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In the 8th century BC, India could be broadly understood in terms of five large regions viz. Madhyadesa (the middle country), Pratichya (western lands), Prachya. By the 6th century B.C. there were approximately 22 different Janapadas. The key points related to the Janapadas and the Mahajanapadas are. PDF | On Jan 1, , Karam Tej Sarao and others published Janapadas, Mahājanapadas, Kingdoms, and Republics.

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Two of them were most probably ganatantras republics and others had forms of monarchy. Ancient Buddhist texts like the Anguttara Nikaya [1] make frequent reference to sixteen great kingdoms and republics which had evolved and flourished in a belt stretching from Gandhara in the northwest to Anga in the eastern part of the Indian jnaapadas and included parts of the trans- Vindhyan region, [2] prior to the rise of Buddhism in India.

The 6th—5th century Mahajanapadaw is often regarded as a major turning point in early Indian history; it saw the emergence of India’s first large cities after the demise of the Indus Valley Civilizationas well as the rise of sramana movements including Buddhism and Mahajanapdas which challenged the religious orthodoxy of the Vedic Period.

Archaeologically, this period corresponds in part to the Northern Black Polished Ware culture.


The term ” Janapada ” literally means the foothold of a tribe. The fact that Janapada is derived from Jana points to an early stage of land-taking by the Jana tribe for a settled way of life.

The Pre-Buddhist north-west region of the Indian sub-continent was divided into several Janapadas demarcated from each other by boundaries. Each of these Janapadas was named after the Kshatriya tribe or the Kshatriya Jana who had mahsjanapadas therein.

They do not give any connected history except in the case of Magadha. The Buddhist Anguttara Nikayaat several places, [13] gives a list of sixteen great nations:. Another Mahxjanapadas text, the Digha Nikayamentions only twelve Mahajanapadas from the above list and omits four of them Assaka, Avanti, Gandhara, and Kamboja.

Chulla-Niddesaanother ancient text of the Buddhist canon, adds Kalinga to mahajanapadxs list and substitutes Yona for Gandhara, thus listing the Kamboja and the Yona as the only Mahajanapadas from Uttarapatha.

He omits the nations from Uttarapatha like the Kamboja and Gandhara. The more extended horizon of the Bhagvati and the omission of all countries from Uttarapatha “clearly shows that the Bhagvati list is of later origin and therefore less reliable. The first reference to the Angas is found in the Atharva-Veda where they find mention along with the MagadhasGandharis and the Mujavats, wnd as a despised people.

Anga was annexed by Magadha in the time of Bimbisara. This was the one and only conquest of Bimbisara. The country of Assaka or the Ashmaka tribe was located in Dakshinapatha or southern India.

In Buddha’s time, many of the Assakas were located on the banks of the river Godavari south of the Vindhya mountains. They are placed in jqnapadas north-west in the Markendeya Purana and the Brhat Samhita. The river Godavari separated the country of the Assakas from that of the Mulakas or Alakas. The commentator of Kautiliya ‘s Arthashastra identifies Ashmaka with Maharashtra. The country of Assaka lay outside the pale of Madhyadesa.

It was located on a southern high road, the Dakshinapatha. At one time, Assaka included Mulaka and abutted Avanti. The country of the Avantis was an important kingdom of western India and was one of the four great monarchies in India in the post era of Mahavira and Buddha, the other three being KosalaVatsa and Magadha.


Avanti was divided into north and south by the river Narmada. Ujjayini was of northern Avanti, but at the times of Mahavira and Buddha, Ujjaini was janaparas capital of integrated Mahajanapdaas. The country of Avanti roughly corresponded to modern MalwaNimar and adjoining parts of today’s Madhya Pradesh.

Both Mahishmati and Ujjaini stood on the southern high road called Dakshinapatha which extended from Rajagriha to Pratishthana modern Paithan. Avanti janapadaa an important centre of Buddhism and some of the leading theras and theris were born and resided there. King Nandivardhana of Avanti was ad by king Shishunaga of Magadha.

Avanti later became part of the Magadhan empire. The Chedis, Chetis or Chetyas had two distinct settlements of which one was in the mountains of Nepal and the other in Bundelkhand near Kausambi. According to old authorities, Chedis lay near Yamuna midway between the kingdom of Kurus and Mahajwnapadas.

Mahajanapadas – Wikipedia

In the mediaeval period, the southern frontiers of Chedi extended to the banks of the river Narmada. Sotthivatnagara, the Sukti or Suktimati of Mahabharatawas the capital of Chedi.

The Chedis were an ancient people of India and are mentioned in the Rigvedawith their king Kashu Chaidya. The location of the capital city, Suktimatihas not been established with certainty. Historian Hem Chandra Raychaudhuri and F. Pargiter believed that it was in the vicinity of Banda, Uttar Pradesh. Coin of Early Gandhara Janapada: A coin of Takshashilaportrays a tree flanked by a hill surmounted by a crescent and a Nandipada above a swastika.

The wool of the Gandharis is referred to in the Rigveda. The Gandharas and their king figure prominently as strong allies of the Kurus against the Pandavas in the Mahabharata war.

