(Last Updated on : 21/11/2011)
The expression Paura Janapada in ancient India had been used in plural form but the two are different assemblies. According to some Paura Janapada often indicates the inhabitants of towns and villages that comprised a kingdom. However when this term is used in the neuter singular as Paura-Janapada it refers to a constitutional body consists of the representatives of the capital and the country. The prestige of this body was high that the state would often refuse to grant any relief to a person who was working against its interest. This term has also been referred in the epic Ramayana
Ramayana uses the term paura janapada in the plural and it denotes the citizens and not any constitutional or representative body. The paura janapada as referred by Bharata are the ordinary citizens who accompanied him to see whether Rama could be persuaded to return to Ayodhya
. From this epic it is clearly evident that paura janapada wielded no effective powers. It could neither refuse Dasaratha
's plan to banish Rama nor induce the Lord Rama
to return home as they desired. Paura Janapadas are prominent by their absence.
The Hathigumpha inscription
states that the king conferred many favours amounting to hundreds and thousands on the Paura and Jana-pada. From here it is clear that numerous favours conferred upon country have been referred. Its monetary value amounted to hundred and thousands of rupees. The Janapada-dharmas referred in the Smritis prove the existence of a Janapada as a central law-making parliament. The janapadadharmas referred by Manu
are the customs of the country. It is not the enactments of its legislature. Janapadadharmas are identical with desa dharma.
While deciding court cases Manu and other Smriti
-writers point out that desadharmas or janpadadharmas should be taken into consideration by the court. They were mere customs and not any laws passed by the legislature like a Janapada body.
Mauryan state was influenced by the conduct and mode of assemblies of the Paura and Janapada. This is evident from Arthashastra. In Arthashastra the term refers to the area covered by villages and towns of the whole kingdom. Mrichakatika
mentions that the Janapada hall was located in the capital. News of deposition of the King and appointing his brother to the throne were brought by a messenger to the assembly hall of the institution of Janapada.
there were two assemblies in the capital: the Paura and Janapada. This city had a paura association. Paura paid attention to the industrial and commercial concerns of the capital. They also looked after the interest of the foreigners who resided in the city. They also looked after the sanitation and legal matters. These assemblies have been referred in connection with taxes therefore it can be assumed that they had some say as far as taxation was concerned.
Janapada assembly has also been referred in the inscriptions of Ashoka
too. The officers had to behave in such a manner so that the Janapada does not get offended. These two bodies jointly carried out certain activities and that is how they have been mentioned together. It is evident from the inscriptions that the king's second day is dedicated to attending the Paura Janapada. They also enjoyed certain executive powers. Thus the existence of this institution cannot be denied.