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Dhana Nanda

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Title: Dhana Nanda  
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Subject: Conquest of the Nanda Empire, Maurya Empire, History of Bihar, Nanda Empire, List of rulers of Odisha
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Dhana Nanda

Dhana Nanda
Nanda Samrat
Reign 329 BC --- 321 BC
Predecessor Mahapadma Nanda
Successor Chandragupta Maurya (the founder of Maurya Dynasty)
Full name
Dhana Nanda
House Nanda Dynasty
Father Mahapadma Nanda
Mother Shruda
Religion Jainism

According to Mahabodhivamsa, Dhana Nanda was the last ruler of the Nanda dynasty.[1] He was one of the nine sons of the Mahapadma Nanda.[2] Plutarch tells that Androkottos or Chandragupta Maurya had stated that Nanda was hated and despised by his subjects on account of the wickedness of his disposition and meanness of his origin[3][4][5]


  • Life 1
  • Reign 2
  • Relations with the Kalinga Kingdom 3
  • The Nanda Army 4
  • Death 5
  • References 6


Dhana Nanda's great-grandfather had 2 wives and one of them was a daughter of a barber. So,his grandparents, his father and his uncles were often insulted. To take revenge, his grandfather along with his 9 sons (including Dhana Nanda's father) made a plan to kill his great-grandfather and the sons of his other wife. After they succeeded, Dhana Nanda's grandfather announced himself the king. Later the throne was given to Dhana's father and after that to Dhana Nanda. Not much is known about his early life, but there are a few accounts of him in both secular and religious texts. Dhana Nanda was addicted to hoarding treasure.... He collected riches to the amount of eighty kotis in a rock in the bed of river (Ganges). Having caused a great excavation to be made, he buried the treasure there....Levying taxes, among other articles, even on skins, gums and stones, he amassed further treasure which disposed of similarly"

A Tamil poet called Mamulanar belongs to this period in his poem Ahananuru anthology number 251 points out hoardings of Nandan[6]

During the Alexander's campaign of India, King Poros(or Porus) stated the king of Gangaridai was a man of worthless character and was not held in respect. He was considered to be the son of a barber. It is clear that the Dhana Nanda dynasty was very unpopular among the people and the neighboring states, few possible explanations of the unpopularity could be their varna, Nanda Kings were said to be of shudra caste and the other reason being their financial extortion.[7]


During his reign, the Nanda Empire extended from Bihar and Bengal in the east to Punjab and Sindh in the west. His Prime Minister was Shaktar. He tortured the ladies of his kingdom and they were treated like animals. He drunk till his teeth and was always in a drunken state.The people of his kingdom feared him so much that they began taking refugee far away from his kingdom in caves and under trees.He greatly despised Chanakya and Chandragupta as well as their followers and known for his cruel nature.

Relations with the Kalinga Kingdom

Although the relations of Kalinga kingdom and Nanda Dynasty weren't very companionable, there had been a brief period in the past where the relations were affable, when Prince Shauryananda wed Damyanti of Kalinga.[8] However, the relations were short lived as the marriage itself. The people of Kalinga despised the Magadha rulers, the Nanda dynasty, for belonging to Shudra varna and categorized them as barbaric. Dhana Nanda possessed similar aversion for Kalinga and its crown prince Kharasala.

The Nanda Army

Dhana Nanda's army, as described by Diodorus and Quintus Curtius Rufus, consisted of 200,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalry, 2,000 war chariots and 3,000 war elephants.[9] According to Plutarch however, the size of the Nanda army was even larger, numbering 200,000 infantry, 80,000 cavalry, 8,000 war chariots, and 6,000 war elephants.[10]


The exact circumstances surrounding the death of Dhana Nanda are unclear. Some accounts suggest that Dhanananda was killed by Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Mauryan Empire, after the latter captured Pataliputra, the capital of Nandas. Other accounts however suggest that after Pataliputra was stealthily captured by Chanakya, Dhana Nanda was sent into exile and was never heard of again. It is also suggested that Dhana Nanda was killed on Chanakya's orders during exile, thus clearing the path for Chandragupta's kingship.

Some other accounts also suggest that as Dhana Nanda had taken to Buddhism before exile, he renounced life completely after his clan was wiped out in a coup; thus not being a threat to Chanakya's plans and therefore was allowed to live.


  1. ^ Mahajan, V.D. (2010). "Chapter XVIII : The Rise of Magadha Section (h) The Nandas". Ancient India. S.Chand. pp. 251–253.  
  2. ^ Mahajan, V.D. (2010). "Chapter XVIII : The Rise of Magadha Section (h) The Nandas". Ancient India. S.Chand. pp. 251–253.  
  3. ^ Mahajan, V.D. (2010). "Chapter XVIII : The Rise of Magadha Section (h) The Nandas". Ancient India. S.Chand. pp. 251–253.  
  4. ^ Bongard-Levin, G. (1979). A History of India. Moscow: Progress Publishers. p. 264. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Nanndan
  7. ^ Mahajan, V.D. (2010). "Chapter XVIII : The Rise of Magadha Section (h) The Nandas". Ancient India. S.Chand. pp. 251–253.  
  8. ^ Pillai, Rajat (2011). Chandragupta: Path Of A Fallen Demi-God. Cedar Books. p. 296.  
  9. ^ Bongard-Levin, G. (1979). A History of India. Moscow: Progress Publishers. p. 264. 
  10. ^ Bongard-Levin, G. (1979). A History of India. Moscow: Progress Publishers. p. 264. 
Dhana Nanda
Preceded by
Mahapadma Nanda
Nanda Emperor
Succeeded by
(Mauryan Dynasty)
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