Magadha ( Bihar) became the most powerful Mahajanapada between the 6th and the 4th centuries BC.
Magadha Empire grasped the former districts of Patna, Gaya & parts of Shahabad, grew to be the leading state of the time.
Bimbisara (542-493 BC):
laid the real foundation of Haryanka dynasty.
Contemporary of Buddha.
He strengthened his position by marriage connections with three wives i.e..,
First wife was the daughter of the king of Kosala,
Second wife Chellana was a Lichchhavi Princess from Vaishali, and
Third wife was the daughter of the chief of the Madra clan of Punjab.
Marriage relations with the different princely families gave enormous diplomatic prestige and paved the way for the expansion of Magadha westward and northward.
The earliest capital of Magadha was at Rajgir (Girivraja). It was surrounded by five hills, the openings in which were closed by stone walls on all sides.
Ajatasatru (492-460 BC):
- He killed his father Bimbisara and taken the throne for himself.
- Throughout his reign, he pursued an aggressive policy of expansion.
- 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.
- He also annexed Kosala was ruled by Prasenjit at that time.
- Buddha died during his reign only. He arranged the First Buddhist council.
Udayin (460-444 BC):
- His reign is important because he built the fort upon the merging of the Ganga and Son at Patna.
- This was done because Patna lay in the centre of the Magadha kingdom.
He founded the new capital at Pataliputra, situated at the merging of the Ganga & Son.
- He was the founder of Sisunaga dynasty.
- Udayin succeeded by Sisunaga.
- He temporarily shifted the capital to Vaishali.
- Before becoming king of magadha he was a minister in udayin court.
In his time he arranged second Buddhist council.
- Sisunagas → greatest achievement was the destruction of the power of the Avanti.
Mahapadma Nanda was theFounder of Nanda dynasty.
He added Kalinga to his empire.
He claimed to be the ekarat, the sole sovereign who destroyed all the other ruling princes.
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.
- They were the first non-kshatriya rulers.
Alexander attacked India in his reign only.
He was the last ruler of Nanda dynasty.
- He was defeated by Chandragupta Maurya who founded the Maurya Empire.
Causes for the rise of Magadha:
- Advantages geographical location with both Rajgir (surrounded by five hills, the openings in which were closed by stone walls on all sides)
- And Pataliputra (Surrounded by Ganga, Gandhak, Son & Ghagra river which is Jaladurga) situated at strategic locations.
- Abundance of natural resources, such as iron, enabled Magadha rulers to fit with effective weapons.
- Rise of town and use of metallic money boosted trade and commerce.
- Use of elephants on a large scale.
- Unorthodox character of Magadha society
- Ambitious rulers and their policies.
NOTE: 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.