By going through these Maharashtra State Board Class 11 History Notes Chapter 5 Janapadas and Republics students can recall all the concepts quickly.

Maharashtra State Board Class 11 History Notes Chapter 5 Janapadas and Republics

‘Jana’ and Janapadas:
Vedic people used the term Jana to designate a group of people, united under a common bond of singular kinship structure. Their settlement was known as ‘Grama’. A cluster of gramas consisting of the same Jana was known by the name of that particular Jana.

A region occupied by a Janas was called as Janapada. Gradually the Janapadas had more formal administrative structures transforming them into independent states. These were the first well-established states of ancient India. However, this does not necessarily mean that every Janapada evolved into an independent state.

The term ‘Janapada’ occurs in the Brahmana texts for the first time. Thereafter, it is frequently used in the Vedic literature and the epics – Mahabharata and Ramayana, as also in the Jain and the Buddhist literature. Considering the ancient Indian geographic perception with reference to the janapadas the said literature seems to divide the Indiansulcontinentjnto five sections:

  1. ‘Praachya’ – of the east
  2. ‘Praatichya’ – of the west
  3. ‘Udichya’ – of the north
  4. ‘Dakshina’ – of the south
  5. ‘Madhyadesha – The central region.

Maharashtra Board Class 11 History Notes Chapter 5 Janapadas and Republics

Territoriality and Autonomous Functioning: It may be noted, that the sense of territoriality and the ensuing awareness of autonomy were the main factors responsible for the formation of ancient Janapadas in India. However, their administrative system was not much different from that of the Janas in the Rigveda.

The chief of the Janapada was known as ‘Rajan’. Two assemblies known as ‘Sabha’ and ‘Samiti’ were at the apex of all administrative decision-making processes, since the very beginning of the Vedic period.

Expansion and Development of the Janapadas: The expansion and development of the janapadas seem to have occurred in three different ways:
Expansion and development of a society formed into a Jana by uniting of a number of generations of a singular kula (family). For example, the Janapadas namely, Matsya, Chedi, Gandhara, Kashi, Kosala, etc.

Janapadas rising out of the union of more than one kula. For example, the Panchala janapada. Who were the five Janas united under the name of Panchalas, is not exactly known According to the renowned historian, Hemchandra Raychaudhuri following were the janas who merged together as Panchalas: Krivi, Turvasha, Keshi, Shrinajaya and Somaka. The more powerful janapadas conquered the less powerful ones.

Federation of States (Ganarajya):
‘Gana’ means the ruling class comprising members of equal social status. Similarly, ‘sangha’ means a state formed by many kulas or janapadas by coming together. By 6th century B.C.E. many sangharajyas had come into existence. There were three main types of the ancient federation of states in India.

  • Ganarajya of the members of the same kula. For example, Malava and Shibi.
  • Ganarajya created by more than one kulas coming together. For example, Vajji Ganasangha. It included eight kulas. Vajji, Lichchhavi, Dnyatruk and Videha were the important ganas among them.
  • More than one ganrajyas coming together to create a sangharajya. For example, Yaudheya- Kshudrak Sangh.

Maharashtra Board Class 11 History Notes Chapter 5 Janapadas and Republics

Democratic States: Some of the gana sanghas were divided into regional zones called ‘Khanda’. They functioned through a group of elected individuals, who were found capable. Each of the elected members represented his respective khanda. These elected members were installed with collective authority for the smooth running of the gana sangha.

This was a democratic system. Ganasanghas which functioned in this democratic way existed in Punjab and Sindh at the time of Alexander’s invasion. Each elective representative of respective regional zone was designated as ‘Ganamukhya’. Every gana mukhya was the member of the assembly known as ‘Gana Parishad. The decisions made by the Gana Parishad were implemented by designated functionaries of various cadre. He was known as the ‘Adhyaksha’ or ‘Raja’.

Oligarchic States: In this type the elite class in the society held all the powers of decision-making and administration. Panini and Kautilya mention them as ‘Rajshabdopajivi’ Sangh. Panini includes Vajji, Andhaka, Vrishni, Yaudheya in the Rajashabdopjivi type. Kautilya includes the Vrijji or Vajji, Madrak, Kuru, Panchala, etc. in this type. This type of gana sanghas were more prevalent in the eastern region of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.


→ Kula – Clan or family.

→ Grania – Settlement.

→  Rajan – Chief of Janapada.

→ Gana – Refers to the ruling class comprising members of equal status.

→  Khanda – Regional zones.

→  Varta – Means trade or commerce.