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Reasons for the rise of the Magadha Dynasty 

Reasons for the rise of the Magadha Dynasty 

Reasons for the rise of the Magadha Dynasty

Magadha was one of the 16 Mahajanapadas of ancient India. It was spread over Patna and the Gaya district of modern Bihar state. Magadha, Kosala, Vatsa and Avanti were the most powerful states among the Mahajanapadas.

Gradually Magadha defeated the other three Mahajanapadas and annexed them to his empire. Its capital was Girivraj (present-day Rajgir). The main reasons for the rise of Magadha are as follows:

  • Wide fertile plains
  • Natural protection
  • Availability of mineral resources
  • Business growth
  • Availability of forest cover and elephants
  • Use of iron in agriculture
  • Development of rice planting method
  • Employment of slaves and workers in agriculture
  • Rise of new religions
  • Social openness and progressive approach

Written By Deepa Chandravanshi  Co-founder of Chandravanshi.

Magadha Dynasty

During this period, due to the use of iron tools in agriculture, there was a great increase in agricultural production in Magadha. Along with this, new methods of agriculture also developed.

As a result, agricultural production began to exceed the requirement. Craft and industry flourished in Magadha and commerce-trade and money economy developed.

The Magadha Empire is mentioned in Vedic literature during the 6th century BCE. Second urbanization also started in the 6th century BC, which gave impetus to the process of state formation.

It is estimated from the utensils of the Magadha Empire period that the city system was in existence during this period. This pottery has been called northern black glazed pottery.

The state got a solid economic and social base and the taxation system was established. The Magadha kingdom is first mentioned in the Atharvaveda.

Later the rise of the Gupta and Maurya empires also took place in Magadha. There was a republican system in Magadha. During this time the head of the village was called Gramak.

He performed judicial, military and executive functions. During this, there was a lot of development of religion, science, astrology and philosophy.

Haryanka Dynasty (544-412 BC)

The Haryanka dynasty was the first dynasty of Magadha. The reign of this dynasty lasted from 544 BC to 412 BC. Initially, the capital of Haryanka dynasty was located at Rajgriha, but later it was shifted to Patna. Following are the major rulers of Haryanka dynasty and their tenure:

Bimbisara (544-492 BCE)

Bimbisara was the first ruler of the Haryanka dynasty, his tenure from 544 BC to 492 BC. Bimbisara founded the Haryanka dynasty in 544 BC. According to Buddhist texts, Bimbisara took over the throne at the age of 15. Bimbisara is also known as Shrenik in Jain texts.

Bimbisara made Girivraj or Rajagriha the capital of Magadha. By adopting the policy of conquest and expansion, Anga took over the country. At that time the ruler of Anga was Brahmadatta.

It also established matrimonial relations to strengthen its position. Bimbisara first married Kosala Devi, the daughter of Kosalaraj and sister of Prasenjit.

The second he married the Lichchavi princess Chellana of Vaishali and the third he married Kshema, the daughter of the head of Madrakul. It is estimated that there were about 80,000 settlements in the kingdom of Bimbisara.

Bimbisara was a contemporary of Buddha. According to Hiuen Tsang, Bimbisara founded the city of Rajgir. Bimbisara also fought with the Avanti king Chandpradyog.

Later, the treatment of Pradyota, who was suffering from jaundice, was sent to Ehtu Rajvaidya Jivaka. Bimbisara was a contemporary of Buddha and he was also a follower of Buddha.

He had donated a forest called Velavan to the Buddhists. He was the first major patron of Buddhism.

Ajatashatru (492-460 BCE)

Ajatashatru was the son of Bimbisara. He had captured the throne by killing his father Bimbisara. Ajatashatru was also known as Kunika. Ajatashatru was a contemporary of Gautam Buddha and Mahavira.

Ajatashatru fought against Vajji. He defeated Kosala and Kashi. With the help of his minister Sunidh and Varshakar, he created a split in the Vajji Sangh and got Vajji down. In the war against Vaishali, it used weapons like Rathamusan and Mahashilakantaka.

Magadha became the most powerful state in North India during the reign of Ajatashatru. It strengthened its capital, Rajagriha. Buddha attained Nirvana in the eighth year of his tenure. He built a stupa in Rajagriha and also organized the first Buddhist council.

