(Last Updated on : 07/12/2010)
The Sunga dynasty was established by Pushyamitra Sunga. The Sunga Empire is a Magadha dynasty and its capital was Pataliputra
. When the Sunga Dynasty was in power it had witnessed numerous wars with both foreign and indigenous powers. This dynasty was established after emperor Ashoka`s death when King Brhadratha was assassinated by Pushyamitra. Thereafter he ascended the throne. Political unity in India was lost during the rule of the Sunga Dynasty.
Pushyamitra Sunga became the ruler of the Magadha and neighbouring territories. Pushyamitra died and ruled for 36 years. He was succeeded by his son Agnimitra. There were ten Sunga kings. Thereafter there was a downfall of the dynasty and Kanva dynasty succeeded around 73 BCE. Brahmanism witnessed resurgence during their rule. Later Sunga kings were seen as agreeable to Buddhism
was patronized which led to large scale persecution of Buddhists.
The later Sungas, however, were too incompetent to restrain the administrative machinery with former glory and brilliance, which Pushyamitra Sunga had initiated with such zeal. During their rule, the vast consolidated Empire of the Sunga Dynasty was disintegrated and independent rulers were at continuous strife with one another. Moreover cultural prosperity, which the dynasty had attained during Pusyamitra`s time, had degraded during the later Sungas.
Certain Indian scholars opined that orthodox Sunga kings were tolerant towards Buddhism and it prospered during the reign of the Sunga kings. Sunga kings are known to have fought battles with the Kalingas, Satavahanas, the Indo-Greeks, and possibly the Panchalas and Mathuras.
Art, education, philosophy, and other forms of learning flowered during this period. Patanjali`s Yoga
Sutras and Mahabhasya were composed in this period. Panini composed the first Sanskrit grammarian Ashtadayai during the reign of the Sunga dynasty. Artistry also progressed with the rise of the Mathura school. Devabhuti was the last ruler of this dynasty.
The script used by the Sunga dynasty was a variant of Brahmi and was used to write the Sanskrit language
. The Sunga Empire played an imperative role in patronizing Indian culture at a time when some of the most important developments in Hindu thought were taking place. The richness of India`s spiritual tradition owes much to the Sunga dynasty`s rule. The Sunga rulers helped to establish the tradition of royal sponsorship of learning and art. Under the Sunga kings art and architecture flowered in the form of visual arts, including small terracotta images, larger stone sculptures, and architectural monuments such as the chaitya hall at Bhaja, the Stupa at Bharhut, and the renowned Great Stupa at Sanchi.
The Sunga rulers are Pushyamitra Sunga, Agnimitra, Vasujyeshtha, Vasumitra, Andhraka Pulindaka, Ghosha, Vajramitra, Bhagabhadra and Devabhuti.