Chandragupta Maurya

Chandragupta Maurya (reign: c. 321 – c. 297 BCE) was the founder of the Maurya Empire in ancient India. He built one of the largest-ever empires on the Indian subcontinent and then, according to Jain sources, he renounced it all and became a Jain monk. Historical Jain texts claim Chandragupta followed Jainism by first renouncing his wealth and power, going away with Jain monk Acharya Bhadrabahu, and performing a ritual of peacefully welcoming death by fasting.[note 1] Chandragupta's life and accomplishments are described in ancient Hindu, Buddhist, and Greek texts, but the details vary significantly from those in the Jain texts.[7] Megasthenes served as a Greek ambassador in his court for four years.

According to various legends, Chandragupta, with the counsel of his Chief Minister Chanakya (also known as Kautilya), created a new empire, applied the principles of statecraft, built a large army and continued expanding the boundaries of his empire. Chandragupta expanded into the Indian satraps of the Greek Seleucus I Nicator and secured a marriage alliance. Chandragupta's empire almost spanned the Indian subcontinent, except the southernmost regions (now Tamil Nadu and Kerala) and Kalinga (now Odisha). After unifying much of India, Chandragupta and Chanakya passed a series of major economic and political reforms. Chandragupta established a strong central administration from Pataliputra (now Patna). Chandragupta's India had an efficient, highly organised structure. The empire built infrastructure such as irrigation, temples, mines and roads, leading to a strong economy. During Chandragupta's reign and that of his dynasty, many religions thrived in India, with Buddhism, Jainism and Ajivika gaining prominence along with the Brahmanism traditions.[8] A memorial to Chandragupta Maurya exists on Chandragiri hill in Shravanabelagola, Karnakata.

A modern statue depicting Chandragupta Maurya, Laxminarayan Temple, Delhi

Greek writer Phylarchus (c. 3rd century BCE), who is quoted by Athenaeus, calls Chandragupta "Sandrokoptos". The later Greco-Roman writers Strabo, Arrian, and Justin (c. 2nd century) call him "Sandrocottus".[9] In Greek and Latin accounts, Chandragupta is known as Sandrakottos (Greek: Σανδράκοττος) and Androcottus (Greek: Ανδροκόττος).[10][11]

The king's epithets mentioned in the Sanskrit play Mudrarakshasa include "Chanda-siri" (Chandra-shri), "Piadamsana" (Priya-darshana), and Vrishala.[9] Piadamsana is similar to Piyadasi, an epithet of his grandson Ashoka.[12] The word "Vrishala" is used in Indian epics and law books to refer to non-orthodox people. According to one theory, it may be derived from the Greek royal title Basileus, but there is no concrete evidence of this: the Indian sources apply it to several non-royals, especially wandering teachers and ascetics.[13]

Various sources provide different accounts of Chandragupta's ancestry and early life.[14] The Buddhist tradition recorded in Mahavamsa and other texts describes Chandragupta as of noble Kshatriya origin. He is described as a scion of the Moriya clan, which was a branch of the Shakya clan of Gautama Buddha.[15] The Moriyas were forced to leave their ancestral kingdom after an invasion by the Kosala king Vidudabha and settled in a region known for its peacocks. They came to be called "Moriyas" after the peacocks ("mora" in Pali language). The Maha-bodhi-vamsa names the Moriya capital as Moriya-nagara, and the Digha-Nikaya names the region as Pipphali-vana.[16] A variation of this legend, mentioned in the Burmese texts, attributes the foundation of Moriya-nagara to princes of Vaishali, who had escaped a massacre by Adzatathat (presumably Ajatashatru).[17]

According to the Jain tradition recorded in Parishishtaparvan, Chandragupta's mother was the daughter of a chief of a community known for rearing royal peacocks.[16] Justin states that Chandragupta was "born in humble life but was prompted to aspire to royalty by an omen".[18] In some Puranic texts, the Mauryas are described as mostly Shudras and unrighteous (shudra-prayastv-odharmikah).[19] The Markandeya Purana goes on to brand them Asuras. Such negative portrayals may be attributed to the Mauryan kings' inclination towards Buddhism and Jainism.[20] According to the Kashmiri tradition recorded in the texts Kathasaritsagara and Brihat-Katha-Manjari, Chandragupta was a son of Purva-Nanda.[15]

