The Panchala Kingdom, Part 2


The Pandavas in Drupada's Court
Mahabharata Illustration - Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, c. 1775

Feb 11, CANADA (SUN) — A three-part study of the land of the Kurus and Panchalas of Bharat.

The Partition of the Panchala Kingdom

Drona defeated Drupada, by means of his disciple Arjuna, to settle his old scores. Drona spoke as follows to the captive Drupada: 'Thou toldest me before that none who was not a king could be a king’s friend. Therefore is it, O Yajnasena (Drupada), that I retain half thy kingdom. Thou art the king of all the territory lying on the southern side of the Bhagirathi (Ganga), while I become king of all the territory on the north of that river. And, O Panchala, if it pleaseth thee, know me hence for thy friend.'

On hearing these words, Drupada answered, 'Thou art of noble soul and great prowess. Therefore, O Brahmana, I am not surprised at what thou doest. I am very much gratified with thee, and I desire thy eternal friendship.'

After this, Drona released the king of Panchala, and cheerfully performing the usual offices of regard, bestowed upon him half the kingdom. Thenceforth Drupada began to reside sorrowfully in the city of Kampilya within the province of Makandi on the banks of the Ganga filled with many towns and cities. And after his defeat by Drona, Drupada ruled the Southern Panchalas up to the bank of the Charmanwati River. Meanwhile Drona continued to reside in Ahichatra. Thus was the territory of Ahicchatra full of towns and cities, obtained by Arjuna, and bestowed upon Drona. (Later, Drona gave the rulership of Northern Panchala kingdom to his son Ashwathama and stayed at Hastinapura the capital of Kuru Kingdom.)

(Mahabharata, Book 1: Adi Parva, Chapter 140: Arjuna takes Drupada captive)

The Higher Status of the Panchalas and Kurus in Ancient India

The Kuru-Panchala was considered as the foremost among the provinces in Bharata Varsha (ancient India) comprised of the Kuru and Panchala Kingdoms. The Kurus and Panchalas were considered as foremost among the ruling tribes in ancient India, adhering closely to the Vedic religion. They were the proponents of the Vedic religion in its dogmatic and purest form. Other tribes imitated the practices of these tribes and thus got accepted into the Vedic religions.

Commencing with the Panchalas, the Kauravas, the Naimishas (a forest-country to the east of Panchala), the Matsyas, all these, know what religion is. The old men among the Northerners, the Angas, the Magadhas, without themselves knowing what virtue is, follow the practices of the Kuru-Panchalas.

The Kurus and the Panchalas comprehend from a half-uttered speech; the Salwas cannot comprehend till the whole speech is uttered. The Magadhas are comprehenders of signs; the Koshalas comprehend from what they see. The Mountaineers, like the Sivis, are very stupid. The Yavanas are omniscient; the Suras are particularly so. The mlecchas are wedded to the creations of their own fancy that other peoples cannot understand.

The Panchalas observe the duties enjoined in the Vedas; the Kauravas observe truth; the Matsyas and the Surasenas perform sacrifices. Beginning with the Matsyas, the residents of the Kuru and the Panchala countries, the Naimishas as well and the other respectable peoples, the pious among all races are conversant with the eternal truths of religion. The Kauravas with the Panchalas, the Salwas, the Matsyas, the Naimishas, the Koshalas, the Kasapaundras, the Kalingas, the Magadhas, and the Chedis who are all highly blessed, know what the eternal religion is.

Territories and Locations within the Panchala Kingdom

Kichaka Kingdom was a territory lying to the south of Panchala. It was ruled by the Kichaka clan of kings. They belonged to the Suta caste (offsprings of Kshatriyas upon Brahmana ladies). One among the Kichakas was the commander-in-chief of the Matsya army under King Virata. He was slain by Pandava Bhima due to his bad conduct towards the wife of Pandavas, viz Draupadi.

Kichaka kingdom also laid to the east of the Matsya Kingdom under the rule of King Virata. It seems that this territory was allied to both the Matsyas and Panchalas, with its own independent rulers. Its capital was mentioned to be Vetrakiya, on the banks of river Vetravati (Betwa) also known as Suktimati.

It is believed that the Pandavas lived in a small town named Ekachakra, belonging to this territory, during their wanderings after Duryodhana attempted to murder them at Varanavata (a Kuru city).

In the course of their wanderings the Pandavas saw the countries of the Matsyas, the Trigartas, the Panchalas and then of the Kichakas, and also many beautiful woods and lakes therein. They all had matted locks on their heads and were attired in barks of trees and the skins of animals. They attired in the garbs of ascetics. They used to study the Rig and the other Vedas and also all the Vedangas, as well as the sciences of morals and politics. Finally they met Vyasa. He told them: 'Not far off before you is a delightful town.' Saying this, he led them into the town of Ekachakra. On arriving at Ekachakra, the Pandavas lived for a short time in the abode of a Brahmana, leading an eleemosynary life.

During this period, Bhima slew a Rakhsasa named Baka (Vaka), at Vetrakiya. He controlled the affairs of the Kichaka Kingdom, making the king of the kingdom a name-sake king. By slaying the Rakshasa, Bhima freed that kingdom from Baka's the reign of terror.

The Pandavas Journey from Ekachakra to Kampilya

The Pandavas proceeded towards Panchala with their mother, to attend an event of princess Draupadi's. In order to reach their destination, they proceeded in a due northerly direction, walking day and night till they reached a sacred shrine of Siva, with the crescent mark on his brow. Then those tigers among men, the sons of Pandu, arrived at the banks of the Ganga. It was a forest called Angaraparna.

Here, they encountered a Gandharva named Angaraparna. After that encounter they went to a place called Utkochaka, where they met the sage Dhaumya. They appointed Dhaumya, the younger brother of Devala, as their pries. Then they proceeded towards the country of the southern Panchalas, ruled over by the King Drupada. They proceeded by slow stages, staying for some time within those beautiful woods and by fine lakes that they beheld along their way and entered the capital of the Panchalas.

Beholding the capital (Kampilya), as also the fort, they took up their quarters in the house of a potter. Desirous of beholding the Swayamvara (the self-choice ceremony of the princess), the citizens, roaring like the sea, all took their seats on the platforms that were erected around the amphitheatre.

The kings from diverse countries entered the grand amphitheatre by the north-eastern gate. The amphitheatre, which itself had been erected on an auspicious and level plain to the north-east of Drupada’s capital, was surrounded by beautiful mansions. It was enclosed on all sides with high walls and a moat with arched doorways here and there. The Pandavas, too, entering that amphitheatre, sat with the Brahmanas and beheld the unequalled affluence of the king of the Panchalas. Arjuna won the competition set for winning Draupadi in the self-choice ceremony.

SOURCES: Mahabharata of Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa; Wikipedia


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