Rise of Magadha and Nandas

Rise of Magadha and Nandas

  • There were initially 16 Maha-Janapadas. Magadha formed one of the sixteen Mahajanapadas.
  • In course of time small or weak kingdoms either submitted to stronger rulers or got eliminated.
  • Finally in 6th century BC only 4 major kingdom survived: Avanti, Vatsa, Kosala and Magadha, Out of these four, finally Magadha emerged most powerful.

The Factors that led to the rise of Magadha:

  • This rise of Magadha Imperialism is unique in Indian history. The political history of India from the earliest times till the present day is an endless story of struggle between the forces of centralization and decentralization.
  • In the sixth century B.C., India presented the chronic symptom of disintegration.
    • The Aryan India in the North was divided into, sixteen great kingdoms and a number of republican, autonomous states.
  • Out of the four powerful kingdoms viz., Avanti, Vatsa, Kosala and Magadha, Magadha Empire rose into prominence by aggrandizing upon other weaker states.
    • They entered into a four-power conflict for imperial supremacy which ended in the ultimate victory of Magadha Kingdom over them.
    • It is the first successful attempt for imperial and dynastic unification of India in the period of recorded history.
  • The factors that contributed to the rise of Magadha Empire were both internal and external.
    • Collectivist historians emphasize that situation and circumstances makes a leader in history. It is not that leaders create history. But in reality actors and factors collaborate in the creation of historical changes.

Geographical Factors:

  • Magadha lay on the main land route connecting Eastern India with the West. She could easily control the trade between the two regions of the country.
  • Capitals were at strategic position:
    • Rajgir was surrounded by 5 hills and Pataliputra was surrounded by Ganga, Gandak, Son and Ghagra river i.e. it was true Jaladurga (Waterfort).
  • Magadha Empire was encircled by the Ganges, the Son and the Champa rivers on the three sides and made it impregnable for the enemy.
    • Her old capital Rajgriha was strategically situated as it was surrounded on all sides by hills and cyclopean stone walls.
  • Magadha’s new capital Pataliputra was still more strategically invincible than Rajgriha. It was situated on near the confluence of the Ganges and the Son.
    • It was easier to control the course of the Ganges from the city of Pataliputra.
  • Rivers also made military movements easier for Magadha.
  • These geographical advantages of Magadha helped her to be aggressive against her neighbours while baffled by the impregnability of Magadha.
  • Due to availability of Elephant, Magadh used it in war against enemy,

Agricultural Factors:

  • One of the main factors behind the rise of Magadhan power was her economic solvency and growing prosperity.
  • Magadha had a vast population which could be employed in agriculture, mining and for manning her army.
  • The Sudras and the non-Aryans could be employed in clearing up the forest and reclaim surplus land for farming. The surplus population could easily live on the yield of the surplus land.
  • The Magadhan lands were very fertile due to its location between the Ganges and the Son.
  • In the 4th Century B.C. that the Magadhan lands yielded multiple crops round the year. People of Magadhan Empire became prosperous due to fertility of the land and the government became automatically rich and powerful.
  • Rivers also helped in trade and commerce.

Mineral Resources:

  • The mineral resources of Magadha were other sources of her power and prosperity.
  • With the dawn of the Iron Age, iron became an important metal for making implements, plough shears and weapons of war.
  • Magadha had abundant iron supply from Rajgir mines. Besides Magadha had copper mines. Magadha could equip her vast army with iron weapons; she could sell surplus iron to other states.
  • Deep ploughing with heavy iron plough was possible due to easy supply of iron.
  • Iron mines were also available to Avanti, on account of which Avanti proved to be the most serious competitor of Magadha for the supremacy of north India.

