Kingdoms, Kings and an Early Republic – CBSE Notes for Class 6 Social

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Facts that Matter:

• Around 3000 years ago, there were some new ways of choosing ‘rajas’. Some men became ‘rajas’ by performing big sacrifices. One of such rituals was ‘ASHVAMEDHA’ (horse sacrifice). The ‘raja’ was an important figure.
• Kingdoms were usually called the ‘Janapadas’, which were ruled by the ‘rajas’. People lived in huts and kept animals. They grew a variety of crops.
• Some ‘janapadas’ later became more important than others, and they were called ‘Mahajanapadas’. The capital cities were fortified.
• The new ‘rajas’ began maintaining armies. Payments were made using punchmarked coins.
• The ‘rajas’ needed resources to build forts and to maintain armies. Officials were supposed to collect taxes from people. Taxes were in the form of crops, labour, animals and their produce, etc.
• There were changes in agriculture too. The use of Iron Ploughshares increased, thus enhancing grain production. People started transplanting paddy. This also increased production.
• Magadha became the most important ‘mahajanapada’ in about 200 years. Transport, water supplies, fertility, forests, elephants, mines, etc. made Magadha important.
• The two powerful rulers of Magadha, Bimbisara and Ajatasattu used all possible means to conquer other ‘janapadas’. Rajagriha was the capital of Magadha. Later it was Pataliputra (now Patna).
• Vajji was another kingdom with its capital at Vaishali (Bihar). It had a different form of government called ‘gana’/‘sangha’, which had not one, but many rulers. These rulers performed rituals together and met in assemblies. Buddhist books depict life in the ‘sanghas’.
• ‘Rajas’ of powerful kingdoms tried to conquer the ‘sanghas’.

Words that Matter:

• ‘Ashvamedha’:  (horse sacrifice) This was ritual in which a horse was let loose to wander freely and it was guarded by the ‘rajas’ men. If the horse entered other kingdoms, there would be a duel between the two kings.
• ‘Bhaga’: Taxes on crops (1/6 of the produce) was called ‘bhaga’.
• ‘Gana’/‘Sangha’: A form of government followed in the kingdom of Vajji.
• ‘Janapadas’: Kingdoms were referred to as ‘janapadas’. (‘jana’ – land, ‘pada’ – foot).
• ‘Mahajanapada’: The most important of the ‘janapadas’.
• ‘Varnas’: Each of the four categories of society, based on occupation and decided by birth, was referred to as ‘Varnas’.


• About 3000 years ago (around 1000 B.C.)—new kinds of ‘rajas’.
• About 2500 years ago (around 500 B.C.)—formation of ‘mahaj’anapadas’.
• About 2300 years ago (around 300 B.C.)—invasion of Alexander the Great.