King Pusyamitra

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Pusyamitra Sunga (also Pushyamitra Shunga) was the founder of the Indian Sunga dynasty (185-78 BCE). He reigned from 185 BCE to 151 BCE.

Originally a general and commander-in-chief on the armies of the Mauryan empire, he assassinated the last Mauryan emperor Brhadrata in 185 BCE, and subsequently founded the Sunga dynasty.

Pusyamitra Sunga was a Hindu monarch, deeply established in the tradition of orthodox Brahminism. He allegedly became very active in persecuting the Buddhist faith, which the Mauryan empire had been promoting since Ashoka around 250 BCE. He seems to have destroyed Buddhist monasteries and exterminated monks, offering to pay 100 gold coins for the head of each one (Indian Historical Quarterly Vol. XXII, p.81 ff cited in Hars.407, also Divyavadana, p.429-434). He is said to have destroyed 84,000 buddhist stupas which had been built by the Mauryan king Ashoka (R. Thaper). A large number of Buddhist monasteries (viharas) were converted to Hindu temples, in such places as Nalanda, Bodhgaya, Sarnath or Mathura.

The new Sunga ruler was attacked around 180 BCE by the Greek rulers of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, as they invaded large parts of northwestern and northern India as far as Pataliputra, with the effect of confining the Sungas to the eastern parts of India.

The Greco-Bactrians established in India the Indo-Greek Kingdom, which was to last until the end of the 1st century BCE, and under which Buddhism was able to flourish. One of the Indo-Greek kings, the "Saviour King" Menander, has been remembered as a great benefactor of the Buddhist faith.

Pusyamitra Sunga was succeeded in 151 BCE by his son Agnimitra.

Preceded by: Brhadrata (Mauryan dynasty) Sunga ruler Succeeded by: Agnimitra