Role of Trade:

  • Magadha was situated on the land route connecting Eastern India with the west. The trade flowing over this route passed through Magadha. The river Ganges which flowed through the heart of Magadha was the high route of trade in Northern India.
  • Magadha was linked up to parts of Northern India right up to Kasi or Baranasi by the Ganga route and from Prayag or Allahabad; the place of confluence of Ganga and Yamuna, Magadha could send her merchandise along the Yamuna route up to Delhi region.
    • Downwards from Magadha the open sea could be reached by the Ganga route. The Son and the Champa flowed along the Magadhan frontier.
  • In ancient times river routes served as high way of commerce. Magadha could control the North Indian trade through her mastery over the Ganges.
  • When Bimbisara conquered Anga kingdom, its flourishing port of Champa was annexed to Magadha.
    • Champa was a famous river port from which ocean (Bay of Bengal) going vessels laden with merchandise sailed to different countries of South-East Asia, Ceylon and South India.

Significance of the Ganges:

  • The rise of Magadhan Kingdom was linked up with the establishment of her supremacy over the Ganges.
  • After annexation of Champa, Magadha Empire now turned to establish her supremacy over the upper Gangetic region.
    • Bimbisara and Ajatsatru defeated Kosala and annexed Kasi, a famous river port and emporium.
    • The mastery over Kasi, gave Magadha the opportunity to make economic penetration in Kosala kingdom or U. P.
    • Virtually the southern side of the Ganges now came under Magadhan hegemony, where she started ceaseless economic penetration.
  • Magadha turned her gaze to the northern side of the Ganges, Vaisali and Lichchavi countries.
    • The fertile tracts this region became targets of Magadhan imperialism.
    • The conquest of Vaisali and Lichchavi countries gave Magadha a supreme mastery over the Gangetic valley and she became virtually invincible.
  • Magadha launched the programme of a pan-Indian empire depending on the strength of her heal timid in the Gangetic valley.

Cultural Factors:

  • Culturally, the rise of Magadha can be explained on the ground that Magadha was the meeting ground of two opposite cultures.
    • The Aryan culture lost its original virility when it reached Magadha and the lingering traces of non-Aryan culture of Eastern India got mixed up with the Aryan culture.
    • This interaction of two cultures gave new power and spirit to Magadha Empire.
  • In the sphere of thought and philosophy Eastern India made her mark in the teaching of Mahavira and Buddha.
    • The revolution inaugurated by them in the sphere of thought was supplemented by Magadha in political field by the emergence of Magadhan imperialism and the Magadhan bid to establish a pan-Indian empire.
  • The unorthodox character of Magadhan society:
    • Finally, we may refer to the unorthodox character of Magadhan society. As it had been recently Vedicised, it demonstrated a greater enthusiasm for expansion than the kingdoms that had been brought under the Vedic influence earlier.

Political Factors:

  • Politically, the fulfillment of Magadhan dream of imperial unification of India under Magadhan banner was possible due to the political atomization of Northern India in the 6th Century B.C.
    • The rivalry among big monarchies prevented their alliance against Magadha.
    • None but the republican states under Vriji made common alliances against Magadha.
    • The geographical and the natural barriers like the rivers, mountains and jungles prevented the fostering of a united resistance movement against Magadha.
  • An unbroken chain of very able and extraordinary monarchs ascended the Magadhan throne.
    • Dynastic monarchy is generally cursed with incompetent rulers. But in that particular period of time Magadha was exception to this rule.
    • The credit for the rise of Magadha Empire goes to the competent rulers or Magadha Kingdom.
    • Shishunaga, Bimbisara, Ajatasatru, Mahapadma and Chandragupta were exceptionally able kings.
    • They were fortunate in having great ministers and diplomats like Vassakara, Kautilya and Radha Gupta without whose efforts Magadhan ascendancy would have suffered.
  • Ambitious rulers
    • The formation of the largest state in India during this period was the work of several enterprising and ambitious rulers such as Bimbisara, Ajatashatru. and Mahapadma Nanda.
    • They employed all the means in their power, fair and foul, to enlarge their kingdoms and to strengthen their states.
  • Military organization:
    • Magadha enjoyed a special advantage in military organization. Although the Indian states were well acquainted with the use of horses and chariots, It was Magadha which first used elephants on a large scale in its wars against its neighbours.
      • The eastern part of the country could supply elephants to the princes of Magadha. and we learn from Greek sources that the Nandas maintained 6000 elephants.
      • Elephants could he used to storm fortresses and to march across marshy and other areas lacking roads and other means of transport.
    • Ajatsatru is said to have used a war engine which was used to throw stones like catapults.
      • He also possessed a chariot to which a mace was attached.

