Republican Kambojas

Republican Kambojas

There are several ancient literary and inscriptional references which testify that the ancient Kambojas were a republican people. References in Sanskrit and Pali literature attest terms like e "Gana", "Samgha", "Shreni" and other similar bodies labeled as "Puga", "Vrata", "Goshata" etc. The "Gana", "Samgha" and the "Shrenis" were the most important of these terms, originally meant "multitude" but in later times, they applied to republican type of polity.

The Terms Gana and Samgha

Term Gana in Vedic texts

The Gana as corporate body had originated in Vedic times. Dr V. M. Apte refers to occurrence of Gana, Ganapati etc in Vedic literature which in later period were distinctly republican terms. In Rigveda, the leader of a Gana has the title of Rajan. Gana of Vedic literature probably refer to oligarchy where power was vested in a council of elders, each member of which was entitled to call him a Rajan and had a right to elect chief of the State who was also called Raja. The members of Gana were treated as rulers and all carried a title of Raja. Dr R. S. Sharma opines that the Vedic Ganas were self acting armed organisations, every member of which bore arms and were the fore-runners of "Ayudhajivi Samghas" of Panini and "Varta.shastr.opajivi Samghas" of Kautiliya. The Vedic Gana was primarily a tribal republic.

Term Gana in Brahmanical literature

The Gana of Mahabharata refers to whole body politic or entire Political Community (i.e. the Parliament). The governing body was a distinct body inside the Gana. [Hindu Polity, p 101, Dr Jayswal.]

Term Gana means Republic or Democracy

The classical terms for republic are "Gana" and "Samgha". The older scholars like William Monier [ [ Cologne Digital Sanskrit Lexicon containing Monier-Williams' "Sanskrit-English Dictionary"] .] translated the word Gana as a tribe which was accepted by earlier scholars like Dr Fleet and Dr R. G. Bhandarkar who consequently called the Ganas of Malavas, Ksudrakas and Yaudheyas as 'tribal states'. But this translation has since then fallen into disuse. The later community of scholars has translated the Ganas in the meaning of 'republics' or 'democracies' [ History of Punjab, 1997, p 311, Editors: Dr Fauja Singh, Dr L. M. Joshi.] . [ State and Government in Ancient India, 1992, pp 109-113, Dr A. S. Altekar.] [ Few references defining Ganas as Republics: Truth, Myth, and Politics in Ancient India, 1972, p 7, Ian W. Mabbett; Proceedings, 1971, Institute of Port Management; Democracy in India, 1960, p 17, S. Kumar. Ray; The White Umbrella: Indian political thought from Manu to Gandhi, 1953, p 18,. Donald Mackenzie Brown; Ancient Indian Republics: from the earliest times to the 6th century A.D. , 1976, p 17, Shivenandan Misra; Theory of Government in Ancient India, 1968, p 66, Beni Prasad; Social, Cultural and Economic History of India: medieval age, 1978, p 90, S. C. Raychoudhry; Socialism, Sarvodaya, and Democracy: selected works of Jayaprakash Narayan, 1964, p 204, Jayaprakash Arayan N, Bimal Prasad; Police Administration in Ancient India, 1987, p 68, Kamal Kishore Mishra; Concept of Panchayati Raj, 1964, p 19, Narayan Bose; Rural India, p 171, Adarsh Seva Samgha; Buddhism: By Rahul Sankrityayan [and Others] , 1970, p 2, Rahula Saṅkr̥tyayana; The Political Institutions and Theories of the Hindus: A Study in Comparative Politics, 1939, p 152, Benoy Kumar Sarkar; Introduction to the Constitution of India, 2005, p 41, Brij Kishore Sharma; The Indian Struggle, 1920-1934, 1935, p 15, Subhas Chandra Bose; Indian Culture and Religious Thought, 1962, p 128, M. Ananthasayanam Ayyangar; The Status of Women in the Epics, 1966, p 215, Shakambari Jayal, Justice by Tribunals: A Study in Methods with Reference to India, 1973, p 111, M. M. Singh; Tribal Coins: A Study (the Yaudheyas, the Mālavas, the Audumbaras, and the Kuṇindas), 1972, Mahesh Kumar Sharan, Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, 1971, p 24, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar; History of Kośala Up to the Rise of the Mouryas, 1963, p 360, Vishuddhanand Pathak; Study in Hindu and European Political Systems, 1958, p 213, Ramaprasad Dasgupta; Substance of Hindu Polity, 1959, p 68, Chandra Prakash Bhambhri; The Modern Review; p 540, edited by Ramananda Chatterjee; Janapada State in Ancient India, 1973, p 130, Sudāmā Miśra; An Outline of the Cultural History of India, 1958, p 130, edited by Syed Abdul Latif; India as Known to Pāṇini: A Study of the Cultural Material in the Ashṭādhyāyī , 1953, Dr Vasudeva Sharana Agrawala; The Coins of Karnataka, 1975, p 25, A. V. Narasimha Murthy; The Aryan Path, p 86, Indian Institute of World Culture; Two Sacred Worlds: Experience and Structure in the World's Religions, 1977, p 77, Larry D. Shinn; Dāsa-śūdra Slavery: studies in the origins of Indian slavery and feudalism and their philosophies, 1982, p 145,Sharad Patil; Professor P. K. Gode: Commemoration Volume, 1960, p 50, Madhukar Mangesh Patkar, H. L. Hariyappa, Parashuram Krishna Gode; The Evolution of the Indian Constitution: a historical and analytical treatise on the system of..., 1935, p 4, K V Ramasubrahmanyam; Evolution of Indian Culture, 1967, p 159, Bhanwarlal Nathuram Luniya; Studies in Panchayati Raj, 1963, p 2, B. Maheshwari; Concept of Panchayati Raj, 1964, p 19, Narayan Bose; Religion in Socio Economic Life of India, 1989, p 27, Satchidananda Dhar; Knowledge and Intervention: Studies in Society and Consciousness, 1985, p 237, Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya; Early History of Rajasthan, 1978, p 11, Dinesh Chandra Shukla, Dineśa Candra; The Indian Year Book of International Affairs, p 97, The Indian Study Group of International Affairs, University of Madras, India; The Western Political Quarterly, 1992, p 245by Southern California Political Science Association, Pacific Northwest Political Science Association, Western Political Science Association, University of Utah Institute of Government – 1992 etc.]

