Four phases of Janapada history

Written by Alok Mohan on August 5, 2022. Posted in Uncategorized

In Ancient Punjab, there were Trgarta-Sasthas, a federation
of six tribal units in Trigarta, and Trikah Salankayanah composed of three
sections (Tikat) Even the Yaudheyas are known to have had three sections
So had the Nabhas, who are described as the Nabhi-tina and Nabha-pankti in
the Asokan edicts.

Four Phases of Janapada History

Four distinct phases are noticeable in the history of the republican
Punjab. The first covers the 5th century B.C. The tribal map of this period can
be reconstructed on the evidence recorded by Panini in his Astadhyayi and Ganapatha. Panini’s evidence is supplemented by Patanjali in his Mahabhasya and by Vamana and Jayaditya in their joint work the Kasikavrti. These Scholiasts flourished a few centuries later. But they record many a stock example (murdhabhisikta udaharana) which had come down through oral tradition from the days of Panini.
The second epoch pertains to the 4th century B.C. It came to an end with
Alexander’s invasion of western Punjab. The latter s itinerary, as preserved by
Greek historians, provides detailed information about numerous republican
states that fought Alexander.

The third epoch coincides with the Maurya-Sunga rule, during which the
northern tribes enjoyed the least measure of autonomy. Kautilyas Arthasastra gives us some idea of the policies adopted by Chandragupta and Bindusara towards the republican Samghas.The Digvijaya-Parvan of the Mhabharata, records presumably, the early maurya campaigns against these states, otherwise the perspective of the Mahabharata generally and of the Puranas and the Buddhist literature, is of a past age. Asokan edicts bring us down almost to the times when the Indo Greek hordes began to pour down the Afghan passes and gradually established their hegemony over western Afghanistan and Sindh.
The fourth and final phase of the history of the Punjab tribes began with
the decline of the Sunga rule in the first century B.C. In the early years of this
century the east punjab tribes sprang into fresh activity They began to mint
coins of high artistic quality. These are found scattered all over the country
from the Ravi to the Yamuna river. They are found in Rajasthan also, e.g. at
Jaipur and Nagari near Chittor, indicating the direction of tribal movement.
With the beginning of the Christian era most of the tribes pass into oblivion.
Only the important ones are heard of again in the fourth century A.D, in the
Allahabad Prasasti of Samudragupta. But by this time they are no longer
found living in the Punjab. The successive invasions, during the interval, of the Indo-Geeks, the Sakas, the Parthians and the Kusanas had driven them towards Jaipur and Mewar, where the discovery ot their coins gives us the route, they followed in the course of migration to southern Rajasthan and Malwa. It
must, however be stated that this migration affected relatively small sections of the Punjab tribes, that refused to live under foreign rule. Some of the caste names in the Punjab of today are traceable to the ancient tribes Evidently, the bulk of the tribal society did not forsake their hearths and homes even when the glorious age of self-rule came to an end
Phase-I Firth Century B. C.
In ancient literature the same term signified the country and the people.
Panini recognised this fact. Occasionally this position changed as the tribe moved out, but the name conferred by it to the areas remained in use.
OF the large number of Janapadas of Panini as many as thirty-five are
described as Ayudhajivi-samgha, i.e. republican unions of people depending
mainly on arms for livelihood. These latter are listed in three Ganas, e. g. the

Damanyadi, the Parsvadi and the Yaudheyadi. Many more Janapadas
are listed in the Kucchadi, Bhargadi and Sindhvadi Ganas. Though Panini has
not expressly stated so, we know from other sources that many Janapadas of
these lists, too, were Ayudhajivi-samghas. The Aisukari, the Bhauriki and the
Rajanyadi Ganas purport to list the names of vişayas or countries. But here, too, we find that a large number of names are of Janapadas, and those, too, of the Ayudhajivi constitution. Particularly to be noted as such are the
Saubhrayanas, Rajanyas, Salankayanas, Jalandharayanas, Vasatis, Udumbaras,
Apritas etc. Ethnic identity of the Rajanyas and Apritas is manifest till today in the Ranas and the Afridis. It is interesting to note that most of the Janapadas that can be identified in Panini’s lists belong to the north-western provinces of the Indian sub-continent.
The most important of the Punjab tribes were the Yaudheyas. By the
beginning of the 5th century B.C. they had already organised themselves into a republican community of a warlike people. Panini, who flourished about this time, lists them among the Ayudhajivi-samghas. The very name Yaudheya

