Janapadas and Mahajanapadas Class 6 History Notes Maharashtra Board

Janapadas and Mahajanapadas Class 6 History Notes Maharashtra State Board


The period from about 1000 BC to 600 BC is considered to be the post-Vedic period. It was in this period that the janapadas came into existence. Janapadas were the many small States that spread from today’s Afghanistan which is to the northwest of the Indian subcontinent to Bengal and Odisha in the east and to Maharashtra in the south.
Janapadas and Mahajanapadas Class 6 History Notes Maharashtra Board 1
The janapada called ‘Ashmak’ occupied a part of today’s Maharashtra. The names of these janapadas can be found in Sanskrit, Pali, and Ardhamagadhi literature. One can also find information about them in the writings of Greek historians. Some of the janapadas were monarchies, while others were republics.

Janapadas and Mahajanapadas Class 6 History Notes Maharashtra Board

Some janapadas had a gana-parishad of senior citizens. Members of the ganaparishad came together for discussions and made decisions regarding administrative issues. The place where these discussions took place was known as the Santhagar. Gautam Buddha hailed from the Shakya Republic. Every janapada had its own coinage.



  • The Kosala mahajanapada was located in the foothills of the Himalayas in the region of Uttar Pradesh and Nepal.
  • The famous cities of Kosala were Shravasti, Kushavati and Saket.
  • Shravasti was the capital of Kosala.
  • Gautama Buddha had lived in the famous Vihara Jetvan at Shravasti for a long time.
  • The Kosala king Prasenjit was a contemporary of the Buddha and Vardhaman Mahavir.
  • Later, the State of Kosala merged with Magadha.


  • The mahajanapada Vatsa was located in the region around Prayag, that is Allahabad, in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Kosam, the capital of Vatsa, was the ancient city of Kaushambi.
  • It was an important center for trade.
  • Three extremely rich merchants of Kaushambi had built three viharas for Gautama Buddha and his followers.
  • King Udayana was a contemporary of Gautama Buddha.
  • After King Udayana, the State of Vatsa could not maintain its independent existence for long. The king of Avanti mahajanapada conquered the State.


  • The ancient kingdom of Avanti was located in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Ujjayani (Ujjain) was its capital.
  • The city was an important trade center.
  • The king of Avanti, Pradyot, was a contemporary of Gautama Buddha and Vardhaman Mahavir.
  • During the reign of King Nandivardhan, the State of Avanti was merged into the Magadha Empire.


  • The ancient mahajanapada of Magadha was spread through the regions of Gaya, and Patna in Bihar and some regions in Bengal.
  • The capital of Magadha was Rajgriha (Rajgir).
  • King Bimbisara’s palace was built by the architect Mahagovind.
  • Jeevaka, the famous physician, was at the court of Bimbisara.
  • Bimbisara had become a follower of Gautama Buddha.

Some janapadas gradually became stronger and expanded their geographical boundaries. Such janapadas came to be known as mahajanapadas. From the literature of that period, it is clear that up to the sixth century BCE, sixteen mahajanapadas had acquired special importance. Kosala, Vatsa, Avanti, and Magadha among them became more powerful.

Janapadas and Mahajanapadas Class 6 History Notes Maharashtra Board

Rise of the Magadha Empire
Ajat Shatru, the son of Bimbisara, continued with the policy of expansion of the Magadha Empire. He successfully conquered many republics of the east. The kingdom of Magadha prospered during the reign of Ajatshatru. He had become a follower of Gautama Buddha. After the Mahaparinirvana of Gautama Buddha, it was during his reign that the first Buddhist Council or Sangiti was held at Rajgriha.
Janapadas and Mahajanapadas Class 6 History Notes Maharashtra Board 2
The foundation for the new capital Pataligram of Magadha was laid during Ajatshatru’s period. Later, it became famous as ‘Pataliputra’. Pataliputra was probably in the vicinity of today’s Patna city. A noteworthy successor of Ajatshatru was the Magadha king Shishunag. He annexed the kingdoms of Avanti, Kosala, and Vatsa to Magadha. Nearly the entire region of northern India came under the control of Magadha. That was how the Magadha Empire took shape.

Janapadas and Mahajanapadas Class 6 History Notes Maharashtra Board

The Nanda Kings of Magadha:
The Nandas ruled the Magadha Empire between 364 BCE and 324 BCE. They had set up a good administrative system necessary to run the huge empire. They had a huge four-column army of infantry, cavalry, chariots, and elephants. The Nandas also introduced the system of standard weights and measures. King Dhananand was the last king of the Nanda dynasty. By this time, the Magadha Empire had extended up to the Punjab in the west. However, during Dhananand’s reign, the ambitious youth Chandragupta Maurya won Pataliputra, ended the Nanda regime, and laid the foundation of the Maurya Empire. In the next chapter, we will read about the foreign invasions on the western and northwestern frontiers of India during the rise of the Maurya Empire. Also, we will read about the Maurya Empire in greater detail. The ancient and modern names of the 16 mahajanapadas:

  • Kashi (Benaras)
  • Kosal (Lucknow)
  • Malla (Gorakhpur)
  • Vatsa (Allahabad)
  • Chedi (Kanpur)
  • Kuru (Delhi)
  • Panchal (Rohilkhand)
  • Matsya (Jaipur)
  • Shurasen (Mathura)
  • Ashmak (Aurangabad, Maharashtra)
  • Avanti (Ujjain)
  • Ang (Champa East Bihar)
  • Magadha (South Bihar)
  • Vrijji (North Bihar)
  • Gandhara (Peshawar)
  • Kamboj (Near Gandhara)

Maharashtra State Board Class 6 History Notes Janapadas and Mahajanapadas can be used for revisiting and reinforcing previously learned content.

Leave a Comment