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EmperorChandraguptaMauryaBiography

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Chandragupta Maurya
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In326BCE,Chandragupta
Mauryawasjustateenager

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whenAlexandertheGreatof
MacedoniainvadedIndia.

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Facingstiffresistanceall

LivingHealthy

throughwhatisnowPakistan,
andhamperedbythehigh

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Alexandersarmylostitswill
toconquerIndiaattheBattle

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ofJhelum(orHydaspes

Chandragupta'sfootprints.RomanaKleeonFlickr.com

River).

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away,a20yearoldChandraguptaMaurya
wouldaccomplishthatfeat,andgoonto

unitealmostallofwhatisnowIndia.The
Alexanderssuccessorsandwin.

ChandraguptaMauryawasbornsometimearound340BCE,reportedlyinPatna,nowin
theBiharstateofIndia.Giventhevastspanoftimesincehisbirth,itisunsurprisingthat
scholarsareuncertainofmanydetails.Forexample,sometextsclaimthatbothof
ChandraguptasparentswereoftheKshatriya(warrior/prince)caste,whileothersstate

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ChandraguptaMauryasBirthand
Ancestry:

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thathisfatherwasakingbuthismotherwasamaidfromthelowlyShudra(servant)
caste.
http://asianhistory.about.com/od/india/p/BiographyofChandraguptaMaurya.htm

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7/30/2015

EmperorChandraguptaMauryaBiography

ItseemslikelythathisfatherwasPrinceSarvarthasiddhioftheNandaKingdom.
Chandraguptasgrandson,AshokatheGreat,laterclaimedabloodrelationshipto
SiddharthaGautama,theBuddha,butthisclaimisunsubstantiated.
WeknowalmostnothingaboutChandraguptaMauryaschildhoodandyouthbeforehe
tookontheNandaEmpire.Thissupportsthehypothesisthathewasofhumbleorigin,
sincenobodyrecordedanythingabouthimuntilhefoundedtheMauryanEmpire.

OverthrowoftheNanda:
Fromanearlyage,Chandraguptawasbraveandcharismaticabornleader.Theyoung
mancametotheattentionofafamousBrahminscholar,Chanakya,whoboreagrudge
againsttheNanda.ChanakyabegantogroomChandraguptatoconquerandruleinthe
placeoftheNandaEmperorhehelpedtheyoungmantoraiseanarmy,andtaughthim
tacticsthroughdifferentHindusutras.
Chandraguptaalliedhimselftothekingofamountainkingdom,perhapsthesamePuru
whohadbeendefeatedbutsparedbyAlexander,andsetouttoconquertheNanda.

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Initially,theupstartsarmywasrebuffed,butafteralongseriesofbattlesChandraguptas
forceslaidsiegetotheNandacapitalatPataliputra.In321BCE,thecapitalfell,and20
yearoldChandraguptaMauryastartedhisowndynastytheMauryanEmpire.

JonFrank
Me

TheMauryanEmpire:
Chandraguptasnewempire,atthetimeofitsfounding,stretchedfromwhatisnow
AfghanistaninthewesttoMyanmar(Burma)inthewest,andfromJammu/Kashmirinthe
northtotheDeccanPlateauinthesouth.Chanakyaservedastheequivalentofaprime

ShouldIT
SATorAC

ministerinthefledglinggovernment.
WhenAlexandertheGreatdiedin323BCE,hisgeneralsdivideduphisempireinto
satrapies,sothateachofthemwouldhaveaterritorytorule.Byabout316,Chandragupta
MauryawasabletodefeatandincorporateallofthesatrapsinthemountainsofCentral

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Asia,extendinghisempiretotheedgeofwhatisnowIran,TajikistanandKyrgyzstan.
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SomesourcesallegethatChandraguptaMauryamayhavearrangedfortheassassination
oftwooftheMacedoniansatraps:PhilipsonofMachatas,andNicanorofParthia.Ifso,it
wasaveryprecociousactevenforChandraguptaPhilipwasassassinatedin326BCE,
whenthefutureruleroftheMauryanEmpirewasstillananonymousteenager.

