Seleucid-Mauryan War-Overview, Facts, Background

by Jan 22, 2022

Hi everybody, today I am excited to talk about the war that happened between the two great ancient kingdoms. Those two empires were the Seleucid Empire and the Mauryan Kingdom.

Introduction to The Seleucid-Mauryan War

The Seleucid-Mauryan War is among the most remarkable battles to ever happened in Ancient India. However, the Seleucid Mauryan war remains one kind because it ended with both parties making peace.

The Seleucid-Mauryan War began in 305 BC and ended two years later. The battle was ignited by Chandragupta Maurya, who wanted to take over the Indian Satrapies belonging to the Macedonian Empire.

Chandragupta Maurya started his campaigns to retake the Satrapy provinces left behind by the great Alexander.

The war began approximately two decades after Alexander the great passed on. Seleucus |Nicator of the Seleucid Empire was left with no choice but to fight back in defense of his territories.


Are you wondering how the Seleucid-Mauryan war came to happen? Typically, war was the primary method to acquire power in Ancient India.

90% of the battles fought in ancient India were focused on developing power or property. The leading cause of the Seleucid-Mauryan war was not far from the usual.

Around 321 BC, Chandragupta Maurya made himself the ruler of Magadha. During the Gangetic Plain period, Chandragupta decided to overthrow the Nanda Dynasty rulers.

Eleven years down the line, he had successfully conquered the empire and captured Pataliputra, the capital of Nanda. His effective campaigns saw his victory over the Nanda Dynasty.

As a result of Chandragupta’s consistent campaigns, the Nanda empire fell and replaced the Maurya Empire with Chandragupta Maurya, the ruler.

Alexander the great was a prominent ruler in Ancient India. His empire involved the Indus Valley states and current Afghanistan.

Alexander died at around 326 BC, and his kingdom was split apart due to the Diadochi Wars. Alexander’s generals then took over the leadership of the split empire.

Seleucus Nicator, one of Alexander’s generals, was now gaining control and had begun deploying the foundation of the Seleucid Empire, which now included the Indus Valley.

The Mauryan Empire was rapidly expanding, and the ruler, Chandragupta, was constantly taking over territories.

This led to the rise of conflict between the Mauryan Empire and the Seleucid empire. King Seleucid, Nicator of the Seleucid Empire, was determined to retain these territories hence the war.

Who Was Chandragupta Maurya?

Chandragupta was one of the most outstanding leaders in Ancient India. He was the founder and ruler of the Mauryan Empire.

Chandragupta is credited for creating the first pan-Indian empire. With the help of his advisor Chanakya, Chandragupta Maurya established one of the strongest centralized dynasties in Ancient India.

Chandragupta’s life and achievements are recorded in various Ancient India Historical texts, including Hindu, Buddhist, Greek, and Jain texts.

The details of his Biography differ across the multiple records, but they all revolve around the same narrative.

Up to date, Chandragupta’s origin and periods remain unknown. Most of the information about him is based on mythology and legend and not historical facts.

However, some records argue that he was born in Pataliputra in 340 BC. Some historians claim that Chandragupta Maurya came from a humble background and was never a prince as many would have expected.

This indicates that he was a mere commoner who had no direct chances of ascending the throne of Magadha.

Chandragupta used his military and non-military strategies to ascend the throne. This shows how determined and brave he was.

Who Was Seleucid Nicator?

Seleucid Nicator, One of Alexanders the great successors, is credited as one of Alexander the great successors who divided his empire.

However, Seleucid did not receive his share of the split kingdom until years later when he ascended the throne and became one of Alexander’s great successors. Seleucid earned the credit of being the founder and ruler of the first Seleucid Kingdom.

Unlike Chandragupta, who did not directly connect with royalty, Seleucus was much closer to royalty. He Also served Alexander as his general, and he equally participated in defeating the Persian empire.

On a different occasion, Seleucus led the Macedonian troops against king Porus in a battle along river Hydaspes. After Alexander the Great died, Seleucus was given the Satrapy of Babylon. This was after Alexander’s empire was divided.

Theirs’s limited information regarding his subsequent years in power; it is presumed that he spent the few years consolidating his achievements.

Immediately after the Seleucus-Mauryan war, he expectedly got the title of the king just like the rest of his successors did. Seleucus was determined to expand his territories from the Iranian East to the northern satrapies.

However, his efforts didn’t bear him any fruits because Chandragupta, the founder of the Mauryan kingdom of India, got in his way. It was then when the war was ignited.

Almost every Ancient record presents Seleucus as a solid and energetic leader. He established the Seleucid empire and expanded it.

He was always committed to protecting his territories, and it was in his reign when he set many cities. Seleucid was a good leader who always supported science and discovery.

