Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh (early history)

by Prakash Narayan | 2011 | 63,517 words

This study deals with the history of Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh (Northern India) taking into account the history and philosophy of Buddhism. Since the sixth century B.C. many developments took place in these regions, in terms of society, economic life, religion and arts and crafts....

Trade by land was evidently more common than trade by sea. We find many land routes between the cities referred to in the text. The Buddha himself was the most traveled man of all, as appears from the texts. Savatthi and Rajagaha were his more or less headquarters from where he used to go to a number of places, which are faithfully recorded in the texts. We may mention here one of his journeys, which took him Kusinara from Rajagaha. He started from Rajagaha and, from there he went Ambalatthika, Nalanda, Pataligama, Kotigama, Nadika, Vesali, Bhandagama, hatthigama, Ambagama, Jambugama, Bhoganagara, Pava, Kusinara.[1]

People traveled in caravanas as well. We find caravans with 1,000 carts going from one janapada to another and which had to pass through deserted areas.[2] A caravan halting more than four months has been desinated as a gama.[3] Also a caravan road is referred to in the Vinaya.[4] A monk can spend his full rainy season with a caravan.[5] Caravans had to pay taxes to king’s men and thus were a source of income to the king.[6]

Besides these references to caravans, we find carts full of goods going from one place to another place. One such group of 500 carts is mentioned as passing by a stream, where the Buddha was meditating.[7] The Buddha was once traveling from Andhakovinda to Rajagaha. On the way he met Bolattha Kaccana who was going towards Andhakovinda with 500 wagons, all filled with jars of sugar.[8]

The point to note here is that Belattha was going from Rajagaha (a city) to Andhakovinda (a town). He is presumably a sugar dealer, selling sugar in the countryside. Merchants from distant lands come to sell their goods in Majjhima janapada. Thus horse dealers from uttarapatha come to Veranja with 500 horses.[9] Within the broader region of Majjhima janapada certain economic products were known by the region in which they were manufactured, for example, the products of Kasi, such as Kasi cloth the Kasi sandalwood.[10] The ronze dishes of Kosala (Kosalika Kamsapati) also seem to have been popular as the term was used in a metaphor where it was compared with the shining eyes of a serpent king.[11]

Footnotes and references:


Digha Nikaya.II.72-168; see Jenning, Vedantic Buddhism of the Buddha, 157, where he records the Buddha’s journey. The economic importance of these routes has been more or less overlooked.


Digha Nikaya.II.344.




Ibid., IV.63.


Ibid., I.151.


Ibid., IV.132-33.


Digha Nikaya.II.128.




Ibid., III.6.

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