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Explain Nanda Dynasty

By Shyam Dubey on 16 Jun 21 | Filed under: History Magadha Empire

Nanda Dynasty
This was the first non-Kshatriya dynasty and it lasted from 345 BCE to 321 BCE. The first ruler was Mahapadma Nanda who usurped the throne of Kalasoka.

About Mahapadma Nanda:

# He is called the “first historical emperor of India.” (Chandragupta Maurya is the First Emperor of India)
# He murdered Kalasoka to become the king.
# His origins are not clear. As per the Puranas, he was the son of the last Sisunaga king from a Sudra woman.
# As per some Jain texts and Greek writer Curtius, he was the son of a barber and a courtesan.
# Thus, the Nandas were considered adharmika (those who don’t follow the norms of Dharma). Buddhist texts describe the Nandas as belonging to annatakula (unknown lineage).
# His reign lasted for twenty-eight years.
He is also called “Sarva Kashtriyantaka” (destroyer of all the Kshatriyas) and “Ekrat” (sole sovereign who destroyed all other ruling princes).
# The empire grew under his reign. It ran from the Kuru country in the north to the Godavari Valley in the south and from Magadha in the east to Narmada on the west.
# He conquered many kingdoms.
He added Kalinga to Magadha and brought an image of Jina as a victory trophy.
He also acquired Kosala which had probably rebelled against him.
# Also called Ugrasena in Pali texts because of his large army. The Nandas were fabulously rich and enormously powerful.
# They maintained 200,000 infantry, 60,000 cavalry and 6000 war elephants. Such a huge army could be maintained only through an effective taxation system.

About Dhana Nanda:

# He was the last Nanda ruler.
# He is referred to as Agrammes or Xandrames in Greek texts.
# Alexander invaded North-Western India during his reign, but he could not proceed towards the Gangetic plains because of his army’s refusal.
# Dhana Nanda inherited a huge empire from his father. He possessed a standing army of 200,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalry, 3000 elephants and 2000 chariots. He became a powerful ruler because of this.
He is said to be one of the 8 or 9 sons of Mahapadma Nanda.
# He is credited with the invention of Nandopakramani (a particular measure).
# He became unpopular with his subjects owing to an oppressive way of extorting taxes. Also, his Sudra origins and an anti-Kshatriya policy led to a large number of enemies.
# Finally, he was overthrown by Chandragupta Maurya along with Chanakya, who took advantage of the public resentment and established the Maurya Empire in Magadha.

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