State Formation and Urbanization – Indian History

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The sixth- fifth century BCE is viewed as a significant defining moment in early Indian history. It saw the rise of India’s first enormous urban areas. This happened after the downfall of the Indus Valley Civilization.

The ascent of sramana development tested the strict universality of the Vedic Period. The Mahājanapadas were sixteen realms that existed in old India. It is believed to have been from the 6th to 4th century BCE.

Two of them were most likely Ganatantras and others had different types of monarchy. By the sixth century BCE, the political units solidified into enormous realms. They were called Mahajanapadas. The procedure of State Formation and urbanization had started in these realms.

Here are the sub-topics which this article will cover.

  • Mahajanapadas- Explaining all the 16 Mahajanapadas in brief
  • Nandas

State formation and urbanization


The expression “Janapada” actually implies the solid footing of a people. Janapada is formed using the root word Jana. These Janapadas were formed at the beginning phase of migration by the Jana individuals for a settled lifestyle.

This procedure of first settlement ashore had finished its last stage before Buddha and Pāṇini. The Pre-Buddhist north-west locale of the Indian sub-mainland was separated. The Pre-Buddhist north-west locale broke into a few Janapadas divided from one another by limits.

In Pāṇini’s “Ashtadhyayi”, Janapada represents the nation and Janapadin for its populace. Every one of these Janapadas was named after the Kshatriya individuals. Two lists were given: one by Jainism and the other by Buddhism.

The Buddhist Anguttara Nikaya, at a few places, gives a rundown of sixteen incredible Mahajanapadas:

1.   Anga

2.   Assaka (or Asmaka)

3.   Avanti

4.   Chedi

5.   Gandhara

6.   Kashi

7.   Kamboja

8.   Kosala


9.   Kuru

10. Magadha

11. Malla

12. Machcha (or Matsya)

13. Panchala

14. Surasena

15. Vriji

16. Vatsa (or Vamsa)

The sutra of Jainism, Vyakhyaprajnapti, at a few places, gives a list of different sixteen incredible Mahajanapadas:

1.   Anga

2.   Banga (Vanga)

3.   Magadha

4.   Malaya

5.   Malavaka

6.   Accha

7.   Vaccha

8.   Kochcha


9.     Padha

10.   Ladha (Lata)

11.   Bajji (Vajji)

12.   Moli (Malla)

13.   Kasi

14.   Kosala

15.    Avaha

16.   Sambhuttara



The primary reference to the Angas is found in the Atharva-Veda . They were mentioned alongside the Magadhas, Gandharis and the Mujavats, as detested people. The Jaina Prajnapana positions Angas and Vangas in the main gathering of Aryan people.

It specifies the primary urban areas of antiquated India. It was likewise an extraordinary focus of exchange and business. Its vendors cruised to remove Suwanabhumi. Anga was added by Magadha in the hour of Bimbisara. This was the unparalleled victory of Bimbisara.


The Assaka or the Ashmaka clan was situated in Dakshinapatha or southern India. It includes the territories of the present-day Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Maharashtra. In Gautama Buddha’s time, a large number of the Assakas were situated on the banks of the Godavari River .

The capital of the Assakas was Potana or Potali. Potana is present-day Bodhan in Telangana and Paudanya of Mahabharata. The Ashmakas are additionally referenced by Pāṇini. They are placed in the north-west of the Markendeya Purana and the Brhat Samhita.


The Avanti was a significant realm of western India. It was one of the four extraordinary governments in India. This was after the time of Mahavira and Buddha. Avanti was partitioned into north and south by the stream Narmada.

At first, Mahishamati was the capital of Southern Avanti. Ujjaini was the capital of northern Avanti. Yet at the hours of Mahavira and Buddha, Ujjaini was the capital that coordinated Avanti. Avanti is generally related to present day Malwa, Nimar and bordering portions of present Madhya Pradesh.

Avanti was a significant focal point of Buddhism. A part of the main theras and theris was born and survived there. Lord Nandivardhana of Avanti was crushed by ruler Shishunaga of Magadha. Avanti later annexed into the Magadhan domain.


