Kingdoms, Kings and An Early Republic (Class 6 History Chapter 5 Notes)

Important Janapadas, Mahajanapadas and cities
Kingdoms, Kings and An Early Republic (Class 6 History Chapter 5 Notes)
How some men became rulers
  1. Initially, the ruler was chosen from the people by the people through voting. However, about 3000 years ago, rajas were chosen who performed big sacrifices. The ashvamedha or horse sacrifice was one such sacrifice.
  2. The raja who organised the sacrifice was recognised as powerful and all those who accepted his superiority brought gifts for him.
  3. The raja was a central figure in these rituals. He often had a special seat, a throne or a tiger skin. The people who are present at such event are his family members, war companions and other kings.

  1. With the growing power of priests, they divided the society among four groups known as varnas, namely, brahmin, kshatriya, vaishya and shudra.
  2. Brahmins are topmost group. They were expected to study (and teach) the Vedas, perform sacrifices and receive gifts.
  3. Kshatriyas are the second most influential group. They were expected to fight battles and protect people.
  4. Vaishyas or vish were third in the hierarchy. They were expected to be farmers, herders, and traders.
  5. Both the kshatriyas and the vaishyas could perform sacrifices.
  6. Shudras are the last in the standing. They were expected to serve the other three groups and could not perform any rituals.
  7. Often, women were also grouped with the shudras. Both women and shudras were not allowed to study the Vedas.
  8. Brahmin, later, added another group of people, untouchables, based on their occupations. They also said that these groups were decided on the basis of births.
  9. The varna system was not accepted by many due to many social, cultural and economic reasons.


  1. The word janapada literally means the land where jana set its foot. These are groups of smaller janas. Some of the well known janapadas are Magadha, Avanti, Panchala, Kausambhi, Vajji, Anga and so on.
  2. People usually lived in huts, and kept cattle as well as other animals. They also grew a variety of crops rice, wheat, barley, pulses, sugarcane, sesame and mustard.
  3. They made earthen pots, usually of grey colour. Therefore, known as Painted Grey Ware.


  1. About 2500 years ago, some janapadas became more important than others as they grew in both status and power. Therefore, they are aptly called Mahajanapadas.
  2. Most mahajanapadas had a capital city and many of them were fortified.
  3. Forts usually built to stop sudden invasion and to give a sense of protection to its subject.
  4. The new Rajas maintained armies. Soldiers were give regular salaries.

  1. As the kingdoms grew, so the need of resources to maintain armies, forts and other things grew. Hence, instead of relying on gifts, rulers of these janapadas and mahajanapadas started collecting taxes.
  2. They put taxes on crops, crafts, animal produce, trade and so on.
  3. Usually, the tax on crops was one-sixth of the produce.

Changes in Agriculture
  1. There  were  two  major  changes  observed in  agriculture around  this  time.
  2. One was use of iron ploughs and second, transplantation of paddy instead of directly sowing them.

  1. Magadha is the most important mahajanapada.
  2. Many rivers such as Ganga and Son flowed through Magadha, which helped in (a) transport, (b) water supplies and (c) making the land fertile.
  3. They used elephants for the army.
  4. There  were  iron  ore mines in the region that were tapped to make high quality tools  and  weapons.
  5. Magadha was known for its rulers such as Bimbisara and Ajatasattu.
  6. Initially, Rajgriha was the capital of the state, but later it was shifted to Pataliputra (modern day Patna).

  1. Vajji is one of the earliest examples of non-king state or democracy. It worked under a system called gana or sangha.
  2. Gana means a group that has many members and sangha on other hand means organisation.
  3. In a gana or sangha, there were more than one rulers. Sometimes numbers reached into thousands. They performed ritual together, met in assemblies and discuss on important issues.
  4. Both Buddha and Mahavira belonged to ganas or sanghas.

Rajas of powerful janapadas always tried to capture sanghas. However, they lasted for a very long period. Till about 1500 years ago, when the last Sangha was captured by the Gupta rulers.
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