Udayin (460–440 BCE)

After Ajatashatru, his son Udayin or Udaybhadra became the ruler, he made Pataliputra his capital. He also got the city of Pataliputra built. He was a follower of Jainism.

other rulers
Udayin was followed by rulers like Aniruddha, Munda and Darshak, but they could not rule for long. They were not very capable and efficient.

Shishunaga Dynasty (412-344 BCE)

The Shishunaga dynasty was the second dynasty of the Magadha Empire. It was founded by Shishunaga. He was the amatya of the last Haryanka ruler, Nagadasaka. According to Buddhist literature, King Nagdasaka was expelled by the citizens and Shishunaga was made the king.

Initially, its capital was Rajgir but later the capital was shifted to Pataliputra. Shishunaga merged Avanti with Magadha. Kalashok was its successor. According to Buddhist texts, his second capital was Vajji.

The second Buddhist council was organized in 383 BC during the tenure of Kalavarna Kalashoka. In this, apart from Pataliputra, Vaishali was also made his capital. He was the governor of Varanasi during the reign of Shishunaga.

Nanda Dynasty (344-323 BCE)

During the Nanda dynasty, the Magadha Empire extended from Bengal in the east to Punjab in the west to the Vindhya mountain ranges.

Mahapadmanand laid the foundation of the Nanda dynasty by killing Mahanandin, the last ruler of the Shishunaga dynasty. In the Buddhist text “Mahabodhivansh” he has been called Ugrasen and in the Puranas Sarvakshatrantak and Ekarat.

The Hathigumpha inscription of Kharavela mentions his conquest of Kalinga. Mahapadmananda defeated the kingdoms of Panchala, Kasis, Haiyay, Kalinga, Asmak, Kuru, Maithili, Shurasen etc.

According to the Mahabodhi dynasty, Dhanananda was the last ruler of this dynasty, which was called by the Greek writers Agrammes and Xendramis.

Due to his evil practices, he was not much liked by the people of Magadha. During his tenure, Alexander invaded western North India in 326 BC.

The administrative and economic system

The Magadha Empire was the first major empire of ancient India. During this time bureaucracy was separate from blood relations. Balisdhakas, Saulikas, Rajjugrahakars and Akshapataladhikrits were the chief officers of this period.

The soldiers of the Mahajanapadas used double-edged swords and reed arrows with iron tips on their faces. Metals were used extensively during this period.

Agricultural production increased significantly during this period. During this period the use of tools made of iron started for farming. And the development of new methods of agriculture also took place in this period.

During this time the habitation land and the agricultural land were separated. The unit of measurement of land was called nirvartan. In the 6th century BCE, merchants formed their own organisations, which were called ranks.

The class was a group of people doing the same work, whose head was called Shresthin or Jyeshtha.

It is probably during this period that coins began to be used for exchange. These coins were made of gold and silver. The coins of this period were hit coins.

Business activities also increased during this period. Pandya Siddhi ceremony was performed for the growth of the business.

The second urban revolution occurred in the 6th century BC in the Ganga-Yamuna Doab and the adjoining areas of Bihar. The early Buddhist literature mentions six famous cities of the time of Buddha.

After the Mahabharata, Magadha and Gandhara were two such centres of power in ancient India of the Buddhist period, from where all kinds of activities of religion, politics, education and society were conducted.

In the Mahabharata period, the Magadha district was the most powerful district among the 16 districts, whose emperor was Jarasandha. Taxila near Purushpur (Peshawar) of Gandhara and Pataliputra was a prosperous city in the Magadha Empire.

After Mahabharata, gradually the centre of religion shifted from Taxila (Peshawar) to Pataliputra of Magadha. The later history of Mahabharata is mentioned in the Garga Samhita.

After the decline of the influence of Indraprastha, Ayodhya, Hastinapur, Mathura, India was divided into 16 districts. The district which was powerful in this used to operate the other districts in its own way.

Gradually empires like Pataliputra, Taxila, Vaishali Gandhara and Vijayanagara emerged. It is believed that 17 kings ruled after Janmejaya after the Mahabharata war. According to some historians, King Udayan was born in the 29th generation of Janmejaya.

