History Tuition» Ancient India» Pre Mauryan Period» The Sixteen Mahajanapadas

The Sixteen Mahajanapadas

The sixteen century BC is often regarded as a major turning point in early Indian history. It is an era associated with early states, cities; the growing use of iron, the development of coinage etc. It also witnessed the growth of diverse systems of thought including Buddhism and Jainism. Early Buddhist and Jaina texts mention amongst other things, sixteen states known as Mahajanpadas. Although the lists vary, some names such as Vajji, Magadha, Koshala, Kuru, Panchala, Gandhara and Avanti occur frequently. Clearly these were amongst the most important Mahajanpadas. While most Mahajanpadas were ruled by kings some known as ganas or sanghas were oligarchies where power was shared by a number of men often collectively called rajas. Both Mahavira and the Buddha belonged to such ganas. In some instances as in the case of the Vajji sangha the rajas probably controlled resources such as land collectively. Each mahajanpada had a capital city which was later fortified.

  1. Anga
  2. Magadha
  3. Kasi
  4. Kosala
  5. Vajji
  6. Malla
  7. Cheti
  8. Vatsa
  9. Kuru
  10. Panchala
  11. Matsya
  12. Surasena
  13. Assaka
  14. Avanti
  15. Gandhara
  16. Kamboja