There is a general misconception among Indians that janapadas existed only during the Bauddha period and not during the Vedic period as there is no reference to them in the Vedas. Shri Mrugendra Vinod refutes this misconception by presenting internal evidence mentioned in the Vedas themselves.
Shri Mrugendra quotes many references from the Shatapatha Brahmana of the Shukla Yajurveda, where he enlists many kingdoms and janapadas from Vedic times. Keeping Kurukshetra as the centre, there is Kuru and Panchala towards the East. In the region between Ganga and Yamuna is Kuru and on the eastern side, across the Ganga is Panchala. There is Srinjaya to the North and Matsya to the South. Gandhara, Kekaya and Madra are the northern janapadas, while Kosala, Videha and Kashi are the eastern janapadas.
The Baudhayana Dharma Sutra of the Krishna Yajurveda, while describing certain ritualistic norms related to travel to different regions, mentions Sindhu, Sauvira, Saurashtra, Aanarta, Avanti, Vidarbha, Magadha and Anga. The Baudhayana Dharma Sutra refers to these as ‘sankeerna yonayaa’ meaning these are the boundary-janapadas of Aryavarta.
The Vedas not only describe the outlying boundary-janapadas but describe those beyond the boundaries of Aryavarta as well. Baudhayana Dharma Sutra, while describing the norms for travel to far-out regions, names Aaratta, Kaarashkara, Pundra, Sauvira, Banga and Kalinga. While the latter four have found mention in Indian literature, Aaratta is not commonly known. What and where is Aaratta? Aaratta is the South-West region of modern-day Iran, which finds mention in Sumerian texts in 3000 BC. It has been mentioned in the Vedas as a janapada. Similarly, Kaarashkara, which refers to modern-day Kashgar in all probability, is mentioned as a janapada. So the Vedas not only are very clear about the janapadas within Aryavarta and the boundary-janapadas, literally on the boundary of Aryavarta, but they also mention the outer-janapadas located outside the boundaries of Aryavarta.
Shri Mrugendra Vinod corroborates the internal evidence quoted in the Vedas concerning the presence of janapadas in ancient India in his Srijan Talk on “Geography Of Aryavarta (Indus-Saraswati Civilization)”, a relevant snippet of which is presented here.
To watch the full Srijan Talk by Shri Mrugendra Vinod, click on the following links:
Part 1 — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfW4iLBgxg8&t=296s
Part 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GA29oqlCko
Part 3 — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqKOtc2gKTs&t=154s