Term Samgha of Grammarians, Arthashastra and Budhist texts

Panini refers to Samgha and applies it in the same sense as Gana.

Katyayana in his Vartika takes Samgha as a form of government where sovereignty vested in many as distinct from Ekaraja (monarchy) where it vested in one.

"Kasika" also uses the term Samgha in the sense of republic. Kautiliya applies term Samgha and Shreni to republican people.

Buddhist texts refer to religious Samghas as a perfect copy of political model, but more than the political Samgha, equality and universal brotherhood was the cornerstone of religious Samghas. On the other hand, in the political Samghas, the political power rested in the hands of the founder Kshatriya clans only. There were other castes in the political Samgha, but they did not share any political power, though they owed allegiance to the Janapada and its ruling Kshatriyas.

Terms Gana and Samgha: Synonymous with Republic

In ancient literature Gana and Samgha have been used as synonymous terms for republic.

Panini Evidence

Panini in his Ashtadhyayi, speaks of the political "Samgha" technically known as "Gana" [

:"Samgh-odghau Gana-prashamsayoh"..............(See: Ashtadhyayi, Sutra III.3.86; India as known to Panini, 1953, p 428, Dr V. S. Aggarwala).] . Panini writes Yaudheyas as a "Samgha" [ AyudhajIviSaMghAJNJNyaDvAhIkeshhvabrAhmaNarAjanyAth (114);:VrikATTeNyaN (115);:dAmanyAditrigartashhashhThAchchhaH(116);:ParshvAdi.'YaudheyAdibhyAmaNaJNau(117);: (Ashtadhyayi Sutra 5.3.114-117);] but Yaudheyas in their coins refer to themselves as Gana. [

(i) Yaudheya -"Gana.sya" Jaya.......................

(ii) Yaudheya "Ganah".purskrittasya..............]

Kasika Evidence

Kasika terms "Ayudhajivi" tribes like Kshudrakas, Malavas as "Samgha". [.

:Vahikesu ya ayudhajivi "Samgha".stadhaachina.n ....Kshudrakyah: Malavayah | (Kasika V.3.114, pp 455-56).] but their own coins and several inscriptions address them as a "Gana" [

:Malava."Gana.sya" (of Malava Gana): (Catalogue of coins in the Indian Museum pp 170-174).] [

:Shri Malava-"Gana.nate" parshaste Krta.sangyake: (Epigraphia Indica, Vol IX, p 320).] . The above illustrations prove that ancient terms "Gana" and "Samgha" were identical in meaning and stood for a republic.

