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Greatest Emperor of India: There have been many emperors in Indian history, of which a few of them were entitled “The Greatest”. The Greatest Emperors of India were those who ruled with wisdom and compassion, and who left a lasting legacy of positive change. They were also great military leaders and conquerors and expanded the reach and influence of their empires.
The greatest emperors also oversaw a period of great economic prosperity and cultural achievement. During their reigns, India became a leading center of learning and art. These emperors also maintained peace and stability throughout the empire. Moreover, they were great patrons of the arts and supported the development of many different art forms.
In this article, we shall look at some of the Greatest Emperors of India.
Who is an Emperor?
Emperor or Empress was the title given to the kings and queens of India by the British rulers during the British rule in India from 1876 till 1948. In 1947, after India gained independence from the United Kingdom, for a transitional phase, the British monarch was known as the kings of the independent dominance of India and Pakistan. The term ‘Emperor’ is also used to refer to the Indian kings or monarchs who ruled during the pre-British phase. The title was last used in the year 1857 for Bahadur Shah II, the last Mughal emperor until he was detained by the British. The Greatest Emperor of India.
India is regarded as one of the most prosperous countries in the world, considering its culture, heritage, History, rulers, and ruling clans. The country has witnessed the reign of numerous rulers, dynasties, emperors, and conquerors in the past several years. Many have sacrificed their happiness, wealth, and lives for the sake of their people and countrymen.
Those who lived for the country are regarded as the greatest emperor and remembered with a lot of respect and reverence. Look at the top 10 greatest emperors of Indian History who shaped this country and the road we walk today.
1. Chandragupta Maurya
Founder of the Maurya dynasty in ancient India, Chandragupta Maurya reigned from 321 BCE–298 BCE. He was born to a very meek and humble family; he was orphaned and deserted. Though raised as their son by another rural family, he was later chosen, trained, and counseled by Chanakya, the creator of the world-famous novel ‘Arthashastra.’ After defeating the ‘Nanda Dynasty, Chandragupta built ‘The Maurya Dynasty,’ one of the biggest and most prominent dynasties ever in Indian History.
Later life of Chandragupta Maurya:
As per the Jain sources, Chandragupta Maurya later renounced everything; his power, wealth, and position, and became a Jain monk. As claimed by the ancient Jain texts, Chandragupta Maurya followed Jainism in his life after renouncing everything and went away to Karnataka (known as the Deccan region during that time) with the Jain monks. He ultimately performed Sallekhana – the sacred custom followed by Jains where they welcome death peacefully by fasting. He is certainly one of the greatest emperors in Indian History and is also known to have triumphed over the easternmost satrapies of Alexander the Great. Chandragupta Maurya is undoubtedly the greatest emperor of India.
Popularly known as Akbar, his complete name was Abu’l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar. He was born on 15 October 1542 and lived till 27 October 1605. Akbar was the third emperor of the Mughal dynasty and ruled between 1556 to 1605. He succeeded his father, Humayun, and under the guidance of Bairam Khan, the emperor expanded and consolidated Mughal domains in the sub-continent of India. Known as a liberal emperor, Akbar believed in cultural assimilation.
His influence and power widened over entire India due to the strong dominance of the Mughal dynasty’s political, military, economic, and cultural influence. Akbar also found a centralized administrative system to unify the huge Mughal state throughout his empire. He even adopted a policy of pacifying the conquered emperors through diplomacy and marriage. He introduced several policies that won him accolades, respect, and support for his non-Islamic pupils to establish peace and order in a country like India with religious and cultural diversity.
Later life of Akbar:
Akbar’s reign significantly influenced the course of Indian History. During the reign of the emperor Akbar, the Mughal dynasty tripled in prosperity, wealth, and size. He constructed a strong military system and effective social and political reforms. He was the first Mughal ruler to abolish the sectarian tax on non-Islamic subjects and appointed them to high military and civil posts, which earned him much admiration, loyalty, and the trust and loyalty of the native pupils. He laid the foundation of a multi-cultural empire by participating in native festivals, getting Sanskrit literature translated, and honoring non-Muslims with equal esteem and respect. He passed away on 27 October 1605, and his Dynasty was succeeded by his son Prince Salim, who later became famous as the emperor Jahangir.
