Chandra Gupta was the founder of the Maurya empire. Justin and some other Greek scholars described him with the name, Sendrokotts. William Jones was the first scholar who proved that this name was used for Chandra Gupta Maurya.
He liberated the north-western part of India from Greek domination, grabbed power in Magadha from the hands of its tyrannical ruler Dhana Nand, established a mighty empire in India whose boundaries crossed the natural frontiers of India, provided his empire a sound administrative system which successfully continued during the period of his successors, and defeated Selucus Nikator (conqueror) which established the superiority of Indian arms over the Greeks and opened the way of communication between India and the north-west. Therefore, Chandra Gupta has been regarded as one of the greatest emperors of India.
Early Career of Chandra Gupta Maurya:
Chandra Gupta started his career from a very humble position and there are differences of opinion with regard to his family. The Greek writer, Justin, described him a man of humble origin; the Jaina tradition represented him a son of the daughter of the headman of a village which was inhabited by peacock-tamers; the Vishnu Purana suggested that he was base-born; and the view was corroborated in the drama Mudrarakshasa.
It stated that the mother of Chandra Gupta was Mura who was a Sudra and supposed to be a wife of king Nand. But the historians have found no justification to accept Chandra Gupta as a Sudra. The Vishnu-Purana has nowhere described Chandra Gupta as base-born.
Of course, commentators of the Puranas have indicated that Chandra Gupta was a Sudra. But the view of commentators can not be accepted as a valid proof. The Mudrarakshasa does not describe Chandra Gupta as a Sudra clearly.
Of course, it refers to him as Vrashal and Kulhina. But the word Vrashal was not always used in a disrespectful sense. Dr Ray Chaudhry has opined that this word was used for those Kshatriyas who did not observe religious rites strictly. The same way the word Kulhina does not always mean a Sudra. It may mean a person of an ordinary standing. Besides, all scholars have agreed that Chanakya helped Chandra Gupta in becoming the ruler of Magadha.
If Chandra Gupta would have been a Sudra, it could not be possible because Chanakya, a Brahamana, strictly adhered to Varna-system. He had vowed to displace the Sudra-king of the Nand dynasty. Then how could he support other Sudra to become the king of Magadha. The Brahamans accepted the claim of only the Kshatriyas to become kings. Therefore, Chanakya must have supported Chandra Gupta only because he believed him to be a Kshatriya.
Besides, the Buddhist text Mahavamsa described that Chandra Gupta belonged to a Kshatriya clan called Moriya. The Jaina-texts have also described Chandra Gupta as a Kshatriya.
It is now the accepted view of the majority of scholars that Chandra Gupta belonged to the Kshatriya clan called the Moriyas originally ruling over Pipphalivana which probably lay in modern Uttar Pradesh. After the death of her husband, the mother of Chandra Gupta shifted to Pataliputra for safety where she gave birth to her illustrious son.
Chandra Gupta was first brought up by a cowherd, and then by a hunter. Chanakya who was a renowned teacher at the University of Taxila, saw him while once passing through his village. He was attracted by his promising personality, took him to Taxila and gave him education for nearly eight years with a view to making him capable of leading the war of liberation against the Greeks and also to depose Dhana Nand from the throne of Magadha.
Chanakya had been to Pataliputra to seek the help of Dhana Nand in turning the Greeks out of the country but, instead, was humiliated by the king. Hence, he had taken a vow to depose Dhana Nand. He marked out Chandra Gupta for these twin tasks and prepared him for the same. It is now generally believed that this Chanakya and Kautilya, the author of Arthasastra were the names of same person.
The classical writers have described that Chandra Gupta had visited Alexander who felt offended by his behaviour and gave orders to kill him. However, Chandra Gupta managed to escape. After the return of Alexander, he, with the help of Chanakya, raised an army, recruiting soldiers mostly from the warlike people of republican states of Punjab which had given fierce resistance to Alexander.
