Introduction; 

1. dictionary explanation of janapada and raṭṭha;
2. the meaning of janapada and raṭṭha in Pāli Buddhist scriptures;
3. background to janapada;
4. examples of janapada being used with specific place-names (tribal names) in the Pāli and Sanskrit scriptures;
5. examples of place-names where janapada has been omitted;
6. examples where janapada is not used with place-names;
7. background to raṭṭha;
8. janapada and raṭṭha in the early scriptures;
9. historical changes in the usage of janapada and raṭṭha; Appendix: Criteria for the use of "country" in the summary of locations of the Buddha's residence and his discourses appearing in the early scriptural sources.


janapada, raṭṭha, native place, state, tribe, village, gāma, town, nigama, city, nagara, king, rājan, Gemeinschaft, Gesellschaft


 In compiling the "Summary of Locations of the Buddha's Residence and His Discourses Appearing in the Early Scriptural Sources", we intended to organize all the relevant place-names found in the Sutta and Vinaya Pitakas according to our image of the "Sixteen Great Countries" found in the scriptures. Having completed the sections for Magadha and Kosala, and arriving at the final section, "Other Countries", we found ourselves confronted with some problems. First, there are a number of traditions about the composition of the sixteen countries, so how were we going to identify which country was which? Second, were we correct not to treat separately a place like the land of the Sakyas, about which a great number of materials exist, but which is not included as one of the sixteen? In fact the real problem that taxed us was how we should define "country" in terms of the organization of the final section, "Other Countries", and what "countries" we should list. 

 Thus we decided to study the two terms use in the Pāli scriptures for country, janapada and raṭṭha. When we did began to do so in detail, though, we discovered that sometimes they might refer to a region inside a "country", or even in the extreme to a town or a village. This brought home to us the necessity of getting a clear concept of what the two terms signify, and so we began investigating changes in their usage both denotatively and contextually, as well as according to historical circumstances. This article stems from that concern, and its conclusions are as follows.

 Janapada is a compound consisting of two elements, jana, meaning "people", and pada, meaning "feet". The original meaning was thus "land trodden on by people's feet." This refers to developed, or cultivated, land. Since in ancient India jana referred to tribespeople, we can also interpret janapada as "a place where tribespeople live". Since such land was dwelt upon by generations of people, a society would have formed there based upon both blood and geographical ties, and over time there would have developed local customs, religious rites and languages (dialects). Consequently, a society formed upon janapada would have been a Gemeinschaft one, coming into being naturally through essential human activity.

 Raṭṭha on the other hand derives from the verb √rāj, meaning "to rule". This can be understood as being related to a Gesellschaft society formed artificially for the purpose of rule or government. √rāj is also the root of rājan, meaning "king"; it is this king who rules the raṭṭha. Consequently, raṭṭha originally signifies a kingdom ruled by a king, and "kingdom" includes the meaning of both social organization and territory.

 In terms of the meaning of the words, janapada and raṭṭha are contrasts, but from a practical point of view they do share something in common. If we understand jana to refer to the "people" of Magadha or Kosala, then janapada denotea a broad area where the people of Magadha or Kosala live. If on the other hand we understand jana as the "people" of Bārānaśī or Lumbinī, then janapada refers to a smaller area: the city of Bārānaśī or the village of Lumbinī. Since janapada can also mean "a people", the term jānapada means "the people of the janapada", that is, the "inhabitants of a country or region". If we affix mahā ("great") to janapada to mean "great country", it suggests plurality. Regarded as a "state", janapada is made up of a number of nagara (cities; fortified urban settlements occupied by local officials, merchants and craftsmen) administering nigama (small market towns/ trading centres) and gāma (villages).

 Depending at what level we consider the nature of "rule", we could regard both a subject country like Anga and a theoretically suzerain state like Magadha to be raṭṭha. However at the time of early Buddhism, a systematized monarchy had not yet been fully attained, and so there is no example of the "great countries" of Magadha and Kosala being termed raṭṭha. This usage first appears in the commentary literature , and an example is shown in Section 9 of this article, "Historical changes in the usage of janapada and raṭṭha". There were "kings", like those in the "great countries" of Magadha and Kosala, but since there were also intermediate rulers like those of domains, towns and villages, territories that could be designated as raṭṭha were various, and so, like janapada, the term raṭṭha may be translated as "country" or "region". And since too there are examples where raṭṭha means "people living in the raṭṭha", it could also be translated as "subjects" (in relation to the ruler) or "country dwellers".

 However, when we take a close look at examples of how of janapada and raṭṭha are used, there are clear differences in meaning. Since janapada is based on a Gemeinschaft-type society, formed naturally, it has no clear territorial bounds. It can thus be used vaguely to indicate broad geographical areas, like Central India, the coastal region, or the Himalayas. Because we say that raṭṭha is an artificial society over which rule extends, it gives a strong impression of "territory", with clearly defined boundaries. Consequently we do not call an imprecisely defined area raṭṭha. And also, since originally janapada did not include places where people did not live, like ghost towns and wasteland, and its primary meaning was "cleared land", with a strong colouration of blood and geographical ties, is often meant "country", in contrast to cities and towns, with their rather artificial character. Raṭṭha though does not have such a meaning.

 As is obvious from the above discussion, the same area of land could at times be understood of in a Gemeinschaft way and described as janapada, and also at times, if ruled by a king, be called raṭṭha. Thus janapada and raṭṭha may overlap, and at the same time, if two kings divided the rule of a single janapada between them, the janapada would cover an area greater than the raṭṭha, or if two janapada were ruled by one king as overlord, the raṭṭha would be larger than the janapada. If we apply them to the sociological schema "from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft", janapada-like elements still remained stronger in Indian society in the early Buddhist period, and a raṭṭha-type understanding had hardly developed. Thus Magadha and Kosala and the other "sixteen great countries" were termed janapada, and we can say that on the whole janapada tended to denote an area larger than did a raṭṭha. However, by the time the commentaries were being written, a Gesellschaft-type society had developed, and the "great countries" like Magadha and Kosala came to be called raṭṭha, and raṭṭha indicated a larger area than did janapada. The countries of India had changed from tribal, republican states to monarchies.

 Our study on these points has furnished us with three bases for determining a "country" in so far as the final section, "Other Counties", of our compilation is concerned.

(1) "Country" as it appears in the "sixteen great countries"

(2) A "country" consisting of numbers of nagara, nigama and gāma expresses by the plural form of janapada

(3) "Country" designated by raṭṭha in the commentaries.