Mahā-Janapadas ← 700s–300s → Capital Not specified Religion Vedic Hinduism
Historical era Iron Age - Established 700s - Disestablished 300s History of South Asia and India
Mahājanapadas (Sanskrit: महाजनपद, Mahājanapadas), literally "great realms", (from maha, "great", and janapada "foothold of a tribe", "country") were ancient Indian kingdoms or countries. Ancient Buddhist texts like Anguttara Nikaya  make frequent reference to sixteen great kingdoms and republics (Solas Mahajanapadas) which had evolved and flourished in a belt stretching from Gandhara in the northwest to Anga in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent and included parts of the trans-Vindhyan region, prior to the rise of Buddhism in India. The sixth century BCE is often regarded as a major turning point in early Indian history.
The political structure of the ancient Indians appears to have started with semi-nomadic tribal units called Jana (meaning "people" or by extension "ethnic group" or "tribe"). Early Vedic texts attest several Janas or tribes of the Indo-Aryans, living in a semi-nomadic tribal state and fighting among themselves and with other Non-Aryan tribes for cows, sheep and green pastures. These early Vedic Janas later coalesced into the Janapadas of the Epic Age.
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. This process of first settlement on land had completed its final stage prior to the times of the Buddha and Pāṇini. The Pre-Buddhist north-west region of the Indian sub-continent was divided into several Janapadas demarcated from each other by boundaries. In Pāṇini, Janapada stands for country and Janapadin for its citizenry. Each of these Janapadas was named after the Kshatriya tribe (or the Kshatriya Jana) who had settled therein. The Buddhist and other texts only incidentally refer to sixteen great nations (Solasa Mahajanapadas) which were in existence before the time of Buddha. They do not give any connected history except in the case of Magadha. The Buddhist Anguttara Nikaya, at several places, gives a list of sixteen great nations:
Chulla-Niddesa, another ancient text of the Buddhist canon, adds Kalinga to the list and substitutes Yona for Gandhara, thus listing the Kamboja and the Yona as the only Mahajanapadas from Uttarapatha.
The Jaina Bhagavati Sutra gives a slightly different list of sixteen Mahajanapadas viz: Anga, Banga (Vanga), Magadha, Malaya, Malavaka, Accha, Vaccha, Kochcha (Kachcha?), Padha, Ladha (Lata), Bajji (Vajji), Moli (Malla), Kasi, Kosala, Avaha and Sambhuttara. Obviously, the author of Bhagvati has a focus on the countries of Madhydesa and of the far east and south only. 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 main idea in the minds of those who drew up the Janapada lists was basically more tribal than geographical, since the lists include the names of the people and not the countries. As the Buddhist and Jaina texts only casually refer to the Mahajanapadas with no details on history, the following few isolated facts, at best, are gleaned from them and other ancient texts about these ancient nations.
The Kasis was located in the region around Varanasi (modern Banaras). The capital of Kasi was at Varanasi. The city was bounded by the rivers Varuna and Asi in the north and south which gave Varanasi its name. Before Buddha, Kasi was the most powerful of the sixteen Mahajanapadas. Several Jatakas bear witness to the superiority of its capital over other cities of India and speak highly of its prosperity and opulence. The Jatakas speak of a long rivalry of Kasi with Kosala, Anga and Magadha. There was a long struggle for supremacy between them. King Brihadratha of Kasi had conquered Kosala but Kasi was later incorporated into Kosala by King Kansa during Buddha's time. The Kasis along with the Kosalas and Videhans find mention in Vedic texts and appear to have been a closely allied people. Matsya Purana and Alberuni read Kasi as Kausika and Kaushaka respectively. All other ancient texts read Kasi.
The country of Kosalas was located to the north-west of Magadha with its capital at Savatthi (Sravasti). It was located about 70 miles to the north-west of Gorakhpur and comprised territory corresponding to the modern Awadh (or Oudh) in Uttar Pradesh. It had the river Ganges for its southern, the river Gandhak for its eastern and the Himalaya mountains for its northern boundary. The kingdom was ruled by king Prasenjit followed by his son Vidudabha. There was a struggle for supremacy between king Pasenadi (Prasenjit) and king Ajatasatru of Magadha which was finally settled once the confederation of Lichchavis became aligned with Magadha. Kosala was ultimately merged into Magadha when Vidudabha was Kosala's ruler. Ayodhya, Saketa, Benares and Sravasti were the chief cities of Kosala.
The first reference to the Angas is found in the Atharva-Veda where they find mention along with the Magadhas, Gandharis and the Mujavats, apparently as a despised people. The Jaina Prajnapana ranks Angas and Vangas in the first group of Aryan people. It mentions the principal cities of ancient India. It was also a great center of trade and commerce and its merchants regularly sailed to distant Suvarnabhumi. Anga was annexed by Magadha in the time of Bimbisara.
