The Pre Mauryan Dynasties – under the History Study Material & Notes

The history of India is so vivid that it will be unfair to omit such small yet very important details about the developments that occurred before the establishment of the greatest empires in India, the Mauryan empire. Therefore, we are presenting here a consolidated view of the major dynasties that flourished before paving the way for the Mauryans. Let us then look at the reasons for the rise of Magadha among all other Mahajanapadas.

<< Read about the Sixteen mahajanapadas here >>

Rise of Magadha: Of all the kingdoms of India, Magadha had emerged prosperous and powerful. Its rise in ancient India was aided by these factors:

  1. Location of Magadha was across the upper and lower parts of Gangetic valley, this was highly adventageous.
  2. This area had fertile soil, which supported agriculture.
  3. Rajgir, the capital city of Magadha had reserves of Iron ore readily available.
  4. There were copper and iron deposits near Gaya.
  5. Magadha was situated on the highways of trade which contributed to its wealth.

There were three important dynasties in pre-mauryan world:

I. Haryanka dynasty- There are two notable rulers of this dynasty, let us look into the details.

  • Bimbisara– He was a contemporary of Mahavir and Buddha. He took control of Anga, to dominate the southern trade routes. He consolidated his position by involving himself in matrimonial alliances.
  • Ajatshatru – He fortifies the village of Patliputra for operations against Vaishali. He also convened the First Buddhist Council at Rajgriha. The Barhut sculptures show him meeting buddha.
  • Udayin – He founded the city of Patliputra, at banks of Ganga and Son.

II. Saisunga dynasty – Its founder was Saisunga, who transferred the capital from patliputra to Vaishali.

  • Kalashoka or Kakavarman convened the Second Buddhist Council at Vaishali.

III. Nanda dynasty – It is considered first non-kshatriya lineage of rulers. They were prosperous and had a big empire.

  • Mahapadma Nanda – He was the founder, who assumed the title of ‘Ekarat’ for uprooting all kshatriya dynasties. He is mentioned in Hathigumpha inscription of Kharvela of kalinga.
  • Dhana Nanda – He was the last Nanda ruler. Under him Nandas gained a lot f wealth, which finds mention in the sangam works by Mamulanar’s ‘Ahananuru’.

Invasion by Alexander:Alexander's Invasion of India

Alexander crossed the Hindukush Mountains in 327 BC and spent 10 months in fighting with the tribes. He then moved across the Indus wher the ruler of Taxila, Ambhi greeted him. Alexander asked Porus to submit to him but Porus refused his offer and decided to fight against Alexander.

Thereafter, Alexander marched to the banks of the river Jhelum (Hydaspes) from Taxila. Porus lost the battle after fighting with courage and heroism. Alexander gave him his throne back after being impressed by his abilities. Thereafter Alexander retreated back because his soldiers refused to fight.

The Effect of Alexander’s Invasion: This invasion encouraged the unification of Northern India under the Mauryas, as we will study further. This contact with Greeks led to development of ties between India and Greece. This direct contact opened the trade routes along the way Alexandar arrived. Hence, overall the trade relations between India and west Asia developed.
These were the major developments that took place before the establishment of Mauryan empire.
You can read about the previous developments that occured in the Indian sub-continent from related post below. If you want us to add anything further to this page, please feel free to mention that in the comments below.

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