Chandragupta Maurya: The Creation of a National Hero in India (Hardcover)

Chandragupta Maurya: The Creation of a National Hero in India By Sushma Jansari Cover Image
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An account of the rise from obscurity to icon of Mauryan emperor Chandragupta Maurya.

The writing and reception of history fundamentally influence how we engage with the past, and nowhere is that more clear than in the rise from obscurity of Chandragupta Maurya (350–295 BCE), the first emperor of the Mauryan Empire. The key moment in the transformation of Chandragupta into a contemporary national icon was a peace-making meeting between Chandragupta and Seleucus, founder of the Seleucid empire and one of Alexander the Great’s generals. But no reliable account exists in early sources, and it is not even clear which ruler was victorious in battle. That uncertainty enabled British and Indian historians of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to interpret the sources in radically different ways. With Chandragupta representing India and Seleucus standing in for Britain, British scholars argued that Seleucus defeated Chandragupta, while Indian academics contended the opposite. In India, the image of Chandragupta as an idealized hero who vanquished the foreign invader has prevailed and found expression in contemporary popular culture. In plays, films, television series, comic books, and historical novels, Chandragupta is the powerful and virtuous Hindu ruler par excellence. Sushma Jansari shows how that transformation came about and points out the lessons we can learn from it for understanding other historical figures.

About the Author

Sushma Jansari is the Tabor Foundation Curator: South Asia at the British Museum.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781800083905
ISBN-10: 1800083904
Publisher: UCL Press
Publication Date: July 6th, 2023
Pages: 240