· Rajas of Mahajanapadas: (i) They became rajas by performing very big sacrifices where people accepted their supremacy. (ii) They had capital city, which were fortified. They also had large armies. Rajas in Rigveda: (i) The rulers was chosen by the jana i.e., the people. (ii) They did not have a capital city, places, armies. Also, they did not collect taxes.
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The sixteen Mahajanapadas
· The Mahajanapadas were a set of sixteen kingdoms that existed in ancient India.
· When the tribes (janas) of the late Vedic period decided to form their own territorial communities, it eventually gave rise to new and permanent areas of settlements called ‘states’ or ‘janapadas.’
· Some janapadas became more important than others, and were known as mahajanapadas.
· Vajji, Magadha, Koshala, Kuru, Panchala, Gandhara and Avanti were amongst the most important mahajanapadas.
· While most mahajanapadas 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.
· Mahavira and the Buddha belonged to such ganas.
· The Vajji sangha, the rajas probably controlled resources such as land collectively.
· Although their histories are often difficult to reconstruct due to the lack of sources, some of these states lasted for nearly a thousand years.
· Each mahajanapada had a capital city, which was often fortified.
· Maintaining these fortified cities as well as providing for incipient armies and bureaucracies required resources.
· Rulers were advised to collect taxes and tribute from cultivators, traders and artisans.
· Raids on neighbouring states were recognised as a legitimate means of acquiring wealth.
· Gradually, some states acquired standing armies and maintained regular bureaucracies. Others continued to depend on militia, recruited, more often than not, from the peasantry.