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Chetaka of Lichchavi

Champaran, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga and Saran are districts of the Bihar State today. Two and a half thousand years ago this region was called Vajjio ' country. It meant that it was the land of the Lichchavis. The same region was also called Videha. Its capital Vaishali was very famous. The river Gandaki flowed in the middle of the city of Vaishali. On each of its banks was a suburb. One of these was Kshathriya- kundagrama. The other was Brahmana- kundagrama. Kshathriyakundagrama was popularly known as Kundapura.

The country of the Lichchavis was a republic. Its chief representative who was elected by its constituent units was called the 'Ganaraja'. It had a king as well. But the king depended on the advice and the consent of the ganarajas in ruling the country. There was unanimity among the Lichchavis of Vaishali.They took decisions on all big questions after consultations. Their enemies were afraid of the Lichchavis because of this spirit of unity. One incident deserves to be remembered.

Ajathashathru was the King of Magadha. He thought of invading the Lichchavi Country. He went to Buddha for advice.

Buddha advised Ajathashathru thus: "No one can touch the hair of a Lichchavi so long as they meet together to exchange views, take unanimous decisions, do not violate laws, respect the words of their elders, honor their women, attend Jain temples and worship -and honor their saints." These are words of deep significance. Ajathashathru gave up his plan.

Chetaka was the famous King of Vaishali. He was the overlord of the smaller kingdoms of Kashi and the nine Lichchavis of Koshala. He had seven daughters.

Chetaka wanted to establish friendly relations with his neighbours. He gave his daughters in marriage to most important personalities. Only Sujyestha (Chandane) did not marry. She took the vows of Jaina Diksha and became a nun.

Thrishala was the eldest daughter of Chetaka. (According to the Jain Shwethambar sect Thrishaladevi was the sister of Chetaka.) She was always doing pleasing things. So Thrishala was called Priyakarini (she who does what is pleasing). Of all the ganarajas, Chetaka trusted and loved Siddhartha most. He was the Ganaraja of Kundapura. Kundapura was famous for its trade. Siddhartha was also a Jain. He belonged to the Gnathru sect among the Lichchavis. They were Kshathriyas. They were famous for truth and nonviolence. They did not eat meat. They never drank wine. So Chetaka celebrated the marriage of his first daughter Priyakarini with Siddhartha.

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