Written by Prisha Jain (Grade 6)
In the past, humanity was tribal in nature, until tribes started settling down. Areas that were occupied were called janapadas, some of these janapadas became larger by conquering and capturing. They became mahajanapadas or kingdoms. Magadha was one such mahajanapada. It was a powerful kingdom with ambitious rulers.
Its administration was extremely good with the king at the topmost place. It was a hereditary monarchy system of rule. A council was present that helped the king rule. The king could collect taxes and received one-sixth of all produce and people had to give him free service.
One of the reasons for it becoming so powerful was its geographical advantage, its capital Rajgriha was located on hills making it difficult to capture. Pataliputra, (which became its capital later), was located by the banks of river Ganga, so it had a water fort or Jal Durga. Not only that but due to the rivers that ran through the kingdom, Magadha had rich and fertile soil.
It had cottage industries of textiles, weapons, and so on. Due to the rich supply of iron ore, rulers were able to make good and strong weapons for their armies. Trade and commerce, in the kingdom, prospered. They were also the first kingdom to use and train elephants to fight in the war. The kings of Magadha were ambitious, they expanded and secured the kingdom by military conquests and rituals. In fact, their army was so strong that even the great Alexander’s army was afraid of it.
Bimbisara, from the Haryanka dynasty, was the first crucial ruler of Magadha. He ruled it for fifty-two years. He built its capital Rajgriha. He captured the Anga kingdom, by killing its king. This gave him access to the river post of Champa. This helped raise Magadha’s maritime relations and trade.
After his reign, his son, Ajatashatru succeeded him. Ajatashatru ruled for thirty-two years. He was best known for his military conquests. He conquered many kingdoms and built another capital city named Pataliputra. Under him Magadha became the most powerful kingdom.
His successors were weak and did not govern properly. Due to this, the mighty kingdom of Magadha fell. The main reason probably was that the last king of this dynasty, Dhana Nanda, was extremely unpopular and disliked. Another reason could be that the successors loved gold and were obsessed with it. They put heavy taxes on the common man which must have made the kingdom weak internally because with heavy taxes the common man would become poor. Two parts of the kingdom got captured which affected the kingdom’s prestige.
Featured Image Courtesy – BooksFact