Season 01 | Episode 05

Rise of Dynasties

2 August 2020 / 11 mins 43 secs

Show summary

Topic: History of India - Ancient India.

Timeline: 550 BCE - 345 BCE

In this episode of Namaskar India, we will find out who will become the winner amongst the Mahajanapadas in the conquest of power and resources? And will also bear witness to the rise of dynasties in the Indian subcontinent.

Bimbisara was a king of the Magadha Kingdom who is credited with establishing imperial dominance in the Indian subcontinent. Son of a minor king called Bhattiya, he belonged to the Haryanka Dynasty, which is said to be the first imperial dynasty of Magadha. Under Bimbisara, Magadha annexed the neighbouring eastern kingdoms, and made marriage alliances with the ones in the west and north. Bimbisara was succeeded by his son Ajatashatru, who deposed and imprisoned him to ascend the throne. Ajatashatru shifted the capital of Magadha from Girivraj to Pataliputra (modern Patna, Bihar). Ever since, Pataliputra has remained the capital of that province, down to this day. Ajatashatru also expanded his father's territories considerably.

Ajatashatru was succeeded by his son Udaya who supposedly deposed and executed his own father, thus following a tradition started by Ajatashatru himself. The following rulers of the Haryanka Dynasty after Udaya too committed patricide one by one, and soon the last Haryanka ruler was deposed by the people and replaced by the Shishunaga Dynasty.

Shishunaga inherited the vast territory and the resources of Magadha. The region of Magadha, which is Bihar today is traditionally rich in mineral resources, iron ores to manufacture weapons, and jungles with its woods and elephants to help the army. Its fields too yielded enough crops to feed huge armies, and the Haryanka kings starting from the rule of Bimbisara, capitalized on this. Shishunaga further strengthened the Magadhan army during his time.

Shishunaga was succeeded by his son Kalashoka, who mostly basked in the glory of his father’s conquests. Kalashoka had ten sons who followed him. They were said to have divided the kingdom amongst themselves. This considerably weakened the empire in the later years, and a quick downfall followed. The last Shishunaga ruler, Mahanandin, was brutally murdered by a Shudra lover of his wife. That Shudra lover formed the Nanda Dynasty and became its first ruler by the name of Mahapadma Nanda.

Mahapadma Nanda, reconquered all of the lands that Magadha had lost under Kalashoka’s successors, and extended the kingdom to right inside the Deccan plateau of India and created a mighty kingdom having the full resources of the entire northern India under its control.