Sixteen (16) Mahajanapadas

The history of ancient India becomes clearer since the times of Mahavira and Buddha, that is, in the 6th century B.C. North India or the Aryavarta, yet to be consolidated under a paramount power, had sixteen states or Mahajanapadas, as mentioned in the Buddhist Jatakas, Anguttara Nikaya, the Jain Bhagavati Sutra and the Hindu Puranas.

These were:

  1. Anga (East Bihar),
  2. Magadha (South Bihar),
  3. Kosala (Ayodhya),
  4. Kasi (Varanasi),
  5. Chedi (Bundelkhand),
  6. Vriji (North India),
  7. Malta (Gorakhpur),
  8. Vatsa (Allahabad),
  9. Kuru (Delhi),
  10. Panchala (Bareilly-Badayun),
  11. Matsa (Jaipur),
  12. Shurasena (Mathura),
  13. Gandhara (Peshwar Rawalpindi)
  14. Asamaka (Godavari valley),
  15. Avanti (Malwa) and
  16. Kamboja (West Kashmir).

Mostly monarchic states, Vriji and Malla had republican rules. Avanti, Vatsa, Kosala and Malla were the most powerful and for nearly a hundred years they fought among each other for supremacy. Magadha won and established an undivided, extensive empire over large parts of India.

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