Chandragupta, at the young age of 25, dethroned the last Nanda ruler
(Dhanananda) and occupied Pataliputra in 321 BC with the help of Kautilya,
also known as Chanakya or Vishnugupta. Once the Ganges valley was under
his control, Chandragupta moved to the north-west. The areas of the north-
west fell to him rapidly until he reached the Indus. There he stopped, and
moving back to central India he occupied the region north of the Narmada
river by 312 BC. But, 305 BC saw him moving to the north-west again, in the
campaign against Seleucus Nikator (Alexander’s general who gained control
of most Asiatic provinces of the Macedonian empire), with the treaty of 303
BC concluding the war in favour of the Mauryas. By the treaty, Chandragupta
(known as ‘Sandrocottus’ to the Greeks) made a gift of 500 elephants to
Seleucus and obtained the trans-Indus region (the territory across the Indus).
The two also entered into a marriage alliance, though it is not very clear as to
who married whose daughter. Seleucus’s ambassador, Megasthenes, lived at
Pataliputra for many years and travelled in India, finally leaving an excellent
account of contemporary India.
    According to the Jaina tradition (Parisistaparvan), Chandragupta
embraced Jainism towards the end of his life and stepped down from the
throne in favour of his son, Bindusara. Accompanied by Bhadrabahu and
several other Jaina monks, he is said to have gone to Sravana Belgola near
Mysore, where he deliberately starved himself to death in the approved Jaina
fashion (sallekhana).
Bindusara (297–272 BC)
Bindusara, known to the Greeks as ‘Amitrochates’ (derived from the Sanskrit
word ‘Amitraghata’ or slayer of foes), is said to have carried his arms to the
Deccan, extending Mauryan control in the peninsular region of India as far
south as Mysore.
    According to Taranatha, the Tibetan Buddhist monk who visited India in
the 16th century, Bindusara conquered 16 states, comprising ‘the land
between the two seas, presumably the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal.
Early Tamil texts also mention the Mauryan invasion of the far south (Tamil
Nadu and Kerala). But, on this basis it is unjustified to assume that Bindusara
was able to annex the southernmost part of India to the Mauryan empire. But,
we are fully justified in saying  that the Mauryan empire under Bindusara