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16 Mahajanapadas And Their Kings

16 Mahajanapadas And Their Kings

16 Mahajanapadas And Their Kings: A new change in Indian politics is can be seen from in the sixth century BCE. That is – development of many powerful states.

Surplus production, regular tax system contributed to strengthening the institution of the state.

Tactically powerful elements contributed greatly to the formation of people-to-districts and empires with high-grade weapons based on this surplus and iron technology.

Sixteen Mahajanapadas – In Buddha’s time, we get a list of sixteen Mahajanapadas.

Most of the states extended north of Vindhya, into northern and eastern India, from the northwestern border to Bihar.

16 Mahajanapadas And Their Kings

Mahajanapadas – Capital

4Assak or AshmakPotan or Bagli
6AvantiUjjaini, Mahishmati
9MallaKushinara, Paava
12MatsyaVirat Nagar
13VagjiVideha and Mithila
15KosalaSravasti / Ayodhya
16MagadhaGirivraj (Rajgriha)

1. Ang:– It was the easternmost district, it included modern Munger and Bhagalpur districts. Its capital was Champa.

The Champa River separated Ang from Magadha. Magadha was finally annexed into his kingdom.

2. Magadha: It consisted of modern Patna and Gaya districts and parts of Shahabad district. Magadha was situated between Anga and Vatsa states.

3. Kashi: Its capital was Varanasi. Kashi was the most powerful in the beginning.

But later it surrendered to the power of Kosal. Later, Ajatshatru got Kashi merged into Magadha.

4. Kosala (Awadh): Its capital was Shravasti. Eastern Uttar Pradesh came under this. Ayodhya was an important city of Kosala, which is related to the life of Rama.

The river Sarayu was divided into two parts – North Kosala with its capital Shravasti.

The capital of South Kosala was Kushavati. The king here was a contemporary of Buddha.

5. Vajji (North Bihar History): This state to the north of Magadha was made up of a combination of eight clans and consisted of three total heads – Videha, Vajji, and Lilchhavi.

6. Malla (districts of Gorakhpur and Deoria): It had two parts. The capital of one was Kushinara and the other was Pava. In Kushinagar Gautam Buddha died.

Kushinagar has been identified from a place called Kasaya in Deoria district.

7. Chedi (between Yamuna and Narmada): It was situated on the banks of river Yamuna. This Kuru Mahajanapadas was the area of ​​modern Bundelkhand.

8. Vatsa (area of ​​Allahabad): Its capital was Kaushambi. The famous Udayan in Sanskrit literature, which is considered contemporary of Buddha, was related to this district.

The Vats were the same Kuruzans who left Hastinapur after the flood in the late Vedic period and settled in Kaushambi near Prayag.

9. Kuru (Districts of Thaneshwar, Delhi, and Meerut):  Its capital was Indraprastha.

10. Panchal (districts of Bareilly, Badaun, and Farrukhabad): It had two parts – Northern Panchal and South Panchal. The capital of North Panchal was Ahichatra and the capital of Southern Panchala was Kampilya.

Like the post-Vedic period, the Kuru and Panchal regions were no longer important.

11. Matsya (Jaipur): Its capital was Virat Nagar, Virat Nagar was founded by a person named Virat.

12. Shursen (Mathura): Mathura was the capital of the Shursen state. The ruler of this place, Avantiputra, was a follower of Mahatma Buddha.

13. Ashmak (Godavaripar): Its capital was Potana. The ruler here was of the Ikshvaku dynasty.

14. Avanti (in Malwa): Modern Malwa and parts of Madhya Pradesh together formed the Avanti district.

In ancient times, Avanti had two parts (1) Northern Avanti – whose capital was Ujjain and Southern Avanti with its capital Mahishmati.

Chand Pradyot was a powerful king here. Magadha emperor Shishunag conquered Avanti and merged it with his kingdom.

15. Gandhara (Districts of Peshawar and Rawalpindi): Its capital was Taxila, which was a famous center of learning and trade in ancient times.

In the sixth century BCE, Pushkar reigned in Gandhar. It sent its ambassador and a letter to Magadha King Bimbisara.

16. Kamboj: (part of southwestern Kashmir and Afghanistan) It was located in the modern-day Rajouri and Hazara districts.

16 Mahajanapadas And Their Kings

Establishment And Expansion Of Magadha Empire

In the latter part of the sixth century BC, four kingdoms were highly powerful

  • Kashi
  • Kosal
  • Magadha
  • Vajji Sangha

They fought for their political dominance for almost a hundred years.

Ultimately Magadha was conquered and became the center of political activity in North India.

Haryanka Dynasty

Bimbisara (541-492 BC)

The most majestic king of the Haryanka Dynasty was the Bimbisara. It was a contemporary of the Buddha and according to the Mahavamsa, he was sitting on the throne at the age of 15 years.

Bimbisara strengthened her position through matrimonial relationships. He married the sister of King Prasenjit of Kosala country and got the province of Kashi in dowry.

He married Chelhana, daughter of Lichchavi Sardar Chetak. The daughter of the king of Madra country was its second queen.

