Mahapadma Nanda

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Mahapadma Nanda
Founder of Nanda Empire
Reign c. 345 – c. 329 BCE
Predecessor Mahanandin
Successor Dhana Nanda
Born 400 BC
Died 329 BC
Dynasty Nanda
Father Mahanandin
Mother Shruda

Mahapadma Nanda (Sanskrit: महापद्मानन्द; IAST: Mahāpadmānanda) (c. 400 – c. 329 BC) was the first king of the Nanda dynasty. He was the son of Mahanandin, king of the Shishunaga dynasty and a Shudra mother.[1] Sons of Mahanandin from his other wives opposed the rise of Mahapadma Nanda, on which he eliminated all of them to claim the throne.[1][2]


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.[3]


The Puranas describe Mahapadma as a son of the last king of the preceding line by a Shudra woman.[3] Jain works represent him as the son of a courtezan by a barber.[3] 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.[4]

— Curtius

The Nandas, under Mahapadma Nanda, established the first great North Indian empire with its political centre in Magadha, which would in the following years lead to the largest empire in Indian Subcontinent built by the Mauryas. Mahapadma Nanda vanquished the old dynasties of North, not as was customary, to extract tribute from them and to be recognized as the most powerful, the samrat, but rather in order to dethrone them and declare himself as an "ekachhatra", the only emperor in the entire land. The collapse of the old Kshatriya dynasties under the rigorous power politics of Mahapadma Nanda, who is explicitly denigrated as the son of a Shudra, and the support extended to followers of non-Vedic philosophies, all has been described as negative signs in the Puranas, which prophesied Mahapadma Nanda's rise as a mark of Kali Yuga. He died at 88 years old. After his few generations, his descendant Dhana Nanda who was a very powerful, cruel and greedy emperor and was also hated by his own people was overthrown by Chandragupta Maurya with the help of local kings, people and shrewd intelligence of Chanakya. The Indologist F. E. Pargiter dated Nanda's coronation to 382 BCE, and R. K. Mookerji dated it to 364 BCE.[5] However, H. C. Raychaudhuri places the event c. 345 BCE.[6]

His kingdom annexed parts of Kalinga, central India, Anga, and the upper Ganges Valley. He was the first Shudra king of Magadha.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Vincent A. Smith (1907). The Early History of India. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. pp. 39–. ISBN 978-81-7156-618-1. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  2. ^ Vincent A. Smith; A. V. Williams Jackson (1906). History of India, in Nine Volumes: Vol. II - From the Sixth Century B.C. to the Mohammedan Conquest, Including the Invasion of Alexander the Great. Cosimo, Inc. pp. 37–. ISBN 978-1-60520-492-5. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c Sastri 1988, p. 13.
  4. ^ Sastri 1988, p. 14.
  5. ^ K. D. Sethna. Problems of Ancient India, 2000 New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. ISBN 81-7742-026-7
  6. ^


Mahapadma Nanda
Preceded by
(Shishunaga dynasty)
Nanda Emperor
Succeeded by
Dhana Nanda