Battle of the Ten Kings

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Battle of the Ten Kings
Datec. 14th century BCE[1]
Near Parusni River (modern Ravi), Punjab
Result Decisive Trtsu-Bharata victory

Rigvedic tribes conquered by Sudas

Trtsu-Bharata (Indo-Aryan) Alina
Bhrigus (Indo-Aryan)
Dasa (Dahae?)
Druhyus (Gandharis)
Matsya (Indo-Aryan)
Parsu (Persians)
Purus (Indo-Aryan)
Panis (Parni)
Commanders and leaders
King Sudas
The Ten Kings
Unknown but less More than 6,666
Casualties and losses
Unknown but less 6,666 (Mandala 7)

The Battle of the Ten Kings (Sanskrit: दाशराज्ञ युद्ध, romanizedDāśarājñá yuddhá) is a battle alluded to in the Rigveda (Book 7, hymns 18, 33 and 83.4–8),[2] the ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns. The Battle of the Ten Kings may have "formed the 'nucleus' of story" of the Kurukshetra War, narrated in the Mahabharata.[3]

Historical events[edit]

The battle took place during the middle or main Rigvedic period,[4] near the Ravi River in Punjab. It was a battle between the Puru Vedic Aryan tribal kingdoms of the Bharatas, allied with other tribes of the north west India, and the Trtsu-Bharata (Puru) king Sudas, who defeats other Vedic tribes.

K. F. Geldner in his 1951 translation of the Rigveda considers the hymns as "obviously based on an historical event", even though all details save for what is preserved in the hymns have been lost. Further details have been provided in a discussion of this hymn by H.P. Schmidt.[5]

It is possible that the Battle of the Ten Kings, mentioned in the Rigveda, may have "formed the 'nucleus' of story" of the Kurukshetra War, though it was greatly expanded and modified in the Mahabharata's account.[3]


The Trtsu are the tribe led by king Sudas. Sudas himself is included in the "ten kings", as the Trtsus are said to be surrounded by ten kings in 7.33.5. But it is not made explicit how this number is supposed to be broken down: if of the tribes mentioned in 7.18, the Turvasas, Yaksuss, Matsyas, Bhrgus, Druhyus, Pakthas, Bhalanas, Alinas, Shivas and Visanins are counted, the full number is reached, leaving the Anavas (7.18.14), the Ajas and Sigrus (7.18.19) and the "21 men of both Vaikarna tribes" (7.18.11) without a king, and implying that Bheda (7.18.19, also mentioned 7.33.3 and 7.83.4, the main leader slain by Sudas), Shimyu (7.18.5), and Kavasa (7.18.12) are the names of individual kings. The Bharatas are named among the enemies in 7.33 but not in 7.18.

  • Alinas: One of the tribes defeated by Sudas at the Dasarajna,[6] and it was suggested that they lived to the north-east of Nuristan, because the land was mentioned by the Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang.[7]
  • Anu: Some place them in the Paruṣṇī (Ravi) area.[8]
  • Bhrigus: Probably the priestly family descended from the ancient Kavi Bhrigu. Later, they are related to the composition of parts of the Atharva Veda (Bhṛgv-Āṅgirasa) .
  • Bhalanas: Fought against Sudas in the Dasarajna battle. Some scholars have argued that the Bhalanas lived in the Bolan Pass area.[9]
  • Druhyus: Some align them with the Gandhari (RV I 1.126.7).
  • Matsya are only mentioned in the RV (7.18.6), but later in connection with the Śālva.[10]
  • Parsu: The Parśu have been connected by some with the ancient Persians.[11]
  • Purus: One of the major tribal confederations in the Rigveda.
  • Panis: Also the name of a class of demons; later associated with the Scythians.


The situation leading up to the battle is described in 7.18.6: The Turvasas and Yaksus [5] together with the Matsya tribe (punned upon by the rishi by comparing them to hungry fish (matsya) flocking together)[5] appear and ally themselves with the Bhrigus and the Druhyus.

Adaptations and retellings[edit]

In Ten Kings: Dasarajna, Ashok Banker retells a fictional account of the epic battle.[citation needed]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Witzel, Michael (2000). "The Languages of Harappa". In Kenoyer, J.. Proceedings of the conference on the Indus civilization.
  2. ^ Mookerji 1988, p. 1.
  3. ^ a b Murthy, S. S. N. (8 September 2016). "The Questionable Historicity of the Mahabharata". Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies. 10 (5): 1–15. doi:10.11588/ejvs.2003.5.782. ISSN 1084-7561. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  4. ^ Witzel (2000): between approximately 1450 and 1300 BCE
  5. ^ a b c Schmidt, Hans-Peter (March 1980). "Notes on Rgveda 7.18.5–10". Indica. 17: 41–47. ISSN 0019-686X.
  6. ^ Macdonell, A. A. and Keith, A. B. (1912). Vedic Index of Names and Subjects, I, 39.
  7. ^ Macdonell and Keith, Vedic Index, 1912, I, 39.
  8. ^ Macdonell and Keith, Vedic Index I 22.
  9. ^ Macdonell and Keith, Vedic Index.
  10. ^ Macdonell and Keith, Vedic Index, 1912, II 122.
  11. ^ Macdonell and Keith, Vedic Index. This is based on the evidence of an Assyrian inscription of 844 BCE referring to the Persians as Paršu, and the Behistun Inscription of Darius I of Persia referring to Parsa (Pārsa) as the area of the Persians. Radhakumud Mookerji (1988). Chandragupta Maurya and His Times (p. 23). Motilal Banarsidass Publ. ISBN 81-208-0405-8.