Justice T.U.Mehta

Vajji's Democracy

Vedic, Jaina and Buddhist texts reveal that there were mainly sixteen political entities called ‘Mahajanapadas' in India. Most of these sixteen entities are shown in the political map given in (Appendix A). As already noted above, these entities were either monarchical or non-monarchical. The latter had evolved a system of representation by election but the lay people were not associated with that process. Election was mostly of the representatives of aristocratic Ksatriya clans. However, more systematic and more or less modern methods were adopted by Vajjis, who were composed by powerful Licchavis, Videhas and Mallas. Their territory extended from South of Nepal to the North of Ganges. They had adopted a voting system, an organised Federal council, took all decisions by debates, set up a strong administrative system, evolved a judicial administration, safe-guarding efficiently liberty of citizens and proved a great butwark against the neighbouring powerful monarchies of Magadha and Kosala. King Cetaka, the head of Lichhavi republic, was a powerful and influential head of the Vajji confederation. Mahavira's mother Trisala was his sister. His daughter Cellana was the wife of Magadha King Bimbisara known in Jaina literature as ‘Srenika'. Vaisali was the capital of Vajji Confederation. Mahavira's blood relationship with the Licchavis was of great help to him in influencing other powerful rulers of neighbouring states of Magadha, Kosala and Anga. His upbringing in the greatly democratic atmosphere of the Vajji's must have been helpful in inculcating in him the idea of equality and fraternity, which made him popular with the masses. Mahavira's birth place was ‘Kundagrama' a suburb of Vaisali, the Vajji capital.