatriyas of Jat clan". </ref> <ref>Dehiya on the Jat Iranic identity of Mauryas:History of Iran</ref>Based on Plutarch's evidence, other historians state that Chandragupta Maurya belonged to the Ashvaka (q.v.) or Assakenoi clan of Swat/Kunar valley ( modern Mer-coh or Koh-I-Mor — the Meros of the classical writings).<ref>Was Chandragupta Maurya a Punjabi? Article in Punjab History Conference, Second Session, Oct 28-30, 1966, Punjabi University Patiala, p 32-35; Invasion of India by Alexander the great, p. 405; See also: The Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, pp 150-51, Kirpal Singh.</ref> Ashvakas were a section of the Kambojas who were exclusively engaged in horse-culture and were noted for renting out their cavalry services.<ref>[2]

Also see Sandrokottas-Chandragupta Maurya Identity : Sheet anchor of Indian history</ref>

Regardless, his achievements, which ranged from defeating Macedonian armies to establishing centralized rule throughout Northern India, remain some of the most celebrated in Indian history. Two thousand years later, the accomplishments of Chandragupta and his successors are objects of great study in the annals of South Asian and world history.


[edit] Uprising

Very little is known about Chandragupta's youth, but Plutarch reports that he met with Alexander the Great, probably around Taxila in the northwest, and that he viewed the ruling Nanda dynasty in a very negative light:

"Androcottus, when he was a stripling, saw Alexander himself, and we are told that he often said in later times that Alexander narrowly missed making himself master of the country, since its king was hated and despised on account of his baseness and low birth." Plutarch 62-3 <ref>Plutarch 62-3</ref>

According to this tradition, the encounter would have happened around 326 BCE, suggesting a birth date for Chandragupta around 340 BCE.

Junianus Justinus describes the humble origins of Chandragupta, and explains how he later led a popular uprising against the Nanda king:

"He was of humble origin, but was pushing to acquiring the throne by the superior power of the mind. When after having offended the king of Nanda by his insolence, he was condemned to death by the king, he was saved by the speed of his own feet... He gathered bandits and invited Indians to a change of rule." Justin XV.4.15 <ref>Justin XV.4.15</ref>

[edit] Foundation of the Empire

Main article: Magadha
Silver punch mark coin of the Mauryan empire, with symbols of wheel and elephant. 3rd century BCE.

Chandragupta Maurya , with the help of Chanakya, started to lay the foundation of the Mauryan empire.

In all the forms of the Chanakya legend,<ref>Trautmann, Thomas R. (1971). “The Cāṇakya-Candragupta-Kathā”, Kauṭilya and the Arthaśāstra: A Statistical Investigation of the Authorship and Evolution of the Text. Leiden: E.J. Brill.</ref> he is thrown out of the Nanda court by the king, whereupon he swears revenge.

Chanakya by chance met Chandragupta in whom he spotted great military and executive abilities. Chanakya was impressed by the prince's personality and intelligence, and immediately took the young boy under his wing to fulfill his silent vow.

Depending upon the interpretation of Justin's accounts, the second version of the above story is that Chandragupta had also accompanied Chanakya to Pataliputra and himself was insulted by Dhanna Nanda (Nandrum of Justin). If this version of Justin's accounts is accepted, then the view that Chanakya had purchased Chandragupta from Bihar, on his way to Taxila, becomes irrelevant.

The shrewd Chanakya had trained Chandragupta under his expert guidance and together they planned the destruction of Dhana Nanda. The Mudrarakshasa of Visakhadutta as well as the Jaina work Parisishtaparvan talk of Chandragupta's alliance with the Himalayan king Parvatka, sometimes identified with Porus.<ref>John Marshall Taxila, p. 18, and al.</ref> This Himalayan alliance gave Chandragupta a composite and powerful army made up of Yavanas (Greeks), Kambojas, Shakas (Scythians), Kiratas (Nepalese), Parasikas (Persians) and Bahlikas (Bactrians):

"Kusumapura was besieged from every direction by the forces of Parvata and Chandragupta: Shakas, Yavanas, Kiratas, Kambojas, Parasikas, Bahlikas and others, assembled on the advice of Canakya" Mudrarakshasa 2 <ref>From the French translation, in "Le Ministre et la marque de l'anneau", ISBN 2-7475-5135-0</ref>

With the help of these frontier martial tribes from the Himalayas and Central Asia, Chandragupta was apparently able to defeat the Nanda/Nandin rulers of Magadha, and founded the powerful Maurya Empire in Eastern India as a result.

