Expansion and Development of the Janapadas




Expansion and Development of the Janapadas:

1. According to this theory, the period witnesses the rise of members in a family which leads to Gram, and eventually the population increases and thus forms into a Janapada. In simple words, uniting all people of one lineage ( Kula) and forming a Janapada. For example, the janapadas, namely, Matsya, Chedi, Gandhara, Kashi, Kosala, etc.

For easy understanding: Rise in family = Rise in Gram = Formation of Janapada

2. The second theory is based on the bonds that two lineages or Kins can share. It is a union of friendship and not only kinship and thus forms a Janapada. According to the renowned historian, Hemchandra Raychaudhuri following were the Janas who merged together as Panchalas: Krivi, Turvasha, Keshi, Shrinajaya, and Somaka. Later, Kurus and Panachalas are mentioned together as Kuru- Panchalas. By the time of Mahabharata the kula (clan) known as the Bharatas in Rigveda, got merged with the Kurus. The two kulas united to such extent that the people in the Bharata clan came to be regarded as the ancestors of the Kurus.

3. The third theory is based on conquering and conquests. It proposes that if One Janapada or Jana/ Gram is weak then a stronger Janapada will take over and increase their territory, power, and autonomy. This theory says that they believed in “Conquer the weak around you”.


Some of the ancient janapadas and the literary texts that mention their names:

  • Praachya: Anga, Magadh (Atharvaveda), Kikata (Rigveda and Atharvaveda), Pundra (Mahabharata)
  • Praatichya: Anu, Alin, Bhalan, Druhyu, Parashu, Pakhta, Puru, Turvasha, Yadu (Rigveda), Gandhara (Rigveda and Athrvaveda), Shalva (Mahabharata)
  • Udichya: Krivi, Vaikarna (Rigveda) Balhik (Atharvaveda)
  • Dakshina: Andhra (Mahabharata) Pulinda (Emperor Ashoka’s edicts)
  • Madhyadesha: Aja, Chedi, Bharata, Matsya, Shigru, Trutsu, Ushinara, Yakshu
    (Rigveda), Kuru, Shrinjaya (Rigveda and Atharvaveda)

For additional information:

Ancient Indian literature mentions two more types of ganasanghas. ‘Ayudhjivi’ sangh and ‘Varta-Shastropajivi’ sangh. They existed in the northwest regions of the Indian subcontinent. The ganasangha of the Trigartas was mentioned as Ayudhajivi. These people were skilled warriors and warfare was the means of their livelihood. For example Yaudheya, Malava, and Kshudraka. ‘Varta’ means trade and commerce. The people in the Varta- Shastropajivi ganasanghas lived by trade and commerce, agriculture, and animal husbandry, as well as their skills in warfare. People in the Kamboj and Surashtra ganasanghas earned their livelihood by these means.

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