After conquering the mighty and huge Achaemenid Empire, Alexander the Great marched towards the north western region of the Indian subcontinent. He began his campaign in 327 B.C. by invading the valley in Kabul. Though Alexander won battles in the start, his Indian campaign towards the end was a failure.
His battle against the Indian King Porus was his last major victory. Post this episode, his army refused to go further east, putting an end to the Macedonian king’s dreams of conquering the whole known world.
While, Alexander’s campaign turned out to be a failure in India, it did make a significant impact on the Indian subcontinent and its people. Nevertheless, one of the major impact was the emergence of an all new Indian Empire – the Mauryan Empire, which eventually unified almost the whole of India.
The founder of the Mauryan Empire was Chandragupta Maurya whose ancestry is quite controversial. While, some state that he belonged to the Kshatriya caste, some claim that he was a son of a king from a Shudra mother.
Regardless of all the accounts from various texts, it is quite clear that Chandragupta Maurya had a humble background as his early life has not been recorded by the contemporary writers.
It is said that the young Chandra displayed several qualities of a natural leader. His charisma and courage caught the attention of Chanakya, the Brahmin scholar, who went on to become his mentor. The ‘Indian Machiavelli’ began the training of the young Chandragupt so that he could defeat the Nanda Empire along with the foreign invaders. He trained him to become a great king.
With the help of Chankaya, Chandragupta managed to raise a full fledged army to wage a war against the huge Nanda Empire. Although his army was initially defeated by the Nandas, he did not cease to give up. Instead, he continued fighting them. By 321 B.C., Chandragupta Maurya captured Pataliputra, the capital of the Nanda Empire. This is how the Mauryan Empire was established.
2 years later in 323 B.C. the news of the death of Alexander the Great spread like wildfire. This gave birth to the division of Alexander’s empire. The empire was made into satrapies which meant that the empire was no longer a unified entity. This gave Chandragupta Maurya another opportunity to extend his empire.
By 316 B.C., Chandragupta was able to defeat and seize all the Greek satrapies in the mountains of Central Asia. This is the reason why the western border of the Mauryan Empire was extended to the corners of modern day Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Iran.
Next, in the year 305 B.C., Chandragupta thought of expanding his empire into eastern Persia (the present day Iran) This area consist of the Seleucid Empire. It was ruled by its founder, Seleucus I Nicator, at that time. Nicator was a formidable general of Alexander. The battle between them led to a peace treaty between Chandragupta and Seleucus.
Next, Seleucus left the areas in eastern Persia which were conquered by Chandragupta. Besides, one of Seleucus’ daughter Helena was also married to the Mauryan emperor. In return, Chandragupta gave him some 500 war elephants.
This is how Chandragupta Maurya conquered the whole of India and unified it. This is the reason why he is often remembered as the Samrat who unified India.