Magadha (Pataliputra) was ruled by Jarasandha, the brave son of Brihadratha and one of Krishna’s enemies, who had close relations with the Yavanas. The last ruler of Jarasandha’s history, Nipunjaya was assassinated by his minister Sunik and his son Pradyota ascended the throne of Magadha.

138 years after the end of the five rulers of the Pradyota dynasty, Shishunaga ascended the throne of Magadha 642 years ago. After that Mahapadma took over the reins of Magadha and founded the Nanda dynasty.

Mahapadmas, also known as Mahapadmapati or Ugrasen, belonged to the Shudra class of society.

Mahapadma also learned from his predecessor Shishunaga kings the reins of Magadha and the policy of systematic expansion. In the Puranas, he has been described as the destroyer of all Kshatriyas.

Mahapadma defeated the rulers of northern, eastern and central India like Ikshvaku, Panchala, Kashi, Haihaya, Kalinga, Ashmaka, Kaurava, Maithil, Shurasen and Vitihotra.

After the end of Mahapadma’s dynasty, the Nanda dynasty ruled over Magadha. The Nanda dynasty is mentioned in the Puranas, which mention Sukalpa (Sahalpa, Sumalya), while the Buddhist Mahabodhivansh mentions the names of eight Nanda kings.

The last ruler in this list, Dhananand, is notable. This Dhananand is said to be a powerful contemporary of Alexander the Great.

  • 1. Ugrasen
  • 2. Panduk
  • 3. Pandugati
  • 4. Bhootpala
  • 5. Rashtrapala
  • 6. Govishanaka
  •  7. Dashasidaka
  • 8. Kaivarta
  • 9. Dhan

It is also mentioned in independent inscriptions, which point to the capture of Godavari Valley – Andhra Pradesh, Kalinga – Orissa and parts of Karnataka by the Nanda dynasty.

The political rise of Magadha began in 528 BCE when Bimbisara assumed power. After Bimbisara, Ajatashatru carried forward the works of Bimbisara. In the time of Gautam Buddha, Magadha was ruled by Bimbisara and then by his son Ajatashatru.

Ajatashatru made a fort in Patligram after fighting with the vijyas (Vrijjisangh). Later, Udayana, son of Ajatashatru, established a city named Pataliputra, the new capital of Magadha, on the banks of the Ganges and the Shona.

Mahapadma Nanda, the first ruler of the Nanda dynasty ascended the throne of Pataliputra, established a vast empire and Dhanananda, the last Nanda of the Magadha Empire, took power as his successor.

Just to overthrow the rule of this last Dhananand, Chanakya took the oath. Although Dhananand had a different name he became more famous by the name ‘Dhananand’.

According to a poem in the Tamil language and Kathasaritsagar, there is a mention of ’99 crore gold coins’ of Nanda. It is said that he had buried all his treasures by digging a rock at the bottom of the Ganges river.

After all, Mahananda’s son Mahapadma laid the foundation of the Nanda-dynasty. After this eight Nandas ruled by Sumalya etc. Navananda ruled after Mahananda. Dhana Nanda was the last king of the Nanda dynasty.

According to some historians, 22 kings of the Jarasandha dynasty before the Shishunaga dynasty, from Sahadeva, son of Arjuna’s contemporary Jarasandha, have sat on the throne of Magadha.

He was followed by 12 of the Shishunaga dynasty, of whom the sixth and seventh were contemporary of the kings Udayana. After the Mahabharata war, Panchal was ruled by the descendants of Pandavas and later by the Naga kings. 27 kings are mentioned in the Puranas from the Mahabharata war to the kings of the Nanda dynasty.

After Janmejaya, respectively, Shatanik, Ashwamedhdatta, Dhisimakrishna, Nichakshu, Ushna, Chitraratha, Shuchidratha, Vrishnimat, Sushen, Nunitha, Rucha, Nrichakshus, Sukhibal, Pariplav, Sunay, Medhavin, Nripanjaya, Dhruv, Madhu, and Tigjya, the king, Dhruha, Madhu, The capital was first Hastinapur and later changed with time.

