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1. After the war of Mahabharata, the world was mostly ruled by Yadavas.

2. But due to their infighting, they were divided into 16 separate Kingdoms, these Kingdoms were called MahaJanpadas.

3. Literally Mahjanapadas means 'Great Kingdoms'.

4. Names of these Janpadas are Anga, Kosala, Kashi, Magadha, Videha, Malla, Chedi, Vatsa (or Vamsa), Kuru, Trigarta Kingdom, Panchala, Machcha (or Matsya), Surasena, Assaka (or Asmaka), Avanti, Gandhara, Kamboja

5. Although all these Mahajanpadas were ruled by different rulers, Magadha slowly became the most powerful of them all. Magadha was then ruled by the Yadavas. Mahapadma Nanda of Nanda Dynasty is credited to have destroyed most of Kshatriya clans in his time.

How 16 Mahajanpadas were united as 1 Magadha Empire?

1. Anga was annexed into Magadha by Bimbisar. This victory laid foundation for the Magadha Kingdom.

2. Kashi was merged into Kosala. Later on Kosala was merged into Magadha by Ajatasatru.

3. Vajji was annexed into Magadha by Ajatasatru in a brutal battle.

4. Mallas was merged into Magadha.

5. Vatsa kingdom was annexed by the Avanti kingdom. Later Avanti was annexed into Magadha by Shisunaga Dynasty.

6. Videha, Kuru, Panchala, Trigarta, Asmaka, Sursena,, were all annexed into Magadha by Mahapadma Nanda and recieved the title of "Destroyer of Kshatriyas" when he founded the Nanda Dynasty.

7. Matsya was merged into Chedi Kingdom. Later Chedi was annexed into Magadha during Nanda Dynasty's reign.

8. Gandhara & Kambojas were annexed by Achaemenids of Persia during the reign of Cyrus (558–530 BC). Later on Chandragupta Maurya took them under Magadha during Maurya Dynasty's reign

Magadha (Bihar)

Ajatshatru Gautam Buddha1. Magadha was one of the most prominent and prosperous of mahajanpadas.

2. 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.

3. Krishna and Bhima almost ended the Brihadratha dynasty by killing Jarasandh, although Krishna made Jarasandha's son the king of Magadh, but even he could not survive for long.

4. Brihadratha dynasty was followed by a Yadav dynasty called Pradyota dynasty

5. Magadha afterwards had a series of Yadava Dynasties, which included :-

Haryanka dynasty(Bimbisar, Ajatshatru),

Shishunaga dynasty(Shishunaga),

and then the Nanda Dynasty.


1. Before Buddha, Kasi was the most powerful of the sixteen Mahajanapadas.

2. The Jatak Kathas speak of a long rivalry of Kasi with Kosala, Anga and Magadha.

3. King Brihadratha of Kasi had conquered Kosala but Kasi was later incorporated into Kosala by King Kansa during Buddha's time.

Kosala (Ayodhya, Benares, Saketa, Sravasti)

King Pasenadi and Gautam Buddha1. The kingdom was ruled by king Prasenjit during the era of Mahavira and Budhha

2. Later on the kingdom was ruled by son of King Prasenjit namely Vidudabha.

2. 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.

3. Kosala was ultimately merged into Magadha when Vidudabha was Kosala's ruler.

Trigarta Kingdom (From Kangra district to Punjab )

1. Trigarta kings were allies of Duryodhana and enemies of Pandavas and Viratas.

2. Their capital was named Prasthala. They attacked the Virata Kingdom aided by the Kurus to steal cattle from there.

3. Pandavas living there in anonymity helped the Viratas to resist the combined forces of Trigartas and Kurus.

4. Trigarta kings fought the Kurukshetra War and were killed by Arjuna, after a ruthless and bloody conflict.

5. Arjuna also annihilated an Akshouhini (a large military unit) of Trigarta warriors called the Samsaptakas.

6. These warriors had vowed to either die or kill Arjuna as part of a larger plan by Duryodhana to capture Yudhishthira alive.

