Thursday, July 3, 2008

Chandragupta Maurya

Chandragupta Maurya (?-286 bc), first king (321?-298? bc) of the Maurya dynasty of the ancient kingdom of Magadha (now Bihār State), India. He expanded the territory of his kingdom and then, according to tradition, abdicated to become a monk.

As a young stripling, whom the Greeks called Sandrocottus, he is said to have met Alexander the Great in Punjab in 326 bc. Shortly afterward, Chandragupta raised an army and conquered Magadha, defeating the Nandas. He then took advantage of Alexander's death and wrested the Punjab region from the Macedonian forces. By further conquest he extended Magadha until it comprised all northern India between the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. Chandragupta's power was challenged by King Seleucus I of Syria, Alexander's successor, who invaded the northern subcontinent in 305 bc, but suffered a crushing defeat. Chandragupta there upon added to his lands all the territory north to the Hindu Kush, including Baluchistan and Afghanistan. According to traditional accounts, Chandragupta abdicated, became a monk, and, while in voluntary exile in the south of India, committed suicide by fasting to death about 286 bc. The Maurya Empire was further extended by his grandson, Ashoka.

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