Magadha was one of 16 mahajanpadas during the later Vedic period. It was the center of trade and one of the most important regions of that time. Magadha comprises of modern day Bihar which ironically was the most developed part of the country those days. The capital city of Magadha was Rajagriha (Rajgiri) which was later shifted to Patliputra (Patna).
The description of the Magadha Empire could be drawn from the Jain and Buddhist texts. According to the text at the time when Siddhartha Gautama was born in the neighboring state of Kosala, in Magadha, there was a rule of a famous ruler named Bimbisara who was the ruler of Haryanka Dynasty. Gautama Buddha use to travel a lot to Magadha, also 24th Jain tirthankar, Mahavira, attained moksha from Patliputra.
Bimbisara was overthrown and killed by his own son, Ajatshatru, who was an aggressive king and who was determined to expand his empire at all cost. Ajatshatru attacked Kosala more than once but was not able to succeed in defeating King Prasenjit (Pasenadi)’s army. Ajatshatru, a young king, was able to occupy the Licchavi Republic after fighting for 15 years.
Haryanka dynasty was overthrown by Shishunaga Dynasty and later the last king of Shishunaga Dynasty was assassinated by Mahapadma Nanda in 424 BC.
Nanda Dynasty ruled Magadha for more than 100 years but in 326 BC when Alexander the Great approached very close to Magadha, due to internal disturbances in the kingdom, Chandragupta Maurya with the help from Vishnugupta (Chanakya) was able to overthrow the last ruler of Nanda Dynasty in 321 BC. This was a start of one of the most powerful empires in the world, the Maurya Empire.
After Chandragupta Maurya Jain, Ashoka the Great, who is considered to be the most powerful ruler of ancient India ruled the country for 49 years. During his reign Maurya Empire extended from Bihar to South Asia till Gandharas in the north-west. This was the golden period of ancient India.
After Ashoka’s death the Maurya empire started to fall apart. The last ruler of Maurya dynasty, Brihadratha, was assassinated by Pusyamitra Sunga, who was a General in Maurya Empire. This event led to a rise of Sunga Dynasty in Magadha around 185 BC. Sunga dynasty was followed by Kanva Dynasty and later, one of the most powerful Dynasty of Indian history, the Gupta Dynasty, came into existence in the rule of Sri-Gupta who ruled for 50 years (240 AD – 290 AD)
During Gupta Period India was at the peak of Cultural and Social development. Aryabhatta, a famous Indian Mathematician, who invented “ZERO”, was born in this dynasty. The Gupta empire extended from Burma in the east till Afghanistan in the west. The last recognized ruler of Gupta empire was Vishnu Gupta.
The Gupta empire collapsed in 550 AD along with the end of Magadha Dynasty.
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