Ancestry of Chandragupta Maurya

Ancestry of Chandragupta Maurya

The identification of Chandragupta Maurya with Sandrokottas

For two centuries historians have been trying to establish the chronology of early India. The question of whether Chandragupta can be identified with the figure known in Western texts as Sandrokottas is an important element in fixing the chronology. The philologist William Jones began the systematic study of the chronology in the late 18th century. His work and that of his contemporaries are still highly regarded. [ [ Hindu Books Universe - Content ] ] However, even William Jones could not believe in the antiquity of the Bharata War since he followed the view held by all Christians at the time that the world was created in 4004 BC. The indologists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were reluctant to believe in the veracity of Indian history books or to accept the antiquity of Indian history. Arthur A. McDonnell wrote,

Early India wrote no history because it never made any. The ancient Indians never went through a struggle for life like the Greeks, the Persians and the Romans. Secondly, the Brahmanas early embraced the doctrine that all action and existence are a positive evil and could therefore have felt but little inclination to chronicle historical events.

Later scholars took this identity of Sandrokottas with Chandragupta Maurya as proven and carried on further research. James Princep, an employee of the East India Company, deciphered the Brahmi script and was able to read the inscriptions of Piyadassana. Turnour, another employee of the Company in Ceylon, found in the Ceylonese chronicles that Piyadassana was used as a surname of Asoka, the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya. The inscription bearing the name of Asoka was not found till the time of Turnour. In 1838, Princep found five names of the Yona kings in Asoka's inscriptions and identified them as the five Greek kings near Greece of the third century BC who were contemporary with Asoka.For two centuries historians have been trying to establish the chronology of early India. The question of whether Chandragupta can be identified with the figure known in Western texts as Sandrokottas is an important element in fixing the chronology

Reasons for Sandracottus to be Chandragupta Gupta

*"The Greek records mention the kings before and after Sandracottus to be Xandramas and SandrocyptusFact|date=February 2007. The kings before and after Chandragupta Maurya were: Mahapadma Nanda and Bindusar. The kings before and after Chandragupta Gupta were: Chandramas and Samudragupta. The phonetic similarity is quite apparent for Chandragupta Gupta and not Maurya."On the contrary, Strabo properly identifies both Sandragupta and his son Bindusara "Amitragata" (Slayer of Enemies), and connects them to the 3rd century ambassadors Megasthenes and Deimakos sent to their courts::"Both of these men were sent ambassadors to Palimbothra (Pataliputra): Megasthenes to Sandrocottus ("Chnadragupta"), Deimakos to Allitrochades ("Amitragata") his son" (Strabo II, I, 9). [ [ Strabo II,I, 9] ] :I don't find this mentioned in the reference given above. Also Plutarch directly connects Chandragupta to Alexander himself::"Androcottus, when he was a stripling, saw Alexander himself, and we are told that he often said in later times that Alexander narrowly missed making himself master of the country, since its king was hated and despised on account of his baseness and low birth." Plutarch 62-3. [ [ Plutarch 62-3] ]

*"Greek records are silent about important figures like: Chanakya, Ashoka (kingdom much bigger than his Grandfather Chandragupta's.)"
*"Greek records do not clearly mention the presence Buddhist monks who were very common in Maurya time".There are actually many Greek accounts of sramanas which are thought to correspond to them."Well the above points says that there wasn't much mention of sramana's in India during Alexander period. Of course by then Buddhism had spread to Greece and several other places and the mention of sramana in other context doesn't disprove the above point."
*"Inscription on a Greek Tomb: "Here lies Indian Sramanacharya, Shakya monk from Bodh Gaya". Sramanacharya went to Greece with his Greek pupils. The tomb marks his death about 1000 B.C. Which means Buddha existed before 1000 BC."Fact|date=February 2007The exact circumstances of this event are connected to 10 CE instead. Nicolaus of Damascus is famous for his account of an embassy sent by an Indian king "named Pandion (Pandyan kingdom?) or, according to others, Porus" to Caesar Augustus around 13 CE. He met with the embassy at Antioch. The embassy was bearing a diplomatic letter in Greek, and one of its members was a "Sarmano" (Σαρμανο) who burnt himself alive in Athens to demonstrate his faith. The event made a sensation and was quoted by Straboref|Strabo and Dio Cassius.ref|Dio_Cassius A tomb was made to the "Sarmano", still visible in the time of Plutarch, which bore the mention "ΖΑΡΜΑΝΟΧΗΓΑΣ ΙΝΔΟΣ ΑΠΟ ΒΑΡΓΟΣΗΣ" (Zarmanochēgas indos apo Bargosēs – The "sramana" master from Barygaza in India).

