The Emperor Who Starved Himself to Death

Image result for images of chandragupta i

Chandragupta I, the emperor who conquered most of what is now India, who possibly met Alexander the Great when the latter crossed the Indus River, abdicated his throne in 298 B.C. and ritually starved himself to death in a cave in south India, in keeping with his new devotion to the Jain religion ( The empire he left behind was shored up by an army of 600,000 foot soldiers, plus cavalry and war elephants.

There’s always something to learn in history that you hadn’t known before. I had heard of Chandragupta’s Mauryan Empire, but had no idea of its size, power, and wealth.

And then the emperor resigned his throne, took up the life of a monk, and starved himself to death. In an age of conquerors, he was one of the mightiest of them all.


The closest parallel I can think of in Western history would be Sulla, who fought a terrible civil war throughout the Roman Empire in the First Century B.C. After shedding oceans of blood, and exterminating anyone he thought might try to follow in his footsteps–he missed two young men named Julius Caesar and Gnaeus Pompey, later to be known as Pompey the Great–Sulla restored all the shattered institutions of the Roman Republic and quietly retired to private life. But those two lads he overlooked finished the destruction of the republic, and between them turned Rome into a perpetual dictatorship.

You never know what to expect in history.


2 comments on “The Emperor Who Starved Himself to Death

Leave a Reply