The first reference to the Magadhas occurs in the Atharva-Veda where they are found listed along with the Angas, Gandharis and the Mujavats as a despised people. The bards of Magadha are, moreover, referred to in early Vedic literature and are again spoken of in terms of contempt. Rigveda mentions a king Pramaganda as a ruler of Kikata. Yasaka declares that Kikata was a non-Aryan country. Later literature refers to Kikata as a synonym of Magadha.
With the exception of the Rigvedic Pramaganda, whose connection with Magadha is very speculative, no other king of Magadha is mentioned in Vedic literature. According to the Mahabharata and the Puranas, the earliest ruling dynasty of Magadha was founded by king Brihadratha, but Magadha came into prominence only under king Bimbisara and his son Ajatasatru. In the long war of supremacy between the nations of Majjhimadesa, the kingdom of Magadha finally emerged victorious and became a predominant empire in middle India.
The kingdom of the Magadhas roughly corresponded to the modern districts of Patna and Gaya in southern Bihar and parts of Bengal in the east. It was bounded in the north by river Ganges, in the east by the river Champa, in the south by the Vindhya mountains and in the west by the river Sona. During Buddha's time its boundaries included Anga. Its earliest capital was Girivraja or Rajagriha (modern Rajgir in Patna district of Bihar). The other names for the city were Magadhapura, Brihadrathapura, Vasumati, Kushagrapura and Bimbisarapuri. It was an active center of Jainism in ancient times. The first Buddhist Council was held in Rajagriha in the Vaibhara Hills. Later on, Pataliputra became the capital of Magadha.
Vajji or Vriji
The Vajjians or Virijis included eight or nine confederated clans of whom the Licchhavis, the Videhans, the Jnatrikas and the Vajjis were the most important. Mithila (modern Janakpur in district of Tirhut) was the capital of Videha and became the predominant center of the political and cultural activities of northern India. It was in the time of king Janaka that Videha came into prominence. The last king of Videha was Kalara who is said to have perished along with his kingdom on account of his attempt on a Brahmin maiden. On the ruins of his kingdom arose the republics of the Licchhavis and Videhans and seven other small ones. The Licchavis were a very independent people. The mother of Mahavira was a Licchavi princess. Vaishali (modern Basarh in the Vaishali District of North Bihar) was the capital of the Licchavis and the political headquarters of the powerful Varijian confederacy. Vaishali was located 25 miles north of the river Ganges and 38 miles from Rajagriha and was a very prosperous town. The Second Buddhist Council was held at Vaishali. The Licchavis were followers of Buddha. Buddha is said to have visited them on many occasions. They were closely related by marriage to the Magadhas and one branch of the Licchavi dynasty ruled Nepal until the start of the Middle Ages but have nothing to do with the current ruling shah dynasty in Nepal. The Licchavis are represented as the (Vratya) Kshatriyas in Manusmriti. Vaishali, the headquarters of the powerful Vajji republic and the capital of the Licchavis was defeated by king Ajatasatru of Magadha.magadha became the most powerful kingdom of all the mahajanapadas.
The Mallas are frequently mentioned in Buddhist and Jain works. They were a powerful people dwelling in Northern South Asia. According to Mahabharata, Panduputra Bhimasena is said to have conquered the chief of the Mallas/Malls in the course of his expedition in Eastern India. During the Buddhist period, the Mallas/Malls Kshatriya were republican people with their dominion consisting of nine territories corresponding to the nine confederated clans. These republican states were known as Gana. Two of these confederations - one with Kuśināra (modern Kasia near Gorakhpur) as its capital and the second with Pava (modern Padrauna, 12 miles from Kasia) as the capital - had become very important at the time of Buddha. Kuśināra and Pava are very important in the history of Buddhism and Jainism since Buddha and Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara took their last meals at Kushinara and Pava/Pavapuri respectively. Buddha was taken ill at Pava and died at Kusinara, whereas lord Mahavira took his Nirvana at Pava puri. It is widely believed that Lord Gautam died at the courtyard of King Sastipal Mall of Kushinagar/Kushinara. Kushinagar is now the centre of the Buddhist pilgrimage circle which is being developed by the tourism development corporation of Utter Pradesh.
