The Chkarvarti Samrat Kuru was the King of Earth and The Kuru kingdom was ruled by the Kuru dynesty kings. The Pandavas and Kauravas from KURUVANSH. Other than these Kurus of India, there was another kingdom called Uttara Kurus to the north of Himalayas. The Kuru kingdom of India not lay between Saraswati River and river Ganga. It was split into Worldvide but in India there were two parts:- Kurujangala and Kuru proper.
This kingdom was ruled by the Pandava king Yudhisthira. It was located between river Saraswati and river Yamuna. On a modern map of India, this kingdom roughly forms most of the Haryana state. Indraprastha (now known as Delhi the capital of India) was its capital.
Initially this was the western part of the Kuru kingdom ruled by the ancient Kuru kings. It was filled with forests like Khandava (eastern Hariyana), Rohitaka (Rohtak) and numerous other bush-lands. King Dhritarashtra gave this land to Yudhisthira to end the rivalry between the Pandavas and Kauravas. Yudhisthira made this waste-land into a prosperous country to the envy of the Kauravas. His brother Arjuna, with the aid of Vasudeva Krishna, cleared the Khandava Forest, after the destruction and rehabitation of the settlements of Nagas, Danavas and Rakshasas who dwelled in those regions. Danava Maya was the chief architect of the constructions of the new kingdom, such as the royal court of Yudhisthira at Indraprastha.
Kuru Proper was under Kaurava king Duryodhana. It was located to the east of the Kurujangala kingdom of the Pandavas between the river Yamuna and river Ganga. On a modern map this kingdom roughly forms the western part of Uttar Pradesh bordering Haryana. Hastinapura (now a small town named Hastinapur 37 km north-east of Meerut city in Uttar Pradesh, was identified as its capital.
Later, Duryodhana the son of Dhritarashtra unrighteously annexed Kurujangala kingdom of the Pandavas to his kingdom, causing a dispute. This dispute grew into the Kurukshetra war, which is the central theme of the epic, Mahabharata. Almost all of the contemporary kingdoms took part in this war and lost their kings, generals and armies including a few million young able-bodied men. This resulted in a great socio-economic depression in ancient India, which was otherwise known as the ‘Kali Yuga‘ or the ‘Dark Age’.
See the main article Uttara Kuru Kingdom, for more details.
Other than the Kurus of India ruled by the Pandavas and the Kauravas, there was this another kingdom called Uttara Kurus to the north of Himalayas. Some historians identify this kingdom as Kyrgistan, a central Asian republic. In the epic we see the narration of Kuru warrior Bhishma abducting three brides from Kasi kingdom for making them wives of his half-brother Vichitavirya. This same custom of abduction of brides by bridegroom or his allies for marrying them, still prevails in Kyrgistan. Some point of time during the reign of Pururavas Aila (the first king mentioned in the line of lunar dynasty of Indian kings) Uttara Kuru and the Kurus of India could have belonged to the same Kuru Empire. Arjuna collected tribute from Uttara Kuru during his northern military campaign for Yudhisthira’s Rajasuya sacrifice. In some places, the epic describes them as ageless and diseaseless. They were also considered to follow a republican constitution with no monarchy.
References of Kuru Kingdom in Mahabharata
The First Kuru King
Samvarana, in the line of Pururavas Aila, begat upon his wife, Tapati, the daughter of Surya (a Solar Dynasty king), a son named Kuru. This Kuru was exceedingly virtuous, and therefore, he was installed on the throne by his people. It is after his name that the field called Kurujangala has become so famous in the world. Devoted to asceticism, he made that field Kurukshetra sacred by practising asceticism there (1,94).
The descendants of king Puru
- Mahabharata, Book 1: Adi Parva, Chapter 94
Puru had by his wife Paushti three sons, Pravira, Iswara, and Raudraswa. Amongst them, Pravira was the perpetuator of the dynasty. Pravira had by his wife Suraseni a son named Manasyu. Manasyu had for his wife Sauviri. he begat upon her three sons called Sakta, Sahana, and Vagmi. Raudraswa begat upon the Apsara Misrakesi ten sons. They all had sons. They are Richeyu, Kaksreyu Vrikeyu, Sthandileyu, Vaneyu, Jaleyu, Tejeyu, Satyeyu, Dharmeyu and Sannateyu the tenth.
