Learn more about Magadha

Jump to: navigation, search
The actual extent of the Kingdom of Magadha is unknown. Shown here is the approximate extent of Magadha in 500 BCE
History of South Asia
Image:Flag of Bhutan.svg Image:Flag of Maldives.svg Image:Flag of Pakistan.svg Image:Flag of India.svg Image:Flag of Bangladesh.svg Image:Flag of Sri Lanka.svg Image:Flag of Nepal.svg
History of India
Stone Age 70,000–7000 BCE
Mehrgarh Culture 7000–3300 BCE
Indus Valley Civilization 3300–1700 BCE
Late Harappan Culture 1700–1300 BCE
Vedic Civilization 1500–500 BCE
· Iron Age Kingdoms · 1200–700 BCE
Maha Janapadas 700–300 BCE
Magadha Empire 684–26 BCE
· Maurya Dynasty · 321–184 BCE
Middle Kingdoms 230 BCE–1279 CE
· Satavahana Empire · 230 BCE–199 CE
· Kushan Empire · 60–240 CE
· Gupta Empire · 240–550
· Chola Empire · 848–1279
Islamic Sultanates 1206–1596
· Delhi Sultanate · 1206–1526
· Deccan Sultanates · 1490–1596
Hoysala Empire 1040–1346
Vijayanagara Empire 1336–1565
Mughal Era 1526–1707
Maratha Empire 1674–1818
Colonial Era 1757–1947
Modern States 1947 onwards
National Histories
Republic of India · Pakistan · Bangladesh
Bhutan · Maldives · Nepal · Sri Lanka
Regional Histories
Assam · Bengal · Punjab · Pakistani Regions
Sindh · South India · Tamil Nadu · Tibet
Specialised Histories
Dynasties · Economy · Indology · Language · Literature
Maritime · Military · Science and Technology · Timeline
}"> |
}}This box: view  talk  edit</div>

Magadha (मगध) was an ancient Indo-Aryan kingdom of Mahajanapadas in Ancient India, mentioned in both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. It was also one of the four main kingdoms of India at the time of the Buddha, having risen to power during the reigns of Bimbisara (c. 544-491 BCE) and his son Ajatashatru (c. 491-460 BCE). The core of the kingdom was the portion of Bihar lying south of the Ganges, with its capital at Rajagriha (modern Rajgir). Magadha expanded to include most of Bihar and Bengal with the conquest of Anga, and then expanded up the Ganges valley annexing Kosala and Kashi. Magadha formed one of the sixteen so-called Mahājanapadas (Sanskrit, 'great country'). The Magadha empire included republican communities such as Rajakumara. Villages had their own assemblies under their local chiefs called Gramakas. Their administrations were divided into executive, judicial, and military functions. Bimbisara was friendly to both Jainism and Buddhism and suspended tolls at the river ferries for all ascetics after the Buddha was once stopped at the Ganges River for lack of money.


[edit] History

There is little certain information available on the early rulers of Magadha. The most important sources are the Buddhist Chronicles of Sri Lanka, the Puranas, and various other Buddhist and Jaina texts. Based on these sources, it appears that Magadha was ruled by the Śiśunāga dynasty for some 200 years, c. 550 - 350 B.C.E. The Śiśunāga dynasty was overthrown by Ugrasena Mahāpadma Nanda, the first of the so-called nine Nandas (a.k.a. the Nanda or Nava Nanda dynasty). He was followed by his eight sons, whose names were (according to the Mahābodhivamsa) Panduka, Pandugati, Bhūtapāla, Ratthapāla, Govisānaka, Dasasiddhaka, Kevatta, and Dhana Nanda. According to the Sri Lankan Chronicles, the Nanda dynasty was in power for mere 22 years, while the Puranas state that Mahāpadma ruled for 28 years and his eight sons for only 12.

King Bimbisara of the Shishunaga dynasty led an active and expansive policy, conquering Anga in what is now West Bengal.

Siddhartha Gautama himself was born a prince of Kapilavastu in Kosala around 563 BCE. As the scene of many incidents in his life, Magadha was a holy land.

After the death of Bimbisara at the hands of his son, Ajatashatru, the widowed princess of Kosala also died of grief, causing King Prasenajit to revoke the gift of Kashi and triggering a war between Kosala and Magadha. Ajatashatru was trapped by an ambush and captured with his army; but in a peace treaty he, his army, and Kashi were restored to Magadha, and he married Prasenajit's daughter.