signifies a warrior. According to the Puranic tradition, however, their history
goes back to a very remote period. It is stated that long before the
Mahabharata war, the Anava king Usinara, established on the eastern fringes of the Punjab, the three states, the Yaudheyas, the Ambasthas and the Navarastras,
While Sibi, his renowned son brought entire punjab under his sway. The
Mahabharata and Puranic traditions, though conflicting, prove the antiquity of the tribe. The former makes Yaudheya a son of king Yudhisthira.

2. The Trigarta-Sasthas

Trigarta stands for three valleys. namely those of the Ravi, the Beas and
the Satluj. In actual fact, however only the upper reaches of these valleys were
so named. Trigarta comprised the entire hill region from Chamba to Bilaspur, and also included the sub-mountain region of Hoshiarpur and Jalandhar districts. This country was the home of some six or perhaps seven tribes, who were politically united into a republican federation.
Panini speaks of Trigartasastha as
an Ayudhajivi-samgha. The federated units are named in the Kasika as the
Kaundoparatha, the Dandaki, the Kraustuki, he Jalamani, the Brahmagupta and the Jalaki or Janaki The Mahabharata, however, speaks of Samsaptaka-ganas
of Trigarta, that fought for Duryodhana. The phrase, saptaka-gana signifies
a confederation of seven tribes. The seventh was presumably, Trigarta itself and formed a federal republic with the six Trigarta-sasthas enumerated above. The existence of Trigarta as an independent republic in later times is indicated by a coin bearing the Brahmi legend, Trakata Janapada. Panini, however, mentions in Tigarta, another Janapada, named Bharga. The Buddhist literature, too, speaks of Bhagga (Bharga) as a Samgha with Sisumara-giri as capital.
Allan and others record the discovery in Hoshiarpur district and Kangra,
Hamirpur, Pathankot and Nurpur tehsils of coins of another republic, the
Audumbaras. If members of the Trigarta federation, they should be identical with one of those listed above. More probably they were not.

3. The Rajanyas

The word Rajanya originally signified a member of a ruling family in a
republican state. Accordingly, the Kasika defines a Rajanya as an abhisikta Vaisya ksatriya i.e. a member of Ksatriya family, consecrated to rulership
Hence it appears that not all the citizens in these republics had this privilege.

In course of time the term Rajanya came to be applied to a group of
republics in the hilly regions of Himachal or perhaps to a single state. Panini distinguishes a Rajanya group from the Brahmana group of republics. But his Rajanyas of the Rajanyadi gana were definitely a single state unit, since all the identifiable names in this list are of individual tribal states. Coins issued
about first century B.C. and bearing the legend. Rajan va Janapadas have been
discovered in abundance in Hoshiarpur district, proving beyond doubt the
existence of a Single Rajanya state near this region.

