|Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (R)|
Sangha (संघ) is a word in Pali and Sanskrit meaning "association", "assembly," "company" or "community" and most commonly refers in Buddhism to the monastic community of bhikkhus (monks) and bhikkhunis (nuns). These communities are traditionally referred to as the bhikkhu-sangha or bhikkhuni-sangha. Saṅgha means ‘a multitude’.
Variants of name
- Saṃgha (संघ) (Sanskrit)
- Gaṇa (गण) (Sanskrit)
- Ganasangha (गणसंघ)
- Saṅgha (संघ) (Pali)
- Sanghas (संघ)
- 僧伽 (Chinese)
- Sēngjiā (pinyin)
- dge 'dun (Wylie)
V. S. Agrawala writes about Saṅgha – We have seen above that Katyayana takes Saṅgha as form of government distinct from Ekarāja, where sovereignty vested in one (ekādhīna) and not in many as in the Saṅgha (gaṇādhīna). This meaning is also born out by the rules of Panini. Panini speaks of Saṅgha as a generic term, applied to the following:
Firstly Saṅgha means ‘a multitude’ as in the expression –grāmya pashu sangha, a herd of domestic cattle. In the same sense it is applied to a multitude of human beings.
Secondly, a Saṅgha was a term for a nikāya, which is defined by Panini as a corporate body where the distinction of upper and lower does not exist (Saṅghe chānauttarādharye, III.3.42). This applied to a religious Sangha functioning as a fraternity without distinctions of high (uttara) and low (adhara).
Thirdly there is the sutra Saṅgha-odghau gaṇa-praśaṁsayoḥ (III.3.86), which speaks of the political Saṅgha technically known as Gaṇa. Sangha and Gana were used as synonymous for a republic. Panini speaks of the Yaudheyas as a Saṅgha, where as they refer to themselves as a Gana on their coins, albeit in the post Paninian period.
The religious Saṅgha – Panini mentions the religious Saṅgha as nikāya, as we have seen. The religious Sangha was a perfect copy of the political model except in one important respect. We shall presently see that the Kshatriya tribes organized as Sanghas, the political power vested in the hands of those families which were eligible for regular coronation and consecrated to ruler-ship.
[p.427]: by that ceremony. Other castes in the Gana did not share the political power, although they owed allegiance to Janapada and the Janapadins (IV.3.100). This distinction between castes did not obtain in the sphere of religious Sangha based on equality. Infact different orders in the religious Saṅgha or Church were known as nikayās, of which Buddhist Saṅgha in course of time developed 18. Not only Buddha but other religious teachers who were his contemporaries, e.g. Purāna Kassapa, Makkhali Gosāla, and others have been called Sanghino, heads of Saṅghas, Gaṇino, heads of Ganas, and Gaṇācharyo, teachers of Ganas. The Saṅgha spirit in Panini’s time had influenced every sphere of public life, political, economic, religious, social and educational. Like the political Sanghas, even Gotras and Charaṇas had their aṅka and lakshaṇa.
Vasudeva Saran Agrawala writes about Rajanya as a Ruling caste in a Gana – [p.428]: The term Rājanya denoted Kshatriya descendant of a Raja, where as the others were called Rājana (IV.1.137). For example in the Andhaka-Vrishni Sangha, only some members bore the title Rajanya, as the descendant of Shvaphalaka, Chitraka, Sini, and Vasudeva, where as others like the Dvaipyas (inhabitants of the islands near sea cost) and Haimāyanas did not have that status although they too belonged to the Sangha (VI.2.34) . The Kashika defines Rajanya as abhishikta-vaṁshya Kshatriyas, i.e. leaders of families consecrated to ruler-ship. It appears from this that not all the members of a Sangha were entitled to exercise political power, which was the privilege of only the Governing class. It appears that the descendants of pioneer Kshatriyas who had settled on land and founded the Janapada State, treated political sovereignty as their privilege which was transmitted in their families from generation to generation. In spite of grown of population in a Janapda, the centre of power was not altered and the main authority continued to vest in Kshatriya hands. These Kshatriyas in a Sangha bore the title of Raja which was applied to the head of each family who represented his Kula in the Sangha assembly. The constitutional practice in the Sabhaparva (gṛihele gṛihe Rājānaḥ, 14.2) had reference to this feature of Sangha polity, the opposite of which was a Samrat Government. ....
The Lichchhavis are said to have comprised 7707 rajans living in Vesali, and it is stated in Lilita-vistara that each one of them thought: I am King, I am King. Panini mentions that Vrijis, of whose confederation
[p.429]: the Lichchhavis formed part. There is reference in the Jatakas to the Lichchhavi rulers consecrated to rulership by sprinkling sacred water on them (Jat. IV.148). A similar custom prevailed among the Andhaka-Vrishnis and other Sanghas.
V. S. Agrawala writes about Kula – The phrase Gana-Rajakula used in connection with Sangha of the Vrijis shows that political Sangha called Gana was composed of various Rajakulas or royal families and that the heads of these Rajakulas constituted the governing body of that Gana. This is confirmed by the Mahabharata which says that the members of Gana were equals of one another in respect of birth and family (Shantiparva, 107.30). Kautilya also states that Kula was the unit of a Sangha.
