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Kanvas: Post Mauryan Period

Kanvas: Post Mauryan Period


The Kanva dynasty (post mauryan period), known as Kanvayanas, emerged as the torchbearers after the Shungas in the North Indian realm of Magadha, reigning from approximately 72 to 28 BCE. Puranic texts reveal their dominion from Pataliputra in Eastern India, the erstwhile capital of the Shunga Empire.

Historical Background of Kanvas

In 73 BCE, the Kanva dynasty found its roots under Vasudeva Kanva. Vasudeva Kanva’s rise to power involved a political transformation. Formerly a minister under Shunga Emperor Devabhuti, he skillfully orchestrated the downfall of his ruler to ascend the throne himself.

Following Vasudeva, his son Bhumimitra assumed the mantle, governing for a span of fourteen years. The lineage continued with Narayana and later Susharman, the ultimate sovereign of the Kanva dynasty.

The Puranas recount a dramatic twist in the dynasty’s fate, attributing its downfall to Balipuccha. This upheaval marked the inception of the Andhra dynasty, with Balipuccha as its founder.

The Kanva dynasty added a unique historical contour to their rule by circumscribing their dominion within the territories once held by the Shungas.

Art and Culture during Kanva: Post Mauryan Period

The art and culture during the Kanva Dynasty, which succeeded the Mauryan Empire, reflect a continuation and evolution of the prevalent trends in ancient India.

  1. Architecture: The architectural style likely continued the Mauryan tradition, with a focus on durable materials and grand structures. However, due to the limited archaeological evidence and historical records, the specifics of Kanva Dynasty architecture remain less known.
  2. Sculpture: Sculptures during this period probably maintained the Mauryan influence, characterized by a realistic portrayal of human and animal forms. The art might have depicted religious themes, deities, and scenes from daily life.
  3. Buddhism and Jainism: As during the Mauryan period, Buddhism and Jainism continued to play significant roles. Monasteries and stupas may have been built or maintained, contributing to the cultural landscape.
  4. Literature: Unfortunately, very little literary evidence from the Kanva Dynasty survives. Sanskrit literature likely continued to flourish, and Brahmi script remained prominent in inscriptions and manuscripts.
  5. Religious Practices: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism coexisted, influencing art, rituals, and societal norms.

Though not extensively documented, the Kanva Dynasty: Post Mauryan Period would have influenced the cultural and artistic elements of its period, drawing from the rich heritage inherited from the Mauryas and contributing to the ongoing development of classical Indian art and culture.


The Kanva Dynasty, a post-Mauryan era in ancient India, left a relatively modest imprint in historical records. Despite limited documentation, it marked a continuation of Mauryan cultural traditions, encompassing architecture, sculpture, and religious practices. The dynasty’s legacy lies in its role as a bridge, contributing to the evolving tapestry of classical Indian art and culture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Who is the founder of Kanva dynasty?

Ans1. The Kanva dynasty was founded by Vasudeva Kanva. It is believed that Vasudeva Kanva killed the Shunga ruler Devabhuti and established his own empire in 72 BCE. Kanva dynasty had a ruling phase from 72 BCE to 28 BCE.

Q2. Who destroyed Kanva dynasty?

Ans2. The Kanva kings were Brahmins. They were descendants of Sage Saubhari. The defeat of the Kanva dynasty by the Satavahana dynasty was a localized event in Central India.

Q3. What is the Kanva dynasty also known as?

Ans3. The Kanva Dynasty, known as the Kanvayana, ruled from 73 BCE to 28 BCE, eradicating the Shunga dynasty in some parts of eastern and central India. Vasudeva Kanva founded the Kanva dynasty in 73 BCE

Read Also: Bharhut Sculpture

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