Mahajanapada, Mahājanapadā, Mahājanapada, Maha-janapada: 2 definitions


Mahajanapada means something in Buddhism, Pali, the history of ancient India. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

[«previous next»] — Mahajanapada in Theravada glossary
Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names

The books frequently mention* the sixteen Mahajanapadas or countries, which existed in the time of the Buddha. They are Kasi, Kosala, Anga, Magadha, Vajji, Malla, Cetiya, Vamsa, Kuru, Pancala, Maccha, Surasena, Assaka, Avanti, Gandhara and Kamboja.

The first fourteen are included in the Majjhimadesa, the two last being in Uttarapatha.

* E.g., A.i.213; iv. 252, 256, 260; a list of twelve is found at D.ii.200, in which the last four are omitted. The Niddesa adds the Kalingas to the sixteen and substitutes Yona for the Gandhara (CNid., p.37).

The Jaina Bhagavati sutta gives a slightly different list: Anga, Banga, Magadha, Malaya, Malava, Accha, Vaccha, Kocchaka, Padha, Ladha, Bajji, Moli, Kasi, Kosala, Avaha and Sambhuttara (PHAI. p.60).

context information

Theravāda is a major branch of Buddhism having the the Pali canon (tipitaka) as their canonical literature, which includes the vinaya-pitaka (monastic rules), the sutta-pitaka (Buddhist sermons) and the abhidhamma-pitaka (philosophy and psychology).

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India history and geography

Source: Ancient Buddhist Texts: Geography of Early Buddhism

Mahājanapada is the general name for a district of ancient India, as recorded in the Pāli Buddhist texts (detailing the geography of ancient India as it was known in to Early Buddhism).—Of the sixteen Mahājanapadas that existed in India during the days of the Buddha, as many as fourteen may be said to have been included in the Majjhimadesa.

They are:

  1. Kāsī,
  2. Kosala,
  3. Aṅga,
  4. Magadha,
  5. Vajji,
  6. Malla,
  7. Cetiya (Cedī),
  8. Vaṃsa (Vatsa),
  9. Kuru,
  10. Pañchāla,
  11. Maccha (Matsya),
  12. Sūrasena,
  13. Assaka
  14. Avanti.

Gandhāra and Kamboj, the two remaining countries, may be said to have been located in Uttarāpatha or the Northern division.

India history book cover
context information

The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as mythology, zoology, royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

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