Biography of Chandragupta Maurya and Maurya Empire in Indian Subcontinent

Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya Empire, was not only a skilled warrior and the founder of a vast empire, but he was also a successful administrator. Chandragupta Maurya also introduced a well-organized system of administration, which was divided into central and provincial, for the smooth running of the empire under him.

Table of contents

Introduction to the Maurya Empire

Chandragupta Maurya was the first emperor in the Indian subcontinent who founded the Maurya Empire and joined together the Indus valley and the Gangetic plain into one vast empire. The Maurya Empire was the first pan-Indian empire in Indian history. The empire flourished in ancient India in the 4th century BC. Actually, the original communal society was transformed into an empire. The Mauryan emperors united many divided areas in India and established a vast empire. Two emperors of the Mauryan dynasty— Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka were world-renowned for conquering kingdoms, establishing orderly governance, and propagating religion. Here the founder of the Maurya Empire Chandragupta Maurya and his empire are discussed.

Who Was Chandragupta Maurya

Primary Identity of Chandragupta Maurya

Chandragupta Maurya was a ruler of Iron Age South Asia who expanded a geographically-extensive kingdom based in Magadha and founded the Maurya dynasty. He reigned from 324 BCE to 293 BCE. It is claimed that Chandragupta Maurya’s mother’s name is Mura and father’s name is Sarvarthasiddhi Maurya. Chandragupta Maurya was grandfather of Ashoka.

Chandragupta Maurya’s Name in 10  Different Languages

  1. English: Chandragupta Maurya
  2. Bangla: চন্দ্রগুপ্ত মৌর্য

  3. Hindi: चन्द्रगुप्त मौर्य

  4. Arabic: تشاندراغبت موريا

  5. Urdu: چندرگپت موریا

  6. Punjubi: ਚੰਦਰਗੁਪਤ ਮੌਰੀਆ

  7. Tamil: சந்திரகுப்த மௌரியர்

  8. Greek: Τσαντραγκούπτα Μαουρύα

  9. Russian: андрагупта Маурья

  10. Portuguese: Chandragupta Máuria

Birth of Chandragupta Maurya

During the reign of Gautama Buddha, the Mauryas were the ruling class of Pippalibana. Later on, Pippaliban was included in the Magadha Empire. In the 4th century BC, the Mauryas were in dire straits. According to Buddhist legend, after the death of Chandragupta’s father, his mother took refuge in Pataliputra, the capital of Magadha, while pregnant. Chandragupta Maurya was born there. A shepherd adopted Chandragupta as his foster son and took him to a nearby village.

Genealogy of Chandragupta Maurya

Historians have different views on the ancestry of Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Mauryan Empire. According to the testimony of Hindu literary elements, Chandragupta Maurya was of the Nanda dynasty. His mother’s name was Mura and she was the wife or concubine of a Nanda king.

Many people believe that the name of his founded empire— Maurya was named after the name of Chandragupta’s mother Mura. But there are some sources that show Sarvarthasiddhi Maurya was Chandragupta Maurya’s father; so the name of the Maurya empire could be named after his father’s name too. After all, Maurya is the surname/family name of Chandragupta.

The Mauryas are referred to as Kshatriyas in medieval inscriptions. According to Buddhist writers, the Mauryas were Kshatriyas. During the reign of Gautama Buddha, they were the rulers of the republican kingdom called Pippaliban. In the play Mudrarakshasa by Vishakhadatta, Chandragupta is called ‘Vrishal’ from which many people think that he was a Shudra. But it is important to remember that the word ‘Vrishal’ does not only refer to the Shudras. The other two meanings of this word are raj-superior and disinformation.

Medieval Rock | Maurya Empire
Medieval Rock

Buddhist sources have described the Mauryans as Kshatriyas. In Mahāvaṃsa, Chandragupta Maurya is referred to as the son of the Kshatriya dynasty named Maurya. Bindusara and Ashoka are also referred to as Kshatriyas in Divyavadana.

In the Mahaparinirvana sources, the Mauryas are mentioned as the rulers of Pippaliban. Buddhist sources are the oldest of the sources mentioned, and for this reason, scholars think that the Mauryas were Kshatriyas.