4. The Ksudrakas and the Malavas
The Ksudrakas were an ancient tribe. They are said to have fought in the
Mahabharata war. Megasthanes, as quoted by Strabo records that the Persians in the reign of Cyrus, got mercenary troops from amongst the Hydrakas, i.e. the Ksudrakas of the Punjab.
About the origin of the Malavas the Mahabharata narrates the following
story. As a result of a boon that Savitri recieved from Yama, her parents,
king Asvapati of Madra and his queen Malavi begot a hundred sons. They and
their descendants were given the matronymic, Malava. From this story it appears that the tribe originally known as the Madra changed their designation to Malava, presumably after the reign of Asvapati. That explains why the term
Madra later on shed its ethnic significance and came to be used as a purely geographical name denoting Sialkot-Gujrat region.
The Ksudrakas and the Malavas were known to Panini as also to the
Mahabharata as allied tribes. The former framed a rule to designate their
joint army as Ksudraka-Malava.” It appears that the two tribes were either a federated unit or had some sort of defensive alliance, according to which they maintained a joint army. This defensive arrangement continued till at least the close of the 4th century B.C. when Alexander invaded their land. Some of his comrades-in-arms have left us interesting details about the composition of this Ksudraka-Malava army.
The Ksudrakas were known to greek writers as the oxydrakai.
Sudrakai of curtius have also been identified with them. The Greeks refer to the Malavas as the Malloi. it was because of the union of the two tribes thatthe Greek writers make confused statements about them, Plutarch, who knew of the Ksudraka-Malava league, offers the interesting explanation”
“Owing to the unity of the league, the Greek writers could not decide
whether Alexander’s narrow escape relates to the city of Malloi or to that of
the Oxydrakai”.
In Alexander’s time the Malavas lived between the lower Ravi and the
Chenab, while the Ksudrakas along the Ravi basin higher up. It appears that
the bonds of unity between the two tribes grew stronger with time till ultimately they merged into one, the Ksudrakas completely losing their identity into their bigger confederates.
5. The Sibis of Usinara

According to the tradition recorded in the epics and the Puranas, Sibi was
one of king Usinara’s five sons, each of whom founded a city. The city of Sibi
was known as Sibipura. Sibi was a great king, and conferred his name to the entire tribe. He had four sons, namely Vrsadarbha, Suvira, Kekaya and
Madraka. Besides originating the Sibis of Sibipura, he extended his conquests
east and west and founded through his four sons the states or Varsdarbhas,
Sauviras, Kekayas and Madrakas, thus occupying the entire land of Sindh and
Punjab with the exception of the small north-western corner.
The tribe was alternately known as Usinara after Sibi’s father. Panini
used this name for them. They are listed by him as an Ayudhajivi-samgha in the Yaudheyadi-Gana Their country was also known as Usinara. It coincided with the present Jhang-Maghiana district. The present city of Shorkot represents their capital. Sivapura, which name was corrupted to Sia-ura to Sor or Shor.

6. The Saubhreyas
The Saubhreyas were an Avudhajit-samgha in Panini’s time. Their
ancestor Subhra, referred to by Panini, is not known from any other source
Dr. V.S. Agrawala identified this tribe with Sabagrai of Orosius. They were
Iiving some where near the confluence of the Ravi with the Chenab when
Alexander attacked them. The Greek writers credit thein with an army of 500
chariots, 6000 horse and 60,000 foot soldiers. Each of these arms, was under the command of an efficient General.

7. The Savítriputras

Panini lists them among the Ayudhajivi Samghas”, They are mentioned
in the Mahabharata among the Kaurava allies. They were a small tribe
claiming descent from the hundred son of Savitri, whose faithfulness to her
husband, Satyavan, receives considerable attention in the Mahabharata.
Savitri was a Madra princess and Satyavan Salva prince in exile. This alliance between the Madras and Salvas brought about in course of time the establishment of three small tribal states, c g he Savitriputras, the Madrakaras and the Salvasenis.

8. The Madras and the Madrakaras
Panini mentions Madra as a country, not as a people. From the
Savitryupakhyana, it appears that the Madra tribe at some remote period assumed the new name, Malava. Possibly this change coincided with wholesale migration, since there is no evidence to locate these Malavas at any time in the Madra country, i.e. Sialkot-Gujrat region. The existence of the Madras as a political community is accepted in these pages on the basis of an obscure statement of Kautilya.
Madrakaras were probably a splinter group of the Madras. Kara is an old
Persian word denoting ‘army’ Presumably, after emigration from Sialkot Region. a small community of Madra soldiery established themselves somewhere as a short-lived republic. Dr. V.S Agrawala suggests some small tract, north-west of Bikaner as their home

9. The Salvas, the Salveyas and the Salvavayavas

According to the Mahabharata, the Salva prince Satyavan married the
Madra princess Savitri and through her fathered a new tribal or political community the Savitriputras. Panini names the Salvas, the Salveyas and the
Salvavayavas as three distinct entities. He treats the first name more as country than as a community Possibly, they had by his time transformed themselves into a new community, under the name Savitriputras. In fact, even the

