Anga (अंगaṅga) was a kingdom that flourished on the eastern Indian subcontinent in the 6th century BCE until taken over by Magadha in the same century. Counted among the “sixteen great nations” (solas Mahajanapadas) in Buddhist texts like the Anguttara Nikaya, Anga also finds mention in the Jain Vyakhyaprajnapti’s list of ancient janapadas.
Some refer that the Angas were grouped with people of ‘mixed origin’, generally in the later ages.
Based onMahabharataevidence, thekingdomof the Angas roughly corresponded to the districts ofBhagalpur,Banka,Purnia,Munger,KatiharandJamuiinBiharand districts ofDeoghar,Godda, andSahebganjinJharkhand; later extended to include parts ofBengal. The River Champa (modern Chandan) formed the boundaries between theMagadhain the west and Anga in the east. Anga was bounded by riverKoshion the north. According to theMahabharata,Duryodhanahad namedKarnathe King of Anga.
Sabhaparavaof Mahabharata (II.44.9) mentions Anga andVangaas forming one country. TheKatha-Sarit-Sagaraalso attests that Vitankapur, a city of Anga was situated on the shores of the sea. Thus the boundaries of Anga may have extended to the sea in the east.
The capital of Anga was Champa (Campā). According to Mahabharata andHarivamsa, Champa was formerly known as Malini[N.B. 1]. Champa was located on the right bank of riverGangesnear its junction with river Champa. It was a very flourishing city and is referred to as one of six principal cities of ancient India (Digha Nikaya).BhagalpurinBihar, usually identified as the site of Champa, still has two villages calledChampa-nagaraandChampa-pura.
Champa was noted for its wealth and commerce. It was also a great center of trade and commerce and its merchants regularly sailed to distantSuvarnabhumifor trading purposes. During his pilgrimage there in the end of the 4th century, the Chinese monkFaxannoted the numerous Buddhist temples that still existed in the city, transliteratedChanpoin Chinese (瞻波pinyin:Zhānbō;Wade–Giles: Chanpo)[N.B. 2]. The kingdom of Anga by then had long ceased to exist; it had been known as Yāngjiā (鴦伽) in Chinese.[N.B. 3]
The later kingdom ofChampa(in present-day Vietnam) was thought to have originated from this east Indian Champa, although anthropological evidence indicates they are fromBorneoon the other side Indochinese Peninsula.
Other important cities of Anga are said to be Assapura and Bhadrika.
Origin of Name
Mahabharata(I.104.53-54) and Puranic literature attest that the nameAngahad originated eponymously from the name ofPrince Anga, the founder of the kingdom.
Ramayana(1.23.14) narrates the origin of nameAngaas the place where Kamadeva was burnt to death by Siva and where his body parts(angas) are scattered.
The earliest mention occurs in theAtharava Veda(V.22.14) where they find mention along with theMagadhas,Gandharisand theMujavatas, all apparently as a despised people.
Puranictexts place the janapadas of the Angas,Kalingas, Vangas, Pundras (orPundra Kingdom- now some part of EasternBihar,West BengalandBangladesh), Vidarbhas, andVindhya-vasis in thePurva-Dakshinadivision.
The Puranas also list several early kings of Anga. TheMahagovinda Suttantarefers to king Dhatarattha of Anga. Jain texts refer to Dhadhivahana, as a ruler of the Angas. Puranas and Harivamsa represent him as the son and immediate successor ofAnga, the eponymous founder of the kingdom.Jaintraditions place him at the beginning of sixth century BCE.
Between the Vatsas and the realm of Anga, lived theMagadhas, who initially were comparatively a weak people. A great struggle went on between the Angas and its eastern neighbors. TheVidhura Pandita JatakadescribesRajagriha(the Magadhan Capital) as the city of Anga and Mahabharata also refers to a sacrifice performed by the king of Anga atMount Vishnupada(atGaya). This indicates that Anga had initially succeeded in annexing the Magadhas, and thus its borders extended to the kingdom ofMatsyacountry.
This success of Angas did not last long. About the middle of 6th century BC,Bimbisara, the crown prince of Magadha had killed Brahmadatta, the last independent king of Anga and seized Champa. Bimbisara made it as his head-quarters and ruled over it as his father’s Viceroy. Thenceforth, Anga became an integral part of growing Magadha empire (PHAI, 1996).
^Variously written as Mālinī, Mālini, Mālina
^Campā (Indian, not Vietnamese) was also transliterated, besides 瞻波, in the records as Zhanbopo (瞻博婆) and Zhanpo (瞻婆、瞻匐、瞻蔔、詹波、闡蔔、閻波、占波)
^Anga was also transliterated, besides 鴦伽, in the records as 鴦迦 (different radical for jiā), 泱伽 (same pronunciation), Yāngjué (鴦掘), Àng’é (盎誐). Sometimes by metonymy, the kingdom would be called the ‘State of Champa’‘’, i.e., 瞻波國.
^Bodhayana Dharma Sutra
^ a b c佛光電子大辭典 (Buddha’s Light Electronic Dictionary). Taiwan: Buddha’s Light Publishing (Fo Guang Shan)
^ a bG P Malalasekera, Dictionary of Pali Proper Names. 1937.
^Wikipedia article on the Chams.
^Balakanda Book I, Chapter 23
^The Garuda Purana 55.12; V.D. I.9.4; the Markendeya Purana 56.16-18