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Pushyamitra Sunga

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Abha, 10+2 (Med), Wisdom World School, Kurukshetra, Haryana, India - 136118

Nationality: Ancient Indian

Known to be: Ruler

Pushyamitra Sunga, the army chief of the last Mauryan ruler Brihadratha was the founder of the Sunga dynasty which was one of the most powerful and prominent ruling powers of India in the post-Mauryan and pre-Gupta era. It is a widely accepted fact that Pushyamitra killed his master King Brihadratha while the latter was reviewing his army. Pushyamitra easily captured the crown without any notable resistance and it shows the unpopularity of the Mauryan King even his army. In fact, King Brihadratha was an incapable, weak and inefficient King, resulting in his easy downfall.

Majority of historians including K.P. Jayaswal opined that Pushyamitra belonged to Bhardwaj gotra of the Brahmans. Pushyamitra attempted hard to consolidate the lost power and prestige of Magadha and succeeded in it to a large extent. Pushyamitra succeeded in defeating Yajnasena, the ruler of Vidarbha (Berar). Yajnasena revolted against Magadha and declared himself independent, taking advantage of political chaos in Magadha. But Pushyamitra sent his son Agnimitra successfully brought Vidarbha under Magadha' suzerainty. Pushyamitra also established his military might by successfully checking the growing power of the Greeks in India. The one major invasion of the Greeks during the reign of Pushyamitra was led by King Demetrius. But the Greeks were successfully repulsed by forces of Pushyamitra. It is believed that Pushyamitra beat the Greeks two times during his reign. Pushyamitra performed two Aswamedha Yajna (Horse-sacrifice) during his reign and probably both of them were performed after his success against the Greeks. In brief, he ruled over a vast area around Magadha for 36 years from 185 BC to 149 BC with solid military power and proper administration.

Pushyamitra was succeeded by his son and crown prince Agnimitra, who is also the hero of Kalidasa’s drama ‘Malvikagnimitra,’ in 149 BC after the death of Pushyamitra.

Pushyamitra was a staunch adherent of Hindu religion and Brahmanical traditions. Buddhist texts – ‘the Divyavandana’ and ‘the Aryamanjusrimulakalpa’ accused him that he persecuted Buddhist. But it doesn’t seem true. According to the Ajodhya Inscription, Pushyamitra performed two horse scarifices in his reign. Patanjali, the auther of the ‘Mahabhasya’ was the royal priest of the two Aswamedha Yajnas of Pushyamitra.

Even after becoming the King of Magadha, Pushyamitra retained the title of Senapati only as he had carried during his role as the army chief of the last Mauryan King Brihadratha.

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