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Bharata Khanda
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the kingdoms as reflected in the epic of the Mahabharata. See History of India
for a conventionally historical overview, in particular the articles on the Mahajanapadas and the
Middle kingdoms of India for ca. 700 BCAD 1200.
Bharata Khanda (or Bharata Ksetra
) is a term used in Hindu texts, including the Vedas, Mahabharata,
Ramayana and the Puranic, for the geography that includes boundaries of current day Nepal, Bangladesh,
Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The historical context of the Sanskrit epics are the late Vedic Mahajanapadas
(early 1st Millennium BCE) and the subsequent formation of the Maurya Empire (322 BCE), the beginning of
the "golden age" of Classical Sanskrit literature.
1 The name
2 The Kingdoms
2.1 The boundaries of the kingdoms
2.2 The cities and villages
2.3 Interactions between kingdoms
2.4 New kingdoms
2.5 Cultural differences in the kingdoms
2.6 Main kingdoms of Northern India
2.7 Main kingdoms of North-Central India
2.8 Kingdoms of Western/Central India
2.9 Kingdoms of North Western India
2.10 Foreign Kingdoms to the North-West
2.11 Foreign Kingdoms to the North
2.12 Eastern Kingdoms of India
2.13 Kingdoms of Central India
2.14 Kingdoms of Southern India
2.15 Saraswati Valley Kingdoms of India
2.16 Himalayan kingdoms
3 See also
4 References
5 External links
The name
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Map of Ancient India with
locations of cities and places
during the time of Ramayana,
Mahabharata and Buddha.
In Hindu scriptures, Bharata Khanda is habitable world; the known land as experienced by the writers.
The Kingdoms
The boundaries of the kingdoms
Often rivers formed the boundaries of two neighboring kingdoms, as was the case between the northern and
southern Panchala and between the western (Pandava's Kingdom) and eastern (Kaurava's Kingdom) Kuru.
Sometimes, large forests, which were larger than the kingdoms themselves, formed their boundaries as was the
case of the Naimisha Forest between Panchala and Kosala kingdoms. Mountain ranges like Himalaya, Vindhya
and Sahya also formed their boundaries.
The cities and villages
Some kingdoms possessed a main city that served as its capital. For
example, the capital of Pandava's Kingdom was Indraprastha and the
Kaurava's Kingdom was Hastinapura. Ahichatra was the capital of
Northern Panchala whereas Kampilya was the capital of Southern
Panchala. Kosala Kingdom had its capital as Ayodhya. Apart from the
main city or capital, where the palace of the ruling king was situated,
there were small towns and villages spread in a kingdom. Tax was
collected by the officers appointed by the king from these villages and
towns. What the king offered in return to these villages and towns was
protection from the attack of other kings and robber tribes, as well as
from invading foreign nomadic tribes. The king also enforced code and
order in his kingdom by punishing the guilty.
Interactions between kingdoms
There was no border security for a kingdom and border disputes were
very rare. One king might conduct a military campaign (often designated
as Digvijaya meaning victory over all the directions) and defeat
another king in a battle, lasting for a day. The defeated king would
acknowledge the supremacy of the victorious king. The defeated king might sometimes be asked to give a
tribute to the victorious king. Such tribute would be collected only once, not on a periodic basis. The defeated
king, in most cases, would be free to rule his own kingdom, without maintaining any contact with the victorious
king. There was no annexation of one kingdom by another. Often a military general conducted these campaigns
on behalf of his king. A military campaign and tribute collection was often associated with a great sacrifice (like
Rajasuya or Ashvamedha) conducted in the kingdom of the campaigning king. The defeated king also was
invited to attend these sacrifice ceremonies, as a friend and ally.
New kingdoms
New kingdoms were formed when a major clan produced more than one King in a generation. The Kuru
(kingdom) clan of Kings was very successful in governing throughout North India with their numerous kingdoms,
which were formed after each successive generation. Similarly, the Yadava clan of kings formed numerous
kingdoms in Central India.
