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The Shishunaga dynasty was the third ruling dynasty of Magadha, a kingdom in ancient India. But according to the Puranas, this dynasty is the second ruling dynasty of Magadha, which succeeded the Barhadratha dynasty.[1]

Shishunaga, the founder of this dynasty was initially an amatya (minister) of the last Haryanka dynasty ruler Nagadasaka and ascended to the thone after a popular rebellion in c. 413 BCE.[2]. The capital of this dynasty initially was Rajagriha, but later shifted to Pataliputra, near the present day Patna during the reign of Kakavarna. According to tradition, Kakavarna was succeeded by his ten sons.[3] This dynasty was succeeded by the Nanda dynasty in c.345 BCE.[4]



Shishunaga (also called King Sisunaka) was the founder of this dynasty, known as the Shishunaga or Shaishunaga dynasty. He established the Magadha empire in 413 BCE. This empire, with its original capital in Rajgriha, later shifted to Pataliputra (both currently in the Indian state of Bihar). The Shishunaga dynasty in its time was the rulers of one of the largest empires of the Indian subcontinent.

Kakavarna Kalashoka

According to the Puranas, Shishunaga was succeeded by his son Kakavarna and according to the Sinhala chronicles by his son Kalashoka. On the basis of the evidence of the Ashokavadana, Hermann Jacobi, Wilhelm Geiger and Ramakrishna Gopal Bhandarkar concluded that both are same. During Shishunaga's reign, he was the governor of Varanasi. Two most significant events of his reign are the Second Buddhist council at Vaishali and the final transfer of capital to Pataliputra.[5] According to the Harshacharita, he was killed by a dagger thrust in to his throat in the vicinity of his capital.[6]

Later rulers

According to tradition, ten sons of Kalashoka ruled simultaneously. The Mahabodhivamsa states their names as Bhadrasena, Korandavarna, Mangura, Sarvanjaha, Jalika, Ubhaka, Sanjaya, Koravya, Nandivardhana and Panchamaka. Only one of them mentioned in the Puranic lists, Nandivardhana.[7]Nandivardhana or Mahanandin was probably the last ruler of this dynasty, his empire was inherited by his illegitimate son Mahapadma Nanda.

Shishunaga dynasty rulers

Preceded by
Haryanka dynasty
Magadha dynasties
413–345 BCE
Succeeded by
Nanda dynasty

See also



  1. Mahajan, V.D. (1960, reprint 2007), Ancient India, New Delhi: S. Chand, ISBN 81-219=0887-6.
  2. Raychaudhuri, H.C. (1972), Political History of Ancient India, Calcutta: University of Calcutta.


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