Let’s read the story of the Shishunaga Dynasty.

The Nagadashka was the last king of the Harayanka Dynasty. His name translated to ‘one with the power of ten Nagas’. One of his ministers had impressed him with his vocal abilities to gather and keep a crowd. He named him Shisunaga meaning ‘a young Naga’.

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As fate would have it, Shisunaga used his vocal gifts to raise a rebellion against the ruling dynasty. He would go on to become the new King, giving birth to a new Dynasty, Shisunaga Dynasty.

With the shift of capital from Rajgriha to Patliputra, the Sishunga dynasty focused more on the eastern side of Magadha. The eastern Magadha is modern-day Bihar and Jharkhand. It is full of resources including iron and copper ore, coal, and dense forests. Shishunaga dynasty is credited with the proper utilization of these resources. More metal ores led to better weapons. Under the Sishunaga dynasty, Magadha was finally able to defeat the state of Avanti. From then on Avanti became a part of Magadha.

Shishunaga was succeeded by Kalashoka. The transfer of power between Sishunaga and Kalashoka happened peacefully and mutually. They have learned from the mistakes of the Haryanka dynasty. Kalashoka was a minister under his father and went on to become the administrator of the old capital Rajgriha.
After his ascension to the throne, he fortified the city of Patliputra.

Not much is written about Kalashoka or his sons as they were not great rulers. But the religious texts of Buddhism and Jainism describe their eastward expansion during the Sishunaga dynasty. Magadha empire was also the biggest beneficiary of the super fertile Ganga river plains. This meant they had a surplus amount of crops to trade. These trading routes towards the east opened the door to trading ideologies as well. With crops and other goods, Buddhism and Jainism went east of Magadha.

Kalashoka had ten sons. Unfortunately, none of them was a clear choice to become the next king. Hence they divided the state of Magadha into ten different administrating zones. What seemed like a very practical decision proved disastrous for the empire. Division weakened the military might of Magadha causing the downfall of the Shisunaga dynasty.
Ugrasena, the founder of the Nanda dynasty started a rebel against the Ssishunaga Dynasty. One by one, the separated and small portions of the military failed to control the rebel. And like a forest fire, the revolution took the kingdom by surprise and burned the Sishunaga dynasty to the ground.

The Shisunaga dynasty is an example of why democracy is the most preferred form of government today. Shisunaga rose to the power because of his skills and work. His sons however were born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Their inability to run such a big empire mixed with their unwillingness led to the dynasty’s downfall. And once again a deserving, skilful, and hard-working man was able to replace them.

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