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Magadha (mŭˈgädə) [key], ancient Indian kingdom, situated within the area of the modern states of Bihar and Jharkhand. Its capital was Pataliputra (now Patna). The kingdom rose to prominence in the mid-7th cent. B.C. and rapidly extended its frontiers, especially under the rule of Bimbisara (c.540–c.490). Magadha fell (c.325) to Chandragupta, who made the kingdom the nucleus of the Mauryan empire. After a period of obscurity, it recovered importance in the 4th cent. A.D. as the power-base of the Gupta dynasty. Buddhism and Jainism first developed in Magadha, and the Buddha used the Magadhi dialect of Sanskrit.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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