Season 01 | Episode 06

Ascent of an empire

9 August 2020 / 10 mins 03 secs

Show summary

Topic: History of India - Ancient India.

Timeline: 345 BCE - 322 BCE

In this episode of Namaskar India, we will meet the heroes who laid the foundation of the first empire in the Indian subcontinent. They not only were courageous but also very smart and analyzed the chaotic situation around them very well and made the right moves at the right time.

Vishnugupta Chanakya, on his part, had decided to take the leading role in rebuilding and reshaping the Indian polity. Being a student and later teacher at Taxila, Kautilya became witness to the political turmoil created in north-western India because of the Macedonian invasion by Alexander the great. This caused him to think in terms of establishing a centralized pan-Indian empire that could keep invaders at bay and restore order. Magadha was the only territorial entity that could provide order among the chaos. It had a virtually unrivalled military standing, crucial for the existence of the kind of empire that Kautilya wanted. His proposal for the same was met by scorn and insults from Dhanananda, which was followed by Kautilya’s determination to remove the incumbent king. He thus decided to replace Dhanananda with a better and more capable candidate and the chosen one was Chandragupta Maurya. Chandragupta’s own calibre was thus honed in terms of war, diplomacy and covert operations.

Using the post-Macedonian invasion area of north-west India as an ideal base because of its chaotic conditions and lack of political and military opposition, Chandragupta deployed his men, challenged the waning Greco-Macedonian authority and scored victories over the local kingdoms or whatever was left of them. He then gained control over central India and finally advanced towards the Magadha heartland.

Realizing that a conflict with Magadha would necessarily entail much more than a mighty army, Kautilya went for the war-by-other-means strategy. There were lots of intrigues, counter-intrigues, plotting and counter-plotting which he resorted to in order to break the strength of Dhanananda by weaning away his key allies, loyalists and supporters. Ultimately, by employing both military and non-military means, Chandragupta managed to secure the throne at Pataliputra.