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Chandragupta Maurya Biography

Last updated date: 16th May 2024
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Chandragupta Maurya History

Chandragupta Maurya, also known to the Greeks as Sandrakottos or Sandrokottos, was the founder and the first ruler of the Maurya Dynasty and is credited with establishing the first pan-Indian empire. He established a vast centralised empire with the help of his mentor and later minister Chanakya or Kautilya, the details of whose functioning, culture, military, and economy are well preserved in Kautilya's Arthashastra. The Mauryan dynasty was established by Chandragupta Maurya in 322 BC. He defeated the last Nanda ruler with the help of Kautilya and established the Mauryan empire. Chandragupta, along with Bindusara and Ashoka, glorified the Mauryan empire and also ancient India. They were able to control entire north India, including the Gangetic valley, thus achieving political unity. Earlier, there was a republican and oligarchical form of government, and Mauryans replaced it with a monarchy. They established their capital at Pataliputra, also known as Patna, which is in the current day's Bihar. 

The life and achievements of Chandragupta are represented in ancient and historical Greek, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain texts, though the details differ greatly. The historical sources that describe Chandragupta Maurya's life differ greatly in detail.

In this Chandragupta biography, we will study Chandragupta Maurya story of his early life, and as a ruler of the Mauryan empire, we will learn about Chandragupta Maurya kingdom, His date of death. The empire also contributed towards literature, art and architecture apart from bringing political unity. 

Chandragupta Maurya History About his Early Life

  • Much about the Chandragupta Maurya time period and its origins are still unknown. The majority of what is known about him is based on legends and mythology rather than historical facts.

  • According to some records, Chandragupta Maurya was born in 340 BC in Pataliputra.

  • The only definite inscriptional reference to Chandragupta history is found in the Junagarh inscription from the 2nd century CE.

  • The social origins of Chandragupta history, especially his caste, are still disputed.

  • Different versions can be found in Buddhist, Jain, and ancient literary works. He is variously identified as a member of the Kshatriya Moriya clan ruling Pippalivahana on the present-day Indo-Nepal border, as a peacock-tamer, as the son of a woman named Mura, and even as being closely or distantly related to the Nandas.

  • As a result, historians disagree about his social roots. According to some historians, he seemed to have come from a common family and was not a prince but rather a commoner with no direct claim to the throne of Magadha.

  • Other historians say that he was a member of the Moriya or Maurya tribe, which had fallen on hard times by the 4th century BCE, and that Chandragupta grew up among peacock-tamers, herdsmen, and hunters.

  • He is referred to as a Kshatriya in Buddhist scriptures and mediaeval inscriptions. As a result, it is possible that he belonged to a Kshatriya or related caste, as the Brahmin Kautilya would not have selected him for rulership if he had not been a Kshatriya or related caste.

  • Even though he came from a modest family, Chandragupta didn't believe his upbringing had anything to do with his political ambitions. In any case, Chandragupta was almost certainly active in the pursuit of his goals as a young man, according to historical facts.

  • He was very ambitious from childhood and took advantage of the disrupting Nandas and defeated the last Nanda ruler Dhanananda with the help of Kautilya, and established the Mauryan dynasty.

  • North-west of India was under the control of Seleucus Nikater, Chandragupta defeated him, and In the treaty, he married the Daughter of Seleucus and also offered 500 elephants to him and united the north-west with the mainland of India. 

  • He was a monarch and kept all the matters, especially those related to the polity, administration and military, in his hands. The impeccable finding of his kingdom is, they maintained an extraordinary and huge army. 

Chandragupta Maurya History About His Family

  • Chandragupta Maurya was married to Durdhara.

  • Chandragupta Maurya had one son Bindusara.

  • Ashoka, Susima, Vitashoka were the grandchildren of Chandragupta Maurya.

  • Later his grandson Ashoka the Great went on to become one of India's greatest emperors.

Chandragupta Maurya Story About His Career

  • Legend has it that Chandragupta Maurya met Alexander and was given permission to serve in his army so that he could learn about Macedonian warfare and how it could be used against ancient Indian warfare techniques, in addition to his own military training.

  • Some historians claim it was impractical for Chandragupta, who lived in the Magadha empire, to fly all the way to the northwest to meet Alexander, even if the thought had occurred to him at all. Rather, he met Dhana Nanda and enlisted in his army.

  • Whatever Chandragupta's early steps in his career were, his relationship with the statesman-philosopher Kautilya can be mentioned with certainty.

  • He was his greatest ally, tutor, and guide, and he was the one who influenced not only his career but the Mauryan empire's direction under Chandragupta as well. Vishnugupta Chanakya, also known as Kautilya, had made the decision to lead the charge in restoring and reshaping the Indian polity.

  • Though originally from Magadha, Kautilya became a student and later a teacher at Takshashila (now Taxila in modern-day Pakistan) and thus witnessed the political turmoil caused by the Macedonian invasion in north-western India.

  • This led him to consider the creation of a centralised pan-Indian empire capable of repelling invaders and restoring order. For obvious purposes, the presence of various republics and kingdoms that are disunited and perpetually at odds with one another does not do so.

