As the scene of many incidents in the life of Gautama Buddha, it was a holy land. It was also the seat of the Mauryan Empire, founded by Chandragupta, which extended over all India under Asoka; and, later, of the powerful Gupta Empire.
There is little certain information available on the early rulers of Magadha. The most important sources are the Buddhist Chronicles of Sri Lanka, the Puranas, and various Buddhist and Jain holy texts.
Based on these sources, it appears that Magadha was ruled by the Sisunaga dynasty for some 200 years, c. 550 - 350 B.C.
A list of kings according to the Sri Lankan Chronicles follows: 1. Bimbisara (ruled for 52 years) 2. Ajatashatru (32 years; The Buddha is thought to have died in the 8th year of Ajatashatru's reign.) 3. Udayin or Udayibhadra (16 years) 4. Anuruddha (c. 4 years) 5. Munda (c. 4 years) 6. Nagadasaka (24 years) 7. Sisunaga (18 years) 8. Kalasoka (28 years) 9. Ten sons of Kalasoka, Nandivardhana being the most prominent (22 years)
The Puranas give a rather different list with long reigns, making the Sisunaga dynasty 321 years long: 1. Sisunaga (ruled for 40 years) 2. Kakavarna (26 years) 3. Ksemadharman (36 years) 4. Ksemajit or Ksatraujas (24 years) 5. Bimbisara (28 years) 6. Ajatasatru (27 years) 7. Darsaka (24 years) 8. Udayin (33 years) 9. Nandivardhana (40 years) 10. Mahanandin (43 years)
The Sisunaga dynasty was overthrown by Mahapadma, the first of the so-called nine Nandas (a.k.a. the Nanda or Navananda dynasty). He was followed by his eight sons. According to the Sri Lankan Chronicles, the Nanda dynasty was in power for mere 22 years, while the Puranas state that Mahapadma ruled for 28 years and his eight sons for only 12. The Nanda dynasty was eventually destroyed by Candragupta Maurya in c. 321 B.C., the first king of the great Mauryan Empire.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica. Other sources: Ramashankar Tripathi's History of Ancient India. Please update as needed.