Mahabharata does not provide us enough ground to treat Salva as a Political Community. Salva of the Savitryupakhyana is definitely a country. So is that of the Gopatha-Brahmana. Unfortunately, none of these authorities provides
us with enough evidence to locate this country Dr M. S. Agrawala ventures to
locate the Salva country, on the basis of association with the Matsya country in
the Gopatha-Brahmana in the south Punjab or north Rajasthan. The city of
Alwar, according to him, seem to retain part of the ancient name of the
Country. The Salveyas of Paņini, the Salveyakas and the Salvaputras of the
Mahabharata are the same people, opines, Dr. V S. Agrawala. I believe, all
these are identical with the Savitriputras.
The Salvavayavas, however, should be treated on a different footing. The
Kasika -Vrtti enumerates the following six as such i) Udumbara, (ii)
Tilakhala, (Gii) Madrakara, (iv) Yugandhara, (v) Bhulinga and (vi) Saradanda.
To this list, may be added three more, namely, Ajamidha, Ajakranda and
Bodha mentioned by Patanjali. They were not the blood descendants of the
Salva Ksatriyas 1.e. the Savitriputras. Since we have reasons to believe that at least one of them, e.g. the Udumbaras, were of Brahmana stock. It appears that certain communities, of course not all Kshatriya, emigrated from the original Salva country somewhere in Rajasthan and scattered over various parts of the east Punjab in small groups. They established shortlived republican states,
possibly forming a loose confederacy. Of them only the Udubaras attained
some stability and survived till the first century B. C.

10 The Ambasthas
In the Puranas the Ambasthas are represented as Anava Ksatriyas and
are said to haye descended from Suvrata., son of Usinara. They were thus closely related to the Yaudheyas and the Sivis and were settled on the
eastern border of the Punjab. Their country is mentioned in the Barhaspatya Artha shastra, where it is associated with Sindh Dr Jayaswal refers to
Dr. Pargiter when stating that Ambastha of the house of Aila founded a dynasty in the Punjab and concludes that the Ambasthas were originally a monarchical people like the Sibis and the Yaudheyas. Usinara was also an Aila, i.e. a descendant of Ila, daughter of Vaivasvata Manu.

The Purana and the Mahabharata agree in describing their king Srutayuh as the ‘the best of Kshatriyas. But the Smrti literature points to their
mixed origin. According to the Gautama-Dharma-Sutra”, children born of wives of the next, second or third lower castes become Savarnas, Ambasthas, Ugras, Nisadas, Dausyantas or Parasaras. The Ambasthas would thus be descendants of Brahmanas by lower caste wives. Kautilya states that a Brahmana’s son by a Vaisya wife is called an Ambastha. In the Ambastha-Sutta an Ambastha is described as a Brahman. According to the Jatakas the Ambasthas were farmers, whiie Manu described them as a people who practised the art of healing.
S. N. Majumdar thinks that ‘they were a tribe of Brahma- Kshatriyas, i.e.,
Brahmanas by descent, but warriors by profession, while Raychaudhury is of
the opinion that they were a tribe who were at first mainly a fighting race, but
kings, some of whom took to other occupations, Viz, those of priests, farmers, and according to Smrti writers, physicians.
The Ambasthas were known to Pānini, but curiously, not as a Janapada
or an Ayudhajivi-samgha. The lists of these latter are silent about them. But by 323 B.C. when Alexander conducted his raid into the Punjab, they had re-
gained their republican status.
11. Urasa
Ancient Urasa is represented by the modern Hazara district in West
Pakistan. It lies between the Indus and the Krsna Ganga. Basically a geographical entity, it never attained an ethnic significance. The people of this
district, however, were organised into a republic in the 5th century B.C. Panini
includes them among the Janapadas.
12. Gandhara
According to the Puraņic tradition, the Paurava prince, Druhyu, established his kingdom in the country, which later, received the name Gandhara
from one of his descendants. According to the Ramayana, it lay on both sides of the Indus. The lksvaku prince Bharata or his sons, Taksa and Puskara conquered this country and established themselves in the newly laid towns of Taksasila and Puskaravati.” The Gandhara country comprised the modern districts of Rawalpindi and Peshawar and also the Swat valley. Presumably it
extended further in all directions.
Gandhara had developed into a territorial republic when Panini was born there in Salatura on the Indus in 5th century B.C. He calls this Janapada as Gandhara at one place and Gandhari at another. It embraced diverse ethnic
groups, e.g. the Asvakas (mod. Afghans), the Apritas (Afridis), the Madhu-mantas (Mohmands) and the people of Taxila, who were distinct from and more civilised than the rest. We shall discuss the Gandhara Janapada in
greater detail, while dealing with the republican states within Asoka’s empire.