He kept before the people the ideal of turning out of the country the foreign Greek invaders and succeeded. He was supported by Parvataka, a hill- tribe chief who became his friend. Probably, Chandra Gupta started his war of liberation in the Lower Indus Valley, before 321 or even before 323 B.C. and finally succeeded. By 317 B.C., no Greek governor remained in India and Punjab and Sindh were occupied by Chandra Gupta.
The desire of the Greek satraps and their soldiers to go back to their own country, their mutual conflicts, the revolt of the Indian satraps and assassination of Philippus, satrap of Upper Indus Valley in 325 B.C. and the death of Alexander in 323 B.C. facilitated the work of Chandra Gupta of turning the Greeks out of the Indian territory. In 317 B.C., the last Greek governor also left India and entire Punjab and Sindh was captured by Chandra Gupta.
The next task of Chandra Gupta was to conquer Magadha. He failed to achieve this objective probably once or twice but ultimately besieged Pataliputra and killed Dhana Nand. The incompetence of Dhana Nand, his unpopularity amongst his subjects, the astute diplomacy of Chanakya and bravery and military skill of Chandra Gupta were mainly responsible for the downfall of the Nanda dynasty. Chandra Gupta also kept Pataliputra as his capital.
Extension of the Empire of Chandra Gupta Maurya:
When Chandra Gupta was busy in the extension and consolidation of his empire, Seleucus, one of the ablest generals of Alexander who had obtained possession of the Eastern empire of his master, proceeded towards India to recover the lost possession of the late emperor.
He reached India about 305 B.C. where Chandra Gupta faced him in a battle. The Greek writers do not give the details of the conflict. Afiyanas simply wrote that ‘Seleucus crossed the river Indus and fought against Chandra Gupta, the ruler of India and, finally, peace was signed and both entered into a matrimonial alliance as well.’
Justin narrated that ‘after signifying a treaty with Chandra Gupta and establishing peace in his eastern empire, Seleucus left for the west to fight against his contender, Antigonas.’ Strabo wrote that ‘Seleucus handed over the territory of Ariana to Chandra Gupta after entering into a matrimonial alliance with him. Thus, we find no description of the battle between Seleucus and Chandra Gupta in writings of the Greeks. It is also not certain whether a decisive battle took place between the two or not.
But, in view of the terms of peace between the two, it is definite that Seleucus failed miserably in his expedition. He had not only to abandon the idea of reconquering Punjab but to surrender to Chandra Gupta a part of his territories in the East with its capital cities Herat, Kandhar and Kabul and also the territories of Baluchistan.
According to Plutarch, in return, Chandra Gupta gave him 500 war elephants. Seleucus appointed Megasthenes as his ambassador in the court of Chandra Gupta and always maintained friendly relations with him afterwards.
Both of them entered into a matrimonial alliance also and it is generally held that Chandra Gupta married a daughter of Seleucus though it is not warranted by known facts. Thus, this settlement between the two extended the territories of Chandra Gupta in the North-West up to the borders of Persia and also secured his frontiers in that direction.
No written record is available of other conquests of Chandra Gupta, yet it is certain that he ruled over a vast empire. The Rudradaman-inscription of Junagadh describes that the governor of Chandra Gupta, Puru Gupta ruled over Saurashtra (Gujrat).
Therefore, it is believed that Chandra Gupta had conquered Saurashtra as well as the territory or the states lying in between, viz., Malwa, Avanti, etc. Some Tamil-texts refer to the conquests of Chandra Gupta in the South and it is believed that he conquered a large part of south India.
Thus, it is believed that mostly Chandra Gupta passed his life in fighting battles. Bindusara, his successor is not known to history as a conqueror while Asoka conquered only Kalinga. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that the empire of the Mauryas, which is believed to have extended from the border of Persia in the North-West to Bengal in the East and from Kashmir in the North to Mysore in the South, was mostly built up by Chandra Gupta.
According to Jaina traditions, Chandra Gupta renounced the world in his last days and went to the South with the Jaina monk, Bhadrabahu. The hill where he lived in his last days of life is known as Chandragiri where a temple known as Chandra Gupta Basti was also erected by him. It is in Mysore. He fasted unto death at this place.
