Nanda dynasty (344 – 323 BC) [GK Notes]

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The Nandas were the successors of Shishunaga dynasty. The Nanda Empire extended to Bengal in the east, Punjab in the west and the Vindhya Mountains in the south. Nanda was famous for their immense wealth.

The Nanda dynasty was founded by Mahapadma Nanda and was the first dynasty to rule the Magadha region in present-day Bihar, India. During the fourth century BCE and possibly the fifth century BCE, the Nanda dynasty was the fifth dynasty to rule over Magadha in northern India. The Nandas expanded the empire to encompass a larger portion of northern India by overthrowing the Shaishunaga dynasty, which had previously ruled over Magadha in eastern India.

According to Dr. Radha Kumud Bandyopadhyay, “Mahapadma Nanda was the first great historical emperor of northern India.”

Dr. Radhakumud Bandyopadhyay
Emperor Mahapadma Nanda, Dhana Nanda
Historical eraIron Age India

Important Points of the Nanda Dynasty:

Mahabodhivamsa lists nine Nanda kings: Mahapadma Nanda, Panduka, Pandugati, Bhutpala, Rashtrapala, Gobishanka, Dashasiddhaka, kaybarta, and Dhana Nanda.

Mahapadma Nanda

  • Mahapadma Nanda defeated the Shishunaga dynasty and introduced the Nanda dynasty in Magadha. It lasted from 345 BC to 321 BC.
  • It is believed that Mahapadma Nanda, the founder of the Nanda Empire, was a low-caste person. He was the son of Kshatriya king Mahanandin of the Shishunaga dynasty. his mother was a Shudra woman.
  • Mahapadma Nanda took the title of Sarvakshatrantaka and Ugrasena. In the Puranas, Mahapadma Nanda is also called Ekarat. In many places, he is also called the first emperor of India. Mahapadma Nanda has been described as the ‘destroyer of all the Kshatriyas‘.
  • He occupied many states including Panchal, Varanasi, and Kalinga. They ruled the empire with the help of several ministers.
  • In Kalinga, he built an irrigation canals.

Dhana Nanda

  • After Mahapadma Nanda, his eight sons ascended the throne. However, the most notable among them was the younger son Dhana Nanda.
  • Dhana Nanda was a follower of the Jain religion. Pataliputra was the capital of Dhana Nanda.
  • In Greek literature, Dhana Nanda was called Agrames.
  • According to the Greek writer Cartius, Dhanananda had a large army. He had 20,000 – Equestrian, 200,000 – Infantry, 2,000 – chariot, and 3,000 trained elephants.
  • Dhana Nanda was the last ruler of the Nanda dynasty. During the reign of Dhanananda, Alexander invaded India.
  • Alexander the Great conquered India during his reign, but because of Nanda’s large army, he did not dare to invade Magadha.
  • Dhana Nanda imposed huge taxes on the people to meet the expenses of this huge army and was notorious as an oppressive king in history.
  • Nandas lost popularity due to economic oppression and that is the reason for the revolt. In this revolt, Chandragupta Maurya overthrew the last Nanda ruler through Chanakya. Maurya king Chandragupta Maurya defeated Dhana Nanda and started the Maurya dynasty in Magadha.

Alexander’s invasion of India:

In the 4th century BC, King Alexander of Macedonia set out to conquer the world. Under Alexander the Great, Macedonia destroyed the Persian Empire. He invaded India in 326 BC and initially occupied the North-West Frontier Province and Kabul. Alexander subjugated the other ruler except for King Puru. Alexander the Great defeated Puru in the Battle of Hydaspes in 326 BC. But impressed by Puru’s heroism, Alexander returned him to his kingdom.

Alexander’s army then refused to advance on the banks of the Beas River. Alexander returned in 325 BC, administering the territories he had conquered. Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BC, at the age of 33. As a result of Alexander’s invasion of India, communication via the ocean between India and Europe increased. The rulers of India also felt the need to restructure the army.


  1. According to historian H. C. Raychaudhuri, the Nandas granted significant autonomy in the frontier regions of their empire while maintaining centralized control over their core areas in modern-day Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
  2. The Nanda dynasty had an effective and well-organized administrative structure that aided in running their huge realm. A governor oversaw each of the provinces that made up the empire. The governors were in charge of revenue collection, upholding the rule of law, and guaranteeing the efficient operation of the province government.
  3. The Nandas’ huge kingdom was managed by an effective and well-organized bureaucracy.
  4. Kalpaka served as the first Nanda king’s minister, according to Jain literature. He hesitantly accepted the position of minister, but once there, he persuaded the king to go for an expansionist, aggressive strategy.
  5. With the aid of their large and well-trained army, the Nandas were able to annex and rule a significant part of northern India.

Read More: Gupta Empire – Kings, Administration, Rule – Notes GK

FAQ from Nanda Dynasty:

Who founded the Nanda dynasty?

  1. Chandragupta Maurya
  2. Ashoka the Great
  3. Mahapadma Nanda
  4. Dhana Nanda

[Mahapadma Nanda]

In which region of India did the Nanda dynasty rule?

  1. Bengal
  2. Gujarat
  3. Magadha
  4. Deccan


What was the main significance of the Nanda dynasty in Indian history?

  1. Introduction of Buddhism
  2. Formation of the Gupta Empire
  3. Establishment of the first Indian empire
  4. The spread of Jainism

[Establishment of the first Indian empire]

How long did the Nanda dynasty rule approximately?

  1. 50
  2. 100
  3. 150
  4. 200


Nanda Empire’s important General knowledge and notes for all competitive job exams as well as for students reading history according to the new education policy 2020 are provided here with considering point-to-point information. This note is useful for UPSC, SSC, Railway, PSC, WBCS, and other government job exams.

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  3. M. B. Chande (1998). Kautilyan Arthasastra
  4.  Chandragupta Maurya and His Times by R. K. Mookerji (1966).
  5. A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India by Upinder Singh (2008).