(Last Updated on : 22/04/2010)
The Licchavis were a great and powerful people of Eastern India in the sixth century B.C. Their peculiar form of government, their free institutions, their manners and customs, their religious views and practices give glimpses of India of the transition period, when the ancient Vedic culture was developing in new directions, and undergoing a transformation under the influence of the speculative activity out of which emerged the two great religions of Jainism
. From various Buddhist literatures it was found that the Licchavis followed democratic ideas into their governance and state craft. As per as the name of the Licchavis are concerned there are several variations in a number of historical records.
Several palaeographic says that Licchavis belong to the fourth and fifth century A.D. Buddhist literature clearly shows that the Licchavis belonged to the Aryan ruling caste that is the Kshatriya. In fact it can be said that Lichhavis belonged to a similar caste as that of Lord Buddha
. That the Licchavis were Kshatriyas appears also from the Jain sacred literature. Just as the Licchavis of Vaishali had honoured the Buddha at his death by erecting a noble monument (stupa) over their share of the remnants of his body, so they had done to honour Lord Mahavira
, the founder of Jainism. The Licchavis were Kshatriyas of the Vasistha gotra, and were addressed as `Vasisthas` by Lord Buddha.
In Nepal Licchavis were also allotted the status of being members of the solar dynasty. The Licchavis were also associated with the Sakyas. Rather it can be said that the Licchavis and the Sakyas were branches of the same origin.
It has been recorded in the history that the Licchavis were present in India from the times Lord Buddha and Mahavira preached. They were recognised as Kshatriyas with whom the highest-born princes of eastern India considered it an honour to enter into matrimonial alliance. It has been said that during the times of Chandragupta Maurya
the Licchavis enjoyed equal rank and position with the great Kshatriya
people of Northern India. Vaishali was the famous capital of the Licchavis.
The Licchavis also tend to have a Tibetan origin although it was almost evident that the Licchavis were descendants of the Vedic Aryans.