Almost all of the Ancient Greek works was lost because of the incidents like fire in the library of Alexandria and just because the mode of storing the knowledge was perishable. This is in stark contrast with much of ancient Indian work, which was in Sanskrit and had to memorized from one generation to the next. There was no contradiction in the works from different parts of the country. The works attributed to Strabo, etc. are translations from the later work in Arabic and hence a lot got mixed into the actual facts. To analyze linguistically based on that is more than a stretch.

*"The names of contemporary kings found on Ashokan inscriptions are Amtiyoka, Tulamaya, etc. Amtiyoka ruled Afghanistan around 1475 BC, which then appears to be the approximate date of Ashoka. (the grandson of Maurya Chandragupta.)" Fact|date=February 2007On the contrary, it is usually thought that the edict in question mentions Western Greek kings during the time of Ashoka:

"Now it is conquest by Dhamma that Beloved-of-the-Gods considers to be the best conquest. And it (conquest by Dhamma) has been won here, on the borders, even six hundred yojanas (4,000 miles)) away, where the Greek king Antiochos rules, beyond there where the four kings named Ptolemy, Antigonos, Magas and Alexander rule, likewise in the south among the Cholas, the Pandyas, and as far as Tamraparni." Rock Edict Nb13 (S. Dhammika) In the Gandhari original Antiochos is referred as "Amtiyoko nama Yona-raja" (lit. "The Greek king by the name of Antiokos"), beyond whom live the four other kings: "param ca tena Atiyokena cature 4 rajani Turamaye nama Amtikini nama Maka nama Alikasudaro nama" (lit. "And beyond Antiochus, four kings by the name of Ptolemy, the name of Antigonos, the name of Magas, the name Alexander" Gandhari original of Edict No13 (Greek kings: Paragraph 9): []

Unanswered doubts

According to the Greek accounts, Xandrammes was deposed by Sandrokottas and Sandrocyptus was the son of Sandrokottas. In the case of Chandragupta Maurya, he had opposed Dhanananda of the Nanda dynasty and the name of his son was Bindusara. Both these names, Dhanananda and Bindusara, have no phonetic similarity with the names Xandrammes and Sandrocyptus of the Greek accounts.

In the Greek accounts, we find the statements of the Greek and Roman writers belonging to the period from 4th century BC to 2nd century AD None of them have mentioned the names of Kautilya or Asoka. Kautilya's work on polity is an important document of India's mastery on this subject. It was with his assistance that Chandragupta had come to the throne. Asoka's empire was bigger than that of Chandragupta and he had sent missionaries to the so-called Yavana countries. But both of them are not mentioned. Colebrook has pointed out that the Greek writers did not say anything about the Buddhist Bhikkus though that was the flourishing religion of that time with the royal patronage of Asoka. Roychaudhari also wonders why the Greek accounts are silent on Buddhism.

Common views on Maurya origin

Nanda Dynasty affiliation

Some Indian literary traditions connect him with the Nanda Dynasty of Magadha in eastern India. The Sanskrit drama Mudrarakashasa not only calls him Mauryaputra (Act II) but also a Nandanvaya (Act IV). Dhundiraja, a commentator of 18th century on Mudrarakshas states that Chandragupta was son of "Maurya" who in turn, was son of the Nanda king Sarvarthasiddhi by a wife named Mura, daughter of a Vrishala (shudra). Mudrarakshas especially uses terms like "kula-hina" and "Vrishala" for Chandragupta's lineage. This reinforces Justin's contention that Chandragupta had a humble origin. ["He (Seleucus) next made an expedition into India, which, after the death of Alexander, had shaken, as it were, the yoke of servitude from its neck, and put his governors to death. The author of this liberation was Sandrocottus, who afterwards, however, turned their semblance of liberty into slavery; for, making himself king, he oppressed the people whom he had delivered from a foreign power, with a cruel tyranny. This man was of mean origin, but was stimulated to aspire to regal power by supernatural encouragement; for, having offended Alexander by his boldness of speech, and orders being given to kill him, he saved himself by swiftness of foot; and while he was lying asleep, after his fatigue, a lion of great size having come up to him, licked off with his tongue the sweat that was running from him, and after gently waking him, left him. Being first prompted by this prodigy to conceive hopes of royal dignity, he drew together a band of robbers, and solicited the Indians to support his new sovereignty. Some time after, as he was going to war with the generals of Alexander, a wild elephant of great bulk presented itself before him of its own accord, and, as if tamed down to gentleness, took him on its back, and became his guide in the war, and conspicuous in fields of battle. Sandrocottus, having thus acquired a throne, was in possession of India" ( [ Justin "Epitome of the Philippic History" XV-4] )] [There is however, a controversy about Justin's above mentioned account. Justin actually refers to a name "Nandrum", which many scholars believe is reference to Nanda (Dhana Nanda of Magadha), while others say that it refers to "Alexandrum", i.e. Alexender. It makes some difference which version one believes] On the other hand, the same play describes the Nandas as of Prathita-kula i.e illustrious lineage. The commentator on the Vishnu Purana informs us that Chandragupta was son of a Nanda prince and a _hi. "dasi" ( _en. maid), _hi. Mura. Pandit Kshmendra and Somadeva call him Purvananda-suta, son of genuine Nanda as opposed to Yoga-Nanda i.e pseudo Nanda.

