Knowledge Corner

Bihar  is a state in East India. It is the 12th-largest state of India, with an area of 94,163 km2 (36,357 sq mi). The third-largest state of India by population, it is also contiguous with Uttar Pradesh to its west, Nepal to the north, the northern part of West Bengal to the east, with Jharkhandto the south. The Bihar plain is split by the river Ganges which flows from west to east.

On November 15, 2000, southern Bihar was ceded to form the new state of Jharkhand. Close to 85% of the population lives in villages. Additionally, almost 58% ofBiharis are below the age of 25, giving Bihar the highest proportion of young people compared to any other state in India. The official languages of the state are Hindi and Urdu. Other languages commonly used within the state include Bhojpuri, Maithili, Magahi, Bajjika, and Angika (Maithili being the only one of these to be publicly accepted by the government).

In ancient and classical India, Bihar was considered a centre of power, learning, and culture. From Magadha arose India’s first empire, the Maurya empire, as well as one of the world’s most widely adhered-to religions, Buddhism. Magadha empires, notably under the Maurya and Gupta dynasties, unified large parts of South Asia under a central rule.

Since the late 1970s, Bihar has lagged far behind other Indian states in terms of social and economic development. Many economists and social scientists claim that this is a direct result of the policies of the central government, such as the Freight equalisation policy, its apathy towards Bihar, lack of Bihari sub-nationalism (the state has no public spokesperson or persona), and the Permanent Settlement of 1793 by the British East India Company. The state government has, however, made significant strides in developing the state. Improved governance has led to an economic revival in the state through increased investment in infrastructure, better health care facilities, greater emphasis on education, and a reduction in crime and corruption.


The name Bihar is derived from the Sanskrit and Pali word, Vihara (Devanagari: विहार), meaning “abode”. The region roughly encompassing the present state was dotted with Buddhist vihara, the abodes of Buddhist monks in the ancient and medieval periods. Medieval writer Minhaj al-Siraj Juzjani records in the Tabakat-i-Nasirithat in 1198 AD, Bakhtiyar Khalji committed a massacre in a town now known as Bihar Sharif, about 70 km away from Bodh Gaya.


Regions of Bihar—such as Magadha, Mithila, Anga, and Vaishali—are mentioned in religious texts and epics of ancient India. The power centre of ancient Bihar was in the region of modern-day southwestern Bihar called Magadha, which remained the centre of power, learning, and culture in India for 1000 years.

The Haryanka dynasty, founded in 684 BC, ruled Magadha from the city of Rajgriha (modern Rajgir). The two well-known kings from this dynasty were Bimbisara and his son Ajatashatru, who imprisoned his father to ascend the throne. Ajatashatru founded the city of Pataliputra which later became the capital of Magadha. He declared war and conquered Vajji, another powerful Mahajanapada north of Ganges with its capital at Vaishali. Vaishali was ruled by the Licchvi, who had a republican form of government where the king was elected from the number of rajas. Based on the information found in texts pertaining to Jainism and Buddhism, Vaishali was established as a republic by the 6th century BCE, before the birth of Gautama Buddha in 563 BCE, making it the world’s first republic. The Haryanka dynasty was followed by the Shishunaga dynasty. Later the Nanda Dynasty ruled a vast tract stretching from Bengal to Punjab.

The Nanda dynasty was replaced by the Maurya Empire, India’s first empire. The Maurya Empire and the religion of Buddhism arose in the region that now makes up modern Bihar. The Mauryan Empire, which originated from Magadha in 325 BC, was founded by Chandragupta Maurya, who was born in Magadha. It had its capital atPataliputra (modern Patna). The Mauryan emperor, Ashoka, who was born in Pataliputra (Patna) is believed to be one of the greatest rulers in the history of the world.

The Gupta Empire, which originated in Magadha in 240 AD, is referred as the Golden Age of India in science, mathematics, astronomy, commerce, religion, and Indian philosophy. Bihar and Bengal was invaded by Rajendra Chola I of the Chola dynasty in the 11th century.


