His life and events has been a subject of controversy creating debates among historians for years. Chandergupta Maurya came from humble beginnings plagued by poverty. However, this man’s journey through life was going to be anything but ordinary. From being a farmer boy in a unknown village to being a palace attendant in the capital city of Patliputra. The narrative move on to the untold story of what happened after Chandergupta became the King
From the battlefields of Kalinga to the wars fought in the plains east of River Indus- The book trace the life of a man whose life took sharp ups and downturns till he ventured into the path of spirituality. Spanning 36 years and events in 6 countries of today, this book seeks to tell the story which exists in bits-n-pieces in annals of history.
Rajat did his Mba from IMI (New Delhi) and Ecole-Superieure-de-Commerce (France). He is currently working as Chief Manager in the Technology division of one of India’s largest financial institutions. Previously, he had worked on five amateur movie projects. Also, he was part of a theatre group, performed in stage shows and street plays for cancer awareness. His other interests include reading books on Indian history and martial arts.
It was a hot summer afternoon. Below the tree in the village square a village newsman dressed in an outrageous yellow coloured turban and gown was addressing a villager, Thirumalaya. Thirumalaya was a man of lean built and good facial features. His moustache made him look older than he was. He had to look like a mature father. The village newsman repeated his words to Thirumalaya, who still had an expression of disbelief on his face.
"It is confirmed news; your man is at Shravan Kund."
"I finally get to meet my childhood hero. The Samrat himself," replied Thirurnalaya slurring through his words in happiness.
"Yes! Samrat, the king of kings himself. I can see it in your eyes, the moisture of happiness. Every ten days I used to visit your village, you were the only one among my audience who had been the most curious and excited," commented the newsman. "I have actually given away a fortune in pouches of rice and coconut to all the newsmen in this village and all the villages I have stayed since childhood to extract some news about this man," stated Thirumalaya.
"Why are you so interested about the developments in the life of this one person?" asked the newsman.
"I can't tell you the reason for that. Probably I am into a kind of hero worshiping. Nonetheless, thanks for giving me uncensored and unadulterated news about him for close to a year now," Thirumalaya spoke with gratitude.
The local Villavar king down south had instructed the newsmen not to over-exaggerate the prosperity of the northern kingdoms to the subjects of these villages down south ruled by them. This was because there was already enough unrest and constant fight against poverty in the south. Such news from the more prosperous north will create more resentment against the Villavar king's authority. However, Thirumalaya had a workaround for this.
"You know it was not a favour, I got my benefits for giving you the true story. The extra coconuts and the odd clay flask of fresh coconut liquor," laughed the newsman, indicating the time for his reward. Thirumalaya handed over a pot of milk, mangoes and bananas to the village newsman. As he turned to leave, the newsman said the dreaded words, "I am sure you are aware of his intentions. If you do not start off immediately, there is a good chance he will not be alive when you reach there." Thirumalaya understood the gravity of those words.
"I think these are rumours, he will never do something like that," replied Thirumalaya.
"You never know. He is a complicated, unpredictable man from whatever I have heard. Sometimes he behaves like an eccentric," said the newsman.
"Believe me, he has reasons for everything he has done till now," Thirumalaya replied with a sigh.
On his way back to his hut Thirumalaya started thinking on what all needed to be planned for the trip. As he walked through the narrow mud road to his house which ran between rows of fences made of thorny sticks erected by his neighbours, he felt good. Thirumalaya felt the fresh breath of ecstasy similar to the smell of rains having fallen on dry lands.
"Shravan Kund" was in the holy kingdom of Satyaputra. He had spent his childhood in a small village in this kingdom and had migrated to Kairaliputra only a few years back.
'I wish I got quicker updates about him. It took so much effort from my side to get accurate information over these years but finally some good news, "thought he.
