Chanakya & Chandragupta Maurya :The Mauryan empire surge

Chandragupta and Kautilya began their conquest of India only a few years after Alexander the Great’s death in 323 BCE. Using the principles laid down in the Artha??stra, they defeated the Nanda kings, who had ruled for a century thru the maintenance of a huge army and heavy taxation. Their next objective was to stop Alexander’s successors, especially General Seleucus in Babylon, from invading western India. They accomplished this by assassinating the Greek governors Nicanor and Philip.

The Mauryan EmpireThe Mauryan Empire.

Taking Punjab and Sindh from the Greeks, stopping the invasion of India, and forcing Seleucus to sign a treaty allowed them to complete their conquest. Once the treaty was concluded, virtually the entire subcontinent had been unified under Chandragupta’s rule, the Greeks had established an envoy at the king’s court, and Chandragupta was married to Seleucus’s daughter.

The Mauryan Empire may have been the first large centralized government that India had known, but according to contemporary sources it was very well run. Despite the autocratic nature of the upper layers of power, there appears to have been real democracy at the city and village level. Chandragupta ChanakyaMegasthenes was the Greek ambassador to Chandragupta’s court in Pataliputra (present day Patna in Bihar). In his book Indica he described the prosperity of Mauryan cities, including abundant water, plentiful minerals, and a healthy agricultural output. Although nothing of the original Indica survives today, it is widely quoted in the works of contemporary Greek and Roman travelers. According to one such source, Megasthenes is quoted as writing that,  “the Indians … dressed in bright and rich colors … [and] they liberally used ornaments and gems.”

After Chandragupta’s death, the empire continued under his son Bindusara and then his grandson Ashoka. Kautilya’s advice is seen by many modern-day scholars as radical and without morality, however, many more argue that the extreme measures advocated by Kautilya (some of which surely must have been used by Chandragupta) were necessary to the times in which he lived. In any era, it’s necessary for a leader to look to the actual workings of the politics of others to determine how his administration should act and react.