Administration under Chandra Gupta Maurya:
Chandra Gupta was not only a great conqueror but also a capable administrator. The way he carried on the administration of his empire was pursued by his successors and no change was felt necessary except that Asoka tried to liberalise it further and elaborated the public duties of state officials.
The basic principles of administration of the Mauryas remained the same as established by Chandra Gupta till the weaker Mauryas lost their hold over it. Primarily, Kautiliva’ s A rthasastra and the description of Megasthenes give us a fair idea of the administration of Chandra Gupta.
(i) The Polity:
By the time of the Mauryas, the office of the king had become hereditary and the divine origin of monarchy had attained maturity and had given the king wide powers. But, strictly speaking, as Hindu political theory vests sovereignty in the Dharma or law in the widest sense of the term and the state is separated from the king who is a part of it, no king could be tyrannical or a wielder of absolute personal powers.
Of course, the necessity of a strong king was stressed but it was equally emphasized that he had to rule according to the Dharma and for the establishment of the Dharma which was conducive to the highest good.
The Dharma actually upheld an ideal that elevated the soul to the loftiest heights and therefore, the function of the state was to create those conditions of life which would help every citizen in elevating his soul. It also meant that the state would enjoy all-embracing powers. Therefore, its scope of activities was unlimited and no distinction was made between personal and civic rights and duties, or between moral principles and positive law.
Everything that had any bearing upon the moral, spiritual or material condition of a citizen came within the scope of state activities. The state had the right to regulate the family life of the citizens, to promote true religion and control all professions and occupations as well.
Thus, the State held the ring for the interplay of social forces, intellectual influences, economic enterprises and above all, the spiritual tradition. But in no case, the extensive activities of the state and the divine origin of the monarchy meant to support the divine right of the king.
Therefore, the power of the king had increased but not without an increase in his corresponding duties. No wicked son of a king was allowed to become the successor and consequently the right of the people to rebel against a wicked and tyrannical king was also recognised. For the same purpose, special care was taken to impart sound education and moral training to the future king and if the prince failed to reach a requisite standard, he forfeited his right to the throne.
As regards the inter-state relations, the Arthasastra states that the normal relations between States can only be that of mutual hostility and material interests alone should guide the relations of one state with those of another.
A ruler should adopt the policy which is calculated to increase the power and wealth of his state, irrespective of any legal justice or moral consideration and for this purpose, he should adopt any or all the four instruments, viz., Sama (conciliation). Dam a (gift), Danda (aggressive action) and Bheda (sowing dissensions in a hostile state or among different enemy states).
(ii) The King:
Sometimes, the king could be elected but hereditary kingship was the established practice. The females were not excluded from the right of kingship but, in practice, it was rarely to be found. The .king was the supreme head of the State and performed military, judicial, executive and legislative functions.
His permanent duty was to protect the people and seek their welfare. Arthasastra states, “In the happiness of his subjects lies his happiness; in their welfare his welfare; whatever pleases himself he shall not consider as good, but whatever pleases his subjects he will consider as good.”
Therefore, the king was the most busy person in the kingdom. The twenty-four hours of each day and night were divided into eight parts and in each part he performed different duties punctually. Chandra Gupta could sleep hardly for six hours. Even when he was dressed and his hair was combed, he used to listen to the reports of his spies and assign them their duties.
Besides, he was easily accessible to his subjects. The king was paid taxes by his subjects in return for his services to the kingdom. He lived in a large and comfortable palace which was highly praised by Megasthenes. He was protected by lady-bodyguards and every precaution was taken to protect his life from treachery and poisoning.
(iii) The Council of Ministers and the State Council:
According to Kautiliya there were two Committees to assist the king in administration. He says, “Sovereignty is possible only with assistance.” It implied that these committees were not only necessary but effective as well in administration.
The council of Ministers was a small body consisting of 3-12 members. Each of them was the head of one or a few administrative departments and, sometimes, one of them could be appointed as chief or Prime Minister. All of them were appointed by the king on merit and could also be dismissed by him. All administrative measures were preceded by deliberations in the council of ministers. Each minister had free access to the king but in policy matters they advised the king as a body.
