Śaiśunāga Dynasty

Śaiśunāga Dynasty

▪ Indian dynasty
      ancient ruling family in the Indian kingdom of Magadha. The Śaiśunāga line of kings followed the reigns of Bimbasāra and Ajātaśatru (both contemporaries of the Buddha). The line is generally placed immediately before the Nandas and is dated roughly from the mid-5th to the mid-4th century BC.

      Śiśunāga, or Susunaga, the founder, was of obscure origin and may have initially served as Magadhan viceroy at Kāśī (Vārānasi). Gradually he came to be associated with the early Magadhan capital Girivraja, or Rājgīr, and re-established the city of Vaiśālī (Basarh in north Bihār). Śiśunāga's reign, like that of his Magadhan predecessors, represents a stage in the history of the fast expansion of the Magadhan empire. He successfully fought against Avantivardhana and annexed Avanti to his empire.

      The reign of Śiśunāga's son Kālāśoka is known chiefly for two important events: the meeting of the second Buddhist Council at Vaiśālī and the shifting of the Magadhan capital to Pāṭaliputra. The end of Śiśunāga's line is obscure, as is much of the pre-Mauryan dynastic history of Magadha. Kālāśoka's sons, according to traditional lists, were 10 in number, but no details about them are known. Kālāśoka was brutally murdered, presumably by the founder of the Nanda line, and the Śaiśunāga dynasty ceased to rule.

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Universalium. 2010.

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