Danger of Foreign Invasions:

  • Externally, the threat of foreign invasions like that of Achaemenians in the 6th century B.C.; that of the Macedonians in the 4th Century B.C. and the subsequent infiltration of foreign races boldly put forward the question that without a central paramount government on the subcontinent, it was impossible to defend it from foreign invasions.
  • Such a consciousness certainly worked behind the rise of Magadhan imperialism and prepared the country to submit to Magadhan hegemony.

(B) Magadha Dynasties:

(1) Haryanka dynasty (c. 600 – 413 BC)

  • According to tradition, the Haryanka dynasty founded the Magadha Empire in 600 BC, whose capital was Rajagriha, later Pataliputra, near the present day Patna.
  • This dynasty lasted until 424 BC, when it was overthrown by the Shishunaga dynasty.

(a) Bimbisara (543–491 BC):

  • Bimbisara was a King, and later, Emperor of the Magadha empire.
  • His expansion of the kingdom, especially his annexation of the kingdom of Anga to the east, is considered to have laid the foundations for the later expansion of the Maurya Empire.
  • Bimbisara built the city of Rajagriha, famous in Buddhist writings.
  • According to Buddhist scriptures, King Bimbisara met the Buddha for the first time prior to the Buddha’s enlightenment, and later became an important disciple that featured prominently in certain Buddhist suttas.
    • He is recorded to have attained sotapannahood, a degree of enlightenment in Buddhist teachings.
  • Jain scriptures, on the other hand, described Bimbisara as a disciple of Mahavira who frequently sought his teachings.
    • As per Jain texts, he is referred to as King Shrenika of Rajgriha (being the possessor of a large army). Bimbisara sent Jivaka to Ujjain for medical treatment of King Pradyota, the king of Avanti.
  • Marriage Alliances:
    • Bimbisara used marriage alliances to strengthen his position. His first wife was Kosala Devi, the sister of Prasenjit (king of Kosala).
      • His bride brought him Kashi as dowry. Kashi was useful for trade.
      • This marriage also ended the hostility between Magadha and Kosala and gave him a free hand in dealing with the other states.
    • Bimbisara’s second wife, Chellana, was a Lichchhavi princess from Vaishali. Mahavira was related to Queen Chellana who was daughter of Mahavira’s uncle ( King Chetaka).
    • Bimbisara’s third wife, Kshema, was a daughter of the chief of the Madra clan of Punjab.
  • Bimbisara was imprisoned by his son Ajatashatru in the prison of Rajgriha to ascend the throne of the kingdom of Magadha.

(b) Ajatashatru (491–460 BC):