The Mallas, like the Licchavis, are mentioned by Manusmriti as Vratya Kshatriyas. They are called Vasishthas (Vasetthas) in the Mahapparnibbana Suttanta. The Mallas originally had a monarchical form of government but later they switched to one of Samgha (republic), the members of which called themselves rajas. The Mallas were a brave and warlike people. Due to their ancient lineage they considered themselves to be the purest of the Kshatriyas. Jainism and Buddhism found many followers among the Mallas. There were a total of nine Malla rulers during Buddha's period. The Mallas appeared to have formed an alliance with the Licchhavis for self defense but lost their independence not long after Buddha's death and their dominions were annexed to the Magadhan empire. The descendants of Malls can still be found in the neighbouring areas of Gorakhpur/Deoria and Kushinagar. Malla along with other Sanghiya kshtriyas like the Licchhavis, Koliyas and Shakya were ruling from their Santhagara, which was like an assembly hall. Many historians believe that with the decline of Buddhism, republic Kshatriyas following Buddhism around Gorakhpur and Deoria district reverted to Hindusim though the exact period is not known. These Santhagara kshatriyas were placed below Vedic kshtriyas in the social hierarchy and were termed "Santha-war (Sainthwar)", which means "to leave Santha or Sanstha". These ancient Malla should not be confused with the Majhauli Malla of Deoria. There are two theories about Majhauli Malla. Majhauli Malla claim their descendents from famous ascetic Mayur Bhat who was a descendent of Rishi Jamdagni. Mayur Bhat, by one of his Surajvanshi rani "Surya Prabha", had a son "Bisva Sen" who was the first man of the "Bisen Rajput" clan. Princess Surya Prabha is assumed to be from the non-buddhist Malla dynasty. The 80th descendent from Bisva Sen was Raja Hardeo Sen who received the title of "Malla" around the 11th century from the Delhi king on account of his bravery. It is believed that during the medieval period some members of the Bisen Malla migrated into Nepal where they are even today known as "Malla Rajas".
Chedi or Cheti
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 Vatsas. In the mediaeval period, the southern frontiers of Chedi extended to the banks of the river Narmada. Sotthivatnagara, the Sukti or Suktimati of Mahabharata, was the capital of Chedi. The Chedis were an ancient people of India and are mentioned in the Rigveda. A branch of Chedis founded a royal dynasty in the kingdom of Kalinga according to the Hathigumpha inscription of Kharvela.
Vamsa or Vatsa
The Vatsas, Vamsas or Vachchas are stated to be an offshoot of the Kurus. The Vatsa or Vamsa country corresponded with the territory of modern Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. It had a monarchical form of government with its capital at Kausambi (identified with the village Kosam, 38 miles from Allahabad). Kausambi was a very prosperous city where a large number of millionaire merchants resided. It was the most important entreport of goods and passengers from the north-west and south. Udayana was the ruler of Vatsa in the sixth century BCE, the time of Buddha. He was very powerful, warlike and fond of hunting. Initially king Udayana was opposed to Buddhism but later became a follower of Buddha and made Buddhism the state religion.
The Puranas trace the origin of Kurus from the Puru-Bharata family. Aitareya Brahmana locates the Kurus in Madhyadesha and also refers to the Uttarakurus as living beyond the Himalayas. According to the Buddhist text Sumangavilasini, the people of Kururashtra (the Kurus) came from the Uttarakuru. Vayu Purana attests that Kuru, son of Samvarsana of the Puru lineage, was the eponymous ancestor of the Kurus and the founder of Kururashtra (Kuru Janapada) in Kurukshetra. The country of the Kurus roughly corresponded to the modern Thanesar, state of Delhi and Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh. According to the Jatakas, the capital of the Kurus was Indraprastha (Indapatta) near modern Delhi which extended seven leagues. At Buddha's time, the Kuru country was ruled by a titular chieftain (king consul) named Korayvya. The Kurus of the Buddhist period did not occupy the same position as they did in the Vedic period but they continued to enjoy their ancient reputation for deep wisdom and sound health. The Kurus had matrimonial relations with the Yadavas, the Bhojas and the Panchalas. There is a Jataka reference to king Dhananjaya, introduced as a prince from the race of Yudhishtra. Though a well known monarchical people in the earlier period, the Kurus are known to have switched to a republican form of government during the sixth to fifth century BCE. In the fourth century BCE, Kautiliya's Arthashastra also attests the Kurus following the Rajashabdopajivin (king consul) constitution.
The Panchalas occupied the country to the east of the Kurus between the mountains and river Ganges. It roughly corresponded to modern Budaun, Farrukhabad and the adjoining districts of Uttar Pradesh. The country was divided into Uttara-Panchala and Dakshina-Panchala. The northern Panchala had its capital at Adhichhatra or Chhatravati (modern Ramnagar in the Bareilly District), while southern Panchala had it capital at Kampilya or Kampil in Farrukhabad District. The famous city of Kanyakubja or Kanauj was situated in the kingdom of Panchala. Originally a monarchical clan, the Panchals appear to have switched to republican corporation in the sixth and fifth century BCE. In the fourth century BCE, Kautiliya's Arthashastra also attests the Panchalas as following the Rajashabdopajivin (king consul) constitution.
