Ma·ga·dha (mäʹgə-də)
An ancient kingdom of northeast India. It was especially powerful from the fourth century B.C. to the fifth century A.D., particularly under the emperor Asoka (third century B.C.).

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Ancient kingdom, India, situated in present-day Bihar and Jharkhand states, northeastern India.

An important kingdom in the 7th century BC, it absorbed the kingdom of Anga in the 6th century BC. Pataliputra (Patna) was its capital. Its strength grew under the Nanda dynasty; under the Mauryan dynasty (4th–2nd centuries BC), it comprised nearly the entire Indian subcontinent. It afterwards declined. Revived in the 4th century AD under the Gupta dynasty, it was conquered by the Muslims in the late 12th century. It was the scene of many events in the life of the Buddha.

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▪ ancient kingdom, India
      ancient kingdom of India, situated in what is now west-central Bihār state, in northeastern India. It was the nucleus of several larger kingdoms or empires between the 6th century BC and the 8th century AD.

      The early importance of Magadha may be explained by its strategic position in the Ganges River valley, enabling it to control communication and trade on the river. The river further provided a link between Magadha and the rich ports in the Ganges delta.

      Under King Bimbisāra (Bimbisara) (reigned c. 543–c. 491 BC) of the Haryaṅka line, the kingdom of Aṅga (eastern Bihār) was added to Magadha. Kosala was annexed later. The supremacy of Magadha continued under the Nanda (4th century BC) and Mauryan (4th–2nd century BC) dynasties; under the Mauryan dynasty the empire included almost the entire subcontinent of India. The early centuries AD saw the decline of Magadha, but the rise of the Gupta dynasty in the 4th century brought it once more to a position of preeminence. Not only did these imperial dynasties begin by establishing their power in Magadha but in each case Pāṭaliputra (adjacent to modern Patna) was the imperial capital, thus adding to the prestige of Magadha.

      Lively accounts of Pāṭaliputra and Magadha are available in the Indica of Megasthenes (c. 300 BC) and in travel diaries of the Chinese Buddhist pilgrims Fa-hsien and Hsüan-tsang (4th–5th and 7th centuries AD). Many sites in Magadha were sacred to Buddhism. Toward the close of the 12th century, Magadha was conquered by the Muslims.

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Universalium. 2010.

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