19 December 2014

CBSE NCERT Notes: Kingdoms, Kings and an Early Republic

CBSE / NCERT Revision Notes of Class 6 Social Science

Kingdoms, Kings and an Early Republic

How Men Became Rulers : Chapter Summary

The Aryans started moving between 1000 BC and 600 BC from the north-west and Punjab regions to the ganga-Yamuna plains. The Sama Veda, Yajur Veda, Atharva Veda, the Upanishads and the Mahabharata were created after the Rig Veda, hence are called ‘Later Vedic’.
In the Vedic period, the society was divided in to four groups or Varnas i.e. Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras as per the occupations. This Varna system was flexible and in the later Vedic period, the Varna of a person was decided on the basis of his birth. In spite of the huge following of the Varna system, many people opposed it.

In the early Vedic period, a Raja was elected by the people. However, later this system started fading and powerful men established their own kingdoms declaring themselves as Raja. They would perform the ritual of Ashwamedha or horse sacrifice to declare their supremacy.

In this ritual, a horse guarded by the Raja’s men would be left loose to wander in the neighboring kingdoms. If any Raja would stop the horse from entering his kingdom, he would have to battle with the Raja owning the horse. Nevertheless, if a Raja allowed the horse to enter his kingdom, it meant that he has accepted the supremacy of the Raja who owned the horse.

The Ashwamedha Yagnya was performed by specially trained priests who were later rewarded by the king. After the horse sacrifice, the king was declared as the most powerful in the presence of all the kings who accepted his supremacy. All these kings would give the Raja lavish gifts, including the Vaishyas. The Raja’s charioteer narrated incidents of the Raja’s exploits in the battlefields.

The extended regions of the Raja were called Mahajanapadas, comprising the forfeited kingdoms. By 600 BC there were around 16 Mahajanapadas i.e. Avanti, Anga, Magadha, Vajji, Kosala, Panchala, Kuru, Gandhara, Assaka, Cheti, Kamboja, Kasi, Matsya, Malla, Shurasena and Vasta.

In order to build the forfeited territories and pay the soldiers and labors, the king introduced the collection of taxes rather than depending on the gifts. The taxes depended on the occupation of the people.

Role of Rajas  : Chapter Summary

The raja of a mahajanapad had great esteem and respected by all including the Brahmins. He protected his people, maintained law and order, maintained an army and paid it salary and even constructed fortresses.

In order to meet the expenses, the king started collecting taxes. He appointed special officers called ‘tax collectors’ to collect taxes and keep a record of the same. People paid taxes as per their occupation. The craftsperson paid taxes by working for a day each month for the Raja, herders paid in form of animals and animal produce, gatherers and hunters paid in form of forest produce.

Get to know about Kingdoms, Kings and an Early Republic free CBSE NCERT Notes, How Men Became Rulers, Role of Rajas, Magadha and Vajji, Chapter Summary Kingdoms, Kings and an Early Republic : CBSE / NCERT Revision Notes of Class 6 Social Science.

Famers paid taxes on the crops they produced which was fixed at 1/6th of the produce, known as bhaga or share. Even the traders who bought and sold goods were liable to pay taxes.

To help increase production the Raja supported in advanced cultivation practices. The farmers in mahajanapads started using iron ploughs instead of the wooden ploughs making it easy to turn the heavy clay soil. They also changed their way of planting crops, instead of scattering paddy seeds on the soil, they started growing saplings and then planted these in the fields.
The work of planting saplings was a tedious task and was usually done by slave men and women and landless agricultural laborers or kammakaras.

Magadha and Vajji : Chapter Summary

Among the many mahajanapads existing during the later Vedic period, Magadha was the most powerful. Among various factors which took Magadha to the top one was that it was ruled by shrewd rulers like Bimbisara and his son Ajatasattu. Along with taking care of their subjects, they continued to capture other janapads to expand Magadha.

Mahapadma Nanda, another important ruler of Magadha extended it further to the north-western part of the subcontinent. The initial capital of Magadha was Rajghriha and later it was changed to Pataliputra. Magadha territory had a beneficial location as river Ganga and Son flowed through it, making it fertile throughout and providing water for both agriculture and other chores.

The rivers not only acted as natural barriers but were also used to transport goods and supplies to the army in the battlefields far away. Magadha also was surrounded with rich deposits of iron ore, used for making tools and weapons; dense forests, used to get high-quality wood for building houses, carts and chariots. Also, the elephants that were captured from these forests were trained for the army.

Another mahajanapad Vajii, with the capital as Vaishali, became the first kingdom to practice the democratic form of government called sangha or gana. In this form of government, unlike just one Raja, there were many rajas, who met in assemblies to discuss and debate on the important issues. A decision was taken only after consulting all the Rajas. The system of sanghas or ganas lasted until 1,500 years ago.

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