Machcha or Matsya
The country of the Matsya or Machcha tribe lay to the south of the Kurus and west of the Yamuna, which separated them from the Panchalas. It roughly corresponded to the former state of Jaipur in Rajasthan, and included the whole of Alwar with portions of Bharatpur. The capital of Matsya was at Viratanagara (modern Bairat) which is said to have been named after its founder king Virata. In Pali literature, the Matsyas are usually associated with the Surasenas. The western Matsya was the hill tract on the north bank of the Chambal. A branch of Matsya is also found in later days in the Vizagapatam region. The Matsyas had not much political importance of their own during the time of Buddha. King Sujata ruled over both the Chedis and Matsyas, thus showing that Matsya once formed a part of the Chedi kingdom.
The country of the Surasenas lay to the south-west of Matsya and west of Yamuna. It had its capital at Madhura or Mathura. Avantiputra, the king of Surasena was the first among the chief disciples of Buddha, through whose help Buddhism gained ground in Mathura country. The Andhakas and Vrishnis of Mathura/Surasena are referred to in the Ashtadhyayi of Pāṇini. In Kautiliya's Arthashastra, the Vrishnis are described as samgha or republic. The Vrishnis, Andhakas and other allied tribes of the Yadavas formed a samgha and Vasudeva (Krishna) is described as the samgha-mukhya. Mathura, the capital of Surasena was also known at the time of Megasthenes as the centre of Krishna worship. The Surasena kingdom had lost its independence on annexation by the Magadhan empire.
Assaka or Ashmaka
The Country of Assaka or the Ashmaka tribe was located in Dakshinapatha or southern India. In Buddha's time, the Assakas were located on the banks of the river Godavari (south of the Vindhya mountains). The capital of the Assakas was Potana or Potali, which corresponds to Paudanya of Mahabharata. The Ashmakas are also mentioned by Pāṇini. They are placed in the 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 when Buddhism arose, the other three being Kosala, Vatsa and Magadha. Avanti was divided into north and south by the river Vetravati. Initially, Mahissati (Sanskrit Mahishamati) was the capital of Southern Avanti, and Ujjaini (Sanskrit: Ujjayini) was of northern Avanti, but at the times of Mahavira and Buddha, Ujjaini was the capital of integrated Avanti. The country of Avanti roughly corresponded to modern Malwa, Nimar and adjoining parts of the Madhya Pradesh. Both Mahishmati and Ujjaini stood on the southern high road called Dakshinapatha which extended from Rajagriha to Pratishthana (modern Paithan). Avanti was an important center of Buddhism and some of the leading theras and theris were born and resided there. King Nandivardhana of Avanti was defeated by king Shishunaga of Magadha. Avanti later became part of the Magadhan empire.
The wool of the Gandharis is referred to in the Rigveda. The Gandharis, along with the Mujavantas, Angas and the Magadhas, are also mentioned in the Atharvaveda, but apparently as a despised people. The Gandharas are included in the Uttarapatha division of Puranic and Buddhistic traditions. Aitareya Brahmana refers to king Naganajit of Gandhara who was a contemporary of raja Janaka of Videha. According to Dr Zimmer, Gandharas were settled since Vedic times on the south bank of the river Kubha (Kabol) up to its mouth into Indus itself. Later the Gandharas crossed Indus and expanded into parts of north-west Panjab. The Gandharas and their king figure prominently as strong allies of the Kurus against the Pandavas in the Mahabharata war. The Gandharas were a furious people, well-trained in the art of war. According to Puranic traditions, this Janapada was founded by Gandhara, son of Aruddha, a descendant of Yayati. The 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 the lands of Gandhara. Taksashila and Pushkalavati, the two cities of this Mahajanapada, are said to have been named after Taksa and Pushkara, the two sons of Bharata, a prince of Ayodhya. According to Vayu Purana (II.36.107), the Gandharas were destroyed by Pramiti (aka Kalika) at the end of Kaliyuga. Pāṇini mentioned both the Vedic form Gandhari as well as the later form Gandhara in his Ashtadhyayi. The Gandhara kingdom sometimes also included Kashmira. Hecataeus of Miletus (549-468) refers to Kaspapyros (Kasyapura i.e. Kashmira) as Gandharic city. According to Gandhara Jataka, at one time, Gandhara formed a part of the kingdom of Kashmir. The Jataka also gives another name Chandahara for Gandhara. Gandhara Mahajanapada of Buddhist traditions included territories of east Afghanistan, and north-west of the Panjab (modern districts of Peshawar (Purushapura) and Rawalpindi). Its capital was Takshasila (Prakrit Taxila). The Taxila University was a renowned center of learning in ancient times, where scholars from all over the world came to seek higher education. Pāṇini, the Indian genius of grammar and Kautiliya are the world renowned products of Taxila University. King Pukkusati or Pushkarasarin of Gandhara in the middle of the sixth century BCE was the contemporary of king Bimbisara of Magadha. Gandhara was located on the grand northern high road (Uttarapatha) and was a centre of international commercial activities. It was an important channel of communication with ancient Iran and Central Asia. According to one school of scholars, the Gandharas and Kambojas were cognate people. It is also contended that the Kurus, Kambojas, Gandharas and Bahlikas were cognate people and all had Iranian affinities. According to Dr T. L. Shah, the Gandhara and Kamboja were nothing but two provinces of one empire and were located coterminously, hence influencing each others language. Naturally, they may have once been a cognate people. Gandhara was often linked politically with the neighboring regions of Kashmir and Kamboja.