The Kula basis of the tribes appears to be vitally connected with a number of Paninian Sutras dealing with Gotrāpatya and yuvan descendants. Apart from those names which were Rishi gotras Panini also includes a number of tribal names in the lists dealt with in the Gotrapatya chapter. For example, in the very first sutra (IV.1.98) Kunja and Bradhna were not names of Rishi Gotra but of Vrātas, a class of rudimentary Sanghas of the Ayudhajivi pattern (V.3.113). The need for distinguishing the gotra-descendant from the yuvan-descendants should be understood clearly. In-fact in the social as well as political sphere, the family was the unit of representation, which was exercised through the head of each family, called Kula-vriddha (Shantiparva, 107.27). In grammatical literature, Panini refers to him as Vriddha, which was a pre-paninian term for Gotra. Panini in his grammar substituted Vriddha mostly by Gotra, stating that all the descendants of an ancestor in a family except the son of the founder were called Gotra (Apatyaṁ pautra-prabhṛiti gotram, IV.1.162).
[p.430]: During his life time the eldest male member who represented the family was the Gotra and the junior members were called Yuvan. Panini also uses a third term, viz. Vaṁśya, to designate him; this also appears to be a pre-paninian saṁjñā incidentally retained (IV.1.163).
Each individual was given his personal name and a Gotra name. The latter came in for special attention of grammarians owing to its importance in social and political life. According to Panini only one member in the family at a time was to retain the title Gotra, the rest were Yuvan. This implies that only one person, usually the oldest male member, represented his Kula on all important occasions and functions.
This family basis of Gana polity preserved the hereditary character of its ruler-ship vesting in the same families. The number and names of these families comprising the ruling class were carefully preserved as in the case of Lichchhavis whose number is stated 7707 in Pali literature. In the capital of Cheta state mention is made of 60000 khattiyas all of whom were styled Rājāno (Jat. VI.511), and must have represented so many Kshatriya members constituting that State. The craze for constituting new republics had reached its climax in the Vahika country and north-west India where clans consisting of as many as one hundred families only organized as Ganas, as in the case of 100 sons of Savitri establishing themselves as Kshatriya clan under Savitri-putras with the title of Raja applied to each one of them (Vanaparva 297.58, Karnaparva V.49, and Panini in Dāmanyādi group V.3.116).
V S Agarwal  writes about State emblem – Aṅka and Lakshnaṇa – As mentioned in Sutra IV.3.127, a Sangha had its Anka and Lakshnana. The Lakshnana denoted the heraldic symbols or marks of a Sangha which they employed on their coins, seals and banners. The Mahabharata takes Anka as a symptom of Lakshnana in describing the census of the royal cattle by branding them with proper marks (Vanaparva, 240.5), But in Panini’s sutra, anka seems to stand for the legend adopted by the states, like Mālavānām jayaḥ, or Yaudheya gaṇasya jayaḥ, as found on their coins. Lakshnana is the same as lāñchhana or heraldic crest of later Sanskrit.
V S Agarwal  writes about Āyudhajīvī Sanghas – [p.434]: Panini refers to a number of Sanghas as Ayudhajivin (V.3.114-117), meaning those who lived by the profession of arms. Kautilya refers to two kinds of Janapadas,
- (1) Āyudhīya prāyāh, those mostly comprising soldiers, and
- (2) Shreni prāyāh, comprising guilds of craftsmen, traders and agriculturists. The former (and also his sastropajivins) correspond to Panini’s Ayudhajivi Sanghas, which were the same as Yodhajiva of Pali literature.
Four kinds of Ayudhajivins – Panini classified his material of the Ayudhajivin Sanghas under several heads, viz.
- 1. Sanghas in Vahika (V.3.114),
- 2. Sanghas of Parvata (IV.3.91),
- 3. Pūgas, organized under their Grāmaṇi in to some form of Sangha Govt (V.3.112), and lastly
- 4. Vrātas living by depredation and violence (V.3.113, V.2.21), and having only semblance of Sangha.
The most advanced Ayudhajivin Sanghas belonged to the Vahika Country (V.3.114), which comprised the region from Indus to the Beas and and the Sutlej (Karnaparva, 44.7; Hindu polity, 1.34). These are the Yaudheyas, Kshudrakas and Malavas etc.
Mountaineers – A very important group of martial Sanghas comprised those occupying some parvata or mountainous region in north-west India.
[p.435] Evidently this parvata region must have been outside the plains of the Vahika Country, which brings us to the highlands of north-west as the homeland of the ayudhajivins. The Kashika mentions Hrdgoliyas Hridgola, probably Hi-lo of Yuan Chwang (modern Hidda south of Jalalabad); Andhakavartīyāḥ of Andhakavarta, perhaps Andkhui, a district in the north-east Afghanistan and Rohitagiriyas of Rohitagiri, which last is important as reminiscent of Roha, old name of Afghanistan. All this portion of the country is up to the present day peopled by hardy and warlike Mountaineers.The Markandeya Purana refers to mountain-dwellers of the west, including such names as Nihāras (Nigrahāra of Vayu, same as Nagarahāra or Jalalabad where Hṛidgola or Hiḍḍā is situated) and the Haṁsamārgas (modern Hunza in the north of Dardistan). Thus country of mountaineers extended from Kashmir to Afghanistan and most of the people settled in these mountains and their valleys were of the Ayudhajivin class. The Bhishmaparva specially mentions Girigahvaras (गिरिगह्वर) (VI.10.66), dwellers of mountain caves, as a people of the north-west (Bhishmaparva, 9.68, Udyogaparva, 30.24), and this epithet appropriately applies to the tribes of the north-west. They were the same as Sanghah girichāriṇaḥ and girigahvara-vasinah (Dronaparva, 93.48).
