322 BC: Chandragupta Maurya captures Magadha
Establishes First Indian Empire
Chandragupta, with the help Chanakya (Kautilya), who is also known as
the Indian Machiavelli, destroyed the Nanda rulers of Magadha and
established the Mauryan empire. It is said that Chanakya met
Chandragupta in the Vindhya forest, after being insulted by the Nanda
Alexander's invasion prompted Indians to develop a centralised
state. Chandragupta declared war and defeated Selucus Nicator, the
Macedonian ruler of the Northwestern territories captured by Alexander
Along with the the astute advice of Chanakya, Chandragupta also
seized Punjab, Kabul, Khandahar, Gandhara and Persia from
Seluces. Seluces' daughter was married to Chandragupta.
"Selucus failed and had to conclude a treaty with Chandragupta by
which he surrendered a large territory including, in the opinion of
certain writers, the satrapies of Paropanisadai (Kabul), Aria (Herat),
Arachosia (Qanadahar) and Gedrosia (Baluchistan), in return for 500
elephants. The treaty was probably cemented by a marriage contract. A
Greek envoy was accredited to the Court of Pataliputra."
- An Advanced History of India
by RC Majumdar, HC Raychaudhri & Kalinkar Datta
The most important result of this treaty was that Chandragupta's fame
spread far and wide and his empire was recognised as a great power in
the western countries. The kings of Egypt and Syria sent ambassadors
to the Mauryan Court.
Chandragupta's birth shrouded in mystery
Chandragupta Maurya's origins were shrouded in mystery. Having been
brought up by peacock tamers, he could be of low caste
birth. According to other sources, Chandragupta Maurya was the son of a
Nanda prince and a dasi called Mura. It is also possible that
Chandragupta was of the Maurya tribe of Kshatriyas.
Maurya empire was the first really large and powerful centralised
state in India. It was very well governed, with tempered autocracy at
the top and democracy at the city and village levels. Megasthenes,
the Greek ambassador at the court of Chandragupta Maurya in
Pataliputra, had expressed his admiration for the efficient
administration of the empire. His book 'Indica' is a collection of
comments of other Roman & Greek travelers, and Megasthenes
wrote about the prosperity of the Mauryan cities.
He further reported that agriculture was healthy, water abundant and
mineral wealth was in plenty. Speaking of the general prosperity,
Megasthenes wrote, "the Indians, dressed in bright and rich colors,
they liberally used ornaments and gems." He also spoke of the
division of society according to occupation and the large number of
religious sects and foreigners in the empire.
Chandragupta Maurya's son Bindusara became the new Mauryan Emperor by
inheriting an empire including the Hindukush, Narmada, Vindhyas,
Mysore, Bihar, Bengal, Orissa, Assam, Baluchistan & Afghanistan.