Shishunaga dynasty

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Shishunaga dynasty
413 BCE–345 BCE
Extent of the kingdom
Capital Rajgir, Vaishali, later Pataliputra,Patna
Languages Sanskrit
Magadhi Prakrit
Other Prakrits
Religion Hinduism (Brahmanism)
Government Monarchy
 •  413–395 BCE Shishunaga
 •  367–345 BCE Mahanandin
 •  Established 413 BCE
 •  Disestablished 345 BCE
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Haryanka dynasty
Nanda Empire

The Shishunaga dynasty is believed to have been the second ruling dynasty of Magadha, an empire of ancient India. According to the Puranas, this dynasty was the second ruling dynasty of Magadha, succeeding the legendary dynasty founded by Brihadratha.[2]

Shishunaga, the founder of the dynasty, was initially an amatya or "minister" of the last Haryanka dynasty ruler Nāgadāsaka and ascended to the throne after a popular rebellion in c. 413 BCE.[3] The capital of this dynasty initially was Rajgir; but later shifted to Pataliputra, near the present day Patna, during the reign of Kakavarna. According to tradition, Kakavarna was succeeded by his ten sons.[4] This dynasty was succeeded by the Nanda Empire in c. 345 BCE.[5]


Puranas depict Shishunaga kings as Kshatriyas.[6]


Shishunaga founded his dynasty in 413 BCE with its capital in Rajgir and later Pataliputra (both in what is now Bihar). Buddhist sources indicate that he had a secondary capital at Vaishali,[7] formerly the capital of Vajji, until it was conquered by Magadha. The Shishunaga dynasty ruled one of the largest empires in the Indian subcontinent.

Kakavarna Kalashoka[edit]

According to the Puranas, Shishunaga was succeeded by his son Kakavarna and according to the Sinhala chronicles by his son Kalashoka. On the basis of the evidence of the Ashokavadana, Hermann Jacobi, Wilhelm Geiger and Ramakrishna Gopal Bhandarkar concluded that both are the same. During Shishunaga's reign, he was the governor of Varanasi. The two most significant events of his reign are the Second Buddhist council at Vaishali in 383 BC and the final transfer of the capital to Pataliputra.[8] According to the Harshacharita, he was killed by a dagger thrust into his throat in the vicinity of his capital.[9] According to Buddhist tradition, he had nine or ten sons, who were ousted by Ugrasena Nanda.[10]

Later rulers[edit]

According to tradition,[which?] ten sons of Kalashoka ruled simultaneously. The Mahabodhivamsa states their names as Bhadrasena, Korandavarna, Mangura, Sarvanjaha, Jalika, Ubhaka, Sanjaya, Koravya, Nandivardhana and Panchamaka. Only one of them is mentioned in the Puranic lists, Nandivardhana.[4] Nandivardhana or Mahanandin was probably the last ruler of this dynasty; his empire was inherited by his illegitimate son Mahapadma Nanda.[citation needed]

The Puranas list Nandivardhana as the ninth Shishunaga king and his son Mahanandin as the tenth and the last Shishunaga king. Mahanandin was killed by his illegitimate son from a Shudra wife named Mahapadma.[11]

Shishunaga dynasty rulers[edit]

Coins during the Shishunaga dynasty of Magadha.
  • Shishunaga (413-395 BCE) - was a former amatya (official) under the Haryankas.
  • Kakavarna Kalashoka (395 BC-?) - he had ten sons who ruled the kingdom together for twenty-two years, the name of ten sons:
  • Bhadrasena
  • Korandavarna
  • Mangura
  • Sarvanjaha
  • Jalika
  • Ubhaka
  • Sanjaya
  • Koravya
  • Panchamaka
  • Nandivardhana
  • Mahanandin (367-345 BCE), son of Nandivardhana.


According to Puranas, Shishunagas were followed by Nanda Empire, which was established by Mahanandin's illegitimate son Mahapadma Nanda.


  1. ^ Upinder Singh 2016, p. 273.
  2. ^ Raychaudhuri 1972, p. 103.
  3. ^ Raychaudhuri 1972, pp. 193,201.
  4. ^ a b Raychaudhuri 1972, p. 196.
  5. ^ Raychaudhuri 1972, p. 201.
  6. ^ Mookerji 1988, p. 8.
  7. ^ Singh 2008, p. 272.
  8. ^ Raychaudhuri 1972, pp. 195–6.
  9. ^ Mahajan 2007, p. 251.
  10. ^ Sastri 1988, p. 14.
  11. ^ Mookerji 1988, p. 10.


Preceded by
Haryanka dynasty (Magadha)

Pradyota dynasty (Avanti)

Shishunaga Dynasty
413–345 BCE
Succeeded by
Nanda Dynasty