- Madra Kingdom
Madra Kingdom was a kingdom grouped among the western kingdoms in the epic
Mahabharata. Its capital was Sagala, modern Sialkot(in the Punjab province of Pakistan). The Kuruking Pandu's second wife was from Madra kingdom and was called Madri. The Pandava twins, Nakulaand Sahadeva, were her sons. Madri's brother Shalyawas the king of Madra. Though affectionate to the Pandavas, he was tricked to give support to Duryodhanaand fought against the Pandavas during the Kurukshetra War. He was killed by Yudhisthira, the eldest Pandava. Other than the Madra kingdom (Eastern Madra or Purva Madra) with Sagala as its capital, it is believed that there was a Western Madra (Apara Madra) and a Northern Madra ( Uttara Madra).
In the epic, the Madra culture is described to be different from the Vedic culture, prevailed in kingdoms of the
Gangetic plainlike the Kurus and Panchalas. Brahmins had less influence there. Women enjoyed more freedom. They ate cakes of barley mixed with meat, including beef, which was taboo in Kuru and Panchala. Vedic religious rites were less practiced, and castism based on the four castes ( Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaisyaand Shudra) was less rigid. Hence the Kuru, Panchalas considered them to be degraded Kshatriyas.
This was the culture prevailed in other western kingdoms like the Sindhu-Sauvira, Kekeya, Gandhara and Kamboja. The western kingdoms were also known by the general name Bahika (Vahika, Vahlika and
Bahlikaas variations of the name) meaning 'outsider'. Thus these people were considered as 'outsiders' of the Vedic culture. However the name Bahlika is some time used to denote a kingdom different from Madra, Sindhu, Keyeya, Gandhara or Kamboja. The Kuruking Santanu, a forefather of Kauravasand Pandavas, had a brother who ruled the Bahlika Kingdom.
Madra as a Bahlika country
Bahlika or western countries were cold countries and people used blankets. They also reared sheep and drank
sheep milk. They had good knowledge of camels. They had horses of excellent quality. Their horses and even horsemen were used in the wars between kings of Aryavarta(North Indian kingdoms where Vedic culture of the norm, prevailed).
Their soldiers used to aid both the parties engaged in a battle on a payment basis. Probably this was the reson why Shalya, the Madra king, has to side with Duryodhana in the
Kurukshetra War, since he was tricked to accept the payment for siding with Duryodhana.
Another collective name denoting the western kingdoms is Arashtra or
Aratta, meaning a kingless country. This raises the doubt, whether these countries were a republic ruled by elected chiefs, if we take the positive sense of the word. In a negative sense the word Arashtra can mean a kingdom with no control or with utter disorder.
References in Mahabharata
Origin of Madra tribe
The Yavanas, the Kiratas, the Gandharvas, the Chinas, the Savaras, the Barbaras, the Sakas, the Tusharas, the Kankas, the Pathavas, the Andhras, the Madrakas, the Paundras, the Pulindas, the Ramathas, the Kamvojas were mentioned together as tribes beyond the kigdoms of
Aryavarta. The Aryavarta-kings had doubts on dealing with them. (12,64)
The Andrakas, Guhas, Pulindas, Savaras, Chuchukas, Madrakas, the Yamas, Kamvojas, Gandharas, Kiratas and Barbaras were mentioned as unknown tribes. In the Krita age, they were nowhere on earth (meaning Ancient India). It is from the Treta age that they have had their origin and began to multiply. When the terrible period came, joining Treta and the Dwapara, the
Kshatriyas, approaching one another, engaged themselves in battle (12,206).
The Madra tribe and Salwa tribe had a common origin as hinted by a myth at (1,121).Here the origin of these two tribes were attributed to a king in the race of
Puru, known by the name of Vyushitaswa. His wife was Bhadra, the daughter of Kakshivat (Kakshivat was the son of Gautama-Dirghatamas, begotten upon the servant-maid of the queen of a king named Vali who ruled in the outskirts of Magadha. (See also Anga and Magadha). Seven sons were born to Bhadra, after the death of Vyushitaswa. Later they all became kings. Three of them became the three kings of Salwa and four of them became the four kings of Madra.
"The myth describes that these seven kings were born of the dead-body of her husband !"
Alliances of Madra brides with the Kurus
Madra Custom of Marriage
Bhishma, the father-like guardian of Kuruking Panduwent to the capital of Madra, to ask for Shalya's sister as a bride to Pandu. Upon which Shalyareplies:- "There is a custom in our family observed by our ancestors, which, be it good or bad, I am incapable of transgressing it. It is well-known, and therefore is known to thee as well, I doubt not." The custom was that the groome had to give dowry to the kinsmen of the bride. Bhishma gave much wealth to Shalya and took Madri as the bride for Pandu(1,113). Pandava Sahadevamarried Vijaya, the daughter of Dyutimat, the king of Madra, obtaining her in a self-choice ceremony and begat upon her a son named Suhotra. (1,95)
Kings of Madra
Aswapati was the father of
Savitrithe famous princess of Madra, who became the lover (and later, wife) of the famous Salwa prince Satyavan. Aswapati's wife was from a minor tribe known as Malava. She was known as Malavi (3,291). The sons of Aswapati and Malavi, later became the powerful Malava kings. They spread their kingdom as far as Avanti ( Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh). Thus the royal line of Malavas originated from the Madra (Punjab province of Pakistan) king Aswapati (3,297).