Arrian mentions these mountainous Indians as fighting in the army of Darius against Alexander at Arbela (Anabasis, III,8.3-6). It was these Parvatiya Ayudhajivin that offered stout resistance to Alexander in Bactria and Gandhara.
The approximate location of these Parvatiyas should be sought for in the region of the Hindukush on both sides of it. Roha, of medieval geographers, Rohitagiri of Panini, the ten Mandalas of Lohita (Sabhaparva, 24.16) and Rohitagiriyas of Kashika, all together point to the mountainous regions of the central and north-east Afghanistan as being the Parvata Country, which name survives in Kohistan.
- (1) The Ayudhajivins of Vahika from the Indus upto the Beas and the Sutlej, of whom a special group occupying the mountainous Kangra region was called Trigarta-Shashṭha (V.3.116);
- (2) Pugas, under the leadership of Gramanis, settled on the right bank of Indus (Sabhaparva,32.9), corresponding in all probability of present “Tribal Areas” to the west of the Indus;
- (3) Parvatiyas, or the highlanders of Afghanistan and Hindukush, who included the tribes of Dardistan. These contained many living only in the Vrata stage of existence. It is evident that the Sanghas in the inner most belt were the best organized owing to Aryan contact and proximity and those in the outlying parts were much less civilized.
But besides Sanghas there were other elementary forms of democratic institutions in existence amongst those Ayudhajivins, three of which as Shreni, Pūga and Vrāta are particularly noteworthy. The word Shreni possessed a political significance. The Mahabharata also knows of Shreni as political institution. It mentions Shrenis fighting on the side of Duryodhana (Karnaparva, 5.40)
V S Agarwal  writes about Pūga – [p.437]: Puga was less developed than a regular Ayudhajivi Sangha, but better organized than a Vrāta. Kashika makes Puga a species of Sangha composed of members of different castes without any regular occupation, but probably of a peaceful character intent on earning money (V.3.112).
Grāmanī constitution of Puga - Sutra (V.3.112) throws light on the nature and constitution of Puga. It shows that Pugas derived their names in two ways; some were named after their leader or Gramani and some from other circumstances. The Kashika mentions Lohadhvaja, Chātaka and Sibi as Pugas whose names were not derived from those of their leaders. But Devadattaka and Yjñadattaka are given a typical names of Pugas called after the name of their Gramani. Thus those who recognized Devadatta as their Gramani were called Devadattakaḥ.
[p.438]: This custom is still prevailing in the north-west. Many of the Pathan tribes or khels are named after their ancestral leaders corresponding to ancient Gramanis. Isazai, Yusufzai both living on the banks of the Indus, are names of this type. The name of Puga as derived from its original Gramani founder continued later on through generations.
The association of Puga with Gramani in Panini’s Sutra points to their definite geographical area. We are told in Mahabharata that the warlike Grāmaṇīyas, i.e. clans named after their Garamanis, lived on the banks of Indus and they fought against Nakula in his western campaign. (Sindhu-kulasrita ye cha gramanya mahabala, Sabhaparva, 32.9).
We may thus locate the Puga type of Sanghas organized under Garamani leaders in the tribal area to the west of the Indus. Panini names some of these war like tribes of the north-west frontier, e.g. Aśani (V.3.117), Shinwāris with their parent stock of the Kārshbuns, to be identified with Kārshāpaṇas in the same Gana, the Āprītas or Aparītas (IV.2.53) , same as Greek Aparytai, modern Afridis.
The Pathans are an ancient people, settled in their original homeland, the country of Pakthas or Pakteys (country Paktyike) mentioned as being in the north-west India by Herodotus, from which Pakhtun is derived.
Several ancient Sanskrit names in Ganas correspond to name of these clans, e.g. Pavindas (IV.1.110) corresponding to modern Powindas settled in Gomal valley, armed tribesmen formerly occupying the Wana plain, and Vanavyas (IV.1.99, people of the Vanāyu country), corresponding to the people of wide open Wana Valley in the north of Gomal River.
These clans (Pugas) are still governed by their council of Elders.
V S Agarwal  writes about Vrātas = Vrātyas - [p.440]: The Vratas seem to have been same as Vratyas. They are said to used a kind of very small wagon covered with a plank for seat and useful for driving along trackless paths (vipatha; also phalakāstīrṇa, from which Hindi word phirak, a dialectical word still in use), a string less bow not using arrows but probably sling balls or pellets, below like skin quivers as used by Shakas, a silver disc around neck, goat-skin or postīn (āvika), tilted cornate turban, and a kind of cloth woven with black thread or of a different colour, but fringed with streaks of black colour, and called kadru . Panini’s reference to Taitila-Kadru (VI.2.42) is very likely to the Kadru cloth of the Taitila Country. Kautilya mentions Taitila as a breed of horses which from its association with other names of north-western countries as Kambhoja, Sindhu, Bahlika, Sauvira, and Vānāyu (Wana Valley) should be taken as being imported from north-west India. This gives an indication of the place of origin of the Taitila-kadru, if the rendering of kadru as the name of a fabric in use amongst the Vratya be correct.
