Haryanka Dynasty

Bimbisara is considered the founder of the Haryanka dynasty. He rose to power around 544 BCE and played a crucial role in expanding Magadha’s territory and influence.

Haryanka Dynasty

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Introduction to the Haryanka Dynasty

  • Founding: The Haryanka Dynasty was one of the earliest dynasties in ancient India.
  • Key Figures: Founded by Bimbisara and notable for rulers like Ajatashatru.
  • Location: Centered in the region of Magadha.
Historical Significance
  • Political Influence: Played a crucial role in the development of Magadha, which later became a major empire in ancient India.
  • Cultural Impact: Promoted Buddhism and Jainism, with significant contributions to the spread of these religions.
  • Administrative Developments: Known for advancements in administrative and military tactics.
Timeline (c. 544 BCE to 413 BCE)
  • 544 BCE: Bimbisara begins his reign.
  • 491 BCE: Ajatashatru, son of Bimbisara, takes over and continues expansion.
  • 413 BCE: The dynasty ends, giving way to the Shishunaga Dynasty.
Geographical Extent
  • Primary Region: The heartland was in Magadha, located in present-day Bihar.
  • Expansion: Under rulers like Bimbisara and Ajatashatru, the kingdom expanded into neighboring regions, laying the foundation for future empires in India.

Sources of Historical Information

Archaeological Evidence

  • Physical Remains: Includes artifacts, structures, and ruins.
  • Excavations: Uncover cities, temples, and burial sites.
  • Dating Techniques: Use methods like carbon dating to determine age.
  • Significance: Provides tangible evidence of past human activity.

Kingdom of Magadha: Wars and Warfare - World History Encyclopedia

Literary Sources

  • Written Records: Includes documents, manuscripts, and inscriptions.
  • Historical Accounts: Narratives from contemporaries or later historians.
  • Variety: Encompasses royal edicts, administrative records, and personal letters.

Buddhist Texts

  • Examples: Mahavamsa and Dipavamsa.
  • Chronicles: Provide historical narratives of Buddhism and ancient kingdoms.
  • Cultural Insight: Reflect religious, political, and social aspects of the time.
  • Compilation: Often written by monks and scholars.

Jain Texts

  • Scriptures: Include Agamas and Sutras.
  • Historical Context: Offer insights into Jainism, its teachings, and history.
  • Cultural Records: Document practices, traditions, and biographies of Tirthankaras.
  • Significance: Highlight the influence of Jainism on society and culture.

Founding of the Dynasty

Establishment by Bimbisara:

  • Bimbisara, the founder, established the Haryanka dynasty in ancient India.
  • His reign marked the beginning of the Magadha Empire’s rise to power.

Early Life of Bimbisara:

  • Bimbisara was born into the Haryanka dynasty.
  • He was well-educated and trained in military and administrative skills.
  • His early life was influenced by the political environment of Magadha.

Ascension to the Throne:

  • Bimbisara ascended to the throne at a young age, around 15 years old.
  • His ascension marked a significant change in the leadership of Magadha.
  • He took over from his father, Bhattiya, who was the previous king.

Political Strategies and Alliances:

  • Bimbisara was known for his diplomatic skills and strategic alliances.
  • He strengthened his kingdom through marriage alliances with neighboring states.
  • For example, his marriage to Kosala Devi, the sister of the King of Kosala, brought peace and additional territory.
  • He also formed alliances with other powerful regions like Vaishali and Magadha’s neighboring kingdoms.
  • Bimbisara implemented efficient administrative reforms and expanded the Magadha Empire through both diplomacy and military conquest.

Key Rulers and Their Contributions

Bimbisara (544 BCE – 492 BCE)

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  • Administrative Reforms: Implemented various reforms to improve the administration of the Magadhan Empire.
  • Diplomatic Marriages: Strengthened political alliances through marriages, such as his marriage to a Kosala princess.
  • Patronage of Buddhism: Supported and promoted Buddhism.
Ajatashatru (492 BCE – 460 BCE)


  • Conflict with Kosala and Lichchhavis: Engaged in conflicts with neighboring regions, including Kosala and the Lichchhavis.
  • Expansion of the Magadhan Empire: Continued to expand the territory and influence of the Magadhan Empire.
  • Role in the First Buddhist Council: Played a significant role in the First Buddhist Council, which was a gathering of Buddhist monks to discuss and preserve Buddha’s teachings.
Udayin (460 BCE – 444 BCE)
  • Founding of Pataliputra: Established the city of Pataliputra, which became an important center of the empire.
  • Continuation of Expansion Policies: Carried on the expansion policies of his predecessors to further enlarge the Magadhan Empire.

