The Military C
nquests of Chandragupta Maurya
The story of the military conquests of Chandragupta Maurya begins with his coming to power.
The Nandas were a people who had held a territory in north-west India (called Magadha). There was a brahman, named Kautila who had been cheated by the court of the Nandas people, who sought revenge. He did by defaming the kings, the government, and the Nandas people in general. Because he was not elligible for kingship himself (due to physical deformality), he took a certain Chandragupta under his wing and used him to lead a revolt against the Nandas people. Eventually, after a failed attempt Kautilya and Chandragupta succeeded, and Chandragupta was named king of Magadha around 320 BC.
About this time Alexander the Great had been continuing his conquering of the Indian people all around north-west India. Eventually his invasion was halted (through the complaining of his troops of the endless land and hard fighting Indians). In 323 BCE, he died, and his empire was split up amongst his military generals.
Chandragupta used this oppurtunity and drove out all the Greeks in north-west India with the combined forces of his own and the conquered Nandas army. He then proceeded to easily conquer all the tribes around the area
of north-west India. After which, he conquered the peoples along the Ganges river, defeating its capital, Paliputra, and making it his own. In 313 BCE he named himself ruler.
Seleuces Nicator, the Greek official in charge of the the empire in Asia after the death of Alexander, attempted to try to recapture the Indian land in 305 BCE. After losing (in about two years), a treaty was set up between Maurya and Seleuces. In exchange for 500 elephants, Chandragupta recieved the Greeks claim in India and
the Kabul Valley. This agreement was cemented with a marriage (probably a Seleucid princess to a Mauryan prince). In addition, Nicator sent an ambassador to Maurya named Megasthenes. His writings on the court and life of the Mauryans became an important source for historians in persuit to discover more about the Mauryan Empire.
Chandragupta kept up his empire until 301 BCE, when he handed it over to his son, Bindusara. Legend has it that he became a Jainist monk and starved himself to death eventually.
Of the three first emperors, least is known about Bindusara. He ruled from around 300 BC to about 275 BC. He continued to expand his empire and army, much like his father did. Eventually, Bindusara became sick, and there seemed to be some panic as to who would take over the throne. Suddenly, one by one many of the sons of Bindusara were killed, until there was only son left: Ashoka, the only one who seemed to be able to evade death. Ashoka eventually became historically the most well-known of the Mauryan empires, albeit not for his militaristic power.
After an internal struggle for power, Ashoka came to power around 272 BC. It took hime almost a decade to secure his authority. He began his rule a harsh ruler, enforcing his laws strictly and repressed his people greatly. After securing his authority, he turned to a military conquest. He decided to annihiliate those kingdoms the previous leaders had left alone. In particular, he chose the kingdom of Kalinga, only because its borders blocked the Mauryan Empire from a part of the Ganges river. In this invasion, he realized that he was killing hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who had not deserved it. He realized his brutality and suddently became Buddhist. His Buddhist belief caused him to become a compassionate ruler for both his own people and those people outside his territory. From then he used his great military for no other reason then to keep up his empire internally and for defense. After his death, the empire gradually fell apart. Thus, the beginning of his Buddhist belief ends the military conquests of the Mauryan Empire.