However, historian Mookerji opposes this theory, arguing that in the play, the term "Vrishala" is used as a slur only by Chandragupta's enemies; another passage in the play uses "Vrishala" to mean "the best of kings", and in several sentences in the play, it is used as a term of endearment by Chanakya. Mookerji also argues that the term "Kula-hina" is used in the play to mean that Chandragupta came from a humble" Kshatriya "background. Mookerji also points out that the Mudrarakshasa is a much later source, and therefore, should be considered as less reliable. For example, unlike the earlier sources (such as the Puranas), which brand the Nandas as of low-status birth, the Mudrarakshasa claims that the Nandas were "of illustrious lineage shudras".

Dhundiraja, an 18th-century commentator on the Mudrarakshasa, claims that Chandragupta was the son of Maurya, a prince. Maurya was the son of king Saravatha-siddhi by his junior queen Mura, who was the daughter of a "Vrishala". The nine Nanda kings were also sons of Saravatha-siddhi, but by his senior queen Sunanda, who was of Kshatriya origin.[21] Saravatha-siddhi chose Maurya over his Nanda sons to lead the kingdom's army, but the Nanda sons murdered Maurya and all his sons except Chandragupta, who managed to escape and became an enemy of the Nandas.[22]

None of the ancient texts mention when Chandragupta was born. Since Plutarch claims that he was a young man when he supposedly saw Alexander during the latter's invasion of India (c. 326-325 BCE), he must have been born after c. 350 BCE.[23] Historians Irfan Habib and Vivekanand Jha assign Chandragupta's reign to c. 322-298 BCE.[24]

According to the Greco-Roman texts, Chandragupta rose to power shortly after Alexander's invasion of India, and attacked Alexander's prefects shortly after the invader's death (c. 323 CE). These texts also mention that Seleucus I Nicator concluded a treaty with Chandragupta before the Battle of Ipsus (301 BCE).[25] The texts do not indicate the end of Chandragupta's reign, but Indian tradition assigns a reign of 24 years to Chandragupta.[26]

The Buddhist tradition dates Chandragupta's ascension to 162 years after the death of Gautama Buddha. The death of Buddha happened in 544 BCE according to the Sri Lankan tradition, and in 486 BCE according to the Cantonese tradition. Thus, according to the Buddhist tradition, Chandragupta ascended the throne in either 382 BCE or 324 BCE. Historical evidence does not support the date 382 BCE, but the 324 BCE date can be reconciled with the dates given in the near-contemporary Greco-Roman texts.[27]

According to 12th century texts by Jain authors, such as Hemachandra's Parishishtaparvan and Bhadreshvara's Kahavali, Chandragupta ascended the throne 155 years after the death of Mahavira. The 14th century Jain writer Merutunga, in his Vicharashreni, refers to other sources which state that the ascension took place 215 years after Mahavira's death. According to Merutunga's chronology, this date corresponds to 313 BCE. However, the date of Mahavira's death itself is a matter of debate, and the lack of unanimity among the Jain authors cast doubt on the veracity of Merutunga's dates. Moreover, this date is not reconcilable with the Buddhist tradition.[27]

According to the Sinhalese Buddhist tradition, Chandragupta's father - who was the chief of the Moriya clan - was killed in a battle, when his mother was pregnant. His mother escaped to the Puppha-pura (Pushpa-pura, literally "flower city") city escorted by her brothers. This city is identified with Pataliputra, which was also known as Kusuma-pura (also meaning "flower city"). For his safety, Chandragupta's maternal uncles moved him to a cow-pen, where he was brought up by a cowherd. When Chandragupta grew up, the cowherd sold him to a hunter, who employed him to tend cattle.[28][17]