Shalyawas the most famous king from Madra. He became the generalissimo of the Kauravaarmy on the last day of the Kurukshetra War. He was the oldest mace-fighter battled in Kurukshetra War. (Other mace-fight experts were Bhima, Duryodhanaand Abhimanyuall of them the disciples of the mace-fight guru viz Bala Rama). Bhimahad defeated Shalyain mace-fight without knowing each other during the self-choice ceremony of Draupadi(1,192). He was slain by Pandavaking Yudhisthiraduring the last day (18th day) of Kurukshetra War. Shalyawas rated by Bhishmaas an "Athiratha"( a great chariot-warrior) (5,166). Shalya was also skilled in knowledge of steeds and in driving the chariot on the battle-field (8,31). For this reason, Shalya was forced to be the charioteer of Karnafor one day during the war. Shalyahad two sons named Rukmangada and Rukmaratha (1,188). Rukmaratha was mentioned as participating in the war. Similarly many brothers of Shalya also participated in the war. His younger brother was slain by Abhimanyu(8,5).
There were other Madra kings like Dyutimat mentioned at (1,95) as the father-in-law of
Nakula's arrival at Madra Kingdom
Nakula, during his military campaign to the west, to collect tribute for yudhisthira's Rajasuyasacrifice came to the Madra Kingdom also" Nakulathe son of Pandu, by sheer force, reduced to subjection the Ramathas, the Harahunas, and various kings of the west. And while staying there Nakula sent, messengers unto Vasudeva Krishna. And Vasudeva with all the Yadavasaccepted his sway. And the mighty hero, proceeding thence to Sakala, the city of the Madras, made his uncle Shalyaaccept from affection the sway of the Pandavas. The illustrious prince deserving the hospitality and entertainment at his uncle’s hands, was well entertained by his uncle. Nakulaobtained from Shalya a large quantity of jewels and gems, and left his kingdom.
Madra in Kurukshetra War
Shalya, came with an Akshouhini of troops to join the army of Pandavas, since his nephews viz the twins Nakulaand Sahadevawere none other than the youngest Pandavas. His troops marched slowly on every day from Madra (Punjab province of Pakistan) to Upaplavya(somewhere on the border of Rajasthanand Haryana), the Matsya city, where the Pandavaswere camped. When his army reached Kurujangala (the kingdom of the Pandavas, the modern-day Haryana), Duryodhana's men intercepted the army. They, without revealing their identity, received Shalya and his men, made tents for them and refreshed them with all comforts. The Madra soldiers also received payment from Duryodhana's officers for taking part in the Kurukshetra War. Shalyabeceme indebted to battle for the sake of Duryodhana, by the time he learned the truth. (5,8).
The main antagonist of
Shalyain bow-fight was, king Yudhisthira(5,57). Both of them engaged may times in battle. (6-45 etc). He also made many battles with Nakulaand Sahadeva. He defeated many like Virataand Drupada. Shalyabecame the driver of Karna's chariot on the 17th day (8,36). On the last day Yudhisthiraslew his uncle Shalya, who was then the generalissimo of the Kaurava army (9,17).
On the day when
Shalyawas forced to become the driver of Karna's chariot, a dispute arose between them (8-40,44). The passages that describe this dispute give light to the cultural-differeces that existed between these warriors. (See Bahlika Culturefor more details).
*Madrabhujingas were mentioned as a kingdom of ancient India (Bharata Varsha) (6,9)
Karnais mentioned as subjugating the Madras, along with the Gandharas, the Matsyas, the Trigartas, the Tanganas, the Khasas, the Pancalas, the Videhas, the Kulindas, the Kasi-kosalas, the Suhmas, the Angas, the Nishadhas, the Pundras, the Kichakas, the Vatsas, the Kalingas, the Taralas, the Asmakas, and the Rishikas (8,8)
*Trained elephants were mentioned as brought from the country of Madra by Vasudeva Krishna. These were given as present to the
Pandavason the occasion of their marriage with Draupadi(1,201). It is not clear how elephant could naturally exist in Madra (Punjab province of Pakistan). However a training center to make them war-elephants could exist there.
*From the Nishadas sprang up the Madranabha caste whose members are seen to ride on cars drawn by asses. (13,48).
*Madra kings were equated to a clan of
Asurascalled Krodhaveshas. (1,67)
Kingdoms of Ancient India
Mahabharataof Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa, translated to English by Kisari Mohan Ganguli
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