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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The War of Ten Kings

Long ago, there lived a king named Sudas, who belonged to the Trtsu dynasty and was sixteenth in the line of descendents of King Bharata (after whom India is named in Hindi). Sudas was the grandson of the powerful king Divodas Atithigva, whose empire was in the region which is now Punjab. Divodas had earned his fame as a warrior by waging a long war with the powerful non-Arya king, Sambara, whom he had ultimately defeated and killed. He had also destroyed the ninety-nine towns under Sambara’s control and killed Varci in Udabraja.

Sudas expanded the kingdom he inherited from his grandfather. In the process, he alienated all his neighbouring kingdoms. After years of subjugation, a group of ten (dasha) kings and chieftains (raja; rajnya) formed a confederacy to combine their strength and defeat Sudas.

The ten kings were led by Anu, Sudas’s arch-enemy and his spiritual adviser Sage Vishwamitra, who hated Sudas’s adviser, Vashishtha. Though many of the kings were allies of Sudas, they turned against him and his small but strong tribe of Bharatas. They thought that if Sudas and his men were surrounded with forces so superior, they would have no chance of survival. Sudas’s enemies wanted to destroy the Bharatas. They wanted to take the Bharatas as dasyas (slaves) and divide their lands and booty among themselves. One day, suddenly, their great army assembled on the banks of the Parushni (River Ravi in Punjab) and challenged Sudas. Since his army was vastly outnumbered, Sudas should have surrendered. But he knew he had done nothing wrong. He was righteous and had the love and support of his people. He chose to fight.

River Ravi, known as the Parushni in those days, was the site where the Dasharajnya War was fought
The devas (gods) watched from their heavenly abode as the battle progressed for many years. Finally, because of Sudas’s moral superiority, Lord Indra, the God of Rain and Thunderbolt chose to support the Bharatas. He whipped up a storm so great that the ten kings were easily overcome by Sudas’s army. Sudas and the Bharatas won the Dasharajnya War (The War of Ten Kings). The Bharatas became the dominant tribe of the Indian sub-continent.

Later, Sudas’s descendants split into the Puru and Kuru lines and waged another great war for Arya supremacy: the Mahabharata War.

Read more stories such as this one in Flow — River Legends from India by Eisha Sarkar available on, and Google Books.

Flow (e-book)

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