Kingdoms, Kings and An Early Republic

Kings performed Ashvamedha sacrifice to become rulers. The Rig-Veda is the earliest of all written scriptures in ancient India. Information about the period of mahajanapadas comes from the other three Vedas, i.e. the Samaveda, the Atharvaveda and the Yajurveda. Society was divided into different groups of priests and warriors, farmers, herders, traders, crafts persons, labourers, fishing folk, and forest people. Occupations of the Brahamins were teaching the Vedas and performing sacrifices.

Occupations of Kshatriya were performing wars, sacrifices and giving justice. Occupations of Vaishyas were trade and agriculture while the duties of Shudras were to serve all the higher varnas. Priests classified some people as untouchable. Many people did not accept the Brahmanical varna system. In the word Janapada, Jana means people and pada means foot, literally means the foot of the people. People used the Red pottery and Painted Grey Ware. Big kingdoms developed in the Ganges Valley were known as mahajanapadas. Taxes on agriculture were most important as most of the people were engaged in farming. Tax was fixed at 1/6th of produce, which was known as bhaga or a share. Magadha was the one of the most powerful Mahajanapadas in ancient India. The most important kings who ruled Magadha were Bimbisara, Ajatasatru and Mahapadma Nanda. Alexander, who lived in Macedonia in Europe, wanted to become a world conqueror, moved towards the Indian subcontinent, where his forces reached up to the banks of the Beas River. Vajji was a gana or sangha, i.e.,a state that was ruled by the heads of families who belonged to a clan or by the chiefs of several clans. Both the Buddha and Mahavira belonged to ganas or sanghas.

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