Shunga (Sunga) Dynasty

Four rulers of Shunga or Sunga Dynasty were Pushyamitra Sunga (185 BC TO 151 BC), Agnimitra (149 BC -141 BC), Bhagabhadra (114 BC -83 BC) and Devabhuti (87-73 BC)

After the Kalinga war, Asoka became a monk and expansion of Buddhism in other countries took place during his time. None of the later Mauryas was efficient to keep vast Magadh empire intact, which under Asoka was extended from the foot of the Hindu Kush to the borders of the Tamil country.

The Last Maurya: Brihadratha

The sources of history after Mauryas are scant. There was no account left by Kautilya and Megasthenes about the later Mauryas. Our knowledge about the later Mauryas is based upon Puranas, Jain and Buddhism texts. Different Puranas give different accounts of Asoka’s successors.

The account given by Vayu Purana says that Asoka was succeeded by Kunala while the Matsya Purana says that Asoka was succeeded by Suyasas. But all Purana accounts as well as Harchacharita of Banabhatta says- that the last Mauryan ruler was Brihadratha.

Brihadratha was a weak ruler and his Senapati Pushymitra Shunga while a parading the entire Mauryan army before Brihadratha to show him the strength of the army assassinated him and this was the end of the Mauryas. Pushyamitra Shunga founded the Shunga dynasty in around 185-183 BC.

Capital of Shunga Dynasty Was Pataliputra and its major centers were Ujjain, Mathura, Saket, Sanchi, and Kapilvastu. Vidisha was capital of later Shunga rulers.

{The empire included modern West Bengal and parts of Bangladesh, some parts of northern Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh . In South India, the contemporary of Mauryas & Shungas were Saatvahanas, Pandyas, Cheras and Cholas. The extent of Saatvahana was modern Andhra Pradesh, Pandyas was Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and Cheras was Kerala (Cheras derived from Keralaputra). }

 Pushyamitra Sunga (185 BC TO 151 BC)

Pushyamitra Shunga the founder and hero of the Shunga dynasty. He was viceroy of the Mauryas at Ujjain and was a real war hero. He was not happy with his king Brihadratha, who failed in containing the Yavanas and attacks from the western sides.

Pushyamitra Shunga was also credited to repulse the two attacks of Greeks and also conquest over Vidarbha. The first of these attacks from Greeks, which were repulsed by Pushyamitra Shunga, was under Demetrius and another was under Meander. Pushyamitra is also known to have repelled the Kalinga’s king Kharvela conquest.

He is also known to have performed an Ashvamedha Yagna. The Ayodhya Inscription of Dhandeva mentions that he performed two Ashwamedha Yagyas (Horse Sacrifices). As per the Puranas, Pushyamitra Shunga reigned for 36 years. Some evidences say that Pushyamitra Shunga destroyed many stupas of Asoka. But there are also evidences that Barhut Stupa was built during the Shunga Empire only. Pushyamitra was succeeded by his son Agnimitra.

Agnimitra : (149 BC -141 BC)

Agnimitra, the second king of Shunga dynasty, succeeded his father Pushyamitra Shunga and reigned for a short period of 8 years. He is the hero of Malvikagnimitram of Kalidasa in which he has been referred to as Raja. By the times of Agnimitra, Vidarbha had become independent of the Maurays. Agnimitra was succeeded by Vasumitra around 131 BC.

Who succeeded Vasumitra , not much details are available. Different accounts mention the name of different kings such as Andhraka, Pulindaka, Ghosha or Vajramitra. The last rulers of Shunga dynasty were Bhagabhadra and Devabhuti, about whom we have some details

Bhagabhadra (114 BC -83 BC)

We know about the king Bhagabhadra by a Heliodorus pillar, which has been found in Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh near modern Besnagar. Heliodorus was a Greek ambassador and he dedicated this pillar to God Vasudeva (Vishnu). The Heliodorus pillar has a surmounted figure of a Garuda.

Devabhuti (87-73 BC)

Devabhuti was the last Shunga Ruler who was killed by his own minister Vasudeva Kanva in around 73 BC. Vasudeva Kanva thus assassinated the last ruler of Shunga Dynasty and founded the Kanva Dynasty.

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Comments

  • KOTESWARARAO.NERELLA
    Reply

    The history about the fall of Mouryan dynasty and starting sunga dynasty and later formation of Kanva dynasty by Vasudeva are very clear pieces of history and are ver much useful to the history readers like me who are interested in studying how BUDDHISM which was widely practiced in rest of the world has disappeared from the place of its Bith ie.,India. This is a good account of history.Thank you for the article.