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EVEN CHANDRAGUPTA MAURYA WAS A PUNJABI

EVEN CHANDRAGUPTA MAURYA WAS A PUNJABI 

–Dr. Hari Ram Gupta 

 ' Today's rumour is history of tomorrow. lt is for this reason that several legends and folktales having permeated through several layers of time in reaching us are unpalatable in this age of reason and science. Thus a few scholars, called historians, are busy in clearing the debris around the historical facts and often unearth mines of golden facts. Dr. UMA ARORA reports of a similar misconception about the nationality of Chandragupta Maurya which has been cleared by the eminent Punjabi historian Dr. Hari Ram Gupta.

  All that we read in our school books makes Chandragupta Maurya a Bihari and we understand that he called himself Maurya because his mother was the keeper of mors (peacocks) at Patliputra. Further he migrated to Punjab in order to become its ruler and with the help of mercenary bands of Punjab he overthrew the Nanda empire. Refuting all this Dr. Hari Ram Gupta, one of the greatest Punjabi historians of this century, cites conclusive evidences to prove that contrarily Chandragupta was a native of the Punjab.
 Firstly, Dr. Gupta expresses his surprise as to how Chandragupta, without any resources of men or money, sans any political and social influence, could have conquered the Punjab with such an ease whereas Alexander the great, the illustrious conqueror the world has ever known took full 16 months in vanquishing Porus, the then ruler of the land of five rivers. Secondly, the theory that Maurya' is a derivation from Chndragupta's mother, does not sound logical since at that time surnames were generaly assumed after ones native place, caste or fathers name. Dr. Gupta also feels that more likely Chandragupta might not have wanted to show that he was the son of a woman-who was a keeper of peacocks.  
 Dr. Gupta believes that Chandra Gupta belonged to the Kshatriya-(Khatri) caste of the then ruling Asvaka tribe of the Kohi-Mor territory and called himself Maurya after his homeland.  
 The family to which the young leader belonged was named Maurya and according to Greek records is identified with the tribe of Morieis. lt is mentioned that there was a city named Nysa in the Koh-i-Mor valley of Swat  region (i.e. NWFP of Pakistan). Nysa was a small hilly state which is now extinct. The three fold peaked mountain range called "Mor" or Meros shadowed Nysa and are still visible from Peshawar. The Mero people which find a mention in the Greek classics are the people of Nysa or the Koh-i-Mor. The Meros or the Mors contributed a contingent of 300 horsemen who remained with Alexander all along his Indian campaign.  
 ln fourth century B.C., tradition avers that Chandragupta grew up among peacock-tamers, herdsmen and hunters. While still lad, he is said to have met Alexander in the Punjab, but having offended the king by his boldness of speech, and orders being given to kill him, he saved himself by a speedy flight. In the place of his refuge he is said to have been joined by a personage who had left his home in Taxila. This was the famous Chanakya or Kautilya, who went at first to Pataliputra but, being insulted by the reigning Nanda king, repaired to the Vindhya forest where he met Chandragupta. With the help of treasure found underground he marshaled an army for the young Maurya. Greek and Latin writers do not mention Kautilya but allude to Chandragupta's encounter with a lion and an elephant, which accords well with his residence in the Vindhyan wilds, and refer to the collection of a body of armed men who are characterised as a band of robbers by some modern historians.  
 Having raised an army, Chandragupta solicited the Indians to support his new sovereignty', or according to another interpretation, "instigated the Indians to overthrow the existing government".  
 This again proves that he had affection for his motherland, the Punjab.  
 Alexander withdrew from the Punjab in 326 B.C. after appointing Philippos as his Governor for the Western Punjab. Within two months internal dissension led to the murder of Philippos and the civil administration of the districts to the east of the lndus had to be left virtually in the hands of Indian princes. Eudemos was appointed to command the garrison in the Western Punjab after the murder of Philippos. Tne successor of Alexander had to recall some of their commandants in India. The indigenous population had, in the meantime, found a leader who knew how to take advantage of the disunion and the thinned ranks of the foreign  invaders and "shake off the yoke of servitude from the neck" of his fatherland.  
 It is only logical to presume that a Mero led the locals with the support of a pundit, Chanakaya, and managed to overthrow weakening foreign power. It is equally probable that erstwhile Mero contingents of Alexander too supported him.  
 Further, Dr. Gupta quotes a Syrian historian who wrote in A.D. 123 that C. Maurya was the ruler of the Indians who dwelt around lndus.  
 Monarchies in that period were often hereditary and the reigning king at times nominated the successor. But cases of election too are found. Choice was sometimes limited to members of the royal family, but on occasions selections were made from outside. A Greek writer tells us that in a certain district of the Punjab the handsomest man was chosen as king.  
 Chandragupta expanded his empire when Seleukos tried to regain the provinces to the east of lndus. He failed and had to conclude a treaty with Chandragupta by which he surrendered a large territory including Kabul, Herat, Qandhar and Baluchistan in return for 500 elephants. The inclusion of a part at least of the Kabul valley within the Maurya empire is attested by the evidence of the Asokan inscriptions. The treaty was cemented by a marriage contract, another fact which proves that Chandragupta belonged to the Punjab since at that time strict caste system was observed in rest of the Bharatvarsh and it was possible only in this region that a ruler could marry a daughter of a mlecha (foreigner).  
 Dr. Gupta corroborates: "ln the whole of India, only Punjabis have been the most aggressive people over the numberless generations. Throughout history, Punjabis are known to have established empires in India. In ancient times, it was Chandragupta Maurya who ruled over a vast empire extending to the Hindukush in the north-west. Even the Guptas are believed to have-originated from the Punjab. Harsha, Sher Shah Suri, Hyder Ali and Ranjit Singh were all Punjabis. At the advent of lslam, the Shahi rulers of Kabul were Mohyal Brahmins of the Punjab. Under the great Mughals, the Afghanistan was under viceroys who were either foreigners from Central Asia or Punjabis or Rajputs. The Marathas tried- to occupy the Punjab in 1758 but 'they were expelled and were given a crushing defeat in the third battle of Panipat Afterwards they never tried to sieze the Punjab."  
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