Chandragupta Maurya founded the Mauryan Dynasty and was the first person to unify the majority of India under one government. He lived from around 340 B.C. to around 297 B.C.
Born into a family of warriors, Chandragupta Maurya grew up with a cowherd's family after his own father died. He attracted the attention of a powerful Brahman politician, Kautilya, who groomed him in the ways of war. After shattering the power of the Nanda Empire at the tender age of 20, Chandragupta took the throne of Magadha, a kingdom in what is now northeastern India, around 325 B.C. After consolidating his power, Chandragupta began to conquer the satrapies created by Alexander the Great, who had recently died.
After conquering much of north India, he pushed into the Seleucid Empire, taking its eastern provinces. With his rule secure in the north, Chandragupta then began pushing south into the Deccan Plateau in central and south India. In his early 40s, he became interested in Jainism, an acetic religion, and he eventually abdicated the throne of the Mauryan Empire in favor of his son Bindusara. He spent his last days practicing sallekhana, a Jainist form of suicide by fasting. The dynasty he founded ruled until 185 B.C. and produced one of the most revered rulers in India's history, Ashoka the Great.