  • According to Jaina tradition (“Nirayavalika Sutta” of Jaina Aagams), Ajatasatru was born to king Bimbisara and Queen Chelna; Buddhist tradition (Digha Nikaya Atthakatha) records Ajatasatru being born to King Bimbisara and queen Kosala Devi.
    • Both the queens were called “Vaidehi” in both the traditions. Thus Ajatasatru being called Vaidehi putra in the inscription at Mathura museum.
  • Ajatasatru, with the help of his two ministers Sunidha and Vassakara, built a fort near the banks of the river Ganges to strengthen the defense of Magadha (for war with Vaishali and to protect it from an invasion led by Pradyota of Avanti) and named it Patali Grama(village).
    • Later it developed into a city, which soon became popular as Pataliputra, now known as Patna.
  • Ajatsatru reorganized and strengthened his army and equipped it with new weapons. (war engine which was use to throw stone like catapults).
    • He also used a chariot to which a mace was attached for mass killing.
    • He followed the policy of conquest and expansion.
  • War with Vaishali and Kosala:
    • He fought a terrible war against the Vajjis/Lichhavis and conquered the once considered invincible democratic Vaishali Republic.
    • His opposition of the triba confederacy of the Vajjis, headed by Lichchhavis of Vaishali was part of general monarchical antagonism against tribal polities.
    • The immediate pretext of war was that the traders complained the double imports collected by Magadhan king and Lichchhavis king, both claiming full control of Ganga. The first step was fortifying Pataliputra.
    • According to Buddhist tradition (Jaina tradition also mentions attack on Vaishali)., it is almost impossible to fight against the whole confederacy of Vaisali.
      • Ajatashatru sent his chief minister Vassakara to Lord Buddha to ask him the purpose of Vaisali being invincible, to which Lord Buddha gave seven reasons which included:
        • Vajjis being punctual to the meetings,
        • their disciplined behavior,
        • their respect for elders,
        • respect for women,
        • they do not marry their daughters forcefully,
        • they give spiritual protection to the Arhats (who has attained nirvana) and
        • the main reason was the Chaityas (altar) inside the town.
    • Thus, with the help of his minister Vassakara, Ajatasatru managed to split the Vajjis and also broke the chaityas inside. Ajatasatru attacked the town and conquered it.
    • There is also mention of Amrapali, a nagarvadhu (royal courtesan) of the republic of Vaishali. After defeating the king, Ajatasatru was in a relationship with Amrapali. Later, following the Buddha’s teachings she became an arahant.
    • He defeated his neighbours including the king of Kosala; his brothers, when at odds with him, went to Kashi (of “Kasi-Kosala”), which had been given to Bimbisara as dowry. This led to a war between Magadha and Kosala. Ajatshatru occupied Kashi and captured the smaller kingdoms.
  • After conquering Vaisali, Kasi and Kosala, Ajatasatru conquered 36 republican states surrounding his kingdom and firmly established the predominance of Magadha.
  • King Pradyota of Avanti was powerful that time and Ajatashatru could not conquer it.
  • Religion:
    • He was contemporary to Mahavira ( 540 BCE–468 BCE) and Buddha (563 BCE–483 BCE).
    • Ajatasatru enjoys a respectable position in both Jaina and Buddhist traditions. Both claim him as a close follower.
    • The Jaina claim appears to be well founded.
      • Whereas Ajatasatru met Buddha only once, he had several meetings with Mahavira.
      • Buddha spent only 5 monsoon camps in Rajgriha and none in Champa, Ajatasatru’s capital, while Mahavira spent 14 monsoon camps in Rajgriha and 3 in Champa.
    • May be he later embraced Buddhism.
    • The first Buddhist Council was held soon after the mahaparinirvana of the Buddha, dated by the majority of recent scholars around 400 BCE, under the patronage of king Ajatasatru with the monk Mahakasyapa presiding, at Sattapanni caves Rajgriha.
      • Its objective was to preserve the Buddha’s sayings (suttas) and the monastic discipline or rules (Vinaya). The Suttas were recited by Ananda, and the Vinaya was recited by Upali.
  • According to Buddhist texts the four kings, who ruled Magadha after Ajatashatru, all killed their fathers.

(c) Udayabhadra / Udayin (460-444 BC):

  • The Mahavamsa text tells that Udayabhadra eventually succeeded his father, Ajatashatru, moving the capital of the Magadha kingdom to Pataliputra from Rajgriha.

(d) Nagadasaka:

  • He was last king of Haranyaka dynasty.

(2) Shishunaga dynasty:

  • Shishunaga, the founder of this dynasty was initially an amatya (minister) of the last Haryanka dynasty ruler Nagadasaka and ascended to the thone after a popular rebellion in 413 BCE.
    • He temporarily shifted his capital to Vaishali.
    • He defeated Avanti and brought to end 100 years old rivalry.
  • Note:
    • Avanti became part of the Magadha empire during the rule of the Shaishunaga and the Nanda dynasties. During the Mauryan dynasty rule, Avanti became the Avantiraṭṭha or the western province of the empire, with its capital at Ujjayini)
  • Kalashoka Kakavara:
    • According to the Puranas, Shishunaga was succeeded by his son Kakavarna and according to the Sinhala chronicles by his son Kalashoka.(both may be the same).
    • Two most significant events of his reign are the Second Buddhist council at Vaishali in 383BC and the final transfer of capital to Pataliputra from Vaishali.
  • Nandivardhana or Mahanandin was probably the last ruler of this dynasty
  • This dynasty was succeeded by the Nanda dynasty in c.345 BCE.