Kambojas are also included in the Uttarapatha. In ancient literature, the Kamboja is variously associated with the Gandhara, Darada and the Bahlika (Bactria). Ancient Kamboja is known to have comprised regions on either side of the Hindukush. The original Kamboja was located in eastern Oxus country as neighbor to Bahlika, but with time, some clans of the Kambojas appear to have crossed the Hindukush and 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 cis-Hindukush region from Nurestan up to Rajauri in southwest of Kashmir sharing borders with the Daradas and the Gandharas constituted the Kamboja country. The capital of Kamboja was probably Rajapura (modern Rajori) in the south-west of Kashmir. The Kamboja Mahajanapada of the Buddhist traditions refers to this cis-Hindukush branch of ancient Kambojas.
The trans-Hindukush region including the Pamirs and Badakhshan which shared borders with the Bahlikas (Bactria) in the west and the Lohas and Rishikas of Sogdiana/Fergana in the north, constituted the Parama-Kamboja country. The trans-Hindukush branch of the Kambojas remained pure Iranian but a large section of the Kambojas of cis-Hindukush appears to have come under Indian cultural influence. 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. Kautiliya's Arthashastra  and Ashoka's Edict No. XIII also attest that the Kambojas followed republican constitution. Pāṇini's Sutras, though tend to convey that the Kamboja of Pāṇini was a Kshatriya monarchy, but "the special rule and the exceptional form of derivative" he gives to denote the ruler of the Kambojas implies that the king of Kamboja was a titular head (king consul) only. According to Buddhist texts, the first fourteen of the above Mahajanapadas belong to Majjhimadesa (Mid India) while the last two belong to Uttarapatha or the north-west division of Jambudvipa.
In a struggle for supremacy that followed in the sixth/fifth century BCE, the growing state of the Magadhas emerged as the most predominant power in ancient India, annexing several of the Janapadas of the Majjhimadesa. A bitter line in the Brahmin Puranas laments that Magadhan emperor Mahapadma Nanda exterminated all Kshatriyas, none worthy of the name Kshatrya 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 Kambojans and Gandharans, however, never came into direct contact with the Magadhan state until Chandragupta and Kautiliya arose on the scene. But these nations also fell prey to the Achaemenids of Persia during the reign of Cyrus (558–530 BCE) or in the first year of Darius. Kamboja and Gandhara formed the twentieth and richest strapy of the Achaemenid Empire. Cyrus I is said to have destroyed the famous Kamboja city called Kapisi (modern Begram) in Paropamisade.
- Iron Age India
- Kingdoms of ancient India
- ^ Anguttara Nikaya I. p 213; IV. pp 252, 256, 261.
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- ^ http://www.iloveindia.com/history/ancient-india/16-mahajanapadas.html
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- ^ A History of Pāli Literature, 2000 Edition, p 648 B. C. Law & Some Ksatriya Tribes of Ancient India, 1924, pp 230-253, Dr B. C. Law.
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- ^ Digha Nikaya, Vol II, p 200.
- ^ Chulla-Niddesa (P.T.S.), p 37.
- ^ Lord Mahāvīra and his times, 1974, p 197, Dr Kailash Chand Jain; The History and Culture of the Indian People, 1968, p lxv, Dr Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bhāratīya Itihāsa Samiti; Problems of Ancient India, 2000, p 7, K. D. Sethna.
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- ^ Journal of the Oriental Institute, 1919, p 265, Oriental Institute (Vadodara, India) - Oriental studies; For Kuru-Kamboja connections, see Dr Chandra Chakraberty's views in: Literary history of ancient India in relation to its racial and linguistic affiliations, pp 14,37, Vedas; The Racial History of India, 1944, p 153, Chandra Chakraberty - Ethnology; Paradise of Gods, 1966, p 330, Qamarud Din Ahmed - Pakistan.
- ^ Ancient India, History of India for 1000 years, four Volumes, Vol I, 1938, pp 38, 98 Dr T. L. Shah.
