Important Dynasties in Ancient India


The Haryanaka dynasty (544 – 412 B.C.)

Bimbisara was the first ruler and founder of Haryanka dynasty. The capital of the kingdom was Rajagriha.

He strengthened his position by matrimonial alliances. He took three wives:daughter of the king Kosala, Chellana (Lichhavi Princess) and daughter of the chief of the Madra clan of Punjab.

Bimbisara Sent Jivaka to Ujjain for the treatment of King Pradyota, the king of Avanti.

Bimbisara was succeeded by his son Ajatasatru who killed his father and seized the throne for himself.

He was contemporary to Lord Mahavira and Lord Buddha and a follower of Buddhism.

Ajatasatru was succeeded by Udayin.

He built the fort upon the confluence of the Ganga and Son at Patna.

He shifted the capital from the Rajagriha to Pataliputra.

Ajatasatru was killed by his son Udayin.

Shishunaga dynasty (412 – 344 B.C.)

The last Haryanka ruler,Nagadasaka, was killed by his courtier Shishunaga in 430 B.C, who became the king and founded the Shishunaga dynasty.

Shishunaga was succeeded by his son Kalashoka. The Second Buddhist Council was organised at Vaishali under the sponsorship of Kalashoka in 383 B.C.

The last ruler of Shishunaga dynasty was Nandivardhan.

Nanda dynasty (344-321 B.C.)

Mahapadmananda established the Nanda dynasty into a powerful empire.

The Nanda dynasty had a huge army consisting 2,00,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalry,2,000 war chariots and 3,000 war elephants.

Last ruler of Nanda dynasty was Dhanananda. He was contemporary of Alexander.

Alexander invasion of India took place in 326 B.C. during the reign of Dhanananda.

The Mauryan empire (322 – 185 B.C.)

Founder—Chandragupta Maurya

He defeated the king Dhanananda with the help of Chanakya .

Its capital was Pataliputra.

Greek and Latin name of Chandragupta was Sandracottos” or “Andracottus.

Megasthene (Greek Ambassador) came to his court.

Chandragupta Maurya embraced Jainism.

He died at Sravanbelagola of Chandragiri hill.• Chandragupta Maurya was succeeded by his son Bindusara.

Greek sources refer to him as Amitrochates or in Sanskrit amitraghata (“destroyer of foes”).

The palace of Chandragupta was made of wood.

Bindusara was followed by his son, Ashoka (273-232 B.C.).• The war of Kalinga (BC 261) was the turning point of Ashoka’s life. The mass death of the war changed his mind and he became a follower of Buddhism.

Ashok Stambh of Sarnath was adopted as national emblem of India.

Sanchi Stupa was built by Ashoka.

Constructions carried out by Ashoka: Dhamek Stupa (Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh), Bharhut stupa (MadhyaPradesh), Mahabodhi Temple (Bihar).

Ashoka’s Dhamma was a code of conduct (a set of principles like respect to elders) mercy to slaves & emphasis on truth, non-violence & tolerance.

Last Mauryan King: Brihadratha (Killed by his general Pushyamitra).

Pushyamitra founded Sunga Dynasty.

Important Sources of History of Mauryan Empire: Arthshastra(Kautilya), Indica (Megasthenes), Rajtarangini (Kalhan), Mahabhasya(Patanjali)

Other Sources: Puranas, Buddhist Texts, Asoka’s Inscriptions, Rocks &Pillar Edicts of Mauryas.

Categories of Ashoka’s Inscription

Bhabru – Conversion of Buddhism

Barabar Hills – Enjoins toleration

Tarai Pillars – Respect to Buddhism

14 Rock Edicts –Administration and ethics.

Minor Rock Edicts – Personal history of Ashoka & summary of Dhamma.

7 Pillar Rock Edicts –Appendix to Rock Edicts.

Sunga Dynasty (185 to 73 B.C.)

Pushyamitra Sunga was the senapati of last king of Mauryan empire Brihadratha. He killed Brihadratha and founded the Sunga dynasty in 187 B.C.

It was a Magadha dynasty and its capital was Pataliputra but later Vidhisha was the capital of Sunga rulers.

Patanjali (grammarian of Sanskrit) was patronized by Pushyamitra Sunga.