Pre-Mauryan Empire 

Haryanka Dynasty at Magadha

Bimbisara (544 – 492 BC)

  • Known as Shrenika or Seniya in Jain texts.
  • He was the first important ruler of Haryanka dynasty which ruled over Magadha in the 5th-6th BC.
  • Under his reign, Magadha emerged as a controller of middle Ganga plains and was contemporary of Buddha.
  • He married the princess of Kosala and through this alliance he acquired a village Kashi as dowry.
  • He was imprisoned by his son Ajatashatru (prince Kunika) and starved to death in 492 BC.


  • He was a famous physician in Magadha during the times of Buddha. He went to Taxila which was a famous university for learning medicine.
  • Upon completion of his education, he returned to Rajgir and became the private physician of king Bimbisara.
  • Bimbisara often used to send him to cure Buddha.

Ajatashatru (492 – 444 BC)

  • He followed aggressive expansionist policy and gained complete control over Kashi. He then attacked Kosala kingdom being ruled by Prasenjit, his own maternal uncle. He then annexed Vajji confederacy to the north of Ganga. Vajjis confederacy was a ganasangha having a democratic political set-up.
  • He also planned an attack on Avanti which was strongest political rival of Magadha. However, this attack did not materialise.
  • The successful annexation of Kashi and Vajji confederacy made the Magadha the strongest political power among all the Mahajanapadas.
  • Ajatashatru invented two weapons, mahashilakantaka (a large sized catapult used for hurling rocks) and rathamusala (a chariot fitted with a mace which caused terrific destruction when driven through the enemy ranks).

Udayin (460 – 444 BC)

  • He was the successor of Ajatashatru.
  • During his reign, Magadha’s territory extended from Himalayas in the north to Chhota Nagpur hills.
  • He built a fort at the confluence of Ganga and Son Rivers.
  • He was the last effective king of Haryanka dynasty. He was followed by weak rulers and were overthrown by people of Magadha.

Shishunaga ,a viceroy at Benaras, was placed to the throne of Magadha as Shishunaga Dynasty (412 BC-344 BC), but his rule too was short and later Mahapadma Nanda established the Nanda dynasty (344 BC-323 BC)

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