The news sometimes got delayed for long because of the geographical distance. It was a chain system. There was a network of these newsmen who would cover every kingdom and pass on the information to the next newsman in the chain. This is how common man was made aware of any likely invasion, epidemics and natural disasters in other kingdoms. So Thirumalaya harassed the newsmen to influence their chain to get specific updates on this particular man. Over the years he had been successful, and now the newsman in his new village further south also followed the practice and the different newsmen from other provinces also were careful not to miss out on any news on this Samrat. However, there was frequent miscommunication because sometimes the newsmen had limited knowledge of each other's language.
These awe-inspiring tales of the king fascinated this poor farmer. He had followed the Sam rat for a very long time - since he was the undisputed ruler of all the erstwhile Mahajanapadas, the ancient kingdoms of the sub-continent. Equally fascinating were the times when he bravely fought the foreigners with skin as white as ivory. Also, Thirumalaya was probably the only one in his village who was overjoyed when there were rumours that the Sam rat's army had reached Dakshinaparha near his kingdom and was going to invade Southern kingdoms. He was overjoyed with the prospect of being the subject of his favourite king and part of the Magadha Empire. However, the Samrat's army was not planning to invade the southern states and it was a mere movement of troops near the Dandaka forest.
Thirutnalaya reached his hut, a plastered mud structure with cracks and thatched roof. He hated his house. It was a lonely place. A house without a woman is a structure without soul. His son Manu a toddler, a motherless child was playing inside the house with a piece of dried cow dung on which he had put some flowers. Thirumalaya had got married at an early age of eighteen to a girl four years older than him. The lady in question was from a house in his lane. Her deceased first husband was transporting grains in a cart at night to a nearby village when he was attacked, looted and killed. Thirumalaya liked this girl before her marriage and now wanted to marry her out of empathy. The society would not approve of this, so they left their village one night and moved down south and settled in this village in the southern kingdom of Kairaliputra. Poor Manu lost his mother after she ate a dish carelessly made out of adulterated mushrooms at a friend's place. With the level of medical care available at the time, small ailments blew up to become fatal in no time. Thirumalaya started collecting the utensils, vegetables and other provisions theywould require during the travel. While picking up his clothes, Thirumalaya chanced to glance upon a knife having a copper handle hid behind the stack of clothes. He picked up the knife, looked at it and smiled. This was the knife he had kept aside as a twelve-year-old boy to kill the same man he was going to meet now. Thirumalaya picked up Manu, cleaning him with cloth dipped in a pitcher of water and making him wear new clothes. Little toddler was about to embark on a treacherous journey because his father wanted to meet his childhood hero. Manu couldn't stay away from his father for so many days. Also, nobody in his village was willing to take care of this child as they were too poor to feed him for fourteen days and Manu was a known troublemaker. 50 the child had to come along.
Thirumalaya then went to his friends who were well apprised of his plans.
"Friends the time has come for me to reward you for your selfless friendship. Pack up your articles and get ready for the beautiful and holy kingdom of Satyaputra - I will bear all the expenses." His two friends were anticipating this and got ready to leave. When the three friends were walking back to Thirumalaya's hur, they chanced upon a prostitute of the village - a plump woman with curly hair called Kamakshi walking in front of them with a towel towards the village pond to take bath. One of Thirumalaya's friend plucked a green berry from a nearby shrub and threw it. It hit her buttocks and she turned back mouthing some unpleasant words. The two friends started to laugh.
"Don't behave like this; she is not out on her job. Let her live a normal life during daytime," stated Thirumalaya assertively.
"This is fun. Why should we behave ourselves, is she your sister?" remarked one of his friends.
Thirumalaya did not have an answer to this. His past had some relation to this profession. Thirurnalaya's mother who was living with an elderly couple as a servant after giving birth to him was leading a small but content life. The law and order situation down south had not been satisfactory for quite some time. One evening on her way back from her evening bath she was kidnapped by a gang of young men. They dragged her to a forest house belonging to one of them.
She was raped by the gang for two days at a stretch. The villagers instead of being supportive and empathetic greeted her with banter when she returned to her village. She was ugly, had a good body and no other skills to earn a livelihood, so she had no choice. Gradually she sunk into prostitution. Thirumalaya lived his childhood under the dark cloud of this shame.
