A big orange sun hung low in the sky. The sweet smell of the jasmine filled his nostrils. The noisy chirping of birds returning home made it impossible to hear anything.
Yet, Chandragupta sensed he was safe now. The soldiers outside the jungle were gone. He hadn’t heard their horses neigh for a while. Chandragupta was fleeing the Magadh soldiers after losing yet another battle. Separated from his men, he hid in the jungle.
The soldiers lingered around all night and all day. They probably thought the wild beasts would scare him out. But Chandragupta was much stronger for his twenty years. He had the wisdom and courage of a seasoned warrior.
Now with the soldiers gone, he quietly left the forest. He was starving by now. It had been two days since he ate. Further ahead he saw lights. A village, he realized happily.
A hut stood alone with an old lady at the door. He approached the lady and touched her feet.
“Mother, please spare me some food. I am very hungry.” The old lady smiled and offered him a mat to sit. She placed an earthen plate with steaming hot khichadi and ghee. Chandragupta was so hungry he did not even wait to thank her. Without thinking, he burrowed his fingers into the hot food, then immediately pulled them out.
“Ahhh…,” he exclaimed, shaking his burnt fingers.
“Behaving foolishly like Chandragupta?” the lady reproached him, offering water for the burn.
“What did he do?” Chandragupta was bewildered. Surely the old lady didn’t know that he was Chandragupta.
“You dipped your hand in the hottest part of your plate – right in the center. Obviously you burnt your fingers. You should always eat from the sides and slowly move to the centre.”
This simple thought opened Chandragupta’s eyes. He understood the reason for his repeated failures.
On his return, he led his army to the outer reaches of Magadh. He started by conquering border provinces like Punjab and then moved towards the center. Eventually, Chandragupta became the greatest emperor of ancient India and established the golden rule of the Mauryan dynasty.
Did you know?
– Chandragupta Maurya was the grandfather of King Ashoka.
– His kingdom spanned from Afghanistan to Bengal.
– His capital was Pataliputra, modern day Patna.