Childhood of Chandragupta Maurya

According to legend, he grew up among cowherds and hunters as a child. From there a Brahmin scholar of Taxila named Kautilya took him to Taxila and gave him political and military education.

Establishment of the Maurya Empire

Alexander’s death in Babylon in 323 BC led to panic, uncertainty, and conflict among the Greeks in the Indian territories he conquered. At this time, Dhana Nanda, the emperor of the Nanda dynasty, was ruling in Magadha. But Dhana Nanda was not popular at all. In this situation, Chandragupta Maurya seized the throne of Magadha and expelled the Greeks from North West India, and established a huge empire in India. The empire founded by Chandragupta Maurya is famous in history as the Maurya Empire.

Chandragupta Maurya overthrew the Greeks and Nandas

Chandragupta Was Ordered to Be Executed by Alexander

During Alexander’s invasion of India, Chandragupta visited Alexander’s camp in Punjab to invite Alexander to overthrow the tyrant king Dhana Nanda of Magadha. Alexander did not respond to Chandragupta’s call and instead ordered his execution, Chandragupta fled from Punjab and since then Chandragupta kept trying to oust the Greeks and Nandas from India.

Chandragupta Got Help from Kautilya (Chanakya)

Chandragupta Maurya was assisted by the Brahmin Pandit Kautilya aka Chanakya of Taxila in expelling the Greeks from India and destroying the Nanda Empire. He was also angry with the Nandas as Kautilya came to Patliputra in the hope of financial help and was humiliated by the Nanda king Dhana Nanda. There is disagreement among scholars on whether Chandragupta first carried out the overthrow of the Nandavansh or expelled the Greeks. It is said that Chandragupta first captured Pataliputra and later expelled the Greeks. But some historians believe that Chandragupta first dethroned Magadha-Raj Dhanananda after defeating the Greeks in Punjab. Chandragupta Maurya first captured Pataliputra and later expelled the Greeks.

Chandragupta Maurya and Chanakya (Kautilya)
Chandragupta Maurya and Chanakya (Kautilya)

When did Chandragupta Maurya ascend to the throne?

Scholars differ about the date of Chandragupta Maurya’s accession to the throne. From Greek sources, it is known that He met Alexander in Punjab in 326 or 325 BC but he was not yet king. According to Buddhist literature, Chandragupta ascended the throne 162 years after Gautama Buddha’s attainment of Nirvana. According to the Canton calendar, Buddha died in 487 BC. The next year of 162 is 325 BC Everyone thinks that Chandragupta became king after the death of Alexander. So many people do not accept that Chandragupta ascended to the throne in 325 AD. On the other hand, it is known from Dīpavaṃsathat, Ashoka was inaugurated 218 years after the death of Gautama Buddha in 269 BC; he ascended the throne four years earlier in 273 BC. According to Puranas Chandragupta and Bindusara ruled for 24 and 25 years respectively. So So it is fairly certain that Chandragupta ascended the throne in  322 BC.

The Greeks were expelled

Contemporary circumstances helped Chandragupta Maurya to seize the throne of Magadha and expel the Greeks. Soon after Alexander’s death, chaos erupted in India as power struggles broke out among the Greek governors in the territories he held. A few days later, an anti-Greek revolt led by Kautilya broke out in Taxila. At that time, when Porus was killed by an assailant, the local residents burst into anger. In this situation, it was easy for Chandragupta to expel the Greeks from that region.

Dhana Nanda the tyrant, Chandragupta the patriot

King Dhana Nanda of Magadha was a tyrant. People were fed up with his tyranny and looked forward to changing. Chandragupta took advantage of this situation and defeated the Nandas and seized the throne. In this chaotic situation, Chandragupta presented himself as a patriot. He gained the support of the people both for the end of foreign rule on the one hand and the ouster of the tyrant on the other.

The first two attacks by Chandragupta on Pataliputra failed

The first two direct attacks by Chandragupta aimed at capturing Pataliputra failed. Being failed two times, Chandragupta, with the help of Kautilya, launched an expedition from the border areas of the Magadha Empire and managed to capture the capital Pataliputra. Chandragupta defeated the Nanda commander Bhadrasal with a large number of troops. After seizing the throne of Pataliputra, Chandragupta with his army drove out the Greeks from North-West India as well.

