King Bimbisara ruled over Magadha from about 542 BC Up to 492 BC. His capital was Rajagriha, the modern Rajgir in the Patna district. Bimbisara conquered Anga, the region to the east of Magadha. In the Buddha’s time, Magadha included about eighty thousand villages. Reasons, why Magadha became a powerful Mahajanapada, are discussed below
Why did Magadha become the most powerful Mahajanapada?
✔ It had fertile plains to produce a variety of crops. The big landlords employed dasas (slaves) and other laborers. The expansion of the economy led to increased commercial activity. The king received a lot of land revenue and other taxes. The income was used to maintain vast armies.
✔ Iron was discovered in large quantities in Chota Nagpur and the hilly regions of Magadha. It was used in making weapons and agricultural implements. Magadha’s successful military campaign against Anga eliminated an important rival at the very beginning of its imperial highness.
✔ The rivers – Ganga, Son, Gandaka, and Sarayu provided waterways for traders to go in all directions. The trade, crafts, and commercial activity made Magadha a prosperous kingdom. However, there were great inequalities of income between social classes.
✔ Magadha had a large and strong infantry. It included Chaturangini sena (the foot-soldiers, the chariot-warriors, the cavalry’ and the war-elephants). This gave Magadha an extra military’ advantage.
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