Shishunaga Dynasty – Expanded in less than 50 Years as one of the Largest in Asia 413 BC – 345 BC

Shishunaga dynasty came into existence under the rule of King Shishunaga (Shusunaga), after the decline of Haryanka dynasty.

Shishunaga King - Founder Of Shishunaga Dynasty

Shishunaga King – Founder Of Shishunaga Dynasty

Early Life

Shishunaga was born in Licchavi Royal family. He was serving in the Haryanka Dynasty as a viceroy of Varanasi. During his early years he had seen the unjust that was taking place in the kingdom and the inefficiencies of the rulers in Magadha. He therefore decided to change the system on his own.

To his luck, there was instability in the Magadha kingdom and King Nagadasaka was a weak ruler. Therefore, in 413 BC Shishunaga initiated a wide-spread rebel movement against the last ruler of Haryanka Dynasty.This civil rebellion was a success and Nagadasaka was overthrown by Shishunaga in 413 BC.

Rule of Shishunaga

Shishunaga ruled for 18 years, during this time Magadha was able to capture Kosala, Kasi, Avanti and Vatsa. Shishunaga was an ambitious ruler and was ready to expand his empire at all cost.

Shishunaga Dynasty Map 413 BC - 345 BC

Shishunaga Dynasty Map 413 BC – 345 BC

Coin of Shishunaga Empire under King Mahanandin

The rulers of Shishunaga dynasty were Buddhist. Buddhist second council met at Vaishali during the reign of Kalasoka. During the reign of Kakavarna Kalasoka also shifted his capital from overcrowded Rajagriha to Patliputra. According to the description given by Harshachitra, Kalasoka was murdered by a dagger which cut his throad, near the capital city of Patliputra (367 BC). Kalasoka was going to the monastery.

Weak Successors

The successors of Kalasoka were his 10 sons, who simultaneously ruled the kingdom till 345 BC. This period was known for its confusions at the top level of administration. 10 Rulers were just a bit too many to rule! Out of the 10 rulers, Mahanandin was the most well known.

Mahanandin King - Last Ruler Of Shishunaga Dynasty - Father of Mahapadma Nanda

Mahanandin King – Last Ruler Of Shishunaga Dynasty – Father of Mahapadma Nanda

In 345 BC Mahanandin was killed and succeed by his own illegitimate son, Mahapadma Nanda. He gave rise to the Nanda Dynasty. Mahapadma Nanda is also supposed to be the first non-Kshatriya (Shudra) ruler of Magadha. His rule in purans is mentioned as the arrival ‘Kaliyuga’.

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