Accounts differ slightly as to the cause of Ajatashatru's war with the Licchavi republic. It appears that Ajatashatru sent a minister, who for three years worked to undermine the unity of the Licchavis at Vaishali. To launch his attack across the Ganga River (Ganges), Ajatashatru had to build a fort at a new capital called Pataliputra, which the Buddha prophesied would become a great center of commerce. Torn by disagreements the Licchavis were easily defeated once the fort was constructed. Jain texts tell how Ajatashatru used two new weapons – a catapult and a covered chariot with swinging mace that has been compared to modern tanks.

In 326 BCE, the army of Alexander the Great approached the boundaries of the Magadhan Empire. The army, exhausted and frightened by the prospect of facing another giant Indian army at the Ganges River, mutinied at the Hyphasis (modern Beas) and refused to march further East. Alexander, after the meeting with his officer, Coenus, was convinced that it was better to return, and turned south, conquering his way down the Indus to the Ocean.

A short while later, Magadha was the seat of the powerful Maurya dynasty, founded by Chandragupta, which extended over most of Southern Asia under Asoka; and, later, of the powerful Gupta Empire. The capital of the Mauryan Empire, Pataliputra (modern Patna), was begun as a Magadhan fortress and became the capital sometime after Ajatashatru's reign. Chandragupta destroyed the Nanda dynasty around 321 BCE, and became the first king of the great Mauryan Empire.

[edit] Magadha Empire

Amongst the sixteen Mahajanapadas, the kingdom of Magadha rose to prominence under a number of dynasties that peaked in power under the reign of Asoka Maurya, one of India's most legendary and famous emperors. The kingdom of Magadha had emerged as a major power following the subjugation of two neighbouring kingdoms, and possessed an unparalleled military.

[edit] Brihadratha dynasty

According to the Puranas,the Magadha Empire was established by the Brihadratha Dynasty, who was the sixth in line from Emperor Kuru of the Bharata dynasty through his eldest son Sudhanush.The first prominent Emperor of the Magadhan branch of Bharathas was Emperor Brihadratha.His son Jarasandha appears in popular legend and is slain by Bhima in the Mahabharatha.Vayu Purana mentions that the Brihadrathas ruled for 1000 years.

[edit] Pradyota dynasty

Main article: Pradyota dynasty

The Brihadrathas were succeeded by the Pradyotas who according to the Vayu Purana ruled for 138 years.

[edit] Shishunaga dynasty

Main article: Shishunaga dynasty

According to tradition, the Shishunaga dynasty founded the Magadha Empire in 684 BCE, whose capital was Rajagriha, later Pataliputra, near the present day Patna. This dynasty lasted till 424 BCE, when it was overthrown by the Nanda dynasty. This period saw the development of two of India's major religions. Gautama Buddha in the 6th or 5th century BCE was the founder of Buddhism, which later spread to East Asia and South-East Asia, while Mahavira founded Jainism.

Extent of the Nanda Empire

[edit] Nanda dynasty

Main article: Nanda Dynasty

The Nanda dynasty was established by an illegitimate son of the king Mahanandin of the previous Shishunaga dynasty. Mahapadma Nanda died at the age of 88, ruling the bulk of this 100-year dynasty. The Nandas were followed by the Maurya dynasty.

[edit] Maurya dynasty

Main article: Maurya Empire
The Maurya Empire at its greatest extent

In 321 BCE, exiled general Chandragupta Maurya founded the Maurya dynasty after overthrowing the reigning king Dhana Nanda to establish the Maurya Empire. During this time, most of the subcontinent was united under a single government for the first time. Capitalising on the destabilization of northern India by the Persian and Greek incursions, the Mauryan empire under Chandragupta would not only conquer most of the Indian subcontinent, but also push its boundaries into Persia and Central Asia, conquering the Gandhara region. Chandragupta was succeeded by his son Bindusara, who expanded the kingdom over most of present day India, barring the extreme south and east, which may have held tributary status.

The Buddhist stupa at Sanchi, built during the Mauyran period

The kingdom was inherited by his son Ashoka The Great who initially sought to expand his kingdom. In the aftermath of the carnage caused in the invasion of Kalinga, he renounced bloodshed and pursued a policy of non-violence or ahimsa after converting to Buddhism. The Edicts of Ashoka are the oldest preserved historical documents of India, and from Ashoka's time, approximate dating of dynasties becomes possible. The Mauryan dynasty under Ashoka was responsible for the proliferation of Buddhist ideals across the whole of East Asia and South-East Asia, fundamentally altering the history and development of Asia as a whole. Ashoka the Great has been described as one of the greatest rulers the world has seen.

