The great ruler Chandragupta Maurya, who founded Maurya Dynasty was indisputably the first king of India, as he not only won almost all the fragmented kingdoms in ancient India but also combined them into a large empire, boundaries of which were even extended to Afghanistan and towards the edge of Persia.
Chandragupta Maurya was born around 340BC in Patliputra in Magadh, the region which is currently known as Bihar. He was only 20 years old when he founded the Maurya Dynasty in Magadh with the help of great economist, scholar, philosopher, and a learned Brahmin Chanakya.
In fact, it was Chanakya who discovered Chandragupta Maurya in Vinjha Forest. Chanakya wanted to take revenge from Dhana Nand, the King of the then ruling Nanda Dynasty of Magadh. Chanakya was in the search of a young warrior who could help him eliminate the Nanda Empire as the King Dhana Nand had once insulted him badly due to his ugly looks. On his orders, the soldiers of Dhana Nand had even forcefully thrown Chanakya out of his assembly.
To fulfill his aim, Chanakya mentored and trained Chandragupta Maurya in different war skills. Simultaneously he also taught him humanities, crafts and all the political lessons required for becoming a powerful ruler. Later in the year 322 BC, Chandragupta Maurya successfully raised a strong army with the help of Chanakya and eliminated the empire of Dhana Nand and established the Maurya Dynasty in Magadh.
Chandragupta Maurya ruled till 298 BC and during his regime, he transformed the Maurya Dynasty into a large empire by winning almost all the kingdoms ruling across the country and bringing them together under its wide umbrella. Further, he started his annexation drive and expanded the boundaries of the Maurya Empire to encompass Bengal, Assam, Kashmir, Deccan Plateau in South India to faraway Afghanistan, Baluchistan till the edge of eastern Persia. We can classify the life and major achievements of the great emperor Chandragupta Maurya as following:
Conquest of Nanda Dynasty
Born with natural leadership talent, the courageous Chandragupta Maurya had a unique alluring personality which caught the attention of Chanakya, the kingmaker. Together they raised a huge army and attacked the Nanda Empire and eliminated it successfully. It is said that in his first attempt Chandragupta Maurya remained unsuccessful; however, in the second attempt, he successfully captured Patliputra, the capital of Nanda Empire in Magadh and established the Maurya Dynasty.
Liberation from Greek rule
Soon after conquering Magadh, he sensed a hidden protest of the people against the Greek rule in the north-west, where currently the Punjab and Sindh are located. Chandragupta took advantage of the emerging discontents and waged war against the Greek Satraps, ruling in those areas after the death of Alexander. The growing conflicts among the Greek generals also helped him in assuring victory and he became successful in capturing the entire north-west region and established his rule over there.
The annexation of Afghanistan and Indus Valley State
After winning the north-west frontiers with the help of a huge army he moved towards the Indus Valley states known currently as Afghanistan, Eastern Persia, etc. The entire Indus Valley region along with eastern Persia was under the control of Greek Satrap Seleucus Nicator. Seleucus initially fought a fierce battle with the Mauryan army; however, he was defeated soon. To establish peace in the region, Seleucus signed a treaty with the Maurya Empire and also married his daughter with Chandragupta Maurya. In this way finally, the entire Indus Valley states came under the rule of the Maurya Dynasty.
Recognition as King of India
Concurrently with Afghanistan annexation, he captured the Hindu Kush region, Iran as well as parts of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Back home, he extended his empire further by concurring with Saurashtra, Kathiawar in western India. Simultaneously he established his rule in Deccan Plateau as well in South India. Chandragupta even captured Avanti and its capital Ujjain as well as the Konkan region in Maharashtra of west India, thus he established a vast empire. To effectively control his dynasty he provided central administration from his capital Patliputra and eventually earned recognition as King of India.
With his control over a vast empire of different states, Chandragupta Maurya in a way gave political unity to the entire Indian subcontinent which resulted in a long era of peace and prosperity. He established a strong administration that was governed according to the guidance provided by the council of ministers lead by Chanakya. The extensive empire under Mauryan rule was divided into several provinces, the administration of which was the responsibility of the local governors, or the royal princes, just like Viceroys.
Chandragupta Maurya administration had also designated various departments to look after important matters concerning his government. Every department had elaborate functions and duties to perform. In his dynasty, there was a separate department for construction that contributed extensively to infrastructure development and building trade routes.
There are several pieces of evidence that also suggest the construction of irrigation reservoirs and the creation of food supply network Chandragupta Maurya administration for the civilian population as well as Mauryan Army. In all, his administration had sufficient arrangements that helped him develop a large number of centers for producing different goods and moreover, the Mauryans had even started mining in this era.
Functional Judicial System
The establishment of a functional judicial administration was another landmark achievement of Chandragupta Maurya. As a great ruler, he made the administration of justice in his empire through a judicial system in which the King was the highest authority to appeal. The judicial system also had provisions for severe punishments and so a peaceful rule of the law got successfully established in the Maurya Dynasty during his rule. In every village, he created smaller courts with a strong dispute redressal mechanism.
Just like the elected head of a village in India today called Sarpanch, there were designated headmen who had to look after the disputes and provide immediate solutions in villages. If we refer to the famous book ‘Arthsastra’ written by Chanakya, there were a total of twenty-six departments under the administration of different ministers of Chandragupta Maurya. These included Kosta, Mudra, Ganika, Hasti, and Suvarna to name a few among others. In a nutshell, the Indian subcontinent witnessed all-round development, strong administration and the rule of law during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya.
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
Who was the first Muslim King of India?
Ans: The first ruler of Delhi Sultanate, Qutobudding Aibek, who established the Ghulam Dynasty (Slave Dynasty) which is also known as the Mamluk Dynasty was the first Muslim King of India.
Who was the first Hindu King of India?
Ans: Chandragupta Maurya, who established the Maurya Dynasty and ruled almost the entire India, was the first Hindu King of India. However, if epics are to be believed, according to Mahabharata, the ancient Sanskrit epic, Bharat, the son of King Dushyant and Shakuntala was the first Hindu King of India.
Who was the first king/ruler of Ancient India?
Ans: Chandragupta Maurya was the first king/ruler of Ancient India.
Who was the first king of ancient India to open veterinary hospital?
Ans: Emperor Ashoka was the first king of Ancient India who erected the first veterinary hospital.
Who were the first king and queen of India?
Ans: Chandragupta Maurya and his wife Durdhara were the first king and queen of India.
Who was the first Brahmin king of India?
Ans: Pushyabhuti Shung who established Shung Dynasty was the first Brahmin King of India.
Who was the first British ruler of India?
Ans: Queen Victoria was the first British ruler of India.
Who was considered to be the first ruler of India?
Ans: Chandragupta Maurya was the first ruler of India.
Who was the first ruler of imperial India during the classical period?
Ans: Chandragupta Maurya.
Who was the first native ruler of India to accept the subsidiary alliance?
Ans: The Nizam of Hyderabad was the first native ruler of India to accept the subsidiary alliance in the year 1798AD.
Who was the first national ruler of India?
Ans: Chandragupta Maurya.
Who was the first ruler to unify India?
Ans: Chandragupta Maurya was the first ruler who unified India.
Who was the very first king of India?
Ans: Chandragupta Maurya was the very first king of India.
Who was the first woman ruler of India?
Ans: Razia Sultan who belongs to the Slave Dynasty of Delhi Sultanate was the first woman ruler of India.