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Nanda Dynasty: The first Non-Kshatriya Empire that Ruled Magadha

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Nanda Empire Map

Nanda Empire Map

 

The Nanda Dynasty or Nanda Empire was established in the territoryof Magadha and is one of the famous Ancient Indian Dynasties. It ruled in India at the time of 4th and 5th century BC. During the peak of its glory, the Nanda Dynasty had its stretch from Punjab to the west to Bengal to the east, and in the distant south till the Vindhya Mountain Range. Subsequently, Chandragupta, the famous monarch and founder of the Maurya Dynasty, overwhelmed the Nanda Dynasty.

Origin of Nanda Dynasty

 The founder of the famous Nanda Dynasty is Mahapadma Nanda. He had conquered a number of kingdoms, namely the Panchalas, Haihayas, Kasis, Asmakas, Kalingas, Maithilas, Kurus, Vitihotras, and Surasenas to name a few. During the regime of Mahapadma Nanda, the kingdom was stretched to the Deccan Plateaus in the southern part ofIndia. He breathed his last when he was 88 and reigned over his kingdom for an extensive period which excluded the last 12 years of the empire. The Nanda rulers have been mentioned in the Puranas, the book of legends for the Hindus. All the nine Nanda monarchs were cited in the Puranas and the Maha Bodhi Vamsa, the famous literary work in Pali language.

It was assumed that the Nanda monarchs who took over the position of the Shishunaga Empire were of abject ancestry. The reason behind this is that Mahapadma Nanda, the establisher of this empire, was the child of a mother who belonged to the Shudra community, according to certain sources. However, according to Greek thoughts, Mahapadma was the illegitimate child of a concubine and a barber. The Puranas state that Mahapadma Nanda overwhelmed all his contemporary Kshatriya monarchs. He conquered the dynasties of Panchalas, Aikshvakus, Haihayas, Kasis, Asmaka, Kalinga, Maithilas, Kuru, and Sursenas and added these provinces to Magadha.

Mahapadma Nanda is often depicted as the sole sovereign or Eka-rata. It is also said that he is the illicit child of Mahararaja Mahanandin. Other names in which he was known are Ugrasena or Mahapadmapati.

Regime of Nanda Dynasty

 On certain occasions, it is said that the Nanda rulers were the earliest conquerors in the chronicles of Indian history. They were the successors of the colossal Magadha Dynasty and had the desire of stretching it to far away borders. For achieving this goal, they formed a big military regiment, comprising 20,000 horseback troops, 200,000 foot soldiers, 3,000 battle elephants, and 2,000 war horse-drawn vehicles (at the lowest figures).

Nonetheless, as laid down by Plutarch, the Greek biographer, the magnitude of the armed forces was even bigger and it comprised 80,000 horseback troops, 200,000 foot soldiers, 6,000 battle elephants, and 8,000 war horse-drawn vehicles.

When Mahapadma Nanda breathed his last, other monarchs who reigned over the territory of Magadha for short stints were Panghupati, Pandhuka, Rashtrapala, Bhutapala, Dashasidkhaka, Govishanaka, Kaivarta, and Mahendra.

The Nanda monarchs did not have the chance to test their military strength versus Alexander, the King of Macedonia, who attacked the country during the regime of Dhana Nanda. The reason behind this is that Alexander had restricted his operation to the flatland in Punjab. Moreover, his army, panic-stricken with the possibility of confronting a dreadful rival, engaged in an open rebellion near the Hyphasis River(the contemporary Beas River), declining to proceed any more. In this way, the Beas River symbolizes the eastern most limit of the invasion by the great Macedonian king.

Till 321 BC, the Nanda Dynasty thrived, following which Dhana Nanda, the final Nanda monarch, was defeated and removed from power by Chandragupta Maurya, which brought into existence the Maurya Dynasty.

The language used for communication during this dynasty is the Sanskrit language. The monarch was called as Samrat.