[edit] Expansion

When he took over Magadha, Chandragupta Maurya inherited a powerful army from the Nanda Empire which he continued to build upon as he conquered more territories in Southern Asia.

[edit] Reconquest of the Northwest

Chandragupta turned his attention to Northwestern India (modern Pakistan), where he fought the satrapies (described as "prefects" in classical Western sources) left in place by Alexander (Justin), and assassinated two of his governors, Nicanor and Philip.<ref name=Boesche/><ref>Radha Kumud Mookerji, Chandragupta Maurya and His Times, 4th ed. (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1988 [1966]), 31, 28–33.</ref> The satrapies he fought may have included Eudemus, ruler in western Punjab until his departure in 317 BCE; Peithon, son of Agenor, ruler of the Greek colonies along the Indus until his departure for Babylon in 316 BCE; and possibly Sophytes, who may have ruled in the Punjab until around 294 BCE (although it is also conjectured he may have ruled in Bactria instead). The Roman historian Justin described how Sandrocottus (Greek version of Chandragupta's name) conquered the northwest:

"India, after the death of Alexander, had assassinated his prefects, as if shaking the burden of servitude. The author of this liberation was Sandracottos, but he had transformed liberation in servitude after victory, since, after taking the throne, he himself oppressed the very people he has liberated from foreign domination" Justin XV.4.12-13 <ref>Justin XV.4.12-13</ref>
"He was of humble origin, but was pushing to acquiring the throne by the superior power of the mind. When after having offensed the king of Nanda by his insolence, he was comdemned to death by the king, he was saved by the speed of his own feet" Justin XV.4.15<ref>Justin XV.4.15</ref>
"Later, as he was preparing war against the prefects of Alexander, a huge wild elephant went to him and took him on his back as if tame, and he became a remarkable fighter and war leader. Having thus acquired royal power, Sandracottos possessed India at the time Seleucos was preparing future glory." Justin XV.4.19<ref>Justin XV.4.19</ref>

[edit] Conquest of Northern and Central India

Following the conquest of the northwest, Chandragupta moved onto the lands east of the Indus River, then moving south, taking over much of what is now Central India. Chandragupta soon overran all of Northern India, establishing an empire from the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea.

[edit] Conflict and alliance with Seleucus

Silver coin of Seleucus I Nicator, who fought Chandragupta Maurya, and later made an alliance with him.

Seleucus I Nicator, the Macedonian satrap of the Asian portion of Alexander's former empire, conquered and put under his own authority eastern territories as far as Bactria and the Indus (Appian, History of Rome, The Syrian Wars 55), until in 305 BCE he entered in a confrontation with Chandragupta:

"Always lying in wait for the neighboring nations, strong in arms and persuasive in council, he [Seleucus] acquired Mesopotamia, Armenia, 'Seleucid' Cappadocia, Persis, Parthia, Bactria, Arabia, Tapouria, Sogdia, Arachosia, Hyrcania, and other adjacent peoples that had been subdued by Alexander, as far as the river Indus, so that the boundaries of his empire were the most extensive in Asia after that of Alexander. The whole region from Phrygia to the Indus was subject to Seleucus." Appian, History of Rome, The Syrian Wars 55 <ref>Appian, History of Rome, The Syrian Wars 55</ref>
The exact details of engagement are not known. As noted by scholars such as R.C. Majumdar and D.D. Kosambi, Seleucus appears to have fared poorly, having ceded large tracts of lands west of the Indus to Chandragupta.
The Mauryan empire at its zenith around 230 BCEIt should be possible to replace this fair use image with a freely licensed one. If you can, please do so as soon as is practical.

