Monthly Archives: November 2018

Kartavirya Arjuna, the Sahasrabaahu

Kartavirya Arjuna (5587 / 4969 B.C.) was a great monarch belonging to the Haihaya dynasty. Son of Kartavirya he was called samrat and chakravartin. Sage Dattatreya, belonging to Atri family was his guru.

Kartavirya Arjuna who ruled for a long period raised the Haihaya power to preeminence. He extended his conquests from the mouth of the river Narmada as far as the Himalayas and captured Mahismati from the Karkotaka Nagas and made it his capital. He defeated, captured, imprisoned and later released Ravana a king from Deccan. (Ravana is a title and not to be confused with Ravana who fought with Rama of Ayodhya)

Kartavirya Arjuna had the epithet Sahasrabaahu as he had the power and strength to wield 500 bows together or a single bow equal to them. Another possible explanation may be as he possessed a 1000 oared ship or a fleet of 1000 ships which was built with the help of Dattatreya.

Kartavirya Arjuna’s conflict with the Bhrigus/Bhargavas

The Bhrigus/Bhargavas though belonging to the priestly class were great navigators, expert mariners and enterprising tradesmen who controlled the trade between India and the western world. They acted as intermediaries between Indians and foreigners such as Assyrians. They had amassed great wealth by helping foreigners at the cost of indigenous population. Arjuna wanted trade and commerce of Indian people under Indian control and did not like the Bhargavas who were the against of the foreigners. Arjuna’s effort at getting control of the sea trade by taking the help of Dattatreya who was an expert in ship building was an eyesore to the Bhargavas. This was the main reason of the Bhargava-Haihaya conflict.

Karkotaka Naga, Ravana and others who were defeated by Arjuna were seeking some opportunity to wreak vengeance on him. When Arjuna’s sons killed Jamadagni of the Bhargava family, his son Parushurama organised a confederacy of various kingdoms including Vaishali, Videha, Kashi, Kanyakubj and Ayodhya, fought the Haihayas on various battles and finally killed Arjuna.

A righteous ruler

Kartavirya Arjuna is described as an ideal monarch unparalled in penance, charities, learning and virtues; who conquered the whole world and ruled it with perfect justice. During his rule the threat from thieves and bandits was totally absent in his kingdom. There are a few passages in Narada Purana and Vayu Purana which says that one should think of Kartavirya Arjuna for the destruction of the enemy and for the safety of one’s property or regaining lost articles. His perfect administration and righteous character distinguished him positively from the other worldly kings and seem to have gradually led towards his deification. Kartavirya Arjuna was worshipped as an incarnation of Vishnu and about one hundred manuscripts are available which contain information on his worship.

Reference

  • A. D.Pusalker- The New Style Puranas in Mahendra Kulasrestra- Edited, Culture India– A Compendium of Indian Philosophy, Religion, Arts, Literature and Society contributed by authorities in various areas, Lotus Press, New Delhi,2006,
  • Gaya Charan Tripathi – The worship of Kartavirya Arjuna: On the deification of a royal personage in India, The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, No 1, 1979
  • R.K.Pruthi (Edited) – Vedic Civilization, Discovery Publishing House, New Delhi, 2004, p.91
  • R.C.Majumdar and A.D.Pusalker Edited, The History and Culture of the Indian People- The Vedic Age, George Allen & Unwin Ltd

Bharata, the Emperor who gave his name to our Country

Bharata (5067 B.C./ 4449 B.C.), the emperor who gave his name to our country was one of the greatest ruler of ancient India and whose achievements are extolled in Vedic literature. Belonging to the Paurava dynasty, he was the son of Dushyanta and Shakuntala. Even as a child he was able to seize and restrain wild animals and hence was named Sarvadamana by sage Kanva who was the guardian of his mother Shakuntala.

Bharata was a contemporary of Dilipa I, father of Bhagiratha of Ayodhya. As a ruler he was pious, affectionate to his people and hospitable to strangers and guests. He reigned in central Madhyadesha and his territory stretched from the river Saraswathi to the Ganges with Hastinapura as his capital. (One of Bharata’s successor Hastin enlarged the city and gave it his name). Bharata had the titles Chakravarti and Sarvabhauma. After conquering the whole territory of Indian sub continent, Bharata planted a flag atop mount Meru or Sumeru (now known as Kailasa). There he saw numerous such flags of world conquerors before him. This made him feel very insignificant and he took a diksha to attain nirvana.

In Vedic literature, the epics and the puranas, Bharata is represented as a universal ruler and a tireless performer of sacrifices. With sage Kanva’s aid he performed Ashwamedha, Vajapeya, Agnishtoma, Atiratra, Ukta, Ishti and Satra yagas, erected sacrifical pillars and gave rich gifts to priests including Kanva. The Vedic yajnas reached the climax of development under Bharata and a great number of Rishis lived in his times and the bulk of the Vedic mantras were composed.

Bharata had three wives and sons from them, all of whom had predeceased him. At the suggestion of his family priest Dirghatama, Bharata adopted a Brahmin by name Bharadvaja as his son (Dirghatama’s relative). Bharadvaja later consecrated his son by name Vitatha as the successor of Bharata. From this time onwards the Pauravas came to be called as Bharatas and their domain, as Bharata. There is a verse in Vishnu Purana which describes the territory of the Bharatas-

Uttaram yatsamudrasya

Himadreshchaiva dakshinam

Varsham tad Bharatam nama

Bharati yatra santatih

The country that lies north of the ocean and the south of the snowy mountains is called Bharata; for there dwell the descendants of Bharata”

Bharatavarsha the domain of Bharata represented the ideal of great empires wherein prevailed social harmony, truth, knowledge, wealth and prosperity.

Reference

  • M.K.Agarwal- The Vedic core of Human history, iUniverse LLC, Bloomington

  • Akshoy Kumar Mazumdar- Early Hindu India, A Dynastic Study, Vol-I, Cosmo, New Delhi, 1981.

  • F.E.Pargiter- Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, London, 1922

  • V. Rangacharya – History of Pre Musalman India, The Indian Publishing House, 1937