There were Shatniks and Udayanas during the Buddha period. Udayana was followed by Ahner, Nirmitra (Khandapani) and Kshemak.

The Nanda dynasty includes Ugrasen (424–404), Panduk (404–294), Pandugati (394–384), Bhootpal (384–372), Rashtrapal (372–360), Devananda (360–348), Yagyabhang (348). -342), Mauryananda (342-336), Mahananda (336-324). Before this, the dynasty of Brahadratha was established on Magadha.

Brihadratha became the king in the 94th generation of Manu of the Ayodhya clan. The kings of their dynasty were respectively Samadhi, Srutasrav, Ayutayu, Nirmitra, Sukrita, Brihatkarman, Senajit, Vibhu, Shuchi, Kshem, Suvrat, Nivruti, Trinetra, Mahasen, Sumati, Achal, Sunetra, Satyajit, Veerjit and Arinjaya. He ruled Magadha before Kshemdharma (639-603 BC).

When Magadha was ruled by Dhanananda when Chanakya’s father Chanak was killed by him. Enraged by this, Chanakya overthrew his rule and made Chandragupta Maurya the emperor there.

Chandragupta Maurya married Helen, the daughter of Seleucus. Chandragupta had an Indian wife Durdhara, from whom Bindusara was born.

There has been a lot of conspiracy and bloodshed for power in this tour. India was a powerful nation during the time of Chandragupta Maurya. His district was the most powerful in India divided into 16 Mahajanapadas. Chandragupta handed over the throne to his son Bindusara.

Before Chandragupta, Magadha was ruled by the cruel Dhanananda, who was a descendant of Bimbisara and Ajatashatru. After Bindusara, when Emperor Ashoka took over the reins of power, it was not easy for him.

He had to fight a war with his own brothers and it was only after their murder that he rose to the top of power.

The Maurya kingdom during the time of Ashoka the Great ranged from the Hindukush ranges in the north to the south of the Godavari River and Mysore in the south, and from Bengal in the east to Afghanistan in the west.

Just he could not subdue the king of Kalinga. After the Kalinga war, Ashoka went to the shelter of the great Gautama Buddha. He erected a pillar in the memory of Mahatma Buddha, which can still be seen in the form of Ashoka Pillar near the Mayadevi temple in Lumbini, his birthplace in Nepal.

When the ninth Buddhist ruler Brihadratha was ruling in Magatha, India, the Greek king Menander had reached near the Indus river, fighting with his ally Demetrius (Dimitra).

Across the Indus, he planned to attack India. This Eenander minder is called Milinda in Buddhist literature. When the Buddhist ruler Brihadratha became weak, Emperor Pushyamitra Sunga (about 185 BC) snatched the power from him and made the kingdom powerful again by expelling the Greeks from India.

According to historians, the reign of Pushyamitra was full of challenges. At that time India was attacked by many foreign invaders, which Pushyamitra Shunga had to face.

After the fall of all the above, Emperor Vikramaditya of Ujjain had established his rule over the whole of India. King Gandharvasena, son of Nabovahan, was also the Chakravarti emperor. Gandharvasena’s sons were Vikramaditya and Bhartrihari.

After the rule of Vikramaditya, the invasion of Shakas and Kushanas started. Then there was the rule of the Gupta dynasty. The emperors of the Gupta dynasty were respectively Srigupta, Ghatotkacha, Chandragupta I, Samudragupta, Ramgupta, Chandragupta II, Kumaragupta I (Mahendraditya) and Skandagupta.

During the time of Skandagupta, the Huns invaded Kamboja and Gandhara (North Afghanistan). The Huns eventually began to enter India.

After the Maurya dynasty, the rulers of the Kushan, Shaka and Sunga dynasties ruled over a large part of India in India. There were many great and majestic kings in these dynasties too.

There were many majestic kings from Chandragupta Maurya to Vikramaditya and then from Vikramaditya to Harshavardhana and Bhoja kings.

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AUTHORDeepa Chandravanshi

Deepa Chandravanshi is the founder of The Magadha Times & Chandravanshi. Deepa Chandravanshi is a writer, Social Activist & Political Commentator.

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