Monthly Archives: October 2017

Mandhata, the first Samrat of Ancient India

The Ikshavaku dynasty also known as the solar dynasty ruling from Ayodhya produced a number of illustrious kings like Mandhata, Sudasa, Harishchandra, Sagara, Bhagiratha and Sri Rama. Though these kings ruled in the remote past they are remembered with reverence even to this day. Of these rulers Mandhatri or Mandhata through his accomplishment became the first ruler of this dynasty to earn the title Chakravarthi and Samrat.

Mandhata (5987 B.C./5369 B.C) ⃰ was son of Yuvanashva and Gauri, the daughter of Matinara of the Pauravas. It is said that his mother died while giving birth to him and his father who loved her very much named his son as Matradhata meaning ‘killer of his mother’, which later probably came to be pronounced as Mandhata. Mandhata’s name figures among the sixteen celebrated monarchs of ancient India in the Puranic list called Sodasha Rajika. As his empire was so extensive, a verse mentions that as far as the sun rises and as far as he sets; all that is called Mandhata’s territory and hence even the earth was named after him as Mandhatra Kshetra.

His Campaigns

Mandhata on assuming power organized a strong army and led a series of expedition against his neighbouring kingdoms. The rulers of Kashi and Maithila and his uncle Tansu, the ruler of Prathisthan accepted his suzerainty. Other important rulers whom Mandhata vanquished were Janmejaya the king of Anavas, the Yadava king Sasabindu of Mahishamati and Marutta a king described as one of the five great emperors of ancient India and ruling over territory around North West India. The Asura kingdoms of Varshikha and Narmani were also subdued. Mandhata had a long war with the Druhyu king Angara who ruled over Punjab and finally killed him and conquered his kingdom. Angara’s son Gandhara accepted the suzerainty of Mandhata, moved towards North-West (Afghanistan) and gave his name to that region.

Incarnation of Vishnu 

In ancient India a sovereign who conquered the surrounding kingdom and brought them under his control was conferred with the title Chakravarthi. Similarly, the king who conquered the whole of Bharatavarsha was celebrated as a Samrat. Mandhata possessed both these titles apart from considered as a fifth incarnation of Vishnu. He is said to have defeated a king named Indra and conquered his capital Amaravati situated near Manasarovar lake in Tibet. To commemorate this victory a hill near Manasarovar lake was named after him and even now known as Gurla Mandhata and is 7739 metres high. Mandhata is said to have performed Ashvamedha and Rajasuya yajnas and his name is also included in the list of kings who gained fame by their gifts of cattle. Mandhata’s reign marks the first great stage of the progress in complexity and popularity of the Vedic yajnas. Hence in later ages he was described as “the ornament of the krita yuga”; the first of the four great ages of history according to Hindus. Mandhata was also a hymn composer and was reckoned as a Rajarishi, one who exercised the functions of both of a Brahmana and Kshatriya. He was a just and virtuous ruler. When a 12 yearlong famine broke out in North-West India during his period, he took all possible steps to provide relief to the people and end their sufferings. Mandhata had married Bindumati the daughter of Sasabindu the Yadava king and had three sons, Purukutsa, Ambarisha and Muchukunda. The descendants of Ambarisha were known by the name Harita Brahmanas and were composers of hymns.

Mandhata met with a tragic end when while returning with his army through Mathura (Muttra) ruled by the Daithyas. Mandhata and his whole army were attacked by the Daithyas and exterminated to the last man and thus ended the glorious career of the greatest Indian monarch after a long reign of some 60 years.

⃰ See https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/date-of-mahabharatha-war/

Reference:

  • Akshoy Kumar Mazumdar- The Hindu History, B.C. 3000 to 1200 A.D., City Publishing House, Faridabad, Dacca, 1920
  • Gulshan Rai- Five Periods of Traditional History in the Vedic Age, Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, Fourth session, Lahore, 1940
  • Ganga Ram Garg- Encyclopedia of the Hindu World, Vol-I, Concept Publication Company, New Delhi, 1992
  • J.P.Mittal- History of Ancient India (7300 B.C.-4250 B. C.) Vol-I, Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi, 2006
  • F.E.Pargiter- Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, London, 1922
  • P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar- Advanced History of India (Hindu Period), Madras, 1942

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