- ^ IMPORTANT NOTE: The ancient Buddhist text Anguttara Nikaya's list of Mahajanapadas includes the Gandhara and the Kamboja as the only two salient Mahajanapadas in the Uttarapatha. However, the Chulla-Niddesa list (5th c. BCE), which is one of the most ancient Buddhist commentaries, includes the Kamboja and Yona but no Gandhara (See: Chulla-Niddesa, (P.T.S.), p.37). This shows that when Chulla-Niddesa Commentary was written, the Kambojas in the Uttarapatha were a predominant people and that the Gandharans, in all probability, formed part of the Kamboja Mahajanapada around this time---thus making them one people. Kautiliya's Arthashastra (11.1.1-4) (4th c. BCE) refers only to clans of the Kurus, Panchalas, Madrakas, Kambojas etc but it does not mention the Gandharas as a people separate from the Kambojas. The Mudrarakshasa Drama by Visakhadatta also refers to the Sakas, Kambojas, Yavanas, Pahlavas, Bahlikas and Kiratas but again it does not include the Gandharas in Chandragupta's army list. The well-known Puranic legend (told in numerous Puranas) of king Sagara's war with the invading tribes from the north-west includes the Kambojas, Sakas, Yavanas, Pahlavas, and Paradas but again the Gandharas are not included in Haihayas's army (Harivamsa 14.1-19; e.g Vayu Purana 88.127-43; Brahma Purana (8.35-51); Brahmanda Purana (3.63.123-141); Shiva Purana (7.61.23); Vishnu Purana (5.3.15-21), Padma Purana (6.21.16-33) etc etc). Again, the Valmiki Ramayana --(a later list) includes the Janapadas of Andhras, Pundras, Cholas, Pandyas, Keralas, Mekhalas, Utkalas, Dasharnas, Abravantis, Avantis, Vidarbhas, Mlecchas, Pulindas, Surasenas, Prasthalas, Bharatas, Kurus, Madrakas, Kambojas, Daradas, Yavanas, Sakas (from Saka-dvipa), Rishikas, Tukharas, Chinas, Maha-Chinas, Kiratas, Barbaras, Tanganas, Niharas, Pasupalas etc (Ramayana 4.43). Yet at another place in the Ramayana (I.54.17; I.55.2 seq ), the north-western martial tribes of the Sakas, Kambojas, Yavanas, Pahlavas, Kiratas, Haritas/Tukharas, Barbaras and Mlechchas etc joined the army of sage Vasishtha during the battle of Kamdhenu against Aryan king Viswamitra of Kanauj. In both the references in the Ramayana, the Kambojas are conspicuously mentioned in the lists of north-western frontier peoples, but no reference is made to the Gandharas or the Daradas. Yaska in his Nirukta (II.2) refers to the Kambojas but not to the Gandharas. Among the several unrighteous barbaric hordes (opposed to Aryan king Vikarmaditya), Brhat Katha of Kshmendra (10.1.285-86) and Kathasaritsagara of Somadeva (18.1.76-78) each list the Sakas, Mlechchas, Kambojas, Yavanas, Neechas, Hunas, Tusharas, Parasikas etc but they do not mention the Gandharas. Vana Parva of Mahabharata states that the Andhhas, Pulindas, Sakas, Kambojas, Yavanas, Valhikas, Aurnikas and Abhiras etc will become rulers in Kaliyuga and will rule the earth (India) un-righteously(MBH 3.187.28-30). Here there is no mention of Gandhara since it is included amongst the Kamboja. Sabha Parava of the Mahabharata enumerates numerous kings from the north-west paying tribute to Pandava king Yudhistra at the occasion of Rajasuya amongst whom it mentions the Kambojas, Vairamas, Paradas, Pulindas, Tungas, Kiratas, Pragjyotisha, Yavanas, Aushmikas, Nishadas, Romikas, Vrishnis, Harahunas, Chinas, Sakas, Sudras, Abhiras, Nipas, Valhikas, Tukharas, Kankas, etc etc (Mahabharata 2.50-1.seqq). The lists does not include the Gandharas since they are counted as the same people as the Kambojas. In the context of Krsna digvijay, the Mahabharata furnishes a key list of twenty-five ancient Janapadas viz: Anga, Vanga, Kalinga, Magadha, Kasi, Kosala, Vatsa, Garga, Karusha, Pundra, Avanti, Dakshinatya, Parvartaka, Dasherka, Kashmira, Ursa, Pishacha, Mudgala, Kamboja, Vatadhana, Chola, Pandya, Trigarta, Malava, and Darada (MBH 7/11/15-17). Besides, there were Janapadas of Kurus and Panchalas also. Interestingly, no mention is made to Gandhara in this list. Again in another of its well-known shlokas, the Mahabharata (XIII, 33.20-23; XIII, 35, 17-18), lists the Sakas, Yavanas, Kambojas, Dravidas, Kalingas, Pulindas, Usinaras, Kolisarpas, Mekalas, Sudras, Mahishakas, Latas, Kiratas, Paundrakas, Daradas etc as the Vrishalas/degraded