Seleucus and Chandragupta ultimately reached a settlement, and through a treaty sealed in 303 BC, Seleucus ceded the country around the river Indus, according to Strabo:

"The Indians occupy [in part] some of the countries situated along the Indus, which formerly belonged to the Persians: Alexander deprived the Ariani of them, and established there settlements of his own. But Seleucus Nicator gave them to Sandrocottus in consequence of a marriage contract, and received in return five hundred elephants." Strabo 15.2.1(9)

Mainstream scholarship asserts that Chandragupta received territory west of the Indus including southern Afghanistan and parts of Persia. Archaeologically, concrete indications of Mauryan rule, such as the inscriptions of the Edicts of Ashoka, are known as far as Kandhahar, in today's southern Afghanistan.

In exchange for this territory, Seleucus obtained five hundred war elephants, a military asset which would play a decisive role at the Battle of Ipsus in 301 BC. A matrimonial alliance was also agreed upon (called Epigamia in ancient sources, meaning either the recognition of marriage between Indians and Greeks, or a dynastic alliance):

"He (Seleucus) crossed the Indus and waged war with Sandrocottus [Maurya], king of the Indians, who dwelt on the banks of that stream, until they came to an understanding with each other and contracted a marriage relationship." Appian, History of Rome, The Syrian Wars 55 <ref>Appian, History of Rome, The Syrian Wars 55</ref>
"After having made a treaty with him (Sandrakotos) and put in order the Orient situation, Seleucos went to war against Antigonus." Justin XV.4.15<ref>Justin XV.4.15</ref>

In addition to this treaty, Seleucus dispatched an ambassador, Megasthenes, to Chandragupta, and later Deimakos to his son Bindusara, at the Mauryan court at Pataliputra (Modern Patna in Bihar state). Later Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt and contemporary of Ashoka, is also recorded by Pliny the Elder as having sent an ambassador named Dionysius to the Mauryan court.<ref> Pliny the Elder, "The Natural History", Chap. 21</ref>

Classical sources have also recorded that following their treaty, Chandragupta and Seleucus exchanged presents, such as when Chandragupta sent various aphrodisiacs to Seleucus:

"And Theophrastus says that some contrivances are of wondrous efficacy in such matters [as to make people more amorous]. And Phylarchus confirms him, by reference to some of the presents which Sandrakottus, the king of the Indians, sent to Seleucus; which were to act like charms in producing a wonderful degree of affection, while some, on the contrary, were to banish love" Athenaeus of Naucratis, "The deipnosophists" Book I, chapter 32 <ref>Ath. Deip. I.32</ref>

[edit] Acquired army

After 303 BC, when Megasthenes recorded the size of the acquired army of Chandragupta, his army grew to 400,000 men according to Strabo:

"Megasthenes was in the camp of Sandrocottus, which consisted of 400,000 men" Strabo 15-1-53.<ref>Strabo 15-1-53</ref>

Pliny quotes Megasthenes giving even larger figures of 600,000 infantry, 30,000 cavalry, and 9,000 war elephants:

"But the Prasii [the inhabitants of Magadha, of whom Sandracottos was king <ref> Strab. XV. i. 35-36,--p. 702. Text</ref>] surpass in power and glory every other people, not only in this quarter, but one may say in all India, their capital Palibothra, a very large and wealthy city, after which some call the people itself the Palibothri,--nay even the whole tract along the Ganges. Their king has in his pay a standing army of 600,000 foot-soldiers, 30,000 cavalry, and 9,000 elephants: whence may be formed some conjecture as to the vastness of his resources." Megasthenes, quoted in Pliny.<ref>FRAGM. LVI. Plin. Hist. Nat. VI. 21. 8-23. 11.</ref>

[edit] Jainism & death

Towards the end of his life, Chandragupta gave up his throne and became an ascetic under the Jain saint Bhadrabahu Swami, ending his days in self-starvation at Shravanabelagola, in present day Karnataka. A small temple marks the cave (called Bhadrabahu Cave) where he died [3].

Image:India CG3.jpg
The court of Chandragupta Maurya, especially Chanakya, played an important part in the foundation and governance of the Maurya dynasty

[edit] Chanakya

Main article: Chanakya

Chandragupta's adviser<ref>Template:Cite journal "Kautilya [is] sometimes called a chancellor or prime minister to Chandragupta, something like a Bismarck…"</ref> Chanakya was the architect of Chandragupta's rise to power.