Chandragupta Maurya was a conquering hero. After gaining power, he ruled over a large part of India and established an empire. He occupied almost the whole of India with six lakhs of soldiers. Chandragupta Maurya also conquered the Deccan and Saurashtra in western India. Some historians say that Chandragupta is the owner or master of India.

Chandragupta’s Conquest of the Deccan

There is disagreement among scholars over Chandragupta Maurya’s Deccan victory. Some believe that it was not Chandragupta, but his son Bindusara who conquered the Deccan; they believe that it was not possible for Chandragupta to conquer the far-off Deccan after doing so many things- usurping the throne, driving out the Greeks, conquering Western India, and defeating the Seleucids. Actually,  Bindusara did not conquer the Deccan himself because he had no warrior quality. When a rebellion broke out in Taxila during his reign, Bindusara sent his son Ashoka there to quell the rebellion himself.

There is another view that there was no need for the Mauryas to conquer the Deccan because the Deccan belonged to the Nanda dynasty. So with the defeat of the Nanda king Dhana Nanda and usurping the throne of Pataliputra, the Deccan was automatically included in the Maurya empire as part of the Nanda dynasty.

However, maybe the Deccan was under the control of the Nandas for a short time and it become independent during the rule of the Nandas or after their downfall. That is why it was necessary for the Mauryas to conquer the Deccan again.

Some inscriptions found in Mysore mention the rule of Chandragupta in North Mysore. An inscription says that Nagarkhand, which belongs to Shikarpur taluka, was under the rule of Chandragupta. Therefore, from the testimony of Tamil literature and inscriptions found in Mysore, it seems that Chandragupta Maurya conquered the Deccan.

A postage stamp depicts Chandragupta Maurya
A postage stamp depicts Chandragupta Maurya

Chandragupta Maurya conquered Western India

There is no doubt that Chandragupta Maurya also conquered western India; Saurashtra in western India was under his rule. The Junagadh rock inscription of Mahakshatrapa Rudradamana, inscribed in 150 AD, mentions that Chandragupta Maurya excavated the famous lake called Sudarshan in Saurashtra.

Seleucus and Chandragupta Maurya

At the end of the reign, the war with Seleucus I Nicator led to the expansion of Chandragupta Maurya’s empire in northwest India. Seleucus I Nicator was one of Alexander’s generals. When the Macedonian Empire was divided after Alexander’s death, Seleucus occupied Babylon at first and then Syria. He then attempted to invade India and capture Alexander’s conquered territories. Greek historians mention Seleucus crossing the Indus River and establishing his friendship with Chandragupta through marital relations. Justin talks about Selukas’s friendship with Chandragupta. Plutarch says Chandragupta gifted 500 elephants to Selukas. Strabo mentions the establishment of marital relations as a result of the friendship and the donation to Chandragupta, the four provinces occupied by Alexander in north-western India.

It should be noted that there is no account of Chandragupta Maurya’s battle with Seleucus in the accounts of Greek writers. They only mentioned the terms of friendship and reconciliation. It seems that Seleucus did not achieve success in this expedition and that is why he established friendship and marital relations with Chandragupta Maurya’s family. Chandragupta Maurya married Chandragupta’s daughter; and as a dowry to his son-in-law, Seleucus gave Chandragupta Maurya four provinces. The four provinces were Hirat, Kandahar, Makran, and Baluchistan. The fact that these areas in the northwest belonged to the Mauryan Empire is proved by Ashoka’s inscriptions. It was in this relationship of friendship that Seleucus sent Megasthenis as an ambassador to Chandragupta’s court. This diplomatic relationship between the Greeks and the Mauryans continued afterward.

Chandragupta Embraced Jainism

Chandragupta Maurya embraced Jainism according to the Jain book Rajvali Katha. At the end of his reign, when there was a great famine in northern India, Chandragupta abdicated the throne and went to the Deccan. It is at this time that he seems to have embraced Jainism. He died of starvation following Jain rules at Shravanabelagola under Mysore. He died in 298 BC after a 24-year reign.

