The Ailas also known as Chandravanshis were a dynasty of kings of ancient India. Pururavas, the son of Ila was the founder of this dynasty. The Mahabharata (Sabha Parva:14) mentioned about the Ailas as, "The numerous royal lines and other ordinary Kshatriyas all represent themselves to be the descendants of Aila and Ikshwaku. The descendants of Aila, as indeed, the kings of Ikshwaku’s race, are each divided into a hundred separate dynasties." Aila is a synonym of Pururavas meaning son of Ila.
The Aila Lineage
The ancient Indian literature tends to consider the patriarch figure Manu as the originator of the human race. (Hence the names man (English), manav (Hindi) and manava and manusha (Sanskrit) to denote humanity.) At MBh 1:75 it is stated that all the races originated from a few women (about 50) and a few men. Such men and women who gave birth to human races were called patriarchs and matriarchs. Among the prominent patriarchs were Prachetas, Daksha, Kasyapa and Manu. The patriarch Manu was the son of Vivaswat. Vivaswat was the son of Aditi (who herself was one of the 13 matriarchs, all of them wives of the patriarch Kasyapa). Ikshwaku was the son of Manu who gave race to the royal dyanasty of Ikshwakus. Ila was another son or daughter of Manu (It is not clear if Ila was a male or female. There is a myth that tells that Ila was a male, turned to female and was wedded to Budha the son of Soma and thus became the originator of the Lunar Dynasty of kings.) Pururavas is mentioned here as the son of Ila. (Also at 2:76 and 13:6)
The same lineage is repeated with variations.
Daksha will beget a daughter who will be named Dakshayani. From Dakshayani will spring Aditya, and from Aditya will spring Manu. From Manu will spring a daughter named Ila and a son to be named Sudyumna. Ila will have Vudha (Budha) for her husband, and from Vudha will spring Pururavas. From Pururavas will spring Ayu. From Ayu will spring Nahusha, and Nahusha will beget a son named Yayati.
Atri had for son Soma. Soma’s son was called Vudha. Vudha had one son, of the splendour of the great Indra, called Pururavas. Pururavas had a son called Ayus. Ayus had for his son Nahusha. Nahusha had for his son Yayati.
The learned Pururavas was born of Ila. It hath been heard by us that Ila was both his mother and father. And the great Pururavas had sway over thirteen islands of the sea. And, though a human being, he was always surrounded by companions that were superhuman. And Pururavas intoxicated with power quarrelled with the Brahmanas and little caring for their anger robbed them of their wealth. Beholding all this sage Sanatkumara came from the region of Brahman and gave him good counsel, which was, however, rejected by Pururavas. Then the wrath of the great Rishis was excited, and the avaricious monarch, who intoxicated with power, had lost his reason, was immediately destroyed by their curse.
It was Pururavas who first brought from the region of the Gandharvas the three kinds of fire (for sacrificial purpose). And he brought thence, the Apsara Urvasi also. And the son of Ila begat upon Urvasi six sons who were called Ayus, Dhimat, Amavasu and Dhridhayus, and Vanayus, and Satayus. And it is said that Ayus begat four sons named Nahusha, Vriddhasarman, Rajingaya, and Anenas, on the daughter of Swarbhanu. Nahusha ruled his extensive kingdom virtuously. King Nahusha supported evenly the Pitris, the celestials, the Rishis, the Brahmanas, the Gandharvas, the Nagas, the Rakshasas, the Kshatriyas, and the Vaisyas. And he suppressed all robber-gangs with a mighty hand. But he made the Rishis pay tribute and carry him on their backs like bests of burden. And, conquering the very Devas by the beauty of his person, his asceticism, prowess, and energy, he ruled as if he were Indra himself. Nahusha begat six sons, named Yati, Yayati, Sanyati, Ayati, and Dhruva. Yati betaking himself to asceticism. Yayati became a monarch of great prowess and virtue. The sons of Yayati were all great bowmen. They were begotten upon (his two wives) Devayani and Sarmishtha. And of Devayani were born Yadu and Turvasu, and of Sarmishtha were born Drahyu, Anu, and Puru. From Yadu sprang the clan of Yadavas and from Puru the Pauravas. The Kauravas and Pandavas belonged to the Paurava branch.
Two chapters viz. MBh 12:71,72, are a conversation between Pururavas and sages Matiraswan and Kasyapa where they discus issues related to disharmony among the four castes of ancient India. Here Pururavas was mentioned as Aila's son.
Pururavas among the Diptakshas is mentioned as a destroyer of his race at 5:74 Pururavas is mentioned to have obtained the science of sword from Ikshwaku. Pururavas later gave this knowledge to son Ayus.
The couple Pururavas and Urvasi is mentioned at many places like 5:117, 1:44
One should also name Pururavas of the Solar race. He was the son of Ila and celebrated over the three worlds. One should, indeed, take the name of that dear son of Vudha. (13:150). Here Pururavas is mentioned to be of solar race (Solar Dynasty).
Birth place of Pururavas
The spot where Ganga rusheth past, cleaving the foremost of mountains which is frequented by Gandharvas and Yakshas and Rakshasas and Apsaras, and inhabited by hunters, and Kinnaras, is called Gangadwara. Sanatkumara regardeth that spot visited by Brahmarshis, as also the tirtha Kanakhala (that is near to it), as sacred. There also is the mountain named Puru which is resorted to by great Rishis and where Pururavas was born, and Bhrigu practised ascetic austerities. For this it is, that asylum hath become known as the great peak of Bhrigutunga. Near that peak is the sacred and extensive Vadari.—MBh 3:90
A king named Ailavila is mentioned as acquiring the science of swords at 12:165. He is mentioned at 5:139 as allied to Pandava king Yudhisthira. He is also mentioned as the ruler of Yakshas, there. At 5:111 his kingdom is mentioned to be at Kailasa (in Tibet) in the Himalayas. At 9:47 he is mentioned as linked with a place called Kauvera on the banks of Saraswati River. It is not clear if Ailavila and Yaksha king Kubera were one and the same.
- Encyclopaedia of the Hindu world, Volume 1 By Gaṅgā Rām Garg
- The spot where Ganga rusheth past... The Mahabharata, Book 3: Vana Parva: Tirtha-yatra Parva: Section XC, p 204.