Peacock-tamer theory

Other literary traditions imply that Chandragupta was raised by peacock-tamers ( _sa. Mayura-Poshakha), which earned him the Maurya epithet. Both the Buddhist as well as Jaina traditions testify to the supposed connection between the Moriya (Maurya) and Mora or Mayura ("Peacock"). While the Buddhist tradition describes him as the son of the chief of the Peacock clan (Moriya), the Jaina tradition on the other hand, refers to him as the maternal grandson of the headman of the village of peacock tamers (Moraposaga). [Parisishtaparvan, p 56, VIII239f] This view suggests a degraded background of Chandragupta. (The same Jain tradition also describes Nanda as the son of a barber by a courtesan).

According to some scholars, there are some monumental evidence connecting the Mauryas with peacocks. The pillar of Ashoka in Nandangarh bears on its bottom the figures of a peacock which is repeated in many sculptures of Ashoka at Sanchi. [A Guide to Sanchi, pp 44, 62, Sir Johmn Marshal.] According to Turnour, [Mahavamsa (Mahawamsa), xxxix f.] Buddhist tradition also testifies to the connection between Moriya and Mora or Mayura or peacock. Aelian informs us that tame peacocks were kept in the parks of the Maurya palace at Pataliputra. But scholars like Foucher [Monuments of Sanchi, 231.] do not regard these birds as a sort of canting badge for the dynasty of Mauryas. They prefer to imagine in them a possible allusion to the Mora Jataka. Moreover, besides the peacocks, there were also other birds like pheasants, parrots as well as a variety of fishes etc also kept in the parks and water pools of the Mauryas.

Moriya clan view

Yet there are other literary traditions according to which Chandragupta belonged to Moriyas, a Kshatriya (warrior) clan of a little ancient republic of Pippalivana located between Rummindei in the Nepalese Tarai and Kasia in the Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh. Tradition suggests that this clan was reduced to great straights in the 4th century BCE under Magadhan rule, and young Chandragupta grew up among the peacock-tamers, herdsmen and hunters.

The Buddhist text of the Mahavamsa calls Chandragupta a scion of the "Khattya" (Kshatriya) clan named Moriya (Maurya). Divyavadana [Edited by Cowel and Neil., p 370] calls Bindusara, son of Chandragupta, an anointed Kshatriya, "Kshatriya Murdhabhishikata", and in the same work, king Ashoka, son of Bindusara, is also styled a Kshatriya. The Mahaparinnibhana Sutta [Mahaparinnibhana Sutta, page 409] of the Buddhist states that the Moriyas (Mauryas) belonged to the Kshatriya community of Pippalivana. These traditions, at least, indicate that Chandragupta may have come from a Kshatriya lineage.

The Mahavamshatika connects him with the Sakya clan of the Buddha, a clan which also claimed to belong to the race of Aditya i.e solar race. ["also Avadanakalpalata, No 59".]

A medieval age inscription represents the Maurya clan as belonging to the "solar race" of Kshatriyas. [Epigraphia Indica, II, 222.] It is stated that the Maurya line sprang from Suryavamsi Mandhatri, son of prince Yuvanashva of the solar race. [For prince Mandhatri, son of prince Yuvanashva, please refer to Mahabharata 7/62/1-10]

Alternate views on Maurya origin

As it can be noticed from above, there is no concrete evidence on Chandragupta's origin and all the above referred to theories are quite divergent. Therefore, additional views have been proposed by an alternative school of scholars.

North-western origin view

There is school of scholars like B.M. Barua, Dr J.W. McCrindle, Dr D.B. Spooner, Dr H.C. Seth, Dr Hari Ram Gupta, Dr Ranajit Pal and others who connect Chandragupta (Sandrokottos) to the north-western frontiers.