Amongst them all, Richeyu became the sole monarch and was known by the name of Anadhrishti. Anadhristi had a son of the name of Matinara who became a famous and virtuous king and performed the Rajasuya and the Ashwamedha. Matinara had four sons viz., Tansu, Mahan, Atiratha, and Druhyu. (Amongst them, Tansu of great prowess became the perpetrator of Puru’s line). Tansu begat a son named Ilina. Ilina begat upon his wife Rathantara five sons with Dushmanta (Dushyanta) at their head. They were Dushmanta, Sura, Bhima, Pravasu, and Vasu (Vasu is mentioned as the founder of Chedi Kingdom). The eldest of them, Dushmanta, became king. Dushmanta had by his wife Sakuntala an intelligent son named Bharata who became king. Bharata gave his name to the race of which he was the founder. It is from him that the fame of that dynasty hath spread so wide. Bharata begat upon his three wives nine sons in all. But none of them were like their father and so Bharata was not at all pleased with them. Their mothers, therefore, became angry and slew them all. The procreation of children by Bharata, therefore, became vain.
The monarch then performed a great sacrifice and through the grace of Bharadwaja obtained a son named Bhumanyu. Then Bharata, the great descendant of Puru, regarding himself as really possessing a son, installed that son as his heir-apparent. Bhumanyu begat upon his wife, Pushkarini six sons named Suhotra, Suhotri, Suhavih, Sujeya, Diviratha and Kichika. During the virtuous reign of Suhotra the surface of the whole earth was dotted all over with hundreds and thousands, of sacrificial stakes. Suhotra, begat, upon his wife Aikshaki three sons, viz., Ajmenid, Sumenid, and Purumenid. The eldest of them, Ajmenid, was the perpetuator of the royal line. he begat six sons,–Riksha was born of the womb of his wife Dhumini; Dushmanta and Parameshthin, of his wife Nili; Jahnu, Jala and Rupina were born of his wife Kesini.
Branches of Panchalas and Kusikas
- All the tribes of the Panchalas are descended from Dushmanta and Parameshthin, two sons of the second wife of Puru king Ajmenid.
- The Kushikas (who ruled the Kanyakubja Kingdom, viz the southern parts of Panchala) are the sons of Jahnu.
Temporary Exile of the forefathers of Kurus
The Bharata prince Riksha (the mountains in east-central India also bear the name Riksha mountains (Ramgarh hills)) who was older than both Jala and Rupina became king and begat Samvarana, the perpetuator of the royal line. It hath been heard that while Samvarana, the son of Riksha, was ruling, there happened a great loss of people from famine, pestilence, drought, and disease. Then the Panchalas invaded his kingdom. The Bharata princes were beaten by the troops of enemies. The Panchalas with their ten Akshauhinis defeated the Bharata prince. Samvarana then with his wife and ministers, sons and relatives, fled in fear, and took shelter in the forest on the banks of the Sindhu extending to the foot of the (western) mountains.
There the Bharatas lived for a full thousand years (for a long period), within their fort. After they had lived there a long period, one day the sage Vasishtha approached the exiled Bharatas.
It hath been heard that Vasishtha (becoming the priest) then installed the Bharata prince in the sovereignty of all the Kshatriyas. The king retook the capital that had been taken away from him and once more made all monarchs pay tribute to him. The powerful Samvarana, was thus installed once more in the actual sovereignty of the whole land.
The origin of Kuru Dynasty
Samvarana married, Tapati (whose abode was on the banks of river Tapati (Tapti, Maharashtra) , the daughter of Surya (a king of the Solar Dynasty) with the help of Vasistha a priest of Solar Dynasty kings. Samvarana begat in Tapati, a son named Kuru. This Kuru was exceedingly virtuous, and therefore, he was installed on the throne by his people. It is after his name that the field called Kurujangala (eastern Hariyana) has become so famous in the world. Devoted to asceticism, he made that field Kurukshetra sacred by practising asceticism there. He was the founder of the Kuru dynasty and the Kuru Kingdom.