Popularly known as the ‘Samraat Chakravartin,’ Ashoka belonged to the Maurya Dynasty and ruled between 268 BCE to 232 BCE. He was the grandson of the great Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya Dynasty. One of the greatest emperors of India, Ashoka expanded the Maurya dynasty and ruled over a kingdom that stretched from today’s Afghanistan in the west to present-day Bangladesh in the east. The reign also covered the entire India, excluding the parts of today’s Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. The Dynasty’s capital city was Pataliputra (present-day Patna in Bihar), with regional/provincial capitals at Ujjain and Taxila.
Later life of Ashoka:
Several legends claim that Ashoka embraced Buddhism in about 263 BCE after witnessing people’s mass fatality at the end of the Kalinga War. In quest and desire for conquest, Ashoka launched a vicious war against Kalinga (present-day Odisha) in around 260 BCE. He conquered Kalinga, though he witnessed the deaths of around 100,000 people and 150,000 deportations; the death toll later rose to more than 200,000. He is globally recognized for his edicts, the spread of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Central Asia, and for instituting various monuments commemorating numerous significant sites based on the life of the Gautama Buddha. Modern India’s emblem has also been extracted from the Lion Capital of the great Ashoka.
Shivaji Bhosale, the founder and the greatest emperor of the Maratha Empire, was born to his father, Shahaji Bhonsle, and mother, Jijabai. He was named Shivaji after the lord and a local deity Shivaji. Belonging to the Bhosle Maratha clan, Shivaji constructed a self-regulating Maratha kingdom and made Raigad his capital. He was capped as ‘Chhatrapati’ for leading the fight against the Mughal Empire and the Adilshahi sultanate of Bijapur.
Shivaji was a great warrior and is remembered as a hero who brought most of India together against the Mughals. Shivaji is also credited for establishing various warfare methods, including the guerilla style using speed, geography, and surprises during attacks against larger and more powerful enemies.
Later life of Shivaji
Shivaji fell ill with fever and dysentery and passed away in April 1680 at 52. Out of all surviving wives of Shivaji, Putalabai, the eldest and the childless wife, committed Sati by lying on his funeral pyre.
State of Maratha’s after Shivaji’s death
After Shivaji died in 1681, the Mughals launched a nasty mission under Aurangzeb in the South to capture provinces ruled by the Marathas, Golkonda, and Bijapur. Aurangzeb successfully eradicated the Sultanates, but he could not suppress the Marathas. The era saw the torture, capture, and execution of Sambhaji, the eldest son of Shivaji, in 1689, along with strong resistance of the Marathas under the guidance of Sambhaji’s heir Rajaram and later, Rajaram’s widow Tarabai. The conflict ended in the year 1707 with the defeat of the Mughals.
Kanishka, also called ‘Kanishka the Great, was one of the most extraordinary emperors of the Kushan Dynasty between 127–150 CE. He was the descendant of Kujula Kadphises, the empire founder of the Kushan dynasty. Kanishka is highly popular for his political, military, and spiritual achievements. His territory stretched from Turfan at Tarim Basin to the then Pataliputra (modern Patna) on the Gangetic plain. With Puruṣapura in Gandhara as his main capital, he made Kapisa another major capital of his kingdom. Kanishka was a great supporter of Buddhism and is still today considered one of the greatest Buddhist Kings of India. His patronage and devotion to Buddhism played a major role in developing the Silk Road and spreading Mahayana Buddhism from state Gandhara throughout the Karakoram Range to China.
Later life of Kanishka
Kanishka belonged to Yuezhi or Rouzhi ethnicity but went on adopting Buddhism later in his life. He died and was buried in Peshawar (Pakistan). King Kanishka was highly regarded and respected by everyone in his Dynasty due to his deeds. He is remembered as a kind and humble ruler who had self-righteousness and a sense of equality for his subjects and was regarded as ‘THE KING OF KINGS.’