According to Justin, Chandragupta ("Sandrocottus") offended the Nanda king ("Nandrum" or "Nandrus") by his disrespectful behaviour, because of which the king ordered him to be killed.[18] Chandragupta escaped, and became a rebel.[29] Some early printed editions of Justin's work wrongly mentioned "Alexandrum" instead of "Nandrum"; this error was corrected in philologist J. W. McCrindle's 1893 translation. In the 20th century, historians Hem Chandra Raychaudhuri and R. C. Majumdar believed "Alexandrum" to be correct reading, and theorized that Justin refers to a meeting between Chandragupta and Alexander the Great ("Alexandrum"). However, this is incorrect: research by historian Alfred von Gutschmid in the preceding century had clearly established that "Nandrum" is the correct reading supported by multiple manuscripts: only a single defective manuscript mentions "Alexandrum" in the margin.[30]

Justin mentions a couple of incidents involving Chandragupta and animals. In the first incident, when Chandragupta was asleep after having escaped from Nandrum, a big lion came up to him, gently woke him up by licking him, and then left. In the second incident, when Chandragupta was readying for war with Alexander's generals, a huge wild elephant came to him, became tame, and guided him in the war.[31] According to Raychaudhuri, these narratives suggests that Justin was aware of the Buddhist legends, which mention Chandragupta's association with a hunter.[17]

The ancient Indian sources suggest that Chandragupta's mentor Chanakya played an important role in overthrow of the Nanda dynasty.[24] According to the Buddhist tradition, Chanakya was a native of Taxila ("Takkasila"), and came to Pataliputra in pursuit of learning.[32] Dhana Nanda, the reigning Nanda king of Pataliputra, insulted him for his ugly physical appearance. Chanakya then swore to destroy the Nanda dynasty.[33] Subsequently, he happened to see Chandragupta, who would play king with other boys as his subordinates. As part of this game, Chandragupta would hold mock courts, where he would administer justice. Chanakya saw him at one of these mock courts, and impressed by his leadership qualities, bought him by paying his hunter foster-father 1,000 karshapanas (coins). He took Chandragupta to Taxila, which was renowned as a seat of learning, and gave the boy an all-round education for 8-9 years.[28]

The Mudrarakshasa also states that Chanakya swore to destroy the Nanda dynasty after he felt insulted by the king.[33] Greco-Roman writer Plutarch, in his Life of Alexander, states that Chandragupta ("Andracottus") met Alexander as a young man, and later declared that the Nanda king was so unpopular that Alexander could have easily conquered India.[29][34]

Chandragupta's guru was Chanakya, with whom he studied as a child and with whose counsel he built the Empire. This image is a 1915 artistic portrait of Chanakya.

Chandragupta Maurya was the founder of the Maurya Empire in ancient India.[2][35]

According to the Buddhist text Mahavamsa Tika, after the completion of Chandragupta's education at Taxila, he and Chanakya raised an army by recruiting soldiers from different places. Chanakya made Chandragupta the leader of this army.[36] The Jain text Parishishtaparvan states that this army was raised using the wealth obtained through metallurgy (dhatu-vada).[37] According to Justin, Chandragupta had an army of 6 lakh (600,000) soldiers.[38] He organized a body of armed men after escaping from Alexander. Some modern translations have characterized these men as robbers, but the original expression used by Justin may mean mercenary soldier, hunter, or robber.[39]

Chandragupta's army conquered the Nanda capital Pataliputra around 322 BCE.[18] Historically reliable details of Chandragupta's campaign into Pataliputra are unavailable and legends written centuries later are inconsistent. According to Buddhist texts such as Milindapanha, Magadha was ruled by the evil Nanda dynasty, which, with Chanakya's counsel, Chandragupta easily conquered to restore dhamma.[40][41] According to Hindu and Jain records, the campaign was bitterly fought because the Nanda dynasty had a well-trained, powerful army. Chandragupta and Chanakya built alliances and a formidable army of their own first.[42][41]

According to the Mahavamsa Tika, Chandragupta's army plundered villages in the frontier region, and then proceeded towards the Nanda capital, but was defeated. He realized his mistake when he overheard a woman scolding a kid for eating only the centre of the food, and leaving the edges. She told the kid that he was behaving like Chandragupta, who attempted to invade the capital before capturing the frontier regions. Realizing his mistake, Chandragupta began a new campaign at the frontier of the Nanda empire, gradually conquering various territories on his way to the Nanda capital. However, he committed the mistake of not consolidating his rule over the conquered territories, whose rulers would regain power and attack his army's rear.[43] He then refined his strategy by establishing garrisons in the conquered territories, and finally besieged the Nanda capital Pataliputra, where he killed king Dhana Nanda.[44]

