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|unknown (~1100 BCE)–c. 500 BCE|
Anga and other kingdoms of the late Vedic period
Anga and other Mahajanapadas in the Post Vedic period.
|Capital||Champa (near modern Bhagalpur, Bihar)|
|Janaka (King or Chief)|
|Historical era||Bronze Age, Iron Age|
|unknown (~1100 BCE)|
|c. 500 BCE|
Part of a series on the
|History of Bengal|
Anga was an ancient Indian kingdom that flourished on the eastern Indian subcontinent and one of the sixteen mahajanapadas ("large state"). It lay to the east of its neighbour and rival, Magadha, and was separated from it by the river Champa. The capital of Anga was located on the bank of this river and was also named Champa. It was prominent for its wealth and commerce. Anga was annexed by Magadha in the 6th century BCE.
Counted among the "sixteen great nations" in Buddhist texts like the Anguttara Nikaya, Anga also finds mention in the Jain Vyakhyaprajnapti’s list of ancient janapadas. Some sources note that the Angas were grouped with people of ‘mixed origin’,[full citation needed] generally in the later ages.
According to the Mahabharata (I.104.53-54) and Puranic literature, Anga was named after Prince Anga, the founder of the kingdom, and the son of Sutapa, who had no sons. So, he requested the sage, Dirghatamas, to bless him with sons. The sage is said to have begotten five sons through his wife, the queen Sudesna. The princes were named Anga, Vanga, Kalinga, Sumha and Pundra.
The earliest mention occurs in the Atharvaveda (V.22.14) where they are listed alongside the Magadhas, Gandharis and the Mujavatas, all apparently as a despised people. Puranic texts place the janapadas of the Angas, Kalingas, Vangas, Pundras (or Pundra Kingdom - now some part of Eastern Bihar, West Bengal and Bangladesh), Vidarbhas, and Vindhya-vasis in the Purva-Dakshina division.
The Puranas also list several early kings of Anga. The Mahagovinda Suttanta refers to king Dhatarattha of Anga. Jain texts refer to Dhadhivahana, as a ruler of the Angas. Puranas and Harivamsa represent him as the son and immediate successor of Anga, the eponymous founder of the kingdom. Jain traditions place him at the beginning of sixth century BCE. According to the Mahabharata, Duryodhana had named Karna the King of Anga.
Between the Vatsas and the realm of Anga, lived the Magadhas, who initially were comparatively a weak people. A great struggle went on between the Angas and its eastern neighbours. The Vidhura Pandita Jataka describes Rajagriha (the Magadhan Capital) as the city of Anga and Mahabharata also refers to a sacrifice performed by the king of Anga at Mount Vishnupada (at Gaya). This indicates that Anga had initially succeeded in annexing the Magadhas and thus its borders extended to the kingdom of Matsya country.
This success of Angas did not last long. About the middle of 6th century BCE, Bimbisara, the crown prince of Magadha had killed Brahmadatta, the last independent king of Anga and seized Champa. Bimbisara made it as his headquarters and ruled over it as his father's Viceroy. Thenceforth, Anga became an integral part of growing Magadha empire (PHAI, 1996).
Sabhaparava of Mahabharata (II.44.9) mentions Anga and Vanga as forming one country. The Katha-Sarit-Sagara also attests that Vitankapur, a city of Anga was situated on the shores of the sea. Thus the boundaries of Anga may have extended to the sea in the east. Anga was bounded by river Kaushiki on the north.
The capital of Anga was Champa (IAST: Campā, formerly known as Malini), one of the greatest cities of the 6th century BCE. It was situated at the confluence of the Ganga and the Champa (now probably the Chandan) rivers. It was a notable centre of trade and commerce and its merchants have been described as sailing to distant Suvarnabhumi (probably in Southeast Asia). Mahabharata tradition places it on river Kaushiki. The city has been linked with the present-day villages of Champapur and Champanagar about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi)west of Bhagalpur in the state of southern Bihar. Archaeologically, the ancient city had an occupation of the Northern Black Polished Ware culture, with a surrounding fortification and moat.
During his pilgrimage there in the end of the 4th century, the Chinese monk Faxian noted the numerous Buddhist temples that still existed in the city, transliterated Chanpo in Chinese (瞻波 pinyin: Zhānbō; Wade–Giles: Chanpo)[N.B. 1]. The kingdom of Anga by then had long ceased to exist; it had been known as Yāngjiā (鴦伽) in Chinese.[N.B. 2]