Bimbisara sent his personal physician Jeevak to Ujjain for the treatment of Pradyot, the king of Avanti, from which he received the friendship of Pradyot.

Anga was the only Mahajanapadas that suffered from Bimbisara’s invasion. Bimbisara defeated Anga, the king of Anga, and merge Anga into his kingdom.

During Bimbisara, the capital of Magadha was Girivraj, which was surrounded by five hills. According to Anushruti, Bimbisara was murdered by his son Ajatshatru.

Ajatashatru: (492-460 BC)

He sat on the throne of Magadha after Bimbisara. He name was also Kunik.

He was Unhappy over the death of his queen, who was the sister of Kosalraj Prasenjit, mourning the death of Bimbisara, Prasenjit again withdrew Kashi province.

War broke out in Ajatshatru and Prasenjit on the question of Kashi.

Kashi was again empowered by Magadha and the princess of Kosal was married to Ajatshatru.

Ajatashatru also had a war with Vajjasingha. Ajatashatru sent one of his Brahmin ministers, Vassakara, to split up in Vajjisangha.

Vaskara succeeded and Ajatshatru defeated Vajjasingha. At the time of Ajatashatru, the first Buddhist association of Buddhists took place in the Rajgriha in about 483 BC.

Udayin (460-444 CE)

Udayin ascended the throne after Ajatashatru. At this time, Pataliputra (or Kusumpur) was established at the confluence of the Ganges and the Son.

After Udayin, Anirudh, Mund sat on the throne respectively.

Shishunaga Dynasty


It established his ruling dynasty. It was initially the minister of Nagadasak, the last king of the Harayak dynasty.

After being exiled by the citizens of Nagadasaka he became the king of Magadha.

Shishunaga defeated Avanti (the capital Ujjain) and Avanti became a part of the Magadha Empire. Shishunaga also defeated the Vatsa and Kosala kingdoms.


It was the successor of Shishunaga. A hundred years after the birth of Mahatma Buddha, a second Buddhist association was organized in Vaishali during the period of Kalashoka.

Nanda Dynasty

The ruling Nanda dynasty seized power by defeating the weak heirs of Kalashoka. This dynasty was inferior. The Nanda dynasty was founded by Mahanandin.

In the Puranas, Mahapadma Nanda has been called Sarvakshatrantak. It conquered Kalinga and merged it with his kingdom.

He established the position of Ekchhatra and Ekrat by establishing a large kingdom. Mahapadma Nanda had eight sons. Dhana Nanda was the last king of the Nanda dynasty.

During this period Alexander invaded northwest India but the border of Magadha remained untouched by this invasion.

By killing this Dhanananda, Chandragupta Maurya took over the throne of Magadha.

Administration Of Monarchies

The king had the highest state rank and had special physical and property security. He used to be omnipotent.

Rajpad was often hereditary. But exceptions are also found in the mention of chosen kings.

The kingdom was autocratic but not uncontrolled. The Jataka tales reveal that the masses used to expel the tyrannical kings and chief priests.

The kings also used to take the help of the ministers. The minister of Ajadashatru, the king of Magadha, was a successful minister in Vaskara and Kosala.

Ministers, like the assembly and committee elected by most Brahmins, had disappeared. They were replaced by varna and caste groups. The sabhas were still alive in the republics during this period.

In the kingdoms, during this period we hear about a small institution called Parishad. There were only Brahmins in this council.

The emergence of a class of high officials called Mahamatra is the most important feature of administrative development in this period.

Among the Amatya, many types of employees were appointed.

The administration of the village was in the hands of Gramin, which was now known as Gram Pradhan, Gram Bhojak, Gramini or Gramika, etc.

Village princes were highly valued and had direct relations with kings. Maintaining law and order in the village and collecting taxes from his village was his main task.

The king had a permanent army. The army was generally divided into four parts – Padati, Ashwarohi, Chariot, and Elephant.

The tax-related system was established on a sound basis. Warriors and priests were exempt from payment of taxes.

The burden of taxes was mainly on the farmers.

Voluntary sacrifice in the Vedic period became a mandatory tax in this period.

The most prominent among the tax collecting officers was the village Bhojak.

One-sixth of the produce was taken as a tax. In addition to this, taxes can also be mentioned in state taxes, which were paid on the occasion of the birth of the king’s son and tax collected from the traders.

In addition to taxes, people were also forced to work as labor.

Administration of republics

Apart from the Shodas Mahajanapadas, we also find mention of the republics of this period. The major republics were Shakya (whose capital was Kapilavastu), the Lichchhavi Sangha, Malla, etc.

In the republics, not many hereditary kings but many people responsible for the meetings used to work.

Each republic had its own council or assembly. Apart from the Central Council in the capital, there were also local councils at prominent places in the state.

Governance was handed over to one or several chieftains. He was called Rajan ‘Ganarajan’, or ‘Sanghmukhya’. The title Rajan was sometimes used for all heads of state.

In the Lichchhavis, we hear of 7707 kings. According to the evidence of a Buddhist text, the people reigned in turn.

Apart from Rajan, there were other officers who were known by the names of Uparajan, Senapati, Bhandarika, etc.


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