Bihar was the seat of the great Mauryan Empire that ruled over India. Know more about history of Bihar.
The Indian state of Bihar is noted for its varied history which traces back to Ancient India. Bihar is referred to as Magadha in ancient Indian History and also in Hindu Epics and is one of the oldest inhabited places in the world. Ancient Bihar, Magadha, was ruled by powerful dynasties like Maurya and Gupta Dynasties and became an important cultural, educational, political, economic and military center. The capital city of Bihar, Patna, was known as Pataliputra in ancient records and was the capital of the major dynasties including Palas, Mauryas and Guptas. It was during the period of British rule that Bihar became a separate province. When India became independent, Bihar became a separate state with Patna as its capital. The story doesn't end there; Bihar got parted again when a separate state of Jharkhand was carved out of it on 15th November 2000. Read more about the rich history of Bihar in the following section.
Pre Historic Bihar
- There are evidences of Mesolithic human Inhabitation in Bihar.
- Pre-historic rock paintings have been discovered from the Kaimur, Nawada and Jamui region of Bihar. These paintings depict the lifestyle of people during that time. The pictures depict human activities like dancing, hunting walking etc.
- These paintings are identical to those found in central and southern India and also in Europe and Africa. The rock paintings of Spain's Alta Mira and France's Lascaux share some common features with those discovered from Bihar.
- Evidences of Neolithic settlement were discovered over the bank of the Ganges at Chirand region of Bihar.
- Magadha Kingdom was said to be established by Jarasandha, with Rajgriha/Rajgir as his capital. Rajgir is a major tourist destination in modern Bihar.
- Mahajanapadhas, a group of sixteen monarchies and republics extended from modern-day Afghanistan to Bengal and Maharashtra, dominated over Magadha. It was during this time that the prestigious institutes like Nalanda and Vikramashila were established.
- Shishunaga, Nanda, Shunga dynasties ruled Magadha.
- Magadha was then taken over by the Mauryans. Mauryan empire covered almost all parts of the subcontinent except for present day Tamil Nadu and Kerala. They made Pataliputra their capital city. Thus, almost all parts of the subcontinent were ruled by a single king.
- Chandragupta Maurya and Asoka were the two famous kings who ruled Magadha.
- Gupta dynasty was established after the downfall of Maurya Dynasty.
- Famous Indian mathematicians and Astrologers Aryabhata and Varahamihira lived during this period.
- This period is considered as the classical age of Hindu and Buddhist art and literature. The great writer Kalidasa was one of the jewels of the Gupta Empire.
- Wars and invasions caused immense damage to Bihar and by the time the famous Chinese monk Hsuan-tsang visited India, Bihar was in ruins.
- Muslim raiders caused much damage to this region. They destroyed Buddhist structures and many important establishments like Nalanda and Vikramashila Universities. Muslim invaders swept Buddhism away by attacking their viharas and monasteries. Many Buddhist monks were massacred in 12th century.
- However, Bihar progressed under the reign of Sher Shah Suri who brought economic reforms, built Patna city and made Grand Trunk Road, the longest road in the Indian Subcontinent.
Under East India Company
- Bihar was part of Bengal province, which was under the control of Nawabs of Bengal, when East India Company came to India. Under the British East India Company, Patna became an important trading center after Kolkata.
- Many people, including Babu Kunwar Singh from Bihar participated in the 1857 revolt against the East India Company. Babu Kunwar Singh led an army troop and won many battles against British.
During British Raj
- Bihar remained as a part of Bengal Presidency even during British Raj, until 1912. It was in 1912 that Bihar was carved out of Bengal Presidency and was made a separate province which included Bihar and Orissa, with Patna as capital.
- It was during this period that the Secretariat and Patna High Court were made. British Authorities made several educational Institutes as well, like Patna College, Bihar College of Engineering, Patna Veterinary College, Patna Science College, Prince of Wales Medical College etc.
- Orissa got separated from Bihar in 1935 and Bihar remained as a separate province with Patna as capital.
Role In Independence Movement
- Bihar’s role in Independence movement is very important. Mahatama Gandhi made his initial forays into Indian National Movement at Champaran Satyagraha.
- Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Raj Kumar Shukla, Brajkishore Prasad, Anugrah Narayan Sinha and Jai Prakash Narayan are some of the promiment leaders from Bihar who played a major role in Indian freedom struggle.
- The first cabinet of Bihar was formed in 1946, even before independence, with Sri Krishna Sinha as first chief Minister and Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha as deputy chief minister. This cabinet formed served as the first government of Bihar after Independence.
- Dr. Rajendra Prasad became the first president of India.
- The major mishap after independence was the smallpox epidemic that spread over Bihar and some other Indian states in 1974.
- Bihar was parted again in 2000, when Jharkhand was carved out as a separate state.
With a long history that dates back to the origin of human race, the Indian State of Bihar is a land of rich cultural heritage. Referred in epics, Bihar was a major cultural, economic and power center in the Indian Subcontinent.