Most Powerful rulers of Haryanka Dynasty, Sisunaga Dynasty and Nanda Dynasty
The Haryanka Dynasty (542-412 BC)
The earliest capital of Magadha was Girivraja, which was later changed to Rajagriha. According to a Chinese pilgrim, Bimbisara founded the city of Rajasthan at the foot of the hills lying to the North of Girivraja.
Bimbisara (554-492 BC)
He was the contemporary of the Buddha and the first king to have a standing army. It was under Bimbisara that Magadha emerged as the controller of the middle Ganga plains. He defeated the Anga king Brahmadutta and strengthened his position by matrimonial alliances. He placed Anga under the viceroyalty of Ajatashatru at Champa.
His three wives belonged to the royal families of Kosala (Mahakosaladevi, sister of Prasenjit), Lichchhavis (Chellana) and Madra (Khema) clan of Punjab. While Mahakosaladevi brought the Kashi village as dowry, the second wife brought Vaishali. These matrimonial alliances also lent enormous diplomatic prestige, thereby paving the way for Mahadha’s expansion westwards and northwards.
Ajatashatru (492-460 BC)
He was the son of Chellana and Bimbisara and occupied the throne by killing his father. He adopted an aggressive policy of expansion. He defeated his maternal uncle Prasenjit, the king of Kosala and married his daughter Vajjira. The Vajji confederation lured him enough and it was his target.
He destroyed Vaishali the capital of the Licchavi, after a protracted war of 16 years by sowing the seeds of discord amongst the rulers of Vaishali. Buddha died during his reign and he patronized the first Buddhist Council. Thus, the addition of Kashi and Vaishali to Magadha were Ajatashatru’s important achievements. Sunidha and Vatsakar were Ajatashatru’s diplomatic ministers.
Mahashilakantaka A war engine which catapulted big stones. Rathamusala a kind of chariot with a mace which helped him to defeat the Licchavis.
Udayin (460-444 BC)
Son and successor of Ajatashatru, he built the fort upon the confluence of the Ganga and the Son rivers at Pataliputra (Patna) and transferred the capital from Rajagriha to Patliputra. During his reign, the Magadha kingdom extended in the North to the Himalayan ranges and in the South to the Chotanagpur hills.
The Sisunaga Dynasty (412-344 BC)
Udayin was succeeded by Sisunaga, who temporarily shifted the capital to Vaishali. Their greatest achievement was the destruction of the power of Avanti with its capital at Ujjain. This brought an end to the 100 year old rivalry between Magadha and Avanti. Sisunaga was succeeded by Kalashoka (Kakavarna), who transferred the capital from Vaishali to Pataliputra. The rule of the Sisunagas was short and gave way to the Nanda dynasty under Mahapadma Nanda.
The Nanda Dynasty (344-323 BC)
The Sisunaga were succeeded by the Nandas, who proved to be the most powerful rulers of Magadha. It was considered to be the first non-Kshatriya dynasty. The Nandas added to the Magadhan power by conquering Kalinga from where they brought an image of the Jina as a victory trophy. All this took place under the reign of Mahapadma Nanda (founder of the Nanda dynasty), also known as Ekarat, Chhatri and Sarvakshaytrantaka. The last Nanda ruler, Dhana Nanda, was defeated by Chandragupta Mourya who founded the Mouryan Empire. It was the huge army of Dhana Nanda that deterred Alexander from advancing towards the Gangetic valley.
Dhana Nanda was referred to as Agrammes or Xandrames in the Greek texts. The Greek classical writings have talked much of the military might of the Nandas, stating their possession of numerous elephants, chariots and a huge cavalry and infantry. The Nandas had a possible contact with the deccan and the South India. The Hathigumpha inscription of king Kharavela (the rulers of Orissa from the mid 1st century BC) also indicates their control over some parts of Kalinga (Modern Orissa).
That the inclusion of the parts of the Deccan in the Magadha Empire took place under the Nandas, has been suggested by the late inscriptions from the southern Karnataka region. Some historians concede how the first phase of the expansion and consolidation of the Magadha Empire took place by the end of the reign of Mahapadma Nanda. The Nanda rule collapsed by 321 BC. Nine Nanda rulers ruled over Magadha, who became quite unpopular by the end of their rule. It was these situations, that Chandragupta Maurya took advantage of, to ascend to the throne of Magadha. It was under the Mauryas, that the imperial idea found expression for the first time.