Pradyota dynasty
Map of the 16 Mahājanapadas.
Map of the 16 Mahājanapadas.
Common languagesSanskrit
• 6th century BC
Pradyota (first)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Brihadratha dynasty
Vedic Period
Haryanka dynasty
Today part ofIndia

Pradyota dynasty, also called Prthivim Bhoksyanti (lit. enjoying the earth),[1] was a ruling dynasty of Avanti, founded by Pradyota, after his father Punika, a minister in the court of the king of Ujjaini, the northern part of the former Avanti kingdom, and placed his own son on the throne in 546 BCE.[2]

'Pradyota or Chanda Pradyota' was the founder of the dynasty and the ruler of Avanti. Pradyota was the son of Pulika (or Punika), who is said to have killed previous King Ripunjaya of Brihadratha dynasty at Ujjain, to make his son the king. Pradyota is said to have ruled for 23 years.[3]

According to 'Visarasreni' of Merutunga, Palaka was the son of Pradyota who have ruled from c. 659–635 BCE.[4] He is said to have conquered Kosambi.[3] Palaka is said to have ruled for 25 years.[5]

Visakhayupa, Ajaka, Nandivardhana is said to have ruled for 50, 21 and 20 years respectively.[5]


The pradyota dynasty belonged to the Abhira tribe.[6][7]


Pradyota (Sanskrit: Pradyota) or Pajjota (Pali: Pajjota) was a king of Avanti. By the 6th century BCE, the Vitihotra clan who had previously ruled the Avanti kingdom became extinct, and the kingdom itself became divided into two states, with a northern kingdom whose capital was Ujjenī, and a southern kingdom whose capital was Māhissati.[8][9][10] Pradyota's father was Puṇika or Pulika, who was the minister at the court of the king of the Uttara (northern) Avanti kingdom centred around Ujjenī.[8] Pradyota became king of Avanti when his father placed him on the throne of the northern part of the kingdom around Ujjenī after killing its king.[8]

Once on the throne of Avanti, Pradyota sought to consolidate and expand his kingdom, and he was an accomplished soldier who was able to defeat many rulers and turn Avanti into one of the most powerful states of Ancient India in his time.[11] Pradyota engaged in friendly diplomatic relations with the Vajjika League, and he married the princess Śivā, who was the daughter of Ceṭaka, the consul of the powerful Licchavi republic which led the Vajjika League. Śivā was herself a cousin of the 24th Jain Tīrthaṅkara Mahāvīra, who was the son of Ceṭaka's sister Trisalā.[12] Ceṭaka and his daughters had become adepts of Mahāvīra's teachings, and Jain sources claim that Pradyota had embraced Jainism and promoted its propagation, most likely due to the influence of Śivā, while Buddhist sources claim that he had embraced Buddhism.[11] Buddhist texts however also claim that Pradyota did not have any positive policies, and Buddhist records called him Caṇḍa-Pajjota ("Cruel Pradyota") because of his cruelty.[8]

Pradyota also initiated friendly relations with another one of Ceṭaka's sons-in-law, the king Bimbisāra of the newly rising power of Magadha in the eastern Gangetic plain, and at one point, Pradyota fell ill, and Bimbisāra sent his renowned physician Jīvaka to Avanti to treat Pradyota.[8] However, Jain records also claim that Pradyota attempted to attack Magadha during the reign of Bimbisāra, but was defeated by Bimbisāra's son Abhaya.[11]

The relations between Pradyota and the Śūrasena kingdom were also close, with the Śaurasenī king Subāhu being nicknamed Avantiputra ("son of Avanti") because he was the son of either an Avantika princess or of Pradyota himself.[8]

Under Pradyota, the Avanti kingdom controlled the important sea port city of Bharukaccha,[13] from where trade was carried out with states of ancient Western Asia such as the Neo-Babylonian and Persian Achaemenid empires.[14]

Pradyota nevertheless had to contend with other powerful kingdoms near Avanti: according to Jain sources, Pradyota had stolen a sandalwood image of Mahavīra as well as the image's keeper, a slave girl named Devadattā, from Vītībhaya, the capital of the kingdom of Sindhu-Sauvīra, after which the king Udayāna of Sindhu-Sauvīra marched on Pradyota's capital Ujjenī, defeated him, and branded his forehead with a frontlet on which was written dāsī-pai ("husband of a slave girl"), before later granting Pradyota pardon and releasing him shortly before the festival of Pajjusana, after which Udayāna invested him as king of Avanti with a gold plate on his forehead to cover the letters dāsī-pai.[15]