According to a similar legend mentioned in the Parishishtaparvan, Chanakya and Chandragupta realized that they had been attacking the Nanda kingdom like a child who burns his finger in the middle of hot food, instead of eating it from edges. Chanakya then entered into an alliance with king Parvataka of Himavatkuta kingdom. The army of Chandragupta and Chanakya then gradually conquered the Nanda territories, and finally invaded the Nanda capital Pataliputra. The Nanda king was defeated, but allowed to leave Pataliputra alive along with his two wives and a daughter.[45] The daughter, however, fell in love Chandragupta, and married him.[16]

In Questions of Milinda, Bhaddasala is named as a Nanda general during the conquest.[46]

The conquest was fictionalised in Mudrarakshasa, in which Chandragupta is said to have first acquired Punjab and then allied with a local king named Parvatka under the advice of Chanakya, and advanced upon the Nanda Empire.[47] Chandragupta laid siege to Kusumapura (now Patna), the capital of Magadha, with the help of mercenaries from areas already conquered and by deploying guerrilla warfare methods.[46][48] Historian P. K. Bhattacharyya states that the empire was built by a gradual conquest of provinces after the initial consolidation of Magadha.[49]

With the end of the Nanda dynasty and possessing the resources of the Gangetic plains, Chandragupta used Chanakya's strategies.[50] To expand and consolidate an empire, Chandragupta may have allied with the King of Simhapura in Rajputana and King of Kalinga (modern-day Odisha).[51]

The Greeks led by Indian campaign of Alexander the Great had invaded north-western India during 327-325 BCE. Alexander left India in 325 BCE, leaving the control of his newly-conquered territories under Greek governors and local vassals.[52]

The Indian accounts make no mention of Chandragupta's enmity towards the Greeks ("Yavanas" or "Yonas" in Indian literature): they only mention the Nanda king as his primary rival. However, Justin mentions Chandragupta as a rival of the Alexander's successors in the north-western India.[24] Justin states that after Alexander's death, the Indians put his governors to death, and that Sandrocottus (identified with Chandragupta) was the leader who achieved India's freedom from the Greek rule.[18]

By 323-321 BCE, within a few years of Alexander's retreat, Chandragupta's army had defeated some of the Greek-ruled cities in the north-west subcontinent.[53] Chandragupta's mercenaries may have assassinated two of Alexander's governors, Nicanor and Philip.[54][18] He probably fought Alexander's satraps, including Eudemus – who left the territory in 317 BCE; and Peithon, who governed cities near the Indus River until he left for Babylon in 316 BCE.

Seleucus I Nicator, a Macedonian general of Alexander who in 312 BCE established the Seleucid Kingdom with its capital at Babylon, reconquered most of Alexander's former empire in Asia and put the eastern territories as far as Bactria and the Indus under his own authority [55][56] In 305 BCE he entered into conflict with Chandragupta[57] (in Greek Sandrocottus):

Always lying in wait for the neighboring nations, strong in arms and persuasive in council, he acquired Mesopotamia, Armenia, 'Seleucid' Cappadocia, Persis, Parthia, Bactria, Arabia, Tapuria, Sogdia, Arachosia, Hyrcania, and other adjacent peoples that had been subdued by Alexander, as far as the river Indus, so that the boundaries of his empire were the most extensive in Asia after that of Alexander. The whole region from Phrygia to the Indus was subject to Seleucus. He crossed the Indus and waged war with Sandrocottus [Maurya], king of the Indians, who dwelt on the banks of that stream, until they came to an understanding with each other and contracted a marriage relationship. Some of these exploits were performed before the death of Antigonus and some afterward.

