Dictionary Of Hindu Religion | Sketches
(Reign - c 324/322 - 301 BC)
See also Maurya Dynasty to know about Chandragupta Maurya
The name Maurya (in Paalee language Moriyaa) was probably derived from the word Mor (peacock) which may have been the clan's original, pre-Aarya, totem. Some say that Chandragupt Maurya was the son of a herdsman; while others claim that his mother was in the royal Harem of king Nand. Whatever his family stock may have been, but the dynasty ruled for over most of India for 140 years. It was long believed that behind his rising power was an old Braahman named Kautilya (Chaanakya). He has been credited with authorship of the "Arth Shaastra" (Science of Material Gains). He might have written only an early part of the text.
His work begins with a chapter on the education and training of a king - to be "energetic" and "ever wakeful". When in court, the king is never to keep his petitioners waiting at the door, for a king who makes himself inaccessible to the people is sure to create confusion in business and cause public dissatisfaction. The monarch must learn to control his "six enemies" - lust, anger, greed, vanity, haughtiness and exuberance. He must also control his subjects - particularly powerful ministers, wealthy merchants, wise Braahman and beautiful queens - and to help him in such difficult tasks, he must hire an army of spies and these spies should be living in various guises.
To sustain his army of spies, soldiers and civil bureaucrats (totaled more than 1 million in Mauryan Dynasty) the king claimed the share, usually one-fourth, otherwise one-half of the value of crops. Other types of wealth were also taxed. Paataliputra seems to have been the largest and greatest city in the world during Mauryan rule. It was 8 miles long and 1 and 1/2 mile wide, surrounded by timber wall with 570 towers and a moat 600 cubits (900 feet) wide and 30 feet deep. Megasthnese, a Greek ambassador, came to India and wrote his diary about contemporary India.
Further from Arth Shaastra - government servants should be constantly kept under vigilance, for men are "by nature fickle and temperamental". Bureaucrats should work only "as directed" and do "nothing" without the knowledge and approvable of superiors. Thus bureaucracy was thus obviously no recent Western import to Indian soil, and may have had its indigenous roots in Harappan society. Megasthnese observed seven classes in Mauryan India - the highest being royal councilors, then Braahman, then agriculturists, herdsmen, soldiers, artisans and spies.
Seleukas received 500 war elephants from Chandragupt for withdrawal of his forces and exchanged ambassadors with Paataliputra. There was a cryptic marriage clause in that treaty as well, and though it is not clear whether Seleukas married one of his daughters to Chandragupt's court, later reference to "Yaavanee" (Greek) woman serving as an elite guard over Chandragupt's bed-chambers, indicates that possibility. Mauryan army had the strength of 600,000 infantry, 30,000 cavalry, 8,000 chariots and 9,000 elephants. Even if these figures were exaggerated, or valid only through peak periods, to support such a huge force was needed considerable size and centralized administration. According to these figures, it seems fair to assume that there were close to 50 million people in south Asia by the 3rd century BC.
Weights and measures and currency were all state controlled. The silver coin of Maurya kingdom was the silver "Pana", minted at 3.5 grams. A king's councilor received 48,000 Pana as his annual salary, 1,000 coins for engineers, mining superintendents and military officers, 500 for soldiers of the line and spies, 120 for carpenters and other skilled craftsmen, and 60 for the unskilled laborers. It may be assumed that the lowest amount was barely sufficient to feed and clothe a family and his immediate dependents.
He was the first unifier of India and first genuine emperor of India.
According to Jain tradition, Chandragupt left his throne in 301 BC to become a Jain monk in South India, where he fasted until death, while his son Bindusaar took control of Paataliputra.
Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 11/02/12