Kambojas as Republican People in Ancient Sources

Mahabharata evidence about Kamboja Ganas and Shrenis

Mahabharata refers to "numerous Ganas" (i.e. Samghas) of the Kambojas (Kambojana.n cha ye Ganah) fighting on the side of Kauravas. [

:narayanashcha gopalah "Kambojana.n cha ye Ganah". ||39|
:Karnena vijitah purva.n sangrame shura sammatah. |
: (MBH 7.91.39-40).

:e.g: "..and numerous "Ganas" of the Kambojas who are regarded as very brave and accomplished warriors in the battle-field ("sangrame shura sammatah"), and whom Karna had fought with and vanquished in former times...". (MBH 7.91.39-40).]

Mahabharata also knows of "Shrenis" (or Corporations i.e. lesser Samghas). The Shreni also possessed political significance like the Gana as is shown by the expression "Kshatriya-Shrenis i.e. Corporations of warriors" found in Arthashastra for a class of "Varta-shastr.opajivin" Samghas of the Kamboja and Surashtra etc. [Arthashastra 11.1.04.] Like the Kamboja Ganas, the Mahabharata also refers to numerous "Shrenis" fighting on the side of Duryodhana. [

:Shrenayo bahusahasrah samshaptaka ganash cha ye |
: (MBH 8/5/40).
] Obviously, the "Shrenis" here, refer to the Kshatriya Shrenis of the Kambojas among others, fighting on Kauravas' behalf. These Gana and Shrenis at the time of Mahabharata appear to have been fully evolved political corporate bodies or democratic republican institutions.

Characteristics of Epic Ganas

The Shantiparva section of the Mahabharata [MBH 12.107.6-32] gives a detailed lecture on "Ganas" or republics and "lists the essentials for Ganas to succeed politically and militarily". Time and again, the "stress is on unity, confederacy, equality, descipline, mutual cooperation, mutual subordination, mutual-respect and high sense of justice". These characteristics are stated to be a vital ingredients of success for the Ganas, where as greed and jealousy are the main provoking causes leading to waste, decay and mutual destruction of them. [Mahabharata, 12.107.6-32).]

There are numerous verses in the Shantiparva section of Mahabharata which are notable for their heavy stress on UNITY or CONFEDERACY. [

:tatra danena bhidyante ganah sanghatavrittayah. ||12|

:tasmatsanghatayogeshu prayateranganah sada. ||14|

:artha hyevadhigamyante sanghatabalapaurushat. || 15|

:tasmatsanghatamevahurganana.n sharanam mahat.||32|

: (MBH 12/107/12, 14, 15, 32).]

Epic Ganas are known to have formed confederations. [MBH 12.107.11-15).] The success of the Ganas lied in their "confederacy, since the confederated Ganas were invincible by prowess or cleverness or by temptations or by beauty. [:na tu shauryena buddhya va rupadravyena va punah | :bhedachchaiva pramadachcha namyante ripubhirganah ||31|
: (MBH 12.107.31).
] The confederated ganas can only be overturned by the enemy through the policy of division and subsidy. The successful Ganas have been noted as "very wealthy, heroic, well-versed in the shastras (learning) and accomplished in the art of weaponry". [:dravyavantashcha shurashcha shastragyah shastraparagah |
: (MBH 12.107.21).

When we examine the "Kamboja Ganas" in the light of above "characteristics of successful Ganas", so heavily stressed upon in the Mahabharata, we find that all these salient characteristics of the successful Ganas, are beautifully reflected in the Kamboja Ganas also. [

:ye tvete rathino rajandrishyante ka~nchanadhvajah |
:ete "durvarana" nama Kamboja yadi te shrutah. || 43 |
:"shurashcha kritavidyashcha dhanurvede cha nishthitah". |
:"sa.nhatashcha bhrisha.n hyete anyonyasya hitaishinah" || 44 |
:akshauhinyashcha sa.nrabdha dhartarashtrasya bharata.|
: (MBH 7.112.43-44).

e.g: Drona Parva of Mahabharata thus speaks of the Kambojas: "Those other car-warriors with golden standards, O king, whom you see, and who, like the wild elephants are difficult of being resisted, they are called the Kambojas. They are 'brave', a 'learned people' and are 'firmly devoted to the science of weapons'. 'Desiring one another's welfare', they are all 'highly united' and 'mutually cooperative'. They constitute a full Akshauhini of 'wrathful warriors' ". [MBH 7.112.43-44.]

