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Mauryan Military System

"Some time after, as he was going to war with the generals of Alexander, a wild elephant of great bulk presented itself before him of its own accord, and, as if tamed down to gentleness, took him on its back, and became his guide in the war, and conspicuous in fields of battle. Sandrocottus, having thus acquired a throne, was in possession of India, when Seleucus was laying the foundations of his future greatness; who, after making a league with him, and settling his affairs in the east, proceeded to join in the war against Antigonus. As soon as the forces, therefore, of all the confederates were united, a battle was fought, in which Antigonus was slain, and his son Demetrius put to flight. "

Junianus Justinus, Historiarum Philippicarum libri on Chandragupta Maurya (called Sandrocottus in Greek literature)

Mauryan Empire is regarded as the first major empire in the history of India. This period witnessed the flourishing of art, literature, architecture, sculpture etc. The empire was founded by Chandragupta Maurya in 311 BC. The empire lasted from 321 BC to 185 BC.

The founding of Mauryan Empire by Chandragupta Maurya can be traced back to the conquest of Nanda Dynasty. He was a brilliant general. Millitory system during Mauryan period consisted of people from all castes. There was no discrimination and equity and equity was the rule in recruitment.

The Mauryans had a complex army structure. This was one reason why the Mauryan empire extended to almost whole of India. The Mauryan army had 4 types of troops- elephant (gaja), chariot (ratha), cavalry (turanga), and infantry (pada).

The core of the army was composed of warriors from Uttarapathian in central and western India. Uttarapatha had many warlike peoples, including the Kambojas, Yavanas, and Sakas.

The Mauryan army was broken into many units, the smallest unit being a ‘patti’. It had 1 chariot, 1 elephant, 3 cavalry and 5 infantry. Three patti made up a Sena mukha, and three Sena Mukha made up a Gulma.

Other divisions were the Gana, Vahini, Pratana, Camu and Ani kini, each of which was three times as big as the one preceding it. The Aksauhini was composed of ten Ani kini, and was the largest unit in an army.

Another attraction was formations or vyuhas. The Vyuhas are mentioned often in the great epic Mahabharata. Each vyuha had had a center, two flanks and two wings. The padma Vyuha was used against Abhimanyu in Mahabharatha. Padma Vyuha literally meant lotus formation. It was such that where the archers would be on the inside, and the infantry and cavalry would be arranged like a lotus flower, protecting them.

The garuda vyuha was yet another formation, which can be tranaslated to eagle formation. There were many other vyuhas namely Chakra Vyuha or wheel formation, Suchi Vyuha or Needle formation, Kurma vyuha or Turtle formation Chayana Vyuha or Hawk formation and so on.


This site covers all areas for Ancient Indian History for kids. There are several essays to refer to for your school history study. We start off with ancient India timeline, various ancinet empires like the Mauryan empire and the Gupta empire. You will find information about ancient Indian society and culture, rulers, wars, costumes and several such facinating subjects. History of ancient India for kids is quite fascinating and long.