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The Magadha Dynasty India

  • Magadha formed one of the 16 kingdoms in ancient India. The centre of the kingdom was the region of Bihar; its first capital was Rajgir then Patna. Magadha expanded to include most of Bihar and Bengal followed by much of eastern Uttar Pradesh and Orissa. The ancient kingdom of Magadha is mentioned in Buddhist and Jain texts. It’s mentioned also in the Puranas, Mahabharata and Ramayana.
  • Magadha played an important part in the growth of Buddhism and Jainism, and two of India's greatest empires, the Gupta Empire and Maurya Empire originated from Magadha.
  • The kingdom of the Magadha was bounded on the west by the river Sone, on the south by the Vindhya Mountains, on the east by the river Champa and on the north by the river Ganges. The significance of Magadha's culture is noticeable in that both Jainism and Buddhism adopted a few of its features, most notably a faith in rebirth and karmic retribution. The trust in rebirth and karmic retribution was an important aspect in later developments in Indian philosophy and religion.

Recorded History

  • There is little definite information available. The most important sources of information on the early rulers of Magadha are the Chronicles of Sri Lanka, the Buddhist Pali Canon and Hindu Puranas and Jain texts. Based on these sources, it seems that Magadha was ruled by the Haryanka dynasty for about 200 years.
  • The founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, was born in Nepal, during the Haryanka dynasty. King Bimbisara of the Haryanka dynasty conquered Anga in West Bengal.
  • King Bimbisara was killed by his son, Prince Ajatashatru. King Prasenajit, king of neighbouring Kosala and brother-in-law of King Bimbisara, captured Ajatashatru with his army. However, King Prasenajit permitted him and his army to return to Magadha and even gave his daughter in marriage to the new young king.
  • In 326 BC, Alexander with his army reached the western boundaries of Magadha. The army was exhausted and refused to march further east. Alexander decided to return and turned south, conquering his way down the Indus to the Ocean.


Magadha Dynasties

Haryanka dynasty

  • As per tradition, in 600 BC, the Magadha Empire was founded by the Haryanka dynasty. This dynasty was overthrown by the Shishunaga dynasty in 424 BC. Gautama Buddha was the founder of Buddhism, which later spread to East Asia and South-East Asia. Bimbisara expanded the boundaries of his kingdom through conquests and matrimonial alliances. Bimbisara was killed by his son Ajatashatru who became his successor. Under his rule the dynasty's territory reached its largest extent.
  • Ajatashatru fought many wars against the Licchavi. Ajatashatru was succeeded by his son, Udaybhadra. Anuruddha succeeded Udaybhadra by way of assassination. He was succeeded by his son Munda in the same way. It’s believed that a civil uprising partly due to these deadly dynastic quarrels resulted in the birth of the Nanda dynasty.


Nanda dynasty

  • Mahapadma Nanda established the Nanda dynasty. The Nandas are the first empire builders of India. Under the leadership of Dhana Nanda, their empire reached its greatest extent, but after his reign the Maurya dynasty replaced the Nandas.