The Shungas

The last Mauryan king was killed by his Commander-in-Chief, Pushyamitra Shunga, who then established his own dynasty in north India. It came to be known as Shunga dynasty.

While the Shungas were ruling in north India, the Indo-Greeks also known as Yavanas, emerged in Bactria (Balkh) as an independent power and soon started extending their rule in the north-western and northern parts of India.

There are indications that Pushyamitra Shunga came in conflict with Demetrius, a Bactrian Greek ruler without suffering much political damage. An inscription engraved on a pillar at Besnagar (present day Vidisha) refers to one Heliodorus, native of Taxila near Rawalpindi in Pakistan, as an envoy of an Indo-Greek ruler Antialkidas in the court of Bhagabhadra, who has been identified with one of the later Shunga rulers. According to the inscription he was devotee of Lord Krishna.

In around the second quarter of the first century BC, the last of the Shunga rulers was killed treacherously by his minister Vasudeva, who then laid down the foundations of the Kanva dynasty. We know virtually nothing about the Kanvas except for the rather cursory references to them in later texts.