History: Asian/Chandragupta Maurya term paper 911

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Chandragupta Maurya

When Chandragupta Maurya (known to the Greeks as Sandrocottus) was born, his father was already dead, causing his family to be in a state of great poverty. Which may be one of the reasons why his uncles were forced to leave Chandragupta in the care of a cow-herder who would bring him up as his own son. He was later sold to a hunter to tend cattle, then purchased by a Brahman politician, Canakya (also called Kautilya), who is credited with being the main contributor to the Arthasastra, a textbook on politics. Canakya then took him to Taxila where he received an education in military tactics and the aesthetic arts. While under the guardianship of Canakya, Chandragupta is said to have met Alexander the Great in Punjab, shortly before he died in 326 B.C. Legend states that while he slept, following the meeting with Alexander, a lion began licking Chandragupta's body, bestowing in him hopes of royal dignity.

Under Canakya's advice, Chandragupta gathered an army of mercenary soldiers and led a rebellion against the Macedonian overlordship, the Nandas, who were led by their commander in chief, Bhaddasala. After Chandragupta emerged victorious in the bloody battle against the Nanda forces, he ascended to the throne of the Magadha Kingdom. Within two years of becoming king, Chandragupta had successfully destroyed all Nanda power and eliminated his opponents by using well-thought-out administrative tactics that even included a secret service.

When Alexander the Great died of a fever in 323 B.C., his last two commanders stationed in the Punjab region of India went back to their homes, leaving the region vulnerable to attack from any outside force that wished to add the region to their empire. Chandragupta, wanting to expand his empire, the Magadha Empire, took the opportunity he was given, and attacked and seized the Punjab region from the Macedonian forces. He then traveled around all of India conquering large towns, small villages, and expanding the Magadha Empire until its borders were so expansive that they extended from the Bay of Bengal, to the Arabian Sea, to the Himalayan Mountains, to the modern-day Kabul Valley (in modern-day Afghanistan), and to the southern tip of India, its borders even touching the borders of the Persian Empire.

In 305 B.C. Chandragupta's power was challenged by King Seleucus I of Syria, one of Alexander the Great's generals, who was the founder of the Seleucid Empire, and who had great military power, but Chandragupta's military power was greater than Seleucus's was, and Seleucus and his empire suffered a crushing defeat from Chandragupta's forces. This led to Chandragupta and Seleuclus arranging a peace treaty between the two massive empires, which included some kind of marriage agreement between Chandragupta and one of Seleucus's wives. The addition of the Seleucid Empire made the Mauryan Empire one of the most expansive empires ever known in all of history. As a result of the close relations between the two empires, Greek cultural influence became even more widespread in India.

When Chandragupta was not out conquering foreign people or foreign lands he was hiding in his palace, or crawling through one of the many catacombs that led to different parts of the palace, or changing meeting times, so no one knew where he was and no one could assassinate him. In fact he even had to have his food tested, in his presence, so he could be sure that he would not be killed from food poisoning. Chandragupta was a great ruler in the way of government, but was lacking in people skills. His grandson would later contrast him in the latter aspect by being very compassionate, and by spreading the Buddhist religion across the Mauryan Empire.

According to legend Chandragupta was influenced to become a Jain monk by the sage Bhadrabahu, who predicted the occurrence of a 12-year famine. When the famine came, Chandragupta made efforts to counter it, but in failing he left to spend the rest of his days in the service of Bhadrabahu at Shravana Belgola, a famous religious site in southwest India, where he fasted to death. The Mauryan Empire did not die, like Chandragupta, it would be carried on by his son and then his grandson for over 100 years.


"India" Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia

"Chandragupta" Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia

"Asoka" Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia

"Magadha, Kingdom of" Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia

"Candra Gupta" Britannica Online.


Wolpert, Stanley. A New History of India-Third Edition

Oxford University Press, 1989


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