Cultural differences in the kingdoms
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Main article Bahlika Culture
Western parts of India were dominated by tribes who had a slightly different culture that was considered as non-
vedic by the mainstream Vedic culture prevailed in the Kuru and Panchala kingdoms. Similarly there were some
tribes in the eastern regions of India, considered to be in this category. Tribes with non-Vedic culture specially
those of barbaric nature were collectively termed as Mlechha. Very little was mentioned in the ancient Indian
literature, about the kingdoms to the North, beyond the Himalayas. China was mentioned as a kingdom known
as Cina, often grouped with Mlechcha kingdoms.
Main kingdoms of Northern India
Kuru Kingdom Panchala Kingdom Vatsa Kingdom Matsya Kingdom
Main kingdoms of North-Central India
Kosala Kingdom Kasi Kingdom Videha Kingdom Dakshina Kosala Kingdom Malla Kingdom
Kingdoms of Western/Central India
Surasena Kingdom Dwaraka Kingdom Anarta Kingdom Saurashtra Kingdom Heheya Kingdom
Nishadha Kingdom Gurjara Kingdom Karusha Kingdom Chedi Kingdom Dasarna Kingdom
Kunti Kingdom Avanti Kingdom Malava Kingdom
Kingdoms of North Western India
Trigarta Kingdom Salwa Kingdom Madra Kingdom Sindhu Kingdom Sauvira Kingdom
Sivi Kingdom Kekeya Kingdom Gandhara Kingdom Youdheya Kingdom Kashmira Kingdom
Bahlika Kingdom Kamboja Kingdom
Foreign Kingdoms to the North-West
Bahlika Kingdom Parama Kamboja Kingdom Uttara Madra Kingdom Uttara Kuru Kingdom
Yavana Kingdom Khasa Kingdom Saka Kingdom
Foreign Kingdoms to the North
Kamboja Kingdom Darada Kingdom Parada Kingdom Parasika Kingdom
Tushara Kingdom Huna Kingdom Hara Huna Kingdom Rishika Kingdom
Eastern Kingdoms of India
Magadha Kingdom Kikata Kingdom Anga Kingdom Pragjyotisha Kingdom Sonita Kingdom
Vanga Kingdom Pundra Kingdom Suhma Kingdom Utkala Kingdom Odra Kingdom
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Kingdoms of Central India
Vidarbha Kingdom Anupa Kingdom Surparaka Kingdom Nasikya Kingdom
Konkana Kingdom Asmaka Kingdom Danda Kingdom Kalinga Kingdom
Kingdoms of Southern India
Andhra Kingdom
Kanchi Kingdom Tulu Kingdom
Chera Dynasty
Ay Kingdom
Saraswati Valley Kingdoms of India
Saraswata Kingdom Abhira Kingdom Sudra Kingdom Nishada Kingdom
Himalayan kingdoms
The table lands and valleys of the great Himalayan Mountain Ranges, which were almost inaccessible to the
people settled in the Ganges, Sarasvati River and Sindhu river valleys, were inhabited by tribes who had very
little interactions with the rest of the world. The domains of these tribes are listed below:
To know about the mythological aspects of these exotic tribes see Hindu mythology. To know about the
historical significance of these tribes see the Exotic tribes of ancient India.
Kirata Kingdom Himalaya Kingdom Parvata Kingdom Nepa Kingdom
See also
Exotic tribes of ancient India
Monarchy in ancient India
Iron Age India
1. ^ Dikshitar, Ramachandra (1993-01-01). The Gupta Polity (
handa%22&f=false). ISBN 9788120810242.
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2. ^ Hamilton, Francis (1988). A journey from Madras through the countries of Mysore, Canara, and Malabar
anda%22&f=false). ISBN 9788120603868.
Law, Bimala Churn (1926). Ancient Indian Tribes
( Motilal Banarsidas.
External links
Mahabharata of Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa (English translation is available at http://www.sacred-
Ramayana of Valmiki (English translation is available at
Retrieved from ""
Categories: Sanskrit texts Indian literature Ancient India Ancient Hindu kingdoms
Ancient Indian kingdoms
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