The Mauryan empire was the first Indian empire
Site of Mauryan Palace
Chandragupta occupies a unique position in the history of ancient India
Chandragupta Ist AD 320 – 335 was the first important ruler of the Gupta dynasty. He strengthened his position by matrimonial alliance. He married Kumaradevi, the Lichchavi princess. Gold coins of Chandragupta Ist show the image of Kumaradevi on them.
The empire of Chandragupta Ist included the territory from Magadha to Allahabad. Chandragupta Ist also started the Gupta Era from AD 320 to commemorate his coronation. He took the title of Maharajadhiraj or king of kings. He was succeeded by his son, Samudragupta AD 335 – 375.
They ruled the kingdom of Magadha. Chandragupta Maurya, Bindusara and Ashoka are the prominent kings of this dynasty. The dynasty was established by Chandragupta Maurya. The Greek ambassador Megasthenes recorded the fame of Chandragupta in Indica' and immortalized him. The contents of Indica' are not known to us for this work has been lost. But certain description experts have been found in the works of some Greek writers. Chanakya was Chandragupta minister. He became widely known as Kautilya. His ideas are described in the work `Arthashastra'.
The manuscript of Arthashastra written by Kautilya. The Arthashastra is not only merely economics as understood by the western world. Arthashastra contains topics like principles of administration of a kingdom, the responsibilities of a king and his minister, foreign policy, financial management, etc. Stress is laid on the spy network and military system. Even after thousands of years, Kautilya's Arthashastra has been attracting scholars by its uniqueness.
Samudragupta was a great military general. It was under the rule of Samudragupta that the Gupta power expanded to a great extent. Details of his conquest are known from the Allahabad pillar inscriptions, called the Allahabad Prashasti. This was written by Harisena, the court poet of Samudragupta.
Chandragupta IInd was succeeded by his son Kumaragupta. Kumargupta was able to maintain control over all the territories conquered by the Guptas. There was peace in his empire.
After Chandragupta's campaigns in Punjab and Sindh, the river Indus had formed the boundary between the Mauryan and Greek empires. In about 303 BC., Seleucus, the Greek ruler of Syria, crossed the river Indus to reconquer the provinces which the Greeks had lost to Chandragupta. Chandragupta defeated Seleucus and forced him to surrender four of the eastern provinces of his empire, namely, Heart, Kandahar, Kabul valley and Balochistan. In return Chandragupta gave him a gift of five hundred war elephants. With the acquisition of those territories, the Hindu Kush mountains became the new boundary of the Mauryan empire in the north – west. The discovery of Ashoka's inscription in Kandahar shows that those provinces remained a part of the Mauryan empire for at least three generations.
An ambassador of Seleucus, named Megasthenes, made a number of visits to the Mauryan Court. He wrote a book about his impressions of India which is known as the `Indika'.
Chandragupta occupies a unique position in the history of ancient India. He liberated India from foreign (Greek) rule and checked their subsequent attempt at reconquest of the country. India remained safe from foreign invasions. He extended the political frontiers of India to the borders of Iran and created the largest empire so far known in India history. He realized the ideal od political unity in the country.
Chandragupta Maurya was succeeded by his son Bindusara. Bindusara maintained diplomatic relations with the Greek kings. The fact that foreign powers sent embassies to his court shows clearly that he worthy upheld the prestige of the Mauryan Empire. After his death in 273 BC, one of his son, Ashoka, usurped the throne.
Ashoka is a famous king of this dynasty. Five important city centers can be identified during this period. They were the capital of the Mauryas, Pataliputra, Taxila, Ujjain, Kalinga and Suvarnagiri.
An important dynasty after the Mauryas is that of the Kushans.