Monthly Archives: February 2019

Parikshit – The first ruler of Kali Age

When the Mahabharata War ended, Yudhishthira after ruling for some time abdicated the throne in favour of Arjunas grandson, Parikshit. The accession of Parikshit marks the beginning of the Kali Age. Born as a premature baby, he was the son of Abhimanyu and Uttara. He was well versed in the science of duties of the kings and was endowed with noble qualities. His kingdom extended from the river Saraswathi to the river Ganga and was divided into three parts; Kurujangala, the Kurus and Kurukshetra. The capital of his kingdom was Asandivant probably another name for Hastinapura. During his rule there was peace and prosperity in the kingdom. He was married to Madravati and had four sons namely Janamejaya III, Ugrasena, Bhimasena and Shrutasena.

The Nagas who had established themselves in Taksashila under their king Takshaka attacked Hastinapura and fighting against them Parikshit lost his life and was succeeded by his son Janamejaya III.

Janamejaya III, the destroyer of the Nagas

Janamejaya was a minor when he was installed as a king. To avenge his father’s death, he invaded Taksashila and slaughtered the Nagas in great number, but Takshaka managed to escape. For some time Janamejaya made Taksashila his head quarter. Later Sage Astika, whose mother was the sister of Vasuki, the king of Sarpas managed to bring about a treaty of mutual good will between king Janamejaya and the Nagas and Sarpas who had inhabited the country around the river Oxus and Jaxrates. Janamejaya performed a horse sacrifice and took the title ‘Sarvabhauma. He had married Vapustama, daughter of Suvarnavarman, king of Kasi and had two sons, Shatanika and Shankukarna.

It was in the court of Janamejaya, Vaishampayana first recited the Bharata composed by his guru Veda Vyasa. After a quarrel with the Brahmana priests, Janamejaya was forced to abdicate his throne in favour of his son Shatanika and retire to the forest. After the Mahabharata war the power of the Brahmanas had increased and that of the kshatriyas had diminished.

Reference

  • R.C.Majumdar and A.D.Pusalker Edited, The History and Culture of the Indian People- The Vedic Age, George Allen & Unwin Ltd

  • P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar- Advance History of India (Hindu Period), Madras, 1942.

  • Vettam Mani- Puranic Encyclopaedia, Motilal Banarsidass, 1975

  • V.H.Vader- Whether Shrimat Vyas was a contempory of the Persian Prophet Zoraster? QJMS, Vol-16 (1), 1925

  • H. C. Raychaudhuri- Political History of Ancient India- From the Accession of Parikshit to the extinction of the Gupta Dynasty, University of Calcutta, 1923

Sudasa the Hero of Dasharajna Battle 

After the death of Ajamidha, son of Hastin (a descendant of Bharata and founder of Hastinapura), his eldest son Rksha continued to rule at Hastinapura and his two other sons, Nila and Brhadvasu became the rulers of the Krivi country (Panchala) dividing it into northern with capital at first at Ahichchatra and then at Chattravati and southern kingdom with capital at first at Kampilya and then at Makandi.1

Sudasa, son of Cyavana/Paijavana was the thirteenth descendant of Nila and raised the dynasty to new heights.2 Both Cyavana and Sudasa extended their kingdom’s territory. They seem to have conquered both the Dvimidha dynasty (Dvimidha was the brother of Ajamidha who had founded a separate dynasty) and the south Panchalas as there appears to be gaps in the genealogical lists of the Dvimidha dynasty of that period.3 Sudasa drove the Paurava king Samvarana out of Hastinapura after defeating him on the banks of Yamuna. His conquests stirred up a confederacy of the neighbouring kings to resist him. Puru king Samvarana, the Yadava king of Mathura, the Sivas (Anavas), Druhyus (of Gandhara), Matsyas (west of Shurasena) Turvasha (the Turvasu prince apparently in Rewa) and other smaller states (the Pakhtas, the Alinas, the Bhalanas, the Shivis and the Vishnanins*) formed a confederation against Sudasa who defeated them in a great battle near river Parusni (Ravi). Samvarana took refuge in a fortress near the river Sindhu for many years and later recovered his kingdom of Hastinapura with the aid of Vasishta.4