The Vratyas were more backward in their political organization than Pugas. They were subordinate to a leader distinguished by his nishka ornament of silver. Like the Pugas, their leader also seems to have been called Gramani (V.3.112)
[p.441]: Vratya-stomas - Earnest attempts were made to reclaim these people to the Aryan fold by the performance of some easy rituals called Vratya-stomas, considered adequate to purify them, to put an end to their stigma, and to entitle them to social intercourse. These social formations indicate a vigourous movement to absorb in the Hindu society elements that were outside the Aryan pail. In Panini’s time social movements of this type were in brisk operation as evidenced by certain words in the Ashtadhyayi. Sometimes even after transition of a particular people from the Vrata stage to Sangha, pockets of Vrata soldiery continued to exist. This was true of Andhaka-Vrishni Sangha, about which Krishna says that ‘contingents, 18000 strong, are organized still as Vratas in our Kula organization’(Sabhaparva, 13.55).
V. S. Agrawala mentions Ayudhajivi Sanghas – [p.443]: Panini mentions Ayudhajivi Sanghas by name in sutra V.3.115-117 and in the three Ganas of these sutras, Dāmanayādi, Parśvādi, and Yaudheyādi. The chapter opens with a reference to such Sanghas in the Vāhīka country, the cradle land of martial tribes who cultivated military art as a way of life. Mostly they were Kshatriyas, But Sutra V.3.114 shows that some of them were Brahmans also, e.g. the Gopālavas, and others called Rājanyas, which most likely correspond to those Hill States whose ruling classes designate themselves as Ranas. The Śālaṅkayanas are stated by Kashika to have belonged to the Rajanya class, and they seem to be an ancient community, as even Patanjali mentions them by the name Trika (V.1.58; II.352), probably on account of their League of three states (on the analogy of Shashtha as applied to League of six Trigartas, V.3.116).
Names of Sanghas in the Sutras – The following ayudhjivi Sanghas are mentioned in the Sutras:
For details see - India as Known to Panini (pp.443-446)
Ayudhjivi Sanghas in the Ganapatha
1. Dāmanayādi group (V.3.116) – The names which are supported both by Commentary on the Chandra and the Kashika are Aulupi, Audaki, Āchyutanti (or Achyutadanti), Kākādanti, Sārvaseni, Bindu, Tulabha (Kashika Ulabha), Mauñjāyana, and Sāvitriputra. Of these only the Sāvitriputras are mentioned in Mahabharata (Vanaparva, 297.85; Karnaparva, V.49) and should be located in the Punjab adjacent to Ushinaras. The Sarvaseni seem to be a branch of the Sarvasenas mentioned in the Śaṇḍikādi Gana (IV.3.72), like Gāndhāri-Gandhāra, Sālva-Sālveya. Kāra in Madrakāra meant army or troops, being an old Persian word. It is the same as Sanskrit Senā. The Madrakaras were a division of the Sālvas (IV.1.173), a significant name derived from their territory containing rich pockets of kāras or soldiery. This is just the idea of Sārvaseni also,
[p.447]: and it appears that this was the region of north Rajasthan, where we have already located the Sālva. This is confirmed by the Kashika counting it amongst three rain-less areas, viz. Trigarta, Sauvira, and Sārvaseni. Mauñjāyana (V.3.116, IV.1.99) seems to be Munjān in the upper Oxus region, the home of the Galcha dialect called Munjani (cf. Maunjayani in IV.1.73 gana). The Baijavāpi seem to be genuine reading in ganas.
2. Parśvādi (V.3.117) . There are 12 names in this gana:
(1) Bāhlīka – Identified as Balkh in the extreme north of Afghanistan, which must have been organized as an ayudhyajivi Sangha in Panini’s time. It was reckoned as a satrapy of the empire of Darius, a little before Panini’s time.
(2) Asura – It is a generic name but in this case may be identified with the name of the Assyrians, whose country formed part of the Persian empire in the 5th century BC and is mentioned in Behistun Inscription as old Persian Athurā, and Susian as Assura.
(3) Pisācha – Literally a people who were consumers of raw flesh. Grierson has conclusively shown that the inhabitants of the North Western Frontier, i.e. Gilgit, Chitral and Kafiristan, where of Pishacha tribe, were cannibalism, eating raw flesh, once prevailed and he also observed that in the south of the Kafir country, round about Laghman, are the
[p.448]: Pasai Kafirs whom Dr. Hoernle proposed to identify with Pishacha as a phonetically sound equation (Pishacha, JRAS, 1950, pp.285-288). They were originally Aryan people, who inhabited north west India and parts of Himalayas, and were closely connected with Khasas, Nagas and Yakshas. Pargiter agrees to this that they were the real human beings. The existence of Pishachi prakrit language is so well attested to by literary references.
(4) Rakshas – By adding the aṇ suffix in a pleonastic sense (svarthe) prescribed by this very sutra (V.3.117) we get the word form Rakshasa. They all appear to have been real people, probably of the north-west group and of the same racial character as the Pishachas. The Rakshasa, Nagas and the Pishachas fight also in the Bharata war on both sides (Pargiter, JRAS, 1908, p. 331). We find an important tribe named Rakshānis settled in Chagai district of north Baluchistan (Imp. Gaz., X, p.117).
