The immediate heirs of what remained of the Mauryan empire in 180 B.C. were the Sungas, a Brahmin family. The Sungas came from the region of Ujjain in western India, where they were officials under the Mauryas. The founder of the dynasty, Pushyamitra, assassinated the last of the Mauryas and usurped the throne. Buddhist sources claim that he persecuted the Buddhists and destroyed their monasteries and places of worship, especially those which had been built by Ashoka. This may be a exaggeration as facts reveal that, in fact, many Buddhist monasteries were renovated during his rule. However, Pushyamitra was a keen supporter of orthodox Hinduism and is known to have performed two horse sacrifices.
The Sungas were constantly occupied with wars : they campaigned against their southern neighbours in the northern Deccan, against the Greek inroad in the north-west and against the king of Kalinga to the south-east. The Sunga empire originally comprised almost the entire Ganges valley and parts of northern India, although some of the regions were not under their direct control and merely owed them political allegiance. Within a hundred years, however, the empire dwindled into the size of a kingdom and consisted only of Magadha alone, and even here the Sunga hold was precarious: a situation which was to continue for another half-century under the Kanvas, who succeeded the Sungas and reigned until 28 B.C.
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