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Kosala in 6th century BCE

Kosala (Sanskrit: कोसल) was an ancient Indian region, corresponding roughly in area with the region of Oudh[1] in the present day Uttar Pradesh state. According to the Buddhist text Anguttara Nikaya and the Jaina text, the Bhagavati Sutra, Kosala was one of the Solasa (sixteen) Mahajanapadas (powerful realms) in 6th century BCE[2] and its cultural and political strength earned it the status of great power. However, it was later weakened by a series of wars with the neighboring kingdom of Magadha and, in the 4th century BCE, was finally absorbed by it. The Kosala region had three major cities, Ayodhya, Saket and Shravasti and a number of minor towns as Setavya, Ukattha,[3] Dandakappa, Nalakapana and Pankadha.[4] According to the Puranas, Ayodhya was the capital of Kosala during the reign of Ikshvaku and his descendants.[5] Shravasti was the capital of Kosala between 6th century BCE and 6th century CE.


The Kosala kingdom

The ruins of the city walls of Shravasti, the capital of the Kosala kingdom

In the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas the ruling family of the Kosala kingdom was descended from king Ikshvaku. The Puranas give lists of kings of the Aikhsvaka dynasty (the dynasty founded by Ikshvaku) from Ikshvaku to Presenajit (Pasenadi).[6] A Buddhist text, the Majjhima Nikaya mentions Buddha as a Kosalan[7] and Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism taught in Kosala. In the time of king Mahakosala, Kashi was an integral part of the kingdom.[8]. Mahakosala was succeeded by his son Pasenadi (Prasenajit). He was a follower of Buddha. During his absence from the capital, his minister Digha Charayana raised his son Vidudabha to the throne.[9]. Kosala kingdom was absorbed not much later into Magadha kingdom.

Kosala under Mauryan rule

It may be presumed that during the Mauryan reign, Kosala was administratively under the viceroy at Kaushambi.[10] The Sohgaura copper plate inscription, probably issued during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya deals with a famine in Shravasti and the relief measures to be adopted by the officials.[11]The Yuga Purana section of the Gargi Samhita mentions about the Yavana (Indo-Greek) invasion and subsequent occupation of Saket during the reign of the last Maurya ruler Brihadratha.[12]

Kosala in Post-Mauryan period

The names of a number of rulers of Kosala of the post-Maurya period are known from the square copper coins issued by them. The rulers are: Muladeva, Vayudeva, Vishakhadeva, Dhanadeva, Naradatta, Jyesthadatta and Shivadatta. There is no way to know whether king Muladeva of the coins is identifiable with Muladeva, murderer of the Sunga ruler Vasumitra or not (though a historian, Jagannath has tried to do so).[13] King Dhanadeva of the coins is identified with king Dhanadeva (1st century BCE) of Ayodhya inscription. In this Sanskrit inscription, King Kaushikiputra Dhanadeva mentions about setting a ketana (flag-staff) in memory of his father, Phalgudeva. In this inscription he claimed himself as the sixth in descent from Pusyamitra Sunga. Dhanadeva issued both cast and die-struck coins and both the types have a bull on obverse.[14][15]


  1. ^ Mahajan 1960, p. 230
  2. ^ Raychaudhuri 1972, pp. 85-6
  3. ^ Raychaudhuri 1972, p. 89
  4. ^ Law 1973, p. 132
  5. ^ Pargiter 1972, p. 257
  6. ^ Raychaudhuri 1972, pp. 89-90
  7. ^ Raychaudhuri 1972, pp. 88-9
  8. ^ Raychaudhuri 1972, p. 138
  9. ^ Raychaudhuri 1972, p. 186
  10. ^ Mahajan 1960, p. 318
  11. ^ Thapar 2001, pp. 7-8
  12. ^ Lahiri 1974, pp. 21-4
  13. ^ Lahiri 1974, p. 141n
  14. ^ Bhandare 2006, pp. 77-8, 87-8
  15. ^ Falk 2006, p. 149


  1. Bhandare, S. (2006), Numismatic Overview of the Maurya-Gupta Interlude in P. Olivelle, ed., Between the Empires: Society in India 200 BCE to 400 CE, New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0 19 568935 6.
  2. Falk, H. (2006), The Tidal Waves of Indian History in P. Olivelle, ed., Between the Empires: Society in India 200 BCE to 400 CE, New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0 19 568935 6.
  3. Lahiri, B. (1974), Indigenous States of Northern India (Circa 300 B.C. to 200 A.D.), Calcutta: University of Calcutta.
  4. Law, B.C. (1973), Tribes in Ancient India, Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.
  5. Mahajan, V.D. (1960), Ancient India, New Delhi: S. Chand, ISBN 81-219-0887-6.
  6. Pargiter, F.E. (1972), Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
  7. Raychaudhuri, H.C. (1972), Political History of Ancient India, Calcutta: University of Calcutta.
  8. Thapar, R. (2001), Aśoka and the Decline of the Mauryas, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, ISBN 019-564445-X.


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