(6) Aśani and (7) Kārsāpaṇa – We find corresponding Pathan tribes Shinwari and Karshabun, belonging to the same stock (Imp. Gaz., NWFP, p.79). The preservation of caste system, and the sanctity of cow among the Shins, settled in the eastern Hindukush region, north of Landi Kotal, point to their former religion being Hinduism. The mountain villages where Shins are in majority retain a trace of former idolatry in the sacred stones set up in one form or
[p.449]: another, in almost every hamlet (Afghanistan Gaz.p49). The change in religion has not yet brought about the seclusion of Shin women, who mix freely with men on all occasions, a survival of their days of freedom.
(1) Yaudheya, as explained above.
(2) Śaubhreya (शौभ्रेय), probably named after original ancestor Shubhra referred to in Sutra (IV.1.123). The name was possibly connected with the Sabarcae of Curtius, who are named as Sabagrae by Orosius.
After the battle with the Oxydrakai (Kshudrakas) near the old junction of Ravi River with Chenab River, Alexander, marched towards the Subarcae, a powerful Indian tribe where the form of govt was democratic and not regal (Curtius). Their army consisted of 60000 foot and 6000 cavalry attended by 500 chariots. They had elected three generals renowned for their valour and military skill. The above description points to the Sabarcae having been an ayudhajivi Sangha, which the Saubhreyas of Panini were. In this case Greeks particularly noted the form of Govt which was democratic and not regal.
The territory of the Sangha lay on the lower course of the Chenab after it mate the Ravi River. The tribe was settled near the river by which Alexander was returning with his fleet after his battle with Kshudraka-Malavas. Both banks of river were thickly studded with villages.
(4) Vārteya – May be identified with the Indian tribe Oreitai, settled to the west of the river Porali which now falls in to the Sonmiani Bay, west of Karachi. (cf. Saunamāneya in Subhrādi gana IV.1.123;IV.1.86). According to Curtius the tribe had long maintained its independence in those parts and it negotiated peace with Alexander through their leaders, which reflects its Sangha character.
On the east of river Arabis (old name of Porali) was another independent tribe which the Greeks called Arabitai, corresponding to Sanskrit Ārabhaṭa (the home of the Ārabhaṭi vritti), a word unknown in Paninian geography, but both of them as the Greeks noted, lay within the geographical limits of India.
(5) Dhārteya – unidentified, probably the same as the Dārteyas. The Greek writers mention Dyrta as a town of Assakenoi or the Āśvakāyanas of Massaga, and this may have been the capital of the Darteyas.
(6) Jyābāṇeya (ज्याबाणेय), a war like tribe whose bow-sting served arrow. The Vratyas of Tandya Br. (XVII.124) and Srautasutra appear to be the same as Panini’s Ashtadhyayi Sangha of Vrata type. Amongst them we have a feature called jyā-hroda, a king of bow not for shooting arrows ḍwhich seems to be a contrivance for hurling sling balls, most probably a pellet-bow. The Jyabaneyas seem to be section of these Vratyas. The Mahabharata specifically mentions the Mountaineers (Parvatiyas) as experts in fighting by hurling stone-blocks as big as elephant heads, and secondly by shooting stone balls with slings (kshepaṇīya, Dronaparva,121.34-35).
(7) Trigarta (त्रीगर्त) – It is mentioned here again although its
(8) Bharata (भारत) - This gana alone mentions Bharatas as an ayudhjivi Sangha. It must be some old tradition, otherwise Panini locates them in Kuru region, on the borderland of the Udichya and Prachya divisions of India. According to another sutra the Kurus lived under a regal form of government. It seems that these Bharatas lived round about Kurukshetra as a Sangha in Panini’s times.
The above survey of the names of ayudhajivi Sanghas as found in Sutras and the Gana-patha shows the dominant fact that the Sanghas were clustered in the north-west regions of India and the Punjab, that they were mostly ayudhajivins or martial tribes, a feature retained by most of them to this day, and they were living in different stages of political evolution, ranging from the Vratas and Pugas to Shrenis and Sanghas, as represented by the wild Pishachas at one end and and the highly organized Yaudheyas on the other hand.
Decline of Sanghas
V. S. Agrawala writes that The numerous Ayudhajivi Sanghas in the Punjab and North-west India points to political conditions as existed before the rise of Mauryan Empire. Panini treats of the development of Sangha polity as if it were at its zenith. Gradually Sanghas began to decline and the march of the Greeks through their land completely exposed their political weakness. This made the Sanghas unpopular and created a movement for their unification of which indications are found in Kautilya’s Aarthshastra. Panini lived in the peak period of the Sanghas, and an interval of about century should be allowed for their decline against the rise of a centralized monarchy or empire. This would assign a date to Panini a hundred years before the rise of the Mauryan Empire.
Sangha in Buddhism
The Sangha is the third of the Three Jewels in Buddhism. Due to the temptations and vicissitudes of life in the world, monastic life is considered to provide the safest and most suitable environment for advancing toward enlightenment and liberation.
In Buddhism, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha each are described as having certain characteristics. These characteristics are chanted either on a daily basis and/or on Uposatha days, depending on the school of Buddhism. In Theravada tradition they are a part of daily chanting.
The Sangha was originally established by Gautama Buddha in the fifth century BCE in order to provide a means for those who wish to practice full-time in a direct and highly disciplined way, free from the restrictions and responsibilities of the household life.
The Sangha also fulfils the function of preserving the Buddha’s original teachings and of providing spiritual support for the Buddhist lay-community. The Sangha has historically assumed responsibility for maintaining the integrity of the doctrine as well as the translation and propagation of the teachings of the Buddha.
