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Monday, January 2, 2012



2.1 Introduction
2.2 Pre-state to State
2.2.1 Early Vedic Stage
2.2.2 Later Vedic Stage
2.3 Age of Buddha: Origin of the Territorial States
2.4 The Gana-Sanghas
2.5 Monarchies
2.6 The Mauryan Empire
2.7 Summary
2.8 Glossary
2.9 Exercises
Polities from 3rd Century
A.D. to 6th Century A. D.


In the Age of the Buddha one for the first time comes across the existence of a series of territorial states in northern India in general and the Gangetic plains in particular. These are known as the sixteen mahajanapadas. Peninsular India was beyond the pale of any such development in the middle of the first millennium B.C. Similarly, there were many other cultural backwaters in the sub-continent. At this point it may be useful to list the states, giving some idea of their capitals and /or location. The list comprised Anga (Champa/Bhagalpur), Magadha (Girivraja/ Rajagriha), Vatsa (Kausambi/Allahabad), Kasi (Varanasi), Kosala (Sravasti/Ayodhya), Kuru (Delhi), Pancala (Central Doab), Surasena (Mathura), Matsya (Jaipur), Gandhara (Peshawar), Kamboja (north of Gandhara), Cedi (Bundelkhand), Avanti (Ujjain/Malwa), Asvaka (near Avanti), Malla (Kusinagara) and Vajji (Vaishali). All of them were not of the same type, they included both monarchies and what has come to be popularly known as ‘republics’. Vajji and Malla are good examples of the latter. Actually, they represented non-monarchical forms of government or to use the expression known from the sources Ganga-Samgha political systems. While in the monarchies the king was raised above the society, exercised unfettered power and the individual was subordinated to the state and varna order, in the Gana Samghas the dominant kshatriya group exercised power to the exclusion of the other sections in society. These societies compared to the monarchical order were less stratified and took time to develop complex forms and varna hierarchy. With the establishment of monarchies and the so-called republics the details of early Indian history emerge with greater clarity. But then the emergence of states with such spatial spread warrants some explanation.


It is difficult to generalise about the origin of states because they are products of the convergence of numerous processes of change. Nevertheless, one has to address the issue because the state as an institution did not exist from time immemorial.
Before proceeding any further on the matter one may briefly dwell on the question 1

Early State Formation of what are the core issues. One may begin by defining the term state, search for its correlates in ancient Indian texts and then move on to see how and when the constitutive elements came together, leading to the emergence of states. The saptanga theory of state in the Arthasastra can be a convenient point of reference and, flowing from it, one could investigate the emergence of kingship, crystallisation of varna divided society, evolution of private property in land, the idea of a sense of belonging to a territory and the introduction of taxes, fortified settlements, administrative machinery and the standing army to make the general point that these variables promoted the cause of the state. Alternatively, one can focus on the processes to show how complex were the developments and why and how ultimately the Brahmanas and Kshatriyas emerged as the power elite, enjoying a significant part of the societal surplus, while others agreed to pay taxes and render labour.

2.2.1 Early Vedic Stage

During the early part society was characterised by kin organisation. Terms such as gotra, vratya, sraddha and even grama denoting groups of people were actually kinship terms. Such groups reared their cattle, went for a hunt and fought the enemy as a unit. These kin groups, possibly resembling band living, were based on the need for collective subsistence. Each of these units was headed by its chief, who need not be confused with the later day king. In the later part of the Rig Vedic stage, we are told, one encounters larger kin units like jana and vis, which are comparable to tribes and clans respectively. The chiefs came to be known as janasya gopta, gopa janasya or vispati. These terms emphasised their role as herdsmen or protectors. There is evidence for intra-tribal and inter-tribal conflicts which, it is said, strengthened the position of the chiefs because of the role they were called upon to play in such situations. Both in the event of victory and defeat, as also the weakening of kin loyalty, the chiefs had to provide for some kind of order and cohesion. Such role (functions) apart, the chiefs also presided over the Rig vedic assemblies viz., the Sabha, Samiti, Vidhatha and Gana. Community wealth, including the booty from successful raids, was distributed equally among the members of the tribe. Individual members on various occasions gave a part of what they had to the chief largely owing to the latter’s leadership functions. The chiefs usually redistributed such gifts during community feasts. Since the economy was predominantly pastoral and it was difficult to accumulate wealth, therefore, Rig vedic society was largely egalitarian in nature. Notwithstanding the reference to the four varnas in the Purushasukta at the end of the Rig Veda, which is usually considered to be a later interpolation, society continued to be egalitarian. However, in so far as the political developments were concerned the chiefs gained in status both owing to their leadership role as well as the hymns composed in their praise by bards who received gifts (dana) from them.