The above "characteristics of the martial Ganas of the Kambojas" plentifully establish the fact that the Kambojas of Mahabharata were a "very well known republican people".

Besides Kambojan Ganas, Mahabharata also refer to the Ganas of "Daserkas" and the league of the "Kukuras-Andhakas-Vrishinis".

Aitareya Brahamana evidence on Viraja (kingless) Kambojas

Aitareya Brahmana describes "vairajya" as a national constitution prevailing among the Udichyas or the "nations of the north". Here, whole Janapada took the consecration of rulership which means it was a real democratic constitution. The geographical location is stated to be lying in the trans-Himalaya region [:Etayan ca tuchenaitayan ta yajushaitabhischa vyahayitibir.vairajyaya etasyam Udichyam disi ye ke cha parena Himavantam Janapada Uttara-Kurrava Uttara-Madra iti Vairajyayaiva te bhishichyante Virat-ityenan-abhishiktan achakshata eta meva Devanam vihitimanu: (Aitareya Brahamana, VIII.14).

:e.g: " Thereafter, the god Indra took consecration ("abhisheka") from vishvadevas for vairajya type rulership in the northern quarter. Therefore, the Janapadas located in the north beyond the Himalaya, like the Uttara Kuru, Uttara Madra etc take the consecration for rulership and are therefore, known as viraja (kingless)" (Aitareya Brahamana, VIII.14).] . The Uttara Kuru and Uttara Madra Janapadas from the north quarter are cited as an illustrative example of the Janapadas which observe the "vairajya constitution". [Hindu Polity: A Constitutional History of India in Hindu Times, 1955, p 77-78, Dr K. P. Jayaswal.] Since the Kambojas (especially the Parama Kambojas) were close neighbors to the Uttara Kurus as well as the Uttara Madras in the north division in trans-Himalayan territory, it can therefore, be fairly assumed that the same form of national constitution also prevailed amongst the "northern trans-Himalayan" Kamboja i.e. Parama Kamboja country.

umerian mythology and republican Kambojas

The Sumerian myth of "Enmerker and the Lord of Aratta" contains an old reference to Aratta people/country of the late Vedit period. The region is stated to be located beyond Zagros, towards eastern Iran and is stated to be "the source of lapis lazuli". [Sumer and the Sumerians, 2004, p 184, Harriet E. W. Crawford.] The Aratta people are first mentioned in "Baudhayana Shrautasutra" [Sutra 18.13; 18,44] and "Bhaudhayana Dharamasutra". [ Sutra 1.1.30.] They belong to north-west since they are bracketed with the Gandharas. Hence they are close neighbors of Gandharas. They are stated to be despised people. Scholars say that "Aratta" is a popular (prakrit) form of Vedic "A-rashtra" -- which means "without government". This compares to Avestic "A-sara" -- also meaning" without head/government"--thus the Vedic "Aratta" probably alludes to A-rashtra i.e. kingless or republican people/territory. Geographically, this Vedic Aratta is located at the source of river "Rasa" in Pamir. The above text is based on "Early Eastern Iran and the Atharvaveda". [Persica-9, 1980, fn-3, Dr M. Witzel]

