Chandragupta Maurya succeeded to the Nanda throne in 321 B.C. He was then a young man of about 25 and was the protégé of Brahmin Kautilya, who was his guide and mentor both in acquiring the throne and in keeping it. The acquisition of Magadha was the first step in establishing the new dynasty. Chandragupta belonged to the Moriya tribe, but his caste was low. Young Maurya and his supporters were inferior in armed strength to the Nandas. And it was here that Kautilya strategy came in useful.
They began by harassing the outlying areas of the Nanda kingdom, gradually moving towards the center: this strategy being based, on the morale drawn from the fact that the Kautilya saw a woman scolding her child for eating from the center of the dish, since the center was bound to be much hotter than the sides. Once the Ganges valley was under his control, on Kautilya's advice Chandragupta moved to the north-west to exploit the power vacuum created by Alexander's departure. The areas of the north-west fell to him rapidly until he reached the Indus. Here he paused for the moment, as the Greek Seleucid dynasty had fortified itself in Persia and was determined to hold the trans Indus region.
Chandragupta moved to Central India for a while and occupied the region north of the Narmada river. But 305 B.C. saw him back in the north-west involved in a campaign against Seleucus Nikator, which Chandragupta finally won in 303 B.C. The Seleucid provinces of trans Indus, which today would cover large parts of Afghanistan were ceded to the Mauryas. The territorial foundation of the Mauryan empire had been laid, with Chandragupta controlling the Indus and the Ganges plain and the far north-west - a formidable empire by Indian standards.
Despite the campaign against Seleucids, there was considerable contact of a friendly nature between the two civilizations. Sandrocottos (Chandragupta) is frequently referred to in the Greek accounts. The treaty of 303 B.C. also included a marriage between Seleucus's daughter Helen with Chandragupta Maurya. Seleucus's ambassador Megasthenes accompanied Chandragupta to his court and gives a interesting and informative account about him and Kautilya.
Towards the end of his life, Chandragupta is supposed to have converted to Jainism and that he abdicated in favour of his son, Bindusara and became an ascetic. Together with one of the Jain saints and many other monks, he went to south India, and there he ended his life by deliberate slow starvation in the orthodox Jain manner.
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