The State Council was a larger body and the number of its members could be 12, 16 or 20 and according to Kautilya it could include as many members as the need of the State required.
These councils played an effective role in the administration of the kingdom. Kautilya had clearly distinguished the two and had given pre-eminence to the Council of Ministers as compared to the State Council. Of course, the king had the legal power to refuse to work on their advice but, in practice, he hardly did so.
(iv) The Bureaucracy at the Centre:
The Mauryan administration was carried on by an organised, efficient and highly centralised bureaucracy. The Arthasastra has referred to eighteen high officials of the state. They included ministers and other high officials of the state.
Besides the ministers who were the heads of various departments, the Sannidhata (Head of Treasury), the Samaharta (Collector General of Revenue), the Purohita (Chief priest), the Senapati (Commander of the army), the Pratihara (Gate-keeper or the protector of the king’s palace and person), the Antarvamisika (Leader of the harem guards), Durgapala (Governor of the fort), the Antapala (Governor of the frontier), Paur (Governor of the capital), the Nyayadish (Chief Justice) and Prasasta (Head of the Police) were other important officials.
There were other numerous officers who worked in other various departments such as Audit and Accounts, Treasury, Records, Mines, Mint, Commerce, Excise, Agriculture, Toll etc. These officers were called Tirthas, Amatya etc. Officers below the rank of these officers were called Yukta and Upyukta.
The efficiency of the Maurya administration depended on the loyalty and capability of its bureaucracy. Prof Nilakanta Sastri writes, “The Maury a bureaucracy was vast, numerous and all-pervading, keeping itself in touch with all phases of economic and social life of the country.”
(v) The Provincial Administration:
The Maurya empire was divided into a number of provinces. The provinces were of two categories, viz., one, which were ruled over by subordinate rulers and. the other, which were created after dividing the territories under the direct rule of the Mauryas.
During the reign of Asoka such provinces were four in number, viz., Uttrapath, Avanti-Rashtra, Kalinga and Dakhsinapath having Taxila, Ujjayani, Tosli and Swarangiri respectively as their capitals. The fifth part of the empire was called Prashi which was ruled by the emperor himself from the capital, Pataliputra.
In each of these provinces there was a Governor or Viceroy who was sometimes a prince of royal blood. The princes, when appointed as Viceroys, were called Kumar-Mahamatras while the rest of the Viceroys were simply designated as Mahamatras.
These were the provinces which were formed as units of administration after dividing the imperial territories which were under the direct rule of the Mauryas. Yet, there were another type of provinces. These were the states which had accepted the over-lordship of the Mauryas but had been left free to be ruled by their own rulers.
The number of provinces during the period of Chandra Gupta is not clear but Asoka definitely had at least four provinces directly under his rule. Magadha and its nearby territories were administered by the Emperor himself from its capital, Pataliputra.
Mahamatras carried on administration under the guidance of the emperor but as it was difficult to control such a vast empire from a single centre because of the difficulty of communications in those days they must have enjoyed wide and independent powers.
It is also believed that there was an advisory committee like the council of ministers at the centre to help every Mahamatra. It has been referred to in the Divayadana that the emperor kept direct contact with the council of ministers in the provinces. Besides, there were many other officers who helped a Mahamatra in carrying on the administration. Amongst them Yuta (Tax-Collectors), Rajuka (Revenue-Collectors), Sthaniks (District Officers), etc. were important.
The provinces were divided into districts under Sthaniks who were helped by another class of officers called Gopas. The village was the smallest unit of administration where an officer known as Gramika, either elected by the local people or nominated by the government, looked after the administration of the village with the help of a village assembly. The village assembly managed cleanliness, construction of bridges and roads, justice and other things concerning the village.
(vi) The Administration of City:
City administration was looked after in its minutest detail. Every city was divided into wards and further into groups of households under Sthaniks and Gopas respectively, while the entire city was under a city-superintendent assisted by a municipal corporation.
