Kingdom of Vatsa
|c. 700 BCE–c. 300 BCE|
Vatsa and other Mahajanapadas in the Post Vedic period.
|Historical era||Bronze Age, Iron Age|
|c. 700 BCE|
|c. 300 BCE|
|Today part of||Allahabad division of UttarPradesh, India|
Vatsa or Vamsa (Pali and Ardhamagadhi: Vaccha, literally "calf") was one of the solasa (sixteen) Mahajanapadas (great kingdoms) of Uttarapatha of ancient India mentioned in the Anguttara Nikaya. Vatsa or Vamsa country corresponded with the territory of modern Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers.
It had a monarchical form of government with its capital at Kaushambi (whose ruins are located at the modern village of Kosam, 38 miles from Allahabad). Udayana was the ruler of Vatsa in the 6th-5th century BCE, the time of the Buddha. His mother, Mrigavati, is notable for being one of the earliest known female rulers in Indian history.
The early period
The Vatsas were a branch of the Kuru dynasty. During the Rig Vedic period, the Kuru Kingdom comprised the area of Haryana/ Delhi and the Ganga-Jamuna Doab, till Prayag/ Kaushambi, with its capital at Hastinapur. During the late-Vedic period, Hastinapur was destroyed by floods, and the Kuru King Nicakṣu shifted his capital with the entire subjects to a newly constructed capital that was called Kosambi or Kaushambi. In the post Vedic period, when Arya Varta consisted of several Mahajanpads, the Kuru Dynasty was split between Kurus and Vatsas. The Kurus controlled the Haryana/ Delhi/ Upper Doab, while the Vatsas controlled the Lower Doab. Later, The Vatsas were further divided into two branches—One at Mathura, and the other at Kaushambi.
The Puranas state that after the washing away of Hastinapura by the Ganges, the Bhārata king Nicakṣu, the great-great grandson of Janamejaya, abandoned the city and settled in Kauśāmbī. This is supported by the Svapnavāsavadattā and the Pratijñā-Yaugandharāyaṇa attributed to Bhāsa. Both of them have described the king Udayana as a scion of the Bhāratas family (Bhārata-kula). The Puranas provide a list of Nicakṣu’s successors which ends with king Kṣemaka.: p.117–8 Other Puranas state that the Vatsa kingdom was named after a Kaśī king, Vatsa. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata attribute the credit of founding its capital Kauśāmbī to a Chedi prince Kuśa or Kuśāmba.
Śatānīka II, Parantapa
The first ruler of the Bhārata dynasty of Vatsa, about whom some definite information available is Śatānīka II, Parantapa. While the Puranas state his father’s name was Vasudāna, Bhāsa tells it was Sahasrānīka. Śatānīka II married a princess of Videha, who was the mother of Udayana. He also married Mṛgāvatī, a daughter of the Licchavi chieftain Ceṭaka. He attacked Campā, the capital of Aṅga during the rule of Dadhivāhana.: p.119
The wife of Śatānīka and the mother of Udayana was Queen Mṛgāvatī (in Sanskrit) or Migāvatī (in Prakrit). She was the daughter of Chetaka, the leader of Vaishali. It is recorded that she ruled as a regent for her son for some period of time, although sources differ about the specific circumstances. According to the Jain canonical texts, Udayana was still a minor when Śatānīka died, so "the responsibility of governing the kingdom fell on the shoulders of queen Migāvatī ... till her son grew old enough". On the other hand, Bhāsa's Pratijñāyaugandharāyaṇa says that she took "full charge of the administration" while Udayana was held as a prisoner by King Pradyota of Avanti, and "the way in which she discharged her duties excited the admiration of even experienced ministers".
Udayana, the son of Śatānīka II by the Videha princess succeeded him. Udayana, the romantic hero of the Svapnavāsavadattā, the Pratijñā-Yaugandharāyaṇa and many other legends was a contemporary of Buddha and of Pradyota, the king of Avanti.: p.119 The Kathāsaritsāgara contains a long account of his conquests. The Priyadarśikā narrates the event of his victory over the ruler of Kaliṅga and restoration of Dṛḍhavarman to the throne of Aṅga. The commentary on the Dhammapada describes the story of his marriage with Vāsavadattā or Vāsuladattā, the daughter of Pradyota, the king of Avanti. It also mentions about his two other consorts, Māgandiyā, daughter of a Kuru Brahmin and Sāmāvatī, the adopted daughter of the treasurer Ghosaka. The Milindapañho refers to a peasant girl Gopāla-mātā who became his wife. The Svapnavāsavadattā of Bhāsa mentions about another queen named Padmāvatī, a sister of king Darśaka of Magadha. The Priyadarśikā tells us about the marriage of Udayana with Āraṇyakā, the daughter of Dṛḍhavarman, the king of Aṅga. The Ratnāvalī narrates a story of romance between him and Sāgarikā, an attendant of his chief queen, Vāsavadattā. The name of his son by his chief queen is Bodhi.: pp.179–80
The Buddha visited Koushambi several times during the reign of Udayana on his effort to spread the dharma, the Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths. Udayana was an Upasaka (lay follower) of Buddha. The Chinese translation of the Buddhist canonical text Ekottara Āgama states that the first image of Buddha, curved out of sandalwood was made under the instruction of Udayana.
According to the Puranas, the 4 successors of Udayana were Vahināra, DanḍapāṇI, Niramitra and Kṣemaka. Later, the Vatsa kingdom was annexed by the Avanti kingdom. Maniprabha, the great-grandson of Pradyota ruled at Kauśāmbī as a prince of Avanti.: pp.180, 180n, facing 565
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