Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Important Notes on Dynasties of Ancient India | History notes


Dynasties of Ancient India

Two major dynasties of India, the Maurya Empire (321 BC- 185 BC) and Gupta Empire (240 BC-550 AD), were originated from Magadha.
Apart from Maurya and Gupta dynasties, there were other dynasties which were started from Magadha,
  • Haryanka dynasty (544-413 BC)
  • Shishunaga dynasty (413-345 BC)
  • Nanda dynasty (424-321 BC)

Haryanka dynasty :-

  • Haryanka is the name of a new dynasty founded in Magadha by Bimbisara.
  • Bimbisara founded the dynasty by defeating the  Brihadrathas.
  • Bimbisara was a contemporary of Buddha.
  • Pataliputra and Rajagriha were the capitals of Magadhan kingdom. Magadha falls in the Patna region of Bihar.

Shishunaga Dynasty:-

  • Haryankas were overthrown by Sisunaga and he founded the Sisunaga dynasty there.
  • Kalasoka the son and successor of Sisunaga was succeeded by Mahapadma Nanda and he founded the Nanda dynasty.
  • Ajatasatru’s successor Udayin was the founder of the city of Pataliputra.

Nanda Dynasty:-

  • The Nanda Empire was an ancient Indian dynasty originated from Magadha and was established in 424 BC.
  • Mahapadma Nanda was the founder and the first king of the Nanda dynasty.
  • He overthrew the Magadha dynasty and established the new Empire.
  • Initially Nanda Dynast inherited a large kingdom of Magadha and subsequently the boundaries of Nanda Dynasty were expanded in all directions by its rulers.
  • Nandas formed a vast army, including 200000 infantry, 20000 cavalry, 2000 war chariots and 3000 war elephants.
  • At its peak, the Nanda Empire expanded from Bengal in the east to Punjab in the west.
  • In the southern side it extended to the Vindhya Range.
  • Dhana Nanda was the last ruler of Nanda Dynasty.
  • In 321 BC, Chandragupta Maurya defeated him and founded the Maurya Empire.

MAURYAN DYNASTY (321 – 185 BC):-

List of Mauryan Emperors:

  1. Chandragupta Maurya (321 BC-298 BC)
  2. Bindusara (298 BC-272 BC)
  3. Ashoka Maurya (269-232 BC)
  1. Dasaratha Maurya
  2. Samprati
  3. Salisuka
  4. Devavarman
  5. Satadhanvan
  6. Brihadratha Maurya

Origin of Mauryan Empire:-

  • The Mauryan Empire, started from Magadha was founded in 321 BC by Chandragupta Maurya.
  • Pataliputra,the modern day Patna was the capital city of Mauryan Empire.

Expansion of Mauryan Empire:-

  • Mauryan Empire was one of the world's largest empires of that time and expanded to an area of 5,000,000 km2.


  • Ashoka ascended the throne in 273BC and ruled upto 232 BC. He was known as ‘Devanampriya priyadarsi the
  • beautiful one who was the beloved of Gods.
  • He was known as ‘Devanampriya priyadarsi the beautiful one who was the beloved of Gods.
  • Ashoka fought the Kalinga war in 261 BC Kalinga is in modern Orissa. Ashokan inscriptions were deciphered by James Princep.
  • After the battle of Kalinga Ashoka became a Buddhist, being shocked by the horrors of the war.
  • Ashoka was initiated to Buddhism by Upagupta or Nigrodha a disciple of Buddha
  • For the propagation of Buddhism Ashoka started the institution of Dharmamahamatras.
  • The IV Major Rock Edict of Ashoka tells about the practice of Dharma
  • The Major Rock Edict XII of Ahoka deals with the conquest of Kalinga.
  • Ashoka held the third Buddhist council at his capital Pataliputra in 250BC under the presidentship of Moggaliputa Tissa.
  • He sent his son and daughter to Sri Lanka for the spread of Buddhism (Mahendra and Sanghamitra)
  • Ashoka spread Buddhism to SriLanka and Nepal. He is known as the Constantine of Buddhism.
  • In his Kalinga Edict he mentions ‘‘All man are as my children’’.
  • Ceylones ruler Devanmpriya Tissa was Ashoka’s first convert to Buddhism. Ashoka ruled for 40 years and died in 232 BC.
  • The emblem of the Indian Republic has been adopted from the four lion capital of one of Ashokas pillars which is located in Saranath.
  • Rock-cut architecture in India made a beginning during Ashoka’s reign.

Chanakya the architect of Mauryan Empire:-

  • Chanakya,also known as Kautilya was the teacher of Chandragupta Maurya.
  • He was originally a teacher of Takshashila University.
  • He is considered to be the main architect in the establishment of the Maurya Empire by defeating the powerful Nanda Empire.
  • His original name was Vishnugupta.