2.2.2 Later Vedic Stage

The Later Vedic period was an important transitional stage, marked by the sharpening of developments in certain areas, leading to the threshold of state systems. The scene of activity shifted eastward, to western Uttar Pradesh and the adjoining regions of Haryana and Rajasthan. Based on the chronological and spatial parallel between later vedic literature and the painted Grey Ware culture (PGW) which are dated to the first half of the first millennium B.C., it is envisaged that the authors of the texts and the archaeological culture were the same people. Flowing from it the material culture of the times is constructed on the basis of the combined testimony of the two sources. The people practiced agriculture and reared cattle. Wheat, rice,

pulses, lentil. etc., were known. The assured food supplies sustained major and minor sacrifices (yajna), and the Doab became the cradle of sacrifices. Royal sacrifices such as the rajasuya and asvamedha went on to influence kingship ideology for more than a thousand years. Apart from the fertility element inherent in these rituals, which had something to do with placating the earth and augmenting production, they also helped to raise the status of the chief and his associates. One comes across the term rajan and its expanded forms such as rajanya, rajanya-bandhu, as also kshatriya. While ranjan meant the chief, the term kshatriya, deriving from the word kshatra (power) represented the group of the people wielding power. The sacrifices involved community feasts which the rajan alone could organise and the successful performance of these rituals implied the bestowal of divine boons and attributes on the performer i.e., the rajan . These developments emphasised his importance.

The rajan or kshatriya’s rise to power was not all that smooth, it was the result of long drawn processes. A whole range of imageries and rituals were played out in public to achieve the ascendancy of the rajan and subordination of the community (vis). The king ritually lent his hand to agricultural operations at the beginning of the season and practiced commensality with the members of the vis to signify common identity. Simultaneously the texts through the clever use of similes highlighted his exalted position. For example, the rajan and vis were compared with deer and barley or the horse and other ordinary animals respectively. The ambivalent attitude focusing on solidarity with the community on the one hand and differentiation on the other sums up the transitional nature of the times. The rajan was a part of the community and yet had to be above it to execute decisions of common interest. Such compulsions were attempted to be overcome through ritual means. With the rise of the rajanya/kshatriya there was a corresponding enhancement in the status of the brahmana. It was they who officiated at the rituals and were thus instrumental in the elevation of the rajan. That perhaps explains the brahmana-kshatriya relationship (involving legitimation for one and patronage for the other) and the emergence of the power elite in early India. The proper conduct of sacrifices was prescribed in the Brahmana texts to ensure brahmana kshatriya dominance and the subservience of the vis.

Rituals such as the upanayana ceremony were performed to emphasise varna and gender inequality. Women like sudras were kept out of it. There were differences in observance of the matters related to detail by the upper three varnas, signifying hierarchy. Similarly, groups from outside the kin were ritually roped in which weakened kin ties and helped the process of the emergence of differentiation, which was necessary for state formation. However, given the dependence of the elite on the lower varnas, pretensions of solidarity were maintained by involving members of the lower varnas in aspects of rituals or, for example, referring to the vaisyas as arya. These, however, did no prevent the emergence of varna divided society. While in theory chiefs continued to be elected the Brahmanical literature prescribed formulas for preserving the office of chief over generations in the same family. It suggests that the idea of hereditary succession was gaining ground. However, it was the favoured son, and not necessarily the eldest, who succeeded the father. That the idea of territory or territorial affiliation was acquiring currency can be seen from the prevalence of terms such as rashtra and janapada. However, taxes were not yet formally collected. Bali, the gift of affection of the earlier period, was possibly acquiring an obligatory character. The absence of officials and administrative functionaries to assess and collect revenues is quite clear. It is difficult to perceive the ratnins, who
Polities from 3rd Century
A.D. to 6th Century A. D.


Early State Formation had a role to play in the coronation ceremony, as some kind of nascent officialdom.
When it came to the defense of the realm the vis in the absence of an organised army, did it collectively. At the end of the later vedic period certain attributes of the state were in place or to put it differently peasant communities were on the threshold of state formation, but the state had not yet fully emerged. It is argued that iron was yet to enter the productive process, agriculture had still not yielded the necessary surplus and sacrifices like the Asvamedha and Vajapeya, among others, involved the slaughter of animals and wasteful consumption. Together they held back the rise of the state.


