Chedi Kingdom

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A map of the ancient Indian kingdoms.

Chedi kingdom was one among the many kingdoms ruled during early periods by Paurava kings and later by Yadava kings in the central India. It falls roughly in the Bundelkhand division of Madhya Pradesh regions to the south of river Yamuna and along river Betwa or Vetravati. The Chedi kingdom was ruled by Sisupala, an ally of Jarasandha of Magadha and Duryodhana of Kuru. He was a rival of Vasudeva Krishna who was his uncle's son. He was killed by Vasudeva Krishna during the Rajasuya sacrifice of the Pandava king Yudhisthira. Bhima's wife was from Chedi. The city called Suktimati is mentioned as the capital of Chedi. Prominent Chedis during Kurukshetra War included Damaghosha, Shishupala, Dhrishtaketu, Suketu, Sarabha, Bhima's wife, Nakula's wife Karenumati, Dhristaketu's sons. Other famous Chedis included King Uparichara Vasu, his children, King Suvahu, King Sahaja.

References in Mahābhārata[edit]

Chedi mentioned as a Kingdom of Ancient India (Bharata Varsha)[edit]

The Kuru-Panchalas, the Salwas, the Madreyas, the Jangalas, the Surasenas, the Kalingas, the Vodhas, the Malas, the Matsyas, the Sauvalyas, the Kuntalas, the Kasi-Kosalas, the Chedis, the Karushas, the Bhojas...(6,9)

Chedi was one among the kingdoms chosen for spending the 13th year of exile by the Pandavas.

Surrounding the kingdom of the Kurus, are, many countries beautiful and abounding in corn, such as Panchala, Chedi, Matsya, Surasena, Pattachchara, Dasarna, Navarashtra, Malla, Salva, Yugandhara, Saurashtra, Avanti, and the spacious Kuntirashtra. (4,1)

King Uparichara Vasu and the festival of bamboo pole[edit]

Uparichara Vasu was a king of Chedi belonging to the Puru Dynasty. He was known as the friend of Indra. During his reign, Chedi kingdom had a good economic system and contained much mineral wealth, which made a lot of merchants around the world, come to the Kingdom. It was abundant in animals and corn. There were many towns and cities in the kingdom. He possessed a very special chariot. He introduced a festival in his kingdom in the honor of Indra. The festival involved planting of a bamboo pole every year, in honor of Indra. The king will then pray for the expansion of his cities and kingdom. After erecting the pole, people decked it with golden cloth and scents and garlands and various ornaments. From Chedi, he ruled a large territory, placing his sons as governors of various provinces. His son Vrihadratha (Maharatha) was installed in Magadha, who later fathered Emperor Jarasandha. His other sons, viz Pratyagraha, Kusamva (Manivahana), Mavella and Yadu also became governors at various places. Thus the Chedi king attained the status of an emperor and his kingdom became a vast empire. He diverted the waters of river Suktimati from the locks of the Mountain Kolahala, for irrigating his capital-city which he named Suktimati. (1,63)

  • This beautiful city of the Chedis was called after the Oyster (14,83)

His wife Girika, was from the valley of Kolahala. Girika's brother was installed as the generalissimo of Vasu's army. Apart from his five royal sons, he had a son and a daughter born of a woman of fisherman community. The male child, in due course established the Matsya Kingdom and founded the royal dynasty called Matsya Dynasty. The female child lived as a member of fishermen community. Her line established as fishermen on the banks of river Yamuna, in the kingdom of Kurus. The famous Kuru king Santanu's wife Satyavati was from this fishermen community. The author of Mahābhārata, vis Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa and the Kuru kings viz Chitrangada and Vichitravirya were the sons of Satyavati. Pandavas and Kauravas were the grandsons of Vichitravirya.(1,63)

  • Another story connects Vasu with vegetarianism in ancient India. Filled with doubts respecting the propriety of eating flesh, some sages asked Uparichara Vasu for solving them. King Vasu, knowing that flesh is inedible, answered that it was edible. From that moment Vasu fell down from the firmament on the earth. After this he once more repeated his opinion, with the result that he had to sink below the earth for it. (13,115)[1]
  • A similar story connects Vasu with the issue of animal sacrifices. In his opinion sacrifices could be performed with or without the slaughter of animals (14,91)

King Sisupala of Chedi[edit]

Sisupala was the malevolent son of the King Damaghosha (1,189). He had another name viz Sunitha. His mother was Srutakirti, who was the sister of Kunti, the mother of Pandavas. Both Kunti and Srutakirti were sisters of Vasudeva the father of Vasudeva Krishna. However Sisupala developed enmity with Krishna (2,44), though he was affectionate to the Pandava Bhima. During his military campaign to collect tribute for Pandava king Yudhisthira's Rajasuya sacrifice, Bhima stayed at the palace of Sisupala for a month as a guest. He also accepted Yudhisthira's sway over his kingdom and gave Bhima tribute (2,28). During the midst of Yudhisthira's Rajasuya ceremony, a dispute arose between Sisupala and Vasudeva Krishna. Pandavas tried to mediate. He also rebuked the Pandavas and Kuru grandsire Bhishma along with Krishna. Then Krishna, extremely provoked, decapitated Sisupala. (2,44).