According to R. C. Majumdar and D. D. Kosambi, Seleucus appears to have fared poorly, having ceded large territories west of the Indus to Chandragupta. The Maurya Empire added Arachosia (Kandahar), Gedrosia (Balochistan), and Paropamisadae ( Gandhara).[58][59][a]

According to Strabo, Chandragupta engaged in a marital alliance with Seleucus to formalise the peace treaty:[62]

The Indians occupy in part some of the countries situated along the Indus, which formerly belonged to the Persians: Alexander deprived the Ariani of them, and established there settlements of his own. But Seleucus Nicator gave them to Sandrocottus in consequence of a marriage contract (Epigamia, Greek: Ἐπιγαμία), and received in return five hundred elephants.

The details of the engagement treaty are not known.[64] The extensive sources available on Seleucus never mention an Indian princess so it is thought the marital alliance went the other way, with Chandragupta or his son Bindusara marrying a Seleucid princess in accordance with the contemporaneous Greek practice of forming dynastic alliances.[65] An Indian Puranic source, the Pratisarga Parva of the Bhavishya Purana, described the marriage of Chandragupta to a Greek ("Yavana") princess, daughter of Seleucus.[66] The source accurately describes early Mauryan genealogy:

Chandragupta married with a daughter of Suluva, the Yavana king of Pausasa.[67] Thus, he mixed the Buddhists and the Yavanas. He ruled for 60 years. From him, Vindusara was born and ruled for the same number of years as his father. His son was Ashoka.

In a return gesture, Chandragupta sent 500 war elephants, which played a key role in the victory of Seleucus at the Battle of Ipsus.[70][62][71][72] In addition to this treaty, Seleucus dispatched an ambassador Megasthenes to Chandragupta and later Antiochos sent Deimakos to his son Bindusara at the Maurya court at Patna.[73]

Greek rulers such as Seleucus I Nicator avoided war with him, entered into a marriage alliance instead, and retreated into Persia.[74] According to Greek sources, the two rulers maintained friendly relations and continued exchanging presents. Classical sources state that following their treaty, Chandragupta sent various aphrodisiacs to Seleucus:[65]

And Theophrastus says that some contrivances are of wondrous efficacy in such matters as to make people more amorous. And Phylarchus confirms him, by reference to some of the presents which Sandrakottus, the king of the Indians, sent to Seleucus; which were to act like charms in producing a wonderful degree of affection, while some, on the contrary, were to banish love. Athenaeus of Naucratis, "The deipnosophists" Book I, chapter 32 [75][65]

After annexing Seleucus' provinces west of the Indus river, Chandragupta had a vast empire extending across the northern Indian sub-continent from the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea. Chandragupta then began expanding his empire southwards beyond the barrier of the Vindhya Range and into the Deccan Plateau.[18] By the time his conquests were complete, Chandragupta's empire extended over most of the subcontinent.[76] A "Moriya" war in south is referred three times in the Tamil work Ahananuru and once in Purananuru. According to these texts, Moriya army chariots cut through rocks. It is unclear whether the texts refer to Chandragupta Maurya or the Moriyas in the Deccan region in the 5th century CE.[77]

Chandragupta's army was large, well trained and paid directly by the state as suggested by his counsellor Chanakya. It was estimated at hundreds of thousands of soldiers in Greek accounts.[78] For example, his army is mentioned to have 400,000 soldiers, according to Strabo, "Megasthenes was in the camp of Sandrocottus, which consisted of 400,000 men".[79] Pliny the Elder, who also drew from Megasthenes' work, reported numbers of 600,000 infantry, 30,000 cavalry, and 9,000 war elephants.[80] Mudrarakshasa mentions that Chandragupta's army consisted of Sakas, Yavanas (Greeks), Kiratas, Kambojas, Parasikas, and Bahlikas.[81] Plutarch and Pliny the Elder estimated that Chandragupta's army would later number 600,000 by the time it had subdued all of India,[49] Pliny and Plutarch also estimated the Nanda Army strength in the east as 200,000 infantry, 80,000 cavalry, 8,000 chariots, and 6,000 war elephants. These estimates were based in part on the earlier work of Megasthenes, the Seleucid ambassador to the Maurya.[82]

After gaining control over the former Nanda territories around 320 BCE, Chandragupta seems to have consolidated his rule over northern India in the subsequent years. However, there are no records of his military conquests during this period. In the north-west, his empire included parts of present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan, as Seleucus I Nicator had ceded to him all the territories east of present-day Kabul and Baluchistan.[83]

