According Romila Thapar the republics grew out of monarchies. The more independent Aryans rebelled against the monarchical rule and established republics which were more in keeping with the tribal traditions. While some say republics predated monarchies. In ancient India these republics were given the term gana and sangha. According Panini the term 'samgha' and 'gana' had the same meaning. The Arthsashtra of Kautilya mentions a number of republics including those of Lichchhavis, the Vrijikas,the Kuru,the Panchalas, the kamboj etc. The most prominent and powerful of these republics was that of the Lichchhavis. It had its capital at Vaisali. Even the Greek writers are of the opinion that a large number of republics existed in India at the time of Alexander's invasion. The Buddhist literature is another source of these republics. It refers to a large number of republics which covered the area to the east of the kingdoms of Kosala and Kausambhi and to the west of Anga, to the north of Magadha and the south of the Himalayas. The republics were basically of two types-the republics comprising a single tribe like those of the Sakyas, the Kolias and the Mallas and the republics comprising a number of tribes or the republics of confederacy like the Vrijjis.
Government of the Republics: The kings in these states had the supreme authority. These republics or sanghs were governed on democratic lines. A chief was elected to act as the president of the administrative council. The administrative and the judicial matters of the republics were carried out in public assembly at which young and old are alike present in the common hall at Kapilavastu. It was called as Santhagara. The assembly of the people could also be called on special occasions. The president of the council was called a Raja. It is not known as to how he was elected and for how long he ruled but it appears that the office was not hereditary. The local administration was carried by local assemblies which played an important role in the administration of the state. In some of these republics villages were organized on professional basis e.g the potter, smiths of the clan used to have separate villages of their own. The small republics were gradually losing their importance and were being over-shadowed by kingdoms like Vatsa, Avanti, Kosala, Magadha etc. Soon the leadership became hereditary in certain families. The leaders took up the titles of Maharajas and Mahasenapatis in the 4th century. The ancient Indian republics flourished in Mauryan times and survived up to Gupta period.