Kekayas or Kaikeyas ( _sa. केकय) were an ancient people attested to have been living in north-western Punjab -- between
Gandharaand Beasriver since remote antiquity. They were the descendants of the Kshatriyas of the Kekaya Janapada[ Ashtadhyayi sutra VII.3.2.] hence called "Kekayas" or "Kaikeyas". The Kekayas were often associated with the Madras, the Usinarass, the Sibisetc and their territory had formed a part of the Vahika country, according to the evidence furnished by Panini [India as Known to Panini, p 54, Dr V. S. Aggarwala.] .
Geographical Location the Kekayas
Puranas include the Kekayasin the list of Gandharas, Yavanas, Shakas, Paradas, Bahlikas, Kambojas, Daradas, Barbaras, Chinas, Tusharas, Pahlavasetc and call them as a people of "Udichya" i.e of northern division or Uttarapatha[Vayu Purana 1.45.117; Brahmand Purana, 126.96.36.199; Markendeya Purana, 52.37; Matsya Purana (Critical), 113.42; cf Swargaloka of 6.43; Mahabharata (Critical ed) 4.10.47; Brahma Purana 53.14; See: Krfel's text of the Uttarapatha countries of the Bhuvankosha] . The Kekayas are said to have occupied the land now comprised by three districts of Jhelum, Shahpur and Gujerat [India as Known to Panini, p 52, Dr V. S. Aggarwala; Geographical Data in Ancient Puranas, 1972, p 162, Dr M. R. Singh.] , all in Pakistan.
Kekayas in Vedic texts
RigvedicKekayas dwelt on the banks of river Parusni(=Ravi) [Rig Veda 8.74] . The king of Kekayas at the time of Janaka of Videha was Ashvapati i.e lord of horses. Satapatha Brahmana and Chandogiya Upanishada suggest that Kekaya king Ashvapati had instructed a number of Brahmanas viz. Arjuna Aupavesi, Gautama, Satyajna Paulushi, Mahasala Jabala, Budila Asvatarashvi, Indradyumna Bhallaveya, jana Sarkarakshya, Prachinshala, Aupamanyava and Uddaalaka Aruni etc [ Political History of Ancient India, p 58., H. C. Raychaudhury] .
There are several references to Kekaya in the epic
Ramayana. Kekayi, one of the three queens of Dashratha, the king of Ayodhyawas a Kekaya princess. Ramayanatestifies that the capital of Kekayas lay beyond river Sudama [Ramayana 2.71.1.] . River Sudama has been identified with river Saranges of Arrianwhich flowed also flowed through Kekians [Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes, p 196.] . The Vedic texts do not mention name of the capital of Kekaya but Ramayanadoes inform us that the Kekaya metropolis was Rajagriha or Girivraja. [Ramayana II.67.7; II. 68.22.] which A. Cunningham has identified with Girjak or Jalalpur on river Jhelum in the Jhelum district [Ancient Geography of India, A. Cunningham, p 64.] but this view has not been accepted by scholars. Ramayana further attests that Kekaya lay beyond Vipasa or Beas [Ramayana II.68.19-22; VII.113.14.] and abutted with the country of Gandharava or Gandharavishaya (country).
According to Vishnu-Dharmottara Mahapurana also, the capital of the Kekayas lay beyond river Sudama which flowed some distance westwards from the Vitasta or Jhelum river. Prince Bharata, son of princess Kekayi, while going to Kekaya country from
Ayodhyahad to cross river Vitasta and then after crossing river Sudama, he reached the land of the Kekayas [ Vishnu Dharmotari, I.207.62-71] .
The Kekayas are said to have fought on both sides in the
Kurukshetra war. The five Kekaya princes, led lead by their elder brother Vrihatkshatra, had joined the Pandavaarmy while other Kekaya brothers opposed Vrihatkshatra had sided with the Kauravas. The other numerous kingdsoms of ancient India viz. Dwaraka, Kasi, Magadha, Matsya, Chedi, Pandyaand the Yadus of Mathura were allies of Pandavas while the allies of the Kauravas were nations of Pragjyotisha, Anga, Kekaya, Sindhudesa, Mahishmati, Avantiin Madhyadesa, Madras, Gandhara, Bahlika, Kamboja (with Yavanas, Sakas, Tusharasetc) and many others had sided with Kauravas.
