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Haryanka Dynasty – Rise of Magadha

Rise of Magadha under the Haryanka Dynasty

  • Among the 16 mahajanapadas, Kasi was initially powerful.
  • However, Kosala became dominant later.
  • A power struggle broke out between Magadha, Kosala, Vrijji and Avanti.
  • Eventually Magadha emerged as the dominant mahajanapada and established the first Indian empire.
  • The first known ruler of Magadha was Bimbisara of the Haryanka dynasty.
  • He extended the territory of Magadhan Empire by matrimonial alliances and conquests.
  • By marrying off his sister to Prasenajit, ruler of Kosala, he received Kasi as dowry.
  • He also married the princesses of Lichchhavis and Madra.
  • He maintained friendly relations with Avanti but annexed Anga by military might.
  • Thus, Magadha became a powerful and prominent power.
  • During his reign, Bimbisara patronised various religious sects and their leaders.
  • He had an encounter with Buddha as well.
  • His son Ajatashatru ascended the throne by killing his father.
  • King Prasenajit immediately took back Kasi, which he had handed out as dowry to Bimbisara.
  • This led to a military confrontation between Magadha and Kosala.
  • The struggle lasted until Prasenajit was overthrown and died at Rajgriha, the capital of Magadha Empire.
  • Kosala was then annexed to Magadha.
  • Ajatashatru also fought and won the battle against the Lichchhavis.
  • He defeated the Lichchhavis and the Mallas.
  • Ajatashatru is also believed to have met Buddha in his lifetime.
  • By the time Ajatashatru died in 461 BCE Magadha had become undisputedly the strongest power.
  • The Haryanka dynasty was succeeded by the Shishunaga dynasty.
  • Shishunaga, a viceroy of Benaras, deposed the last Haryanka king and ascended the throne.
  • The Shishunagas ruled for fifty years before the throne was usurped by Mahapadma Nanda.

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