As one enters the age of the Buddha many of these limitations were overcome. The introduction of iron in agriculture helped deeper ploughing and the breaking of the hard soil in the mid-Ganga plains. Iron was also used in various crafts and the making of metallic money, i.e., the punch Marked coins. Almost simultaneously wet paddy transplantation came to be practiced in this naturally rice growing area. Cumulatively these developments led to surplus produce, which in turn sustained trade, taxes and the emerging stratified society, with its administrative functionaries, ideologues and wage labourers. Dharmasutra literature justified varna divisions and institutionalised inequality. Vaisyas and sudras bore the brunt of carrying out production and provided the necessary revenue and labour to uphold the king’s men, army personnel, priests, ideologues and so on. Buddhism too recognised and endorsed many of these developments. There are references to minsters and armies in the context of Magadha and Kosala. The presence of officials such as balisadhaka and karakara, for example, suggests that taxes like bali and kara were collected. Thus, by the sixth-fifth centuries B.C. territorial states emerged in northern India.

The above mentioned perspective had been criticized largely on two counts. First, it is said that the final emergence of states has been explained with reference to some kind of technical determinism in what appears to be an iron-productivity- surplus-state formation line of argument. Secondly, the emergence of the varnas and their assigned roles, either as receivers of taxes and gifts or providers of produce and labour, has not been fully explained.

That brings us to Romilla Thapar’s explanation of the emergence of states. She refers to anthropological concepts like lineage society and house-holding economy to explain the evolution of the hierarchically structured varna society, and her emphasis is on the interplay of multiple processes of change, bearing on state formation. It is said that Vedic literature is replete with references to lineage terms, viz., gotra, vraja, etc. Lineage groups comprised members of the senior (rajanya) and junior (vis) lineage. The senior lineage both controlled and had greater access to community resources, though in principle there was collective ownership of land by the lineage group. In course of time by characterising the seniority based on genealogical superiority as one premised on the ideology of patrilineal descent the rajanya asserted its authority. It emphasised endogamy to claim purity, and flowing from it asserted its exclusivity and superiority. The differentiation between members of the senior and junior lineage increased with the transition to the later vedic period.


The emergence of a socio-economic form approximating what is known as house- holding economy is seen to have hastened the process of internal differentiation and the dissolution of lineage organisation during the later vedic times. The household comprised three to four generations of family members who may have resided in one or more than one house, but for purposes of production, consumption and rituals formed one single unit. The extended family gradually began to exercise right on the land it cultivated, theoretically though such land was initially allotted to the community for its use in cultivation. In situations where the extended family labour was not sufficient to work the land, the non-kin members who were not related to the family by Kinship ties were roped in for agricultural activities. These people need not be confused with wage labour. They were practically a part of the family, participated in all family activities except the family rituals. In the long-term as land allotted for cultivation was transformed into private property such retainers, who were some sort of family inheritance and may have emerged out of defeated and dispossessed peoples, were reduced to family servants. The rajanya/kshatriya and vaisya evolved from the senior and junior lineages respectively. Those relegated to the position of labourers and artisans become Sudras. Because the extended families within the given socio-economic structure generally incorporated three-four generations it allowed younger generations to move out, clear and settle in new lands in conditions of population pressure. There are literary references to the fissioning off among communities as a consequence of such developments. Such tendencies facilitated the process of agrarian expansion and extended the frontier of peasant activity. Thus, within the framework of the house-holding economy one comes to understand the transition from lineage society to a complex society and the state.

In the final stages leading to the emergence of the state Thapar, eschewing simple mechanical explanations, focuses on the mutually interactive nature of the processes. Environment, technology, social stratification, surplus, urbanisation and ideology, among others, were important factors in the making of the state, but it is difficult to prioritize them or identify the single most important factor. Surplus, for example, was related to social and political hierarchies and the need of the non-producers to live off the produce of others. Similarly, it was linked to the distribution of the produce. In brief, society does not produce a surplus simply because of the availability of a given technology. It is the result of a combination of factors. The relationship between social differentiation, urbanisation and ideology too are quite complex. Powerful contemporary religious ideas and systems (Buddhist) played an important role in shaping the nature of the emerging state systems – gana sanghas and monarchies. The Buddhist Sangha (monastic institution) characterised by its egalitarian ideas was useful to the early states because it was able to integrate the varied groups across caste and clan lines. The Sangha too depended for its sustenance on the existence of a strong state. Kings like Ajatsatru of Magadha and Ashoka Maurya extended patronage to Buddhism. In this analysis it is also argued that the mahajanapadas were either gana-sanghas or monarchies. While in the so called republics of North- eastern India (Malla, Vajji) the process of transition to powerful centralised state was slow owing to the common ownership of land by the kshatriya clans (which blocked the possibility of land revenue appropriation) whereas the territorial states in the upper Ganga plains (Kurus) could not easily shake off the later Vedic legacy of rituals, cattle sacrifice and wasteful consumption (which hindered the rise of strong states), those like Kosala and Magadha which were located in the mid- Ganga plains were characterised by no such limitations. In addition, Magadha had the advantage of rich soil, gentle gradient towards Ganga, a history of rice cultivation,
Polities from 3rd Century
A.D. to 6th Century A. D.


