CurrentGK General Knowledge History The Magadha Empire

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The Magadha Empire

Magadha Empire in India

Period of Magadha Empire : 6th Century - 4th Century BC.

Extent of Magadha Empire : Magadha embraced the former districts of Patna, Gaya & parts of Shahabad & grew to be the leading state of the time.

Haryanka Dynasty : Originally founded in 566 BC by the grand father of Bimbisara, but actual foundation by Bimbisara.

King Bimbisara of Magadha (544 BC - 492 BC):

  • Contemporary of Buddha.

  • He conquered Anga (E.Bihar) to gain control over trade route with the southern states.
  • His capital was Rajgir (Girivraja). He strengthened his position by matrimonial alliance with the ruling families of Kosala, Vaishali, and Madra (3 wives).

  • His capital was surrounded by 5 hills, the openings in which were closed by stone walls on all sides. This made Rajgir impregnable.

Ajatshatru History (492 BC - 460 BC):

  • Son of Bimbisara killed his father & seized the throne.

  • Annexed Vaishali and Kosala (annexed Vaishali with the help of a war engine, which was used to throw stones like catapults. Also possessed a chariot to which a mace was attached, thus facilitating mass killings). Kosala was ruled by Prasenajit at that time.

  • Buddha died during his reign; arranged the first Buddhist Council.

History of Udayin (460 - 444 BC): He founded the new capital at Pataliputra, situated at the confluence of the Ganga & Son.

Shishunaga Dynasty :

  • Founded by a minister Shishunaga. He was succeeded by Kalasoka (II Buddhist council). Dynasty lasted for two generations only.

  • Greatest achievement was the destruction of power of Avanti.

Nanda Dynasty :

  • It is considered first of the non-Kshatriya dynasties.

  • Founder was Mahapadma Nanda. He added Kalinga to his empire. He claimed to be the ekarat, the sole sovereign who destroyed all the other ruling princes.

  • Alexander attacked India in their reign. Dhana Nanda was there at that time.

  • Nandas were fabulously rich & enormously powerful. Maintained 200,000 infantry, 60,000 cavalry & 6,000 war elephants. This is supposed to have checked Alexander's army from advancing towards Magadha.

Causes of Magadha's Success :

  • Enjoyed advantageous geographical position, i.e., near richest iron deposits (thus effective weapons).

  • The 2 capitals of Magadha, Rajgir and Patliputra, were situated at very strategic points.

  • Fertile soil of the lower Ganga regions.

  • First used elephants in wars.


Archaeologically, 6th century BC marks the beginning of NBPW phase (Northern Black Polished Ware) which was very glossy, shinning type of pottery. This marked the beginning of Second Urbanization in India.

The Magadha Empire // //

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