The Panchala Kingdom


Feb 10, CANADA (SUN) — A three-part study of the land of the Kurus and Panchalas of Bharat.

Panchala Kingdom extended from the Himalayas in the north to the River Charmanwati in the south during the period of Mahabharata. The Kuru, Surasena and Matsya kingdoms were to the west, and the forest of Naimisha was to the east. Later, Panchala was divided into Southern Panchala (Panchala proper ruled by King Drupada, the father-in-law of the Pandavas) and Northern Panchala (ruled by Ashwathama, the son of Drona. Drona was Drupada's former friend who became his enemy later). The Ganges River separated the two Panchalas.

Northern Panchala had Ahichatra as its capital. It is identified as an archeological site near Ramnagar town of Uttar pradesh state. This kingdom extended from Himalayas to the river Ganga. Southern Panchala, or Panchala-proper, had Kampilya city as its capital, now a small town named Kampil near Farrukhabad in Uttar Pradesh. This kingdom extended from the Ganges River to River Charmanwati.

Lineage of Puru Kings up to the Branching of the Panchala Tribe

Puru had by his wife Paushti three sons: Pravira, Iswara, and Raudraswa. Amongst them, Pravira was the perpetuator of the dynasty. Pravira had by his wife Suraseni a son named Manasyu. Manasyu had for his wife Sauviri. Together they had three sons named Sakta, Sahana, and Vagmi. Raudraswa and the Apsara Misrakesi produced ten sons, and they all had sons. They are Richeyu, Kaksreyu Vrikeyu, Sthandileyu, Vaneyu, Jaleyu, Tejeyu, Satyeyu, Dharmeyu and Sannateyu the tenth.

Amongst them all, Richeyu became the sole monarch and was known by the name of Anadhrishti. Anadhristi had a son by the name of Matinara, who became a famous and virtuous king and performed the Rajasuya and the Ashwamedha. Matinara had four sons viz., Tansu, Mahan, Atiratha, and Druhyu. Amongst them, Tansu of great prowess became the perpetrator of Puruís line.

Tansu produced a son named Ilina. Ilina and his wife Rathantara had five sons, Dushmanta, Sura, Bhima, Pravasu, and Vasu. The eldest of them, Dushmanta, became king. Dushmanta had by his wife Sakuntala an intelligent son named Bharata, who became king. Bharata gave his name to the race of which he was the founder. It is from him that the fame of that dynasty has spread so wide. Bharata and his three wives produced nine sons in all, but none of them were like their father, so Bharata was not at all pleased with them. Their mothers, therefore, became angry and killed them all. The procreation of children by Bharata, therefore, was attempted in vain.

The monarch then performed a great sacrifice and through the grace of Bharadwaja, obtained a son named Bhumanyu. Then Bharata, the great descendant of Puru, regarding himself as really possessing a son, installed that son as his heir-apparent. Bhumanyu begat upon his wife, Pushkarini, six sons named Suhotra, Suhotri, Suhavih, Sujeya, Diviratha and Kichika. During the virtuous reign of Suhotra, the surface of the whole earth was dotted all over with hundreds and thousands of sacrificial stakes. Suhotra and his wife Aikshaki produced three sons: Ajamidha, Sumidha, and Purumidha. The eldest of them, Ajamidha, was the perpetuator of the royal line. And he begat six sons. Riksha was born of the womb of his wife Dhumini; Dushmanta and Parameshthin, of his wife Nili; Jahnu, Jala and Rupina were born of his wife Kesini. Kushikas are the sons of Jahnu.

All the tribes of the Panchalas are descended from Dushmanta and Parameshthin, two sons of the second wife of Puru, King Ajamidha.

War between Panchalas and the Forefathers of Kurus

A continuous war between the Kurus and Panchalas led the defeated Kurus to be exiled from their kingdom. They lived in the forests on the banks of the Sindhu. Later, the Kurus retook their capital.

Riksha, who was older than both Jala and Rupina, became king. Riksha begat Samvarana, the perpetuator of the royal line. While Samvarana, the son of Riksha, was ruling, there occurred a great loss of people from famine, pestilence, drought, and disease. The Bharata princes were beaten by the troops of enemies.

The Panchalas, setting out to invade the whole land with their four kinds of troops, soon brought the whole land under their sway. And with their ten Akshauhinis, the King of the Panchalas defeated the Bharata prince. Samvarana then with his wife and ministers, sons and relatives, fled in fear and took shelter in the forest, on the banks of the Sindhu River, extending to the foot of the western mountains. There the Bharatas lived for some thousand years, within their fort. One day, a long time after they began living there, the sage Vasishtha approached the exiled Bharatas.

It is said that Vasishtha (becoming the priest) installed the Bharata prince in the sovereignty of all the Kshatriyas. The king retook the capital that had been taken away from him and once more made all monarchs pay tribute to him. The powerful Samvarana, was thus installed once more in the actual sovereignty of the whole land.

Samvarana and his wife, Tapati (whose abode was on the banks of the River Tapati (Tapti, Maharashtra), the daughter of Surya (a king of the Solar Dynasty), produced a son named Kuru. This Kuru was exceedingly virtuous, and therefore he was installed on the throne by his people. It is after his name that the field called Kurujangala, in eastern Hariyana, has become so famous in the world. Devoted to asceticism, he made the field of Kurukshetra sacred by practising asceticism there. He was thus the founder of the Kuru dynasty and the Kuru Kingdom.

It seems that the Samvarana who retook the capital was another king in the line of the exiled king Samvarana. The sages in the line of Vasistha were priests of the Solar Dynasty of kings (especially the Ikshwakus) for many generations. This could be the reason why Samvarana, who took Vasistha as his priest, married from the Solar Dynasty. The history of Samvarana falling in love with Tapati, while he roamed in the vicinity of Tapati River (Maharashtra), and Vasistha's help in getting the consent of King Surya, her father, to give her in marriage to Samvaran -- all these are mentioned in the Mahabharata.

[ Click for larger version ]

This map shows the locations of Kingdoms mentioned in the epic Mahabharata and Ramayana. The locations of the kingdoms are based on the current knowledge about their locations. Names of kingdoms are in yellow. Kingdoms outside ancient India, but which are mentioned in the epics, are in orange. Their locations are highly speculative. Pink coloured names are the territories of various tribes that have spread to many other places. "Rakshasa Kingdom" indicates the territory of Ghatotkacha. "Asura Kingdom" is the kingdom of Vrishaparvan, a royal sage asura. The river names are shown in blue, the mountains in purple, and forests in green as a background for the locations of the kingdoms. Most of these natural boundaries serve as the boundaries of the kingdoms.

SOURCES: Mahabharata of Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa; Wikipedia


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