The Chedis, Chetis or Chetyas had two particular settlements. One was in the mountains of Nepal and the other in Bundelkhand close to Kausambi. As indicated by old authorities, Chedis lay close to Yamuna halfway between the realm of Kurus and Vatsas.

In the medieval period, the southern outskirts of Chedi stretched out to the banks of the waterway Narmada. Sotthivatnagara, the Sukti or Suktimati of Mahabharata, was the capital of Chedi. The Chedis were an antiquated people of India.

They are referenced in the Rigveda, with their lord Kashu Chaidya.


The fleece of the Gandharis is alluded to in the Rigveda. The Gandharas and their ruler are solid partners of the Kurus against the Pandavas in the Mahabharata war. The Gandharas were incensed individuals, very much prepared in the craft of war.

As indicated by Puranic customs, this Janapada was established by Gandhara. He was the child of Aruddha, a relative of Yayati. The rulers of this nation are said to have originated from the line of Druhyu. He was a renowned lord of the Rigvedic time frame.

He was also one of the five children of lord Yayati of lunar administration. The waterway Indus watered the terrains of Gandhara.

Taksashila and Pushkalavati, the two urban communities of this Mahajanapada. They are said to have been named after Taksa and Pushkara. They are the two children of Bharata who is believed to be the brother of lord Rama.

As per Vayu Purana , the Gandharas were demolished by Pramiti towards the end of Kaliyuga. Pāṇini referenced both the Vedic structure Gandhari and as the later structure Gandhara in his Ashtadhyayi. The Gandhara realm in some cases additionally included Kashmira.

Hecataeus of Miletus alludes to Kaspapyros as a Gandharic city. As per Gandhara Jataka, before, Gandhara formed a piece of the realm of Kashmir.


This realm was situated in the area around its capital Varanasi. It was limited by the Varuna and Asi waterways in the north and south which gave Varanasi its name. Before Buddha, Kasi was the most remarkable of the sixteen Mahajanapadas.

A few jataka stories mention the prevalence of its capital over different urban areas in India. It also praised its lavishness. These accounts recount the long battle for incomparability among Kashi and the three realms of Kosala, Anga and Magadha.

King Brihadratha of Kashi vanquished Kosala. Kashi was later consolidated into Kosala by King Kansa during Buddha’s time. The Kashis alongside the Kosalas and Videhans discover notice in Vedic messages. They seem to have been unified individuals.

The Matsya Purana and Alberuni spell Kashi as Kausika and Kaushaka . All other old writings read Kashi.


Kambojas are remembered for the Uttarapatha. The Kamboja is differently connected with the Gandhara, Darada and the Bahlika (Bactria). Old Kamboja is known to have involved locales on either side of the Hindukush.

The first Kamboja was situated in eastern Oxus nation as a neighbor to Bahlika. Yet with time, a few groups of the Kambojas seem to have crossed the Hindukush. It is believed they had settlements on its southern side too.

These last Kambojas are related with the Daradas and Gandharas in Indian writing .

We can furthermore discover notice in the Edicts of Ashoka. The proof in the Mahabharata and in Ptolemy’s Geography bolsters two Kamboja settlements.

The cis-Hindukush district from Nurestan to Rajauri in southwest of Kashmir imparts fringes to the Daradas and the Gandharas. They established the Kamboja country. The capital of Kamboja was most likely Rajapura in the south-west of Kashmir.

The Kamboja of the Buddhist conventions alludes to this cis-Hindukush part of antiquated Kambojas.


Kosala was situated toward the north-west of Magadha, with its capital at Ayodhya. Its domain is related to the modern Awadh (and Eastern Uttar Pradesh. It had the Ganges for its southern), the stream Gandak for its eastern, and the Himalaya mountains for its northern limit.

Kosala played a very important role in Vedic dharma. Its rulers aligned with the Devatas in different wars against the Daityas, Rakshas, and Asuras. Koshala and Ayodhya hold a focal spot in the Hindu sacred writings, Itihas, and Purana.

Raghuvansha-Ikshvaku Vansh was the longest consistent line. Lord Rama was a ruler in this tradition. Other extraordinary rulers were Prithu, Harishchandra, and Dilip. They are each referenced in various Puranas, Ramayan, and Mahabharat.