Kshatriyas (See also: Comprehensive History of India, 1957, p 190, K. A. N. Sastri). It does not include the Gandharas in the list though in yet another similar shloka (MBH 12.207.43-44), the same epic now brands the Yavanas, Kambojas, Gandharas, Kiratas and Barbaras (Yauna Kamboja Gandharah Kirata barbaraih) etc as Mlechcha tribes living the lives of the Dasyus or the Barbarians. Thus in the first shlokas, the Gandharas and the Kambojas are definitely treated as one people. The Assalayana-Sutta of Majjima Nakaya says that in the frontier lands of the Yonas, Kambojas and other nations, there are only two classes of People - Arya and Dasa where an Arya could become Dasa and vice-varsa (Majjima Nakayya 43.1.3). Here again, the Gandharas are definitively included among the Kambojas as if the two people are same. Rajatarangini of Kalhana, a Sanskrit text from the north, furnishes a list of northern nations which king Lalitaditya Muktapida (Kashmir) (8th c. CE) undertakes to reduce in his dig-vijaya expedition. The list includes the Kambojas, Tukharas, Bhauttas (in Baltistan in western Tibet), Daradas, Valukambudhi, Strirajya, Uttarakurus and Pragjyotisha respectively, but no mention of Gandharas (Rajatarangini: 4.164- 4.175). Apparently the Gandharas are counted among the Kambojas. Sikanda Purana (Studies in the Geography, 1971, p 259-62, Sircar, Hist of Punjab, 1997, p 40, Dr L. M. Joshi and Dr Fauja Singh (Editors)), contains a list of 75 countries among which it includes Khorasahana, Kuru, Kosala, Bahlika, Yavana, Kamboja, Siva, Sindhu, Kashmira, Jalandhara (Jullundur), Hariala (Haryana), Bhadra (Madra), Kachcha, Saurashtra, Lada, Magadha, Kanyakubja, Vidarbha, Kirata, Gauda, Nepala etc but no mention of Gandhara in this list of 75 countries. Kavyamimasa of Rajasekhara (880-920 AD) also lists 21 north-western countries/nations of the Saka, Kekaya, Vokkana, Huna, Vanayuja, Kamboja, Vahlika, Vahvala, Lampaka, Kuluta, Kira, Tangana, Tushara, Turushaka, Barbara, Hara-hurava, Huhuka, Sahuda, Hamsamarga (Hunza), Ramatha and Karakantha etc but no mention of Gandhara or Darada (See: Kavyamimasa, Rajashekhara, Chapter 17; also: Kavyamimasa Editor Kedarnath, trans. K. Minakshi, pp 226-227). Here in both the lists, the Daradas and Gandharas are also treated as the Kambojas. The Satapancasaddesavibhaga of Saktisagama Tantra (Book III, Ch VII, 1-55) lists Gurjara, Avanti, Malava, Vidarbha, Maru, Abhira, Virata, Pandu, Pancala, Kamboja, Bahlika, Kirata, Khurasana, Cina, Maha-Cina, Nepala, Gauda, Magadha, Utkala, Huna, Kaikeya, Surasena, Kuru Saindhava, Kachcha among the 56 countries but the list does not include the Gandharas and Daradas. Similarly, Sammoha Tantra list also contains 56 nations and lists Kashmira, Kamboja, Yavana, Sindhu, Bahlika, Parsika, Barbara, Saurashtra, Malava, Maharashtra, Konkana, Avanti, Chola, Kamarupa, Kerala, Simhala etc but no mention of Daradac and Gandhara (See quotes in: Studies in Geography, 1971, p 78, D. C. Sircar; Studies in the Tantra, pp 97-99, Dr P. C. Bagchi). Obviously, the Daradas and Gandharaa are included among the Kambojas. Raghu Vamsa by Kalidasa refers to numerous tribes/nations of the east (including the Sushmas, Vangas, Utkalas, Kalingas and those on Mt Mahendra), then of the south (including Pandyas, Malaya, Dardura, and Kerals), then of the west (Aprantas), and then of the north-west (like the Yavanas, the Parasikas, the Hunas, the Kambojas) and finally those of the north Himalayan (like the Kirats, Utsavasketas, Kinnaras, Pragjyotishas) etc etc (See: Raghuvamsa IV.60 seq). Here again no mention of the Gandharas though Raghu does talk of the Kambojas. And last but not least, even the well known Manusmriti, the Hindu law book, refers to the Kambojas, Yavanas, Shakas, Paradas, Pahlavas, Chinas, Kiratas, Daradas and Khasha besides also the Paundrakas, Chodas, Dravidas but surprisingly enough, it does not make any mention of the Gandharas in this very elaborate list of the Vrishalah Ksatriyas (Manusamriti X.43-44). The above references amply demonstrate that the Gandharas were many times counted among the Kambojas themselves as if they were one and the same people. Thus, the Kambojas and the Gandhara do seem to have been a cognate people.
