(Last Updated on : 17/04/2012)
Mahapadma Nanda, who was quoted as the `destroyer of all the Kshatriyas`, set up Nanda dynasty. Among a number of dynasties in northern India, the Nanda dynasty was of non-kshatriya origin.
He defeated the Ikshvaku dynasty, Kasis, Haihayas, Panchalas, Kalingas, Kurus, Asmakas, Maithilas, Surasenas, Vitihotras, etcNanda dynasty came into existence after Shishunaga dynasty and Mahapadma Nanda was considered to be an illegitimate son of Mahanandin. The founder of the dynasty ruled the kingdom for a very vast span of time. Since he died at the age of 88 and the dynasty was in prominence for 100 years. The extent of the Nanda dynasty was from Bihar
in the east to Punjab in the west.
The Nandas were said to have low origin descending from a Shudra mother. Caste systems in ancient India did not regard the shudras for any superior task. Stories of him being the son of a barber with a courtesan are also quite prevalent.
The Nanda emperors:
As mentioned earlier, the Nanda dynasty was founded by Mahapadma Nanda and after his long rule and death it was taken over by Pandhuka. Then a series of kings came and held the reigns, they are Panghupati, Bhutapala, Rashtrapala, Govishanaka, Dashasidkhaka, Kaivarta ending with Dhana Nanda. Dhana Nanda was the most hated among his subjects. His wickedness was responsible for the widespread antipathy among the people. It is mentioned by Chandragupta that the reason why he could overthrow the Nanda dynasty was the prevailing aversion towards him among his people.
The Nandas inherited the kingdom of Magadha
which had enormous potential for growth and development. The administration was looked after by officials who collected the taxes regularly. It was a systematic way in which the collection and appointments of the officials were made.
The economic structure of the Nanda dynasty was primarily agrarian. This had huge potential for development and growth though this coul not take proper shape due to the abrupt decline of the dynasty. Treasury of the Nandas was refilled from time to time and so the wealth of the Kingdom never ran short. This emmense storage of wealth helped the economy to prosper. Agriculture being the primary occupation, was helped to develop and flourish by the construction of canals. These provided the infrastructure for irrigation.
Extent of the empire and army:
The Nanda dynasty after inheriting Magadha was on a continuous operation of empire extension. For this purpose they built up a huge army comprising of 200,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalry, 2,000 war chariots and 3,000 war elephants. These helped in the organisation of a very powerful army that had huge capacities to even stand in opposition against the Greeks. It is remarkable how the Alexendrian army out of exhaustion and fear of the vast Nanda military prowess terminated their ambitions further east.
The Nanda dynasty followed Jainism. After the Nanda conquest of Kalinga, the `Kalinga Jina` was brought by him and established in his capital Pataliputra. The last Nanda ruler respected the Digambar saint Jivasiddhi. In this regard, stupas which are important sacred religious place have been built in great number by the last Nanda king. These are found in plenty in Rajgir.
The last king Dhana Nanda was murdered and this signalled the decline of the Nanda dynasty. The Maurya dynasty rose to power and Chandragupta
was in an advantageous position by begetting the Nanda kingdom.