As per these writings, Koshala was the most impressive and greatest realm ever recorded. Later, the realm was managed by the well known ruler Prasenajit. He belonged in the time of Mahavira and Buddha. After him, his son Vidudabha continued his legacy.


The Puranas follow the root of Kurus from the Puru-Bharata family. Kuru was brought into the world after 25 years of Puru’s administration. After 15 years of Kuru, Kauravas and Pandavas took birth.

Aitareya Brahmana finds the Kurus in Madhyadesha. He further alludes to the Uttarakurus as living past the Himalayas.

According to Buddhist Sumangavilasini, the individuals of Kururashtra originated from Uttarakuru. Vayu Purana authenticates that Kuru is the child of Samvarsana of the Puru genealogy.

It is said that he was the eponymous progenitor of the Kurus and the originator of Kururashtra . Kurus are generally related to the modern Thanesar, province of Delhi, and Meerut area of Uttar Pradesh.

As indicated by the Jatakas, the capital of the Kurus was Indraprastha . It is close to present day Delhi which expanded seven classes.

At Buddha’s time, the Kuru nation was controlled by a nominal chieftain named Korayvya. The Kurus of the Buddhist time frame didn’t involve a similar situation as they did in the Vedic time frame.


The Magadha was one of the most noticeable and prosperous of mahajanapadas. The capital city was Pataliputra (Patna, Bihar). It was selected as it was on the intersection of significant streams like the Ganga, Son, Punpun and Gandak.

They had copper and iron rich zones in Bihar and Jharkhand. This helped the realm to grow great quality weapons and bolster the agrarian economy. Its area at the focal point of the throughways of exchange of those days added to its riches.

Every one of these components helped Magadha to develop in the most prosperous condition of that period. The realm of the Magadhas is generally compared to the advanced locales of Patna and Gaya . It was a functioning focal point of Jainism in those days.

The primary Buddhist Council was held in Rajagaha in the Vaibhara Hills. Later on, Pataliputra turned into the capital of Magadha.


The Mallas are every now and again referenced in Buddhist and Jain works. They were influential people staying in Northern South Asia. As indicated in Mahabharata, Panduputra Bhimasena is said to have vanquished the head of the Mallas.

During the Buddhist time frame, the Mallas Kshatriya were a republican people. Their territory comprised nine territories compared to the nine confederated groups. These republican states were known as Gana.

Two of these confederations – one with Kuśināra its capital and the second with Pava as the capital – had gotten significant at the hour of Buddha. The Mallas, like the Licchavis, are referenced by Manusmriti as Vratya Kshatriyas.

They are called Vasishthas in the Mahapparnibbana Suttanta. The Mallas had a monarchical type of government at first. But later they changed to one of Samgha .Samgha is where the individuals crown themselves the kings.


The Matsya clan lay towards the south of the Kurus and west of the Yamuna. This isolated them from the Panchalas. It is generally related to the previous territory of Jaipur in Rajasthan. It incorporated the entire of Alwar with bits of Bharatpur.

The capital of Matsya was at Viratanagara which is said to have been named after its originator lord Virata. In Pali writing, the Matsyas are connected with the Surasenas. The western Matsya was the slope tract on the north bank of the Chambal.

A part of Matsya is additionally found in later days in the Vizagapatam area. The Matsyas had very little political significance of their own . Ruler Sujata managed over both the Chedis and Matsyas, along these lines demonstrating that Matsya once shaped a piece of the Chedi realm.


The Panchalas were towards the east of the Kurus. They are located between the mountains and waterway Ganges. It is generally compared to present day Budaun, Farrukhabad and the bordering regions of Uttar Pradesh.

The nation was partitioned into Uttara-Panchala and Dakshina-Panchala. The northern Panchala had its capital at Adhichhatra . The southern Panchala had its capital at Kampilya in the Farrukhabad District.

The well known city of Kanyakubja or Kanauj was arranged in the realm of Panchala. Initially they were a monarchical family. But later, the Panchals seem to have changed to republican organization in the sixth and fifth hundreds of years BCE.

Kautiliya’s Arthashastra authenticates the Panchalas as following the Rajashabdopajivin constitution.