Military Organization and Campaigns:

Army Composition


  • Foot soldiers who form the backbone of the army.
  • Engage in direct combat on the ground.


  • Soldiers on horseback.
  • Provide mobility and speed, often used for flanking maneuvers and fast attacks.


  • Vehicles pulled by horses, used in ancient warfare.
  • Offer a platform for archers or spearmen, combining speed with a stable firing position.


  • Large animals used in battle for their intimidating size and strength.
  • Can cause panic and disorder among enemy troops.
Military Campaigns


  • Military operations aimed at capturing territory.
  • Involves strategic planning and large-scale battles.


  • Incorporating conquered lands into the empire.
  • Often follows successful conquests and involves establishing control and administration.
Defense Strategies
  • Fortifications: Building walls, forts, and defensive structures to protect against enemy attacks.

  • Strategic Positioning: Placing troops in advantageous locations to defend key areas.

  • Reserves: Keeping a portion of the army in reserve to reinforce or counterattack as needed.

  • Intelligence Gathering: Spying and scouting to gather information on enemy movements and plans.

Cultural and Religious Developments


  • Patronage by Bimbisara: King Bimbisara of the Magadha Empire was one of the earliest and most significant patrons of Buddhism. He supported Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) and provided resources and land for Buddhist monasteries.
  • Patronage by Ajatashatru: Bimbisara’s son, King Ajatashatru, continued to support Buddhism. He is known for building a stupa and a monastery at Rajagriha (modern-day Rajgir).
  • Spread of Buddhism: With royal support, Buddhism spread rapidly across the Indian subcontinent. Missionaries and monks played crucial roles in disseminating Buddha’s teachings.


  • Influence on royal policies: Jainism also received support from various rulers. Kings and nobles who followed Jain principles influenced their policies to reflect non-violence (Ahimsa) and asceticism.
  • Prominent Jain figures: Important Jain leaders like Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara, played a significant role in the development and spread of Jainism. Bhadrabahu and Chandragupta Maurya are other notable figures associated with Jainism.

Decline of the Haryanka Dynasty

Internal Conflicts:

  • The Haryanka Dynasty faced significant internal conflicts, weakening its stability.
  • These conflicts often stemmed from power struggles within the ruling family.

Dynastic Feuds and Assassinations:

  • The dynasty was plagued by dynastic feuds, where different factions within the royal family vied for power.
  • Such feuds often led to assassinations, further destabilizing the dynasty and eroding trust within the ruling class.
Rise of the Shishunaga Dynasty

Transition of Power:

  • As the Haryanka Dynasty weakened, the Shishunaga Dynasty rose to prominence.
  • This transition was marked by significant political maneuvering and a shift in leadership.

Impact on Magadhan Politics:

  • The rise of the Shishunaga Dynasty brought about notable changes in Magadhan politics.
  • There was a reorganization of political structures and a renewed focus on consolidating power and resources.
  • This shift helped stabilize Magadha, setting the stage for future dynasties to build upon the foundations laid by the Shishunagas.


Bimbisara is considered the founder of the Haryanka dynasty. He rose to power around 544 BCE and played a crucial role in expanding Magadha’s territory and influence.

The seven dynasties that ruled Magadha sequentially are:

  1. Brihadratha Dynasty (c. 684 BCE – c. 544 BCE)
  2. Haryanka Dynasty (c. 544 BCE – 413 BCE)
  3. Shishunaga Dynasty (c. 413 BCE – 345 BCE)
  4. Nanda Dynasty (c. 345 BCE – 322 BCE)
  5. Maurya Empire (c. 322 BCE – 185 BCE)
  6. Sunga Dynasty (c. 185 BCE – 73 BCE)
  7. Kanva Dynasty (c. 73 BCE – 26 BCE)

The last ruler of the Haryanka dynasty was Naga Nanda. Accounts vary on who killed him, but the most likely culprit is Shishunaga, who established the following Shishunaga Dynasty.

Determining the “best” king is subjective, but two rulers stand out for their significant contributions:

  • Bimbisara: He is considered the founder, expanded the kingdom, and established diplomatic relations with other states.
  • Ajatashatru: He succeeded Bimbisara and is known for his military conquests, including the capture of the city of Kashi.

