Chandragupta Maurya (reign: c. 321 – c. 297 BCE) was the founder of the Maurya Empire in ancient India. He built one of the largest-ever empires on the Indian subcontinent and then, according to Jain sources, he renounced it all and became a monk.
Historical Jain texts claim Chandragupta followed Jainism by first renouncing his wealth and power, going away with Jaina monks, and performing a ritual of peacefully welcoming death by fasting. Chandragupta's life and accomplishments are described in ancient Hindu, Buddhist, and Greek texts, but the details vary significantly from those in the Jain texts. Megasthenes served as a Greek ambassador in his court for four years.
Chandragupta, with the counsel of his Chief Minister Chanakya (the Brahmin also known as Kautilya), created a new empire, applied the principles of statecraft, built a large army and continued expanding the boundaries of his empire. Greek rulers such as Seleucus I Nicator avoided war with him, entered into a marriage alliance instead, and retreated into Persia.
After unifying much of India, Chandragupta and Chanakya passed a series of major economic and political reforms. Chandragupta established a strong central administration from Pataliputra (now Patna). Chandragupta's India had an efficient, highly organised structure. The empire built infrastructure such as irrigation, temples, mines and roads, leading to a strong economy. During Chandragupta's reign and that of his dynasty, many religions thrived in India, with Buddhism, Jainism and Ajivika gaining prominence along with the Brahmanism traditions. A memorial to Chandragupta Maurya exists on Chandragiri hill in Shravanabelagola, Karnakata.