In the west, Chandragupta's rule over present-day Gujarat is attested to by the 2nd century Junagadh rock inscription of Rudradaman. The inscription states that the Sudarshana lake in the area was commissioned by Chandragupta's governor Vaishya Pushyagupta. The Mauryan control of the region is further corroborated by Ashoka's inscription on the same rock. This also suggests that Chandragupta controlled the Malwa region in Central India, which was located between Gujarat and his capital Pataliputra in Magadha.[84]

There is uncertainty about the other conquests that Chandragupta may have achieved, especially in the Deccan region of southern India.[84] At the time of his grandson Ashoka's ascension in c. 268 BCE, the empire extended up to present-day Karnataka in the south, so the southern conquests may be attributed to either Chandragupta or his son Bindusara. If the Jain tradition about Chandragupta ending his life as a renunciate in Karnakata is considered correct, it appears that Chandragupta initiated the southern conquest.[85]

Maurya built one of the largest-ever empires on the Indian subcontinent.[2][6][86]

After unifying much of India, Chandragupta and Chanakya passed a series of major economic and political reforms. Chandragupta established a strong central administration from Pataliputra (now Patna).[89] Chandragupta Maurya applied the statecraft and economic policies described in Chanakya's text Arthashastra.[86][90][91] There are varying accounts in the historic, legendary and hagiographic literature of various Indian religions about Chandragupta but Allchin and Erdosy, these claims are suspect. They add that the evidence is not limited to texts and includes those discovered at archeological sites, epigraphy in the centuries that followed, and the numismatic data. They wrote, "one cannot but be struck by the many close correspondences between the (Hindu) Arthashastra and the two other major sources the (Buddhist) Asokan inscriptions and (Greek) Megasthenes text".[92] The Maurya rule was a structured administration; Chandragupta had a council of ministers (amatya). Chanakya was his chief minister.[93][94] Megasthenes served as a Greek ambassador in his court for four years.[35] The empire was organised into territories (janapada), centres of regional power were protected with forts (durga), and state operations were funded with treasury (kosa).[95]

During Chandragupta's reign and that of his dynasty, many religions thrived in India, with Buddhism, Jainism and Ajivika gaining prominence along with the Brahmanism traditions.[8][96]

Silver punch mark coin of the Maurya empire, with symbols of wheel and elephant (3rd century BCE)

The empire built infrastructure such as irrigation, temples, mines and roads, leading to a strong economy.[97][98] Ancient epigraphical evidence suggests Chandragupta Maurya, under counsel from Chanakya, started and completed many irrigation reservoirs and networks across the Indian subcontinent to ensure food supplies for the civilian population and the army, a practice continued by his dynastic successors.[92] Regional prosperity in agriculture was one of the required duties of his state officials.[99] Rudradaman inscriptions found in Gujarat mention that 400 yers later, it repaired and enlarged the irrigation infrastructure built by Chandragupta and enhanced by Asoka.[100] Chandragupta's state also started mines, manufacturing centres, and networks for trading goods. His rule developed land routes for transporting goods across the Indian subcontinent. Disfavouring water transport, Chandragupta expanded "roads suitable for carts", preferring these over narrow tracks suitable for only pack animals.[101]

According to Kaushik Roy, the Maurya dynasty rulers beginning with Chandragupta were "great road builders".[98] The Greek ambassador Megasthenes credited this tradition to Chandragupta with the completion of a thousand-mile-long highway connecting Chandragupta's capital Pataliputra in Bihar to Taxila in the north-west where he studied. The other major strategic road infrastructure credited to this tradition spread from Pataliputra in various directions, connecting it with Nepal, Kapilavastu, Dehradun, Mirzapur, Odisha, Andhra, and Karnataka.[98] According to Roy, this network boosted trade and commerce, and helped move armies rapidly and efficiently.[98]

Chandragupta and Chanakya seeded weapon manufacturing centres, and kept them a state monopoly of the state. The state, however, encouraged competing private parties to operate mines and supply these centres.[107] They considered economic prosperity essential to the pursuit of dharma (morality), adopting a policy of avoiding war with diplomacy yet continuously preparing the army for war to defend its interests and other ideas in the Arthashastra.[108][109]

