As the time passed in Ancient India, Magadha had become the centre of political activity in north India and powerful among all the kingdoms. Rajagriha was the capital of Magadha. Due to some geographical advantages, the Magadha empire rose to their greatness. The copper and iron deposits were found near Gaya. Valley nearby Ganga river had fertile soil. Thus it was a great advantage. During the time of Bimbisara and Ajatshatru, the name of Magadha reached its peak point.
Bimbisara (546 - 494 B.C.)
Bimbisara ruled for 52 years from 544 B.C. to 492 B.C. He was imprisoned by his son Ajatshatru (492- 460 B.C.) and murdered. Bimbisara was the ruler of Magadha .He came from the Haryanka dynasty.
Through matrimonial alliances he strengthened his postion and prosperity. His first alliance was with the family of Kosala, the lady named Kosaladevi. He was given the Kasi region as a dowry. Then, Bimbisara married a princess of the Licchavi family of Vaisali named Chellana. Now this alliance secured him the safety of the northern frontier. He again married Khema of the royal house of Madra in central Punjab. He defeated Brahmadatta of Anga and captured his empire. He had good relations with Avanti.
Ajatshatru (494 - 462 B.C.)
Ajatshatru killed his father and snatched the kingdom. Throughout his time he followed an aggressive policy of expansion. This pushed him towards Kashi and Koshala. There began a so long disturbance between Magadha and Koshala. The Koshal king was forced to purchase peace by giving his daughter in marriage to Ajatashatru and also giving him Kashi. He also declared war against the Lichchavis of Vaisali and conquered the Vaishali Republic. This war continued for sixteen years.
In the beginning, he was a follower of Jainism and later also started embracing Buddhism. He said that he had met Gautama Buddha. This scene is also signified in the sculptures of Barhut. He constructed several chaityas and viharas. He was also at the First Buddhist Council at Rajagriha after the death of the Buddha.
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