Author Archives: S.Srinivas

Historian and Writer

Sagara- Restorer of Ikshavaku Fortunes 

Sagara (5187/4569 B.C.) was one of the greatest rulers belonging to the Ikshavaku dynasty. He was born at a time when the fortunes of his dynasty was at its lowest ebb. His father Bahu (Asita) had to face the joint attack of the Haihayas and the Talajanghas who along with their allies from the north-west like the Yavanas, Kambojas, Paradas, Sakas, Pahlavas and Hunas captured Ayodhya. Bahu along with his two queens fled to a forest and died near the hermitage of sage Aurva. The sage prevented one of Bahu’s queen Yadavi who was pregnant from ascending the funeral pyre and took her to his hermitage. Bahu’s other queen out of jealousy had earlier poisoned Yadavi. But sage Aurva saved Yadavi and she delivered a baby boy. As the baby was born with poison, he was name Sagara (sa meaning with and gara meaning poison)  

Recaptured Ayodhya 

Sagara was educated by sage Aurva and when he reached adulthood, with the material assistance provided by Aurva defeated the Talajanghas and regained Ayodhya. He then extended the campaign and subdued all north India, marched south and crushed the Haihayas in their own territories and their capital Mahishmati was reduced to ashes. The foreign tribes who had allied with the Haihayas and helped them drove away Bahu from Ayodhya had settled down in Ayodhya and were called kshtriyas. They respected Brahmins, observed Brahmanical rites and rituals and had a member of the Vasishta family acting as their priest. After defeating the Haihayas, Sagara completely crushed the Shakas, Yavanas and other foreign tribes and was about to annihilate them. But on the intercession of sage Vasishta he spared their lives after imposing certain signs of symbolical defeat and disgrace and rendering them unfit for Vedic ceremonials. 

Emperor of North India 

Sagara had subjugated all contemporary powers and was the emperor of the whole of north India. The Vedic culture and sacrificial cult were introduced all over his domain. Sagara was very pious and popular and celebrated the Ashvamedha sacrifice. He had two queens, Sumati, daughter of Arishtanemi Kasyapa and Kesini. The latter was the daughter of Vidarbha, the Yadava king who sought peace with Sagara by offering his daughter to him and retired towards deccan into the country named after him. After ruling for over fifty years Sagara took to religious retirement. As his eldest son Asamanjas was cruel, his son Amshumant succeeded Sagara. 

Initiated world’s greatest irrigational project 

Sagara initiated a project to construct a channel to carry Ganga water to irrigate tracts in the eastern region of India. This channel more than thousand miles in length was one of the greatest irrigational works undertaken in the ancient world and involved the efforts of several generation of the rulers of Ayodhya like Sagara, Amshumant, Dilipa and Bhagiratha.  

Bhagiratha, the originator of Ganga worship 

Bhagiratha one of the successors of Sagara is included in the list of sixteen celebrated kings called Sodasha Rajika. Tradition makes him one of the five great emperors of ancient India. He was very pious, wise, learned, brave and kind. It is said that after Mandhata, India had not witnessed a more powerful king than Bhagiratha to whom bowed all the kings of India. He showed his greatness by not taking any tribute from them. He was famous for his charities and gave to all whatever they asked. Bhagiratha was a very popular king and had the titles of chakravartin and samrat. He was a devotee of Shiva and originator of the worship of river Ganga. The river Ganga is also named Bhagirathi in his honour. 

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, 
  • F.E.Pargiter- Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, London, 1922 
  • V. Rangacharya – History of Pre Musalman India, The Indian Publishing House, 1937 
  • R.C.Majumdar and A.D.Pusalker Edited, The History and Culture of the Indian People- The Vedic Age, George Allen & Unwin Ltd 
  • Akshoy Kumar Mazumdar- Early Hindu India, A Dynastic Study, Vol-I, Cosmo, New Delhi 
  • R.K.Pruthi (Edited) – Vedic Civilization, Discovery Publishing House, New Delhi, 2004 
  • J.P.Mittal- History of Ancient India (7300 B.C.-4250 B. C.) Vol-I, Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi
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Parashurama- Symbol of Brahmakshatriya Power

Parashurama (5587 / 4969 B.C.) was the son of Jamadagni and Renuka and belonged to the Bhargava vamsa. In the Puranas, Parashurama is represented as an incarnation of Vishnu. He is said to have been born during the period of interval between the Treta and Dvapara yugas. He was a great warrior skilled in all weapons especialy in archery. The Parashu (battle axe) was his special weapon on account of which he came to be called Parashurama in distinct from Rama Dasharati. Though a Brahmana, Parashurama is generally spoken of as virtually a kshatriya combining the two characters, Brahma Kshatra.