Once the three friends reached Thirumalaya's cart, the travellers then loaded the bullock cart having one white and one black bull. Little Manu was placed inside and they drove it to the temple in the outskirts of their village. Here Thirumalaya got out of the cart in front of the village temple, a black stone structure dedicated to the king of serpents. He looked around for the village priest who was wearing a clean white dress and sleeping under a tree. He was woken up by Thirumalaya, "Bless me holy priest! I am going for an important journey," said Thirumalaya. The old priest gave his blessings, still half in sleep.
He was a religious man and he did this before every travel. As far as Thirumalaya understood, religion was something which gave man the right direction. "Why was this new religion taking the Sam rat to the wrong direction?" wondered the farmer.
Thirurnalaya, Manu and his friends proceeded in the cart on the mud road towards Satyaputra. A treacherous journey through the landscape was revealing surprises as they went ahead. The first two days saw heavy rains but the third day was relatively sunny. The roof of the bullock cart made of intertwined coconut leaves guarded them from excessive rainfall and extreme heat. He put his head out to look at the sun and Thirumalaya knew it was going to be sunset time very soon. The travellers had taken rest for a while because the bullocks had not eaten since morning and were very weak. The uneven lush green terrain was looking endless, the coconut tree stretches were followed by those of teak and now it was dense forest consisting of trees that Thirumalaya had never seen before. Many times they wondered if they were on the wrong route. Whenever they saw a mud hut and stopped to clarify the correct route, they were faced with people speaking yet another tribal language which did not make any sense to them. When they repeated "Shravan Kund" they sometimes had some response through gestures showing further north.
The travellers decided to pause for some time to take rest. Thirumalays son little Manu was running around the whole place doing antics. It was natural that he was feeling suffocated sitting on the bullock cart for such long stretches. He was two years old already and he wasn't able to speak a word. His grandmother was also dumb but that was because she had some problem with the tip of her tongue. Manu's disability was since birth. However, the powers above had compensated for the inability by giving him strong active hands and legs because the boy never got tired. He was standing and observing carefully as one of the bullocks was relieving itself and then Manu went ahead and started beating the bullock's fresh dung with a stick as if it were some wild animal.
They had spent the past days eating whatever the plants and trees on this route had to offer from coconuts, to jackfruits and the occasional delight of cashew. With the forest terrain approaching, they had no alternative but to switch to the grains and vegetables they had brought along with them. The travellers used to have their day-end meals in the evening.
Thirumalaya had brought all necessary cooking articles with him in the cart. He took out a metal pot to put some rice, water and salt pellets in it. He then placed it over three small stones to make a stove filling the space below with dry twigs and branches that his friends had collected in the meanwhile. Then began the tedious process of rubbing to create fire.
"Creating fire! Hope the smoke does not attract the ill-bred people to us," commented one of his friends.
"I have heard tales of the forest bandits but they don't attack during day time. If it were not for them we would have reached our destination in half the time," remarked Thirumalaya.
"I am against travelling at night in the lantern light even if the moon is shining in its full glory," replied his friend.
The other friend who was sleeping till now pitched in with some words.
"Yes, in the dark the bulls may walk into some pit, capsizing the cart and all of us would end up spending the night inside the pit."
They would have reached much before what looked likely at present but travelling at night was not a good idea because of the recent bandit attacks on this route by the Bakula gang. Even in case of an attack, the Bakula bandits would end up finding nothing valuable with these three men. They were all poor farmers and had nothing valuable with them. However, Thirumalaya's biggest fear was that they will take off with Manu. This being a normal practice of the bandit to take off with small kids during an ambush who will later grow up and become members of their gang. They were all carrying big knives with them for protection but they all knew internally that no matter how brave they acted, if the bandits attacked they would drop their knives and run into darkness.