The Surasenas lay towards the east of Matsya and west of Yamuna. This relates generally to the Brij locale of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana ,Rajasthan and Gwalior . It had its capital at Madhura or Mathura.

Avantiputra, the ruler of Surasena, was the first among the main pupils of Buddha. He helped to spread Buddhism in Mathura . The Andhakas and Vrishnis of Mathura are alluded to in the Ashtadhyayi of Pāṇini.

In Kautiliya’s Arthashastra, the Vrishnis are portrayed as sangha or republic. The Vrishnis, Andhakas and other unified clans of the Yadavas shaped a sangha. Vasudeva (Krishna) is depicted as the sangha-mukhya.

Mathura, the capital of Surasena, was referred to at the hour of Megasthenes as the focal point of Krishna revere. The Surasena realm had lost its autonomy to the Magadhan domain.


Vajji was an alliance of neighboring families. It included the Licchavis and one of the head mahājanapadas of Ancient India. The territory they controlled established the area of Mithila in northern Bihar . Their capital was the city of Vaishali.

Both the Buddhist content Anguttara Nikaya and the Jaina text Bhagavati Sutra included Vajji in their arrangements of solasa mahājanapadas. The name of this mahājanapada was derived from one of its decision factions, the Vṛjis.

The Vajji state is demonstrated to have been a republic. This faction is referenced by Pāṇini, Chanakya and Xuanzang.


The Vatsas are called to be a part of the Kurus. The Vatsa was located in the region of current Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. It had a monarchical type of government. Its capital was Kausambi (related to the town Kosam, 38 miles from Allahabad).

Kausambi was a prosperous city where countless traders lived. It was the most significant entreport of merchandise and travelers from the north-west and south. Udayana was the leader of Vatsa in the sixth fifth century BCE.

He was exceptionally incredible, warlike and enamored with chasing. At first lord Udayana was against Buddhism. Yet later he turned into a supporter of Buddha and made Buddhism the state religion. Udayana’s mom was Queen Mrigavati.

She is striking for being one of the most punctual known female rulers in Indian history.

Nanda Dynasty

They were the rulers who succeeded the Mahajanapadas. Their capital was at Pataliputra. The Nanda empire administered the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. They existed from the fourth century BCE, to fifth century BCE.

The Nandas ousted the Shaishunaga tradition in the Magadha locale of eastern India. They extended their domain to incorporate a bigger piece of northern India. Antiquated sources contrast in regards to the names of the Nanda rulers, and the term of their standard.

Yet dependent on the Buddhist convention recorded in the Mahavamsa, they seem to have administered during c. 345–322 BCE. Few speculations date the beginning of their standard to the fifth century BCE.

The recorders of Alexander describe the Nanda kings as a ground-breaking and prosperous ruler. The possibility of a war against this ruler prompted an insurrection among the officers of Alexander. They needed to withdraw from India without pursuing a war against him.

As indicated by the Sri Lankan Buddhist content Mahavamsa, written in Pali language, there were 9 Nanda kings – they were siblings who controlled in progression, for an aggregate of 22 years. They were

  1. Ugra-sena (Uggasena in Pali)
  2. Panduka
  3. Pandugati
  4. Bhuta-pala
  5. Rashtra-pala
  6. Govishanaka
  7. Dasha-siddhaka
  8. Kaivarta
  9. Dhana


The Nanda administration was toppled by Chandragupta Maurya. He was assisted by his tutor (and later pastor) Chanakya. A few records notice Chandragupta as an individual from the Nanda family.

For instance, the eleventh century authors Kshemendra and Somadeva depict Chandragupta as a “child of the Nanda” .

Dhundiraja, in his editorial on the Vishnu Purana, names Chandragupta’s dad as Maurya. He depicts Maurya as a child of the Nanda king Sarvatha-siddhi and a hunter’s girl named Mura.

The Buddhist Milinda Panha refers to a war between the Nanda general Bhaddasala and Chandragupta.

As per the record, this war prompted the slaughter of 10,000 elephants; 100,000 horses; 5,000 charioteers; and a billion infantry. While this is an embellishment, it recommends that the ousting of the Nanda tradition was a rough issue.

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