Chandragupta, from an Indian postage stamp. I Image: iStampGallery
Chandragupta, from an Indian postage stamp. I Image: iStampGallery

Administrator Chandragupta Maurya and His Administrative System

Chandragupta Maurya was not only a skilled warrior and founder of an empire but also was also a successful administrator. He also established a well-organized system of governance for the smooth running of the vast empire he established.

There are many sources to know about Chandragupta Maurya’s regime: Arthashastra by Chandragupta’s Prime Minister Kautilya, Greek ambassador Megasthenes’ account, and Ashoka’s inscriptions are most notable in them. Moreover, some information about his regime is also known from the Junagadh rock inscriptions of Mahakshatrapa Rudradaman and some literary works.

Arthashastra and Indica as Sources Chandragupta Maurya’s Empire

Chandragupta Maurya’s Prime Minister Kautilya wrote ‘Arthashastra’; it is an important source of information about Chandragupta Maurya’s regime. Although there is disagreement among scholars about its authorship and period of composition, there is no doubt that it is an important source. The book, divided into 15 sections and 180 sub-sections, contains about 6000 verses. Arthashastra was discovered in 1905 and was first published in 1909. Arthasastra is not a theoretical treatise on politics. This is a summary for administrators. It contains a discussion of government issues and government administrative bodies and functions.

the second important source of information about Chandragupta Maurya’s regime is the Indica written by the Greek ambassador Megasthenes. Although the original text is not available, Strabo, Arrian, and the content of the Indica can be gleaned from quotations from later writers such as Diodorus. Schwanbeck compiled them and McCrindle published an English translation.

In ancient times the Indica of Megasthenes was considered reliable, as did Arrian. He describes Megasthenes as a trustworthy person. But Strabo, a Greek philosopher and historian, was deeply annoyed by Megasthenes’ contradictory statements and called him a liar.

Megasthenes’ Indica is considered an important source by foreign tourists despite some inherent flaws. In many cases, the description of Indica is supported by Arthasastra. Although Ashoka Chandragupta Maurya changed the regime, the basic structure seems to have remained more or less the same. As such, Ashoka’s Lipimala is considered an important source to know about Chandragupta Maurya’s regime.

Governance of the Maurya Empire

Chandragupta Maurya’s regime was divided into two parts- central and provincial. The central government consisted of three parts namely: the king;  princes and secretaries; and the council of ministers. 

The king was the most powerful person in the kingdom. The Mauryan kings called themselves ‘beloved of the gods’. Ownership of the wealth of a vast empire and command over a large army were the sources of his power. Though possessed of unlimited power, the king had to abide by certain age-old restrictions. King’s duty was to seek the welfare of the people. There was some degree of decentralization of power in local governance and there were a few ministers in the capital and important provincial centers with whom the king consulted and took his decisions. The king of the Maurya empire had military, judicial affairs, legislative, and executive powers. In consultation with the general, he prepared war plans. He was also present on the battlefield during the war. He used to sit in the court to perform the trial. Strabo says that if necessary, he would give up personal comfort and spend the whole day in court. Kautilya has warned the king not to wait for the judge or to give the responsibility to others when he sits in the court. Because, it can create dissatisfaction and enmity in the public mind, which can bring danger to the king. 

As for the king’s law-making, we can see that Kautilya in his Arthashastra called the king a proponent or a legislator. According to him, royal rule or royal canon was the source of the law.

Laws and Regulations

The royal ordinances engraved in Ashoka’s inscriptions are the perfect examples of royal canons. In making laws, Chandragupta Maurya usually followed the old customs. The appointment of guards, audit of the state’s income and expenditure accounts, appointments of ministers, priests, and caretakers, consultations with the Council of Ministers, collection of information from different regions of the state through spies, and welcoming foreign envoys, etc., were included in the executive duties of the King. The principles of statehood were decided by the king himself. Accordingly, he would send orders to the people and officials. Through spies, the king controlled the officers of the remote areas. Royal officials and all other employees were very important to Chandragupta Maurya. And Chandragupta Maurya and other kings of the Maurya empire happily took cooperation from their employees to run the dynasty.