Early State Formation good rainfall, irrigated land, Bandhs used as water reserves, several rivers like the Son, Gandak, etc., which could also be used for communication and trade, and it was close to the mines and minerals of Dhalbhum and Singhbhum. The forest of Rajmahal hills were used for procuring timber and were also the habitat of elephants. Magadha controlled the Dakshinapath (trade route) and all routes on the southern bank of the Ganga were linked to Magadha. The states that emerged in this part of northern India were evidently more viable and strong. They could sustain greater populations and generate the necessary taxes to meet the requirements of the state.


In post Vedic period the geographical focus shifted to the middle Ganga valley and migration and settlement of people took place along two routes: Northern originated from the Himalayan foothills and moved south to merge into the sourthern route near Pataliputra. The Buddhist sources as well as Ashtdhyayi of Panini give us information about middle Ganga valley and Gana sanghas respectively. It were the gana-sanghas of the middle Ganga valley such as Vrjjis which contained the constituent features of state formation. Monarchy was initially established in Kosala, Magadha, Gandhara, Kasi and Kausambi. There were the two categories of state systems as they emerged in the Age of the Buddha: Gana-sanghas and Monarchies.

The origin of the gana-sanghas is related to migration to middle Ganga valley. Migration resulted due to population pressure and also due to a process of fission in lineage systems. Due to fissioning off among Kshtriya clans in later Vedic period the members of Rajakula migrated to some other area and established a new janapada. Janapada referred to a territory named after a Kshtriya clan. A group of clans formed a jana and the area where they settled was called janapada literally meaning the place where the tribe puts its feet. This is how Sakya, Koliya and Licchavi clans came into being. Some of the gana-sanghas comprised of single clan units like Sakyas, Koliyas and Mallas. Some were confederacies of clans of which important were Vrjji of whom Licchavis were most important. In the gana-sanghas the system of clan (vis) holdings was prevalent. Therefore, Gahapatis (family [three to four generations] as owners of holdings) are rarely referred to as agriculturists in gana-sanghas. In the gana-sanghas the Kshtriya lineages were regarded as owners of cultivable land. The name of the territory was derived from the Kshtriya lineage who had earlier cultivated land on a family basis but now used labour when the size of holdings became too big to be manageable. The clan held the land jointly on the criteria based on birth and the produce was therefore distributed among its members. The gana-sanghas were the assemblies of Kshtriya lineages. They were established by the younger members of the established Kshtriya lineages. In the gana-sanghas ownership of land was vested in the Kshtriya lineage. Non-kin groups provided labour for working on the land of Kshtriya lineage. There was very little scope for rituals. Gana-sanghas have been variously interpreted as republics, oligarchies and chiefdoms. The members of the ruling lineages were referred to as rajas, rajakulas or consecrated Kshtriyas. The head of each household was raja. The symbols of the gana-sanghas were embossed on punch marked coins which indicates the beginnings of the use of coined money. Decisions were arrived at through the method of voting. Within the rajakulas all members were regarded as equal. Thus chiefdoms have a centralised command structure in which status to leadership is decided by birth and ancestry and genealogies become important. There is reference


to military and fiscal offices. They did not possess a standing army nor did they have any regular system of revenue collection. However, the sources do refer to taxes imposed on traders. Varna organisation did not determine social status in Gana- sangha areas. Rituals were not important and two broad categories in this area were those who owned land and those who laboured on it. All these features indicate the existence of an incipient state or stratified society. Difference among the members of the gana-sanghas would lead to fissioning off among groups. These groups would settle fresh areas. However in such a situation if one segment of the clan would seize power then the janapada (gana-sangha) could turn into a monarchy.
Polities from 3rd Century
A.D. to 6th Century A. D.


