Seleucid–Mauryan war

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Seleucid–Mauryan War
Alexander the Great's Satrapies in Northern India.
Date305–303 BC
LocationNorthwestern India; Chiefly the Indus River Valley
Result Decisive Mauryan Victory.
Maurya Empire Seleucid Empire
Commanders and leaders
Chandragupta Maurya Seleucus I Nicator
Unknown Unknown
Casualties and losses
[citation needed][citation needed]

The Seleucid–Mauryan War was fought between 305 and 303 BCE, it started when Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, of the Maurya Empire, led a series of campaigns to retake the satrapies that had been left behind by the Macedonian Empire. Seleucus I Nicator, of the Seleucid Empire, fought to defend those territories and to extend his dominance over the Mauryan Empire.

The war ended in a Mauryan victory and resulted in the annexation of Afghanistan and the Indus Valley regions into the Mauryan Empire. Chandragupta gained control over the areas that he had sought, and he consolidated a marriage alliance with the Seleucid Empire, after the war, the Mauryan Empire emerged as the dominant power of the indian Subcontinent.


Chandragupta Maurya's Empire circa 320 BCE. His dynasty would later control the vast majority of India.

Chandragupta Maurya established himself as ruler of Magadha around 321 BCE. He decided to conquer the Nanda Dynasty, rulers at the time of the Gangetic Plain, he fought the empire for eleven years with successful guerrilla campaigns, and captured the Nanda capital of Pataliputra. This led to the fall of the empire and the eventual creation of the Maurya Empire under Emperor Chandragupta Maurya.

The states of the Indus Valley and modern Afghanistan were part of the Empire of Alexander the Great. When Alexander died, the Wars of the Diadochi ("Successors") split his empire apart; as his generals fought for control of Alexander's empire. In the eastern territories one of these generals, Seleucus I Nicator, was taking control and was starting to establish what became known as the Seleucid Empire, this territory included Alexander's conquests along the Indus Valley.

The emerging and expanding Mauryan Empire came into conflict with Seleucus over the Indus Valley as Seleucus sought to hold these territories.[1]


Chandragupta Maurya fought with Seleucus over the Indus Valley and the region of Gandhara, a wealthy kingdom that had submitted years earlier to Alexander the Great, the Mauryans were very successful in their battles against the Macedonian forces. Though the Indian forces were outnumbered against the Macedonian forces,[citation needed] still Macedonians suffered setbacks. The Indian infantry, cavalry, chariot and war elephants were well equipped with advanced weapons and metal armours, the Macedonian soldiers were also wearing metal armours but, they were inferior to that of Indians.[citation needed] War elephants played a major role in defeating Seleucus, the Macedonians were not able to counter them. Seleucus only had heavy infantry which made his army slow, while Chandragupta Maurya had both heavy and light infantry which were very effective in tackling the opposite forces, the Indian archers were also very skilled and gave heavy casualties to the Seleucus' army.[citation needed] The Macedonian phalanx was ineffective against the Indian vyuha and because of the great tactics used by Chandragupta Maurya, the Macedonian forces where not able to stand against the Indian forces, at the end of the battle the Macedonian army was nearly destroyed and Mauryans decisively won the war.[citation needed] Seleucus Nicator accepted his defeat and surrendered the entire region of Hindu Kush, Punjab and Afghanistan to Chandragupta Maurya. Subsequently, Chandragupta Maurya expanded into the Deccan.[2]

According to the Roman historian Appian, Seleucus also formed a "marriage alliance" with Chandragupta Maurya to avoid any future possibility of war with Chandragupta Maurya. Seleucus received 500 war elephants in return as a dowry when Chandragupta Maurya married his daughter, those animals would prove of great help in the conflict ahead, culminating in the Battle of Ipsus:

Always lying in wait for the neighboring nations, strong in arms and persuasive in council, he acquired Mesopotamia, Armenia, 'Seleucid' Cappadocia, Persis, Parthia, Bactria, Arabia, Tapouria, Sogdia, Arachosia, Hyrcania, and other adjacent peoples that had been subdued by Alexander, as far as the river Indus, so that the boundaries of his empire were the most extensive in Asia after that of Alexander, the whole region from Phrygia to the Indus was subject to Seleucus. He crossed the Indus and waged war with Sandrocottus [Maurya], king of the Indians, who dwelt on the banks of that stream, until they came to an understanding with each other and contracted a marriage relationship, some of these exploits were performed before the death of Antigonus and some afterward.

— Appian, History of Rome, The Syrian Wars 55

The peace was negotiated by the Greek envoy, Megasthenes, he made several journeys into the Mauryan Empire, chronicling his journeys.

For Seleucus, it was a humiliating defeat.[citation needed] He lost the war because the Mauryan army was more disciplined and better organised than the Macedonian army.[citation needed] The war affected the Wars of the Diadochi in the west, with the war elephants acquired from the Mauryas, Seleucus was able to defeat his rival, Antigonos, at the Battle of Ipsus. Adding Antigonos's territories to his own, Seleucus would found the Seleucid Empire, which would endure as a great power in the Mediterranean and the Middle East until 64 BCE.