Rise of Mahajanapadas

When we approached the end of the vedic age, kingdoms started to develop and this gave to the rise of 16 great kingdoms called the Mahajanapadas.

 What were Mahajanapadas?

“Jana” means people

“Pada” means foot

Hence Janapada means land where people live. Hence a kingdom was called Janapada

But there were some kingdoms which either became very large or were collection of many small Janapadas. And these where called Mahajanapadas.

There were 16 major Mahajanapadas according to Buddhist and Jain Texts

Name and Capitals of Mahajanapadas

Given below is the list of the 16 mahajanapadas and their capitals

  • Anga.                                      Capital: Champa/Champanagari
  • Assaka/Ashmaka.                 Capital: Potana/Potali
  • Avanti.                                     Capital: Ujjain/Mahismati
  • Gandhara.                              Capital: Taxila (near Rawalpindi, Pakistan) and Pushkalavati
  • Kamboja.                                Capital: Rajapura
  • Kashi.                                      Capital: Varanasi.
  • Kosala.                                    Capital: Sravasti
  • Magadha.                               Capital: Rajgir/ Grivraja ( later Vaishali and then Patliputra)
  •  Malla.                                Capital: Kuishinara & Pawa
  • ‘Matsya.                                   Capital: Viratnagar
  •  Panchal                                   Capital: North Panchal – Ahichhatra; South Panchal – Kampilya
  • Surasena                                  Capital: Mathura
  •  Vajji or Vriji                             Capital: Vaishali
  •  Vamsa or Vatsa                     Capital: Kausambi

Types of Mahajanapadas

There were two types of MahaJanapadas or MJPs

  1. Republican(or pseudo republican): In this the kingdom was ruled by not a single man but a group of people called “Sangha” or “Gana Parishad”
  2. Monarch: In this the kingdom was ruled by only a single man or the king

Republicans: A good example was Vajji or Vrijji which was ruled by Sangha

Monarch : Magadh, Avanti, Kosala were the most poweful ones. Later Magadha emerged as ultimate power which we will study in next chapter.

To go to the next chpter Rise of Magadh as an Empire: CLICK HERE

Best of Luck.