 The Nandas became successful in setting up an enormous kingdom which spanned a significant portion of North India and certain areas ofSouth India. You will find very small information regarding the chronicles of Nandas following the regime of Mahapadma Nanda other than Dhana Nanda, the final monarch of the dynasty.

Administration of Nanda Dynasty

The Nandas are famous for the introduction of a systematic process for the receipt of taxes. They ensured it through employing functionaries on a frequent basis, which formed a constituent of their ruling arrangement. The exchequer was persistently stocked up, the resources of the dynasty being recognized. In addition, the Nanda rulers constructed inland waterways and channels and worked on water supply schemes. The prospect of a colonial system on the basis of a typically cultivation-oriented economy started to develop in the Indian psyche from this period. The dynasty of Magadha which was taken over by the Nandas had significant prospect for expansion and progress.

However, it has been acknowledged by all the prominent historians that all the nine monarchs of the Nanda Empire reigned over Magadha.

 The last monarch of the Nanda Dynasty, Dhana Nanda, became infamous among the mass he ruled as a result of inordinate taxes that he imposed and eviction of people. Chandragupta Maurya made the most of the disapproval and misrule and was triumphant in assassinating Dhana Nanda and conquering the kingdom of  Magadha. In doing so, Chandragupta Maurya took the assistance of Chanakya or Vishnugupta. This event marked the ascent of the golden epoch of the Mauryan Empire in the chronicles ofIndia.

Nanda Rulers

 Listed below are the prominent rulers of the Nanda Empire:

Mahapadma Nanda (c. 424 BC – ?), Panghupati, Pandhuka, Bhutapala, Govishanaka, Rashtrapala, Kaivarta, Dashasidkhaka, Mahendra, and Dhana Nanda (also known as Argames) (? – c. 321 BC).

Religion during Nanda Dynasty

 The various religions that were followed during the Nanda Dynasty included Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. However, rulers of the Nanda Empire embraced Jainism. Once the Nanda rulers took over the kingdom of Kalinga, they fetched the `Kalinga Jina` and set it up in Pataliputra (modern-dayPatna), their capital. Jivasiddhi, the Digambar saint, was venerated by the final Nanda monarch. Pataliputra is known all over the world for being the place of enlightenment of Lord Mahavira.

Incidentally, the stupas which are major holy sites for the Hindus, were constructed in big numbers by Dhana Nanda, the final ruler of the empire. You will see plenty of these stupas in Rajgir.

Economy of Nanda Dynasty

 The economy during the empire was mostly dependent on farming and cultivation. The territory had significant prospect for progress and expansion. However, it did not fructify because of the sudden downfall of the empire. The coffer of the Nanda Empire was replenished every so often. Therefore, the resources of the dynasty exhausted by no means. This huge stock of resources made a significant contribution to the economic stability of the empire. The principal line of work during this regime was crop growing. Farming was facilitated by the building of inland waterways. As a result, farming grew and thrived significantly. The rulers ensured that there was proper infrastructure for farming activities.

Significance of Nanda Dynasty

The Nanda period in the chronicles ofIndiais regarded significant from different standpoints. The monarchs of this dynasty had established an effective governing method which was essential to look after the enormous kingdom. This structure was prevailing even at the time of the Maurya rule. The rulers of the Nanda dynasty had a military which had four divisions, namely horseback troops, foot soldiers, war horse-drawn vehicles, and battle elephants. They are also famous for bringing into existence the base of standard measures and weights. The monarchs were also known for their appreciation of writing and art. They offered support to a number of academics and researchers. Panini, the eminent linguist, was born during this era.

Famous Rulers of Nanda Dynasty

 Mahapadma Nanda is cited as the `demolisher of all the Kshatriyas`. He was the founder of this huge empire and was the first non-Kshatriya ruler of northernIndiaat that time. Following his extensive regime and demise, the kingdom was assumed by Pandhuka. Subsequently, a succession of rulers arrived and ruled overMagadhaand they were Bhutapala, Panghupati, Govishanaka, Rashtrapala, Kaivarta, Dashasidkhaka, and Dhana Nanda, the final monarch.

 

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