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Updated on June 16, 2016

Aryan tribes known as Janas were led by Janardhans (Tribal chiefs) during their nomadic phase. During this phase wars were fought not for territory but for the possession of cattle known as Gavasthi. During the later Vedic period Janapadas (territorial kingdoms) emerged. In this period, battles were fought not only for the possession of cattle but also for tat of territory. For example, the famous Mahabharata battle known as Kurukshetra was fought between the Pandavas and Kauravas for territory. From the 6th century BC large territorial states known as Mahajanapadas (big kingdoms) emerged.

16 Mahajanapadas:

Present Location
East Bihar, India
Rajagruha, later Pataliputra
South Bihar, India
North Bihar, India
Pavupuri, Kusinara
Gorakpur district, Uttar Pradesh, India
Benaras (Varanasi), India
Allahabad region along Jammu, India
Around Lucknow, India
Kampilya, Ahichattaram
Modern Rohilkand in Uttar Pradesh, India
Aligarh, Meerut, Delhi, India
Virata Nagaram
Jaipur, Rajastan, India
Seva Mathura
Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, India
Bundelkhand, Uttar Pradesh, India
Ujjani, Mahismathi
Central Malwa, West of Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, India
Mid Godavari, India
Pushkalavathi, Takshashila
Rawalparidi, Pakistan
North-Western Pakistan

From the 6th century BC onwards these mahajanapadas fought among themselves for supremacy. Ultimately, Magadha trounced other mahajanapadas and enlarged into an empire.

The causes for the rise of Magadha are acquisition of iron weapons due to the availability of rich iron deposits in Magadha, strategic location of its capitals (Rajgir, the earlier capital was surrounded by hills on all sides and the later capital Pataliputra was surrounded by water on all sides making it difficult for conquest), higher revenue realized by the Magadhan rulers due to flourishing agriculture and trade, their territory which facilitated organization of a big army, availability of elephants in Magadhan territory in good number which helped in storming forts and marching over marshy lands, and the ambitious and dynamic leadership of Bimbisara, Ajatasatru, Mahapadmananda, etc.

Bimbisara belonging to Haryanka dynasty ruled Magadha from about 540 BC to 492 BC. He made! Magadha a paramount power in the 6th century BC through the policy of conquests like that of thej conquest of Anga and the policy of marriage alliances: I his first wife was the daughter of the king of Kosala, the second wife was a Lichchhavi princess from Vaisali and his third wife was the daughter of the chief of the Madra clan of Punjab. Bimbisara was killed by his son Ajaatasatru who ruled Magadha from about 492 to 460 BC. He intensified the expansionist policy of his father by conquering Vaisali and Kasi. Ajaatasatru was succeeded by Udayin who ruled from about 460 BC to 444 BC. He built a fort at the confluence of the Ganga and the Son at Pataliputra because of its central location in the expanded kingdom.

Udayin was succeeded by his minister Sisunaga, who established Sisunaga dynasty. The greatest achievement of this dynasty was the defeat of the powerful Avanti with its capital at Ujjain. Kalasoka, an another great ruler of this dynasty, shifted the capital from Rajagir to Pataliputra. Sisunagas were supplanted by the Nandas who enhanced the power of Magadha by building up a powerful army which even frightened the soldiers of Alexander the great leading to giving up the plan of invasion of Magadhan empire. Mahapadmananda was the founder and the most powerful ruler of this dynasty which ruled from about 400 BC to 322 BC. Dhanananda, the last ruler of this dynasty was an oppressive and unpopular ruler. He was overthrown by Chandragupta Maurya at the behest of Chanukya. With this, an another powerful dynasty known as the Mauryas came to power in Magadha with its capital at Pataliputra. Under the Mauryas, the glory of Pataliputra reached its heights.


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      mary 5 years ago

      thanks....helped me a lot