Kosala, Mahajanapadas

The Mahajanapada of Kosala was bounded on the west by the river Gomati, on the south by the Sarpika or Syandika (Sai) which defined its southern boundary. To its east flowed the river Sadarvira(Gandak) which separated it from Videha Janapada. Towards the north, it skirted the Nepal hills. Literary references indicate how Kosala emerged out of an assimilation of many smaller principalities and lineages. For example, we know that the Sakyas of Kapilvastu were under the control of Kosala. The Buddha calls himself as Kosalan in the Majjhima Nikaya. But at the same time, the Kosala King Vidudhaba is said to have destroyed the Sakyas. It would only indicate that the Sakya lineage was under the normal control of the Kosala. The newly emergent monarchy established a powerful centralized control and put an end to the autonomy of the Sakyas. Hiranyanabha, Mahakosala Prasenjit and Suddhodhana have been named as rulers of Kosala in the sixth century BCE. These rulers are said to have ruled from Ayodhya, Saketa, Kapilvastu and Sravasti. Ayodhya or the Saryu associated with the Rama story in Ramayana, Saketa adjoining it and Sravasti (modern Sahet-Mahet) on the borders of the Gonda and Bahravich districts of Uttar Pradesh, were three important Kosala cities, though excavations indicate that none of them was settled on any considerable scale before the sixth century BCE. Probably in the early years of the sixth century BCE, the area of Kosala was under the control of many smaller chiefs who were ruling from small towns. Towards the close of the sixth century BCE, Kings like Prasenjit and Vidudhabha succeeded in bringing all chiefs under their control. They ruled from Sravasti. Thus Kosala emerged as a prosperous and power kingdom having Ayodhya, Saketa, Sravasti under its control. Kosala also managed to annex Kashi in its territory. The Kings of Kosala favoured both Brahmanism and Buddhism. King Prasenjit was a contemporary and friend of the Buddha. In the years to come Kosala emerged as one of the most formidable adversaries to the emergent Magadha Empire.

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