Bimbisara (544 BC -492 BC)
- Contemporary of Buddha.
- His capital was Rajgir (Girivraja). He strengthened his position by matrimonial alliance with the ruling families of Kosala, Vaishali and Madra (3 wives).
Ajatshatru (492 BC- 460 BC)
- Son of Bimbisara, killed his father and seized the throne. Annexed Vaishali, and Kosala.
Udayin ( 460 BC – 444 BC )
- He founded the new capital of Pataliputra, situated at the confluence of the Ganga and Son.
- Founded by a Minister Shishunaga. Dynasty lasted for two generations only.
- Greatest achievement was the destruction of power of Avanti.
NANDA DYNASTY (1st of non- kshatriya dynasties)
- Considered by many as the first non Kshatriya dynasty. Founder was Mahapadma Nanda.
- Alexander attacked India in their reign. Dhana Nanda was there at that time.
- Alexanders invasion: Alexander invaded India in 326 BC. He fought the famous battle of Hydaspes (on the banks of Jhelum) with the king of Punjab, Porus.
THE MAURYAN DYNASTY
Chandragupta Maurya (322BC- 297BC)
- With the help of Chanakya, he overthrew the Nandas.
- Defeated Seleucus, the general of Alexander. Seleucus sent Magasthenes (the author of ‘Indica’) to his court.
BINDUSARA ( 297BC-273BC)
- Called Amitrghat by Greek writers.
- He is said to have conquered ‘the land between 2 seas’, i.e., the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal.
Ashoka ( 269 BC-232BC)
- Regarded as one of the greatest Kings of all times.
- THE KALINGA WAR (261 BC, mentioned in XIII rock edict) changed his attitude towards life. Ashoka became a Buddhist after that.
- The emblem of the Indian Republic has been adopted from the 4-lion capital of Ashokan pillar at Sarnath.
- Built the Sanchi Stupa in present-day Madhya Pradesh.
THE INDO – GREEKS
- The Indo–Greek ruler was Menander (165 – 145 BC), also known as Milinda.
- He was converted to Buddhism by Nagasena (described in the Pali text, Milinda panhoor the question of Milinda).
- Greeks were the first to issue coins which can be definitely attributed to the Kings.
THE SHAKAS OR SCYTHIANS
- The Greeks were followed by the Shakas, who controlled a larger part of India than the Greek did.
- A king of Ujjain, who called himself Vikramaditya, defeated the Shakas. An era called the Vikram Samvat is reckoned from the event of his victory over the Shakas in 57 BC.
- The most famous Parthian king was Gondopherns (AD 19 – 45), in whose reign St. Thomas is said to have come to India for the propagation of Christianity.
THE KUSHANS (45 AD)
- First to issue gold coins in India. Kanishka was their most famous king.
- He patronized the following persons:
- Ashwaghosha (wrote ‘Buddhacharitra’, which is the biography of Buddha)
- Nagarjuna (wrote ‘Madhyamik Sutra’).
- Vasumitra (chairman of fourth Buddhist council)
- Charak (a physician, wrote ‘Charak Samhita’)
Kanishka is known in history for two reasons:
- He started an era in AD 78, which is known as the Saka era and is used by Govt. Of India.
- He extended his wholehearted patronage to Buddhism (Held the fourth Buddhist council in Kashmir).
THE SUNGA DYNASTY
- Pushyamitra founded this dynasty.
- They were basically Brahmins. This period saw the revival of Bhagvatism.
- Patanjali’s classic Mahabhashyawas written at this time.
THE KANVA DYNASTY
- The founder of this short-lived dynasty was Vasudeva, who killed the last Sunga king, Devabhuti.
- They were swept away by the Satavahanas of the Deccan.
THE SATAVAHANAS OR THE ANDHRA
- They were the successors of the Mauryans in the Deccan and central India.
- Simuka is regarded as the founder of this dynasty. The most important king was Gautamiputra Satkarni (AD 106 – 130) who raised the power and prestige of Satavahanas to greater heights.
- Their capital was Madurai.
- The Pandya kings profited from trade with the Roman empire and sent embassies to the Roman emperor Augustus.
- The Kingdom was known as Cholamandalam or Cholamandal. The chief centre was Uraiyur, a place famous for the cotton trade. The capital was Kaveripattnam / Puhar.
- The main source of wealth was trade in cotton cloth. They also maintained an efficient Navy.
- Their capital was Vanji (also called as Kerela Country)
- It owed its importance to trade with the Romans. The Romans set up two regiments there to protect their interests.
- All the gathered information on Pandyas, Cholas and Cheras is based on Sangam literature. Sangam was a college or assembly of Tamil poets held probably under Royal Patronage (esp. Pandyas).
- Sangam age corresponds to the post–Maurya and the pre–Gupta period.