The Dasharajna war has been described in the 18th, 33rd and 83rd hymn in Rig Veda mandala VII ascribed to sage Vasishta. Accordingly, the small army of Sudasa was almost to be routed as the enemy hosts hemmed in on all three sides with the river Parusni threatening in the rear. At that time Vasishta by his persuasive hymns made the river Parusni (Ravi) render herself shallow enough for the armies of Sudasa to cross over and by the time the enemies pursued the stream swelled to its original volume and velocity so that the rank and file of the enemy were simply washed down. The few who succeeded in swimming across were easily destroyed by Sudasa.5 About 6600 soldiers belonging to the Anus and Druhyus were killed in the war.6 Sudasa collected much booty and distributed it to his followers and favoured Vasishta with rich gifts.7 Some scholars say that Vishwamitra took side with the ten kings while Vasishta took the side of Sudasa. The reason for Vishwamitra to oppose Sudasa was because the latter had replaced Vishwamitra by Vasishta as his family priest. But this opinion has not been accepted as both Vishwamitra and Vasishta were entertained by Sudasa and two different occasions.8

Some of the kings who fought against Sudasa in the Dasharajna war were the distant descendants respectively of Anu, Druhyu and the sons of Yayati.9 Druhyu, Turvasa, Shivi, Bharata were the titles of the descendants of the famous ancestors bearing those names.10 Of these, the chief titled as Druhyu opposed Sudasa and was drowned while Yadava and Turvasa submitted and the latter was killed.11 Sudasa having attained a victory over the ten kings became very haughty and this haughtiness became the cause of his downfall. The battle of ten kings which took place at a remote corner of India was an insignificant battle as compared with those described in the Ramayana and Mahabharata and as such could not form the subject of a historical epic although Vasishta and Vishwamitra who were directly concerned with it have preserved it in their poetical composition.12 Another probable reason for the authors of Rig Veda to insert the Dasharajna war in the text was because the vanquished were non-sacrificing kings who were converts to the new Zoroastrian faith.13 Sudasa also fought another battle on the banks of river Yamuna in which he defeated several tribes like Ajas, Shigrus and Yakshus who had united under king Bheda.14

Rig Veda composed during Sudasa’s Period

Shrikant Talageri in his work Rig Veda, An Historical Analysis says that mandalas II to VII from the oldest core of the Rig Veda. Of these mandalas’, mandala III ascribed to Vishwamitra and mandala VII ascribed to Vasishta refers to Sudasa who had patronised both the seers at one time or the other. Besides Sudasa eleven kings of the Bharata dynasty are referred in the Rig Veda. Of these kings Mudgala, Vadhryasva, Divodasa, Srnjaya, Pijavana, Sudasa, Sahadeva and Somaka belong to the Northern Panchala dynasty. This means that the earliest composition of the Rig Vedic verses took place during the time of Sudasa as they have reference to him and the battle of ten kings. According to P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar, the hymns in Rig Veda which refers to Sudasa and the battle of ten kings were composed a few centuries before the Mahabharata war.15 R. K. Pruthi is of the opinion that the Dasharajna war occurred three or four generations after Rama.16 As Sudasa lived three generations after Sri Rama, the probable date which we can assign to Sudasa is 4107/3489 B.C.17 He was succeeded by his son (uncle?) Sahadeva.

References

  1. F. E. Pargiter- Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, London, 1922, p. 274

  1. Ibid, pp: 146,148

  1. Ibid, p,280 *Gulshan Rai- Five Periods of Traditional History in the Vedic Age, Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 4th session, Lahore, 1940

  1. F.E.Pargiter, Op.Cit, p, 281; Here Vasishta does not denote the person with the same name who assisted Sudasa but another person belonging to Vasishta gotra. As D.S.Triveda opines Vasishta, Vishwamitra, Bhrugu, etc. are the gotras and not the names of an individual. All their descendants were addressed by their gotra names. (Indian Chronology, p.8)

  1. H. L. Hariyappa- Rig-Vedic Legends through the Ages, Poona, 1953, pp: 246,251

  1. Ibid, p.248

  1. V. RangacharyaHistory of Pre Musalman India, The Indian Publishing House, 1937, p. 194

  1. H. L. Hariyappa- Op.Cit, pp: 256,257

  1. Sita Nath Pradhan- Chronology of Ancient India, University of Calcutta, 1927, pp: 93, 94

  1. Ibid, 97

  1. Ibid, p. 95

  1. Ibid, p. 98

  1. Narayan Bhavanrao Pavgee- The Aryan Cradle in the Sapta Sindhus, Poona, 1915, p. 339

  1. R.C.Majumdar and A.D.Pusalker Edited, The History and Culture of the Indian PeopleThe Vedic Age, George Allen & Unwin Ltd, p. 245

  1. P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar- Advance History of India (Hindu Period), Madras, 1942, p. 51

  1. R.K.Pruthi (Edited) – Vedic Civilization, Discovery Publishing House, New Delhi, 2004, p. 40

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