Dhananand – Dhana Nanda – Argames – Last Ruler of Nanda Dynasty 329 BC – 321 BC

There were nine brothers of Nanda dynasty who simultaneously ruled Magadha. The most prominent among them was Mahapadma Nanda who is also called Ugrasena Nanda. His youngest brother (or possibly youngest son) was Dhana Nanda. Dhana Nanda was the last ruler of Nanda Dynasty. He is known for establishing a huge army of 200,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalry, 2,000 war chariots and 3,000 war elephants.

Huge Army of Nanda Dynasty During Dhana Nanda with more than 3,000 war elephants

Huge Army of Nanda Dynasty During Dhana Nanda with more than 3,000 war elephants

During his time Alexander the great invaded India in 326 BC. He is also known for insulting Chanakya or Kautilya who was a famous Professor of Taxila University. Dhana Nanda was succeded by Chandragupta Maurya, the disciple of Chanakya.

Dhananand with his Queens

Dhananand (Dhanananda) with his Queens

Reasons for decline of Nanda Empire

Dhana Nanda was an autocratic ruler. He imposed taxes on various day to day items, thus there was a feeling of discontent against him. His government was “levying taxes even on skins, gums, trees and stones”. Dhana Nanda was described in the book Mahavamsa Tika as “addict to hold treasure”.

He was so greedy that he hid big gold blocks in the bed of river Ganga. A tamil poet mentions regarding his treasure “accumulated in the floods of Ganges”. It was mentioned by Aiyangar in his book ‘Beginning of South Indian History‘.

India was badly disintegrated at that time. The internal rivarly between many kingdoms was tempting foreign powers to attack India. Dhana Nanda was careless regarding this matter and therefore there was public outrage against him.

Dhana Nanda Insults Chanakya

Chanakya was very famous professor of Taxila University which is in present day Pakistan. Chanakya was concerned regarding the foreign attack on India. He went to Magadha court to take his proposal to oust the enemy. Dhana Nanda not only rejected the proposal but also insulted Chanakya. Chanakya took a pledge to take revenge. He trained Chandragupta Maurya as his prime man and finally defeated Dhana Nanda through his extraordinary tactics. In 321 BC, Chandragupta was crowned as the king and Chanakya was appointed as his Prime Minister.

Exile of Dhana Nanda

In 321 BC, Chandragupta was able to overthrow Dhana Nanda because of his unpopularity in among his people. Chandragupta Maurya spared his life but Dhana Nanda was sent on an exile for the rest of his life. There is not much known about his life ever since.

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