Important points about Mauryan Empire:-

  • Major sources for the study of Mauryan Empire are the Arthasastra of Kautilya and Indika of Megasthenes.
  • Chandragupta Maurya was the founder of Mauryan Empire. It is also said that his mother was Mura a women of lower birth hence got the name Maurya.
  • ChandraGupta Maurya was converted to Jainism, abdicated the throne in favour of his son Bindusara, passed his last days at Sravanabelagola (Near Mysore) where he died in 298 BC.
  • Bindusara was a follower of Ajivika sect.
  • Bindusara was known as Amitragatha.
  • Megasthenese the first foreign traveller to India mentions about the existence of seven castes in India during the Mauryan period. Stanika in Mauryan administration refers to tax collector. 

    Indo Greeks

  • First to invade India were the Greeks who were called Indo-Greeks.
  • The most famous Indo-Greek ruler was Menander with his Capital at Sakala in Punjab (Modern Sialkot)
  • The Indo-Greeks were the first to issue gold coins in India.
  • Menander was converted into a Buddhist by Buddhist monk Nagasena (Nagarjuna)
  • Demitrius, the king of Bacteria invaded India about 190BC. He is considered as Second Alexander (But the Indian ruler who accepted the name second Alexander (Sikandar-i-sani) was Alauddin Khilji) Indo-Greeks were the first to introduce military
    governorship in India.

Kushan Empire

  • Kujula Kadphises is considered to be the founder of Kushan Empire. He established the kingdom by unifying the disparate Yuezhi tribes of ancient Bactria in the early 1st century AD and expanded its territory of present day Afghanistan, Pakistan, southern Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
  • He established the capital of Kushan Empire near Kabul.
  • During the period of first to mid-third centuries AD, Kushan expanded rapidly and represented as a major power in Central Asia and northern India.
  • The most famous Kushana ruler was Kanishka. He became the ruler in 78 AD and started Saka Era in 78 AD.
  • The Capital of Kanishka was Peshawar or Purushapura. Kanishka convened the fourth Buddhist council in Kashmir.
  • The Gandhara School of Art received royal patronage under the Kushans. Kanishka patronised Mahayana form of Buddhism.
  • The first month of Saka era is Chaithra and the last month is Phalguna.
  • Vasudeva was the last great king of Kushana Dynasty.
  • Kushana school of art is also referred to as the Mathura school.

Sunga Dynasty

  • Sunga dynasty was established by Pusyamitra Sunga in 185 BC after assassinating the last Mauryan emperor Brihadratha.
  • The capital of Sunga Dynasty was Pataliputra of ancient Magadha.
  • Kalidasa’s drama Malavikagnimitram is about the love story of Pushyamitra’s son Agnimitra and
  • Last King of sunga dynasty was Devabhuti. he ruled the kingdom from 83 to 73 BC
  • Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and Mahabhasya were composed in this period. The ancient Sanskrit grammar, Ashtadayayi by Panini was composed during the period of Sunga Period.

Kanva Dynasty

  • Kanva dynasty was founded by Vasudeva Kanva in 72 BC after defeating the last Sunga ruler Devabhuti.
  • This dynasty ruled for a period of 45 years.
  • Vasudeva, Bhumimitra, Narayana and Susuman were the rulers of Kanva dynasty.

Satavahana Dynasty

  • Satavahanas were the most powerful ruling dynasty after the Mauryas.
  • Satavahanas were also known as Andhras.
  • Satavahanas were the Indian rulers who prefixed their mother’s name along with their names.
  • Most important Satavahana ruler was Gautamiputra Satakarni. Satavahanas were Brahmanas.
  • Nagarjuna Konda and Amaravati in Andhrapradesh became important seats of Buddhist culture under the Satavahanas.
  • The two common structures of Satavahanas were the temple called Chaitya and the monastery called Vihara.
  • The official language of the Satavahanas was Prakrit

The Cholas

  • Vijayalaya was the founder of the Chola empire. He was a feudatory of the Pallavas of Kanchi.
  • Raja Raja I (985 - 1014) adopted the titles of Arumudivarman, Mammudichodadeva, Jaykonda, Marthanda Chola, Mamudichola etc. He built the Brihadeshwara temple at Tanjavur. which is called the RajaRajeswara temple.
  • Rajendra I led an expedition to North India, defeated the Pala ruler Mahipala I and adtoped the title, Gangaikondachola and established a new Capital, Gangai Konda Cholapuram. Cholas maintained a well established local – self government system. Ur, Sabha or Mahasabha - and Nagaram were the assemblies for local administration.
  • The Uttaramerur inscription of Dantivarman Pallava gives details about the local self government.