Kuru’s wife, Vahini, brought forth five sons, viz., Avikshit, Bhavishyanta, Chaitraratha, Muni and Janamejaya-1. Avikshit begat Parikshit-1, Savalaswa, Adhiraja (See Karusha Kingdom), Viraja, Salmali, Uchaihsravas, Bhangakara and Jitari the eighth. In the race of these were born, as the fruit of their pious acts seven mighty car-warriors with Janamejaya-2 at their head. Unto Parikshit-1 were born sons named Kakshasena, Ugrasena, Chitrasena, Indrasena, Sushena and Bhimasena. The sons of Janamejaya-2 were Dhritarashtra-1 who was the eldest, Pandu-1, Valhika-1, Nishadha , Jamvunada, Kundodara, Padati, Vasati the eighth.
Birth of Kuru king Santanu
Among them Dhritarashtra-1 became king. Dhritarashtra-1 had eight sons, viz., Kundika, Hasti, Vitarka, Kratha, Havihsravas, Indrabha, and Bhumanyu. Dhritarashtra-1 had many grandsons, of whom three only were famous. They were Pratipa, Dharmanetra, Sunetra. Among these three, Pratipa became unrivalled on earth. Pratipa begat three sons, viz., Devapi, Santanu, and the mighty car-warrior Valhika-2. The eldest Devapi adopted the ascetic course of life, impelled thereto by the desire of benefiting his brothers. the kingdom was obtained by Santanu and the mighty car-warrior Valhika-2 (See Bahlika Kingdom). There were born in the race of Bharata numberless other excellent monarchs who by their number swelled the Aila dynasty into gigantic proportions.
The Vahlika king who took part in Kurukshetra War was Vahlika-3. Dhritarashtra who was the father of Duryodhana was Dritarashtra-2. Pandu the father of Pandavas was Pandu-2. There were many kings named Janamejaya and Parikhsit in the lineage of Aila-Puru-Bharata-Kuru dynasty. The Janamejaya unto who Vaisampayana narrated the history of his forefathers was the last among the Janamejayas viz Janamejaya 3 or 4. He was the son of the last among the kings named Parikshit
The lineage from Daksha to Janamejaya’s grandson
- Mahabharata, Book 1: Adi Parva, Section 95
Pururavas is considered as the first king in the Lunar Dynasty.
Daksha begat Aditi (one of the 13 great mothers in the ancient world), and Aditi begat Vivaswat, Vivaswat (belonging to the Solar Dynasty) begat Manu, and Manu begat Ha and Ha begat Pururavas. (In another reference Pururavas is mentioned as the son of Ila (1,75), the daughter of Manu. Hence he was called Pururavas-Aila. A sage named Budha (Vudha) (7,141) of Lunar Dynasty who came from a northern region into ancient India to practice asceticism is mentioned as his father. Some historians link Ila with the Ili river in central Asia. The name Ha is thought of to be of Chinese origin). Pururavas begat Ayus (in an Apsara lady (a female Gandharva) ).
Some historians link Ha with the Haha, Huhu Gandharvas.
Birth of Yadu, Turvusu, Druhyu, Anu and Puru
Yadu and Turvusu contained the genes of Bhargavas, considered to be a priest among Asuras. Druhyu, Anu and Puru contained the genes of Asura kings, the warrior-class among the Asuras. Thus the lineage of ancient Indian kings is a mixture of diverse races of people. Yadu’s line gave rise to the Yadavas and Purus line the Pauravas. The others viz Turvusu, Druhyu and Anu gave rise to the races collectively called by the Vedic tribes (predominantly Purus) as Mlecchas. They included the Tusharas, Yavanas and Anavas (some believe them to be ancient Iranian tribes).
Ayus begat Nahusha (also considered to be a Naga), and Nahusha begat Yayati. Yayati had two wives, viz., Devayani, the daughter of Usanas (Bhargava Sukra), and Sarmishtha the daughter of (Asura king) Vrishaparvan. Devayani gave birth to Yadu and Turvasu; and Vrishaparvan’s daughter, Sarmishtha gave birth to Druhyu, Anu, and Puru. The descendants of Yadu are the Yadavas and of Puru are the Pauravas.
Puru had a wife of the name of Kausalya, on whom he begat a son named Janamejaya-1 who performed three horse-sacrifices and a sacrifice called Viswajit. Then he entered into the woods. Janamejaya had married Ananta, the daughter of Madhava, and begat upon her a son called Prachinwat. the prince was so called because he had conquered all the eastern countries up to the very confines of the region where the Sun rises (Arunachal Pradesh).