Buddhism in Magadha went into decline due to the invasion of Muhammad Bin Bakhtiar Khilji, during which many of the viharas and the famed universities of Nalandaand Vikramashila were destroyed, and thousands of Buddhist monks were massacred during 12th century. D. N. Jha suggests, instead, that these incidents were the result of Buddhist-Brahmin skirmishes in a fight for supremacy. In 1540 the great Pathan chieftain, Sher Shah Suri, from Sasaram, Bihar, took over northern India from the Mughals. He defeated the Mughal army of emperor Humayun and drove the Mughals out of India. Sher Shah declared Delhi his capital.

The tenth and the last Guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh was born in Patna. After the downfall of Mughal Empire, Bihar came under Nawabs of Bengal.

Colonial Era

After the Battle of Buxar (1764), the British East India Company obtained the diwani rights (rights to administer, and collect revenue or tax) for Bihar, Bengal andOdisha. The rich resources of fertile land, water and skilled labour had attracted the foreign imperialists, particularly the Dutch and British, in the 18th century. A number of agriculture-based industries had been started in Bihar by foreign entrepreneurs. Bihar remained a part of the Bengal Presidency of British India until 1912, when the province of Bihar and Orissa was carved out as a separate province. Since 2010, Bihar has celebrated its birthday as Bihar Diwas on 22 March.


Bihar has a diverse climate. Its temperature is subtropical in general, with hot summers and cool winters. Bihar is a vast stretch of fertile plain. It is drained by the Ganges River, including its northern tributaries Gandak and Koshi, originating in the Nepal Himalayas and the Bagmati originating in the Kathmandu Valley that regularly flood parts of the Bihar plains. The total area covered by the state of Bihar is 94,163 km2 (36,357 sq mi). the state is located between 24°-20′-10″ N ~ 27°-31′-15″ N latitude and between 83°-19′-50″ E ~ 88°-17′-40″ E longitude. Its average elevation above sea level is 173 feet (53 m).


After the 2011 Census, Bihar was the third most populous state of India with total population of 104,099,452 (54,278,157 male and 49,821,295 female). Nearly 89% of Bihar’s population lived in rural areas. Almost 58% of Bihar’s population was below 25 years age, which is the highest in India. The density was 881. The sex ratio was 919 females per 1000 males. Most of Bihar’s population belongs to Indo-Aryan-speaking ethnic groups along with few Dravidian-speaking and Austroasiatic-speaking people mostly in Chhotanagpur Plateau (now part of Jharkhand). It also attracted Punjabi Hindu refugees during the Partition of British India in 1947. Bihar has a total literacy rate of 63.82% (75.7% for males and 55.1% for females), recording a growth of 20% in female literacy over the period of a decade.

As of the 2011 census, population density surpassed 1,000 per square kilometre, making Bihar India’s most densely-populated state, but still lower than West Java or Banten of Indonesia.

Skill Test

1. Name the city where the Bharat Wagon Limited situated.
2. Name the newly born state that was separated from Bihar in the year 2000.
3. First Indian state to set up an agriculture cabinet to address the problem of farmers?
4. What is the total number of districts present in the state of Bihar?
5. Name the Coalition government that came to power in Bihar in 2006.
6. When was the state of Bihar formed?
7. With which state does the state of Bihar shares its Southern Border?
8. Which is the capital of Bihar?
9. Name the president of India who was born in Bihar
10. Name the river that is known as the Sorrow of Bihar.
11. Name the country which is to the north of Bihar.
12. Name the river which divides the state of Bihar into two unequal halves.
13. Who is the current Chief minister of Bihar in 2014?
14. Name the state that lies to the west of Bihar.
15. Which is the state bird of Bihar?
16. What is the total number of Parliamentary constituency form the state of Bihar?
17. What is the total area of the state of Bihar?
18. Name the Buddhist Shrine and UNESCO world heritage site that is situated in Bihar?
19. Name the presidency which was Bihar a part of?
20. Where in Bihar did Gautam Buddha got his enlightenment?
21. What is the official language of Bihar?