The Mauryan Empire – Rule of Chandragupta Maurya and Bindusara

Chandragupta Maurya (322 – 298 B.C.)

Chandragupta Maurya was the founder of the Mauryan Empire. He, at the young age of 25, captured Pataliputra from the last ruler of the Nanda dynasty, Dhanananda. In this task he was assisted by Kautilya, who was also known as Chanakya or Vishnugupta.

After firmly establishing his power in the Gangetic valley, he marched to the northwest and subdued the territories up to the Indus. Then he moved to central India and occupied the region north of Narmada river.

In 305 B.C., he marched against Selukas Niketar, who was Alexander’s General controlling the northwestern India. Chandragupta Maurya defeated him and a treaty was signed. By this treaty, Selukas Niketar ceded the trans-Indus territories – namely Aria, Arakosia and Gedrosia – to the Mauryan Empire. He also gave his daughter in marriage to the Mauryan prince. Chandragupta made a gift of 500 elephants to Selukas. Megasthenes was sent to the Mauryan court as Greek ambassador.

Chandragupta embraced Jainism towards the end of his life and stepped down from the throne in favour of his son Bindusara. Then he went to Sravana Belgola, near Mysore along with Jain monks led by Bhadrabhagu and starved himself to death.

Bindusara (298 – 273 B.C.)

Bindusara was called by the Greeks as “Amitragatha” meaning slayer of enemies. He is said to have conquered the Deccan up to Mysore. Taranatha, the Tibetan monk states that Bindusara conquered 16 states comprising ‘the land between the two seas’. The Sangam Tamil literature also confirms the Mauryan invasion of the far south. Therefore, it can be said that the Mauryan Empire under Bindusara extended up to Mysore. Bindusara received Deimachus as ambassador from the Syrian king Antiochus I. Bindusara wrote to Antiochus I asking for sweet wine, dried figs and a sophist. The latter sent all but a sophist because the Greek law prohibited sending a sophist. Bindusara supported the Ajivikas, a religious sect. Bindusara appointed his son Asoka as the governor of Ujjain.

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