7. The Katoch Dynasty has been attributed to have ruled this area.

8. Maharaja Susharma Chand had fought against Arjuna. His son built the Kangra Fort.

Anga (West Bengal)

1. Anga was annexed by Magadha in the time of Bimbisara.

Vajji or Vriji (Mithila or Janakpur)

1. The Vajjians or Virijis included 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

2. It was in the time of king Janaka that Videha came into prominence.

3. The last king of Videha was Kalara.

4. On the ruins of his kingdom arose the republics of the Licchhavis and Videhans and seven other small ones. The mother of Mahavira Swami was a Licchavi princess.

5. Vaishali was the capital of the Licchavis and the political headquarters of the powerful Varijian confederacy.

6. Vaishali, or the Vajji republic was captured by king Ajatasatru of Magadha.

Mallas ( Kasia near Gorakhpur, Padrauna which is 12 miles from Kasia )

1. Pandava Bhim is said to have conquered the chief of the Mallas/Malls in the course of his expedition in Eastern India.

2. Gautam Buddha died at the courtyard of King Sastipal Mall of Kushinagar/Kushinara. Kushinagar is now the centre of the Buddhist pilgrimage circle.

3. Mallas kingdom were annexed to the Magadhan empire, although they formed an alliance with the Licchhavis, but lost their independence not long after Buddha's death.

Chedi (Nepal, & in Bundelkhand near Kausambi)

1. Chedis or Chaidyas was an ancient Yadav clans, who had two distinct settlements of which one was in the mountains of Nepal and the other in Bundelkhand near Kausambi.

2. Chedis lay near Yamuna midway between the kingdom of Kurus and Vatsas.

3. Sotthivatnagara, Sukti or Suktimati of Mahabharata, was the capital of Chedi.

4. Sishupal was the King of Chedi, who was killed by Lord Krishna.

5. A branch of Chedis founded a royal dynasty in the kingdom of Kalinga according to the Hathigumpha inscription of Kharvela.

Vamsa or Vatsa ( Allahabad, Kaushambi )

Udayana1. Vatsa kingdom was named after a Kasi king, Vatsa

2. Founding its capital Kauśāmbī was done by Chedi prince Kusa or Kusamba.

3. Vatsa or Vamsa country corresponded with the territory of modern Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh.

4. Udayana was the ruler of Vatsa in the sixth century BC, the time of Buddha.

5. Initially king Udayana was opposed to Buddhism but later became a follower of Buddha and made Buddhism the state religion.

6. 4 successors of Udayana were Vahināra, DanḍapāṇI, Niramitra and Kṣemaka.

7. Later, the Vatsa kingdom was annexed by the Avanti kingdom.

8. Maniprabha, the great-grandson of Pradyota ruled at Kauśāmbī as a prince of Avanti.

Kuru (Delhi, Meerut, Thanesar )

1. The country of the Kurus roughly corresponded to the modern Thanesar, state of Delhi and Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh.

2. The capital of the Kurus was Indraprastha(Yudhisthir made Krishna's descendant the king of Indraprasth) near modern Delhi which extended seven leagues.

3. At Buddha's time, the Kuru country was ruled by a titular chieftain (king consul) named Korayvya.

4. 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.

5. The Kurus had matrimonial relations with the Yadavas, the Bhojas, Trigrata s and the Panchalas.

6. There is a Jataka reference to king Dhananjaya, introduced as a prince from the race of Yudhishtra.

Panchala ( Kanauj, Budaun & Farrukhabad in U.P. )

1. The Panchalas occupied the country to the east of the Kurus between the mountains and river Ganges.

2. It roughly corresponded to modern Budaun, Farrukhabad and the adjoining districts of Uttar Pradesh.

Machcha or Matsya ( Bharatpur, Alwar & Jaipur in Rajasthan )

1. The capital of Matsya was at Viratanagara (modern Bairat) which is said to have been named after its founder king Virata.