The War

Sophytes may have been the Mauryan Empire satrap of Arachosia, succeeding Sibyrtius, after Seleucus had ceeded the Hellenistic territory of Arachosia to Chandragupta Maurya in the Seleucid–Mauryan war (305–303 BCE), Image Credits: CNG coins

Ancient India’s history records did not give much information about the campaign when Chandragupta fought with Seleucus.

Yes, we know it was over the territory along the Indus valley and Gandhana, one of the wealthiest kingdoms in ancient India, but there are not many details.

The Mauryan seems to have merged the winners but not any of the records tell it. However, the records show that the Mauryans took over the region as Chandragupta got control over the Hindu Kush and Kashmir.

Chandragupta was ambitious and determined to expand his territories. In his struggle to achieve his ambitions, he got control over Punjab, and by 303 BC, he had entire Eastern Afghanistan and all that it encompassed within his territories.

Seleucus was not as much concerned with the eastern region like he was with the western part. The west is where his greatest enemy, Antigonus Monophthalmus, resided.

Antigonus wanted to take complete control over whatever legacy Alexander the great had left behind. For this reason, he was always in the struggle to defeat all his rivals.

To end the losing battle against the Mauryan empire and channel all his attention towards his interest, the western territories, Seleucus gave out all the Indian regions Alexander had left behind.

In this action, he negotiated a peace treaty with Chandragupta. They both had an agreement that Seleucus would give out his daughter to Chandragupta and get 500 elephants as dowry.

What Led To The Battle?

Historians believe that Chandragupta sparked up the conflict between the two monarchs when he fell in love with Helen, Seleucus’ daughter.

Chandragupta was known as Sandrokottos in Ancient Greece. He had sneakily noticed the beauty on Hellen and founder her much attractive. Maurya fell madly in love with hellen and considered marrying her immediately.

We must say it was love at first sight. For this, he sought advice from his advisor and mentor, Chanakya, who advised him that war was the only way he could get Hellen as his wife.

Meanwhile, Seleucus, unaware of Chandragupta Maurya’s power, was secretly aiming to conquer Western India was now establishing his kingdom in Persia and Eastern India.

This was only feasible by defeating Northern Part, which the Nanda Empire ruled. But it was Chandragupta, who captured North India, who alerted Seleucus to Chandragupta Maurya’s growing power.

Thus, in 305 BC, Seleucus advanced with his massive army to fight against Chandragupta Maurya to defeat India, and that he saw as his true heritage.

Why Mauryan Empire Worn Against Seleucid Empire

Invariably, when an army wins against the other, there must be a reason behind the win. during the terrible Seleucid–Mauryan war on India’s northwest borders, Seleucus and his Greek army were unable to endure the destructive invasion on them by the brave and noble Indian combatants of the Mauryan Empire.

Chandragupta Maurya’s troops defeated the Greek intruders. Many reasons can be attributed to Chandragupta Maurya’s big win. These include the following:

Mauryan Army was big and powerful.

Ancient Indian records show that the Seleucus of the Seleucid army had the least troops. The initial number of warriors in Seleucus’ army was 50,000. However, this number increased when he recruited 10,000 Bactrian recruits.

On the other hand, the Indian troops, steered by Chandragupta, Consisted of 600,000 infantry, 9,000 combat elephants, and 30,000 cavalries.

Seleucus’ focus was the westward region.

Seleucus was more focused on expanding his territories towards the west. When Seleucus saw Maurya winning, he redirected his interest towards the west region. Wealth and riches made the west region worthier compared to the east area.

Mauryan Had An Intelligent Advisor

Normally, a wise king always had a good and reliable advisor to guide and give them directions. Mauryan was indeed brilliant and had a good advisor called Chanakya.

At some point, Chanakya advised Maurya to ignite the war as the only way to get Seleucus’ daughter as his wife. This strategy worked effectively and Mauryan got to Marry Hellen, Seleucus’ daughter.

Seleucus Admitted To Defeat

Different authors of ancient India’s history explain how Seleucus admitted defeating and decided to sign a peace treaty with Maurya of the Mauryan Empire. He gave out his territories and received 500 war elephants as compensation for the regions and dowry for his daughter.

Seleucus Was Not Prepared For Mauryan Troops

According to various ancient Indian records, Seleucus did not expect that Mauryan had potent troops. We can conclude that the war found him unprepared. His troops were less than those of the Mauryan empire. His troops could not withstand the Mauryan troops and he chose to surrender.

Maurya was rich

Maurya was a powerful ruler, and he had acquired a lot of wealth during his tenure. He had expanded his territories rapidly and was prosperous and stable. He was able to recruit better militants as well as powerful purchase weapons. Maurya had a lot of war elephants, and this granted him an easy victory.

What Happened After The War?

There’re always consequences that come after a war. This wasn’t a different case at all. However, this did end as many do. Everyone expects that battles end with enmity and much harm.

However, the Seleucid Mauryan war ended in a much different way. In the end, both parties had an agreement and, as a matter of fact, signed a peace treaty.