Pradyota also engaged in hostilities with the kingdom of Vatsa, against which he carried out an initially successful military campaign until its king Śatānīka was able to repel him. Śatānīka later died of dysentery while Pradyota was carrying out a second campaign against Vatsa, around 495 BCE.[16] According to Jain sources, the queen-regent of Vatsa after Śatānīka's death was his widow Mṛgavatī, who was also the sister of Pradyota's wife Śivā; Mṛgavatī repeatedly rejected the demands of Pradyota to marry her during her regency and made Pradyota wait until Udayana had grown up into a capable ruler, at which point she joined the Jain Nirgrantha order with the permission of Pradyota and in the presence of Mahāvīra, before whom Pradyota could not refuse her request, and entrusted Udayana to Pradyota.[17] Based on these sources, it can be inferred that Pradyota had captured Udayana in the campaign during which Śatānīka had died.[16] Pradyota married his daughter Vāsavadattā to Udayana, and restored him to the throne of Vatsa,[8] although Udayana henceforth remained under Pradyota's influence.[16]

Pradyota fought a war against the king Pukkusāti of Gandhāra, in which he was unsuccessful and was saved only because another war broke out between Pukkusāti and the Pāṇḍava tribe located in the Punjab region.[8]

Following Bimbisāra's son Ajātasattu's usurpation of the throne of Magadha after killing his father, and after Ajātasattu had started a policy of attacking and conquering the Vajjika League, Pradyota took advantage of his control over Vatsa to plan an attack on the Māgadhī capital of Rājagaha, in response of which Ajātasattu fortified his capital.[8][16]


Pradyota reigned for 23 years,[8] and died on the same day as Mahāvīra's passing.[11]


In addition to his daughter Vāsavadattā, Pradyota had two sons, named Gopāla and Pālaka, all born from his marriage with the Licchavika princess Śivā.[18] Gopāla succeeded Pradyota but abdicated in favour of Pālaka. Pālaka was an unpopular tyrannical leader, and the population of Avanti overthrew him and instead placed Aryaka on the throne.[8]

Pajjota and his descendants, collectively known as the Pradyota dynasty, ruled over Avanti until it was finally conquered by Magadha in the late 5th century BCE.[8]

List of rulers

Five Kings of Pradyota dynasty ruled for 138 years from 682 to 544 BCE.

List of Pradyota dynasty Rulers
King Reign (BCE) Period
Pradyota Mahasena 682–659 BCE 23
Palaka 659–635 BCE 24
Visakhayupa 635–585 BCE 50
Ajaka 585–564 BCE 21
Varttivarddhana 564–544 BCE 20

See also



  1. ^ Thapar 2013, p. 295.
  2. ^ Jain, Kailash Chand. Malwa through the Ages. p. 99. The Purānas wrongly mention Pradyota and Bimbisara as rulers of Magadha separated by a interval of over 150 years.They were in fact contemporaries ruling over Avanti and Magadha respectively as known to us from Buddhist, Jain and other Sanskrit works. The mistake of including the Avanti rulers in the Magadha list probably a rose on account of the sovereignty established by Avanti over Magadha.
  3. ^ a b Kailash Chand Jain 1972, p. 101.
  4. ^ Kailash Chand Jain 1991, p. 85.
  5. ^ a b Kailash Chand Jain 1972, p. 102.
  6. ^ Chakraberty, Chandra (1997). Racial Basis of Indian Culture: Including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Aryan Books International. ISBN 978-81-7305-110-4.
  7. ^ Śūdraka (1938). Mṛcchakaṭikā, The Little Clay Cart: A Drama in Ten Acts Attributed to King Sūdraka. University of Illinois Press.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Jain 1972, p. 98-104.
  9. ^ Raychaudhuri 1953, p. 114.
  10. ^ Raychaudhuri 1953, p. 146.
  11. ^ a b c d Jain 1974, p. 210-212.
  12. ^ Jain 1974, p. 66.
  13. ^ Majumdar, M. R. (1960). Historical and Cultural Chronology of Gujarat. Vadodara, India: Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. p. 26.
  14. ^ Patil, Devendrakumar Rajaram (1952). The Cultural Heritage of Madhya Bharat. Gwalior, Madhya Bharat, India: Department of Archaeology, Government of Madhya Bharat. p. 14.
  15. ^ Sikdar 1964, p. 502.
  16. ^ a b c d Smith, R. Morton (1957). "On the Ancient Chronology of India (II)". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 77 (4): 266–280. doi:10.2307/596129. JSTOR 596129. Retrieved 24 June 2022.
  17. ^ Sikdar 1964, p. 500.
  18. ^ Gune, P. D. (1920). "PRADYOTA, UDAYANA AND ŚRENIKA — A JAIN LEGEND". Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. 2 (1): 1–21. JSTOR 41702319. Retrieved 24 June 2022.