Greatest extent of the Sunga Empire (185 BCE-73 BCEIt should be possible to replace this fair use image with a freely licensed one. If you can, please do so as soon as is practical.

[edit] Shunga dynasty

Main article: Sunga Empire

The Sunga dynasty was established in 185 BCE, about fifty years after Ashoka's death, when the king Brihadratha, the last of the Mauryan rulers, was brutally murdered by the then commander-in-chief of the Mauryan armed forces, Pusyamitra Sunga, while he was taking the Guard of Honour of his forces. Pusyamitra Sunga then ascended the throne.

[edit] Kanva dynasty

Main article: Kanva dynasty

The Kanva dynasty replaced the Shunga dynasty, and ruled in the eastern part of India from 71 BCE to 26 BCE. The last ruler of the Sunga dynasty was overthrown by Vasudeva of the Kanva dynasty in 75 BC. The Kanva ruler allowed the kings of the Sunga dynasty to continue to rule in obscurity in a corner of their former dominions. Magadha was ruled by four Kanva rulers. In 30 BC, the southern power swept away both the Kanvas and Sungas and the province of Eastern Malwa was absorbed within the dominions of the conqueror. Following the collapse of the Kanva dynasty, the Satavahana dynasty of the Andhra kindgom replaced the Magandhan kingdom as the most powerful Indian state.

[edit] Kings of Magadha

A list of kings before the Maurya dynasty according to the Sri Lankan Chronicles:

  1. Bimbisāra (ruled for 52 years)
  2. Ajātaśatru (32 years; The Buddha is thought to have died in the 8th year of Ajātaśatru's reign.)
  3. Udāyin or Udāyibhadra (16 years)
  4. Anuruddha (c. 4 years)
  5. Munda (c. 4 years)
  6. Nāgadāsaka (24 years)
  7. Śiśunāga (18 years)
  8. Kālāśoka (28 years)
  9. Ten sons of Kālāśoka, Nandivardhana being the most prominent (22 years). The names for the other eight are given in the Mahābodhivamsa as follows: Bhaddasena, Korandavanna, Mangura, Sabbañjaha, Jālika, Ubhaka, Sañjaya, Korabya, and Pañcamaka.

The Puranas give a rather different list before the Maurya dynasty with long reigns, making the Śiśunāga dynasty 321 years long:

  1. Śiśunāga (ruled for 40 years)
  2. Kākavarna (26 years)
  3. Ksemadharman (36 years)
  4. Ksemajit or Ksatraujas (24 years)
  5. Bimbisāra (28 years)
  6. Ajātaśatru (27 years)
  7. Darśaka (24 years)
  8. Udāyin (33 years)
  9. Nandivardhana (40 years)
  10. Mahānandin (43 years)

The list of kings for the Maurya dynasty and the dates of the reign:

Approximate Dates of Mauryan Dynasty
Emperor Reign start Reign end
Chandragupta Maurya 322 BCE 298 BCE
Bindusara 297 BCE 272 BCE
Asoka The Great 273 BCE 232 BCE
Dasaratha 232 BCE 224 BCE
Samprati 224 BCE 215 BCE
Salisuka 215 BCE 202 BCE
Devavarman 202 BCE 195 BCE
Satadhanvan 195 BCE 187 BCE
Brihadratha 187 BCE 185 BCE

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

Middle kingdoms of India
Timeline: Northern Empires Southern Dynasties Foreign Kingdoms

 6th century BCE
 5th century BCE
 4th century BCE

 3rd century BCE
 2nd century BCE

 1st century BCE
 1st century

 2nd century
 3rd century
 4th century
 5th century
 6th century
 7th century
 8th century
 9th century
10th century
11th century

(Persian rule)
(Greek conquests)

(Islamic invasion of India)

(Islamic empires in India)

[edit] See also

fr:Magadha es:Magadha ru:Магадха sa:मगध sv:Magadha zh:摩揭陀


Personal tools
what is world wizzy?
  • World Wizzy is a static snapshot taken of Wikipedia in early 2007. It cannot be edited and is online for historic & educational purposes only.