Chandragupta Maurya

He founded one of the largest ever empires in the history of India. For about 25 years he ruled over the empire he founded. His set up for administration was centralized and well knit. His eight-member ministry had a genius and an author of a classic as its prime minister. And he abdicated his crown to recede into history as a Jain monk. He was the one and only Chandragupta Maurya.

Chandragupta is first remembered as the founder of the Maurya Empire in 324 B.C., and then for his brilliant moves to throw out Alexander from the invasion of India (326-324 B.C.). After Alexander’s death he aimed at Selukas Nikatore, the army chief of Alexander. Selukas was the administrator of all the areas Alexander had annexed. But in 305 B.C., Chandragupta defeated Selukas by accepting the land beyond the Sindhu up to Kabul. This was a landmark victory. Megasthanese, who came to the Maurya Empire as the ambassador of Selukas has given a detailed account of the unique administrative set-up Chandragupta was presiding over. His ministry had various departments such as road, water transport, irrigation, finance, health, sanitation, taxes, and defense. The Emperor looked after the crucial portfolios of law making and its execution and judiciary. The credit of setting up of trade centers and hospitals all over the Empire goes to Chandragupta and his ministers. The mercantile ships of the Maurya Empire traveled to far-away countries for trade and commerce. The Emperor did not encourage slavery. Criminals and anti-socials had a very bad time during his reign. The emperor placed the welfare of his subjects as his prime duty. The role Chaanakya played in these path-breaking administrative measures is to be underscored. Pataliputra, the capital city, became famous all over the then world. There was a large standing army for Chandragupta and also a naval force.

This great ruler abdicated his throne when he was just 45, handing over his empire to son Bindusara, and converted into Jainism and traveled to Sravana Belagola near Mysore and lived there as a devout monk. He accepted death by starvation, as per the Jain conventions, in 288 /286 B.C. He was then 57.