ANGA / ANGA MAHAJANPADA अंग देश
One of the stock list of the sixteen Powers or Great Countries (Mahájanapadá), mentioned in the Pitakas. E.g., A.i.213; iv.252, 256, 260. The countries mentioned are Anga, Magadha, Kásí, Kosala, Vajji, Mallá, Cetí, Vamsá, Kuru, Pańcála, Macchá, Súrasena, Assaka, Avantí, Gandhára, and Kamboja. Other similar lists occur elsewhere, e.g. D.ii.200 (where ten countries are mentioned); see also Mtu.i.34 and i.198; and Lal.24(22).
It was to the east of Magadha, from which it was separated by the River Campá, and had as its capital city Campá, near the modern Bhagalpur (Cunningham, pp. 546-7). Other cities mentioned are Bhaddiya (DA.i.279; DhA.i.384) and Assapura (M.i.271).
The country is generally referred to by the name of its people, the Angá, though occasionally (E.g., DhA.i.384) the name Angarattha is used. In the Buddha's time it was subject to Magadha, (ThagA.i.548) whose king Bimbisára was, we are told, held in esteem also by the people of Anga (MA.i.394), and the people of the two countries evidently used to pay frequent visits to each other (J.ii.211). We never hear of its having regained its former independence, and traditions of war between the two countries are mentioned (E.g., J.iv.454; J.v.316; J.vi.271).
In the Buddha's time the Angarájá was just a wealthy nobleman, and he is mentioned merely as having granted a pension to a Brahmin (M.ii.163). The people of Anga and Magadha are generally mentioned together, so we may gather that by the Buddha's time they had become one people. They provide Uruvela-Kassapa with offerings for his great sacrifice (Vin.i.27). It was their custom to offer an annual sacrifice to Mahá-Brahmá in the hope of gaining reward a hundred thousand fold. On one occasion Sakka appears in person and goes with them to the Buddha so that they may not waste their energies in futile sacrifices (SA.i.269-70).
Several discourses were preached in the Anga country, among them being the Sonadanda Sutta and the two Assapura Suttas (Mahá- and Cúla-). The Mahágovinda Sutta seems to indicate that once, in the past, Dhatarattha was king of Anga. But this, perhaps, refers to another country (Dial.ii.270 n.; see also The Rámáyana i.8, 9, 17, 25).
Sona Kolivisa, before he entered the Order, was a squire (paddhagu) of Anga. Thag.v.632.
The earliest reference to Angas (अंग) is illustrated in the Atharava Veda (V.22.14) where they find mention along with the Magadhas, Gandharis and the Mujavatas, all apparently as a despised people.
The Jaina Prajnapana ranks the Angas and the Vangas in the first group of Aryan peoples.
According to Buddhist texts like the Anguttara Nikaya, Anga was one of the sixteen great nations (solas Mahajanapadas) which had flourished in central and north-west India in the 6th century BC.
Anga also finds mention in the Jaina Bhagvati-Sutra's list of ancient Janapadas.
The Puranic texts like the Garuda Purana, Vishnu-Dharmottara, and the Markendeya Purana divide ancient Janpada horizon into nine divisions and place the Janapadas of the Angas, Kalinngas, Vangas, Pundras or Pundra Kingdom (now some part of East Bihar ie Purnea, West Bengal and Bangla Desh), Vidarbhas, and Vindhya-vasins in the Purva-Dakshina division. (Garuda 55.12; V.D. I.9.4; Markendeya P. 56.16-18).
Based on Mahabharata evidence, the kingdom of the Angas roughly corresponded to the region of Bhagalpur and Monghyr in Bihar and parts of Bengal; later extended to include most of Bengal. The River Champa (modern Chanan) formed the boundaries between the Magadha in the west and Anga in the east. Anga was bounded by river Koshi on the north. According to the Mahabharata, Duryodhana had named Karna the King of Anga.
Sabhaparava of Mahabharata (II.44.9) mentions Anga and Vanga as forming one country. The Katha-Sarit-Sagara also 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. According to Mahabharata and Harivamsa, Champa was formerly known as Malini. Champa was located on the right bank of river Ganga near 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). In the Jataka stories, the city of Champa is also referred to as Kala-Champa. Maha-Janaka Jataka states that the city was located about sixty yojanas (one yojana = 16.4 km) from Mithila. The relics of actual site of ancient Champa are stated to still exist near Bhagalpur in Bihar in the names of two villages called Champanagara and Champapura.
Champa was noted for its wealth and commerce. It was also a great center of trade and commerce and its merchants regularly sailed to distant Suvarnabhumi for trading purposes. The ancient name of region and kingdom of Champa of central Vietnam (Lin-yi in Chinese records) apparently has its origin in this east Indian Champa.
Other important cities of Anga are said to be Assapura and Bhadrika.
Mahabharata (I.104.53-54) and Puranic literature (Matsya Purana: 48.19) attest that the name Anga had originated eponymously from the name of prince Anga, the founder of the kingdom. Matsya Purana describes the father of this eponymous hero as the chief among the demons (danavarshabhah).
Bodhayana Dharma Sutra groups the Angas with people of mixed origin and Mahbharata brands an Anga prince (not Karana of the Mahabharata) as a mlechcha and barbarian.
The Puranas list several early kings of Anga. The Mahagovinda Suttanta refers to king Dhatarattha of Anga. Jaina texts refer to Dhadhivahana, as a ruler of the Angas. Puranas and Harivamsa represent him as the son and immediate successor of Anga, the eponymous founder of the kingdom. Jaina traditions place him at the beginning of sixth century BCE.
Between the Vatsas and the realm of Anga, lived the Magadhas, who initially were comparatively a weak people. A great struggle went on between the Angas and its eastern neighbors. The Vidhura Pandita Jataka describes Rajagriha (Magadhan Capital) as the city of Anga and Mahabharata also refers to a sacrifice performed by the king of Anga at Mount Vishnupada (at Gaya). This indicates that Anga had initially succeeded in annexing the Magadhas, and thus its borders extended to the kingdom of Matsya country.
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).
Other references to Anga:
2. Anga. King.-Chief lay supporter of Sumana Buddha (BuA.130); the Buddhavamsa mentions Varuna and Sarana as Sumana's aggupattháká and Udena as upattháka. Bu.v.28.
3. Anga.-A king of Benares on whose feet hair grew. He inquired of the brahmins the way to heaven, and was told to retire to the forest and tend the sacred fire. He went to Himavá with many cows and women and did as he was counselled. The milk and ghee left over from his sacrifices were thrown away, and from them arose many minor rivers, the Ganges itself, and even the sea. Later he became Indra's companion. J.vi.203
4. Anga.-King of the Anga country, between whom and King Magadha there was constant war, with varying fortunes. In the end, Magadha, with the help of the Nága king Campeyya, seized Anga and slew him. J.iv.453.
5. Anga.-One of the Pacceka Buddhas mentioned in the list in the Apadana Commentary. ApA.i.107.
6. Angá.-Chieftains of Anga, so called, according to the Digha Nikáya Commentary (i.279), because of the beauty of their limbs. Their name was customarily (rúlhi-vasena) used to denote their country.