History

  • The kingdom of Magadh came into prominence during the mid-6th century BC due to the active and expansive policy of King Bimbisara (c.544–c.493) of the Hirayanka dynasty (600c – 413c) that led to the expansion of its geographical frontiers. Though Bimbisara was killed by his son – Ajatshatru (493c – 465c) but Magadh as a kingdom continued to grow and expand. At all point of time, the expanse of the Kingdom lay from the south of the Ganga in Kashi in the West to the present day Bangladesh in the East and from Nepal in the North to the Bay of Bengal (present day West Bengal) in the South. At various points of time the kingdom had expanded and shrunk from the present day Afghanistan in the North West to Tamil Nadu in the south and also extended to Gujrat in the west.

  • The reigns of the kingdom changed hands to the Shishunaga dynasty (413c – 345c) and then briefly to the Nanda dynasty (345c – 321c). The kingdom redeemed its prominence when Chandragupta Maurya overthrew Dhana Nanda, the last Nanda King in 321c and went on to establish Magadh as the nucleus of the great Mauryan empire (321c – 232c – 185c). He brought all small kingdoms of India together under one rule for the first time, made Patliputra (modern Patna) its capital, and allowed political stability in this region. Kautilya Chanakya the great ancient Indian economist and strategist belonged to Magadh and served as Chandragupta’s Prime Minister. Chandragupta was succeeded by his son Bindusara and then by his grandson, Ashoka the great.

  • Ashoka further expanded the Mauryan Empire, and India finally was united as one large nation that included modern day Afghanistan, Pakistan and a part of Nepal. The all-conquering, bold, ruthless and mighty Ashoka embraced Buddhism after the great Kalinga war and became a peace loving king. He had four wives and many children but none were groomed to succeed him as the emperor. Upon his death the reigns passed onto one of his grandsons – Dasharatha and the Mauryan Empire started to lose its sheen.

  • After a period of obscurity, the kingdom recovered its lost glory in the 4th century AD as it became the power-base of the Gupta dynasty. The time of the Gupta Empire proved an Indian “Golden Age” in Science, Metallurgy, Mathematics, Astronomy, Architecture, Religion, Art and and Philosophy.

  • The reigns of the kingdom subsequently passed on to Harshavardhana (600 – 650 AD) and then to the Pala dynasty (650 – 1200 AD) and then to the Muslim Rulers (1200 – 1750) when the British came to exercise their dominance (1757 – 1947) till India attained independence in 1947.

  • Being the center of power, peace and education, Magadh remained the greatest attraction for the travelers and scholars like Faxian (Fa-Hien) and Xuanzang (Hieun Tsang), who received education at Nalanda university, the oldest university of India, and visited Patliputra, Rajgrih (Rajgir), Vaishali, Gaya and Bodhgaya, in pursuit of knowledge and spirituality. Magadh also had the Odantapura and Vikramashila universities. The modern day excavations still has remnants of several monasteries for the monks to stay there and study religion and philosophy and there are several running meditation centers for the lay practitioners also. Its soil soaked in wisdom and enlightenment, Magadh was a power hub of education and knowledge.

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