The lineage up to Emperor Bharata
Prachinwat married Asmaki, a daughter of the Yadavas and begat upon her a son named Sanyati. Sanyati married Varangi, the daughter of Drishadwata (probably dwelling in the shores of Dhrisadwati river, in Hariyana) and begat upon her a son named Ahayanti. Ahayanti married Bhanumati, the daughter of Kritavirya and begat upon her a son named Sarvabhauma. Sarvabhauma married Sunanda, the daughter of the Kekaya prince, having obtained her by force. he begat upon her a son named Jayatsena, who married Susrava, the daughter of the Vidarbha king and begat upon her Avachina, Avachina also married another princess of Vidarbha, Maryada by name. he begat on her a son named Arihan. Arihan married Angi and begat on her Mahabhauma. Mahabhauma married Suyajna, the daughter of Prasenajit. of her was born Ayutanayi. he was so called because he had performed a sacrifice at which the fat of an Ayuta (ten thousands) of male beings was required. Ayutanayi took for a wife Kama, the daughter of Prithusravas. By her was born a son named Akrodhana, who took to wife Karambha, the daughter of the king of Kalinga. of her was born Devatithi, and Devatithi took for his wife Maryada, the princess of Videha. Of her was born a son named Arihan. Arihan took to wife Sudeva, the princess of Anga, and upon her he begat a son named Riksha. Riksha married Jwala, the daughter of Naga Takshaka, and he begat upon her a son of the name of Matinara, who performed on the bank of Saraswati River the twelve years’ sacrifice said to be so efficacious. He married a maiden from the Saraswati valley. He begat upon her a son named Tansu.
Tansu himself begat a son named Ilina on his wife, the princess Kalingi. Ilina begat on his wife Rathantari five sons, of whom Dushyanta was the eldest. Dushyanta took to wife Sakuntala, the daughter of Viswamitra. He begat on her a son named Bharata.
Bharata married Sunanda, the daughter of Sarvasena, the king of Kasi, and begat upon her the son named Bhumanyu. Bhumanyu married Vijaya, the daughter of Dasarha. He begat upon her a son Suhotra who married Suvarna, the daughter of Ikshvaku. To her was born a son named Hasti who founded this city, which has, therefore, been called Hastinapura. Hasti married Yasodhara, the princess of Trigarta. Of her was born a son named Vikunthana who took for a wife Sudeva, the princess of Dasarha. By her was born a son named Ajmenid. Ajmenid had four wives named Kaikeyi, Gandhari, Visala and Riksha. he begat on them numerous (2400) sons. But amongst them all, Samvarana became the perpetuator of the dynasty. Samvarana took for his wife Tapati (who dwelled near Tapati Tapti river in Maharashtra), the daughter of Vivaswat (Surya, or one belonging to the Solar Dynasty).
From Tapati was born Kuru, who married Subhangi, the princess of Dasarha. He begat on her a son named Viduratha, who took to wife Supriya, the daughter of the Madhavas. He begat upon her a son named Anaswan. Anaswan married Amrita, the daughter of the Madhavas. Of her was born a son named Parikshit-1, who took for his wife Suvasa, the daughter of the Vahudas, and begat upon her a son named Bhimasena. Bhimasena married Kumari, the princess of Kekaya and begat upon her Pratisravas whose son was Pratipa. Pratipa married Sunanda, the daughter of Sivi, and begat upon her three sons, viz., Devapi, Santanu and Valhika-1. Devapi, while still a boy, entered the woods as a hermit. Santanu became king.
The descendants of Santanu
Those old men that were touched by this monarch not only felt an indescribable sensation of pleasure but also became restored to youth. Therefore, this monarch was called Santanu. Santanu married a maiden living in the vicinity of Ganga, who bore him a son Devavrata who was afterwards called Bhishma. Bhishma, moved by the desire of doing good to his father, got Santanu married to Satyavati who was also called Gandhakali. In her maidenhood she had a son by Parasara, named Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa. Upon her Santanu begat two other sons named Chitrangada and Vichitravirya. Before they attained to majority, Chitrangada had been slain by the Gandharvas. Vichitravirya became king, and married the two daughters of the king of Kasi, named Ambika and Ambalika. But Vichitravirya died childless.