2. In Pali literature, the Matsyas are usually associated with the Surasenas, i.e. Yadavas. 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.

3. The Matsyas had not much political importance of their own during the time of Buddha.

4. King Sujata ruled over both the Chedis and Matsyas, thus showing that Matsya once formed a part of the Chedi kingdom.

Surasena (Ahirwal in Haryana & Rajasthan, Mathura, Gwalior in M.P. )

1. The country of the Surasenas lay to the east of Matsya and west of Yamuna.

2. 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.

3. The Andhakas and Vrishnis of Mathura/Surasena are referred to in the Ashtadhyayi of Pāṇini.

4. In Kautiliya's Arthashastra, the Vrishnis are described as samgha or republic.

5. The Vrishnis, Andhakas and other allied tribes of the Yadavas formed a samgha and Vasudeva (Krishna) is described as the samgha-mukhya.

6. Mathura, the capital of Surasena was also known at the time of Megasthenes as the centre of Krishna worship.

7. The Surasena kingdom had lost its independence on annexation by the Magadhan empire.

Assaka or Ashmaka ( on the banks of river Godavari )

1. The Country of Assaka or the Ashmaka tribe was located in Dakshinapatha or southern India.

2. In Buddha's time, the Assakas were located on the banks of the river Godavari (south of the Vindhya mountains).

3, The river Godavari separated the country of the Assakas from that of the Mulakas (or Alakas).

4. At one time, Assaka included Mulaka and abutted Avanti

Avanti ( Malwa, Nimar and adjoining parts of the Madhya Pradesh )

1. The country of the Avantis was an important kingdom of western India and was one of the four great monarchies in India in the post era of Mahavira and Buddha. The other three being Kosala, Vatsa and Magadha.

2. At the times of Mahavira and Buddha, Ujjaini was the capital of integrated Avanti.

3. King Nandivardhana of Avanti was defeated by king Shishunaga of Magadha.

4. Avanti later became part of the Magadhan empire.

Gandhara ( Afghanistan & North West Punjab )

King Pukkusati1. 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.

2. According to Puranic traditions, this Janapada was founded by Gandhara, son of Aruddha, a descendant of Yayati. 3. The river Indus watered the lands of Gandhara.

4. Taksashila and Pushkalavati, were two cities of this Mahajanapada.

5. Gandharas were destroyed by Pramiti (aka Kalika) at the end of Kaliyuga.

6. The Gandhara kingdom sometimes also included Kashmir.

7. At one time, Gandhara formed a part of the kingdom of Kashmir.

8. Gandhara Mahajanapada had Its capital at Takshasila (Taxila).

King Pukkusati Buddha9. King Pukkusati or Pushkarasarin of Gandhara in the middle of the sixth century BC was the contemporary of king Bimbisara of Magadha.

10. 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.

11. Gandhara was often linked politically with the neighboring regions of Kashmir and Kamboja

12. The Taxila University was a renowned center of learning in ancient times, where scholars from all over the world came to seek higher education.

13. Pāṇini, the Indian genius of grammar and Kautiliya are the world renowned products of Taxila University.

14. Gandhara was subjugated by Darius by 516 Bce.

Kamboja ( Afghanistan & Pakistan region on both sides of Hindukush mountains )

1. Kamboja is variously associated with the Gandhara, Darada and the Bahlika (Bactria).

2. 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.

3. The capital of Kamboja was probably Rajapura (modern Rajori) in the south-west of Kashmir.

4. In a struggle for supremacy that followed in the sixth/fifth century BC, the growing state of the Magadhas emerged as the most predominant power in ancient India, annexing several of the Janapadas of the Majjhimadesa.

5. A bitter line in the 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.

6. The Kambojans and Gandharans, however, never came into direct contact with the Magadhan state until Chandragupta and Kautiliya arose on the scene.

7. But these nations also fell prey to the Achaemenids of Persia during the reign of Cyrus (558–530 BC) or in the first year of Darius.

8. 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.

Read History Part 6 : Nanda Dynasty