Shishunaga dynasty

Shishunaga Empire
413 BCE–345 BCE
Extent of the Shishunaga Empire
Capital Rajgir, Vaishali, later Pataliputra
Languages Sanskrit
Religion Jainism
Government Monarchy
   413395 BCE Shishunaga
  367345 BCE Mahanandin
   Established 413 BCE
   Disestablished 345 BCE
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Haryanka dynasty
Nanda Empire

The Shishunaga dynasty is believed to have been the third ruling dynasty of Magadha, an empire of ancient India.

According to the Puranas, this dynasty was the second ruling dynasty of Magadha, succeeding the legendary dynasty founded by Brihadratha.[1]

Shishunaga, the founder of the dynasty, was initially an amatya or "minister" of the last Haryanka dynasty ruler Nāgadāsaka and ascended to the throne after a popular rebellion in c. 413 BCE.[2] The capital of this dynasty initially was Rajgir 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 Empire in c. 345 BCE.[4]


Puranas depict Shishunaga kings as Kshatriyas.[5]


Main article: Shishunaga

Shishunaga founded his Shishunaga or Shaishunaga empire in 413 BCE with its capital in Rajgir and later Pataliputra (both in what is now Bihar). Buddhist sources indicate that he had a secondary capital at Vaishali,[6] formerly the capital of Vajji, until it was conquered by Magadha. The Shishunaga dynasty ruled of one of the largest empires in 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 in 383 BC and the final transfer of capital to Pataliputra.[7] According to the Harshacharita, he was killed by a dagger thrust in to his throat in the vicinity of his capital.[8] According to Buddhist tradition, he had nine or ten sons, who were ousted by Ugrasena Nanda.[9]

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 is mentioned in the Puranic lists, Nandivardhana.[3] Nandivardhana or Mahanandin was probably the last ruler of this dynasty, his empire was inherited by his illegitimate son Mahapadma Nanda.

Puranas list Nandivardhana as the ninth Shishunaga king and his son Mahanandin as the tenth and the last Shishunaga king. Mahanandin was killed by his illegitimate son from a Shudra wife named Mahapadma.[10]

Shishunaga dynasty rulers

Kalasoka's had ten sons who successively ruled the kingdom for twenty-two years, the most important being:


According to Puranas, Shishunagas were followed by Nanda Empire.[5]



Preceded by
Haryanka dynasty (Magadha)

Pradyota dynasty (Avanti)

Shishunaga Dynasty
413345 BCE
Succeeded by
Nanda Dynasty
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