[edit] Family

Chandragupta Maurya renounced his throne to his son, Bindusara, who became the new Mauryan Emperor. Bindusara would later become the father of Asoka the Great, who was one of the most influential kings of all time due to his patronage of the Buddhist religion.

[edit] Origin or ancestry

The ancestry of Chandragupta is still shrouded in mystery and not known for certain <ref> Political History of Ancient India, 1996, p 236, Dr H. C. raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukherjee; Ancient India, 2003, p 284, Dr V. D. Mahajan</ref>. There are divergent views regarding the origin, and each view has its own set of adherents.

While some Indian historians hold the view that Chandragupta was from the Nanda dynasty of Magadha, other later literary traditions imply that Chandragupta was raised by peacock-tamers (Sanskrit: Mayura-Poshakha), which earned him the Maurya epithet. Both the Buddhist as well as Jaina traditions testify to the supposed connection between the Moriya (Maurya) and Mora or Mayura (Peacock).<ref>Parisishtaparvan, p 56, VIII239f</ref> Yet there are other literary traditions according to which Chandragupta belonged to Moriyas, a Kshatriya (warrior) clan of a little ancient republic of Pippalivana located between Rummindei in the Nepalese Tarai and Kasia in the Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh.

[edit] Trivia

  • In the 9th century AD, Sanskrit author Vishakhadatta penned a seven-act play on Chandragupta's life called, Mudrarakshasa (Sanskrit: Signet Ring of the Rakshasa,the chief minister of the last Nanda king).
  • In 2001, the Indian Postal Department issued a Rs. 4 stamp commemorating the rule of Chandragupta.
  • A myth says, that after not being able to seize control in his first attempt, Chandragupta roamed the wilderness of India. Here, he watched through a window, a mother and a child. The child kept burning his hand while trying to eat a roti. The mother scolded the child and told him to eat from the edges, not the centre, because the centre will always be hotter. Chandragupta realized that the Nanda Empire could be considered as that roti. This caused him to change his tactics for seizing power. There is a similar myth in which the roti is replaced by khichdi.

In Legends of the Hidden Temple, one of the artifacts was the "Lion-Headed Bracelet of Chandragupta."

Preceded by:
Nanda dynasty
Mauryan Emperor
322-298 BC
Succeeded by:

[edit] See also

[edit] References

<references />

[edit] Additional reading

  • Kosambi,D.D. An Introduction to the Study of Indian History, Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1985
  • Bhargava, P.L. Chandragupta Maurya, New Delhi:D.K. Printworld, 160 pp., 2002.
  • Habib, Irfan. and Jha, Vivekanand. Mauryan India: A People's History of India,New Delhi:Tulika Books, 2004; 189pp
  • Vishakadatta, R.S. Pandit.Mudraraksasa (The Signet Ring of Rakshasa), New Delhi:Global Vision Publishing House, 2004, ISBN 81-8220-009-1, edited by Ramesh Chandra
  • Swearer, Donald. Buddhism and Society in Southeast Asia (Chambersburg, Pennsylvania : Anima Books, 1981) ISBN 0-89012-023-4
  • Nilakanta Sastri, K. A. Age of the Nandas and Mauryas (Delhi : Motilal Banarsidass, [1967] c1952) ISBN 0-89684-167-7
  • Bongard-Levin, G. M. Mauryan India (Stosius Inc/Advent Books Division May 1986) ISBN 0-86590-826-5
  • Chand Chauhan, Gian. Origin and Growth of Feudalism in Early India: From the Mauryas to AD 650 (Munshiram Manoharlal January 2004) ISBN 81-215-1028-7
  • Keay, John. India: A History (Grove Press; 1 Grove Pr edition May 10, 2001) ISBN 0-8021-3797-0

[edit] External link

es:Chandragupta Maurya fr:Chandragupta Maurya hi:चन्द्रगुप्त ja:チャンドラグプタ pt:Chandragupta Máuria ru:Чандрагупта sa:चन्द्रगुप्त मौर्य sv:Chandragupta Maurya ta:சந்திரகுப்த மௌரியர் ur:چندر گپت موریا zh:旃陀罗笈多 (孔雀王朝)

Chandragupta Maurya

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