Chandragupta Maurya: Emperor to Ascetic (324-297 BCE)
It may have been somewhere in Taxila, literally the ‘city made of stone’, only 32 km from modern-day Islamabad, that two young men came face to face more than 2,300 years ago. One was the Macedonian king Alexander, aged 30, who had recently defeated Persian Emperor Darius III and conquered the Achaemenid Empire a few years earlier. After that, he spent a year bringing Syria and the whole of Egypt under his control. The other young man, Chandragupta, aged around 20, had come from a village close to Pataliputra, 1,500 km south. He had spent the last few years following a gruelling schedule of studies in this university town, under the watchful gaze of his teacher, Kautilya.
Alexander would have barely acknowledged the young man; he was a nobody. Chandragupta, on the other hand, would have been watching Alexander closely, wondering how long it would take him to acquire the fame, aura and power of the Macedonian conqueror.