The Mahajanapadas of Jambudvipa, Part 15


Arjuna and Ulupi
Paithan School, Maharashtra, 19th c.

May 03, 2013 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial exploration of the island of Jambudvipa and the sixteen Great States residing there.

The Avanti Kingdom

The Avantis were an important kingdom in western India. Avanti was also one of the four great monarchies in India in the post era of Mahavira and Buddha, the other three being Kosala, Vatsa and Magadha. The region of the Avanti Kingdom roughly corresponds to modern Malwa, Nimar and adjoining parts of Madhya Pradesh.

Avanti was divided into north and south by the river Vetravati. Initially, Mahissati (Mahishamati) was the capital of Southern Avanti, while Ujjaini (Ujjayini) was their northern center. During the times of Mahavira and Buddha, however, Ujjaini was the sole capital of an integrated Avanti Kingdom. Ujjayini was built by Accutagami.

Both Mahishmati and Ujjaini stood on the southern high road called Dakshinapatha, which extended from Rajagriha to Pratishthana (modern Paithan). The southern portion of the kingdom was known as Avanti-daksinapatha, with a capital seat at Mahismati.

Avanti was an important center of Buddhism and some of the leading theras and theris (elders) were born and resided there. King Nandivardhana of Avanti was defeated by King Shishunaga of Magadha, and Avanti was eventually annexed as part of the Magadhan empire.

According to the Mahagovinda Suttanta of the Digha Nikaya, Mahissati was the capital of Avanti with Vessabhu as its king. This apparently refers to the Avanti country in the Daksinapatha. However, in the Mahabharata (II, 31,10) Avanti and Mahismati are stated to be two different countries.

In the Buddha's time, India was divided into small independent kingdoms. Of these, the kingdoms of Magadha under Bimbisara and Ajatasattu; Kosala under Pasenadi; Avanti under Pajjota; and Kosambi under Udena played important roles in the political drama of India in the 6th and 5th Centuries B.C. There was rivalry among these powers, each trying to extend his supremacy at the cost of another.

Royal Procession
Paithan School, Maharashtra, 19th c.
Victoria & Albert Museum

Sources: Mahabharata, Georgraphy of Ancient India


The Sun News Editorials Features Sun Blogs Classifieds Events Recipes PodCasts

About Submit an Article Contact Us Advertise

Copyright 2005, 2013, All rights reserved.