With the establishment of the kingdoms of Magadha and Kosala the term janapada included villages, markets, towns and cities which meant existence of a system of administration and revenue. Power came to be vested in the hands of certain families, who did not possess the highest status. Pasenadi the king of Kosala legitimised his position as a king by performing asvamedha, vajapeya, etc. in which hundreds of animals were killed. The rituals were now a mere symbolism to legitimise power and not a method to part with wealth acquired in raids. In Kosala and Magadha land was owned by gahapatis and they cultivated it themselves or used the labour of others (tenants). State also undertook cultivation of land. Wasteland was brought under cultivation and with the expansion of agrarian economy a large surplus was released in the monarchical states. The ritual gifts granted to Brahamnas at the time of Yajna were fewer and instead the practice of gifting of land to Brahamnas was initiated. The tax collection machinery was well established in Kosala. Bali now meant a tax but could also mean an offering at a sacrifice. Bhaga and ardha constituted a share of total and sulka meant customs duty. Reference to karsapana points to the introduction of coinage. Panini mentions taxes prevalent in the eastern area including land tax. The importance of Kosa (treasury) is indicated. This was necessary for maintaining a standing army an essential condition for emergence of a state system. Rulers of Magadha paid due attention to army organisation which included recruitment and training of soldiers and the innovation in armoury. In the campaign against Vrjjis Magadha used two new techniques ratha-musala (chariot with knives) and maha-silakantika (catapult for throwing stones). Now raids were replaced by planned campaigns.


The continued manifestation of the processes discussed above had a bearing on the rise and ascendancy of Magadha and the emergence of the first empire in Indian history. Historians differ in their characterisation of the Mauryan state. Generally these differences have much to do with their approach to and perspective of early India. However, it is not entirely unrelated to their vision of social and political formations in the Ganga valley in the mid-first millennium B.C. Those who perceive of similar developments across the Ganga plains in the said period usually present the picture of a centralised, uniform, pan-Indian bureaucratic state. Its universal presence, if not always said in so many words, is implicit in their writings. In this case the Arthasastra constitutes the basic source material. On the other hand those like Thapar who recognise the prevalence of uneven patterns in north India

Early State Formation in the Age of the Buddha while not questioning the existence of an empire move on to address issues related to its nature and structure.

The idea of the more or less uniform or even spread of the Mauryan state, deriving from its centralised nature through reading of the Arthasastra, Indica and the Asokan inscriptions, has been contested for quite some time. Those arguing for a pan-Indian unitary, integrated administrative apparatus point to the wide geographical distribution of the Asokan edicts, the knowledge of places and peoples, across the country, mentioned in them and the administrative details in the above mentioned texts. Historians trying to understand the structure of the state in terms of contemporary historical processes look at it differently. The spatial spread of the Asokan inscriptions suggests the inclusion of those territories in the empire, but it does not necessarily follow that the administrative structure was similar all over the territory including in the Maurya Empire. Further, the assumed date and nature of the above mentioned literature has been questioned. The Arthasastra, for example, it is generally accepted was a product of considerable evolution and, the form in which we have it today, may not just belong to the Mauryan period. Similarly, it is believed to be a manual on state craft, dealing with what ought to be than what was, and may not represent the administrative history of any particular period. Kautilya’s arthsastra gives seven elements (prakratis) which constitute the state. The seven elements are Swami, Amatya, Janapada/Rashtra, Durga/Pura, Kosa, Danda/Bala and Mitra. The power of king is emphasised by the use of the term swami. Amatya constituted an administrative group. Janapada referred to a territory comprising of mines, cultivable lands, forests, pastures, irrigation and water sources, farmers, trade-routes, etc. Fort indicated the royal capital which referred to a city having artisans and guilds which was also a political and trading center. Kosa meant the treasury where the revenue which was collected was deposited. Danda has been categorised as force. Mitra carried the connotation of friend. These elements comprised the saptanga or seven limbs of the body of the state. Rashtra was used more frequently as compared to janapada. It denoted sovereign power. Diversity necessitated that the coercive legal power of the Swami ought to be used to maintain order. Mauryas did not claim divine status. The king was the symbol of the state. However, association with deities added to the power of the king.