We can have an idea of city administration from the administration of the capital-city, Pataliputra well described by Megasthenes. As described by him. Pataliputra was 15 kilometres in length and 2.80 kilometres in breadth. It had 64 gates and 570 towers. It was protected by a wooden wall and surrounded by a 18-metre wide ditch. A Commission of 30 members administered it. The Commission was divided into six boards, each of which had five members. Each board looked after separate work.
One board looked after industrial art, another after trade and commerce, the third after manufactured articles, the fourth after foreigners, the fifth maintained the record of births and deaths and the sixth collected 1/10th of the price of the articles sold in the market. In its collective capacity the Commission looked after all matters of public interest and those connected with civic amenities.
Elaborate regulations were made for proper sanitary arrangements and to prevent the outbreak of fire in the city. It had temples, roads, foot-paths, wells, tanks, hospitals, gardens and various places of entertainment. Thus, Pataliputra was a well planned, well administered and beautiful city.
The Mauryas had developed an efficient system of espionage. Spies were kept not only by the emperor but also by all important officials of the State. Female spies were also quite popular. Spies were deputed to foreign countries also. Kautilya and Chandra Gupta had given great importance to this system in administration. The emperor was kept informed about all relevant affairs of the State and also about the affairs of foreign states.
(viii) Judicial Administration:
Both Megasthenese and Kautilya describe that the penal code was severe. Even for ordinary offences, fines were imposed and for severe crimes there was provision of either penalty of death or cutting off the limbs of the body. However, crimes were a few.
The courts were of two types—Central and local. At the centre, the king held his own court and provided justice. Besides, there was the court of the Chief Justice who provided justice with the help of four or five other judges.
The local courts were of three types. The first type of courts were formed by the citizens themselves to sort out their disputes; the second type of courts were formed by the business-guilds; and the third were the village assemblies. Besides, there were civil and criminal courts of the State. The Civil Courts were called Dharmasthiya and the criminal courts Kantaksodhana. Prof N.K. Shastri has expressed the view that the changed economic and social circumstances had created new complications in the society at that time.
The courts called Kantaksodhanas were created primarily to face the challenge posed by those complications and hence were supposed to decide the cases immediately. Asoka had decided that the orders of death penalty would be carried out after three days.
The primary source of income of the State was land-revenue. The royal share of the produce of the soil called the Bhaga generally amounted to 1/6th, but it differed also and ranged from 1/4th to 1/8th. It was based on the land used by each individual cultivator and not on the village as a whole. It was also in accordance with the quality of the land. Asoka had reduced it to 1/8th of the produce in the district of Lumbini where the Buddha was born. The state was accepted the owner of the land.
The state had increased the area of cultivation after clearing the forests. Large number of slaves were brought to new land for cultivation from heavily populated areas. One and a half lakh people were brought from Kalinga after the war for clearance of forests and cultivating new land. The state was so much interested in the growth of agriculture that it encouraged the growth of population as well. No man was allowed to accept Sanyas till he was capable of producing children.
A man was punished by the state if he accepted Sanyas without providing means of livelihood to his wife and dependents. No Sanyasin was allowed to enter a newly established village. No musician, dancer or any other entertainer could enter such villages as that would have distracted the attention of farmers. Thus, every effort was made by the state for the growth of agriculture. It affected favourably trade as well. Widespread use of currency even during the early period of the rule of the Mauryas was a clear indication of increased trade and commerce.
Besides, there were various other sources of income of the State. It taxed the shepherds and the livestock breeders on the number and produce of the animals. The state charged toll-tax and trade-tax on the articles sold. Then there was forest tax, tax on intoxicants, mine-tax, fish-tax, irrigation tax, licence tax etc. The state owned vast estates and forests. It had monopoly over mines, forests, salt production and production of aims and it traded in all these products.
It had its own factories which produced all sorts of articles, particularly cloth. Trade by waterways was also controlled by the state. Actually, the state directly participated in the organisation and development of agriculture, industry and trade and owned them also. The state had the right to confiscate the property of individuals on several grounds. At times of crisis, the state organised festivals, exhibitions etc., for earning money. All this provided additional income to it.
