Janapadas and Mahajanapadas Meaning
The term Janapada refers to a small territorial unit in Ancient India. The word Janapada means a place where people live. Janapadas were smaller than the Mahajanapadas but larger than Ganas, Sanghas, and Pauris.
- The term 'Mahajanapada' literally refers to 'Great Kingdom'.
- It is the name of a country, kingdom, or state in ancient India.
- During the time of the Gautam Buddha, there were 16 Mahajanpadas.
- The capital of the Mahajanpadas was situated on river basins or in fertile valleys.
- Mahajanapadas were large territories inhabited by people during ancient times.
Overview of Difference Between Janapadas and Mahajanapadas
Janapadas and Mahajanapadas were different as they existed during different times in Indian history, followed diverse administration systems, and experienced distinct historical events separately. Below are the key Difference Between Janapadas and Mahajanapadas.
The word Janapada is derived from the words Jana meaning people, and pada meaning feet.
The word Mahajanapada is derived from the words Maha meaning great, and janapada meaning feet of people.
The difference between Janapadas and Mahajanapadas was that the Janapadas lasted from 1500 BC to the 6th century BC.
The Mahajanapadas lasted between the 6th century BC to 345 BC.
The transition from the bronze to the iron age occurred during this period.
The major historical event during the times of Mahajanapadas was the emergence of Buddhism and Jainism.
Janapadas were situated in India's eastern, western, and northern parts.
Mahajanapadas were spread all over Northern India, including Bengal and Kashmir valleys.
Major examples of Janapadas from 1500 BC to the 6th century BC: Alina, Anu, Gandhari, Kalinga, and Matsya.
Major examples of Mahajanapadas during the 16th century BC:
Chedi, Gandhara, Kosala, and Magadha.
Key Difference Between Janapadas and Mahajanapadas
There were about 1500 Janapadas in Ancient India and they were spread over the entire Indian subcontinent, with some being in the mountainous regions of northern India and others in the forested regions of central India.
- Janapadas were mainly agricultural communities.
- At least 16 Mahajanapadas are mentioned in the Buddhist literature, the Anguttara Nikaya, Jain literature, and Pannavana-Sutta.
- Mahajanpadas emerged around 600 BC and covered almost all parts of Ancient India, including Bihar, Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan, based on archaeological evidence.