Ancient India

Pre Mauryan Period | Haryanka Dynasty

Haryanka Dynasty

Bimbisara (545-493 BC) Magadha came into prominence under the leadership of Bimbisara who belonged to Haryanka dynasty. He was a man of determination and political foresight. He became the king in second half of the 6th century BC. He added to the prestige and strength of Magadha by his policy of matrimonial alliance and annexations. Marriage relations with different princely families gave enormous diplomatic prestige and paved the way for the expansion of Magadha westward and eastward. Bimbisara built his capital at Rajgir which was called Girivraja at that time. It was surrounded by five hills and cyclopean walls which are examples of earliest Indian stone architecture. Bimbisara for the first time laid down the foundation of an efficient administration in Magadha. He himself appointed the ministers and never ignored their advice.

Haryanka Dynasty

Officers were divided into various categories according to their work and the beginning of an administrative system took root. The chief officers were known as Mahamantras the executive as Sabhatthaka who was in charge of all affairs and interests; the judicial officer as Voharika and the military officer as Senanayak. The head of a village was called Gramika. A lot of autonomy was given to various provinces in the kingdoms. He constructed several canals and roads appointed several new officers for the regular collection of revenue. It helped him in increasing his financial resources and military strength. Both Jains and Buddhists claim Bimbisara as a follower of their respective religions. It is stated in the Mahavamsa that Bimbisara ruled for 52 years. Ajatashatru the son murdered his father in about 493 BC and became the king.

Bimbisara (545-493 BC)

Magadha came into prominence under the leadership of Bimbisara who belonged to Haryanka dynasty. He was a man of determination and political foresight. He became the king in second half of the 6th century BC. He added to the prestige and strength of Magadha by his policy of matrimonial alliance and annexations. Marriage relations with different princely families gave enormous diplomatic prestige and paved the way for the expansion of Magadha westward and eastward. Bimbisara built his capital at Rajgir which was called Girivraja at that time. It was surrounded by five hills and cyclopean walls which are examples of earliest Indian stone architecture. Bimbisara for the first time laid down the foundation of an efficient administration in Magadha.

Ajatsatru

Ajatsatru is stated to have ruled from 493 BC to 461 BC. It was during his reign that the Haryanka dynasty reached its highest watermark. He continued his father’s policy of expansion through military conquests. He turned his attention to the north and the west. His first campaign was against Kosala. The war remained indecisive for a long time and ultimately the ruler of Kosala ended his conflict with Ajatsatru. The war with Vriji confederacy continued for 16 years. Finally Magadha was victorious and was recognized as the most powerful force in eastern India. Ajatsatru was of liberal religious opinion. jaina texts represent him as a Jaina and Buddhist texts as a Buddhist. he was probably inclined to Jainism but later on became Buddhist.The first General Council of the Buddhist was held under his patronage near Rajgriya. He also built several Buddhist Chaitayas. he died in 461 BC and was succeeded by five kings. The Ceylonese Buddhist Chronicle called Mahavamsa tells us that all of them ascended the throne after killing their fathers.

Successors of Ajatsatru (462-413 BC)

Ajatsatru was succeeded by his son Udayabhadra. The rivalry between Magadha and Avanti continued his time. He was at constant war with Avanti whose king Palaka was defeated by him. He built a town called Kusumapura and a Jain Chaityagriha inside it. According to Buddhist texts Deepvamsa and Mahavamsa, Udayabhadra was succeeded by Anurudha, Munda and Nagadasaka respectively. None of them proved himself capable of ruling and according to the Buddhist texts each of them was a patricide. The people of Magadha deposed the last five in 413 BC and appointed a Viceroy Shishunaga as King.

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