form of political authority.
Nature and Course of State Formation
The middle Ganga valley had no uniform political system, since some
janapadas supported kings and others retained the gana-sangha system. The
gana-sangha system, variously rendered by modern historians as republics
and oligarchies, can perhaps be more precisely described by the term
chiefship or chiefdom. Here the ruling clans were differentiated from non-
kshatriyas but their members were also referred to as rajas, raja-kulas or
consecrated kshatriyas. Thus the Mallas had five hundred rajas, the Vrijji
confederacy boasted of seven thousand seven hundred and seven, and the
Chedis had sixty thousand.
    Chiefdoms were characterised by a central leadership legitimised on the
basis of birth. Genealogies, whether actual or fictionalised, are therefore of
considerable importance and ancestry becomes crucial. The difference
between the rulers and the ruled was initially that between certain descent
groups having access to power and others who were excluded and among
whom were the non-kin groups, generally providers of labour. This last
category may have consisted of indigenous people conquered by the lineages
who settle on their land or captives or labouring groups brought from
elsewhere. The jana name was to apply only to those who were descendents
of the ruling kshatriya lineage and not to the dasa-bhritaka (the slaves and
hired labourers).
    The chief had a retinue of followers, often the younger members of the
family, who performed the functions of a rudimentary administration. The
administration of the Licchavis which was more than rudimentary was looked
upon with admiration by the Buddha. There were said to be 7707 rajas
resident at Vaisali, the capital of the Vrijji confederacy. These were the heads
of the raja-kula families who were eligible to sit in the Vrijji assembly which
met in the assembly hall (santhagara). The figure is exaggerated but the
Vrijji assembly would in any case have been large since it was a confederacy
of eight clans.
    In the gana-sanghas of the Ganga valley power still lay with the lineage
as also the ownership of essential    wealth. There is a notable absence of tax