THE GUPTA DYNASTY
CHANDRAGUPTA – I (AD 319 – 335)
- Started the Gupta era in 319 – 320 AD.
- He enhanced his power & prestige by marrying Kumara Devi, princes of Lichchavi clan of Nepal.
- He acquired the title of Maharajadhiraja.
SAMUDRAGUPTA (AD 335 – 380)
- The Gupta kingdom was enlarged enormously by Chandragupta’s son Samudragupta, because of his bravery and generalship he is called the ‘Napoleon’ of India (by the historian V.A. Smith).
- He assumed the title ofKaviraj and Vikramanka.
CHANDRAGUPTA – II (AD 380 – 413 )
- Took the title of Vikramaditya by defeating Rudrasimha III, a Kshatrap king of Ujjain.
- He was the first ruler to issue silver coins. Also issued copper coins.
- The iron pillar inscription, fixed near Qutab Minar in Delhi mentions a king Chandra(considered by many as Chandragupta II only).
- His court was adorned by celebrated nine gems (navaratnas) including Kalidasa, Amarsimha, Varahmihir, and Dhanvantri.
- Chinese pilgrim Fahien visited India at this time.
KUMARAGUPTA – I (AD 413 – 455 )
- Founded Nalanda University ( a renowned university of ancient India).
- In the last year of his reign, the peace and prosperity of the empire was disturbed due to invasion of Turko – Mongol tribe, Hunas. During the war with the Hunas, Kumaragupta died.
SKANDAGUPTA (AD 455 – 467 )
- Kumaragupta – I was followed by Skandagupta. He faced Hunas effectively.
- After his death, the great days of Guptas were over. The empire continued but central control weakened, and local Governors became feudatory kings with hereditary rights.
HARSHA VARDHAN (AD 606 – 647 )
- Belonged to Pushyabhuti family & son of Prabhakar Vardhan.
- Originally belonged to Thaneshwar, but shifted to Kannauj.
- Defeated by Pulakesh–II, the great Chalukya king, on the banks of Narmada in 620.
- Chinese pilgrim, Hieun Tsang (prince of travellers) visited during his reign.
- He established a large monastery at Nalanda. Banabhatta, who adorned his court wrote Harshacharitaand Kadambari. Harsha himself wrote 3 plays- Priyadarshika, Ratnavali and Nagananda.
CHALUKYAS OF VATAPATI
- Founder – Pulakesin-I.
- Pulakesin – II was their most famous king. Was a contemporary of Harsha.
- Founder – Dantidurga.
- Their king Krishna – I is remembered for constructing the famous rock-cut Kailash temple at Ellora.
- Their king Krishna – III set up a pillar of victory and a temple at Rameshwaram.
- Rashtrakutas are credited with the building of cave shrine of Elephanta.
- Their king Narsimhadeva constructed the Sun Temple at Konark.
- Their king Anantvarman Ganga built the famous Jagannath temple, Puri.
- Kesaris, who used to rule Orissa before Gangas built the Lingaraja temple at Bhubaneswar.
- Founder Simhavishnu. They set up their capital at Kanchi (south of Chennai).
- Narsimhavarman was their greatest king. He founded the town of Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) which he adorned with beautiful rock-cut Rathsor Seven Pagodas. Hieun Tsang visited Kanchi during his reign.
THE IMPERIAL CHOLAS (AD 846 – 1279 )
- Founder- Vijayalaya. The capital was Tanjore.
- The greatest Chola rulers were Rajaraja – I (985 – 1014 ) and his son Rajendra – I (1014 – 1044 ).
- Rajaraja – I constructed the Rajrajeshwari temple(also called as Brihadeshwar Shiva temple) at Thanjavur. His son Rajendra – I annexed the whole of Sri Lanka. In the North, went as far as Ganga and the dominions of the Pala king Mahipala. He took the title of ‘Gangaikonda’ after that.
- The dancing figure of Shiva called Nataraja belong to this period only.
- Cholas temples has massive ‘Vimanas’ or towers and spacious courtyards. The entrances had elaborate Gopurams (gateways).
- Local self-government was there (the concept of Panchayati Raj has been borrowed from it).
THE PALAS OF BENGAL (Capital – Monghyr)
Its founder was Gopala (750 AD).
Their king, Dharmapala founded Vikramsila University & and revived Nalanda University.
3 rival powers – Pratiharas, Palas and Rashtrakutas declined almost simultaneously as there was extra pressure to maintain their armies as well as the rise of feudatories.
- They were divided into 4 clans –
- Pratihara or Pariharas of Rajasthan.
- Chauhans of Rajasthan.
- Chalukyas or Solankis of Kathiawar.
- Parmaras or Pawars of Malwa.
This article is posted in association with clatapult.com.
First published on January 5, 2021.