The Gandharas were furious people, well-trained in the art of war. According to Puranic traditions, this Janapada was founded by Gandharason of Aruddha, a descendant of Yayati. Janapads princes of this country are said to have come from the line of Druhyu who was a famous king of the Rigvedic period. The river Indus watered mahajznapadas lands of Gandhara. Taksashila and Pushkalavatithe two cities of this Mahajanapada, are said to have been named after Taksa and Pushkara, the two sons of Bharataa prince of Ayodhya.

According to Vayu Purana II. Kalika at the end of Kaliyuga. The Gandhara kingdom sometimes also included Kashmira. According to Gandhara Jataka, at one time, Gandhara formed a part of the kingdom of Kashmir. Mahajanqpadas Jataka also gives another name Chandahara for Gandhara.

Gandhara Mahajanapada of Buddhist traditions included territories of east Afghanistanand north-west of the Panjab modern districts of Mahajanapadaz Purushapura and Rawalpindi.

Its later capital was Taksashila Prakrit for Taxila. The Taksashila University was a renowned centre of learning in ancient times, where scholars from all over the world came to seek higher education.

Gandhara was located on the grand northern high road Uttarapatha and was a centre of international commercial activities. According to one group of scholars, the Gandharas and Kambojas were cognate people. Shah, the Gandhara and Kamboja were nothing but two provinces of one empire and were located coterminously, hence influencing each other’s language. Kambojas are also included in the Uttarapatha.

Janapada – Wikipedia

In ancient literature, the Kamboja is variously associated with the GandharaDarada and the Bahlika Bactria. Ancient Kamboja is known to have comprised regions on either side of the Hindukush.

The original Kamboja was located in janapada Oxus country as neighbor to Bahlika, but with time, some clans of the Kambojas appear to have crossed the Hindukush anr planted colonies on its southern side also.


These latter Kambojas are associated with the Daradas and Gandharas in Indian literature and also find mention in the Edicts of Ashoka. The evidence in the Mahabharata and in Ptolemy ‘s Geography distinctly supports two Kamboja settlements.

The Kamboja Mahajanapada of the Buddhist traditions refers to this cis-Hindukush branch of ancient Kambojas. The Kambojas are known to have had both Iranian as well as Indian affinities. The Kambojas were also a well known republican people since Epic times.

The Mahabharata refers to several Ganah or Republics of the Kambojas. XIII also attest that the Kambojas followed republican constitution. A bitter line in the Brahmin Puranas laments that Magadhan emperor Mahapadma Nanda exterminated all Kshatriyasnone worthy of the name Kshatriya being left thereafter.

This obviously refers to the Kasis, Kosalas, Kurus, Panchalas, Vatsyas and other neo-Vedic tribes of the east Panjab of whom nothing was ever heard except in the legend and poetry. The Nandas usurped the mahajanpaadas of Shishunaga dynasty c. The Kambojans and Gandharans, kahajanapadas, never came into direct contact with the Magadhan mwhajanapadas until Chandragupta and Kautiliya arose on the scene. Kamboja and Gandhara formed the twentieth and richest satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire.

Cyrus I is said to have destroyed the famous Kamboja city called Kapisi modern Begram in Paropamisade. The kingdom was located in the region around its capital Varanasibounded by the Varuna and Asi rivers in the north and south which gave Varanasi its name. Before Buddha, Kasi was the most powerful of the sixteen Mahajanapadas. Several jataka tales bear witness to the superiority of its capital over other cities in India and speak highly of its prosperity and opulence.

These stories tell of the long struggle for supremacy between Kashi and the three kingdoms of KosalaAnga and Magadha. The Kashis along with the Kosalas janapqdas Videhans find mention in Vedic texts and appear to have been a closely allied people. All other ancient texts read Kashi. The country of Kosala was located to the north-west of Magadha, with its capital at Ayodhya. It had the river Ganges for its southern, the river Gandak Narayani for its eastern, and the Himalaya janapadss for mahajanapaddas northern boundary.

It finds mention as the center of Vedic Dharma. Its kings allied with the Devatas in various wars against the Daityas, Rakshas, and Asuras. Koshala and Ayodhya hold a central place in the Hindu scriptures, Itihas, and Purana.

Raghuvansha-Ikshvakuvansha was the longest continuous dynasty; Lord Rama was a king in this dynasty. Other great kings were Prithu, Harishchandra, and Dilip, who are each mentioned in different Puranas, Ramayan, and Mahabharat. According to these texts, Koshala was the most powerful and biggest janapadqs ever in the recorded history. Later, the kingdom was ruled by the famous king Prasenajit during the era of Mahavira and Buddha, followed by his son Vidudabha Virudhaka.

King Prasenajit was highly educated. His nahajanapadas was further improved by a matrimonial alliance with Magadha: There was, however, a struggle for supremacy between king Pasenadi Prasenajit and king Ajatashatru of Magadha which was finally settled once the confederation of Lichchavis became aligned with Magadha.

Kosala was ultimately merged into Mqhajanapadas when Vidudabha was Kosala’s ruler. AyodhyaSaketa mahajanapaeas, Banarasand Sravasti were the chief cities of Kosala. The Puranas trace the origin of Kurus from the Puru – Bharata family.


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