Maps of Ancient Buddhist Asia

Soḷasa Mahājanapadā
The Sixteen Great States

The Sixteen Great States

The map shown above is approx. 1,600 km from East to West and 1,200 km from North to South

In two places in the Aṅguttaranikāya (Uposathasuttaṁ, Bk. 3.71; Vitthatūposathasuttaṁ, Bk. 8.42) we find the following list of great states (Mahājanapadā): Aṅgā, Magadhā, Kāsī, Kosalā, Vajjī, Mallā, Cetī, Vaṁsā,ChS: Vaṅgā01 Kurū, Pañcālā, Macchā, Sūrasenā, Assakā, Avantī, Gandhārā, Kambojā.In a similar list in Mahāvastu the last two states are replaced by Sivi and Darśāṇa.02

We sometimes come across other forms of this list, so that at Janavasabhasuttaṁ (DN 18) only the following ten are mentioned: Kāsī, Kosalā, Vajjī, Mallā, Cetī, Vaṁsā, Kurū, Pañcālā, Macchā,ChS: Majjhā03 Sūrasenā. Interestingly, the Sākiyas and the Koḷiyans are omitted from these lists, perhaps they were not considered as great states, being too small in size.

Below is a list of the State Capitals, and their Kings where they are known. The most important ones by far are the first two. Remember that the Buddha lived for 80 years and the political situation was always changing: