(Notes) Civil Services (Prelims) Examination : Indian History (Magadhan Ascedancy And Beyond) - Quick Revision Notes

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Quick Revision Notes


Magadhan Ascedancy And Beyond (Indian History)

Indian History forms an important part of the General Awareness paper of Civil Services (Prelims) Examination. Based on analysis of types of  questions asked in previous years, we have compiled this feature to help you to be better prepared for the examination, as also to make your preparation easier. This will be a regular feature in the magazine and in coming months we will also provide you with similar notes on Indian Constitution and other topics.

Beginning of Magadhan Ascendancy and beyond

1. Magadha kingdom’s most remarkable king was Srenika or Bimbisara, who was anointed king by his father at the young age of 15.

2. The capital of Bimbisara’s kingdom was Girivraja. It was girded with stone walls which are among the oldest extant stone structures in India.

3. The most notable achievement of Bimbisara was the annexation of neighbouring kingdom of Anga or East Bihar. He also entered into matrimonial alliances with ruling families of Kosala and Vaishali. The Vaishali marriage paved the way for expansion of Magadha northword to the borders of Nepal.

4. Gautama Buddha and Vardhaman Mahavira preached their doctrines during the reign of Bimbisara.

5. The modern town of Rajgir in the Patna district was built by Bimbisara. He had named it Rajagriha or the king’s house.

6. Bimbisara was succeeded by his son Ajatshatru. Tradition affirms that Bimbisara was murdered by Ajatshatru.

7. To repel the attacks of the Vrijis of Vaishali, Ajatshatru fortified the village of Pataligrama, which stood at the confluence of Ganga and Sona rivers. This fortress, within a generation, developed into the stately city of Pataliputra (modern day Patna).

8. According to the Puranas, the immediate successor of Ajatshatru was Darsaka, after whom came his son Udayi.

9. The name of Darsaka also occurs in a play named Svapna-Vasavadatta, attributed to Bhasa, which represents him as a brother-in-law and contemporary of Udayana, king of Kausambi. However, Jain and Buddhist writers assert that Udayi was son of Ajatshatru.

10. Bimbisara’s dynastic lineage ended with the Nanda dynasty taking over the reigns of Magadha. The first king of Nanda dynasty was Mahapadma or Mahapamapati Nanda. He was succeeded by his eight sons, of whom the last was named Dhana- Nanda.

11.Dhana-Nanda was overthrown by Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of a new and more illustrious dynasty.

12. Among the State functionaries, the Purohit was of special importance in Kasi-Kosala, as we learn from Ramayan and several Jatakas. In Kuru-Panchal and Matsya countries it was the Senapati who held the special place.

13. The armies of the period usually consisted of infantry, cavalry, chariots and elephants. While rulers of deltaic regions were known to maintain small naval fleets, a big naval department came into being only during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya.

14. The Indian infantry usually carried long bows and iron-tipped arrows made of cane. They used to wear cotton garments. The chariots of the cavalry were drawn by horses or wild asses and carried six soldiers apiece—two bowmen, two shield bearers and two charioteers.

15. Greek writers bear testimony to the fact that in the art of war Indians were far superior to other peoples of Asia. Their failure against foreign invaders was often due to inferiority in cavalry. Indian commanders pinned their faith more in elephants than horses.

16. The oldest source of revenues was the bali. Bhaga, the king’s share of reaped corn, became the most important source of State revenue in course of time. Among the most important revenue officials was the Grama-bhojaka or village head-man.

17. The early Buddhist texts refer to six big cities that flourished during the days of the Buddha. These were: Champa (near Bhagalpur), Rajagriha (in Patna district), Sravasti (Saheth- Maheth), Saketa (Oudh), Kausambi (near Allahabad) and Benaras (Varanasi).

18. The usual recreations of women during the agadhan era were singing,  dancing and music. Little princesses used to play with dolls called panchalikas.

19. The chief pastimes of knights were gambling, hunting, listening to tales of war and tournaments in amphitheatres. Buddhist texts refer to acrobatic feats, combats of animals and a kind of primitive chess play.

20. The principal seaports of the period were: Bhrigukachcha (Broach), Surparaka (Sopara, north of Mumbai), and Tamralipti (Tamluk in West Bengal).

21. The chief articles of trade during the Magadhan era were: silk, muslin, embroidery, ivory, jewellery and gold. The standard unit of value was the copper Karshapana, weighing a little more than 146 grains. Silver coins, called Purana or Dharana, were also in circulation. The weight of a silver coin was a little more than 58 grains, which is one-tenth of that of the Nishka known to the Vedic texts.

22. The first undoubted historical reference to image-worship by an Aryan tribe occurs in passage of Curtis, who states that an image of Herakles was carried in front of Paurava army as it advanced against Alexander.

23. The early Magadhan period saw development of variant languages from Sanskrit. In the towns and the villages a popular form of Sanskrit, Prakrit, was spoken. This had local variations; the chief western variety was called Shauraseni and the eastern variety Magadhi. Pali was another local language. The Buddha, wishing to reach wider audience, taught in Magadhi. Persian and Macedonian Invasions.


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