What are Mahajanapadas?

       The ‘Mahajanapadas’ or great states, were the many new states that existed in the 6th century BC in the northern part of India. They came into being when people started settling in one place, in groups. They usually settled in a fertile area, and wanted to defend their land, crops and houses from other people. So, these states had their own armies, and were ruled by kings, or ruling councils.

       The Mahajanapadas were 16 in number. Anga, Kashi, Kosala, Chedi, Vatsa, Matsya, Surasena, Asmaka, Avanti, Gandhar and Magadha were ruled by kings or monarchs. The kings in these states had supreme authority.

       The Mahajanapadas of Vajji, Malla, Kuru, Panchal and Kamboj were republican states, and so were other smaller states like Lichhavi, Shakya, Koliya, Bhagga, and Moriya. These republican states had a ‘Ganaparishad’ or an assembly of senior and responsible citizens. It had the supreme authority in the state. All the administrative decisions were taken by the assembly. Of all these, Kosala, Vatsa, Avanti and Magadha were the most important ones.

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