(Sample Material) IAS Mains History (Optional) Study Kit "The Rise of the Magadha"

Sample Material of Our IAS Mains History Study Kit

Subject: History (Optional)

Topic: The Rise of the Magadha

Period 600-325 BC is a major landmark. North India experienced far reaching changes in political, socio-economic and cultural life.Mahagovinda Sutta of Digha Nikaya describe the shape of India as rectangular in the north and triangular in the south, just like a bullock cart. The lists of Janapadas preserved in the Jain texts Bhagvatisutra, and Sutrakntang, great Grammarian Panini’s Ashtadhyayi (sixth sentury B.C.), Baudhayandharmasutra (seventh century B.C.), and in the Mahabharata, The Buddhist Nikayas mention the five-fold division of India into Uttarapatha north-western), Madhyadesha (central), Prachi (eastern), Dakshinapath (south), and Apranta (western), which confirms that the geographical unity of India had been visualised much before the sixth century B.C.

Towns and cities like Sravasti, Ayodhya, Kapilavastu, Varanasi, Vaisali, Rajgir, Pataliputra etc., grew in the middle Gangetic Valley, marking the second urbanization in the Indian subcontinent. Extension and improvements in agriculture due to the regular use of iron implements. All these economic changes resulted in the growth of the institution of private property which in turn led to sharp economic inequalities. Further strengthening of this four-fold system during this period; sharp distinction between the Dvija twice-born, consisting of the Brahmins, Kashatriyas and Visyas) and the Non-Dvija Sudras). Both civil and criminal law came o be based on the varna.
The use of coined money is more frequently associated with urban centres. The coin of highest value in circulation was the silver satamana but the more standard coins were the silver karshapana and the copper masha and kakani.

The karshapana is said to equal sixteen mushas and was divided into a half (ardha or addha) and a quarter (pada). The kakani was half a masha and the smallest denomination was the ardha-kakani. The distribution of punch-marked coins, which were in circulation from , sixth century B.C. to second century B.C. shows that by the fourth century B.C. there was only one currency for the whole ‘of India. It shows political and economic unification for the entire territory.

Click Here for UPSC Mains History Study Material

State Formation and Rise of 16 Mahajanapadas

The Buddhist texts also speak of nine ganas of the Mallas and nine of Kashi.The Mallas of Kusinagara and Pava were the Kshatriyas of the Ikshvaku dynasty.The Sakyas of Kapilavastu, modern Piparahwa in the Siddharthanagar dis­trict of Uttar Pradesh on the Nepal border, were also lkshvaku Kshatriyas. Gautama Buddha was born in the Sakya family and Suddhodana was the ‘King’ of the Sakyas. The Koliyas of Ramagrama were eastern neighbours of the Sakyas. The Moriyas of the Pipphalivana also claimed to be Kshatriya. According to Mahavamsa.

Chandragupta Maurya belonged to this Kshatriya clan. The Vajjis were the most important republican state during the period of Buddha. Vajji was a confederation of eight ganas among which the Lichchhavis were most prominent. These were called astakulika (eight families) Vajjis, Lichchhavis, Videhas and Jnatrika were important families. Mahavira the twenty-fourth Jaina tirthankara was born during the time of Buddha, the Lichchhavis, under the leadership of Chetaka were the most prominent gana in the Vajji sangha. They are also called Kshatriyas. The Vajjis were defeated and assimilated in the Magadha empire by Ajatasattu.

Magadhan Ascendancy

Of the sixteen Mahajanapadas, Magadha, Kosala, Vatsa and Avanti were more powerful. They fought amongst themselves for political pre-eminence for about a hundred years. Ultimately, Magadha, under the leadership of Bimbisar’a (542 BC - 493 BC) and Ajatshatru (493 BC - 461 BC) emerged victorious. The victory of Magadha was a victory for the monarchical system, which was now firmly established in the Ganges plain.

Haryanka Dynasty

Magadhan ascendancy began with Bimbisara of the Haryanka dynasty. Harvanka dynasty was founded in Magadha by Bimbisara after overthrow­ing the Brihadrathas.He married the princesses of Kosala, Vaishali and Madia, which helped him in his expansionist policy. His one and only conquest was that of Anga. He also gained a part of Kashi as (he dowry in his marriage with the sister of King Prasenajit of Kosala. Bimbisara was murdered by his own son. Ajatasatru (492-460 BC). He defeated Prasenajit, married his daughter, and annexed Kashi. Ajatasatru was succeeded by Udayin (460-444 BC), who founded the new capital at Pataliputra.

Sisunaga Dynasty

The Haryanka dynasty was succeeded by the Sisunaga dynasty, which destroyed the power of Avanti and incorporated it in the Magadhan empire. Thus, the 100-year-old rivalry between Avanti and Magadha came to an end. The Puranas take Sisunaga to be the founder of the royal line to which Bimbisara belonged, and hence calls it the Sisunaga Dynasty. Kalasoka was the son and succesor of Sisunaga.

Nanda Dynasty

Kalasoka, the son and succesor of Sisunaga, was succeeded by a barber (according to some accounts) named Mahapadma Nanda, who found a new dynasty known as the Nandas. Nandas annexed Kalinga to the empire. Mahapadma Nanda was the most important king of his dynasty.

The Nandas are said to have checked Alexander’s army from ad- vancing towards Magadha. Their rule was supplanted by that of the Mauryas, Mahapadma defeated and destroyed the far-famed Kshatriya families, such as the Pauravas, the Ikshvakus, and the Pradyotas, who were ruling in Kausambi, Koshala and Avanti and established an empire which included the greater part of northern India.

Click Here for UPSC Mains History Study Material

<<Go Back To Main Page