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Ancient History of Bihar Part - 5 : Nanda Dynasty

Nanda Dynasty notes/study material for preparation of BPSC Prelims and Mains and other Bihar state examinations

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Nanda Dynasty :

The Nanda Dynasty was the first non-Kshatriya dynasty to rule Magadh. It started from 345 BCE and lasted till 321 BCE. Mahapadma Nanda was the first ruler of the Nanda Dynasty who usurped the throne after removing the last ruler of the Shishunaga dynasty.

Mahapadma Nanda:

  • His origin is not clear. As per Buddhist texts, Nandas have been described as Annatakula (unknown lineage).
  • His reign lasted for twenty-eight years.
  • He is also called Sarva Kashtriyantaka (destroyer of all the Kshatriyas) 
  • He was also called as Ekrat (sole ruler who destroyed all other rulers).
  • The Magadh empire grew under his reign as he conquered many kingdoms.
  • He maintained 200,000 infantry, 60,000 cavalry and 6000 war elephants. 
  • He annexed Kalinga to Magadha and brought an image of Jina as a trophy of victory.
  • He also annexed the Kosala and Magadha empire..
  • In Pali texts,  He has been referred to as Ugrasena because of his large army. 
  • Multiple historical accounts portray the Nandas as rich and enormously powerful whereas others also portray them negatively. 

Dhana Nanda

  • He was the last of all the Nanda rulers.
  • In Greek texts, he has been referred to as Agrammes or Xandrames.
  • Alexander invaded North-Western India during his reign, but he could not proceed towards the Gangetic plains as his army revolted. Due to prolonged hardship, his army did not want to proceed and did not want to face the huge army of Dhana Nanda.
  • Dhana Nanda inherited a huge empire from his father and possessed a huge standing army.
  • He became unpopular within the common populace due to his oppressive way of extorting taxes. 
  • Also, his Sudra origins and anti-Kshatriya policies led to a large dissatisfaction among the people.
  • Finally, he was overthrown by Chandragupta Maurya with the help of Chanakya, who took advantage of the public resentment and established the Mauryan Empire in Magadha.

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