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History of Ancient Bihar, India

The term Bihar originates from “VIHARA” (monastery) as hundreds of monasteries have been excavated because of its association to the Buddha’s life. It is thought that about 2500 years ago, the Buddha is said to have achieved enlightenment at Bodh Gaya under a tree, what is now known as the “Bodhi Tree”. Currently the Mahabodhi Temple marks the exact location of Buddha’s enlightment.

Mahavira was also born on this ancient kingdom of Vaishali where he achieved perfect enlightment The author of the Hindu epic; The Ramayana, Maharishi Valmiki also lived in Ancient Bihar. The birthplace of Sita Mata is a village calld “Punaura”, located at Sitamarhi. Guru Goind Singh was born at Patna Sahib marked by a glorious Gurudwara called the the “Takht Sri Patna Sahib” built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Vishnupad Temple (12km, at Gaya): In 1787 Queen Ahilya Bai built the Vishnu temple on the banks of river Falgu. The temple has some great architecture and design which attracts devotees and tourists alike. A 30-meter high octagonal tower overshadows this temple.

Chandragupta Maurya established the Mauryan Empire in 322 BC by overthrowing the Nanda dynasty and also liberated the trans-indus region from Macedonian occupation by defeating Seleucus-I of Alexander’s army.

The Mauryan Empire (220 years later) ruled by the Mauryan dynasty, is considered the largest and most powerful political and military empire of ancient India. Magadh or ancient Bihar had its capital in Patliputra (Patna) that stretched from Afghanistan to most of the South and the east coast of India. After the famous Kalinga (Orrisa) war Ashoka the Great ended the military expansion of the empire and converted to Buddhism. It is considered as the greatest empire to rule the Indian subcontinent.

Ashoka was the last great king of the Mauryan empire. His successors were of no importance and in 184 BC the last of the Mauryan kings was assassinated ending first empire of India originating from Bihar.

After the Mauryan dynasty, Pushyamitra established the Sunga dynasty that has a line of ten rulers of Magadh. It was under the rule of the Sungas that Patanjali’s Mahabhashya was written. This shows that the history of Bihar was indeed the cradle of Indian civilization in terms administration, religion, art and literature.

After some regional kings of less importance Chandragupta (not Chandragupta Maurya) established the Gupta Empire (A.D. 320-550) and united North India again with its capital at Patliputra. It was during the Gupta period that Sanskrit language and literature were at its peak, literature on medicine, mathematics, astronomy and astrophysics were written.



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