The Battle’s Broader Implications

Upon his defeat, Seleucus had to accept the peace settlement immediately after he lost the battle. The Peace Treaty in question included the following segments.

  • Sign a marriage agreement, also known as an “Epigamia” in Ancient Greece terms and concepts, wherein Chandragupta Maurya wedded Seleucus’ daughter, Hellen, on Chanakya’s advice. This Marriage was to serve as an alliance between the two realms.
  • Seleucus decided to surrender his Afghan regions of Herat, Kandhar, and the Kabul valley to his rival Chandragupta of the Mauryan empire.
  • Chandragupta further received vast regions west of the Indian subcontinent. These Included the Hindu Kush and Pakistan’s Baloch region.
  • Seleucus also handed over the governorships of Arachosia (Kandahar), Gedrosia (Balochistan), and Paropamisade (Kamboja and Gandhara).
  • Chandragupta to take control of most of the Macedonian provinces near the Indus River Valley.
  • In exchange, Chandragupta gave Seleucus around 500 war elephants to help him defeat the west Hellenistic kingdoms at the War of Ipsus in 301 BCE. The two kingdoms instituted good relations to allow inter-trading between the two dynasties.
  • Many Greek historians and scholars received invitations to the Mauryan jury. One proper credit goes to the Megasthenes, one of the greatest historians. They authored an iconic book called “Indica” in which he described in detail his stay at the Mauryan court and his interactions with Chandragupta Maurya.
  • Dimakos was another Greek ambassador to the Mauryan court in Pataliputra.

What Happened To Chandragupta?

Chandragupta Maurya stayed in power from 322 BC until when he voluntarily retired. His son, Bindusara, took over the leadership of the Mauryan empire and ruled for over 50 years.

Like his father, Bindusara expanded the Mauryan empire towards the south, with Chanakya constantly on his side for guidance and advisory duties.

Bindusara, Maurya’s Son, managed to conquer the entire Indian Peninsula and, as a result, added over sixteen states to his empire. Different translators say Chandragupta’s life achievements overweighed his father’s by far.

Maurya’s generation seems to have upheld the royalty succession because Bindusara’s Son succeeded after he died in 272 BCE.

What Happened To Seleucus?

After they had signed the peace treaty, Seleucus focused on extending his empire towards the west through Syria and Anatolia.

In his struggle to grab these territories, he defeated Ipsus and Antigonus in 301 BC and took over their states. His quest to capture more parts made him many enemies, and in late 301 BC, one of his enemies named Ptolemy Ceraunus arranged for his assassination.

So, Seleucus died in 301 BC. However, His eldest son, Antiochus I Soter, took over his throne and ruled the Seleucid empire until 261 BC.

There’s less than Ancient India’s historical records say about king Seleucus’ life and gains. However, we do know that he had expanded his territories significantly before he died.

The Seleucid dynasty seems to have been a significant center of Civilization, preserving Greek traditions and morals over native Middle Eastern cultural contexts. A Greek-speaking Macedonian gentry monopolized the Seleucid region; however, this supremacy was most pronounced in the cities.

In the third century BCE, the Seleucid Empire began to lose control of large territories. Following the Romans’ first defeat of the Seleucids in 190, the Seleucids fell into an unstoppable decline.

By then, the Aegean Greek cities had gained independence and were free from the Seleucid yoke. Cappadocia and Attalid Pergamum had gained independence, and other regions had fallen to the Colonists, Pontus, and Bythnia.

Overall Significance of the Battle and Place in Indian History

But while there aren’t many explicit details of this battle, research shows that Seleucus suffered a heavy loss against the Mauryan imperial family. This crushed his aspiration to vanquish India.

All while, Chandragupta Maurya sought to develop his kingdom and set up a powerful, fully centralized state. He was the first emperor to unite most of Larger India into a single state.

Megasthenes described this centralized state, whose capital was Pataliputra, as “encircled by a wooden wall with 64 gates and 570 towers and showcased the artistic glories and competence of Persian sites including Susa and Ecbatana.”

Bindusara, Chandragupta’s son, enlarged the Mauryan empire’s rule into southern and central India. He annexed the territory between the Coast and the Bengal bay in the east.

Mamulanar, Tamil’s poet of Sangam literature, best renowned for his outstanding poetry skills, also gives a brief account of how Mauryan troops attacked the Deccan Plateau.

Ashoka the great, Bindusara’s son, was a magnificent ruler and leader who re-established the Mauryan Dynasty’s dominance in Western and Southern India. Various records confirm his Kalinga War (262–261 BCE) to be a watershed moment in his entire life.

The massive Mauryan Power declined about three decades after Asoka’s passing. Nonetheless, the Kingdom was India’s first mighty empire in its lengthy history. The Mauryan empire was one of the Ancient World’s most prominent dynasties.


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