Gana/Sanghas and Ajivikas and their Features (600-300 BCE)

February 23, 2018

Gana or Sanghas:

  1. Vajji and Malla were Sanghas.

  2. Ganas were located in or near Himalayan foothills in eastern India, while the major kingdoms occupied the fertile alluvial tracts of the Ganga valley.

  3. Ganas were of two types:

    1. Single Clan type:

      1. For Example: Sakya and Koliyas.

      2. Buddha belonged to Sakya clan.

      3. Sakya assembly gathered to discuss important business such as forging alliance, embarking on war, and concluding peace.

    2. Those that comprised a confederation of several clans.

      1. For Example: Vajjis and Yadavas.


  4. Governance in these Polities were certainly marked by corporate element.

  5. However, they should not be confused with democracies. At best they can be called Oligarchies.

  6. Assembly did not include women.

  7. Voting was done with wood known as Salakas and the collector of votes was called Salak-gahapka.

  8. Ganas were closely associated with the Kshatriyas and were named after the ruling Kshatriya.



Central Idea:

  1.  Niyati was the principle that ultimately determined and controlled everything. Human effort was of no consequence in this strictly deterministic doctrine. Karma and transmigration existed, but human effort played no role in it, as the paths for soul over thousands of years had already been mapped out.

  2. They had Sabhas which indicate a corporate like structure.

  3. They ate little and practiced severe asceticism.

  4. Practices Ahimsa but not as strictly as Jainas.

  5. Practised complete nudity but not celibacy.

  6. Prasenjit, King of Kosala was the patron of Ajivika order.

  7. Ashoka dedicated Barabar caves to Ajivikas.



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