1. The Land and the Parent:
India in the 6th Century B. C. was
not under the political control of one single power. There was no Empireat
that time which could bring all religions of the country under
oneadministration. Instead India was divided and sub-divided into a number
of large and small Kingdoms and principalities. Among such major Kingdoms
those of Magadha, Anga, Kashi, Kosala, Vatsa, Panchala, Kalinga, Avanti,
Gandhara, and Kamboja were more prominent in the northern and eastern
Regions of India. Even among these Kingdoms, the Kingdom of Magadha in the
east corresponding to the modern Bihar, enjoyed a very pre-eminent
position and hence it was often described as the Empire of Magadha.This
empire was ruled by the monarchs belonging to the Shishunaga Dynasty and
its capital Rajagraha was the most leading city of the times. Naturally
Magadha exerted much influence over the lives of the people in eastern
Along with the major Kingdoms there
flourished a number of Ganarajyas or republics formed by different
Kshatriya clans. The
were established mainly for securing protection against external attacks
from the adjoining Kingdoms. These Ganarajyas were based on democratic
traditions and were governed by the representatives of Kshatriya Clans.
Such a representative was given the appellation of `Raja' i.e. the King.
Ganarajyas of the time, the Ganarajya of Videha was very famous. Videha
corresponds to mostly with the modern Tirhut Division of Bihar State. In
ancient times the region from the bank of the river Gandaka to the forest
of Champaranya was called Videha or Tirabhukti. It was bounded on the
East, West and South by three big rivers, the Kosi, the Gandaka and the
Ganga, while the Nepal Tarairegions formed its northern boundary. This
area comprises the present Districts of Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Champaran,
Munger and Purnia of Bihar State. The capital of Videha was Vaishaii, the
modern Basadh in Hajipur Sub-Division of Muzaffarpur District. This Videha
Ganarajya was constituted by eight Rajas representing eight major
Kshatriya clans, viz.
7. Ikshvaku, and
eight Kshatriya clans, the Lichchhavi clan was very powerful and enjoyed
the most respectable position. The I,ichchhavis were known for their
bravery, wealth, education, beauty and other accomplishments. They always
valued freedom and self-respect. They consistently opposed the attacks on
their territory and preferred to lead an independent life. They were
religious-minded parsons and for a long time they were the devout
followers of Jainism. In view of this dominent position wielded by the
Lichchhavis in the Videha Ganarajya, the latter was often referred to as
the Lichchhavi Ganarajya. Similarly, Chetaka, the Raja or the
representative of the Lichchhavi clan on the Videha Ganarajya or republic,
was known as Ganarajya-pramukha, i.e., the main Raja of Videha Ganrajya.
Vaishali� the capital of Videha and
of the Lichchhavis was a very prosperous, beautiful and rich city.
Hiuen-tsang, the famous chinese pilgrim, has described Vaishali as a
great,extensive city abounding in palaces, temples, parks and lakes. lIt
is stated that the population of Vaishali at that time was 1,68,000 and
that there were about 8,000 big houses in the city. These big houses were
just like palaces and to each such house was invariably attached a garden
and a lake. It is, further mentioned that the city was divided into three distitlct.
as the Rich class areas, the Middle Class area and the Low Glass area.
These areas could, be easily identified from the metal used in the
construction of Domes in the area. It is also reported that in Vaishali
city there were 7,000 Gold Domes, 14,000 Silver Domes and 21,000 Copper
Domes. The city was always busy in varied political, religious,
educational and cultural activities carried out
through the agencies of Parishads or Councils. It is mentioned that eight
such Parishads viz.
1. Shramana Parishad,
2. Brahmana Parishad (or
3. Grihapati Parishad
4. Chaturmaharajika Parishad
5. Trayamtrimsa Parishad,
6. Mara Parishad and.
7. Brahma Parishad,
were.usually working in the city.
city was surrounded by `Upanagaras' i.e. suburbs like Kundalpura,
Vaniyagrama etc. Among these suburbs, Kundalapura was very adjacent to
Vaishali and was known asan important centre of the Jnatrika Kshatria.
Kundalapura is now known as Vasukunda or Vasukunda. Kundalapura has been
referred to in Prakrit and Sanskrit books by different names like
Kundaggama, Kundagrama, Kshatriya Kundagrama, Kundalipura, Kundapura,
Sirikundagama, Kundala and Kundanagara. Vaishali and Kundalapura had not
only close geographical ties but had very intimate political, social and
religious ties. This intimacy could be gauged by the family and clan
relationships between Chetaka, the GanarajaPramukha of Vaishali and
Siddhartha, the Ganaraja of Kundalapura (Vaishali).
Ganaraja-Pramukha of Videha republic wasrenowned as the great Lichchhavi
King of Vaishali. In Jaina books he is referred to as the Kshatriya Prince
belonging to Ikshvaku Vansha and Vasishtha Gotra. Chetaka was married to
Bhadra or Subhadra. Both Chetaka and Subhadra were great devotees of
Parshvanatha, the 23rd Tirthankar as the Lichchhavis were the devout
followers of Jainism. They had ten princes and seven princesses. The names
of ten princes were as follows :-
Simha or Simhabhadra, (2) Dhana,
Dantabhadra, (4) Upendra,
Su0datta, (6) Sukumbhoja,
Akampana (8) Supatanga,
Prabhanjana and (10) Prabhasa.
princes were valiant and helped their father, King Chetaka in the defence
of their territory. In fact, the eldest prince Simhabhadra was the
Senapati, i.e. the Chief of the Army of Videha republic.