Parama Kamboja Kingdom
|Part of a series on the|
|History of Tajikistan|
|Early modern history|
Parama Kamboja Kingdom was mentioned in the epic Mahabharata to be on the far north west along with the Bahlika, Uttara Madra and Uttara Kuru countries. It is was located in parts of modern-day Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Arjuna had visited this place during his military campaign for Yudhisthira's Rajasuya sacrifice.
- Lohan.paramaKambojan.Rishikan.uttaranapi (2.27.25).
The above Rishikas who are neighbors to the Parama Kambojas are known as northern (uttran) Rishikas. Like the Shakas, Pahlavas, Kambojas, Paradas, a section of the Rishikas had also migrated to west/south-west India prior to Christian era. There is an epic reference to a section of Rishikas who were located in Khandes in Maharashtra. They were the southern Rishikas. See also: Rishikas
A verse from the Udyoga Parava of Mahabharata attests that the Shakas, Pahlavas, Paradas, Kambojas-Rishikas were located on the western-sea shores in Anupa regions ( Anupadesa in/around Narbada/Tapti?) in south-western India:
- Shakanam Pahlavana.n cha Daradanam cha ye nripah |
- Kamboja.Rishika ye cha pashchim.anupakash cha ye ||5.5.15||
The Daradas in the above verse seems to be a copyist’s mistake for the Paradas since it were the Paradas (not the Daradas) who had formed a part of the well known 'pānca-ganah' (five-hordes) of the numerous Puranic texts. A section of Paradas had moved to western India around Christian era and are referenced as Pardane in Ptolemy’s Geography (Dr M. R. Singh).
Parama Kamboja Horses
Besides numerous references to the excellent steeds of Kamboja, Mahabharata also refers to horses from Parama-Kamboja and also notes them also as of excellent (shreshtha) quality (MBH Gorakhpore rec. 8.38.13-14, 10.13.1-2) etc.
Drona Parava refers to six thousand soldiers of Prabhadaraka/Prabhadrakastu (handsome) Kambojas (i.e. Parama Kambojas), borne by golden chariots pulled by the foremost (shreshthai) steeds of the Parama Kamboja breed of the varigated hue. The steeds were all decked with wreaths of gold (7.23.42-43).
Sauptika Parva tells us that Krishna was borne in a chariot drawn by horses from the best breed of Parama Kamboja decked with garlands of gold (10.38. 13).
Parama Kambojas in Kurukshetra War
Drona Parava of Mahabharata refers to 6000 soldiers from the Parama Kamboja group who had sided with the Pandavas against the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra war. They have been described as "very handsome, very fortunate Kambojas" (prabhadrakastu Kambojah), extremely fierce, 'Personification of Death' (samanmrityo), fearful like Yama, the god of death and rich like Kuber i.e. god of treasure (Kambojah.... Yama. vaishravan.opamah: 7.23.42-44). They probably were mercenary soldiers who appear to have joined Kurukshetra war on invitation from Panchala prince Dhristadyumna.
- The author of Vayu Purana uses the name Kumuda-dvipa for Kusha-dvipa (Vayu I.48.34-36). 'Kumuda is also a Puranic name of a mountain forming the northern buttress of the Mount Meru (i.e. Pamirs). In anterior Epic Age, Kumuda was the name given to high table-land of the Tartary located to north of the Himalaya range from which the Aryan race may have originally pushed their way southwards into Indian peninsula and preserved the name in their traditions as a relic of old mountain worship (O. Thompson, A History of Ancient Geography, London 1965). Thus, the Kumuda-dvipa lay close north to the Pamirs. Lying in the Transoxiana (in Saka-dvipa), this Komuda or Kumuda-dvipa of the Puranic texts is often identified as the ancient Kamboja land which corresponds to the Parama Kamboja referred to in the Sabha Parava of Mahabharata.
- Dr Buddha Prakash maintains that, based on the evidence of Kalidasa's Raghuvamsha, Raghu defeated the Hunas on river Vamkshu (Raghu vamsha 4.68), and then he marched against the Kambojas (4.69-70). These Kambojas were of Iranian affinities who lived in Pamirs and Badakshan. Hiun Tsang calls this region Kiu.mi.to which is thought to be Komdei of Ptolemy and Kumadh or Kumedh of Muslim writers (See: Studies in Indian History and Civilization, Agra, p 351; India and the World, 1964, p 71, Dr Buddha Prakash; Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 300, Dr J. L. Kamboj; India and Central Asia, 1955, p 35, P. C. Bagch).
- This Kiumito or Komdei corresponds to the region which in Mahabharata has been referred to as Parama Kamboja (The Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, p 59, 92, 159 S Kirpal Singh.
- See: Ethnography of Ancient India, 1954, p 140, ROBERT SHAFER, Publishers: O. Harrassowitz, Ethnology; Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 69, Dr J. L. Kamboj; The Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, p 44, S Kirpal Singh. Also check up "Prabhadraka" in Monier-William Dictionary .
- Mahabharata verses 7.23.42-44.
- Yuktaih Paramakambojairjavanairhemamalibhih.
- bhishayanto dvishatsainyan yama vaishravanopamah.||42||
- prabhadrakastu kambojah shatsahasranyudayudhah.
- nanavarnairhayashreshthairhemachitrarathadhvajah. ||43||
- sharavratairvidhunvantah shatrunvitatakarmukah.
- samanamrityavo bhutva dhrishtadyumnan samanvayuh.||44||
- (MBH Gorakhpore Rec., 7.23.42-44)
- The translation of above passage by Kisari Mohan Ganguli [1883-1896] appears at the following website . But many other scholars have translated the same verses differently. See the following:
- "The six thousands Prabhadrarakastu (very handsome) Kamboja soldiers, resembling Yama (god of death) in fearful bearing and Kuber in riches (Vaisravana= Kuber, the god of riches), riding on the their golden chariots pulled by excellent steeds of the Parama Kamboja breed of diverse hues and decked with chains of gold, striking fear into the hearts of the hostile soldiers, with upraised weapons, with stretched bows and making their foes tremble with their showers of arrows and resolved to die together followed Dhristadyumna". (See: Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 69, Dr J. L. Kamboj; The Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, p 44, S Kirpal Singh)
- As it can be seen from the original Sanskrit text produced above, the term Prabhadraka has been used as a qualifier before the Kambojas. Hence in this context, the term Prabhadraka definitely implies adjective and not noun, and may not, therefore, be confused with the Prabhadraka clan. As an adjective, the term Prabhadraka/Prabhadrakastu means exceedingly handsome (Check up Prabhadraka in Monier-William Dictionary ). Researchers like Dr J. L. Kamboj, S Kirpal Singh etc have, therefore correctly taken the term Prabhadraka in the sense of an adjective rather than noun in the present context. Ganguli's translation is in error here. In fact, according to Sanskrit scholars, Ganguli's translation of MBH has numerous translations errors.