The king’s household, the army, salaries of officials and members of the bureaucracy and expenditure on public works were the main items of the expenditure of the state. The employees of the state were paid salaries in cash. The difference between the highest paid civil or military officer and the lowest paid employee was from 100 to 1. All employees of the state were paid in cash. The highest paid individuals were Rajamata (mother of the king), chief queen, Yuvaraja (the son of the king and successor to the throne), Purohita, Mahamantri and commander-in-chief of the state.
Each of them was paid 48,000 Panas (silver-coin) annually. The lowest wages were 60 Panas per annum which were paid to an employee who was capable of only doing physical labour. A trained soldier, an accountant or spy of a lower cadre was paid 500 Panas every year while a capable spy or engineer was paid 1,000 panas per annum. Those who suffered physical injury or died during the course of service were given family- pensions. If there was shortage of currency, the state paid wages in kind as it desired.
Dr D.D. Kosambi has expressed the view that it has been clearly stated in the Arthasastra that, in no case the state should pay or donate anything (land, forest, etc.) to anybody which was a permanent source of income to the state. The Mauryas did not donate land, forest etc. even to the Brahamanas.
At the most land could be provided to an employee which was to be converted into cultivable land and when it was cultivated, revenue was charged from it. Moreover, the land belonged to the state. No hereditary ownership right was transferred to the individual. Thus, the state jealously guarded its permanent sources of income.
(x) Roads and Irrigation:
Large irrigation projects and construction and maintenance of public highways were the responsibilities of the state. Megasthenese has described the main highway which ran from the North-West upto Pataliputra and beyond towards the East. It was 1840 kilometre long and quite wide.
Trees were planted on its both sides. Milestones and direction-posts were erected on it and arrangements were made for its proper maintenance. It gives us an idea of other highways of the empire. They were safe, maintained properly, of long distances and were up to 32 feet or even more in width.
The Maurya rulers constructed large numbers of canals and set up other irrigation projects and their example was emulated by their provincial governors. One of Chandra Gupta’s governors was responsible for building a dam across a river near Girnar in western India, resulting in a large lake to supply water for the region. The state, however, charged irrigation-tax which ranged from 1/5 to 1/3 of the produce.
(xi) Public Health, Sanitation and Census:
Proper care was taken by the State of public health. Elaborate rules were framed for sanitation purposes which were strictly enforced. There were hospitals not only for human beings but also for birds and animals.
There was a separate department for public census and it kept records of birth and deaths at every place.
(xii) Military Administration:
The Mauryas kept a large and powerful standing army. Chandra Gupta had laid its foundation and there is no evidence to prove that even Asoka who gave up wars of conquest after the war with Kalinga, reduced the number and strength of the army.
The Mauryas kept a navy also but the force consisted mainly of infantry, cavalry, war-elephants and chariots. Pliny, who based his statement on Megasthenese, put the strength of Chandra Gupta’s forces at 60,000 of infantry, 30,000 of cavalry and 9,000 elephants.
He did not mention the number of chariots but Plutarch placed their number at 8,000.
The administration of the army was looked after by a Council of 30 members which was divided into six committees of five members each to look after the six departments of the army which were as follows:
1. Admiralty (Navy);
5. War-Chariots; and
The success of Chandra Gupta against Seleucus and the conquest of Kalinga by Asoka are sufficient proofs of the strength of the Maurya army.
An Estimate (How Far was it a Welfare State?):
The administration of the Mauryas which kept their vast empire intact, strong and flourishing from the time of Chandra Gupta till Asoka, has been regarded as one of the best ever established by Indian rulers. No Indian ruler could achieve such a grand success.
Alauddin Khilji, after the conquest of Deccan, did not find it feasible to annex it to his empire while Muhammad Bin Tughluq and Aurangzeb failed in their attempts. The vastness of the empire, its administrative unity and its continuance for quite a long period are sufficient proofs of the success of the administration of the Mauryas.
But, more than that, the Maurya administration was remarkable because of its wide definition of the obligations of the state. The duty of the Maurya state was not simply to maintain peace within its borders and to defend its frontiers but it was obliged to look after material, moral and spiritual progress of its citizens. The ideal of Maurya state was an all round progress of its citizens.