Mahamantri and Amatya

Chandragupta had a council of ministers and amatya. Amatyas were administrative personnel or civil servants who served in the highest administrative and judicial positions. The rank of an Amatya is equal to the rank of secretary of any modern state. Their pay scales, service rules, and payment method were all clearly defined. The most important of the secretaries’ (amatya) were called Mantri or Mahamantri (Chief Minister in English). Their annual salary was 48,000 panas (silver coins). Chanakya aka Kautilya was the Chief Minister of Chandragupta Maurya.

Note: I am confused about whether a minister and an amatya were the same because ‘Amatya’ and ‘mantri’ (minister) are synonymous.

The king used to consult the ministers and others

Before taking any action related to the administration, the king used to discuss three or four ministers and amatya. In the event of an emergency, the lower rank officials along with the Council of Ministers were also called to the court of the Mauryan king. The ministers accompanied the king to the battlefield and encouraged the soldiers. They also had some control over the princes. Chief Minister Kautilya led the ministers in Chandragupta Maurya’s cabinet.

In addition to the ministers, there was an advisory council. The position of this council as an important part of the Mauryan system of governance is evident from the inscriptions of Ashoka. Members of the advisory council were ranked lower than the ministers.

The king used to consult this council during emergencies and complex tasks related to governance. Although there was no obligation for the king to accept the views of the cabinet; it was also not easy for the King to ignore the decision taken in the presence of a powerful minister like Kautilya (aka Chanakya). The advisory council had an important role to play in the appointment of high-ranking officers like the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Treasurer, General, Judge, etc. They were present in the court with the king while welcoming foreign ambassadors.

Other lower-ranked officers (third-class Amatya)

Apart from the ministers, amatyas, and members of the advisory council, lower-ranked officers (third-class amatyas) were also appointed to government offices. They were appointed after passing various examinations. Among them civil and criminal court judges, samahartra (revenue collection officer) sannidhatri (officer in charge of the treasury), and the caretaker of the pleasure garden are notable.

Among others, the place of the priest is the highest

After the ministers and amatyas, among other royal officials, the priest was the highest in rank; the rank of the priest was higher than a rank of a prince. The priest was the king’s adviser on religious matters. He could not be executed for treason. It is not clear whether he was in charge of a specific department within the executive department, or whether he received political education from being associated with governance in general. Senapati (Commander in Chief) was the officer-in-charge of the army but it is difficult to say whether he was the dedicated army chief or one of the war ministers. Pratihar was in charge of the personal security of the king. Adhyaksha was responsible for different departments. Prominent among them were Nagaradhyaksha (City), Baladhyaksha (Army), Sutadhyaksha (Agriculture), Sutradhyaksha (Weaving), Shulkadhyaksha (Customs), etc.

Provinces of Chandragupta Maurya’s Maurya Empire

The size of Chandragupta Maurya’s empire was huge. Pataliputra was the capital of the Mauryan empire. It was not possible for the king Chandragupta Maurya to rule properly from the capital Pataliputra. So he divided his empire into several provinces. That is to say, the Mauryan Empire operated in a federal or rational system. The king ruled at the center and his favorite person ruled the province as a provincial governor. It is not known exactly how many provinces the Mauryan Empire was divided into during his time.

Five Provinces of the Maurya Empire

Ashoka’s inscription mentions a total of five provinces namely Uttarapatha, Avantiratha, Dakshinapatha, Kalinga, and Prachya.

The five provincial capitals are mentioned below:

  1. Uttarapatha aka Uttar Pradesh (Taxila was the capital of Uttarapatha province)

  2. Avantirath Pradesh (Ujjain was the capital of Avantirath Pradesh) 

  3. Dakshinapatha (Suvarnagiri is the capital of Dakshinapatha province)

  4. Kalinga (Tosali was the capital of Kalinga province)

  5. Patliputra is the capital of the Eastern Province

Kalinga province, however, was conquered during Ashoka’s reign and the remaining four provinces are believed to have belonged to Chandragupta Maurya during his empire.

