The name here used by the chronicler for Pali is "the Magadhi tongue," by which expression is meant, not exactly the language spoken in Magadha, but the language in use at the court of Asoka, king of Kosala and Magadha.
In later times it was included in the powerful Hindu kingdom of Magadha or Behar, and in the 7th century A.D.
Bali, the ancient language of the kingdom of Magadha, in which the sacred writings of Buddhism were made, was largely instrumental in forming all the languages of Further India, including Siamese - a fact which accounts for the numerous connecting links between the Mon, Burmese and Siamese languages of the present time, though these are of quite separate origin.
(c. 535), after whom it passed "by an obscure transition" into a dynasty of eleven Gupta princes, known as "the later Guptas of Magadha," who seem for the most part to have been merely local rulers of Magadha.
About the middle of the;century Magadha passed under the sway of the Pal kings of Bengal.
All the others continued loyal disciples, but Devadatta, fifteen years afterwards, having gained over the crown prince of Magadha, Ajatasattu, to his side, made a formal proposition, at the meeting of the order, that the Buddha should retire, and hand over the leadership to him, Devadatta (Vinaya Texts, iii.
It was in the reign of Bimbisara that Vardhamana Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, and Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, preached in Magadha, and Buddhist missionaries issued thence to the conversion of China, Ceylon, Tibet and Tatary.
According to tradition, it was his grandson, Udaya, who founded the city of Pataliputra (Patna) on the Ganges, which under the Maurya dynasty became the capital not only of Magadha but of India.
It was a son of this usurper who was reigning at the time of the invasion of Alexander the Great; and the conqueror, when his advance was arrested at the Hyphasis (326 B.e.), meditating an attack on Pataliputra (the Palimbothra of the Greeks), was informed that the king of Magadha could oppose him with a force of 20,000 cavalry, 200,000 infantry, 2000 chariots, and 3000 or 4000 elephants.
Descendants of Asoka continued, however, to subsist in Magadha as subordinate rajas for many centuries; and as late as the 8th century A.D.
In Magadha itself the Guptas continued to rule as tributary princes for some centuries longer.
About the middle of the 8th century Magadha was conquered by Gopala, who had made himself master in Bengal, and founded the imperial dynasty known as the Palas of Bengal.
They were zealous Buddhists, and under their rule Magadha became once more an active centre of Buddhist influence.
Under Mahipala (c. 1026), the ninth of his line, and his successor Nayapala, missionaries from Magadha succeeded in firmly re-establishing Buddhism in Tibet.
Buddhism in Magadha never recovered from this blow; it lingered in obscurity for a while and then vanished.
About the beginning of the 6th century B.C. the settled country between the Himalaya mountains and the Nerbudda river was divided into sixteen independent states, some monarchies and some tribal republics, the most important of which were the four monarchies of Kosala, Magadha, the Vamsas and Avanti.
Kosala, the modern kingdom of Oudh, appears to have been the premier state of India in 600 B.C. Later the supremacy was reft from it by the kingdom of Magadha, the modern Behar (q.v.).
Rajagriha (Rajgir), the capital of Magadha, was built by Bimbisara, the contemporary of Buddha.
About the middle of the 3rd century B.C. Asoka, the king of Magadha or Behar, who reigned from 264 B.C. to 227 B.C., became a zealous convert to Buddhism.
In the confused years which followed, he managed with the aid of plundering bands to form a kingdom on the ruins of the Nanda dynasty in Magadha or Behar (321 B.C.).
The home of early Buddhism was round about Kosala and Magadha; in the district, that is to say, north and south of the Ganges between where Allahabad now lies on the west and Rajgir on the east.
The northern part, Behar, constituted the ancient kingdom of Magadha, the nucleus of the imperial power of the successive great dynasties of the Mauryas, Andhras and Guptas; and its chief town, Patna, is the ancient Pataliputra (the Palimbothra of the Greeks), once the capital of India.
Near by, whence the recluse walks on to Rajagriha, the capital of Magadha, and residence of Bimbisara, one of the then most powerful rulers in the valley of the Ganges.
The history of the century and a half that follows is very obscure; short-lived Saka dynasties succeeded one another until, about 388, the country was conquered by the Guptas of Magadha, who kept a precarious tenure of it till about 470, when their empire was destroyed by the White Huns, or Ephthalites, who, after breaking the power of Persia and assailing the Kushan kingdom of Kabul, poured into India, conquered Sind, and established their dominion as far south as the Nerbudda.
MAGADHA, an ancient kingdom of India, mentioned in both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
CHANDRAGUPTA MAURYA (reigned 321-296 B.C.), known to the Greeks as Sandracottus, founder of the Maurya empire and first paramount ruler of India, was the son of a king of Magadha by a woman of humble origin, whose caste he took, and whose name, Mura, is said to have been the origin of that of Maurya assumed by his dynasty.
He next attacked Magadha, dethroned and slew the king, his enemy, with every member of his family, and established himself on the throne (321).
The province of Behar corresponds to the ancient kingdom of Magadha, which comprised the country now included in the districts rof Patna, Gaya and Shahabad, south of the Ganges.