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Gaṇa (गण), (fem. Gaṇi (गणी), means "flock, troop, multitude, number, tribe, series, class" (Monier Williams's dictionary). It can also be used to refer to a "body of attendants" and can refer to "a company, any assemblage or association of men formed for the attainment of the same aims"

Pāṇini in his Sanskrit grammar used gana as:

संघोद्घौ गण प्रशंसयो Sanghoddhau gaṇa praśansayo

Narada smriti in Sanskrit mentions as:

It shows that the ganatantra (republic) system of rule was prevalent in India since ancient period.

Ganas in Shanti Parva

A detailed analysis has been done about ganas in Shanti Parva Mahabharata Book XII Chapter 108 in which Yudhisthira asks Bhisma about the ganas that

how ganas increase ?
how they defend themselves from the dividing-policy of enemies ?
what are the techniques to conquer enemies and making the ganas friends ?
how they hide their secret mantras being in majority?

The Bhisma's answers to these questions have been recorded in the form of shlokas (verses) from 16 – 32 in Shanti Parva Mahabharata Book XII Chapter 108

Ganas in Vedas

Ganas have been narrated in Vedas in the form of assemblies of warriors as is clear from the following sutras of Rigveda (RV 3-26-6):

व्रातं व्रातं गणम् गणम् Vrātam Vrātam gaṇam gaṇam

Gana in brief means an assembly. Ganatantra (republic) means a state run by assemblies.

The representative members of clans were known as ganas and their assembly as sanghas, there chief as ganadhipati or Ganesha and Ganapati.

Ganas in Buddhist literature

The Buddhist literature Mahabagga mentions that:

गण पूरकोवा भविस्सामीति Gaṇa pūrkovā bhavissāmīti

It indicates that there was an officer who used to see the number of ganas and their koram in the Rajasabha (state assembly).

During Buddhist period, the Buddhist books like ‘Pali-pitaka’, Majjhamnikaya, mahabagga]], [[Avadana shataka have mentioned ganas and sanghas many times. During Buddhas period there were 116 republics or ganasanghas in India.

In Buddhist times, Gaṇas were assemblies of the Sanghas, early democratic republics known as Gaṇa-rājyas, literally "rule of the assembly".


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