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Audrey Baetz
History 134
Module 11
The Life of Chandragupta Maurya

The Mauryan Empire ranged from the Middle East, over to South East Asia and all the
way down into the depths of India (Time Maps). The Mauryan Empire was the first huge empire
of India, and can be considered on par with empires like Persia and the Romans (Time Maps).
The website Time Maps also says, The Mauryan Empire vastly expanded the horizons of
ancient Indian civilization, and so made it a more powerful force in world history. People did
not know the Mauryan Empire even existed until recently. Time Maps says, No magnificent
architecture was leftMauryan remains are buried under streets and buildings used by late
generationsThis great empire was all but forgottenIn the 19th century, however, some
British officials began to wonder, who built those mysterious pillars dotted around India? How
come they are hundreds - thousands - of miles apart from one another? What do the inscriptions
on them mean? Then the truth about the Maurya gradually began to emerge. When it was
realized that these pillars were the work of one king, Asoka, whose realm covered a vast area of
India and beyond, it was realized that here was a phenomenon of huge significance for the
history of ancient India. These kingdoms did not come together on their own, however.

The man who brought the Mauryan Empire together was Chandragupta. He reigned from
322-298 BCE (Time Maps). He brought together the first great Indian Empire by bringing
together the small fragmented kingdoms of India (Cultural India). Chandraguptas life did not
start out in royalty. When he was born his family was in bad shape after the death of his father
and his uncles left him with a cowherd who raised him, and then sold to a man to tend cattle
(Britanica). He received education in military tactics and the arts when he was purchased by a

politician. According to tradition, it says that while he slept, following a meeting

with Alexander the Great, a lion began licking his body, gently waking him and prompting in
him hopes of royal dignityHe collected mercenary soldiers, secured public support, and ended
the autocracy of the Nanda dynasty in a bloody battle against forces led by their commander in
chief, Bhaddasala (Britanica). Chandragupta also fought against Alexander the Greats
Macedonians forces. Cultural India says, Chandragupta Maurya defeated the Macedonian
satrapies in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent in 317 BC. Thereafter, he turned his
attention towards Northwestern India. Chandragupta allied with the Himalayan king Parvatka
and launched an attack against Dhana Nanda of the Nanda Empire. Chandragupta defeated a
variety of armies and brought India together for the first time.

Chandragupta ascended to the throne around 325 BC. Buddhism and Jainism were
coming around at this point in history, and Chandragupta converted to Jainism when he was
older and renounced his throne (Mookerji). Chandragupta died in in 297 BC from self-starvation
(Britanica). BBC calls Jainism An ancient religion from India that teaches that the way to
liberation and bliss is to live a life of harmlessness and renunciation. The aim of Jain life is to
achieve liberation of the soul. BBC also discusses how fasting is common in Jainism to purify
the body and soul. Fasting to death, called Santhara, happens when a Jain stops eating and
drinking to prepare for death, and this is how Chandragupta passed away.

Before he died, Chandragupta had a child named Bindusara who succeeded to the throne
and continued his fathers conquest, and continued to grow the Indian empire (Cultural India).
Bindusara then had a son named Asoka, who would become one of the most powerful Indian
leaders to ever exist. Asoka is most well-known for converting to Buddhism after the Battle of
Kalinga (Time Maps).

Chandragupta started from scratch and managed to bring together the many small
kingdoms of India and start the Mauryan Empire, no small feat. His grandson became one of the
most well-known Indians rulers to ever exist. Chandragupta also helped spread Jainism and
Buddhism throughout the empire.

Annotated Bibliography
Chandragupta. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.
Britannica Online supplied lots of information on Chandraguptas early life and how he rose to
power. Also talks about how he lived and died.
Chandragupta Maurya. Cultural India. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.
Provided information from his birth all the way to his death, including facts on Jainism and his
Civilization: The Mauryan Empire of Ancient India. Time Maps. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.
Has an image of the Indian Empire, puts into context how much land was involved. More
information of Chandraguptas conquests as well. Provided in learning modules from course.
Mookerji, Radhakumud. Chandragupta Maurya and His times. 4th ed. Delhi: Motilal
Banarsidass, 1966. Print.
Gives detailed account of Chandraguptas death, along with many other details of his life and
Religions- Jainism. BBC News. BBC. Web 15 Nov. 2015.
Supplied lots of information of Jainism in India, especially on the area of Santhara, which is
fasting to death and how Chandragupta died.