(3) Nanda Dynasty (345–321 BCE):

  • The Nandas who usurped the throne of the Shishunaga dynasty were thought to be of low origin with some sources stating that the dynasty’s founder, Mahapadma, was the son of a Shudra mother.
  • Mahapadma Nanda:
    • First Nanda King Mahapadma Nanda, who has been described in the Puranas as “the destroyer of all the Kshatriyas”, defeated many other kingdoms, including the Panchalas, Kasis, Haihayas, Kalingas, Asmakas, Kurus, Maithilas, Surasenas etc.
    • He is known as Ekrat (Sole king who destroyed others).
    • He conquered Kalinga and brought image of Jina with him.
    • Hathigumpha inscription of Kharvela (of Kalinga) mentions conquest of Kalinga by Nanda.
    • He expanded his territory south of the Vindhya range, into the Deccan plateau.
  • The Nandas are sometimes described as the first empire builders in the recorded history of India.
    • They inherited the large kingdom of Magadha and wished to extend it to yet more distant frontiers.
    • To this purpose they built up a vast army. As described by Diodorus (a Greek historian.) and Quintus Curtius Rufus (a Roman historian), consisted of 200,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalry, 2,000 war chariots and 3,000 war elephants. According to Plutarch (Greek historian) the size of the Nanda army was, numbering 200,000 infantry, 80,000 cavalry, 8,000 war chariots, and 6,000 war elephants.
  • However, the Nandas never had the opportunity to see their army up against Alexander, who invaded India at the time of Dhana Nanda, since Alexander had to confine his campaign to the plains of Punjab, for his forces, frightened by the prospect of facing a formidable foe, mutinied at the Hyphasis River (the modern Beas River) refusing to march any further.
nanda 2
Asia in 323 BC, showing borders of the Nanda Empire in relation to Alexander’s Empire and neighbors


  • The Nandas were also renowned for their immense wealth. ‘
    • They undertook irrigation projects and invented standardized measures for trade across their empire, and they ruled with the assistance of many ministers.
  • The Nanda Dynasty was also mentioned in the ancient Sangam literature of the Tamil people.
    • The famous Tamil poet Mamulanar of the Sangam literature described the capital city Pataliputra of the Nanda Dynasty and the wealth and treasure that was accumulated by the great Nanda rulers.
  • Last king of Nand dynasty was Dhana Nanda (329 BCE – 321 BC).
  • Their unpopularity, possibly due to their “financial extortion”, facilitated a revolution, leading to their overthrow by Chandragupta Maurya and Kautilya. Nevertheless, “the greatness attained in the Maurya Age would hardly have been possible but for the achievements of their predecessors”, the Nandas.

Q. Describe the Magadh Imperialism.

Magadha was one of the sixteen maha- janapadas which flourished shortly before the time of Gautam Buddha. Out of the sixteen maha-janapadas Magadha, Kosala, Vatsa and Avanti rose into prominence and engaged in the struggle for the supremacy. Besides, the republican confederacy of the Vrijis was also a strong contender. The struggle between them continued for about a century and ultimately, Magadha emerged victorious and established itself as the supreme power.

Magadhan imperialism was the result of the efforts of enterprising and ambitious rulers like Bimbisara, Ajatshatru and Mahapadma Nanda.

