The Licchavi people appear as if from nowhere. Their origins are obscure and their history at most times is equally so. They appeared an the scene in what is now north Bihar at the time of the Buddha, and for a while played a significant part in the politics of eastern India until they were conquered by the expand-ing kingdom of 111agadha. After eight centuries of obscurity they again make their presence felt, contracting an important royal marriage with the imperial Guptas and founding an enduring dynasty in Nepal, which ruled from the fourth century or earlier to the end of the eighth century A. D. After that we hear no more of them.
Dr. H. N. Jha has produced an interesting and significant study of these people, written with deep affectian and enthusiasm for his subject. He has brought together all the available source material on the subject, and has produced the only monograph to give a full account of the Licchavis from their first appearance as the rulers of Vaigali to the end of the Licchavi dynasty of Nepal. I commend it to all students of early Indian history.
Although the Licchavis played a dominant role in the political and cultural life of Ancient India and Nepal, they have not been provided with the deserving place in history. Dr. B. C. Law, no doubt, showed great zeal in preparing an outline of their history for the first time, but his works are connected merely with the Licchavis of Vaigali. So is the case with Dr. Yogendra Mishra and others. Dr. R. G. Basak, H. C. Ray, D. R. Regmi, Sri B. C. Sharma and a few others have written books on the Licchavis of Nepal, but they have not even touched Vaigali. Moreover, their works are not systematic and precise. Western writers of Nepal history have based their observations mainly on the Varhgavalis which are unauthentic as they were written in a much later period. Practically, no attempt was ever made to write a connected history of the Licchavis of India and Nepal. Hence, a con-nected history based on solid grounds prepared from epigraphic and numismatic materials and supported by literary and foreign accounts was a great desideratum.
An endeavour has been made in the present work to utilise critically all the available materials, especially the epigraphs most of which have been discovered in the Kathmandu Valley in recent years and published in local magazines and journals. Special attention has been given to cultural history of Nepal which was hitherto almost neglected. Besides, the relation of the Guptas and the Licchavis which have been matters of great controverasies have been objectively studied and apt conclusions drawn with view to understand the contemporary Nepal and India in the welcome light they shed.
The present work is broadly divided into two major parts, the first one of which deals with the Licchavis of Vaigali and the second one with those of Nepal. This division has been made firstly because Vaigali and Nepal formed two different states and secondly because two different systems of government prevailed there.
The first part of this thesis contains five chapters dealing with the origin of the Licchavis and Vaigali, their social, religious and economic activities, political orgnisation and the Licchavi-Magadhan struggle. In connection with the origin of the Licchavis, an effort has been made to examine critically the views of the scholars some of whom think that the Licchavis were of foreign origin. From defferent angles, it has been pointed out they were as indigenous as any other people of India. Moreover, why they were so-called has also been explained.
In the second chapter, it has been seen that the society was based most probably on economic ground. It was possibly because of this economic factor that the marriage law of the country was framed. Position of women, education, food and drinks, religious activities, and recreations and amusements also have been discussed.
The third chapter discusses the various economic activities of the people with special reference to town and village life, agriculture, industry, guilde, trade and media of exchange. Administrative organisation of the Licchavis forms the subject matter of the fourth chapter. In it the three organs of the state, namely legislature, executive and judiciary have been discussed. Organisation of the army has also been incorporated in it.
The fifth chapter deals with most neglected problem of the nature of struggle between the Licchavis and the Magadhans. It has been pointed out here that the struggle was the outcome of the two conflicting ideologies of republicanism and imperialism which were exercising great influences over the people of the respective areas. The ultimate result of the conflict was the migration of the Licchavis to Nepal during the time of the Imperial Guptas.
The sixth chapter of Part II takes into consideration the various theories regarding the two early eras of Nepal. After critical analysis it has been found that the first one was the Saka and the second one Aiiiguvarman. In the seventh chapter, the Licchavi rulers of Nepal and their varieties of activities have been discussed. An estimate of each ruler as an administrator has also been given.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Original Tantric Texts (18)
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