The evidence of arts and architecture during Chandragupta's time is mostly limited to texts such as those by Megasthenes and Kautilya's Arthashastra. The edict inscriptions and carvings on monumental pillars are attributed to his grandson Ashoka. The texts imply the existence of cities, public works, and prosperous architecture but the historicity of these is in question.[110]

Archeological discoveries in the modern age, such as Didarganj Yakshi discovered in 1917 buried beneath the banks of the River Ganges suggest exceptional artisanal accomplishment.[102][103] The site has been dated to the 3rd century BCE by many scholars[102][103] but later dates such as 2nd century BCE and the Kushan era (1st-4th century CE) have also been proposed. The competing theories state that the art linked to Chandragupta Maurya's dynasty was learnt from the Greeks and West Asia in the years Alexander the Great waged war; and that these artifacts belong to an older indigenous Indian tradition. According to Frederick Asher, "we cannot pretend to have definitive answers; and perhaps, as with most art, we must recognize that there is no single answer or explanation".[111]

According to a report by Megasthenes, which survives in Strabo's writings, Chandragupta used to accompanied by 40,000 people while in camp. Despite such a large crowd, the administration maintained good order, and thefts were rare.[84]

Justin suggests that Chandragupta was a strict ruler. According to Justin, Chandragupta came to power claiming to overthrow the preceding tyrannical rulers, but himself became an oppressive ruler.[84]

Chandragupta appears to have been greatly concerned about possible revolts. According to Strabo, whose source was probably Megasthenes, female slaves guarded Chandragupta, and the king frequently changed bedrooms to confuse conspirators. He left his palace only for certain tasks: to go on military expeditions, to visit his court for dispensing justice, to offer sacrifices, for celebrations, and for hunting. During celebrations, he was well-guarded, and on hunts, he was surrounded by women guards.[112]

Shravanabelagola relief created nearly 1,000 years after the death of Chandragupta. It depicts the Jain legend about his arrival with Bhadrabahu.

According to Jain accounts, a 12-year famine shook Chandragupta so much that he decided to retire as a Jain ascetic in present-day Karnataka.[112] These Jain accounts were written more than 1,200 years later, and appear in texts such as Brihakathā kośa (931 CE) of Harishena, Bhadrabāhu charita (1450 CE) of Ratnanandi, Munivaṃsa bhyudaya (1680 CE) and Rajavali kathe. According to the Jain tradition, Chandragupta renounced his throne in favour of his son, Bindusara, and followed Jain teacher Bhadrabahu to south India.[113][114][115] He is said to have lived as an ascetic at Shravanabelagola for several years before fasting to death as per the Jain practice of sallekhana.[116][117][118][119]

Along with texts, several Jain monumental inscriptions dating from the 7th–15th century refer to Bhadrabahu and Chandragupta together. The hill on which Chandragupta is stated to have performed asceticism is now known as Chandragiri hill; a temple named Chandragupta basadi is sited there.[120] While this evidence is very late and anachronistic, historian Mookerji believes that there is no evidence to disprove the idea that Chandragupta converted to Jainism in his later life. Mookerji quotes Vincent Smith and concludes that Chandragupta's conversion to Jainism provides adequate explanation of abdication and sudden exit at a relatively young age and at the height of his power.[116][121] According to historians Irfan Habib and Vivekanand Jha, the Jain narrative is a "possible, though implausible" story.[112]

According to the Jain legends, Chandragupta's minister Chanakya was also a Jain.[112] The Hindu texts acknowledge the close relationship between the Jain community in Pataliputra and the royal court, and that Chanakya – the champion of Brahmanism – employed Jains as his emissaries. This also indirectly confirms the possible influence of Jain thought on Chandragupta.[122] Chandragupta's abdication of throne can be dated to c. 298 BCE, and his death to c. 297 BCE.[46]

A memorial to Chandragupta Maurya exists on Chandragiri hill in Shravanabelagola, Karnakata.[123] The Indian Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp honouring Chandragupta Maurya in 2001.[124]