Who were the Suvidehans?

The land of the Suvidehans is only mentioned in MN 34, where it is adjacent to Magadha, on the far side of the Ganges. Ven Bodhi follows Nyanamoli in rendering it as Videha, without comment. Ven Nyanatusita, commenting on this (private document) suggests that the prefix su- is meant to indicate that the far shore, as in “among the good Videhans”. The commentary merely uses Videha without comment. The Dictionary of Proper Names says that Videha bordred the Ganges (and, improbably, Kasi and Kosala).

I don’t find any of this particularly persuasive. It is well established that the capital of the Videhans is Mithila, to the far north in modern day Nepal. And it is also well established that the Vajjians bordered Magadha on the Ganges. Unless we are to assume a long, thin, north-south orientation (think Indian Chile) it seems unlikely that Videha bordered the Ganges. I can’t find any other sources that support this. If it did, however, we would need to redraw our map.

Videha appears as a kingdom frequently in the Jatakas, and it appears that, along with Benares, it was one of the older centers of Vedic culture, which was being eclipsed in the Buddha’s day by the more economically dynamic centers of Sāvatthī and Magadha. This being so, it would not be unlikely that as the nation contracted, groups of people identifying themselves as Videhans would be staying outside the main region. Note that Suvideha is never identified as a political entity, the text simply uses the common idiom “among the Suvidehans”.

Given the lack of corroboration, it is probably best to simply translate the passage in MN 34 as is, and not assume that the maps need to be redrawn.


Hello Bhante,
do you now this text?

The earlier reference to Videha is in Satapatha Brahmana’ ’ Circa1000 B.C. Sadanira demarcated Videha from Kosala. Sadanira has been identified with the Budhi Gandak.Itcovers the modern districts of Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Madhubani, Champaran, Khagaria,Saharsa and parts of Purnea in India and those of Rohtara, Sarlahi, Mobitari, Saptari and Morang of Nepal.The Eastern boundary has been fluctuating with the changes in the course of river Kosi, the common boundary of the provinces of Mithila and Kamrup, the Ganga andthe Himalayas,the estates of Dinajpur, Koochbihar, Maldwara,Maldah, estates in Bangladesh,Rajmahal district of jharkhand and as far as Tejpur Pargana, the traditional grant of the kingdom of Mithila to Maharaja Mahesa Thakura by theMughal Emperor Akbar the District of Champaran, linguistically and culturally, been encroached by the Bhojpuri speaking people. On the other hand much of Monghyr and Bhagalpur Districts as lie to the south of Ganga river has been encroached by the Maithils.

Videhan is mentioned in Nimi Jataka

History and Historians in Ancient India by Dilip Kumar Ganguly, page 14-16

Republics in ancient India by J. P. SHARMA, page 136-158

History of Videha: from the earliest times to the foundation of the Gupta Empire, A.D. 319 by Yogendra Mishra

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Thanks for the sources.