6. Prithviraj Chauhan
Prithvirāja III, popularly known as Rai Pithora or Prithviraj Chauhan, was born in 1178 and lived till 1192 CE. He was the son of Someshwar Chauhan and one of the kings of the Chauhan (Chahamana) dynasty. He ruled Sapadalaksha, the long-established Chahamana territory (modern North-Western India), and controlled much of modern Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, and some parts of Uttar and Madhya Pradesh. He is described as the great king and the ambassador of the Indian power during the pre-Islamic era.
The early life of Prithviraj:
Prithviraj gained military successes against neighboring Hindu kings (Nagarjuna, Chandela king Paramardi., Bhadanakas, Paramaras of Abu, Chalukyas of Gujarat, Gahadavalas of Kannauj, and various other rulers) in his early career. Out of all his victories, the most notable ones are against the Chandela king and Gahadavalas of Kannauj as he eloped with Samyukta, daughter of Jai Chandra Rathod of Kannauj.
Later life of Prithviraj:
Prithviraj is known to have revolted against the early assaults by Muhammad of Ghor, a ruler of the Islamic Ghurid dynasty. Nonetheless, in 1192 CE, the Ghurids defeated Prithviraj at the Second Battle of Tarain, which also marked the Islamic victory of India. As stated by various medieval sources, Prithviraj was taken to Ajmer, where Muhammad decided to reinstate him as a Ghurid vassal (one who shows mutual commitment to the ruling king). However, later, Prithviraj revolted against Muhammad and was executed for disloyalty in 1192.
7. Ranjit Singh
Born in 1780, Ranjit Singh was the chief of the Sikh Empire, which ruled throughout northwest India during the early half of the 19th century. He lost sight in his left eye after being caught with smallpox. At age 10, he battled for the first time alongside his father and fought several battles later in his life to drive out the Afghans from the Indian subcontinent. He received the title of ‘Maharaja of Punjab’ at 21. Under his leadership, Ranjit Singh brought the entire central Punjab from the Jhelum to Sutlej under his control.
Later life of Ranjit Singh
In 1802, Maharaja Ranjit Singh married a Muslim nautch girl Moran Sarkar and his other non-Sikh activities upset traditional Sikhs and the Nihangs. Ranjit Singh was made to apologize for his mistakes when he visited Amritsar. Akali Phula Singh, the Nihangs leader, asked the close by Sikh pilgrims if they accepted Ranjit Singh’s apology, and the pilgrims replied with Sat Sri Akal, and thus Ranjit Singh was forgiven and released. Ranjit Singh suffered from various health problems during the 1830s and was an alcoholic too. Due to failing liver and a stroke, he passed away while sleeping on 27 June 1839.
Ranjit Singh, during his rule, introduced modernization, reforms, and investment into general prosperity and infrastructure. His government and Khalsa army included Hindus, Sikhs, Europeans, and Muslims.
Samudragupta, after succeeding his father Chandragupta-I, became the second monarch of the majestic Gupta Dynasty. He was not only a determined conqueror and a great warrior; but was also an avid fan of various arts and cultures, especially poetry and music. Samudragupta is recognized as a generous ruler as he implemented different policies for the southern and the northern parts of India, which is why he is considered the greatest emperor of the Gupta Empire.
Various western scholars also termed the ‘Indian Napoleon’ because of his several military victories to expand his empire. Thus, the Gupta dynasty became one of the greatest dynasties. The details of Samudragupta’s widespread reign and different conquests can still be imprinted on rock edicts and gold coins.
Samudragupta was born in 335 AD to father Chandragupta I, the founder of the Gupta Empire, and mother Kumaradevi, the Licchavi princess. Samudragupta traveled along the entire Bay of Bengal, winning over 12 princes across the districts of Kancheepuram, Krishna, Nellore, Vishakhapatnam, Ganjam, Godavari, and coastal Odisha. Through inventions and research in literature, art, science, astronomy, religion, and dialectic aspects of the Hindu culture, he greatly expanded the Gupta Empire, which is recognized as the ‘Golden Age of India.’
Later life of Samudragupta
Samudragupta ruled the Gupta Empire till he passed away in 380 AD. Chandragupta II, also called Vikramaditya, succeeded the throne under whose rule the Gupta Dynasty continued to flourish and prosper.