State exercised control over the utilisation of resources especially forests. Land was divided into categories: wasteland, state land, communal and private land. Taxes are mentioned viz. Bali, Bhaga, sulka, kara, etc. There is reference to vishti and share cropping. It seems that the earlier category of ritual offering, gifts had got metamorphosed into taxes. Bali and Bhaga were taxes levied on a regular basis. Megasthenes states that the king was the owner of land and those who cultivated it paid tax. Commerce was not a state monopoly but the state also came to be associated with it. The evidence for coined money is attested by the discovery of punch marked silver coins. The state carried out the managerial role related to revenue collection from agriculture and trade, it was responsible for organising the army (Bal and Danda) and civil administration for maintaining the law and order and securing the territorial integrity. Through the mechanism of force (Danda), Dharma (ordering of society) was enforced which legitimised the state which further helped in reinforcing varna hierarchy. With the emergence of state the Mandala theory became important. This theory implied that for maintaining the peace and security of empire frequent wars were undesirable, therefore, neighbouring states had to be categorised into friendly or hostile states.


The inferences drawn by scholars on the basis of the sources have to be treated with caution besides, it is said that if in Mughal times it took a messenger on horse back several days to reach Bengal from Agra then the situation could only have been worse during the Mauryan period, almost two thousand years earlier. The general point the statement makes is that the problems of communication could have hindered the extent of centralisation, allowing for some kind of regional and/or local initiative in day-to-day administration.

There is a qualitative difference between an incipient small state and an empire. An empire emerges from a strong state which acquires large territorial dimensions through conquest and possesses a centralised administrative system. Because it is a conquest state gap separates the victors from the vanquished. Such compulsions force the emperor to introduce measures with pretensions to uniformity (such as uniform law, coinage and the spread of monumental art), intended to involve all, including the conquered, in sustaining the empire. Again, in the course of conquest the focus could be on the resource yielding regions viz., agricultural pockets, mines and mineral zones or trade routes. Thus, an empire while representing a political formation might comprise several socio-economic formations, peoples at different levels of socio-cultural growth. That being so the administrative response of the imperial centre would naturally vary across the regions. While a developed region would require treatment similar to that available for the core territory, for purposes of assessment and collection of revenue and maintenance of law and order, mine and mineral zones, undeveloped areas or territories dominated by tribes and pastoralists would not have needed the same. An army contingent or some other form of token presence might have served the purpose. The unevenness built-into the empire thus warrants differential or dissimilar administrative arrangements.

The combined testimony of literature, epigraphy and archaeology suggest that the growth of material culture was limited largely to the Ganga Valley and its fringes. The archaeological data clearly point to the disparity, in the nature of material developments, between Ganga valley region and elsewhere. Agriculture and economic prosperity evidently spread to the other regions during and after the Mauryas. The developments in the post-Mauryan period in the Deccan and Kalinga indicate the opening up of communication routes and fruitful interactions between the heartland and these regions. Notwithstanding these trends, economic and cultural disparities continued to persist across regions, with a bearing on the political structure, in Mauryan India. There was growth, but perhaps not enough to bind together different parts of the empire and keep it going.
Polities from 3rd Century
A.D. to 6th Century A. D.


Early State Formation

Map 1 : Mauryan Empire (After Romila Thapar, Early India from the Origins to
ADI300, Penguin, 2002)


The transition from pre-state to state was a complex process. In North India the Vedic period especially the later vedic was a transitional stage leading to the establishment of territorial states. Among the states the gana-sangha can be categorized as an incipient state system whereas monarchies can be regarded as representing a mature and strong state system. The background to the rise of the territorial states is important for understanding how the state system evolved. The important features of the territorial states have been discussed. The establishment of the Mauryan Empire illustrates the functioning of a strong monarchical state.
Polities from 3rd Century
A.D. to 6th Century A. D.


Arya : Denotes man of wealth and possessions.

Dharmasutras : Earliest sources of Hindu law important being Baudhayana, Apastamba and Gautam sutra (500 – 200 B.C.)

Gotra : Exogamous clan

Grama : Village

Jana : Tribe

Purushsukta : Late hymn added to Rig Veda which ascribes the origin of four varnas to the body of prajapati.

Rastra : In the post Vedic period the term was used for territory. Sraddhas : Feeding both the living and the dead in the form of feasts. Upanayana : Sacred thread investiture ceremony
Vraja : Village pastures

Varna : A system of stratification in society which was based on colour differentiation.

Vis : Clan

Vratya : Degraded


1) Explain the rise of territorial states in the age of Buddha.

2) Discuss the nature of the Mauryan state.


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