And, it was not a theoretical assumption with Maurya rulers but a practical goal to be achieved for which at least Chandra Gupta, Bindusara and Asoka strove. Of course, it increased the powers of the state but it also increased the duties and functions of the state manifold. That is why, it has been opined by many scholars that the Maurya state was a Welfare State. Partially it was.
There are two prime necessities of a Welfare State. First, that it should aim at the all round progress of its citizens; and second, that it should attempt it with their consent, meaning thereby that the state should be democratic. The first condition was fulfilled by the Maurya state while for the second there was no scope at that time. Monarchy was a rule with big empires at that time, when a representative democratic government was quite unknown to the people.
Therefore, a republican government could not be attempted by the Maurya rulers. On the contrary, they worked against them. Kautilya, the exponent of the Maurya polity, was against the existence of republican states. Thus, Maurya rulers and their administration fulfilled only one condition of a Welfare State. They, certainly, tried for an all round progress of their subjects, though they did not attempt it by democratic means. With this limitation, the Maurya state deserves to be accepted as a Welfare State.
An Estimate of Chandra Gupta Maurya:
Chandra Gupta Maurya has not been called the great among Indian rulers yet he has occupied a very respectable place among them. Among the Mauryan rulers, his grand-son, Asoka only has been regarded as the great by scholars but Asoka, probably, could not have this distinction without the background or achievements done by his grand-father, Chandra Gupta.
Chandra Gupta was not only the founder-ruler of the Mauryan dynasty but it was, in fact, he who created the extensive empire of the Mauryas, gave it a best possible administration and, thus, laid down the foundation of the greatness of his family.
Chandra Gupta had an humble beginning. But he was a most capable person. That is why Chanakya or Kautilya chose him to serve his twin-purposes, viz., to turn out the Greek invaders from India and to destroy the rule of the Nandas. Chandra Gupta rose to the occasion and went on increasing his capability’ and power. He proved himself as a man of high ideals, a courageous soldier, a capable commander and a good organiser.
There is no doubt that, in Chanaky a, he got a scholarly teacher, adviser, diplomat, etc. and he largely contributed towards his success but it is also correct that Chandra Gupta himself was very much capable and rightly deserved the throne which he captured.
One success of Chandra Gupta was deposing of Dhana Nand, the incapable ruler of Magadha. It made him ruler of an extensive empire. He extended his empire further. Except small territory, here and there, he conquered entire territory of India within its borders.
Besides, his empire extended up to the boundary of Persia towards the north-west and, thus, included Baluchistan, Afghanistan and a part of Central Asia. No Indian ruler, except his own son Bindusar and grandson Asoka ever ruled over such extensive territories.
Another success of Chandra Gupta was to turn out of India Greek invaders and provide complete security to India from foreign attacks from towards the northwest. When he began his task, Punjab, Sindh and entire territory of India in the north-west was occupied by the Greeks. He turned out the Greeks from Indian territories and, after defeating Seleucus, freed Indians from fear of invasions from towards the north-west. Besides, he captured territory upto the border of Persia.
Besides, Chandra Gupta provided an efficient administration to his vast empire which provided political unity to Indian sub-continent for long years and also put up an ideal example for Indian rulers who succeeded him. Chandra Gupta was the first Indian ruler who succeeded in fulfilling the ideal of a Chakravartin-Samrat. He was again the first Indian ruler who proved in practice that India was one nation and had one culture.
Therefore, Chandra Gupta Maurya has been regarded a glorious Indian emperor. Dr V.A. Smith has expressed: “These achievements fairly entitle him to rank among the greatest and most successful kings known to history.” Dr R. C. Majumdar has also all praise for him.
He has remarked: “To Chandra Gupta the history of India owes a gorgeous phenomenon — a swift war of liberation, a vast empire, India politically and administratively united, the reestablishment of Dharma as the supreme law and the organization of life on which was founded the invulnerable culture- consciousness of Indians in succeeding ages.”