The Sumerian Aratta refers to eastern Iran, [ Sumer and the Sumerians, 2004, p 184, Harriet E. W. Crawford - Social Science.] more plausibly, northern parts of Afghanistan (Badakshan)" [See ref: Archaeology, 1948, p 15, Archaeological Institute of America - Archaeology.] which, since remote antiquity, has been the only known source of lapis lazuli. Investigators like Dr. Koenraad Elst, Col Cunningham, Dr R. K. Mookerji, Dr Buddha Parkash etc also regard Aratta as Prakritic form of Vedic "A-rashtra" or "Arashtraka" meaning kingless or stateless. [See: The Ancient Geography of India, 1871, p 215, Alexander Cunningham - India; Evolution of Heroic Tradition in ancient Panjab, 1971, p 53, Dr Buddha Parkash; Also see: The Age of Imperial Unity, History and Culture of Indian People, p 49, Ed Dr R. C. Majumdar, Dr A. D. Pusalkar; Hindu Civilization: (from the Earliest Times Up to the Establishment of the ..., 1923, p 289, Dr Radhakumud Mookerji - Civilization, Hindu; The Generalship of Alexander the Great, 2004, p 255, J. F. C. Fuller - History; The Cambridge Ancient History, 1923, p 406, John Bagnell Bury, Stanley Arthur Cook, Frank Ezra Adcock, Martin Percival Charlesworth, Norman Hepburn Baynes, Charles Theodore Seltman etc.] Badakshan, according to most noted scholarship, formed western parts of ancient Kamboja [] . It lied in "trans-Himalaya" (trans-Hindukush) region, which in Aitareya Brahmana [Aitareya Brahmana VIII.14.] is stated to be the land of the republican people like Uttara Kurus, Uttara Madras and Kambojas etc. Based on above scenario, the Sumerian/Vedic "Aratta" can fairly be taken to be a popular (prakrit) form of "Vedic A-rashtra" and therefore, it probably alludes to the kingless/republican Kambojas of the trans-Himalayan ("parena himvantan") region.

Puranic evidence on Kamboja Ganas

The reference to military Ganas or Corporations of the Kambojas and other tribes from the north-west also appears in numerous Puranic literature. [:HaihayaisTalajanghaishcha shakaih sardha.n dvijottamah || 03 |
:Yavanah Paradashchaiva Kambojah Pahlavastatha | :ete hyapi "ganah.pancha" haihayarthe parakraman.|| 04 || : (Harivamsa 14.03-04).
] These five hordes ("ganah-panca or panca-ganah") comprsing the Sakas, Kambojas, Yavanas, Pahlavas and Paradas etc were in fact, the "Ayudhajivi" corporations of these warlike tribes, organised into military bodies, like the "Ganas", "Shrenis", "Pugas" or "Vratas", and were apparently living by warfare or the profession of arms. These military hordes did not represent the entire mass of their tribes, but were only some military "corporations" coming from these borderland nations into India either as invading hordes or else to offer their military services as Ayudhajivis to the Indo-Aryans who solicited them (Dr P. E. Pargiter).

Paninian Kambojas: a Republican people?

Panini includes the Kambojas among the fifteen most powerful Kshatriya monarchies flourishing during his times. But it appears that governing constitution of the Kambojas was republican (king consul) during Paninian era. Panini gives a rule for the derivative to denote the king of the Kambojas. The rule for Kambojas is different from the rest of fourteen Kshatriya monarchies in the list (sutra IV.1.168-75). On the surface, this would indicate that Panini is referring to a monarchy, but the "special rule" and "exceptional form the derivation" raises doubt as to whether the raja of the Kambojas was a king or a consul. [Hindu Polity, Part I & II, p 52, Dr K. P. Jayswal; Ancient Kambojas, 1981, pp 264-65, Dr J. L. Kamboj.] The Paninian Kambojas probably formed "raja.shabd.opajivin" type Samghas, a constitutional term which appears in Kautiliya's Arthashastra [Arthashastra 11.1.04-05.] later in fourth century BCE. The applellation 'Raja' in case of Paninian Kambojas, to all probability, was used for the army Chiefs/Generals of the Confederation of the Kambojas. Moreover, the "Ashvayana" and the "Asvhakayana" sections of the Kambojas are also often considered as martial republics by the scholars. Therefore, it is fair to conclude that the Paninian Kambojas had probably followed the "raja.shad.opajivin" (king consul) republican constitution which later transmutated into "Varta-Shastr-opajivinah" (nation-in-arms) republics.

Kamboja Samghas/Shrenis in Kautiliya's Arthashastra

Panini's "raja-shad.opajivinah" Kambojas switched to "varta-shastr.opajivinah" type constitution before the times of Kautiliya, at which time it certainly did not admit of "even a titular king". [ Hindu Polity, Part I & II, p 52.] "Book XI" of Kautiliya's Arthashastra attests the Samghas of the Kambojas, Surashtras, Lichchavis, Vrijis, Kurus, Madras, Panchalas etc. It attests the Kambojas and Surashtras as "varta.shastra.upajivinah" and states that, besides warfare, the Kambojas and Surashtras also practiced agriculture, trade and cattle-culture. [

:Kamboja.surastra.kshatriya.shreny.adayo varta.shastra.upajivinah |
:Licchivika. Vrjika. Mallaka. Madraka. Kukura. Kuru. Panchala.adayo raja.shabda.upajivinah |
: (Arthashasra 11.1.04-05).