The terms parisa and gaṇa are suggested as being more appropriate references to a community of Buddhists. Pariṣā means "following" and it refers to the four groups of the Buddha's followers: monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen.
The Sanskrit term gaṇa has meanings of flock, troop, multitude, number, tribe, series, class, and is usable as well in more mundane senses.
महाभारत काल में गण और संघ
ठाकुर देशराज लिखते हैं कि महाभारत काल में गण का प्रयोग संघ के रूप में किया गया है. बुद्ध के समय भारतवर्ष में 116 प्रजातंत्र थे. गणों के सम्बन्ध में महाभारत के शांति पर्व के अध्याय 108  में विस्तार से दिया गया है . इसमें युधिष्ठिर भीष्म से पूछते हैं कि गणों के सम्बन्ध में आप मुझे यह बताने की कृपा करें कि वे किस तरह वर्धित होते हैं, किस प्रकार शत्रु की भेद-नीति से बचते हैं, शत्रुओं पर किस तरह विजय प्राप्त करते हैं, किस तरह मित्र बनाते हैं, किस तरह गुप्त मंत्रों को छुपाते हैं. इससे यह स्पस्ट होता है कि महाभारत काल के गण और संघ वस्तुतः वर्त्तमान खाप और सर्वखाप के ही रूप थे.
श्रीकृष्ण द्वारा ज्ञाति-संघ की स्थापना
ठाकुर देशराज ने लिखा है .... महाभारत के उपर्युक्त सन्दर्भ (कथा) का सारांश यह है कि - यदुवंश के दो कुलों - अंधक और वृष्णियों - ने एक राजनैतिक-संघ (लीग) स्थापित किया था। उस संघ मे दो राजनैतिक दल थे जिनमें एक की तरफ श्रीकृष्ण और दूसरे की तरफ उग्रसेन थे । कृष्ण दल के जो लोग थे, वे बलवान बुद्धिमान होते हुए भी आलसी और प्रमादी थे। इसीलिये दूसरे दल के मुकाबले में श्रीकृष्ण को वाद-विवाद के समय अधिक दिक्कतें उठानी पड़ती थीं। उनकी पार्लियामेंट या कोन्सिल में खूब वाद-विवाद हुआ करते थे, क्योंकि वह प्रत्येक राजनैतिक काम में प्रभुत्व स्थापित करना चाहती थी । इन्हीं अपनी कठिनाइयों का वर्णन श्रीकृष्ण ने नारद से किया है और नारद ने उन्हें जोर के साथ यही सलाह दी है कि जैसे भी बन सके संघ (फेड्रेशन) को नष्ट न होने दें। अर्थात् संघ को नारद अत्युत्तम समझते थे।
संघ-संचालन के लिए जिन गुणों की आवश्यकता होती है, वे भी उन्होंने श्रीकृष्ण को बताए। हम पहले अध्याय में यह बता चुके हैं कि श्रीकृष्ण प्रजातंत्रवादी विचार के लोगों में से थे और उसी समय में दुर्योधन, जरासंघ, कंस, शिशुपाल आदि साम्राज्यवादी शासक भी मौजूद थे। श्रीकृष्ण का और उनके विरोध का यही मुख्य कारण था। मथुरा के आस-पास कंस ने गौपराष्ट्र, नवराष्ट्र आदि प्रजातंत्रों को नष्ट करके साम्राज्य की नींव डाल दी थी। मगध में जरासंघ ने एक बड़ा साम्राज्य खड़ा कर दिया था। कंस को परास्त करने के बाद श्रीकृष्ण ने यादवों के अनेक प्रजातन्त्री समूहों को श्रृंखलाबद्ध करने के लिए जरासंघ की निगाह से सुदूर द्वारिका में जा के एक ऐसी शासन-प्रणाली की नींव डाली जो प्रजातंत्री भी थी और जिसमें अनेक जातियां शामिल भी हो सकती थीं । इस शासन-प्रणाली को संयुक्त शासन-तंत्र या भोज-शासन-सम्बन्ध कह सकते हैं। इसमें प्रत्येक दल की तरफ से एक प्रेसिडेंट होता था जैसा कि ऊपर के वर्णन से प्रकट है कि अंधकों की ओर से उग्रसेन और वृष्णियों की ओर से श्रीकृष्ण निर्वाचित सभापति या प्रधान थे। हमारे इतिहास से सम्बन्धित बातें जो उक्त सन्दर्भ में निकलती हैं, वे ये हैं-
- 1. श्रीकृष्ण द्वारा स्थापित जिस संघ का ऊपर वर्णन किया गया है ज्ञाति-संघ कहलाता था,
- 2. कोई भी राजकुल या जाति इस जाति-संघ में शामिल हो सकती थी,
- 3. चूंकि यह संघ ज्ञाति-प्रधान था, व्यक्ति-प्रधान नहीं, इसलिए संघ में शामिल होते ही उस जाति या वंश के पूर्व नाम की कोई विशेषता न रहती थी ।
- 1. उपर्युक्त श्लोकों का अर्थ ‘हिन्दू राज्य तंत्र’ से लिया गया है।
जाट इतिहास:ठाकुर देशराज,पृष्ठान्त-106
- की वह ‘ज्ञाति’ संज्ञा में आ जाता था। हां, वैवाहिक सम्बन्धों के लिए वे अपने वंशों के नाम को स्मरण रखते थे जो कालांतर में गोत्रों के रूप में परिणत हो गए,
