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Swarajya to Empire (Maratha Period)
- Swarajya to Empire - Contribution of Sants
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Nanda and Mauryan Empire Nanda Dynasty:
The Nanda dynasty is mentioned in the Puranas. The Magdhan empire established by Ajatashatru was further expanded by Mahapadma Nanda. According to some scholars, the Nanda rule had spread up to Nanded in the South, whereas some scholars think that it was extended up to Mysore. On this basis, it can be said that Mahapadma Nanda was the first great emperor of India. Dhana Nanda was the last ruler of the Nanda dynasty. During his period, the state treasury was enormously rich. His military was also very huge. It consisted of 2,00,000 infantry, 60,000 cavalry, 6000 elephants and 2000 chariots. During the period of Nandas, another factor that helped in strengthening the central power was the importance given to enhance the revenue collection.
Along with the expansion of the empire came the economic prosperity of the State. The state treasury was always full. The Nandas built canals and made an arrangement of irrigation facilities. These facilities led to the development of agriculture and trade. In 321 B.C.E. Chandragupta Maurya attacked Pataliputra and brought an end to the Nanda rule. After implementing Chanakya’s sound strategy, Chandragupta marched against the Nanda ruler for the second time, overthrew and killed Dhanananda, the last ruler of the Nanda dynasty. Chandragupta ascended to the throne of Magadha and founded the Mauryan Empire, with Chanakya as his Prime Minister.
Mauryan Empire was the first well organised and strongly controlled empire in the history of India. Religious texts and other literature, inscriptions, coins, sculptures, etc. are the sources that help us to clearly understand the political, social, economic, and religious conditions of this period. The Mauryan empire had spread on a large region of the Indian subcontinent and was controlled by a central power. The Mauryan rule brought about the consolidation of the political system. Chandragupta Maurya defeated the Nandas and established the Mauryan dynasty.
The Brahmanical commentaries on the Puranas state that Chandragupta was born near Patna from Mura, a Shudra maidservant of the Nandas. In Mudrarakshas, he is referred to as Vrishala and Kulahina (lowborn) as well as Swamiputra (son of Master). Vishnu Purana and Justin describe him as a ‘man of humble origin’. Buddhist sources like Deepavamsha and Mahavamsha state that Chandragupta’s father was a Kshatriya and the head of the Moriya branch of the Sakya tribe of the republic of Pipphalivana. The Jain traditions represent him as a son of the headman’s daughter of a village, which was inhabited by Mayuraposhaka (peacock tamers). The medieval epigraphs describe the Mauryas as Kshatriyas of the solar race (Suryavanshi).
Chanakya (Kautilya) had been to Pataliputra to seek the help of Dhanananda in turning the Greeks out of the country. But instead, he was humiliated by the King, which led to Chanakya swearing an oath to depose him. While passing through the village of Chandragupta, Chanakya witnessed Chandragupta. Chanakya took Chandragupta to Taxila (Takshashila), where he initiated him to the strict academic discipline and gave him rigorous training for nearly 8 years in statesmanship, military science, with the intention of enabling him to lead the war of liberation against the Greeks and the deposition of Dhanananda from the throne of Magadha. With the help of his composite army, Chandragupta fought against the Greeks and defeated the Governors like Philip, Eudemus, and Peithon. By defeating the governors and driving them out of India, Chandragupta liberated North-western India from foreign rule.
The Mauryas created a huge empire by conquering the big and small states in the northwest, north, and southern regions. The war between Chandragupta and the Greek king Seleucus was very important. As a consequence, the boundaries of the Mauryan Empire extended to the Hindukush in the northwest. The Mauryan Empire extended from Hindukush to the Bay of Bengal in the east and Gujarat in the west, as well as the Himalayas in the north to the Krishna river in the south. Seleucus Necator, a Macedonian general of Alexander, established the Seleucid kingdom with its capital at Babylon in 312 BCE.
He turned his attention towards India when he crossed over the Indus and attacked the regions in 305 BCE, but this time, Chandragupta Maurya handed Seleucus a severe defeat. Seleucus was compelled to sign a peace treaty by which he agreed to surrender a large portion of his territory including Paropanisadai (Kabul), Aria (Herat), Arachosia (Kandahar), and Gedrosia (Baluchistan) as well as his daughter’s hand (Helena) in marriage in return of 500 elephants. Seleucus sent Megasthenes as his envoy to the Mauryan court, who wrote a detailed account of India titled Indica, which although was lost in its original form was referred to and quoted extensively by many Greek and Roman scholars.
Chandragupta Maurya died around 298 B.C.E. His son Bindusara became the king. During his tenure, he sent his son Ashoka to subdue the revolt in Taxila. During the period of Bindusara, the empire established by Chandragupta Maurya remained intact. Bindusara died in 273 B.C.E.
Choose the correct alternative and complete the sentence.
The Nanda dynasty was established by ______.