Vajji (Vrijji) Mahajanapada and Licchavi Clan – 600 BC

The Vajji (Vrijji) was the earliest democracy in India and was one of the sixteen mahajanpadas. Vajji was spread throughout the North Ganges region of present day Bihar till the terai regions of Southern Nepal. It was situated between Gandak and Kosi river. Vajji was composed of eight clans among them theVrijis, the Lichchavis, the Jnatrikass and the Videhas were the most important.

Vrijji or vajji Mahajanpada Map 600 BC

Vrijji or vajji Mahajanpada Map 600 BC

Terminology

Licchavi was the most powerful clan of Vajji (Vrijji). therefore many times historians use Licchavi and Vajji synonymous for each other. It was also referred as Vaideha or Tirabhukti. One more refrence regarding synonimity of Vajji and Licchavi is found when Mahanama said that  “These Licchavis will yet become Vajjians”. He said so because licchavi were following the seven conditions taught by Buddha.

Vajji Sangha or Gana (Government)

Vajji had a people council called vajji gana parishad which had members which were selected from Khanda(district) they were called gana mukhya. The leader of gana mukhya was called gana pramukhya who acted as present day head of state. The Vajji Government had ministers like Mahabaladhrikrit (minister for internal security) and Dandadhikrit (minister of law).

Vajji’s Judiciary

Vajji’s law making and enforcing body was called Atthakulaka. Atthakulaka means head of eight clans. Atthakulaka was a judicial committee that used to observe day to day functioning of administration. Atthakulaka ‘s head was Binishchayamatya (chief justice)

Important Towns

Vaishali was the capital of Licchavi Clan. In Jataka Tales it was mentioned that Vaishali was a very large city guarded by three walls and watch towers. People of Vaishali were followers of Mahavira who later went on the ‘Buddha’s marga’.

Mithala was the capital of Videha clan. Some of Vajji’s important town were Kundagram (where Mahavir got birth), Kundapura , Bhoganagara and Hatthigama.

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