Maurya Dynasty – Study Material

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Maurya Dynasty – Study Material

  • The Maurya Empirewas a geographically-extensive Iron Age historical power based in Magadha and founded by Chandragupta Maurya which dominated ancient India between 321 BCE and 187 BCE. Comprising the majority of South Asia, the Maurya Empire was centralized by conquering the Indo-Gangetic Plain in the eastern extent of the empire and had its capital city at Pataliputra (modern Patna).
  • The Maurya Empire was one of the largest empiresin India. At its greatest extent, the empire stretched to the north along the natural boundaries of the Himalayas, to the east into Assam, to the west into Balochistan (southwest Pakistan and southeast Iran) and the Hindu Kush mountains of what is now Afganisthan.

Chandragupta Maurya and Chanakya :

  • The Maurya Empire was founded by Chandragupta Maurya, with help from Chanakya, at Takshashila, a noted center of learning. According to several legends, Chanakya travelled to Magadha, a kingdom that was large and militarily powerful and feared by its neighbours, but was insulted by its king Dhana Nanda, of the Nanda dynasty. Chanakya swore revenge and vowed to destroy the Nanda Empire. Meanwhile, the conquering armies of Alexander the Great refused to cross the Beas River and advance further eastward, deterred by the prospect of battling Magadha. Alexander returned to Babylon and re-deployed most of his troops west of the Indus River. Soon after Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BCE, his empire fragmented into independent kingdoms led by his generals.
  • The Greek generals Eudemus and Peithon ruled in the Indus Valley until around 317 BCE, when Chandragupta Maurya (with the help of Chanakya, who was now his advisor) orchestrated a rebellion to drive out the Greek governors, and subsequently brought the Indus Valley under the control of his new seat of power in Magadha.

Conquest of Magadha :

Chanakya encouraged Chandragupta Maurya and his army to take over the throne of Magadha. Using his intelligence network, Chandragupta gathered many young men from across Magadha and other provinces, men upset over the corrupt and oppressive rule of king Dhana Nanda, plus the resources necessary for his army to fight a long series of battles. These men included the former general of Taxila, accomplished students of Chanakya, the representative of King Parvataka, his son Malayaketu, and the rulers of small states. The Macedonians (described as Yona or Yavana in Indian sources) may then have participated, together with other groups, in the armed uprising of Chandragupta Maurya against the Nanda dynasty. The Mudrarakshasa of Visakhadutta as well as the Jaina work Parisishtaparvan talk of Chandragupta’s alliance with the Himalayan king Parvataka, often identified with Porus, although this identification is not accepted by all historians.

Chandragupta Maurya :

In 305 BCE, Chandragupta led a series of campaigns to retake the satrapies left behind by Alexander the Great when he returned westwards, while Seleucus I Nicator fought to defend these territories. The two rulers concluded a peace treaty in 303 BCE, including a marital alliance. Chandragupta snatched the satrapies of Paropamisade (Kamboja and Gandhara), Arachosia(Kandhahar) and Gedrosia (Balochistan), and Seleucus I Nicator received 500 war elephants that were to have a decisive role in his victory against western Hellenistic kings at the Battle of Ipsusin 301 BCE. Diplomatic relations were established and several Greeks, such as the historian Megasthenes, Deimakos and Dionysius resided at the Mauryan court. Megasthenes in particular was a notable Greek ambassador in the court of Chandragupta Maurya. According to Arrian, ambassador Megasthenes (c.350–c.290 BCE) lived in Arachosia and travelled to Pataliputra.

Bindusara :

Bindusara was born to Chandragupta, the founder of the Mauryan Empire. This is attested by several sources, including the various Puranas and the Mahavamsa. He is attested by the Buddhist texts such as Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa (“Bindusaro”); the Jain texts such as Parishishta-Parvan; as well as the Hindu texts such as  Vishnu Purana (“Vindusara” According to the 12th century Jain writer Hemachandra’s Parishishta-Parvan, the name of Bindusara’s mother was Durdhara. Some Greek sources also mention him by the name “Amitrochates” or its variations.

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