Growth under Bimbisara:
  • Bimbisara, contemporary of Buddha, laid the foundation of the Magadhan imperialism. He started the policy of conquest and aggression which ended with kalinga war of Ashoka.
  • He pursued a three-pronged policy:
    • matrimonial alliances
      • e.g. with Kosala, Lichchavi and Madra
    • friendship with strong rulers
      • e.g. with Avanti.
    • conquest of weak neighbours to expand the empire.
      • e.g. conquering Anga.
  • Under the policy of matrimonial alliances,
    • he married the sister of Prasenjit, the king of Kosala.
      • She brought in dowry the territory of Kashi, which yielded a revenue of 1,00,000 coins.
      • The control over Kasi and friendship with Prasenajit allowed Magadh to concentrate on other areas.
    • His other wives were daughters of the chiefs of Lichchavi and Madra (middle Punjab) respectively.
    •  Marriage relations with the different princely families lent enormous diplomatic prestige and paved the way for the expansion of Magadha westward and north-ward.
  • He also conquered Anga by defeating its ruler Brahmadatta.
    • It was placed under the viceroyalty of his son Ajatashatru at Champa.
    • Anga and specially its capital Champa were important for the inland and maritime trade.
    • Thus, Kashi and conquest of Anga became the launching pad for the expansion of Magadh.
  • Magadha’s most serious rival was Avanti with its capital at ujjain.
    • Its king, Chanda Pradyota Mahasena, fought Bimbisara, but eventually the two thought it wise to make up.
    • Later, when Pradyota was afflicted by jaundice, at the Avanti king’s request, Bim bisara sent the royal physician jivaka to Ujjain.
  • Bimbisara is also said to have received an embassy and a letter from the ruler of Gandhara with which Pradyota had fought unsuccessfully.
  • Therefore, through his conquests and diplomacy, Bimbisara made Magadha the dominant state in the sixth century.
Growth under Ajatasatru:
  • Ajatasatru pursued an aggressive policy of expansion.  Ajatashatru was no respecter of relations. He fought two wars and made preparations for third.
  • He first came into conflict with his maternal uncle Prasenajit, who was aggrieved by the treatment meted out to Bimbisara. He asked Ajatasatru to return the territory of Kasi, which was given to his mother in dowry. Ajatasatru refused and it was only after a fierce battle Prasenajit agreed to leave Kasi with Magadh.
  • Similarly he fought with his maternal grandfather Chetak, the chief of Vaishali and after 16 long years of war Ajatasatru succeeded in breaking the might of Vaishali.
    • The excuse was that the Lichchhavis were the allies of Koshala. He sowed dissension within the ranks of the Lichchhavis and eventually ended their independence by invading their territory and by defeating them in battle.
  • Therefore, he not only retained Kasi, but also added Vaishali to Magadh.
  • Ajatashatru faced a stronger rival in the ruler of Avanti.
    • Avanti had defeated the vatsas of Kaushambi and now threatened an invasion of Magadha.
    • To meet this threat Ajatashatru began the fortification of Ragir, the remains of the walls of which can still be seen. However, the invasion did not materialize during his lifetime.

Ajatashatru was succeeded by Udayin (460-44 BC). His main contribution was building a fort on the confluence of river Ganga and river Son at Pataliputra or Patna. It was strategically a significant step as this site was not only centrally located but also allowed easy movement of merchant and soldiers.

Growth under Shishunaga dynasty:  

  • Udayin was succeeded by the dynasty of Shishunaga.
  • The most important achievement of Shishunaga was to defeat Avanti (Malwa) and make it a part of Magadh.

Growth under Nanda dynasty:

