Bihar History

In the early vedic period (around 1500 BCE when vedic religion was growing its followers in South Asia) there were many kingdoms in the plains of Bihar. The north of Ganges was referred as Videha, which had one of the rulers as father of Princess Sita (wife of Lord Rama), thus she was also called Vaidehi. During the same period the capital of ancient kingdom Magadha was Rajgriha (now Rajgir) located at a distance of 70 km southeast of Patna to the east of the Anga kingdom with its capital at Champa (near Bhagalpur).

A new kingdom then rose to the south of Videha with its capital at Vaishali. By about 700 BCE, the kingdoms of Videha and Vaishali were replaced by the confederacy of Vriji, the first ever republic state in history. In the 6th Century BCE in Magadha Buddha formed the new religious sect and Mahavira was born in Vaishali who started the Jain religion. 

In 475 BCE, the capital of Magadha was Patliputra, the modern day Patna, under the region of emperor Ashoka and the Gupta dynasty ruled here  during the 4th and the 5th BCE. Then after the invasion of Hephthalites from the North the city was destroyed. In the 6th and 7th centuries the city was again devastated by the migration of the Son River. The Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang wrote about this in 637. Thereafter it again regained its lost glory. It remained under the Muslim reign. After this, it became a province under British rule and was merged with Chota Nagpur in the south and with Bengal.   

Chota Nagpur was ruled by the aboriginal tribes  and was covered with forests. In the 18th and 19th century revolts took place against the British in Chota Nagpur. The important revolt was started in 1820 to 1827 and saw the uprising of Munda in 1831. Bihar was the centre for Sepoy Mutiny in 1857-1858. Under British rule, Bihar and Bengal became the Bengal presidency until 1912 and then in 1936 Orissa was formed. Thus in 1936 they became a separate province in the British ruled India. 

Bihar played an important role in the freedom fight. Mohandas Gandhi started his satyagraha “devotion to truth” from a village of Bihar called Champaran. Rajendra Prasad who played a vital role in the freedom fight was born here He became the first President of the country. He was born in Siwan, a district lying to the northwest of Patna.

After independence, Bihar became a constituent and small states with capitals Seraikela and Kharsawan were merged in it. In 1956 when the states were being recognized on linguistic basis an area of 3,140 square miles was transferred from Bihar to Bengal. In 1990 the first time since Independence the state government was elected apart from the ruling party at the Centre. In 2000 the Chota Nagpur plateau became present day Jharkhand.