"Karna Parava" refers to the
Kekayas, the Malavas, the Madrakas, the Dravidas of fierce prowess, the Yaudheyas, the Lalittyas, the Kshudrakas, the Tundikeras, the Savitriputras etc who had supported Karnaon 17th day of the war, as all having been slain by Arjuna[Mahabharata 8.5.] . Mahabharataassociates the Kekaya peoples with the Madras (Madraschasca saha Kekayaiha) [MBH VI.61.12] , Madra-Kekayah [VII.19.7, Madra-Kekayah] etc.
rimad Bhagavatam references
There are several references to the Kekayas in the Bhagavatam Purana.
Kekayas visit Samantapancaka
Srimad Bhagavatamattests that the prince of Kekaya along with princes from Matsya, Kosala, Vidharbha, Kuru, Srnjaya, Kamboja, Usinara, Madra, Kunti, Anarta, Keralawas present at "Samanta-pancaka" in Kurukshetra at the occasion of the solar eclipse [:Tatragataste dadrshuh suhrt-sambandhino nrpan:Matsyoshinara-kaushalya-vidarbha-kuru-srnjayan:Kamboja kaikayan madrn kuntin ānarta-keralan:Anyamsh caivatma-paksiyan paramsh ca shatasho nrpa:Nandadin suhrdo gopan gopish cotkanthitāś ciram:(Srimad Bhagavatam 10.82.12-13)
*Trans: "The Yadavas saw that many of the kings who had arrived were old friends and relatives-- the Matsyas, Usinaras, Kosalas, Vidarbhas, Kurus, Srnjayas, Kambojas, Kaikayas, Madras, Kuntis and the kings of Ānarta and Kerala. They also saw many hundreds of other kings, both allies and adversaries. In addition, my dear King Parikshit, they saw their dear friends Nanda Maharaja and the cowherd men and women, who had been suffering in anxiety for so long". ] . [http://vedabase.net/sb/10/82/12-13/en] .
Kekayas join Rajasuya of Yudhishtra
Srimad Bhagavatam also testifies that the Kekayas and other nation like those of the Yadus, Srnjayas, Kurus and Kambojas had participated in the Rajasuya sacrifice of Yudhishtra. "“The massed armies of the Yadus, Srnjayas, Kambojas, Kurus, Kekayas and Kosalas made the earth tremble as they followed Yudhishira Maharaja, the performer of the Rajasuya sacrifice, in procession” " [:yadu-srnjaya-kamboja-kuru-kekaya-kosalah |:kampayanto bhuvam sainyair yayamana-purah-sarah ||(Srimad Bhagavatam 10.75.12).] [http://www.srimadbhagavatam.org/canto10/Canto10-Sanskrit/chapter75.html] .
Kekayas fight Yadavas
The Kekayas, Madras and Kambojas etc from north are stated to have sided with king Jarasandha of
Magadhaand had participated in a war against Krishnaand his Yadava army [Srimad Bhagavatam 10.52] [
*See also::ye ca pralamba-khara-dardura-kesy-arishta-:mallebha-kamsa-yavanah kapi-paundrakadyah:anye ca shalya-kuja-balvala-dantavakra-:saptoksha-shambra-viduratha-rukmi-mukhyah:ye va mridhe samiti-shalina atta-capah:kamboja-matsya-kuru-srnjaya-kaikayadyah:yasyanty adarshanam alam bala-partha-bhima-:vyajahvayena harina nilayam tadiyam
*Trans: "“All demonic personalities like Pralamba, Dhenuka, Baka, Kesi, Arishta, Canura, Mushika, Kuvalayapida elephant, Kamsa, Yavana, Narakasura and Paundraka, great marshals like Shalya, Dvivida monkey and Balvala, Dantavakra, the seven bulls, Śambara, Viduratha and Rukmi, as also great warriors like Kamboja, Matsya, Kuru, Srnjaya and Kekaya, would all fight vigorously, either with the Lord Hari directly or with Him under His names of Baladeva, Arjuna, Bhīma, etc. And these demons, thus being killed, would attain either the impersonal brahmajyoti or His personal abode in the Vaikunha planets” " (Srimad Bhagavatam 2.7.34-35).] [http://vedabase.net/sb/2/7/34-35/en1] .