The family of Bhrigus/Bhargavas to which Parashurama belonged lived in Anarta (Gujarat). When western India came under the sway of the Haihayas, the Bhrigus became associated with the Haihayas and became their priests and one Kartavirya bestowed them with great wealth. The Bhrigus/Bhargavas were also enterprising trademen who amassed wealth by acting as intermediaries between Indian and foreigners. Though Brahmins they entered into matrimonial alliance with kstrariya ruling families. Bhargava Richika married Satyavati daughter of king Gadhi of Kanyakubj to whom was born Jamadagni. Jamadagni in turn married Renuka, the daughter of Renu, a junior king of the ruling family of Ayodhya and their son was Parashurama.

Parashurama’s fight with Kartavirya Arjuna

The Haihaya ruler Kartavirya Arjuna wanted to take control of the sea trade as it was a lucrative source of revenue. The growing teritorial conquests which he had embarked required money and he demanded the Bhargavas to return the wealth given by his father. The Bhargavas refused and Arjuna used violence against them. One day Arjuna’s sons entered the ashram of Jamadagni and killed him. The devastating raids and conquests of the Haihayas had led to a growing discontentment and unpopularitiy of the Haihayas. Parashurama organised a confederacy of various kingdoms and led an all round attack against the Haihayas and killed their king Kartavirya Arjuna.

On the devasted Haihaya realm Parashurama founded new cities and also colonized the region known as Aparanta on the west coast where Surparaka became a great trading center. Parashurama was the first colonizer of the tract (the present Konkan and Kerala region) which probably erupted out of the sea due to seismic disturbances. Here Parashurama is said to have settled Brahmin families brought from north and other parts of India and outside. The Malbar coast is even now known as Parashurama Kshetra and it is said that he introduced the Bhagavathi cult and built 108 temples of the goddesses in this region. Parashurama performed many sacrifices and later retired to south India.

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,

  • 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

  • S. V. Vishwanath- Racial Synthesis in Hindu Culture, London, 1928

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.

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.

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,

  • 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

Yayati- The Empire Builder

Among the ancient rulers of India, the name of Yayati (6587 B.C. /5969 B.C.) * stands conspicuous as an empire builder and progenitor of various dynasties. Yayati the sixth in descendant from Manu was the son of Nahusha belonging to the lunar dynasty.

Soon after ascending the throne Yayati organised a very strong army and launched a campaign against the Asuras, defeated the Yakshas and made the Nagas accept his suzerainty. He conquered all territories west of Ayodhya and Kanyakubja and north-west as far as the River Sarasvathi as well as the countries west, south and south-west of Pratisthana (present Allahabad) which was his capital. He had the titles of Samrat and Sarvabhauma, both meaning Emperor. The Rigveda mentions Yayati as an ancient sacrificer and a seer of some hymns.

Jewel of the Lunar dynasty

Acclaimed as the ‘Jewel of the Lunar dynasty’, Yayati was a very powerful, popular and virtuous ruler and probably ruled for around fifty years. He had two chief queens, Sharmista, daughter of Asura king Vrishaparvan and Devayani, daughter of Sukracharya, the guru of the Asuras. Yayati had five sons, Yadu and Turvasa from Devayani and Druhyu, Anu and Puru from Sarmishta. Except Puru the youngest son, his other children who were impatient to rule revolted against Yayati but their revolt was put down by Yayati and the princesses were pardoned. Later Yayati declared Puru as his heir and he succeeded to his kingdom with capital at Pratisthana. Yadu got the region around south-west, Turvasa, the south-east, Druhyu the west and Anu the north of Puru’s territory. In this way five distinguished dynasties sprang up from the five sons of Yayati, all of whom are honoured in the Rigveda for their valour and munificent donations to the seers.

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

Reference

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

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

  3. J. P .Mittal- History of Ancient India 7300 B.C.- 4250 B.C. (New Version), Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi.