Post Mauryan age: The Sunga Dynasty
Posted on : 18-11-2017 Posted by : Admin


The information about the Sunga dynasty can be found in Gargi samhita, Mahabhashya of patanjali, Divyavandana, Malavikagnimitram of Kalidasa and Harsacharita of Bana. During Mauryan rule, Sunga dynasty held the viceroy ship of Ujjain. Sungas were a Brahmin family of Bharadvaja clan. They originally belonged to Ujjain region in Western India.

According to Harshacharita of Bana, the last king of Mauryan dynasty, Brihadratha was assassinated by Pushyamitra sunga in 180 BC. Then He established sunga dynasty. Initially the Sunga kingdom comprised of Entire Ganga valley upto river Narmada, some parts of Northern India and Vidisha. The capitals of Sungas were Pataliputra and Vidisha.

Revival of Hinduism

Pushyamitra tried to revive Vedic practices and sacrifices. According to Ayodhya inscription of Dhanadeva, he is believed to have performed two asvamedha or horse sacrifices. In Buddhist sources it is found that Pushyamitra mistreated Buddhists. The work Divyavandana describes Pushyamitra as the destroyer of Buddhist monasteries and places of worship.

Military Achievements

His two military achievements were repulsing of Greeks twice. The first invasion of Greeks was under Demerits and the second was under Meander. His achievements against Greeks are found in Gargi samhita and Malavikagnimitram. Pushyamitra faced invasion of Kharvela, the king of Kalinga.

The Sunga Dynasty

According to Puranas, Pushyamitra ruled for 36 years. Then he was followed by his son Agnimitra. Agnimitra was the hero of Malavikagnimitram of Kalidasa. Agnimitra was succeeded by Sujyeshta. Sujyeshta was succeeded by Vasumitra, Son of Agnimitra. Vasumitra was soon killed by Muladeva, ruler of Kosala. Vasumitra was succeeded by Vajramitra and then Bhagavat. King Bhagavat is identified with Kasiputra Bhagabhadra of Vidisha pillar inscription. Heliodorus, an ambassador from Greek stayed his court. Devabuthi was the last ruler of Sunga dynasty. According to Bhanabhatta, he was murdered by his bramhana minister, Vasudeva in 75 BC.

Later Vasudeva started his line of rulers known as kanvas. Kanvas lasted only for four generations till 28 BC. The last Kanva ruler was deposed by Andhras. The fall of Kanva dynasty was followed by rise of independent principalities at Ayodhya, Kausambi, Mathura and Ahichchhstra.

The sunga period is remarkable for the revival of Brahmanism and bhagavata religion. It is known from the sources that even Heliodorus, Greek ambassador also adopted bhagavata religion. Patanjali, the great Grammarian, was a contemporary of Pushyamitra. The information about later sunga rulers is provided by the inscriptions of Ayodhya, Vidisha and Barhut. Also the coins from Kausambi, Ayodhya and Mathura provide good information about the later Sunga dynasties.

Sunga period witnessed a new art form. This art form is the first attempt to organize and integrate the art activity of Indian people as a whole. Barhut inscription exhibits Indian life and attitude towards the world. Comparably, sunga art is different from Mauryan art. Sunga art is more popular in character.

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