Matsya Kingdom

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Kingdom of Matsya

c. 700 BCE–c. 300 BCE
Matsya Kingdom and other Mahajanapadas in the Post Vedic period.
Matsya Kingdom and other Mahajanapadas in the Post Vedic period.
CapitalViratanagari (present-day Bairat)
Common languagesSanskrit
Historical eraBronze Age, Iron Age
• Established
c. 700 BCE
• Disestablished
c. 300 BCE
Today part of India
The position of the Matsya kingdom in Iron Age Vedic India.

Matsya Kingdom (Sanskrit for "fish") was one of the solasa (sixteen) Mahajanapadas (great kingdoms).

By the late Vedic period, they ruled a kingdom located south of the Kurus, and west of the Yamuna river which separated it from the kingdom of the Panchalas. It roughly corresponded to the former state of Jaipur in Rajasthan, and included the whole of Hindaun, Alwar with portions of Bharatpur. The capital of Matsya was at Viratanagari (present-day Bairat) which is said to have been named after its founder king, Virata. In Pali literature, the Matsya tribe is usually associated with the Surasena. The western Matsya was the hill tract on the north bank of the Chambal River. Matsya kingdom was founded by king Matsya who was the twin brother of Satyavati and who was contemporary to Bhishma.

In the early 6th century BCE, Matsya was one of the sixteen Mahajanapadas (great kingdoms) mentioned in the Buddhist text Anguttara Nikaya, but its power had greatly dwindled and it was of little political importance by the time of Buddha. The Mahabharata (V.74.16) refers to a King Sahaja, who ruled over both the Chedis and the Matsyas, which implies that Matsya once formed a part of the Chedi Kingdom.

Other than the Matsya kingdom to the south of Kuru Kingdom, which falls in the Hindaun and Alwar, Bharatpur districts of Rajasthan, the epic refers to as many as six other Matsya kingdoms. Upaplavya was a notable city of the kingdom. On the 13th year of Pandavas's exile, pandavas and Draupadi stay in matsya kingdom of King Virata.

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