  • He considered Magadha to be the empire in question, and his suggestion was met with scorn and insults from Dhanananda, accompanied by Kautilya's determination to overthrow the incumbent king.

  • Magadha was the only territorial force capable of preserving order in the midst of turmoil. It had a military position that was practically unrivalled, which was critical for the survival of the kind of empire that Kautilya desired.

  • It was able to sustain a degree of stability that other kingdoms could not. Kautilya was adamant about keeping Magadha at the core of his strategy, regardless of whether it was under the Nandas or anyone else.

  • As a result, he chose to replace Dhanananda with a more qualified and competent nominee. Chandragupta Maurya was the man chosen.

  • Kautilya mentored him for the job, preparing him for the takeover of Magadha and all that came with it. In terms of war, diplomacy, and covert operations, Chandragupta's own calibre was thus honed.

  • Chandragupta was raised under Kautilya's mentorship and thus prepared for his future position as emperor.

  • Kautilya chose the war-by-other-means strategy after realising that a confrontation with Magadha would necessitate far more than a powerful army.

  • He used a variety of intrigues, counter-intrigues, plotting, and counter-plotting to undermine Dhanananda's position by removing his main allies, loyalists, and supporters, most notably his chief minister Rakshasa.

  • Chandragupta was able to hold the throne at Pataliputra by using both military and non-military means. Dhanananda was either killed, or he fled.

Chandragupta Maurya Period

  • Chandragupta, now on the imperial throne, focused his efforts on expanding his empire.

  • The Mauryan armies travelled as far as the western coast of India and southern India, especially present-day Karnataka.

  • The Mauryan empire at this time comprised not only the present-day states of Bihar and Orissa but also western and north-western India, as well as the Deccan in the north-west, and they ruled over areas that were not even part of the British empire. The empire did not extend to the extreme south and north-east of India.

Chandragupta Maurya Kingdom Administration

  • The Mauryan administration was a centralised administration to the possible extent. There were departmental heads for the military, spy system, judiciary, revenue etc., but all of these departments were headed by the King in general. His decision was final and limited. The king considered his subjects as children rather than people. He was subjected to look after their needs and protect them from any types of attacks and threats. 

  • Chandragupta established a complex imperial administration structure. He held the majority of the power, and he was supported in his duties by a council of ministers.

  • Princes served as viceroys throughout the empire, which was divided into provinces. This gave the royals, especially the ones who went on to become Emperor, the required administrative experience.

  • The provinces were divided into smaller units, and administrative arrangements for both urban and rural areas were made. The capital city of Pataliputra was the most famous of these.

  • Six commissions, each with five members, were in charge of the administration. Maintenance of sanitation services, treatment of foreigners, birth and death registration, weights and measures control, and other duties were assigned to them. Several forms of weights used during this time period have been found in different locations.

Chandragupta Maurya Kingdom Military

  • The Mauryan empire had a massive army. The state recruited, prepared, and equipped troops (maula).

  • Many cultures and forest tribes (atavika) were renowned for and prized for their military prowess.

  • Mercenaries (bhrita) and corporate guilds of soldiers (shreni) both existed in large numbers and were recruited as needed.

  • Infantry, cavalry, chariots, and elephants made up the army's four arms (chaturanga). A 30-member war office, made up of six commissions, was in charge of these different weapons, as well as the navy and transportation.

  • 600,000 infantry, 30,000 cavalries, and 9,000 elephants belonged to Chandragupta. The number of chariots was estimated to be about 8,000. They were all deployed information (vyuha) on the battlefield, as determined by the commanders, based on factors such as the terrain and the nature of one's own and the enemy's armies.

  • The teaching of men and animals was given a lot of consideration. The king and princes had received extensive training in warfare and leadership. They were supposed to be brave, and they often led their armies and took part in defence of forts themselves.

  • Chandragupta's navy primarily served as a coast guard and guarded the empire's extensive waterways-based trade.

  • Bows and arrows, spears, double-handed broadswords, shields with round, rectangular, or bell-shaped shields, javelins, lances, axes, pikes, clubs, and maces were among the weapons used.

  • Soldiers were either bare-chested or wrapped in quilted cotton coats. They often wore defensive armour in the form of thickly coiled turbans, frequently secured with scarfs tied below the chin and bands of fabric tied around their waists and chests. In the winter, women wore tunics.

  • The Mauryans' vast military was bolstered by the empire's vast scale and the wealth that fell under its control as a result. Since the state essentially dominated all economic operations, it was able to command a vast amount of revenue and financial capital.

Chandra Gupta Dynasty War With the Greeks

  • Chandragupta clashed with Seleucus I Nicator, Alexander's heir in the east, with the intention of undermining Greek influence while expanding one's own territory and strength. The war came to an end in 301 BCE when peace was concluded.

  • Arachosia (Kandahar in modern-day Afghanistan), Gedrosia (southern Baluchistan in modern-day Pakistan), and Paro Amisadai (the area between Afghanistan and the Indian Subcontinent) were all acquired by Chandragupta. The Greeks were given 500 elephants and had a marriage alliance with Chandragupta Maurya.