B.M. Barua calls him a man of Uttarapatha or Gandhara if not exactly of Taksashila. ['To me Candragupta was a man of the Uttarapatha or Gandhara if not exactly of Taksashila' (Indian Culture, vol. X, p. 34, B. M. Barua).]

Based on Plutarch's evidence, Dr J.W. McCrindle and Dr H. R. Gupta write that Chandragupta Maurya was a Punjabi and belonged to the Ashvaka (Assakenoi) territory. [Invasion of India by Alexander the great, p. 405. Plutarch attests that Androcottos had seen Alexander when he (Androcottos) was a lad and afterwards he used to declare that Alexander might easily have conquered the whole country (India); "Was Chandragupta Maurya a Punjabi?" Article in Punjab History Conference, Second Session, Oct 28-30, 1966, Punjabi University Patiala, p 32-35]

Appian of Alexandria (95CE-165CE), author of a Roman History attests that 'Antrokottos (Chandragupta), the king of the Indians, dwelt on river Indus'. [Appian (XI, 55). Some historians state that he belonged to Kunar and Swat valleys. See: The Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, pp 150-51, Kirpal Singh.] This reference also seems to indicate that Chandragupta belonged to north-west rather than East India.

These scholars relate Sandrocottos (or Androcottos) with Sisicottos of the Classical writings. Sisicottos was the ruler of Paropamise (Hindu Kush) who had helped Bessus of Bactria against Alexander but later co-operated with the latter throughout the Sogdian campaigns. [Arrian. iv, 30. 4.] During Alexander's campaign of Kabol and Swat valleys, prince Sisicottos had rendered great service to Alexander in reducing several principalities of the Ashvakas. During war of rock-fort of Aornos, where Alexander faced stiff resistance from the tribals, Sisicottos was put in command of this fort of great strategical importance. Arrian calls Sisicottos the governor of Assakenois. It is however not quite clear if this Sisicottos was same as Sandrocottos or if they were brothers or else they were related in someway. Dr J. W. McCrindle and Dr H. R. Gupta think that "they both possibly belonged two different branches of the Ashvakas". [Invasion of Alexander, 2nd Ed, p 112, Dr J. W. McCrindle; Op cit., p 33, Dr H. R. Gupta; Dr McCrindle further writes that modern Afghanistan was the ancient Kamboja and that the name Afghanistan is evidently derived from the Ashvakas or Assakenois of Arrian See: Megasthenes and Arrian, p 180; Alexander's Invasion of India, p 38; Dr J. C. Vidyalankar identifies Sisicottos as a Kamboja ruler: See Itihaas Parvesh, pp 133-34, Dr J. C. Vidyalankar; Kamboj Itihaas, 1973, p 58-59, H. S. Thind.] Meri was probably another political centre of the "Mor" or Meros people. It is asserted by scholars of this school that the name Moriya or Maurya comes from the Mor (Modern name "Koh-i-Mor" i.e "Mor hill"---the ancient Meros of the classical writings) located in the Paropamisade region between river Kunar and Swat in the land of Ashvakas (q.v.). It is pointed out that since Chandragupta Maurya belonged to Mor (Meros of classical writings) hence he "was called Moriya or Maurya after his motherland". [Op. cit., pp 32-35, Dr H. C. Gupta; Also: The Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, pp 149-154.] [Tribune writes: "Most historians are of the view that Chandragupta Maurya belonged to Bihar, and that he called himself Maurya because his mother was the keeper of royal peacocks (mor) at Pataliputra. He came to Punjab and conquered it. Afterwards, with the help of the Punjab army he seized the Nanda empire. However, there are reasons to believe that Chandragupta belonged to the Kshatriya caste of the ruling Ashvaka tribe of the Koh-i-Mor territory. He called himself Maurya after his homeland" (Ref: Article in Sunday Tribune, January 10, 1999 "They taught lessons to kings", Gur Rattan Pal Singh; Also cf: "Was Chandragupta Maurya a Punjabi"?, Punjab History Conference, Second Session, Oct 28-30, 1966, Punjabi University Patiala, p 33, Dr H. R. Gupta)]

It is notable that Adiparva of Mahabharata (verses 1/67/13-14) also seem to connect Maurya Ashoka with the Ashvakas. [yastvashva iti vikhyAtaH shrImAnAsInmahAsuraH |. Ashoko nAma rAjAsInmahAvIryaparAkramaH. ||14|| tasmAdavarajo yastu rAjannashvapatiH smR^itaH |. daiteyaH so.abhavadrAjA hArdikyo manujarShabhaH ||15.|| ( See English Translation): "That great Asura who was known as Aswa became on earth the monarch Asoka of exceeding energy and invincible in battle."]

