The founder of Mauryan empire was Chandragupta Maurya. A fierce battle was fought in which the last of the Nanda ruler Dhanananda was killed. As a result Magadh came under Chandragupta’s rule and gradually the whole of north India became a part of his empire.
Thus he established Mauryan empire in 321 BC. He built a vast empire. Seleucus Nicotar ruled the territories west of the Indus. Chandragupta defeated the Greek general in 303 BC. He ruled over Magadh from 321 to 297 BC. He embraced Jainism and migrated to Sravanbelgola in modern Karnataka. He ended his life by slow starvation in accordance with the code of the Jain religion.
Chanakya was the chief guide and adviser of Chandragupta Maurya. He was a wise and shrewd Brahman. He helped Chandragupta to overthrow the last Nanda King. Afterwards he became the Prime Minister of Chandragupta. He helped him in organising an efficient system of government.
Towards the end of his reign, Chandragupta Maurya became a Jain ascetic and his son Bindusara succeeded him in 297 BC and he ruled for 25 years. He had to fight many battles to keep the vast empire intact. He died in 273 BC.
It is generally believed that after killing his ninety-nine brothers, Ashoka came to the throne in 273 BC but actual coronation took place in 269 BC. He was one of the greatest and ablest kings of Indian history. He inherited a vast empire from his forefathers. He followed the policy of conquests and attacked Kalinga in 261 BC. This war proved to be a turning point in his career. He gave up the policy of wars. Instead of Digvijay he now followed the policy of Dharamvijaya and adopted the path of peace. He embraced Buddhism and spent rest of his life in propagating it. He died in 232 BC.
Under Ashoka the king was the supreme official in the state. He was both the supreme commander and the highest official of the court of justice. In the central province, the king himself looked after the administration.
Decline of the Mauryan Empire:
After Ashoka the central authority weakened and the large empire began to break up. In 185 BC, the last Mauryan ruler Brihadratha was murdered by Pushyamitra Sunga and the empire of the Mauryas came to an end.