:e.g: "The Corporations of warriors (Kshattriya. Sreni of) Kambhoja and Surashtra, and other countries live by agriculture, trade and wielding weapons".

:"The Corporations of Lichchhivika, Vrijika, Mallaka, Mudraka, Kukura, Kuru, Panchala and others live by the title of a Raja"(Kautiliya's Arthashastra, 1956, Dr R. Shamashastriy, p 407, book XI, Chap 1).

Interprettation::Expression "Shastr.opajivinah" of Kautiliya implies living by 'wielding weapons or by warfare'.

:Expression "Varta.opajivin" implies living by 'agriculture, trade and industry'. Thus the composite expression "varta.shastr.opajivinah" used by Kautiliya for the Kambojas and Surashtras signifies that, besides living by warfare (as "Shastr.opajivis"), the Kamboja and Surashtra republics were also living by agriculture, trade and industry (Varta.opajivis).] The "Raja.shabd.opajivini" Samghas of the Arthashastra on the other hand, bore the "title" of raja or king. Since Kautiliya contrasts the "Varta.shastr.opajivinah" Samghas with the "Raja.shabd.opajivinah" Samghas, this implies that the former had no provision even for title of raja, and did not allow it. In other words, the "Raja.shabd.opajivin" Samghas observed a "king-consul constitution" and conversely, the "Vata-shastr.opajivins" Samghas did not have a king consul...i.e "they were kingless or truly democratic nations". It is also notable that Kautiliya's Arthashastra attests the term "Shreni" or 'Kshatriya-Shrenis' i.e. 'Corporations of Kshatriyas/warriors' and applies this republican term to the Kamboja and Surashtra Samghas only. And Kautiliya further states that the "Shrenis" of the 'shastr-opajivis' (i.e the Kambojas and Surashtras etc) were the most heroic ("shreni.pravira.purusanam") and best suited for military recruitment. [:tesam alabhe bandhu.mitra.kulebhyah samaarjanam || 26 |
:utsaaha.hiinah "shreni.praviira.purusanam" :cora.gana.atavika.mleccha.jatinam para.apakarinam :gudha.purusanam ca yathaa.labbham upacayam kurvita || 27 |
:para.mishra.apratikaaram abaliyasam vaa paresu prayujita || 28 |
: (Arthashastra 7.14.26-28).
] Scholars have designated "Varta-shastr.opajivin Samghas" of Kautailiya by the terms like "Martial nations" or "Nations-in-arms". [ Hindu Polity, pp 31, 51-52, 163-64.] And the martial republics of Kautiliya's Arthashastra were headed by the Kambojas'. [op cit, p 52.]

Nation-in-Arms or Martial Republics: Characteristics

Military training was mendatory in these "varta-shastr.opajivin" or "Nations-in-arms" States, but after the training was over, the individual was free to adopt the profession of his choice. At the time of emergency, any numbers of army, depending upon situation could be summoned in a moment's notice. The whole "citizenry" was its army and thus was immeasurably superior to the hired levies of monarchies, or of the king-consul ("Raja-shabd.opajivin") States of Kautiliya. Bravery was a point of ambition and honor amongst the citizens. And when these nations formed "offensive or defensive league", they were regarded as virtually invincible. Each State was a "nation-in-arms"... martial and industrial, in the same breadth. The hand which wielded sword successfully was also accustomed to use scythe with equal facility. According to Buddhist documents and Arthashastra, they were agricultural and industrial. Hence, they were found rich and strong. [cf also: Kambojah....yama vaishravan.opamah: MBH 7.23.42.]

Confederated Ganas/Samghas: Virtually invincible

Mahabharata says it is almost impossible for an enemy to crush the confederated Ganas or republics. [MBH 12.107.31] Alliance with the Ganas was always eagerly courted by the outsiders and they (Ganas) took special delight in reducing their foes and saw to it their own prosperity. [MBH 12.107.15.] Buddha himself gave his opinion to Chancelleor of Magadha that confederated Vajjis (a republican people) could not be conquered by Magadha king.Kautiliya's Arthashastra emphatically states that the confederated Samghas are virtually invincible. [ :samgha.laabho danda.mitra.laabhaanaam uttamah || 1 |
:"samghaa hi samhatatvaad adhrsyaah paresaam" || 2 |
:taan anugunaan bhujjiita saama.daanaabhyaam, vigunaan bheda.dandaabhyaam || 3 |
: (Arthashastra 11.1.01-03).