9. Chandragupta I:
Chandragupta, I was born in 320 AD and was the son of Ghatotkacha Gupta and the grandson of Sri Gupta. While his predecessors were known as Maharaja, Chandragupta-I won the title of Maharajadhiraja (King of all kings) because of his greatness and supreme power that influenced many during his reign. He extended the prestige and power of the Dynasty to a vast extent through conquests and matrimonial alliances. He married the Lichchavi Princess, Kumaradevi, which earned him much power and recognition. His Dynasty included Oudh, Tirhut, modern Bihar, Allahabad, and Magadha. Kumaradevi was the foremost Queen of India to be featured on a coin.
Chandragupta was a very influential emperor and extended his kingdom beyond boundaries. His victories added to various other areas and states within the province of the Gupta Dynasty. It is normally believed that the Gupta Dynasty in the History of Indian civilization began during the period of Chandragupta I.
He passed away in 335AD and was succeeded by his son Samudragupta, under whose tenet the Gupta Dynasty continued to thrive and grow.
10. Maharana Pratap
Pratap Singh, popularly known as Maharana Pratap, was born on 9 May 1540 and was a Rajput king of Mewar, a province in modern Rajasthan. Maharana Pratap is titled a great warrior and the Hero of Rajasthan due to his efforts to restrain Akbar to triumph over his area successfully. He is respected as a brave warrior who declined to surrender to the Mughal incursion.
In 1568, the Mughals sieged Chittorgarh and triumphed over the prolific eastern parts of Mewar. The then Mughal king Akbar wanted to secure a steady path to Gujarat via Mewar; in 1572, when Pratap Singh became the king (Rana), Akbar sent different diplomats pleading for the Rana to serve Akbar as a vassal like several other Rajput leaders in Rajasthan.
When Maharana Pratap refused to surrender to Akbar, the Battle of Haldighati was launched on 18 June 1576 between Akbar’s forces led by Man Singh I and Maharana Pratap. The Mughals won the war and imposed large casualties over the Mewaris; however, they failed to arrest Pratap as he escaped.
Later life of Maharana Pratap:
Mughals relaxed the pressure on Mewar after 1579 because of the rebellions in Bihar and Bengal. In 1585, Akbar shifted to Lahore and stayed there for the next 12 years, observing the state of affairs in the northwest, and no Mughal team came to Mewar throughout this era. Pratap thus gained authority in Western Mewar, including Udaipur, Kumbhalgarh, and Gogunda. He also constructed a novel capital, Chavand (near present-day Dungarpur)
As per reports, Maharana Pratap passed away on 19 January 1597 as he succumbed to injuries sustained at Chavand in a hunting accident. His throne was succeeded by Amar Singh I, his eldest son.
India has been the destination of many emperors, several kingdoms have prospered over here, and some are still recognized with great regard. Some emperors and Empires changed India’s entire History and picture and laid the path for people today. Today’s responsibility of modern politicians and the general public is to preserve India’s rich cultural heritage and History and set examples for other countries.
FAQs on Who is the Greatest Emperor of India
Who is Ashoka the great?
Popularly known as the 'Samraat Chakravartin,' Ashoka belonged to the Maurya Dynasty and ruled between 268 BCE to 232 BCE. He was the grandson of the great Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya Dynasty.
Who is Maharana Pratap?
Pratap Singh, popularly known as Maharana Pratap, was born on 9 May 1540 and was a Rajput king of Mewar, a province in modern Rajasthan. Maharana Pratap is titled a great warrior and the Hero of Rajasthan due to his efforts to restrain Akbar to triumph over his area successfully.
Who is Chandragupta Maurya?
Chandragupta Maurya was the founder of the Maurya dynasty in ancient India who reigned from 321 BCE–298 BCE.
Who is Shivaji?
Shivaji Bhosale was the founder and the greatest emperor of the Maratha Empire. He was capped as 'Chhatrapati' for leading the fight against the Mughal Empire and the Adilshahi sultanate of Bijapur.
What is emperor meaning?
An emperor is a monarch who rules over an empire, which is a territory that is composed of multiple countries or states. Who is emperor of India?