The Mauryan Empire was a geographically extensive historical power in ancient world, ruled by the Maurya’s from 321 to 185 BC. Chandragupta Maurya was the founder of this dynasty.
Chandragupta Maurya, under the guidance of the great scholar, Chanakya formulated the defeat of the crown prince Nanda who was the virtual ruler of Magadha. He wanted to avenge the death of his brothers and father who were slayed by Nanda. Chanakya mentored Chandragupta Maurya in expanding the Mauryan empire far and wide in the Indian subcontinent.
The Maurya Empire was known for its engineering marvels like temples, irrigation, reservoirs, roads and mines. Chandragupta Maurya was the only emperor whose dynasty was widespread during his reign. The Empire stretched from Bengal and Assam in the East, to Afghanistan and Baluchistan in the West, to Kashmir and Nepal in the North and to the Deccan Plateau in the South. He also forced the Greek troops to retreat. Around 324 BC, Alexander the Great and his soldiers had decided to withdraw his armed forces. However, he had left behind a legacy of Greek rulers who were now ruling parts of ancient India. During this period, Chandragupta and Chanakya formed alliances with local rulers and started defeating the armies of the Greek rulers. This led to the expansion of their territory until finally the establishment of the Maurya Empire. Chandragupta Maurya defeated the Macedonian satrapies in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent. He then waged a war against Seleucus, a Greek ruler who had in control most of the Indian territories which were earlier captured by Alexander the Great. Seleucus , however, offered his daughter’s alliance to Chandragupta Maurya for marriage . With the help of Seleucus, Chandragupta started acquiring many regions and expanded his empire as far as South Asia. Except for present day Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the Mauryan empire ruled throughout India.
Chandragupta Maurya spent his last days in south India i.e present day Karnataka. He handed over the empire to his son, Bindusara before retiring. Bindusara’s son, Ashoka then took over the reigns . He was one of the most powerful kings of India. Chandragupta renounced all worldly pleasures and became a monk as per the tradition of Jainism. This great emperor and his intelligent mentor , Chanakya ensured that this dynasty spread its wings in India and beyond. Till date, he remains to be one of the most important and influential emperors of ancient India.
After Ashoka’s death the empire shrank because of invasions, desertions by southern princes, and quarrels. The last ruler, Brihadratha, was killed in 185 BC by his brahman commander in chief, Pushyamitra, who then founded the Shunga dynasty which ruled in central India for about a century. Thus, was the end of the Mauryan dynasty.