  • Nandas proved to the the most powerful rulers of of the time.
  • Mahapadma Nanda was its most important ruler. He possessed a large army and added Kalinga to his empire.
Growth under Mauryan dynasty:
  • The Mauryan established a vast empire on the foundations laid by the Nandas.
  • Chandragupta Maurya: 
    • Many historian attribute great importance to the role Chandragupta Maurya played in ruthlessly stemming the tide of foreign interference in the north-west and suppressing indigenous rulers in west and south India.
    • Both Indian and Classical sources agree that Chandragupta overthrew the last of the Nanda kings and occupied his capital Pataliputra and ascended to the throne in around 321 B.C.
    • The political rise of Chandragupta was also linked 4th the invasion of Alexander in the north-west.
      • The years 325 B.C. – 323 B.C. were crucial in the sense that many of the governors who were stationed in the north-west after Alexander’s invasion were assassinated or had to retreat.  After Alexander’s retreat it resulted in the creation of a vacuum, and, therefore, it was not difficult for Chandragupta to subdue the Greek garrisons left there.
      • However, what is not clear is whether he did this after his accession to the throne of Magadha or before it.  Chandragupta may have first established himself in the Punjab and then moved eastwards until he gained control over the Magadha region.
      • In any case both these tasks were complete by 321 B.C. and the state was set for further consolidation.
    • One of the first major achievements of Chandragupta Maurya on the military front was his contact with Seleucus Nikator who ruled over the area west of the Indus around 305 B.C. In the war that ensued Chandragupta is said to have turned out victorious and eventually, peace was established.
      • In return for 500 elephants Seleucus gave him eastern Afghanistan, Baluchistan and the area west of the Indus.
      • A marriage alliance was also concluded.
      • Further, Seleucus sent an ambassador called Megasthenes who lived in the court of Chandragupta for many years.
      • This achievement meant that the territorial foundation of the Mauryan empire had been firmly laid with the Indus and Gangetic plains well under Chandragupta’s control.
    • It is suggested by a majority of scholars that Chandragupta ultimately established his control not only in the north-west and the Ganges plains, but also in western India and the Deccan.
      • The only parts left out of his empire were thus present day Kerala, Tamil Nadu and parts of North-eastern India.
      • The conquest and subjugation of Surashtra or Kathiawar in the extreme west is attested in the JunagadhRock Inscription of Rudradaman of the middle of the second century A.D
      • This record refers to Chandragupta’s viceroy or governor, Pushyagupta by name, who is said to have constructed the famous Sudarshana Lake.
      • This further implies that Chandragupta had under the control the Malwa region as well.
    • Details of the conquests in different parts of India are lacking. The Greek writers simply mention that Chandragupta Maurya bverran the whole country with an army of 600,000.
      • With regard to his control over the Deccan too we have late sources. These are some medieval epigraphs informing us that Chandragupta had protected parts of Karnataka.
    • The Tamil writers of the Sangam texts of the early centuries A.D. make allusion to the “Moriyar” which is said to referho the Mauryas and their contact with the south, but this probably refers to the reign of Chandragupta’s successor.
  • Bindusara:
    • He is said to have succeeded Chandragupta Maurya in 297 B.C.
    • There is comparatively little known about him from either Indian or Classical sources.
    • In a very late source of the sixteenth century, in the work of the Buddhist monk Taranath of Tibet, we are told of Bindusara’s warlike activities.
      • He is said to have destroyed kings and nobles of about sixteen cities and reduced to submission all the territory between the eastern and western seas.
    • The descriptions of early Tamil poets of the Mauryan chariots thundering across the land probably refer to his reign.
    • Many scholars believe that since Asoka is credited to have conquered only Kalinga, the extension of the Mauryan empire beyond the Tungabhadra must have been the work  of his predecessors. It can therefore be suggested that it was probably in Bindusara’s reign that the Mauryan control of the Deccan, and the Mysore plateau in particular, was firmly entrenched.
    • Though Bindusara is called “slayer of foes“, his reign is not very well documented, and, therefore, the extent of his conquests can only be arrived at by looking at a map of the empire of Asoka who conquered only Kalinga (Orissa).
    • After his death (around 273-272 B.C.) there was a struggle for succession among his sons for about four years. Ultimately, around 269-268 B.C. Ashoka was crowned Bindusara’s successor.
  • Ashoka:
    • During his father’s reign Asoka served as a Viceroy at Ujjain and also at Taxila.
      • It is suggested that he was sent to Taxila to quell a revolt.
    • Ashoka fought a major war with Kalinga around 261 BC in which large number of people were killed or imprisoned.
      • Asoka himself in Rock Edict XIII describes his conquest of Kalinga which is said to have taken place eight years after his consecration.
      • Though on the battlefield Asoka, was victorious, the inscription goes on to describe his remorse which then ultimately turned him towards Dhamma.
    • A policy of conquest through war was given up and replaced by a policy of conquest through Dhamrnavijaya. And thereafter he favored  dhammaghosha (drum of dhamma) than bherighosha (war drum).
    • This was meant to work both at the State and personal levels, and totally transformed the attitude of the king and his officials towards their subjects.
    • Historian Romila Thapar presents the view that the Dhamma was an ideological tool used by Ashoka to weld and consolidate his far-flung empire.  It was aimed at political integration through social harmony and integration among different sects.

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