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Dhana Nanda's empire
|Last Nanda Emperor|
|Reign||c. 329 BC – c. 321 BC|
|Successor||Chandragupta Maurya (the founder of Maurya Empire)|
According to Mahabodhivamsa, Dhana Nanda (Sanskrit: धनानन्द) was the last ruler of the Nanda dynasty. He was one of nine sons of Mahapadma Nanda. Plutarch tells that Androkottos or Chandragupta Maurya had stated that Nanda was hated and despised by his subjects on account of the wickedness of his disposition and meanness of his origin.
Dhana Nanda inherited the throne from his father Mahapadma Nanda. Although it could be said that the Dhana Nanda reign was very unpopular among the people and the neighboring states, a possible explanation of this unpopularity could be financial extortion.
Dhana Nanda is described as a powerful king who ruled over the Parsii (Prachya, i.e. the eastern people) and the Gangaridai (the people of the lower Ganga valley). During his reign, the Nanda Empire extended from Bihar and Bengal in the east to Punjab and Sindh in the west. He had four ministers - Bandu, Subandu, Kubera and Sakatala. Sakatala emptied Dhana Nanda's treasury for purchasing peace from Mleccha invaders. He was then punished by the King for the act by casting into a subterranean dungeon along with his family with handful of grains and little water. The food and water being sufficient for only one human, all died but Sakatala himself. The foreign kings invaded again and Nanda requested of Sakatala's assistance which he denied. Sakatala found Chanakya to take his revenge from Dhana Nanda by ending his rule.
Shaktar (395–319 BC) was the Prime minister of Dhana Nanda - the last king of the Nanda Dynasty, which originated from the region of Magadha in ancient India during the 5th and 4th centuries BC. At its greatest extent, the Nanda Empire extended from Bengal in the east, to Punjab in the west and as far south as the Vindhya Range.
Relations with the Kalinga Kingdom
Although the relations of Kalinga kingdom and Nanda Dynasty weren't very companionable, there had been a brief period in the past where the relations were affable, when Prince Shauryananda wed Damyanti of Kalinga. However, the thaw was short-lived, as was the marriage itself. The people of Kalinga despised the Nandas for belonging to Shudra varna, and categorized them as barbaric. Dhana Nanda possessed a similar aversion to Kalinga and its crown prince Kharasala.
The Nanda Army
King Dhana Nanda inherited the vast empire of his father. The army of Emperor Dhana Nanda consisted of a large number of cavalry, infantry, chariots and elephants. As described by Diodorus and Quintus Curtius Rufus, the army consisted of 200,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalry, 2,000 war chariots and 3,000 war elephants. According to Plutarch however, it was even larger, numbering 200,000 infantry, 80,000 cavalry, 8,000 war chariots, and 6,000 war elephants.
Defeat and death
The exact circumstances surrounding the death of Dhana Nanda are unclear. Some accounts suggest that Dhanananda was killed by Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Mauryan Empire, after the latter captured Pataliputra, the capital of Nandas. Other accounts however suggest that after Pataliputra was stealthily captured by Chanakya, Dhana Nanda was sent into exile and was never heard of again. According to the Jain work Parishishtaparvan, Chandragupta Maurya allowed him to leave Pataliputra along with his two wives, after granting his daughter Durdhara permission to marry Chandragupta. It is also suggested that Dhana Nanda was killed on Chanakya's orders during exile, thus clearing the path for Chandragupta's kingship.
Some other accounts also suggest that as Dhana Nanda had taken to Buddhism before exile, renouncing life completely after his clan was wiped out in a coup. Not being a threat to Chanakya's plans, he was therefore allowed to live.
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