:e.g: "The acquisition (conquest) of a Samgha is more desirable than an alliance of good will or military aid. Those (Samghas) which are united (in league) should be treated with the policy of subsidy and peace, for they are invincible. Those which are not united should be conquered by army and disunion"(See: Hindu Polity, 1978, p 115, Dr K. P. Jayswal).]

Araja. Vishaya (Kingless) Kambojas of the Maurya Empire

The democratic constitution of the Kambojas is further attested from Rock Edicts V and XIII of king Ashoka. The Kambojas find a prominent mention as a political unit in his Rock Edict XIII. This Rock Edict reveals that Kambojas had enjoyed autonomy under the Mauryas. The republics mentioned in Rock Edict V are Yonas, Kambojas, Gandharas, Nabhakas and the Nabhapamkitas. They are designated as "araja.visaya" in king Ashoka's edicts [

:"Hidh.araja.visyavasi Yonekambojesu eti".....Rock Edict XIII.

i.e. here in the kingless territories among the Yonas, Kambojas..... [. The term "araja-vishaya" stands for kingless or non-monarchical nations. [Hindu Polity, 1978, pp 130-131.] This shows that Kambojas of Ashoka's Rock Edicts had constituted self-governing nation within Maurya Empire. [ Hindu Polity: A Constitutional History of India in Hindu Times, 1955, pp 137-38, Dr K. P. Jayaswal - India; See also: Ancient india, p 839, S. Chand.]

Sinhala evidence on Kamboja republicanism

The "Puga" (Samgha) and "Goshthe" (Corporations) of the "Kabojhiya" (Sanskrit Kambojas) are referred to in ancient cave inscriptions of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka which attest expression like "Gota-Kabojhiyana" ( _sa. goshthe) and "Kabojhiya-mahapugiyana" (Sanskrit: maha-pugiyanam i.e. grand Samgha) of the Kambojas. The inscriptions also make mention of their "republican titles" such as "Gamika" (Sanskrit: Gamini, Gramaneya), and "Pramaka" (Sanskrit: Parmuka) etc. The Samghas of Sinhalese Kambojas appear to have been organised on the pattern of their political Samghas in the north-west, where the Sinhalese Kambojas had migrated from. This evidence again supports the democratic character of the ancient Kamboja society.

Modern Kamboj: still theoretically democratic

There have traditionally been democratic entities in each Kamboj village. They were the assemblies of elders or wisemen unanimously accepted as a sort of parliament to resolve all intra-communal matters and disputes rather than letting them go to police stations or law courts. The system traditionally obtained among the Kamboj community till the partitioning of the Indian sub-continent into India and Pakistan in 1947. Thereafter, the old traditional assemblies of elders gave way to the Panchayats which are democratically elected by the adult voting every five years. These Panchayats now usually take care of most of the community issues and matters. The Kamboj rarely let the intra-community disputes go out of community. It is often taken as disgrace. This is the heritage the Kambojs have inherited from their republican ancestors. All Kamboj adults enthusiastically participate in Panchayat elections which are always considered more important among the Kamboj people than the state or national elections.


See also

* Kambojas
* Uttara Kurus
* Uttara Madras
* Parama Kambojas

Books and Articles

* Mahabharata, Tans: Kisari Mohan Ganguli
* Kautiliya's Arthashasta, Trans: Dr Sham Shastri
* India as Known to Panini, Dr V. S. Aggarwala
* Hindu Polity, A Constitutional History of India in Hindu Times, 1978, Dr K. P. Jayswal
* Ancient Kamboja, People and Country, 1981 Dr J. L. Kamboj
* Indian Historical Quarterly, XIV,-2, 1938, Dr H. K. Deb
* Janapadas States in Ancient India, 1973, S. Misra
* Ancient India, 2000, Dr V. D. Mahajan
* State and Government in Ancient India, 1977, Dr A. S. Altekar
* Aspects of Political Ideas & Institutuiions in Ancient India, R. S. Sharma
* Corporate life in Ancient India, 1922, Dr R. C. Majumdar
* Sovereignty in Ancient Indian Polity, H. N. Sinha
* Republics, Kingdoms, Towns and Cities in Ancient India,2003, G.P. Singh

External links

* ECIT Democracy in Ancient India: []

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