Chandragupta Maurya (reign: 321–298 BCE) was the founder of the Maurya Empire in ancient India.Chandragupta’s ancestry, birth year and family as well as early life are unclear.After his birth, he was orphaned and abandoned, raised as a son by a cowherding pastoral family, then, according to Buddhist texts, was picked up, taught and counselled by Chanakya.The Buddhist literature, which places the Mauryas in the same royal dynasty as the Buddha, states that Chandragupta, though born near Patna (Bihar) in Magadha, was taken by Chanakya for his training and education to Taxila, a town in what is now northern Pakistan. There he studied for eight years.According to the Buddhist text Mahavamsa tika, Chandragupta and his guru Chanakya began recruiting an army after he completed his studies at Taxila (now in Pakistan). The future emperor and his teacher chose to build alliances with local rulers and a small mercenary army of their own.

By 323 BCE, within a year of Alexander’s retreat, this newly formed group had defeated some of the Greek-ruled cities in the northwest subcontinent.Each victory led to an expanded army and territory. Chanakya provided the strategy, Chandragupta the execution, and together they began expanding eastward towards Magadha (Gangetic plains).Chandragupta laid siege to Kusumapura (or Pataliputra, now Patna), the capital of Magadha, with the help of mercenaries from areas already conquered and by deploying guerrilla warfare methods.King Dhana Nanda ruler of Magadha had an army of 200,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalry, 2,000 war chariots and 3,000 war elephants.The exact circumstances surrounding the death of Dhana Nanda are unclear. Some accounts suggest that Dhanananda was killed by Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Mauryan Empire, after the latter captured Pataliputra, the capital of Nandas. Other accounts however suggest that after Pataliputra was stealthily captured by Chanakya, Dhana Nanda was sent into exile and was never heard of again. According to the Jain work Parishishtaparvan, Chandragupta Maurya allowed him to leave Pataliputra along with his two wives, after granting his daughter Durdhara permission to marry Chandragupta.

After Alexander’s death in 323 BCE, Chandragupta and his Brahmin counsellor and chief minister Chanakya began their empire building in the north-western Indian subcontinent (modern-day Pakistan) .Alexander had left satrapies (described as “prefects” in classical Western sources) in place in 324 BCE. Chandragupta’s mercernaries may have assassinated two of his governors, Nicanor and Philip.The satrapies he fought probably included Eudemus, who left the territory in 317 BCE; and Peithon, governing cities near the Indus River until he too left for Babylon in 316 BCE. The Roman historian Justin, about 500 years later, described how “wild lions and elephants” instinctively revered him, and how he conquered the north-west.

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 under his own authority the eastern territories as far as Bactria and the Indus .Seleucus began a campaign against Chandragupta and crossed the Indus.Seleucus’ Indian campaign was, however, a failure. It is unknown what exactly happened. Perhaps Chandragupta defeated Seleucus in battle. No sources mention this, however. But as most western historians note, Seleucus appears to have fared poorly as he did not achieve his aims. The two leaders ultimately reached an agreement, and through a treaty sealed in 305 BC,Seleucus ceded a considerable amount of territory to Chandragupta in exchange for 500 war elephants, which were to play a key role in the forthcoming battles, particularly at Ipsus.The victorious Maurya king probably married the daughter of his Greek rival. The Maurya Empire added Arachosia (modern Kandahar), Gedrosia (modern Balochistan), Paropamisadae (or Gandhara).After annexing Seleucus’ provinces west of the Indus river, Chandragupta had a vast empire extending across the northern parts of the Indian Sub-continent, from the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea. Chandragupta then began expanding his empire further south beyond the barrier of the Vindhya Range and into the Deccan Plateau .