Chandragupta Maurya

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Founder of the Maurya Empire, Chandragupta Maurya is the first paramount ruler of India. He was the son of a king of Magadha. His mother was a woman of humble origin, whose caste he took, and whose name, Mura, is said to have been the origin of Maurya assumed by his dynasty. In the course of his wanderings he collected a large force of the warlike clans of the northwest frontier, and after the death of Alexander attacked the Macedonian garrisons and conquered the Punjab. Then he dethroned and slew the king Magadha and every member of his family, and established himself on the throne in 325 BC.

He enhanced the great army acquired from his predecessor until it reached a huge of force of 30,000 cavalry, 9000 elephants, and 600,000 infantry with which he overran all northern India and established his empire from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal. In 305 BC Seleucus Nicator crossed the Indus, but was defeated by Chandragupta and forced to humiliating truce with the result that his empire was still farther extended in the north. Under the guidance of his tutor and well-known political strategist Chankya he is credited to have united most of India.

His government was autocratic and even tyrannous, but it was organized on an elaborate system. Army and civil services were administered by a series of boards, while the cities were governed by municipal commissioners responsible for public order and the upkeep of public works. Chandragupta himself is described as living in barbaric splendor, appearing in public only to hear causes, offer sacrifice, or to go on military and hunting expeditions, and withal so fearful of assassination that he never slept more than two nights in the same room.

In 296 BC Chandragupta died, leaving his empire to his son Bindusura.

This article was last updated on Monday, Jan 03, 2005