Other references in Srimad Bhagavatam
Kekays had participated in the marriage ceremony of Rukmini, queen consort of Krishna, the daughter of Bhishmaka, the king of Vidarbha [ Bhagavatam Purana 10.54.58.] . One of the wives of Krishna was a Kekaya princess [Ibit X.57.56.] . When
Krishnawas going to Mithila, the Kekays had met him with presents [Ibid X.86.20; 71.29.] .
Traditional origin of Kekayas
Srimad Bhagavatam further states that the
Usinaras, the Sibi, the Madras, and the Kekayas were the direct descendants of Yayati's son Anu. Sibi or Sivi is stated to be son of Usinara [ “Anu, the fourth son of Yayati, had three sons, named Sabhanara, Caksu and Paresnu. From Sabhanara came a son named Kalanara, and from Kalanara came a son named Srnjaya. From Srnjaya came a son named Janamejaya. From Janamejaya came Mahasala; from Mahasala, Mahamana; and from Mahamana two sons, named Usinara and Titiksu.The four sons of Usinara were Sibi, Vara, Krmi and Daksa, and from Sibi again came four sons, named Vrsadarbha, Sudhira, Madra and atma-tattva-vit Kekaya....” (Srimad Bhagavatam, 9.23.1-4). [http://www.astrojyoti.com/bhagavatam9e.htm] ]
The same tradition is also furnished by other
Puranictexts like Vayu Puranaand Matsya Puranaas well [ Matsya Purana, 48.10-20; Vayu Purana, 99.12-23] . The Anavas, derived from Anu, were a tribeof the Rigvedic period [ Political History of Ancient India, p 63, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury] and are said to belong to the Iranians.
Kekays in Panini’s Ashtadhyayi
Panini refers to the Kaikeyas or Kekayas in his
Ashtadhyayi[VII.3.2] and mentions their land as a part of the Vahika country. The other three countries which formed parts of the Vahika land were the Madra, the Usinara and the Savasa lands [India as Known to Panini, p 54, Dr V. S. Aggarwala] .
Jaina texts say that one half of the Kekaya was Aryanand refer to the Kekaya city called Seyaviya [Indian Antiquary, 1891, p 375; Political History of Ancient India, 1996, p 58, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury.] .
Kekayas in Kavyamimamsa of Rajashekhara
The 10th century CE "Kavyamimamsa" of Pandit Rajashekhara furnishes a list of the extant tribes of his times which also includes the
Kekayasalong with the Shakas, Tusharas, Vokanas, Hunas, Kambojas, Vahlikas, Vahlavas, Limpakas, Tangana, Turukshas etc referring to them all as the tribes of Uttarapathaor north division [KSee: avyamimamsa, Ed. Gaekwad's Oriental Series, I (1916) Ch. 17; Introduction., xxvi. Rajashekhara is dated c 880 AD - 920 AD.] .
Migration of the Kekayas
A branch of the Kekaya seems to have migrated to southern India in later times and established its authority in Mysore country [Ancient History of Deccan, pp 88, 101; Political History of Ancient India, 1996, p 58, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury.] .
Books and periodicals
*"Geographical Data in Ancient Puranas", 1972, Dr M. R. Singh
*"Political History of Ancient India", 1996, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee
*"India as Known to Panini", Dr V. S. Aggarwala
*"Ancient Geography of India", A. Cunningham
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