Mahapadma Nanda

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Mahapadma Nanda
Coin of Mahapadma Nanda
A silver coin of 1 karshapana of King Mahapadma Nanda or his sons (345-321 BCE)
First Emperor of Nanda Empire
Reignc. 345 – c. 329 BCE[citation needed]
SuccessorDhana Nanda
  • Dhana Nanda
  • Pandhuka Nanda
  • Panghupati Nanda
  • Bhutapala Nanda
  • Rashtrapala Nanda
  • Govishanaka Nanda
  • Dashasidkhaka Nanda
  • Kaivarta Nanda
  • Karvinatha Nanda (illegitimate son)
Mothera Shudra queen

Mahapadma Nanda (IAST: Mahāpadmānanda; c. 403 – c. 329 BCE)[citation needed] was the first Emperor of the Nanda Empire. According to the Puranas and Vishakhadatta's Mudrarakshasa he was believed to be the son of a poor barber.


The first Nanda bore the name of Mahapadma or Mahapadmapati (sovereign of an infinite host or of immense wealth) according to the Puranas, and Ugrasena according to the Mahabodhivamsa.[1][2] Puranas describe him as ekarat (sole sovereign) and sarva-kshatrantaka (destroyer of all the Kshatriyas).[3] [4]


The Puranas describe Mahapadma as a son of Mahanandin by a barber from the Shudra caste.[1][5][6] Jain works like Parishishtaparvan and Avashyaka sutra represent him as the son of a courtesan by a barber.[7][1][2] Curtius, a Roman historian, informs us that

his father was in fact a barber, scarcely staving off hunger by his daily earnings, but who, from his being not uncomely in person, had gained the affections of the queen, and was by her influence advanced to too near a place in the confidence of reigning monarch. Afterwards, however, he treacherously murdered his sovereign, and then, under the pretence of acting as guardian to the royal children, usurped the supreme authority, and having put the young princes to death begot the present king.[8]

— Curtius

Sons of Mahanandin's other wives opposed the rise of Mahapadma Nanda. So he eliminated all of them to claim the throne.[6][9]

The Indologist F. E. Pargiter dated Nanda's coronation to 382 BCE, and R. K. Mookerji dated it to 364 BCE.[10][page needed] However, H. C. Raychaudhuri places the event at c. 345 BCE.[11]

According to Puranas, Mahapadma had eight sons.[4] He defeated many kingdoms, including the Panchalas, Kasis, Haihayas, Kalingas,[a] Asmakas, Kurus, Maithilas, Surasenas and the Vitihotras.[14]

Jain tradition mentions Kalpaka as one of his ministers who encouraged the king to put in place an expansionist policy.[3]



  1. ^ Kalinga (India) formed part of the Nanda Empire but subsequently broke free until it was re-conquered by Ashoka Maurya, c. 260 BCE.[12][13]


  1. ^ a b c Sastri 1988, p. 13.
  2. ^ a b Upinder Singh 2016, p. 272.
  3. ^ a b Upinder Singh 2016, p. 273.
  4. ^ a b Mookerji 1988, p. 8.
  5. ^ Mookerji 1988, p. 7-8.
  6. ^ a b Smith 1999, p. 39.
  7. ^ Mookerji 1988, p. 14.
  8. ^ Sastri 1988, p. 14.
  9. ^ Smith 2008, p. 37.
  10. ^ Sethna 2000.
  11. ^ Panda 2007, p. 28.
  12. ^ Raychaudhuri & Mukherjee 1996, pp. 204-209.
  13. ^ Raychaudhuri & Mukherjee 1996, pp. 270-271.
  14. ^ Sastri 1988, p. 17.


Mahapadma Nanda
Preceded by
(Shishunaga dynasty)
Nanda Emperor
c. 345 BCE - 329 BCE
Succeeded by
Dhana Nanda