Chandragupta

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Chandragupta

Chandragupta (Chandragupta Maurya) (chändrəgŏŏp´tə), fl. c.321 BC–c.298 BC, Indian emperor, founder of the Maurya dynasty and grandfather of Asoka. He conquered the Magadha kingdom (in modern Bihar and Jharkhand) and eventually controlled all India N of the Vindhya Hills. In c.305, Chandragupta, with a huge army, defeated Seleucus I (Nicator) who had invaded NW India in an attempt to regain Alexander the Great's Indian provinces. Seleucus had to yield parts of Afghanistan to Chandragupta, and some sort of marriage alliance followed. From Megasthenes, a Seleucid envoy at the court of Chandragupta, comes much of the information about the period. The emperor dwelt in an enormous, ornate palace at Pataliputra (Patna) and administered a highly bureaucratic government. He was advised by Kautilya (also called Chanakya), a very able but unscrupulous Brahman, to whom is attributed the Arthasastra, a guide to statecraft. Chandragupta established a vast secret service system and, fearing assassination, rarely left his palace. Jain tradition says that he abdicated his throne, became a Jain monk, and fasted to death.

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