Around 2500 years ago, some of the janapadas became bigger in size. They also became more important than other janapadas. The bigger and important janapadas were called the mahajanapadas. Some examples of mahajanapadas are; Magadha, Koshala, Anga, Panchala, etc.
Fig: Mahajanapadas on Map of India
Fort: A mahajanapada used to have a capital city. The capital cities were usually fortified. Bricks, stones and wood were used for making forts. Fots were made to protect the city against enemies. They were also made to show off the might of the mahajanapada. A fortified city was also easier to manage.
Army: The raja maintained a regular army and soldiers were paid salaries on a regular basis.
Coins: Payments were made in the form of coins. Designs or motifs were made on these coins by punching. Hence, these are called punch coins. Thus, this period marks the change from barter system to a monetary system. In the barter system, people exchange goods for other goods. In the monetary system; we need to pay in currency.
The raja of a mahajanapada needed large amount of money to build fort and to maintain an army. While the rajas of the earlier period relied on gifts by people and other rajas; this could not be enough in the new system. So, the rajas began collecting taxes. People were employed for tax collection. Following are the ways and means for tax collection:
- Farmers were the main source of taxes. One-sixth of the farm produce was collected as tax. This was known as the bhaga or share.
- A craftsperson had to pay taxes in the form of free labor. He needed to work for one day every month for the king and that too without wages.
- A herder used to pay tax in the form of animals and animal produce.
- Taxes were also levied on goods that were bought and sold through trade.
- Hunters and gatherers used to pay in the form of forest produce.
Changes in Agriculture
Two major changes happened in agriculture:
- Use of iron ploughshare: Use of iron ploughshare helped in increasing the area under cultivation. This helped in improving the crop yield.
- Plantation of paddy saplings: Plantation of paddy saplings gives better results than scattering the seeds. But plantation of paddy sapling requires lot of human labor. Dasas, dasis and landless labourers were employed for this purpose. The landless labourer was called the kammakara.