Dr Spooner observes: "After Alexander's death, when Chandragupta marched on Magadha, it was with largely the Persian army (Shaka-Yavana-Kamboja-Parasika-Bahlika) that he won the throne of India. The testimony of the Mudrarakshasa is explicit on this point, and we have no reason to doubt its accuracy in matter of this kind". [op cit., (Part II), p.416-17, Dr D. B. Spooner] Thus, Dr Spooner's comments also point to the north-western origin of the Mauryas.

It is however interesting to see that the scholars also identify the "Ashvakas" as a branch of the Kambojas. They were so-called since they were specialised in "horse-profession" and their services as "cavalrymen" were frequently requisitioned in ancient wars.

:See main article: Saśigupta. :See also: :See also:

Scythian origin view

A Jat writer B.S.Dehiya published a paper titled "The Mauryas: Their Identity" [Vishveshvaranand Indological Journal, Vol. 17 (1979), p.112-133.] in 1979 and a book titled "Jats the Ancient rulers" ["Jats the Ancient rulers", Dahinam Publishers, Sonipat, Haryana, by B. S. Dahiya I.R.S.] in 1982, wherein he concludes that the Mauryas were the "Muras" or rather "Mors" and were jatt of Scythian or Indo-Scythian origin. It is claimed that the Jatts still have "Maur" or "Maud" as one of their clan name. [This view may become creditable only if it is accepted that the Jatts evolved from the Madras, Kekayas, Yonas, Kambojas and the Gandharas of the north-west borderlands of ancient Indian sub-continent. This is because king Ashoka's own Inscriptions refer only to the Yonas, Kambojas and the Gandharas as the most important people of his north-west frontiers during third century BCE. They do not make any reference whatsoever, to the Sakas, Shakas or the Scythians. See: Rock Edict No 5 [] and Rock Edict No 13 [] ( Shahbazgarhi version).]

The Rajputana Gazetteer describes the Moris (Mauryas?) as a Rajput clan. [II A, the Mewar Residency by Major K. D. Erskine, p 14.]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Chandragupta Maurya — Mauryan Emperor Reign 320–298 BCE Born 340 BCE …   Wikipedia

  • Maurya Empire — Mauryan Empire ← …   Wikipedia

  • Ancient warfare — is war as conducted from the beginnings of recorded history to the end of the ancient period. In Europe and the Near East, the end of antiquity is often equated with the fall of Rome in 476. In China, it can also be seen as ending in the 5th… …   Wikipedia

  • Cleophis — (Sanskrit: Kripa?)[1] was the mother of Assakenos or Assacanus, the reigning war leader of the Assakenoi or Assacani people at the time of Alexander s invasion (Curtius). The Assakenoi (Sanskrit Ashvakas: from Ashva = horse)[2] were a free people …   Wikipedia

  • List of Hindus — This is an incomplete list, which can or may never satisfy any subjective standard for completeness. Revisions and additions are welcome. A list of prominent and famous people who are Hindus. Religious Figures / Philosophers*Adi Shankara :… …   Wikipedia

  • Afghanistan — Islamic Republic of Afghanistan جمهوری اسلامی افغانستان Jomhūrī ye Eslāmī ye Afġānistān (Persian) د افغانستان اسلامي جمهوریت Da Afġānistān Islāmī Jomhoriyat …   Wikipedia

  • India–Iran relations — Relations between India and Iran date back to the common prehistoric Indo Iranian heritage (which connects all of Greater Persia and Greater India) and the Indo Parthian and Indo Scythian kingdoms of antiquity to the strongly Persianized Islamic… …   Wikipedia

  • List of monarchs of Sri Lanka — The following is a list of monarchs of Sri Lanka (Ceylon) since 505 BC. The main source for many of these monarchs are the chronicles of the island maintained by monks, known as the Dipavamsa, Mahavamsa, and the Chulavamsa. This list should be… …   Wikipedia

  • Alexander the Great — This article is about the ancient king of Macedon. For other uses, see Alexander the Great (disambiguation). Alexander the Great Basileus of Macedon …   Wikipedia

  • History of Andhra Pradesh — IntroductionThe history of Andhra Pradesh can be broadly divided into two epochs. The first epoch deals with pre historic period spanning the Stone Age (10,000 BCE 2000 BCE), Copper Age (2000 BCE 1000 BCE) and Iron Age (1000 BCE 500 BCE).The… …   Wikipedia