- ^ There are also several instances in the ancient literature where the reference has been made only to the Gandharas and not to the Kambojas. In these cases, the Kambojas have obviously been counted among the Gandharas themselves.
- ^ Kalimpur Inscriptions of Pala king Dharmapala of Bengal (770-810 AD) list the nations around his kingdom as the Bhoja (Gurjara), Matsya, Madra, Kuru, Avanti, Gandhara and the Kira (Kangra) which he boasts of as if they are his vassal states. From Monghyr inscriptions of king Devapala (810 - 850AD) the successor of king Dharmapala, we get the list of the nations as Utkala (Kalinga), Pragjyotisha (Assam), Dravida, Gurjara (Bhoja), Huna and the Kamboja. These are the nations which the cavalry of Pala king Devapala is said to have scoured during his war expeditions against these people. Obviously the Kamboja of the Monghyr inscriptions of king Devapala here is none other than the Gandhara of the Kalimpur inscription of king Dharamapala. Hence, the Gandhara and the Kamboja are used interchangeably in the records of the Pala kings of Bengal, thus indicating them to be same group of people.
- ^ James Fergusson observes: "In a wider sense, name Gandhara implied all the countries west of Indus as far as Candhahar"(The Tree and Serpent Worship, 2004, p 47, James Fergusson).
- ^ Encyclopedia Americana, 1994, p 277, Encyclopedias and Dictionaries.
- ^ Ptolemy's Geography mentions Tambyzoi located in eastern Bactria (Ancient India as Described by Ptolemy: Being a Translation of the Chapters ... 1885, p 268, John Watson McCrindle - Geography, Ancient; Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World, History - 2000, p 99,(Editors) Richard J.A. Talbert) and Ambautai people located to south of Hindukush Mountains(Geography 6.18.3; See map in McCrindle, p 8). Dr S Levi has identified Tambyzoi with Kamboja (Indian Antiquary, 1923, p 54; Pre Aryan and Pre Dravidian in India, 1993, p 122, Dr Sylvain Lévi, Dr Jean Przyluski, Jules Bloch, Asian Educational Services) while land of Ambautai has also been identified by Dr Michael Witzel (Harvard University) with Sanskrit Kamboja (Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies, Vol. 5,1999, issue 1 (September), Dr. M. Witzel; Indo-Aryan Controversy: Evidence and Inference in Indian History, 2005, p 257, Laurie L. Patton, Edwin Bryant; The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia: : Language, Material Culture and Ethnicity, 1995, p 326, George Erdosy.
- ^ MBH VII.4.5; II.27.23.
- ^ See: Problems of Ancient India, 2000, p 5-6; cf: Geographical Data in the Early Puranas, p 168.
- ^ MBH II.27.27.
- ^ Vedic Index I, p 138, Dr Macdonnel, Dr Keith.
- ^ Ethnology of Ancient Bhārata – 1970, p 107, Dr Ram Chandra Jain.
- ^ The Journal of Asian Studies – 1956, p 384, Association for Asian Studies, Far Eastern Association (U.S.).
- ^ Balocistān: siyāsī kashmakash, muz̤mirāt va rujḥānāt – 1989, p 2, Munīr Aḥmad Marrī.
- ^ India as Known to Panini: A Study of the Cultural Material in the Ashṭādhyāyī – 1953, p 49, Dr Vasudeva Sharana Agrawala.
- ^ Afghanistan, p 58, W. K. Fraser, M. C. Gillet.
- ^ Afghanistan, its People, its Society, its Culture, Donal N. Wilber, 1962, p 80, 311 etc.
- ^ Iran, 1956, p 53, Herbert Harold Vreeland, Clifford R. Barnett.
- ^ Geogramatical Dictionary of Sanskrit (Vedic): 700 Complete Revisions of the Best Books..., 1953, p 49, Dr Peggy Melcher, Dr A. A. McDonnel, Dr Surya Kanta, Dr Jacob Wackmangel, Dr V. S. Agarwala.
- ^ Geographical and Economic Studies in the Mahābhārata: Upāyana Parva, 1945, p 33, Dr Moti Chandra - India.
- ^ A Grammatical Dictionary of Sanskrit (Vedic): 700 Complete Reviews of the ..., 1953, p 49, Dr Vasudeva Sharana Agrawala, Surya Kanta, Jacob Wackernagel, Arthur Anthony Macdonell, Peggy Melcher - India.
- ^ MBH 7/91/39.
- ^ Arthashastra 11/1/4.
- ^ Ashtadhyayi IV.1.168-175.
- ^ Hindu Polity: A Constitutional History of India in Hindu Times, Parts I and II., 1955, p 52, Dr Kashi Prasad Jayaswal - Constitutional history; Prācīna Kamboja, jana aura janapada =: Ancient Kamboja, people and country, 1981, Dr Jiyālāla Kāmboja - Kamboja (Pakistan).
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