- 4. ज्ञाति के स्थापन से एक बात यह और हुई कि एक ही राज्यवंश के कुछ लोग साम्राज्यवादी विचार के होने के कारण और कुछ लोग प्रजातंत्रवादी मत रखने से दो श्रेणियों में विभाजित हो गए। एक साम्राज्यवादी अथवा राजन्य, दूसरे प्रजातन्त्र वादी (ज्ञातिवादी)। ज्ञाति के विधान तथा नियम और शासन-प्रणाली में विश्वास रखने वाले और उसे देश और समाज के लिए कल्याणकारी समझने वाले लोग आगे चलकर के ज्ञात कहलाने लगे। अर्थात्-ज्ञातवादी ही, ज्ञात, जात अथवा जाट नाम से प्रसिद्ध हुए। इसमें यह प्रश्न किया जा सकता है कि ज्ञाति से सम्बन्ध रखने वाले ज्ञात कैसे कहलाने लगे? इसके लिए प्रत्यक्ष उदाहरण है कि कम्यूनिज्म के मानने वाले कम्यूनिष्ट और शोशलिज्म के अनुयायी शोशलिस्ट कांग्रेस वाले कांग्रेसी, समाजवाद वाले समाजी कहे जाते हैं। पहले भी ऐसा ही होता था। विष्णु के उपासक ‘वैष्णव’, शिव के अनुयायी ‘शैव’ और शक्तियों में विश्वास रखने वाले ‘शाक्त’ कहलाते थे।
- ज्ञात का उच्चारण हिन्दी और सरल संस्कृत में जात होता है। फिर जिस समय से ज्ञात से जात या जाट आम बोल-चाल में प्रयोग होने लगा, उस समय उत्तर भारत की भाषा संस्कृत मिश्रित पैशाची (प्राकृत) थी। इसलिए वह कोई असम्भव बात नहीं कि तत्कालीन बोलचाल के अनुसार ज्ञात अथवा जात से जट वा जाट हो गया1 और उसी को उत्तर-भारत के प्रसिद्ध व्याकरण रचियता पाणिनि ने जो कि जाटों के पूर्व इतिहास से पूर्णतया परिचित जान पड़ता है, अपने धातुपाठ में जट झट संघाते सूत्र लिखा है।
- 1. माधुरी वर्ष 4 खण्ड 2 संख्या 3 में आनन्द बन्धु लिखते हैं - हमें इस बात का पूर्ण ज्ञान है कि पंजाबी, हिन्दू-आर्य भाषाओं के मध्य-प्रान्त की भाषा है और यह निरी मिश्रित भाषा ही है। परन्तु इसमें कोई सन्देह नहीं कि लुन्डा, पंजाबी, पश्चिमी हिन्दी, और सिन्धी यह सारी भाषाएं प्राकृत से निकली हैं । उदहारण के तौर पर देख लीजिए कि संस्कृत शब्द भक्त का अपभ्रंश-प्राकृत के रूप भट्ट है जो पश्चिमी हिन्दी में ज्ञात, सिन्धी से भट कहलाता है। इस प्रकार ये सारी भाषाएं प्राकृत ये निकली हैं ।
- प्राकृत भाषा कब प्रचलित हुई इस बात का पूरा पता नहीं। परन्तु यह तय हो चुका है कि संस्कृत भाषा पूर्वकाल में समस्त भारत में कहीं न कहीं बोली जाती थी। जिस प्रकार अंग्रेजी में बोल चाल की भाषा और लिपिबद्ध अंग्रेजी में बहुत भेद है अर्थात् कई शब्द ऐसे हैं जो केवल बोल-चाल में ही व्यवहृत होते हैं लेकिन लिखने-पढ़ने में प्रयुक्त नहीं होते। इसी प्रकार जब संस्कृत भाषा का प्रचार था तो प्राकृत बोल-चाल की भाषा थी। प्राकृत भाषा संस्कृत का रूपान्तर है और शेष सारी भाषाएं प्राकृत से निकली हैं। पृ.366
- नोट - बस जैसा संस्कृत भक्त का प्राकृत भट्ट है, उसी भांति संस्कृत ज्ञात का प्राकृत जात अथवा जट्ट है। (लेखक)
जाट इतिहास:ठाकुर देशराज,पृष्ठान्त-107
श्रीकृष्ण के इस संघ का अनुकरण कर पूर्वोत्तर भारत में अनेक क्षत्रिय जाति अथवा राजवंशों ने ज्ञाति (संघ) की स्थापना की। पाणिनि ने 5, 3, 114 से 117 तक वाहीक देश के संघों के सम्बन्ध में तिद्धत के नियम दिए हैं। उन नियमों से यही सिद्ध होता है कि आर्य-जाति और राजवंशों के सम्मिलित से संघ स्थापित होते थे। श्री काशीप्रसाद जायसवाल हिन्दू राज्यतन्त्र में लिखते हैं कि - पाणिनि धार्मिक संघों से परिचित नहीं था। उसने अपने व्याकरण में जिन संघों का उल्लेख किया है वे सब राजनैतिक (प्रजातन्त्री) संघ थे।
ऐसे संघ अर्थात् इस तरह की ज्ञाति सबसे अधिक ‘वाहीक’ देश (पंजाब, सिन्ध, गन्धार) में बनी थी। काशीप्रसाद जायसवाल ने ‘वाहीक’ का अर्थ नदियों का प्रदेश माना है जिससे कि हमारे कथन की पुष्टि होती है। महाभारत में शान्तनु के भाई वाल्हीक के देश को ‘वाहीक’ कहा है और वाल्हीक प्रतीक का पुत्र और शान्तनु का भाई बताया गया है। इससे यह मतलब निकलता है कि पंजाब में अधिकांश संघ चन्द्रवंशी क्षत्रियों के थे। बिहार में अथवा नेपाल की तराई में शाक्य और वृजियों तथा लिच्छिवि आदि के संघ थे। यहां एक ऐसे राज्यवंश का भी पता चलता है जो कि अपने लिए ज्ञातृ कहते थे जो कि हमारे ज्ञात शब्द का समान-वाची है जिसमें कि भगवान महावीर पैदा हुए थे।