13. Kekaya
Kekaya, a son of Sibi Ausinara, established the Wekaya Janapada. It
lay along the western bank of the Jhelum town to its confluence with the Ravi.
In the north, it was bounded by the Taxila district of Gandhara and in the west by the Sindhu Janapada. It coincided with the modern districts of Shahpur and perhaps Jhelum. This state was flourishing in the epic age one of Dasaratha’s queens was a Kekaya princess. Like Gandhara it shed its ethnic character at an early date and grew into a territorial state. Panini included it among the Janapadas. It seems to have disappeared soon after him
14. The Sindhu Janapada
The Sindh -Sagar doab, south of Taxila was divided into the Sindhu and
Kekaya Janapadas. The former lay along the Indus as far as its confluence
with the Punjab rivers. The salt range stretches across this country. The Sindhu Janapada was essentially a territorial state. It was famous for milk, cows and of course, for salt. The Sindhu state did not survive long after Panini.

15. The Vasatis
The Vasatis of the Ganapatha and the Mahabharata have been identfied with the Ossadioi of Arrian. The Mahabharata locates this tribe in the neighbourhood of the Ksudrakas and the Malavas. Alexander found them
somewhere in the extreme south west of the Punjab.
16. The Bharatas
The Bharatas are mentioned by Panini as a Samgha. But they belonged
to a very remote period and could not have been a contemporary fact.
The Brahmana Republics of the Punjab.
The tribal states, we have taken notice of thus far, were of Ksatriya or
Rajanya stock. But besides them certain Brahman tribes of the Punjab had also organised themselves into republican states. The following can be put in this catagory
17. The Gopalavas
Panini in a Sutra distinguishes the Ayudhajivi-samghas of Brahmana and
Rajanya stock from others flourishing in the Vahika country. The Kasika
provides by way of counter examples to this Sutra the Brahmana republics, namely, the Gopavas or Gopalakas and the Salankayanas. Unfortunately the exact seat of these two is not known. But it is evident that they were neighbours, since constant friction between the two is recorded.

18. The Salankayanas
As already noticed in the foregoing paragraph, the Salankayanas were a
Warlike republican tribe of the Punjab in Panini s time, i.e. 5th century B. C. and that they were Brahmanas. According to the traditon of the epics and the puranas Salankayana is one of the many Gotras formed by the descendants of Sage visvamitra. In the ganapatha they are associated with the Rajanyas and other tribes of the north-west.They had the sastropajivi Constitution. Their exact seat is not known.
According to Patanjali, they are composed of three sections. He calls them Trikah Salankayanah. These three sections probably represent an amalgamation of three small state units. Punjabi Brahmins of
Trikha caste appear to be their descendants. Dr. V. S. Agrawala notes that the Salankayanas came to be known as the Trikas.But his contention that they were Rajanya, simply because they are listed in the Rajanyadi-Ciana of Panini, is not plausible. Paninis grouping is based on community of grammatical laws applicable to a number of words, not on ethnic affinity. The Kasika in clear terms, treats them as a Brahmana tribe along with the Gopalavas, And the
Puranic evidence collected by Pargiter is overwhelming.