PushintoSeleucidPersia:
In305BCE,ChandraguptadecidedtoexpandhisempireintoeasternPersia.Atthetime,
PersiawasruledbySeleucusINicator,founderoftheSeleucidEmpire,andaformer
generalunderAlexander.ChandraguptaseizedalargeareaineasternPersia.Inthe
peacetreatythatendedthiswar,Chandraguptagotcontrolofthatlandaswellasthe
handofoneofSeleucussdaughtersinmarriage.Inexchange,Seleucusgot500war
elephantswhichheputtogooduseattheBattleofIpsusin301BCE.

ConqueringSouthernIndia:
Withasmuchterritoryashecouldcomfortablyruletothenorthandwest,Chandragupta
Mauryanextturnedhisattentionsouth.Withanarmyof400,000,accordingtoStrabo,or
600,000,ifyoubelievePlinytheElder,ChandraguptaconqueredalloftheIndian
subcontinentexceptforKalinga(nowOrissa)ontheeastcoast,andtheTamilkingdomat
thefarthestsoutherntipofthelandmass.
Bytheendofhisreign,ChandraguptaMauryahadunifiedalmostalloftheIndian
subcontinentunderhisrule.Hisgrandson,Ashoka,wouldgoontoaddKalingaandthe
Tamilstotheempire,aswell.

FamilyLife:
TheonlyoneofChandraguptasqueensorconsortsforwhomwehaveanameis
http://asianhistory.about.com/od/india/p/BiographyofChandraguptaMaurya.htm

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EmperorChandraguptaMauryaBiography

Durdhara,themotherofhisfirstson,Bindusara.However,itislikelythatChandragupta
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hadmanymoreconsorts.

Accordingtolegend,PrimeMinisterChanakyawasconcernedthatChandraguptamight
Learn About
Ashoka the Great
bepoisonedbyhisenemies,sostartedintroducingsmallamountsofpoisonintothe
(and Terrible)
AncientIndia

emperorsfoodinordertobuildupatolerance.Chandraguptawasunawareofthisplan,
andsharedsomeofhisfoodwithhiswifeDurdharawhenshewasverypregnantwith
theirfirstson.Durdharadied,butChanakyarushedinandperformedanemergency
operationtoremovethefulltermbaby.TheinfantBindusarasurvived,butabitofhis
motherspoisonedbloodtouchedhisforehead,leavingabluebinduspotthatinspiredhis
name.
Unfortunately,wedonotknowaboutanyofChandraguptasotherwivesorchildren.
Bindusaraislikelystillrememberedmorebecauseofhissonthanforhisownreign.He
wasthefatherofoneofIndiasgreatestmonarchseverAshokatheGreat.

ChandraguptasConversiontoJainismandDeath:
Whenhewasinhisfifties,ChandraguptabecamefascinatedwithJainism,anextremely
asceticbeliefsystem.HisguruwastheJainsaintBhadrabahu.
In298BCE,theemperorrenouncedhisrule,handingoverpowertohissonBindusara.
ChandraguptatraveledsouthtoacaveatShravanabelogola,nowinKarntaka.There,the
founderoftheMauryanEmpiremeditatedwithouteatingordrinkingforfiveweeks,until
hediedofstarvation.Thispracticeiscalledsallekhanaorsanthara.

ChandraguptaMaurya'sLegacy:
ThedynastythatChandraguptafoundedwouldruleoverIndiaandthesouthofCentral
Asiauntil185BCE.HisgrandsonAshokawouldfollowinChandraguptasfootstepsin
severalwaysconqueringterritoryasayoungman,butthenbecomingdevoutlyreligious
asheaged.Infact,Ashoka'sreigninIndiamaybethepurestexpressionofBuddhismin
anygovernmentinhistory.
Today,ChandraguptaisrememberedastheunifierofIndialikeQinShihuangdiinChina,
butfarlessbloodthirsty.Despitethepaucityofrecordsonhislife,Chandraguptaslife
storyhasinspiredmoviessuchasthe1958SamratChandraguptnovels,andevena
2011HindilanguageTVseries.

Sources:
Mookerji,Radhakumud.ChandraguptaMauryaandHisTimes,NewDelhi:Motalil
BanarsidassPublishers,1966.
Pletcher,Kenneth.TheHistoryofIndia,NewYork:Rosen,2010.

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