बिहार और बंगाल में इस समय ज्ञातृ वंश का कुछ भी पता नहीं चलता। जनवरी सन् 32 की गंगा मासिक पत्रिका में त्रिपिटकाचार्य राहुल सांकृत्यायन ने ‘बसाढ़ की खुदाई’ नामक लेख में यह साबित करने की चेष्टा की थी कि बेतिया का राजवंश जथरिया नाम होने के कारण ज्ञातृवंश है। किन्तु चूंकि बेतिया का राजवंश ब्राह्मण, ज्ञातृ लोग क्षत्री थे, इसी आधार को लेकर पं. जगन्नाथ शर्मा एम.ए. ने सांकृत्यायन की धारणा का विरोध किया है। निश्चय ही बिहार के ज्ञातृ भी जाट ही थे जो समय पाकर अधिक संख्या में बसे हुए अपने भाइयों की तरफ पंजाब में आ गए। उधर से उनके पंजाब की तरफ आने का कारण पौराणिक धर्म से संघर्ष भी हो सकता है।
जाट इतिहास:ठाकुर देशराज,पृष्ठान्त-108
लेकिन पुराणों ने उनको अच्छे शब्दों में नहीं लिया। इसका कारण यही हो सकता है कि पुराणपंथी प्रजातन्त्र शासन से सन्तुष्ट नहीं थे। धर्म-ग्रन्थों के सम्बन्ध में उनके चाहे जैसे विचार रहे हों, पर इसमें सन्देह नहीं कि वाहीक देश के प्रायः सारे राज्यवंश प्रजातंत्र शासन-प्रणाली के मानने वाले (ज्ञातिवाद) अथवा जाट थे। और वाहीक देश से ही ये मालवा, राजपूताना, अफगानिस्तान, ईरान आदि दूर देशों तक पहुंचे। चीन की तरफ बढ़ने वालों का नाम जिट, जेटा, गात आदि हो गया। अरबी साहित्य में जाट, शब्द के स्थान पर उनके लिए जत नाम शब्द का प्रयोग किया गया है। ईसा से 480 वर्ष पूर्व जरक्सीज ने जाटों की सहायता से यूनान पर धावा किया था। उस धावे में गांधार (जाटों का एक गोत विशेष) अधिक संख्या में शामिल थे।
जाट शब्द की उत्पत्ति के इतिहास और कारणों के सम्बन्ध में, हमारी स्थापना और धारणा के लिए, इतना वर्णन तथा सबूत काफी है। इसके सिवाय दूसरा कोई मत हो ही नही सकता कि जाट ज्ञात के अतिरिक्त कुछ और हैं ।
जाटों की उत्पत्ति के सम्बन्ध में अन्य इतिहासकारों को जो कल्पनाएं लगानी पड़ी हैं, उनकी समीक्षा करते हुए जाटों की उत्पत्ति-सम्बन्धी वास्तविक इतिहास तथा उत्पत्तिमूलक शब्द का प्रकाश में लाकर भविष्य के इतिहासकारों और अन्वेषकों की इस कठिनाई को सुलझा दिया गया है, जो उन्हें जाट शब्द की खोज के लिए उठानी पड़ती ! हमें यह भी आशा है कि जिन लोगों ने हैरानी के कारण अर्थात् तथ्य तक न पहुंचने की वजह से, कुछ अपूर्ण एवं निराधार धारणाएं बनाई थीं, वे भी हमारी खोजपूर्ण और सही स्थापना से सहमत होंगे।
जाट इतिहास:ठाकुर देशराज,पृष्ठान्त-109
- India as Known to Panini,p.426-427
- India as Known to Panini, p. 428-429
- India as Known to Panini,p.429-430
- V S Agarwal, India as Known to Panini,p.431
- V S Agarwal, India as Known to Panini,p.434-446
- V S Agarwal, India as Known to Panini,p.437-438
- V S Agarwal, India as Known to Panini,p.440-441
- V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.443-444
- V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.446-451
- V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.470
- Robinson et al.(2005). "Buddhist Religions: A Historical Introduction". Fifth Edition. Belmont,CA: Wadsworth/Thomson, p. 36.
- The Buddhist Religion: A Historical Introduction (fourth edition) by R.H. Robinson & W.L. Johnson (Belmont, California: Wadsworth, 1997), p.307.
- A Glossary of Pali and Buddhist Terms: parisa
- ठाकुर देशराज: जाट इतिहास , महाराजा सूरजमल स्मारक शिक्षा संस्थान , दिल्ली, 1934, पेज 89.
- Shanti Parva Mahabharata Book XII Chapter 108
- Jat History Thakur Deshraj/Chapter II,pp. 106-109
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