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Nanda Dynasty (Nanda Empire)

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Founder of Nanda Dynasty

Maha­padma Nanda, the founder of the Nanda dynasty, proved to be a powerful ruler. From both the Buddhist and Jain sources we come to know that he belonged to very low family. Probably, he was born of a Sudra mother, as the Buddhist sources would inform us. Whatever may be the origin of this man, it is quite certain that he greatly extended the boundaries of the Magadhan Empire. He is said to have uprooted all the Kshatriya ruling dynasties of Northern India like the Panchalas, Kurus, Asmakas, Ikshvakus and Surasenas, etc., and annexed their states.

An inscription found in the famous Hathigumpha of Kharavela refers to the conquest of Kalinga by a Nanda ruler, most probably by Maha­padma Nanda. Some writers would suggest that a considerable portion of the Deccan formed a part of the Nanda Empire. The strength and vastness of the Nanda Empire is also corroborated by the Greek writers who came to this country in the war-train of Alexander.

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Mahapadma Nanda died after a reign of about ten years, if we believe the Buddhist texts, and was succeeded by his eight sons in about 335 B.C.

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Nanda Empire after death of Mahapadma Nanda

After Mahapadma Nanda his eight sons divided the whole empire among them and ruled simultaneously for twelve years from different centers. Nothing definite and in detail is known about them except that when Alexander invaded India in 326 B.C. Magadha was ruled by Dhana Nanda who was known all around for his immense wealth and powerful army. According to the Greek writers the army of the Nandas consisted of 20,00,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalry, 2,000 four-horsed charioteers and 30,000 elephants. From the Buddhist texts we come to know that the Nandas were very fond of wealth and had become very unpopular because of their heavy taxes and undue exaction from the public.

It was because of this that people deserted them and helped Chandragupta Maurya when the latter attacked Magadha in about 323-322 B.C.

Thus the Nanda dynasty was replaced by the Maurya dynasty.

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