The Mahajanapadas of Jambudvipa, Part 10

BY: SUN STAFF - 26.5 2017

Brahmin Kaushik 
Paithan, 19th c., Karnataka
British Museum Collection

A serial exploration of the island of Jambudvipa and the sixteen Great States residing there.

The Panchala Kingdom

Next among the solasa (sixteen) mahajanapadas is the Panchala Kingdom. The Panchalas occupied the country to the east of the Kurus, between the mountains and the Ganges River. It roughly corresponds to modern Budaun, Farrukhabad and the adjoining districts of Uttar Pradesh. The country was then divided into Uttara-Panchala and Dakshina-Panchala. The northern Panchala had its capital at Adhichhatra or Chhatravati (modern Ramnagar in the Bareilly District), while southern Panchala had it capital at Kampilya, or Kampil in Farrukhabad District.

The famous city of Kanyakubja ( Kanauj) was situated in the Kingdom of Panchala. Originally a monarchical clan, the Panchalas appear to have switched to a republican government in the 6th to 5th Century B.C. In the 4th Century B.C., Kautiliya's Arthashastra also states that the Panchalas were following the Rajashabdopajivin (king consul) constitution.

During the Vedic Period, the Panchala Kingdom was the second 'urban' center of Vedic civilization, having moved its seat from the Punjab following the Kuru rule in the early Iron Age. The Shaunaka and Taittiriya Vedic schools were located in the area of Panchala.

Asvamedha Horse 
Paithan, 19th c., Karnataka
British Museum Collection

As their name suggests, the Panchalas (pancha is 'five') were likely comprised of five different clans: the Krivis, the Turvashas, The Keshins, the Srinjayas and the Somakas. Each was known to be associated with one or more princes mentioned in the Vedic texts. The Krivis were associated with Kravya Panchala; the Turvashas with Sona Satrasaha; the Keshins with Keshin Dalavya; the Srinjayas with Sahadeva Sarnjaya; and the Somakas with Somaka Sahadevya.

The names of the last two clans, the Somakas and the Srinjayas are also mentioned in the Mahabharata and the Puranas. King Drupada, father of the famous Pandava wife Draupadi, belonged to the Somaka clan. However, the Mahabharata and Puranas consider the ruling clan of the northern Panchala to be an offshoot of the Bharata clan and Divodasa, Sudas, Srinjaya, Somaka and Drupada (also called Yajnasena) were the most notable rulers of this clan. Panchala was annexed onto the Magadha empire during the reign of Mahapadma Nanda.[4]

The Yuga Purana section of the Garga Samhita informs us that Panchala was invaded and occupied by the Yavana army led by King Dhamamita during Brihadratha's reign.


Sources: Mahabharata, Wiki, British Museum