Both Bimbisara and Ajatashatru played vital roles in building the foundation for the mighty Mauryan Empire that followed.


1. The Haryanka Dynasty ruled over which ancient Indian kingdom?

  • a) Magadha
  • b) Kosala
  • c) Kuru
  • d) Gandhara
  • Answer: a) Magadha

2. Who was the founder of the Haryanka Dynasty?

  • a) Bimbisara
  • b) Ajatashatru
  • c) Udayin
  • d) Hariyanka
  • Answer: a) Bimbisara

3. Bimbisara was a contemporary of which famous religious figure?

  • a) Mahavira
  • b) Gautama Buddha
  • c) Both Mahavira and Gautama Buddha
  • d) Ashoka
  • Answer: c) Both Mahavira and Gautama Buddha

4. Which Haryanka king is known for the expansion of the Magadha kingdom?

  • a) Bimbisara
  • b) Ajatashatru
  • c) Udayin
  • d) Shishunaga
  • Answer: b) Ajatashatru

5. What was the capital city of the Haryanka Dynasty?

  • a) Pataliputra
  • b) Rajagriha (Rajgir)
  • c) Vaishali
  • d) Varanasi
  • Answer: b) Rajagriha (Rajgir)

6. Who succeeded Bimbisara on the throne of Magadha?

  • a) Udayin
  • b) Shishunaga
  • c) Ajatashatru
  • d) Anuruddha
  • Answer: c) Ajatashatru

7. Which fort was built by Ajatashatru to protect his kingdom?

  • a) Pataliputra Fort
  • b) Rajagriha Fort
  • c) Nalanda Fort
  • d) Munger Fort
  • Answer: a) Pataliputra Fort

8. Ajatashatru used which war machine in his battles?

  • a) Chariots
  • b) Catapults
  • c) War elephants
  • d) All of the above
  • Answer: c) War elephants

9. Which king of the Haryanka Dynasty shifted the capital from Rajagriha to Pataliputra?

  • a) Bimbisara
  • b) Ajatashatru
  • c) Udayin
  • d) Shishunaga
  • Answer: c) Udayin

10. How did Bimbisara come to power?

  • a) He was elected by the people
  • b) He inherited the throne from his father
  • c) He conquered it in battle
  • d) He was appointed by a council of ministers
  • Answer: b) He inherited the throne from his father

11. Who was the mother of Ajatashatru?

  • a) Khema
  • b) Kosala Devi
  • c) Vaidehi
  • d) Mallika
  • Answer: b) Kosala Devi

12. The Haryanka Dynasty was succeeded by which dynasty?

  • a) Nanda Dynasty
  • b) Shishunaga Dynasty
  • c) Maurya Dynasty
  • d) Gupta Dynasty
  • Answer: b) Shishunaga Dynasty

13. Which of the following was a major achievement of Bimbisara?

  • a) Establishing a vast empire
  • b) Promoting Buddhism and Jainism
  • c) Constructing a new capital city
  • d) Introducing a new script
  • Answer: b) Promoting Buddhism and Jainism

14. Ajatashatru imprisoned which of his family members to gain the throne?

  • a) His brother
  • b) His father
  • c) His uncle
  • d) His cousin
  • Answer: b) His father

15. Who was the spiritual teacher of Ajatashatru?

  • a) Mahavira
  • b) Gautama Buddha
  • c) Both Mahavira and Gautama Buddha
  • d) None of the above
  • Answer: b) Gautama Buddha

16. Which king built the city of Pataliputra?

  • a) Bimbisara
  • b) Ajatashatru
  • c) Udayin
  • d) Shishunaga
  • Answer: c) Udayin

17. Which kingdom was annexed by Bimbisara through marriage alliance?

  • a) Anga
  • b) Kosala
  • c) Kashi
  • d) Avanti
  • Answer: b) Kosala

18. Ajatashatru fought a major war with which neighboring kingdom?

  • a) Kuru
  • b) Kosala
  • c) Vaishali
  • d) Gandhara
  • Answer: c) Vaishali

19. Which river was Pataliputra situated near?

  • a) Ganga
  • b) Yamuna
  • c) Saraswati
  • d) Godavari
  • Answer: a) Ganga

20. Bimbisara was a patron of which religious leader?

  • a) Mahavira
  • b) Gautama Buddha
  • c) Both Mahavira and Gautama Buddha
  • d) Ashoka
  • Answer: c) Both Mahavira and Gautama Buddha
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