Sixth century bc marks a decisive stage in the history of India as it is hereafter
that a chronological order of major historical events can be established on the basic of
the "Buddhist" and the jain scriptures. although these works are primarily devoted to theory
religious ideas and philosophies, they do contain some reference to political
organization and conditions of those times. it has now been established on the basic of
these religious texts that during the Buddhist there was no paramount power in northern
India as the country was divided into a number of states. we learn that sixteen great
powers existed in the 7th and early 6th centuries bc. some of these states were republics
were the others were monarchical. among the more important republics were the sakyas of
kapilvastu and the lichchavis of vaishali.
Buddhist works give more details of the sakyas as Buddha himself came from this clan.
at the helm of affairs of the sakya republic was the president who bore the title of raja
and thus Buddha’s father suddhodana was a raja . the business of the republic was
conducted in an open assembly where the rich and the poor and the young as well as the
old were present alike. the procedure adopted in these assemblies was highly democratic.
besides the republic, there were monarchical states, among which the important ones
were kausambi, Magadha, kosala and Avanti. these states were ruled by vigorous personalities
who had embarked upon the policies aggrandizement and absorption of neighboring states.
it also becomes evident from the Buddhist works that while both the republics and the monarchical states existed in Indian during the life of lord Buddha,
there were distinct signs of decline of the republican states while those under the monarch were expanding.