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Mahajanapadas and Republics Period Saw an Increasing Use of Iron Implements and Tools

Updated on December 11, 2016

The Period of Mahajanapadas and Republics

The most important among the republics was Vajji (Vriji)

The Mahajanapadas And Republics
Mahajanapadas: Let’s go back 2500 years in time. That was the time when the Buddha lived. There were sixteen kingdoms, big and small, in the Sindhu – Ganga plain. These kingdoms are called Mahajanapads. Among the Magadha, Kosala and Vasta were famous Mahajanapadas. There were ruled by the kings.
Republic (Ganarajyas)
During the same time, many states had representative governments. They were called republics.
The most important among the republics was Vajji (Vriji). It was a union of many republics. Vaishali city, Bihar was its capital. Vaiji had a legislature consisting of two houses having senior and junior members. This Sabha would take care of the administration. Members of the Sabha were addressed Raja. All matters related to the union were discussed at the Sabha meetings. In India such republics were in existence more than one thousand years.

Iron and Tools

Use of Iron and Tools


The society was divided into four groups called varans. These were Brahmins, kshatriyas, vaishyas and shudras. Each varna was assigned a different set of work or functions.

Use of Iron

This period saw an increasing use of iron implements and tools. These implements and tools stronger and made work easy and fast. Iron axes were used to clear forests and larger settlements developed. Small territories were now larger kingdoms. Small Janas developed into larger Janapadas.

Mahajanapada Agriculture

Improved Agriculture

With the increased use of iron tools, there was a great improvement in agriculture. The iron plough – shares displaced wooden plough -shares. Now, clayey soil could be turned over better by deep ploughing due to the stronger plough -shares. This brought about a drastic rise in crop production. The second important change was the practice of transplanting paddy. In this method, instead of scattering seeds on the ground, saplings were grown and then healthy saplings were planted in the fields. This also led to an increase in production. It was tough work and done by slave men and women (dasas and dasis) and landless agricultural laborers ( kammakaras). With this method, work increased, but so did the production of crops.

The Development of Trade


The introduction of money (currency) played a very important role in the development of trade. Earlier, trade had been carried through barter. The introduction of punch -marked coins, made of silver and copper, led to an increase in trade. Inland trade was good and well -developed. Goods were transported and sent far and wide. During this period, a network of roads and bridges was constructed. This led to the development of trade. Sea routes were also used by the traders. perfumes, ivory, silk and muslin cloth were the main articles of trade.

Animal Market

Tax Collecting


Fortification and maintaining large armies required money. These could be executed and maintained only with a regular flow of money. Hence, the rajas started collecting regular taxes. Officers were appointed by the raja, who collected taxes on his behalf. The collected taxes were as follows-

Bhaga or a share was a tax on crops. It was fixed at one -sixth of the total production by the farmers.

Animals and animal produce were collected as a form of the tax from herders.

Craftsmen also paid the tax by working for a day in every month, for the king.

The raja collected forests produce from hunters and gatherers.

Goods that were bought and sold through trade were also taxable.


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