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Shishunaga (or Shusunaga) (c. 413 – 395 BCE[1]) was the founder of the Shishunaga dynasty of the Magadha Empire in the present day northern India. Initially, he was an amatya (official) of the Magadha empire under the Haryanka dynasty. He was placed on the throne by the people who revolted against the Haryanka dynasty rule. The Puranas tell us[2][3] that he placed his son at Varanasi and himself ruled from Girivraja (Rajagriha). He was succeeded by his son Kakavarna Kalashoka.[4]

Early life[edit]

According to the Mahavamsatika, Shishunaga was the son of a Licchavi raja of Vaishali. He was conceived by a nagara-shobhini and brought up an officer of state. At the time of the revolt, he was a viceroy at Varanasi of king Nagadasaka, the last ruler of the Haryanka dynasty.[5]


Initially, his capital was Rajagriha and Vaishali was his second royal residence. Later he shifted his capital to Vaishali. His most significant achievement was the destruction of the 'glory' of the Pradyota dynasty of the Avanti kingdom. Most probably the king of Avanti whom Shishunaga humbled was Avantivardhana. The Magadhan victory must have been helped by the revolution that placed Aryaka on the thone of Ujjayini.[6]


During Shishunag's rule practically the whole of India (present day India excluding the regions of Tamil Nadu south of Madurai, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh) was under his rule. In 407 BC he annexed jaipur to his empire. By 405 BC he subdued the last of mahajanapadas. From period of 404 BC to 397 BC he annexed Sindh, Multan, Lahore, Kabul, Herat, Chagcharan, Anjuri, Kandahar, Karachi and Vellore. His Territories spread up to Kochi and Madurai in the South to Shardu and Danyor in the North, Murshidabad and Dakhinpara and Hamren in the East to Mand and Herat in the West in 395 BC.


  1. ^ Raychaudhuri 1972, p. 201
  2. ^ Raychaudhuri 1972, p. 193
  3. ^ Mahajan 1960, reprint 2007, pp. 250–1
  4. ^ Raychaudhuri 1972, pp. 193–5
  5. ^ Raychaudhuri 1972, pp. 193–5
  6. ^ Raychaudhuri 1972, pp. 193–5


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