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Republics & Kingdoms | Magadha as Empire | Ajatashatru | Gautam Buddha | Vardhamana Mahavira | Nandas | Alexander | Battle of Hydaspes 

Ajatashatru in Sanskrit means 'victor over enemy'. True to his name he proved to be a worthy son of a worthy father, and expanded the frontiers of Magadha further beyond towards the north and the west. Yet his ascendancy to the throne of Magadha was not smooth. Impatient to rule Magadha, Ajatashatru murdered his father in 493 B.C. to become the king of Magadha. He was determined to continue his father's policy of expansion through military conquest. The capital of Magadha was in Rajagriha, a beautiful city surrounded by five hills forming a natural defence. Ajatashatru strengthened Rajagriha, and built a small fort, Pataligrama, in the vicinity of the Ganges. This was later to become the famous Mauryan metropolis of Pataliputra, which subsequently went on to become our modern day Patna.

His father having conquered the eastern state Anga, Ajatashatru turned his attention to the north and the west. The king of Koshala was his maternal uncle, but this did not prevent Ajatashatru from annexing Koshala and continuing the advance west until he had included Kashi in his dominion. The war with the Vriji confederacy was a more lengthy affair and lasted for sixteen years, with Ajatashatru's ministers trying to bring rift within the confederacy. Finally Magadha was victorious and was recognized as the most powerful force in eastern India. Bimbisara's ambition had been fulfilled. The victory of Magadha was a victory for the Monarchial system, which was now firmly established in the Ganges plain.

The rise of Magadha was not merely due to the political ambitions of Bimbisara and Ajatashatru, for, although latter was succeeded by a series of unworthy rulers, Magadha remained powerful.

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