Let’s read the story of the Haryanka dynasty.

After the river Saraswati dried up, people from the Indus Valley civilization decided to move out to different parts of the Indian subcontinent. A few centuries later, emerged the 16 Mahajanapadas. Jana meant people, Padas meant foot, so Mahajanapadas meant large states with a lot of footfalls. One of these Mahajanapadas was the state of Magadha. Harayanka dynasty was the third dynasty to rule the state of Magadha.

Magadha state was in the modern states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. And like the modern-day, it too was the most populous state of all the Mahajanapadas. Magadha is also the most standout state of its time. Mostly because of its spiritual and literary works. The Magadha saw advancements and expansion under three different dynasties. First of which was Haryanka.

Harayanka dynasty was founded by Bimbisara. Under his ruling, Magadha took its shape. He was an aggressive and outward-looking king. He attacked and took over lands from the neighbouring states of Anga and Kashi. The neighbouring states were no match for the enormous size of Harayanka’s army. Instead, they offered a peaceful alliance to Bimbisara through marriage. Bimbisara ended up marrying thrice. His first marriage was to the princess of Kaushal state. This marriage got him the city of Kashi as a dowry. The next marriage was with the princess of Vaishali and the third with the princess of Madra. Madra was the state in modern-day Punjab, north of Magadha.

The ruthlessness of Bimbisara was inherited by his son Ajatshatru, as well. But he took the thirst for power to another level. He sat on the throne after killing his own father. Ajatshatru was born from the union of Bimbisara and the princess of Kaushal. After getting the throne his evil eyes fell on his maternal state of Kaushal. Once again the kingdom of Kaushal had to offer its princess in order to save itself.

After this Ajatshatru started expanding towards Vaishali, the kingdom of his step-mother. The Vaishali kingdom was known to be unbreachable, hence it took almost sixteen years for Ajatshatru to conquer it. Ajatshatru had expanded the Magadha to its maximum.

Ajatshatru was succeeded by his son Udayin. Udayin was not as aggressive and expansionist as his ancestors. He worked more on keeping what was accumulated by the past kings. Udayin is credited to build forts along the Ganga shores. Udayin is also known for shifting the capital from Rajgriha to Patliputra, modern-day Patna.
But he too ended his term in a violent way. His son Anurudha assassinated his father and took the mantle of ruling Magadha.

The dynasty saw two more generations of Harayankas but none survived more than a decade. The dynasty had fallen into the hands of the corrupt and violent. The people of Magadha witnessed this and felt disappointed. Hence they supported a new dynasty to takeover the Magadha empire. And so the Harayanka dynasty ended and the Shisunaga dynasty started.

War and peace are just two sides of a coin. The violent and aggressive start of the Magadha empire built the base for a peaceful future. Despite the violence and bloodshed for the throne that happened during the Harayanka dynasty, Magadha will be remembered for its spiritual heritage. It will always be known for Rama’s Ayodhya, Krishna’s Mathura, and Buddha’s Gaya.

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