Chandragupta Maurya Death

  • The circumstances surrounding Chandragupta Maurya death date, as well as the year in which he died, are unknown and debated.

  • Chandragupta is said to have adopted Jainism in his later years, according to both historical evidence and common opinion.

  • Inscriptions from the 5th to 15th centuries CE in Karnataka mention Chandragupta in relation to the Jain saint Bhadrabahu.

  • Chandragupta most likely abdicated, became an ascetic, followed Bhadrabahu to Karnataka, and later died by fasting until death, a practice known as sallekhana in Shravanabelagola.

  • Chandragupta Maurya ruled the Mauryan empire for 24 years. He was succeeded by his son Bindusara and later by Ashok the Great.

In this Chandragupta biography, we got to know Who was the first ruler of the Mauryan Empire, Chandragupta Maurya's life and achievements, the Career of Chandragupta Maurya, his family, his administration and military, and his death.


Chandragupta Maurya was a pivotal figure in India's history, forming the first government to unite much of South Asia. The Maurya Empire was established by Chandragupta Maurya in ancient India. Thus, Chandragupta left a legacy that has been preserved in the pages of the Arthashastra. He not only built an empire on his own, despite all obstacles, but he also established sound governance principles and worked tirelessly for its expansion. These accomplishments made him one of ancient India's most powerful rulers and a near-mythical figure in folklore.

FAQs on Chandragupta Maurya Biography

1. Who is Chandragupta Maurya?

Chandragupta Maurya was the founder and the first ruler of the Maurya Dynasty. Under Chanakya's tutelage, Chandragupta established a new empire founded on statecraft ideals, a vast army, and proceeded to extend the borders of his empire until, in his final years, he renounced it for an ascetic existence.

2. Describe the war between the Mauryan and Selucid empire?

Seleucus I Nicator, of the Seleucid Empire, fought a Seleucid–Mauryan War with Chandragupta Maurya to retake the Indian satrapies of the Macedonian Empire. The war ended with the annexation of the Indus Valley region and a portion of Afghanistan to the Mauryan Empire, with Chandragupta gaining control of the areas he wanted and the two forces forming a marriage alliance. Following the battle, the Mauryan Empire established itself as the dominant power in the Indian Subcontinent, while the Seleucid Empire concentrated on defeating its rivals in the west.

3. Who Was the First Ruler of the Mauryan Empire?

Chandragupta Maurya who founded the Mauryan empire with the help of Vishnugupta Chanakya(also known as Kautilya) was the first ruler of the Maurya Dynasty. 

4. What was the contribution of the Maurya dynasty to Buddhism?

The 6th century saw the rise of new religions and beliefs like Buddhism, Jainism etc., they posed a threat to the ancient Vedic religions like Hinduism, which were flooded with rituals and inequalities. Buddhism was one such religion found and established by Gautama Buddha. It is based on peace, non-violence and avoiding extreme paths to achieve something. It teaches us four noble truths and an eightfold path to come out of the cycle of desire. It was because of the contributions of the Mauryan dynasty, Buddhism spread to surrounding countries and also all over the Indian Subcontinent.

Buddhism does not believe in the concept of personal gods, maintaining a human-divine relationship to attain salvation. King Ashoka converted to Buddhism post the Kalinga war and started spreading the message of Buddha to all the surrounding countries. He coded a new philosophy and way of life known as Dhamma which derives its essence from the teachings of Buddha. To spread the philosophy of dhamma, Ashoka appointed dhamma mahamatras all over his kingdom. He also sent some Buddhist monks to other south-Asian countries and established Buddhism there South-Asian countries still have a huge Buddhist population. Ashoka also erected many pillars and inscriptions all over the country to spread the message of Buddha. He held "Dhamma yatras", which were visits to various Buddhist shrines. He also held the third Buddhist council. He taught the principle "Live and Let Live"

 “Live and Let Live”

5. Explain sources that throw light on the reign of Chandragupta Maurya?

Chandragupta Maurya established the Mauryan empire in 322 BC. He was the first ruler to unite North and South India. To learn someone's history, we study sources which are of two types, namely literary sources and archaeological sources. Literary sources which tell us about Chandragupta are Kautilya's Arthashastra, Vishakadatta's MudraRakshasa, mahavamsa, dipavamsa, Buddhist literature and Puranas. Following are some of the findings from these sources:

  • Mudrarakshasa is a drama source written by Vishakadatta in the Sanskrit language. Though it was written during the Guptas, it gives us insights into the conditions in the Mauryan empire. It throws light on the story of how Chandragupta defeated Nandas and established himself as a king. It mentions him as "Vrishala", which means that a humble person.

  • Seleucus has sent an ambassador named "Megasthenes" to Chandragupta's court, and he wrote a book named "Indika". This gives us insights into the Mauryan Administration in general and situations in the capital city, i.e. Pataliputra in particular. Though his works are not available completely, historians tried to compile the fragments available. 

  • The Greek literature mentions Chandragupta with the name of "Sandrocottus" and liberator of the Indian Subcontinent.

  • Information about Mauryan administration, war policy etc., can be understood from the Arthashastra written by Kautilya.