Sisupala's hostilities to Krishna were many. He burned the city of Dwaraka, while Krishna was in Pragjyotisha with his army. He attacked king Bhoja, sporting at Raivataka hill close to Dwaraka. He stole the horse of Krishna's father Prince Vasudeva of Mathura, during his horse-sacrifice. He insulted the wife of Akrura (Vabhru - the friend of Krishna), on her way from Dwaraka to Sauvira Kingdom. He kidnapped the princess of Visala, viz Bhadra, the fiancé of Karusha king. (2,44)

  • Yudhisthira installed Sisupala's son in the throne of Chedi. (2,44)
  • Sisupala's sister was married to Bhima as per the reference in (15,25)

King Dhristaketu of Chedi[edit]

Dhristaketu, the king of Chedi (3,12), was described as the elder son of King Sisupala (5,50). During the time of Dhristaketu also, Suktimati was the capital of Chedi. Dhristaketu was an army-general in the army of Pandavas in Kurukshetra War. He was the leader of the army of the Chedis, the Kasis, and the Karushas (5,199). He was a Maharatha (a great car-warrior) as per the rating of Bhishma (5,172). One of his sons also took part in the war (5,57). He was slain by Drona (7,128), (11,25). Dhristaketu also was slain in battle by Drona.

  • Chedi Princess Karenumati was wedded to the Pandava Nakula, and prince Narimitra was their son. (1,95). It is not clear if she was Dhristaketu's sister. However it was mentioned that his sister was the wife of one of the Pandavas (3,22) (15,1).
  • Sarabha, the younger son of Sisupala became the king of Chedi after the death of Dhristaketu. He was defeated in battle by Arjuna during his military campaign, after the Kurukshetra War. (14,83)

Other Kings of Chedi[edit]

  • King Suvahu was described as the king of Chedi, during the time of Nishadha king Nala. His wife, Damayanti the princess of Vidarbha, left alone in forest, met a caravan of traders heading towards Chedi. Along with them she reached the Chedi capital and lived as a servant maid of queen, in the palace of Chedi. (3-64,65)
  • King Sahaja among the Chedis and Matsyas, were described as an annihilator of his own race (5,74)

Chedis in Kurukshetra War[edit]

Chedi King Dhristaketu and his sons[edit]

  • The powerful chief of the Chedis, Dhrishtaketu, accompanied by an Akshauhini, came to the sons of Pandu. (5-19,57)
  • The assembled kings of the Chedi and the Karusha tribes have all taken the part of the Pandavas with all their resources. (5,22)
  • Chedi King Dhrishtaketu employed Kamboja steeds of variegated hue in the battle (7,23)
  • Drona slew Dhristaketu and his son (7,122)
  • Another Chedi prince was slain by Aswatthaman, the son of Drona (7,198)
  • Another son of Sisupala, brother of Dhristaketu, named Suketu also was slain by Drona (8,6)

Chedi army[edit]

Chedi army is mentioned with many other armies fighting on the side of Pandavas

  • The Kasayas, the Chedis, the Matsyas, the Srinjayas (5,57)
  • The Kasis, the Panchalas, the Chedis, and the Matsyas (5,72)
  • The Chedis, the Panchalas, and the Kekayas (5,144)
  • The Pandavas, the Chedis, the Panchalas, and the Yadavas (5,144)
  • The Chedis, the Kasis, the Karushas, and the Panchalas (6,47)
  • The Chedis, the Kasis, the Karushas, and the Pauravas (6,54)
  • The Chedis, the Panchalas, the Kurushas, the Matsyas (6,59)
  • The Chedis, the Kasis, and the Karushas (6-107,117)
  • The Chedis and the Panchalas (6,116)
  • The Matsyas, the Panchalas, and the Chedis (6,119)
  • The Kekayas, the Chedis, the Karushas, the Matsyas (7,9)
  • The Panchalas, the Kekayas, the Matsyas, the Chedis, the Karushas and the Kosalas (7-21,153,163)
  • The Chedis, the Panchalas, and the Pandavas (7,30)
  • The Chedis, the Matsyas, and the Srinjayas (7,76)
  • The Chedis and Panchalas and Srinjayas (7,105)
  • The Chedis, the Panchalas, the Srinjayas, and the Kekayas (7,111)
  • The Chedis, the Srinjayas, the Kasis, and the Kosalas (7,112)
  • The Kaikeyas and the Chedis (7,151)
  • The Chedis, the Panchalas, and the Somakas (7,157)
  • The Prabhadrakas, the Panchalas, the Chedis, and the Kaikeyas (7,191)
  • A king named Chediddhaja sided with Kauravas (5,62)

Popular fiction: Chedi in The Krishna Key[edit]

In the 2012 antrhopological thriller The Krishna Key the origin of Chhedi clan has been linked to Yadavas. Dr.Devendra Chedi is one of the main characters of the novel who is the genetic expert.[2]

See also[edit]

Other kingdoms in this group include

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ The Krishna Key, Chapter, 46,The Krishna Key , Sanghi, Ashwin, Westland Publishers 2012
  • Kisari Mohan Ganguli, The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa Translated into English Prose, 1883-1896.