Birth of Pandavas and Kauravas
Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa on the request of mother Satyavati begat three children, viz., Dhritarashtra, Pandu, and Vidura upon the widowed wives of Vichitravirya. King Dhritarashtra had a hundred sons by his wife, Gandhari in consequence of the boon granted by Dwaipayana. amongst those hundred sons of Dhritarashtra, four became celebrated. They are Duryodhana, Dushasana, Vikarna, and Chitrasena. Pandu had two jewels of wives, viz., Kunti, also called Pritha, and Madri. Pandu was childless. So Kunti raised up offspring upon the wishes of Pandu. By Dharma she had Yudhishthira; by Maruta, Bhima: and by Sakra, Arjuna. On Madri were raised by the twin Aswins, the twins Nakula and Sahadeva. These five became well known as the Pandavas. Pandu and Madri died. After some time those five Pandavas were taken by the ascetics of the woods to Hastinapura. Duryodhana became exceedingly jealous of them and tried to murder them. Pandavas escaped all the murder attempts by Duryodhana and married Draupadi the Panchala princess, for a wife. They then ruled half of the Kuru kingdom, with Indraprastha as their capital.
The sons of Pandavas
During that time Yudhishthira begat Prativindhya; Bhima, Sutasoma; Arjuna, Srutakriti; Nakula, Satanika; and Sahadeva, Srutakarman. Besides these, Yudhishthira, having obtained for his wife Devika, the daughter of Govasana of the Saivya tribe, in a self-choice ceremony, begat upon her a son named Yaudheya. Bhima also obtaining for a wife Valandhara, the daughter of the king of Kasi, offered his own prowess as dower and begat upon her a son named Sarvaga. Arjuna also, repairing to Dwaravati, brought away by force Subhadra. the sweet-speeched sister of Vasudeva Krishna, and returned in happiness. He begat upon her a son named Abhimanyu. Nakula obtaining for his wife Karenumati, the princess of Chedi, begat upon her a son named Niramitra. Sahadeva also married Vijaya, the daughter of Dyutimat, the king of Madra, obtaining her in a self-choice ceremony and begat upon her a son named Suhotra. Bhimasena had some time before begat upon Hidimva a son named Ghatotkacha. Arjuna also begat a son named Iravat upon the Naga lady Uloopi and another son named Babhruvahana upon Chitrangada a princess from a southern country known as Manipura.
Abhimanyu, Parikshit, Janamejaya and his descendants
Amongst them all, Abhimanyu was the perpetuator of the family. He married Uttara, the daughter of Virata who begat a son named Parikshit. He was born as a dead child, but was revived by Krishna in an experiment Hence he is called Parikshita. Parikshit married Madravati. Her son was Janamejaya. Jamamejaya, in his wife Vapushtama begat two sons named Satanika and Sankukarna. Satanika also hath begotten one son named Aswamedhadatta upon the princess of Videha.
Military academy of Drona
Hastinapura the capital of Kuru kingdom was the center of military education during the period of Mahabharata. Drona was the foremost of the preceptors in all modes of warfare. Drona himself learned the science of warfare from his father Bharadwaja and the great warrior of the age viz Bhargava Rama. Bhishma, who was the foremost of the Kuru warriors, also was a disciple of Bhargava Rama. Kripa was another preceptor of arms. Under the guidance of all these scions of military science, the Pandavas and Kauravas became highly skilled in warfare. This military academy was the reason for the dominance of Kauravas and Pandavas among the kingdoms of ancient India. Archary, Mace fight, sword fight, other weapons like javelin — these in permutation with the modes of warfare viz on foot, on a horse, on a chariot and on a war-elephant — all these were taught by Drona to his disciples in this academy. He also taught how to form military formations and how to strategize the military moves and how to ride chariots. Archery was the speciality taught in excellence by Drona, especially when the bowman was moving in a chariot. Arjuna was the foremost among his disciples as a bowman. Bhima and Duryodhana excelled in mace-fight; Dhristadyumna, Nakula and Sahadeva excelled in sword-fight.
