Rise of the Mauryans
The Maurya Empire was founded in 322 BCE by Chandragupta Maurya, who had overthrown the Nanda Dynasty and rapidly expanded his power westward across central and western India, in order to take advantage of the disruptions of local powers in the wake of the withdrawal by Alexander the Great’s armies.
According to legend, the teacher Chanakya convinced his disciple, Chandragupta Maurya, to conquer the the kingdom of Magadha (the Nanda Empire) when he was insulted by its king Dhana Nanda.
Chandragupta Maurya expanded the Maurya Empire north and west as he conquered the Macedonian Satrapiesand won the Seleucid-Mauryan war.In its time, the Maurya Empire was one of the largest empires of the world
Megasthenese was the ambassador of the Greek ruler Selucus. He was in the court of Chandra Gupta and remained in India for fourteen years. In his book ‘Indica’, he has described the different aspects of Indian life including the administration of the state, the local administration, the life of the king etc. It is one of the most important sources for knowing the details about the Mauryan dynasty.
Kautilya’s ‘Arthasastra’ is also a very important source for the knowledge of the Mauryan dynasty. Kautilya, the minister of Chandra Gupta throws a flood of light upon the contemporary social, political and economic conditions of the country at that time. The book also gives a wealth of information regarding the duties of the king, his foreign policy and the organization of spies.
Ashoka’s inscriptions form the most important source of the Mauryan period. They are important for providing the knowledge about the extension of his empire, his religious policy, administration and his character.
‘Mahavamsa’, ‘Diparamsa’ and ‘Dibyavadan’ are Buddhist texts which provide a lot of information regarding the Mauryan period.
Mudrarakshasha’ of Visakhadatta, Purans, and Tibetan and Nepali texts are also important in this respect. The Rudradman inscriptions of Junagadh also furnish some information about certain incidents of Mauryan period.