Princes Were made governors

In distant provinces, princes were usually appointed as provincial governors. It is known from Kautilya’s Arthashastra that the annual salary of all these princes, who had the title ‘Kumar’, was 12,000 panas.  

Mahamatra (mayor) in Big City

The Eastern province at the center of the empire was under the direct rule of the emperor. Pataliputra, the capital of the East, was the central capital of the Mauryan Empire. In order to facilitate the governance of this province, he appointed ‘Mahamatra’ in important cities like Pataliputra, Kaushambi, etc.

Samahartra, Pradestri, Gop, and Gramik in the township

The provinces were divided into several Janapads. A Janapad was ruled by a Samahratra (like a Divisional Commissioner in Bangladesh). A quarter of the township was ruled by people with the rank of the Sthanik (like a post of a Deputy Commissioner of a district in Bangladesh). A class of employees called Pradeshtri (like an Upazila Nirbahi Officer) was the mobile assistant of the Samahratra. The rule of five to ten villages was entrusted to an employee named the Gop. The inhabitants of each village elected an employee with the title of Gramik (Union Parishad Chairman in villages) or on whom the ruler of the village was entrusted.

Military Forces of Chandragupta Maurya

The description of Megasthenes reveals the organization of The Army of Chandragupta Maurya. Chandragupta’s army consisted of infantry, cavalry, charioteer, and elephant-borne soldiers. Chandragupta Maurya also had a navy. A council consisting of thirty members was entrusted with the responsibility of running the military department.

The council was further divided into six boards; every board consisted of five members. Each board was in charge of a specific department. The departments’ were-

  1. Infantry
  2. Cavalry
  3. Battle-chariots

  4. Elephants

  5. food supplies and transportation

  6. Navy

The responsibility of administering the capital, Pataliputra, was on a military council. This council was also divided into six boards with five members per board. Each board was in charge of a specific department, namely, industrial production, foreign nationals, birth and death, retail trade, weight and size, sale of industrial goods, and the collection as tax for one-tenth of the value sold of various goods. Megasthenes describes the management of only Pataliputra Nagar during the reign of Chandragupta. 

Chandragupta Maurya’s Jurisprudence

King Chandragupta Maurya was the chief judge of his empire. He used to judge sitting in court. Apart from this, there were courts in towns and villages as well. Mahamatras used to judge in towns and Rajukas used to judge in rural areas. There were special judges for foreigners. In Arthasastra, religious-civil courts are termed ‘Dharmasthira’ and criminal courts as ‘Kantak Shodhan’. Both Megasthenes and Kautilya spoke of the particular severity of the criminal laws. Fines were common punishments for crimes. Major crimes were punished by mutilation and beheading (capital punishment). Various forms of torture were used to extract confessions from criminals. Due to the strictness of the penal code, the number of crimes committed in the Maurya empire during Chandragupta’s period was low.

Many spies were employed to learn news of different areas of the vast empire, the activities of the employees, and the attitude and views of the subjects. According to Strabo, the most trusted men were appointed as spies.

Chandragupta Maurya’s Guptachar (Spies)— Sanstha and Sanchara

In Arthasastra spies are divided into two categories: Sanstha and Sanchara.

Snastha: Those spies who lived in a particular place to collect information were known as Sanstha. They included householders, traders, and monks.

Sanchara: Spies who moved from one place to another were called sancharas: this group included beggars, prostitutes, courtesans, and dancers. 

Both Strabo and Kautilya mention the recruitment of large numbers of women into the spy profession.

Sources of Revenue of the Maurya Empire

The empire’s main source of income was land taxes. In rural areas, there were usually two types of taxes – ‘Bhaga’ and ‘Bali’. One-sixth of the crops produced on the land had to be given to the king’s treasury known as Bhaga, but if necessary it was raised to one-quarter or reduced to one-eighth. The ‘Bali’ was an extra tax. Employees were employed to survey the land and oversee the irrigation system. In urban areas, the main sources of revenue were birth and death taxes, fines, taxes on goods sold, etc. The state also collected taxes from brothels, bars, gambling dens, etc.

