China vs. India- Ying and Chandragupta

In 1974, a farmer, while digging his well, discovered first of the life-sized clay figure of soldiers of the famous terracotta army of China. Archeologists described it as the greatest archeological find of the 20th century. The first emperor wanted to be buried with his army and hoped to continue conquering even after the life.

The terracotta army was found, around the first emperor’s tomb in Xi’an, China. The site is said to contain at least 7,000 of these clay soldiers, arranged in military formation. So far, only 1,000 or so have been excavated.

Ying became the king of Qin (pronounced “chin”) when he was just 13. Qin was the westernmost of the seven provinces that were to make up the united China. Qin wasn’t the strongest of them. In fact, it was one of the weaker ones.

Ying became king in 247 BC. By 221 BC, he had succeeded in subjugating all the other provinces, creating what is known today as China. He ruled as first emperor until 210 BC, and he died at an early age of 49.

Some consider, the first emperor’s dream of conquering all his neighbours, then doing it all again in the after life, as a madman’s dream. He was simultaneously a practical genius who organised and prepared his society so thoroughly, and with such attention to detail. He gave China a script that is still in use today. He created a working administration whose descendants still run the country.

Ying was so determined to take everything with him to the afterlife that he commanded acrobats to be made for him. His actual tomb has not yet been excavated, but it’s said he re-created his entire empire down there, with rivers made of mercury, a false sky filled with stars and ersatz mountains to climb and dream on.

I read this story taken from ‘Sunday Times, London’. It made think who should be called the first king of India. These days it has become a fashion to compare India with China. Every now and then we find such stories in media. Will the credit go to Chandragupta Maurya or his grandson Ashoka? I shall like the credit to go to Chandragupta.

‘At Sravana Belgola, more famous for the massive sculpture of Gomteshwara, a Jain teacher, Chandragupta is said to have passed his final days in austerity and devotions. Chandragupta is supposed to have resided on Chandragiri, a less known hill nearby. Inscriptions and reliefs dating back to the fifth century AD record his presence; and a low cave amidst the granite scarps is said to be where, in the ultimate act of Jain self-denial, the emperor finally starved himself to death.’ Source- India -A History by John Keay

Just think for a moment. Chadragupta Maurya becomes the first great emperor of India, conquers almost the whole of India duly assisted by the statecraft of Chankya, and then leaves everything and starves himself far away from Patliputra as an ordinary man, perhaps with no big rituals, processions, or memorials. Appreciate the difference. And then get reminded of the news in media where Atalji wishes to come back again in active politics!

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