Chandragupt Maurya was the founder of the Mauryan Empire. His life was nothing short of a fairytale. It had an evil king, a great mentor, and a perfect love story. Chandragupta is known as the first unifier of India. His reign is considered one of the biggest in the Indian subcontinent. His legacy was well kept by his successors including Ashoka the great. His Mauryan empire was pivotal in the history of India. All of this started with mere hope.
Dhana Nanda, the ruler of Magda was an ignorant king. He often misused his power and was a drunk. He also believed that certain castes of people had no right to live. Unfortunately, Chandragupta was born in one such caste. His father was hunted down by the soldiers of Dhana Nanda. Chandragupta, along with her mother, was taken as slaves. One day Guru Chanakya was passing through the slave market. He saw a few of the boys playing games.
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Chandragupta was roleplaying as a king and others as his guards. They brought a prisoner to him as a culprit for stealing food. Chandragupta declared five whips for the culprit but he also added ten whips for himself. He explained to his friends that if a citizen is hungry then the king is at fault too.
Impressed by his principles, Chanakya asked his mother’s permission to take Chandragupta as his disciple. Her mother granted the request. Chanakya was no ordinary man. He was a brilliant strategist and a great teacher. Under his guidance, Chandragupta was becoming a perfect candidate to be a king. Chanakya made him work hard, taught him various languages, and prepared him for building diplomatic relationships.
At the age of 17, Chandragupta joined Alexander’s army as a soldier. Alexander was at war with the Magadha. Chandragupta’s motive was to know the weakness of Dhana Nanda. Meanwhile, Chanakya was building a small yet disciplined army. The war between the Macedonians and Magadha gave an opening for Chandragupta to strike. Chandragupta came back from the Macedonian army as an experienced fighter. He led a small unit of the army and attacked the treasury of Dhana Nanda. War-torn by the Macedonians and hated by his general population, the blow of the lost treasury was too much.
Chandragupta took advantage of the crumbling kingdom and set himself as the new King of Magadh. In his process to dethrone Dhana Nanda, Chandragupta fell in love with his daughter, Durdhara. With Durdhara on her side and Chanakya as his minister, he was happily accepted by the general public.
Having experienced the discipline of the Macedonians and Chanakya’s trained army Chandragupta changed his army’s training methods as soon as he became king. Soon his army was one of the most feared armies on the continent. He began his expansion towards the northwest. The death of Alexander had Macedonians retrieved. This was the perfect opportunity for Chandragupta to strike. He defeated the temporary rulers that Macedonians had placed before retrieving. At its peak, his reign expanded from modern-day Afghanistan to Bangladesh. It was the first time a King had brought the whole of the Indian subcontinent under its rule. Hence he became known as the first unifier of India.
Later he faced some resistance from Phillip Ⅲ, the successor of Alexander. Chandragupta, being a clever diplomat, married Phillip’s daughter, Helena, as his second wife. This called for a truce from both sides. This event led to an increase in his popularity in the west. He got the name Sandrocottus from the Greeks. The trade between east and west flourished. Today the coins of the Mauryan Empire are found in many European excavation sites, proving the healthy trade relationship that existed.
Chandragupta was fortunate to have a worthy successor in Bindusara. Trained and educated by the likes of Chanakya, Bindusara was as good an administrator as his father. Chandragupta gave up his throne to Bindusara as he entered his twilight years. He lived the remainder of his life peacefully. As per the Jain tradition of Samadhi Maran, Chandragupta fasted to his death. The hill where he achieved Samadhi is now known as Chandragiri meaning Chandra’s mountain.
Chandragupta Maurya’s life is hope personified. Chanakya promised Chandra’s mother that he would make her son a King. A ten-year-old Chandra saw this as a ray of hope. He wanted to become a king but not for his power and prestige. He wanted to become a king so that he could free his mother of slavery. As he grew, his sense of justice grew as well. As a king, he righted all the wrongs of previous kings. Coming from a humble beginning his reign saw justice and prosperity prevail. Inspired by his life, the successors of the Mauryan Empire too worked on these principles. The Mauryan empire made India the flagbearer of peace and harmony- a tradition that still continues.