The Footprints of Chandragupta Maurya on Chandragiri hill Hill, where Chandragupta performed Sallekhana | Image:
The Footprints of Chandragupta Maurya on Chandragiri hill Hill, where Chandragupta performed Sallekhana | Image: Wikipedia

Expenditure of the Maurya Empire

The military and civilian costs of the vast Maurya empire were huge. A lot of money was spent on a large army. The cost of the civil administration was also huge. Artisans employed in royal factories were paid salaries from the government treasury. Animal husbandry and hunters were given allowances for cleaning the forest and killing wildlife. The Brahmins and Shramans used to receive money from the treasury.

A lot of money was also spent on philanthropic work like construction of irrigation, construction of roads, setting up of rest houses and hospitals, etc. Money was also spent on the formation and conservation of art, preaching, etc. Public money was also spent on helping the poor and alleviating famine-related misery.

Last life and death of Chandragupta

According to Jain legend, when there was a famine in northern India towards the end of the reign, Chandragupta Maurya abdicated the throne and followed the Jain monk Bhadrabahu and went to Mysore. Chandragupta Maurya starved to death according to Jain rules in 298 BC at Shravanabelagola in Mysore.

A statue depicting Chandragupta Maurya (right) with his spiritual mentor Acharya Bhadrabahu at Shravanabelagola. | Jayanti Sengupta
A statue depicting Chandragupta Maurya (right) with his spiritual mentor Acharya Bhadrabahu at Shravanabelagola. | Jayanti Sengupta


The successor of Chandragupta Maurya to the throne of the Maurya empire was Bindusara, his son and Ashoka’s father.

Summary and Conclusion: Chandragupta Maurya and His Maurya Empire

Chandragupta Maurya (c. 340-c. 297 BCE) was an Indian ruler who established the Maurya Empire. When Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BC, a power struggle broke out between the Greek governors in the territories he occupied in India. During this time, the Nandavanshi king Dhana Nanda reigned in Magadha. Overwhelmed by his atrocities, the people were eager to change the situation. Taking advantage of this chaotic situation, Chandragupta Maurya first defeated Dhananand and ascended the throne of Magadha. Then he expelled the Greeks and established a great empire in India. In this regard, he received the help of Kautilya aka Chanakya, the Brahmin scholar of Takshila. The empire established by Chandragupta Maurya is famous in history as the Mauryan Empire.

Chandragupta Maurya was not only a skilled warrior and the founder of a vast empire, he was also a successful administrator. He also introduced a well-organized system of administration, which was divided into central and provincial, for the smooth administration of the subordinate empire. Although the king possessed the supreme power of the empire, he had to abide by some ancient restrictions. According to Jain legend, Chandragupta Maurya abdicated the Maurya throne when a famine struck northern India in the latter part of his reign and went to Mysore with a group of Jain monks led by the Jain monk Bhadrabahu.


Literature on Chandragupta Maurya

  1. Political drama in Sanskrit Mudrarakshasa by Vishakadatta (4th Century)

  2. Bangla drama Chandragupta by D. L. Roy

  3. The historical and spiritual novel The Courtesan and the Sadhu by Dr. Mysore N. Prakash (about Chanakya’s role in the formation of the Maurya Empire)

Films on Chandragupta Maurya

  1. Indian silent film Chandragupta (1920)

  2. Chandragupta (1934) Directed by Abdur Rashid Kardar.

  3. Indian Tamil-language historical drama film Chandraguptha Chanakya directed by C. K. Sachi, starring Bhavani K. Sambamurthy as Chandragupta.

  4. Samrat Chandragupta is a 1945 Indian historical film directed by Jayant Desai.

  5. Samrat Chandragupt (1958) Indian historical fiction film directed by Babubhai Mistry, a remake of Jayant Desai’s 1945 film Samrat Chandragupta.

  6. Chanakya Chandragupta (1977).

  7. Aśoka (2001); the film is actually based on Ashoka and directed by Santosh Sivan, Bollywood producer Umesh Mehra played the role of Chandragupta Maurya.


  1. Bhargava, P. L. (1935). Chandragupta Maurya. The Upper India Publishing House.
  2. Bongard-Levin, G. M. (1985). Mauryan India. Sterling Publishers.
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