The Rise of Magadha

The Rise of Magadha

The Rise of Magadha

In the 6th century, a state system emerged known as Mahajanpadas. The process of the emergence of the Mahajanpadas was initiated by important economic and political developments witnessed during that time. The list of Mahajanpadas with their capitals are given below:-


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  • In the period of 6th to 4th BC, there was a struggle for the supremacy amongst the four Mahajanpadas i.e Magadha, Kosala, Vatsa and Avanti and Magadha emerged a the supreme power kingdom in North India.
  • The founders of Magadha were Jarasandha and Brihadratha but the real founder was known as Bimbisara of haryankas.
  • Giriraja was the earliest capital of Magadha which was later changed to Rajgriha.
  • Bimbisara founded the city of Rajagriha.

Haryanka dynasty (542 – 412 BC)

Bimbisara (554-492 BC)

  • He was contemporary of the Buddha and the first king to have a standing army. It was under Bimbisara that Magadha emerged as the controller of the middle Ganga Plains. He strengthened his position by matrimonial alliances. with the ruling families.
  • He annexed the kingdom of Angaby defeating king Brahmadatta.
  • He married Kosaladevi, sister of Kosalan king Prasenjit and obtained a portion of Kasi as dowry.
  • He also married Chellana daughter of Lichchvi Chief of Vaishali, vasabi, A videhan Princess of Khema, a daughter of the King of Madra.
  • Bimbisara also maintained a friendly relation with the kings of Avanti and Gandhara.

Ajatshatru (492 – 460 BC)

  • Ajatshatru was the son of Chellana and Bimbisara and occupied the throne by killing has father.
  • He defeated his maternal uncle Prasenjit, the King of Kosala and married his daughter vajjira.
  • He destroyed Vaishali the capital of Lichhavi.
  • Lord Buddha died during his reign and he patronised the first council of buddhist council.

Udayin (460 – 444 BC)

  • Udayin was the Son and Successor of Ajatshatru.
  • He built the fort upon the confluence of the Ganga and Son river in Patliputra and transferred the capital from Rajgriha to Patliputra.
  • During his reign, The Magadha kingdom extended in the North to the Himalaya and in the south to the Chotanagpur hills.

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Shishunaga Dynasty ( 412-344 BC)

  • Udayin was succeeded by Shishunaga, who temporarily shifted the capital to Vaishali.
  • His great achievement was the destruction of the power of Avanti with its capital at Ujjain to end the 100-year-old rivalry between Magadha and Avanti.
  • Shishunaga was succeeded by Kalashoka who transferred the capital from Vaishali to Patliputra.
  • His name is associated with the second Buddhist council held at Vaishali.

Nanda Dynasty (344 – 323 BC)

  • The Shishunaga Dynasty was succeeded by the Nandas, who proved to be the most powerful rulers of Magadha. it was considered to be the first kshatriya dynasty.
  • Mahapadmananda was the founder of the Nanda Dynasty.
  • He was also known as Ekarat, Chhatri and Sarvakshatrantaka.
  • He conquered the kingdoms like Panchala, Kalinga, Asmaka, Kasi, Kuru, shurasen and Mithila.
  • No Indian king before Mahapadmananda had ruled such a big empire.
  • After Mahapdma Nanda his eight sons ascended the throne of Magadha one after another. Dhananda was the last Nanda king.

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