Mahajanapadas & Rise of Magadha


  • Budhhist literature Angutara Nikaya gives a list of 16 great kingdoms or Mahajanapadas in the begining of 6th century B.C
  • Major reason of the formation of Janapadas was use of Iron tools for agricultural & military purposes
  • In course of time small or weak kingdoms either submitted to stronger rulers or got eliminated. Finally in 6th century BC only 4 major kingdoms survived:
  • Vatsa
  • Avanti
  • Magadha
  • Kosala



  • Shifted kuru clan with capital Kaushambi
  • Most powerful ruler was Udayana
  • After his death Vatsa was annexed to Avanti



  • Most important ruler was Pradyota
  • Patronized Buddhism
  • Finally was annexed to Magadha



  • Most famous ruler was Prasenjit whose sister was married to Bimbisara
  • Prasenjit gave Kasi as dowry to Magadha
  • After his death Kosala became part of Magadha



  • Famous rulers were
  • Most powerful kingdom of north India & founded by Jarasangha
  • Bimbisara, Ajatashatru (Haryankas)
  • Shishunaga
  • Nandas




Kamboja Rajpura
Gandhar Taxila
Surasena Mathura
Matsya Virat
Vatsa Kaushambi
Chedis Shuktimati
Kasi Varanasi





Avanti Ujjain & Mahismati
Kuru Hatinapur & Indraprastha
Panchala Kampilya & Ahichattra
Kosala Ayodhya & Sravasti
Mallas Pava & Kusinagar
Vajjis Vaishali
Anga Champa
Magadha Rajgir
Asmaka Potana

Rise of Magadha

Bimbisara (546 – 494 BC)

  • Contemporary of both Buddhism & jainism + Set up his capital at Rajgir (Known as Girivraja)
  • Strengthened his position by marriage alliances (Kosala, lichhavi (Vaishali) & madra clan (Punjab))
  • Acquired Anga under the viceroyality of Ajatashatru (Born of Lachhavi Princess)
  • Fought with Pradyota of Avanti but later became friends



  • Killed his father & succeeded to the throne
  • Fought with Kosala & Vaishali (Lichhavis – destroyed it in 16 years) & won both war
  • Embraced buddhism & led the foundation for 1st Budhhist council at Rajgir



  • Succesor of Ajatashatru + Founded new capital at Pataliputra
  • His death marked the end of Haryanka dynasty



  • Temporary shifted the capital to Vaishali
  • Defeated Avanti & bought end to 100 year old rivalry
  • Transferred capital from Vaishali to Patliputra



  • Known as Ekarat (sole king who destroy others)
  • Conquered Kalinga & bought image of Jina as trophy
  • Hathigumpha inscription of kharavela King (Kalinga) refers to conquest of Kalinga by Nandas



  • Last ruler of Nanda dynasty
  • During his reign, Alexander invaded India but did not move ahead to east (Nanda’s Power)
  • Chandragupta Maurya & Kautilya overthrew him as oppressive way of tax collection was already resented by people


Cause of Magadha’s Success

  • Advantageous geographical position & rich iron ores of Rajgir
  • Capitals: Rajgir (Surrounded by 5 hills) + Patliputra (Surrounded by Ganga, Gandhak, Son & Ghagra river True Jaladurga)
  • Magadha 1st used elephants in war against enemies
India Yearbook English India Yearbook Hindi Economic Survey 2017


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