19. The Audumbaras
Yaska refers to the views of a teacher Audumbarayana. The
Harivamsa, a suppliment to the Mahabharata, refers to certain descendants of Visvamitra as the Audumbaras. Again Bhavabhuti, the great 7th century dramatist, introduces himself in the prologue of his play, the Mahavira- Caritam, as a Brahmana of Udumbara gotra. Hence our conviction that the Udumbaras were a Brahmana tribe. Panini listed them in the Rajanya group of republics.That they were neighbours of the Rajanyas of Kangra, is indicated by the find-spots of their coins. Allan and others record the discovery of these in Hoshiarpur district and Kangra, Hamirpur, Pathankot and Nurpur tehsils.
Evidently, the Udumbaras were a powerful republican tribe. They are placed at the head of the Punjab republics in the earlier list of the Mahabharata, Sabha- Parvan.

20. The Kathas and the Kapisthalas
The Kathas were a Brahmana tribe of the Punjab ; and the Kapisthalas
were a branch thereof. The Caranavyuha mentions two branches of the Kathas, the Pracya (Eastern) Kathas and the Kapisthala Kathas. The parent branch of theKathas as also their sub-section, the Kapisthalas, made a significant contribution to the Vedic literature. The Samilhitas of both are extant. Panini refers to either branch,” but not as Janapadas or Ayudhajivi-samghas. He takes notice of them as the propounders of Vedic schools. He treats Kapisthala
as a patronymic or gotra name. In the Ganapatha, the Kathas are paired with
the Kalapas and the Kauthumas, either of whom were the founders of independent Vedic schools. In Patanjali time the Kathaka school of the Yajurveda had become very popular. But it is intriguing why neither the Kathas nor the Kapisthalas are included in the Ganapatha lists of the Janapadas, Ayudhajivi-sarghas. We know from the Alexander historians that the Kathas, were a powerful tribe, occupying the country on either bank of the river Ravi.
They gave a tough fight to Alexander.” If they had not attained an autonomous
status in Paņini’s time, i.e. 5th century B.C., they had certainly become a
powerful self-governing community in the later half of the 4th century B.C.
The Kapisthalas, too, were an independent neighbouring state about this time. Megasthanes mentions the Kambistholi as a people through whose territory the river Hydraotis (Ravi) flowed.

Alok Mohan

The admin, Alok Mohan, is a graduate mechanical engineer & possess following post graduate specializations:- M Tech Mechanical Engineering Production Engineering Marine engineering Aeronautical Engineering Computer Sciences Software Engineering Specialization He has authored several articles/papers, which are published in various websites & books. Studium Press India Ltd has published one of his latest contributions “Standardization of Education” as a senior author in a book along with many other famous writers of international repute. Alok Mohan has held important positions in both Govt & Private organisations as a Senior professional & as an Engineer & possess close to four decades accomplished experience. As an aeronautical engineer, he ensured accident incident free flying. As leader of indian team during early 1990s, he had successfully ensured smooth induction of Chukar III PTA with Indian navy as well as conduct of operational training. As an aeronautical engineer, he was instrumental in establishing major aircraft maintenance & repair facilities. He is a QMS, EMS & HSE consultant. He provides consultancy to business organisations for implimentation of the requirements of ISO 45001 OH & S, ISO 14001 EMS & ISO 9001 QMS, AS 9100, AS9120 Aero Space Standards. He is a qualified ISO 9001 QMS, ISO 14001 EMS, ISO 45001 OH & S Lead Auditor (CQI/IRCA recognised certification courses) & HSE Consultant. He is a qualified Zed Master Trainer & Zed Assessor. He has thorough knowledge of six sigma quality concepts & has also been awarded industry 4, certificate from the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation Knowledge Hub Training Platform  He is a Trainer, a Counselor, an Advisor and a Competent professional of cross functional exposures. He has successfully implimented requirements of various international management system standards in several organizations. He is a dedicated technocrat with expertise in Quality Assurance & Quality Control, Facility Management, General Administration, Marketing, Security, Training, Administration etc. He is a graduate mechanical engineer with specialization in aeronautical engineering. He is always eager to be involved in imparting training, implementing new ideas and improving existing processes by utilizing his vast experience.