Even Dhristadyumna, the prince from the Panchala Kingdom which was closest competitor of the Kurus for dominance in Aryavarta, came to study the science of warfare under Drona, in his military academy at Hastinapura, the capital of Kurus (1,169). Others who come to Hastinapura seeking military science were Ekalavya the prince of Nishada Kingdom (1,134) and Karna the prince from Anga Kingdom, ruled by Suta tribes.
The territories of Lunar Dynasty kings
The first king Pururavas was always surrounded by companions that were superhuman (See Exotic Tribes of Ancient India). It was Pururavas who first brought from the region of the Gandharvas the three kinds of fire (1,75). His kingdom lied probably beyond the Himalayas in Tibet or still north in Xinjiyang or in Kyrgistan. Nahusha is mentioned as ruling even the territories of Devas (some where in Tibet). Yayati was the first king in the line to interact with the Asura clans like the Vrishaparvas (Vrishaparva’s kingdom lied to the north of Uttarakhand, in Tibet). Yayati’s son Puru established the Paurava dynasty, one of the branches of the Lunar Dynasty. He probably ruled the regions south of Himalayas in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. Among the descendants of Puru, Dushyanta’s son Bharata was the foremost who established the Bharata dynasty. During this time the dynasty ruled the whole regions now known as the Indo-Gangatic plain and extended their power up to the Vindhya ranges in the south. In his line, was born Samvarana. During the time of Samvarana, the dynasty was banished by the Panchalas to south and west. There they lived on the banks of Sindhu and in the valleys of the western mountains. Samvarana’s son Kuru established the Kuru dynasty and re-established in their old territory in the Indo-Gangatic plain. They ruled the regions between Saraswati River and Ganga. This was the Kuru Kingdom inherited by Pratipa, Santanu, Vichitraviry and Dhritarashtra. During the reign of Dhritarashtra, due to his lack of interest in satisfying requsts of his subjects, the Kuru kingdom is mentioned as declining from its prosperity (9,41). Pandavas with Yudhisthira as their king temporarily raised the importance of Kuru kingdom, by his military campaigns through his four powerful brothers viz Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva. He conquered the whole of ancient India and brought tribute from numerous kings. But that prospirity vanished in Kurukshetra War, when the Kuru warriors annihilated each other, destroying along with them, many ruling clans in ancient India. The destruction was so immense that the entire ancient India succumbed to a long-lasting socio-economic-depression. The ancient Indian texts mention this Dark Age of depression and anarchy as Kali Yuga.
Places in Kuru Kingdom
See main article Places in Kuru kingdom.
Hastinapura was the biggest city in Kuru Kingdom and was the capital of Kauravas, while the Pandavas ruled at Indraprastha, which grew into the second largest city of the Kuru Kingdom. Apart from these to main cities , Kuru kingdom contain many towns like Vardhamana, Pramanakoti, Varanavati, Vrikastali; provinces like Makandi; plains like Kurukshetra and forests like Kamyaka Forest and Dwaita Forest at the frienges of its territory.
Kurus in Kurukshetra War
The whole Kurukshetra War was fought for the sake of the two factions of the royal family of the Kurus, viz the Kauravas and the Pandavas. They brought into this war almost all the rulers of ancient India. The colossal destruction of life and wealth in this war led ancient India into a socio-economic depression (otherwise known as the Kali Yuga or the Dark Age) that lasted for a long period .
The prominent Kuru heroes who fought in the war were the five Pandavas, their sons, Duryodhana and his brothers, their sons and the Kuru grandsire viz Bhishma. The remote cousins of the Kurus in Bahlika, who were also considered as Kurus, also fought the war. They were king Bahlika, his son Somadatta and Somadatta’s sons viz Bhurisravas and Sala. Drona and Kripa, the two preceptors in military science who dwelled with the Kurus, and who were counted among the Kuru warriors, also participated in the war.
For further details see Kurukshetra War
Establishment of Yadava rulers in Kurujangala
The son of Kritavarma (the Bhoja-Yadava hero) was established in the city called Martikavata. (It was the capital of Salwa Kingdom that lied to the south-west of Kurujangala). Vrishni-Yadava hero viz Satyaki‘s son was established on the banks of Saraswati River. Prince Vajra of Vasudeva Krishna‘s line was established at Indraprastha (16,7).