Thirumalaya looked at the bald Manu and imagined him with a big moustache and knife. He would look like a funny bandit, he thought. This little child was the only loved one he had in this world. On the way through the forest when he saw tribal women walking in a row carrying day pots of water and their young ones, he looked at his own unfortunate child and wished his mother was alive. "If she was alive, I would not have brought him along with me for this trip. Nonetheless, looking at the brighter side, I now think it's good for him since he will get the Sam rat's blessings."
In the past three days it, Manu had lavishly bit and hit every one of them in the bullock cart especially when they were sleeping. Thirumalaya's two friends were sleep deprived and repented accompanying him on this trip. He was after them for two full lunar months to convince them to come with him for this "pleasure" trip.
This trip was anything but pleasure. Thirumalaya was very nervous to embark on this trip onto the unknown all by him.
"I think the rice is beginning to boil," stated one of his friends.
"It will take some more time," replied Thirumalaya.
"I hope the accompanying vegetable dish will be tasty," said the other friend.
"Don't worry friend. I assure you it will be good. It is my job to make this trip as comfortable and memorable for you as possible," replied Thirumalaya.
"Unfortunately, your son does not align with your thought process. You must have seen those little puppies who when their teeth come out start practicing by biting coconut shells. Sadly, we are the coconut shells in this case, intervened one of the friends.
Thirumalaya did not like the comparison but responded with an uncomfortable smile. The rice porridge had begun to boil but Thirumalaya was still lost in thoughts. Recently, he had heard news of the Samrat's hedonism and lavish lifestyle. Newsmen said that he was getting more and more into wine and women. However, Thirumalaya refused to believe this. He had himself not seen much fame in his family, except fame of a wrong kind since he was the son of a prostitute, an ugly prostitute to be precise. However, Thirumalaya knew that when someone is on top there are people constantly trying to tarnish their image and bring them down.
Now that the Sam rat had finally moved so near to his village, just seven days of travel away, that too without guards, Thirumalaya got his chance to meet his hero. A loud "thud" sound came and Thirumalaya was disturbed from his thoughts. Manu had thrown a raw mango at the bullock and was now running away. The bullock started to swing its neck and the bell tied to its neck started to jingle. Manu had no clothes on and was running, so if a person was not careful in his observation he would think that his genitals were making the jingling sound.
The meal had cooked by now, and Thirumalaya poured the porridge into serving bowls made of polished coconut shells shaped like a bowl with lemon pickle. He then put some coconut oil, starchy corm, bitter gourd and drumsticks into the metal pot with turmeric, black pepper, salt pellets and curry leaves for the accompanying dish. He was doing all the work during this trip while his fellow passengers lazily rested. This trip was important for him and there was a purpose. He wanted to stop the Sam rat from what he was doing and about to do. The Samrat had everything a person would dream of - a large kingdom, unlimited money and all the comforts of the world. For a man like Thirumlaya who was in the midst of trivial common man problems - problems ranging from issues like the safety of crops from getting destroyed by recurrent floods or that the roof of his hut stays intact through the rainy season and most importantly that hiscurrent Kairaliputra villagers don't come to know about his past or mother's profession subjecting him to the same ridicule he had feared since childhood - To this common man with his problems, this kind of abandonment of royal luxuries was incomprehensible. Why was this man having all the pleasures one would ask for planning to put himself to death?
Maybe it was because of this new religion the Samrat had taken up. Thirumalaya could not understand. Why was this new religion making a commoner out of this powerful individual who could still achieve more in life? A life that is legendary already and still had more potential. This was not the right direction for this man.
He was never able to understand the fascination that he had towards this character. It was maybe because he knew him better than others around him. Also, it was driven by a deep ambition from the times when he was a young boy - the ambition to conquer the world and be famous, something most children dream. In Thirumalaya's case like others the ambition could not be achieved because with age he came face to face with the realities of this world. Still lost in his thoughts Thirumalaya, Manu and his friends had their meals. After this, Manu was forcefully pushed into the bullock cart and the travellers resumed their journey.
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