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Kingdom of Magadha and other kingdoms during the Second Urbanization in South Asia.

Magadha was a kingdom located in southern northeastern India and Nepal. It went through different dynasties like the Brihadratha, Haryanka, Shaishunaga, Nanda, Mauryan, Shunga, and Kanva dynasties. Over time, Magadha lost some of its lands to the Satavahanas in 28 BC and became a smaller principality.[1]

During the time of the Mauryas, Magadha became a large empire, covering a big part of north India and Nepal. Magadha was central to the Nanda Empire, Maurya Empire, Shunga Empire, and Gupta Empire. The Pala Empire also ruled over Magadha and had a royal camp in Pataliputra.[2] Even after the major empires, the Pithipatis of Bodh Gaya continued to call themselves Magadhādipati and ruled parts of Magadha until the 13th century.[3]

Area of Magadha[change | change source]

Before Magadha expanded, its kingdom was limited by the Ganges, Son, and Campā rivers to the north, west, and east, while the southern border was formed by the eastern spurs of the Vindhya mountains. This initial Magadha kingdom covered what is now Patna and Gaya districts in the Indian state of Bihar.[4]

Greater Magadha, which was part of the eastern Gangetic plains, included nearby areas and parts of Nepal, and had its own unique culture and beliefs.[5]

History[change | change source]

Historical image of Bodh gaya temple before restoration.

The Magadha people are mentioned in ancient texts like the Atharvaveda along with other groups. The main part of their kingdom was in Bihar, south of the Ganges River. Their first capital was Rajagriha, later known as Rajgir, and then Pataliputra, which is modern Patna. Magadha grew by conquering Vajjika League and Anga, covering most of Bihar and parts of Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, and Nepal.[6]

The kingdom is talked about in Jain and Buddhist texts, as well as in the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and the Puranas. The early rulers are not well-known, but the Haryanka dynasty led for about 200 years from 543 to 413 BCE. Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, lived in Magadha, gaining enlightenment in Bodh Gaya and giving his first sermon in Sarnath.[7]

The Haryanka dynasty was followed by the Shishunaga dynasty, and later, Mahapadma Nanda ended their rule in 345 BCE. Chandragupta Maurya defeated the Nandas around 321 BCE, starting the Mauryan Empire. Under King Ashoka, it expanded across India. After the Mauryan Empire, the Shunga and Khārabēḷa empires followed, replaced by the Gupta Empire. The Gupta capital remained in Pataliputra in Magadha.[8]

List of rulers[change | change source]

Following is the Chronology of rulers according to the Buddhist Mahavamsa:[9]

Haryanka dynasty (c. 544 – 413 BCE)
List of Haryanka dynasty rulers
Ruler Reign (BCE)
Bimbisara 544–491 BCE
Ajatashatru 491–461 BCE
Udayin 461–428 BCE
Anirudha 428–419 BCE
Munda 419–417 BCE
Darshaka 417–415 BCE
Nāgadāsaka 415–413 BCE
Shishunaga dynasty (c. 413 – 345 BCE)
List of Shishunga dynasty rulers
Ruler Reign (BCE)
Shishunaga 413–395 BCE
Kalashoka 395–377 BCE
Kshemadharman 377–365 BCE
Kshatraujas 365–355 BCE
Nandivardhana 355–349 BCE
Mahanandin 349–345 BCE
Nanda Empire (c. 345 – c. 322 BCE)
List of Nanda dynasty rulers
Ruler Reign (BCE)
Mahapadma Nanda 345–340 BCE
Pandhukananda 340–339 BCE
Panghupatinanda 339–338 BCE
Bhutapalananda 338–337 BCE
Rashtrapalananada 337–336 BCE
Govishanakananda 336–335 BCE
Dashasidkhakananda 335–334 BCE
Kaivartananda 334–333 BCE
Karvinathanand 333–330 BCE
Dhana Nanda 330–322 BCE

References[change | change source]

  1. "Magadha | Mauryan Empire, Ganges Valley, Buddhism | Britannica". Retrieved 2023-11-29.
  2. Bagchi, Jhunu (1993). The History and Culture of the Pālas of Bengal and Bihar, Cir. 750 A.D.-cir. 1200 A.D. Abhinav Publications. ISBN 978-81-7017-301-4.
  3. Schaik, Sam Van; Simone, Daniela de; Hidas, Gergely; Willis, Michael D. (2021). Precious Treasures from the Diamond Throne: Finds from the Site of the Buddha's Enlightenment. British Museum. ISBN 978-0-86159-228-9.
  4. Raychaudhuri, Hemchandra (1953). Political History of Ancient India: From the Accession of Parikshit to the Extinction of Gupta Dynasty. University of Calcutta. pp. 110–118.
  5. Bronkhorst, Johannes (2007). Greater Magadha: studies in the culture of early India. Handbook of oriental studies. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-15719-4.
  6. Sinha, Bindeshwari Prasad (1977). Dynastic History of Magadha, Cir. 450-1200 A.D. Abhinav Publications.
  7. Macdonell, Arthur Anthony; Keith, Arthur Berriedale (1995). Vedic Index of Names and Subjects. Motilal Banarsidass Publishe. ISBN 978-81-208-1332-8.
  8. Tenzin Tharpa, Tibetan Buddhist Essentials: A Study Guide for the 21st Century: Volume 1: Introduction, Origin, and Adaptation, p.31
  9. Bechert, Heinz (1995). When Did the Buddha Live?: The Controversy on the Dating of the Historical Buddha. Sri Satguru Publications. ISBN 978-81-7030-469-2.