Bharata Khanda

Bharata Khanda is a term used in Hindu texts, including the Vedas, Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Puranic, to describe the Indian subcontinent. The historical context of the Sanskrit epics are the Vedic period (1700–600 BCE), Mahajanapadas (600 BCE) and the subsequent formation of the Maurya Empire (322 BCE), the beginning of the "golden age" of Classical Sanskrit literature.

Map showing the locations of Kingdoms mentioned in the Indian epics or Bharata Khanda.

The nameEdit

In Hindu scriptures, Bharata Khanda is the habitable world; the known land as experienced by the writers.[1][2][3] It is named after the legendary emperor Bharata and was first used in the Vedic Period (1700–600 BCE).

The KingdomsEdit

The boundaries of the kingdomsEdit

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 villagesEdit

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 kingdomsEdit

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 kingdomsEdit

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 kingdomsEdit

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.

Kingdoms of Northern IndiaEdit

Kuru Kingdom Panchala Kingdom Vatsa Kingdom Matsya Kingdom
Yaudheya Kingdom Trigarta Kingdom Gandhara Kingdom Pulindas

Foreign Kingdoms of the NorthEdit

Darada Kingdom Parada Kingdom Parasika Kingdom Kasmira Kingdom
Tushara Kingdom Huna Kingdom Hara Huna Kingdom Rishika Kingdom

Kingdoms of North Western IndiaEdit

Salwa Kingdom Madra Kingdom Sindhu Kingdom Sauvira Kingdom
Sivi Kingdom Kekeya Kingdom Gurjara Kingdom Kamboja Kingdom

Foreign Kingdoms to the North-WestEdit

Bahlika Kingdom Parama Kamboja Kingdom Uttara Madra Kingdom Uttara Kuru Kingdom
Yavana Kingdom Khasa Kingdom Saka Kingdom Pahlava Kingdom

Kingdoms of North-Eastern IndiaEdit

Kosala Kingdom Kasi Kingdom Magadha Kingdom Kingdom of the Videhas
Kirata Kingdom Himalaya Kingdom Parvata Kingdom Nepa Kingdom

Kingdoms of Western IndiaEdit

Dwaraka Kingdom Abhira Kingdom Sudra Kingdom Nishada Kingdom
Avanti Kingdom Heheya Kingdom Saurashtra Kingdom Surparaka Kingdom

Kingdoms of Central IndiaEdit

Surasena Kingdom Anupa Kingdom Dasarna Kingdom Vidarbha Kingdom
Karusha Kingdom Kunti Kingdom Chedi Kingdom Malava Kingdom

Kingdoms of South-Western IndiaEdit

Saraswata Kingdom Kishkindha Kingdom Gomanta Kingdom Nasikya Kingdom
Konkana Kingdom Asmaka Kingdom Danda Kingdom Anarta Kingdom

Kingdoms of Eastern IndiaEdit

Lauhitya Kingdom Malla Kingdom Sonita Kingdom Vanga Kingdom
Pragjyotisha Kingdom Pundra Kingdom Suhma Kingdom Utkala Kingdom

Kingdoms of Southern IndiaEdit

Karnata Kingdom Kerala Kingdom Mushika Kingdom Chera Kingdom
Pandya Kingdom Chola Kingdom Mahishaka Kingdom Ay Kingdom

Foreign Kingdoms of the southEdit

Sinhala Lanka

Kingdoms of the South-Eastern IndiaEdit

Dakshina Kosala Kingdom Dravida Kingdom Andhra Kingdom Kalinga Kingdom
Odra Kingdom Kikata Kingdom Pallava Kingdom Kanchi Kingdom

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Buchanan, Francis (1988) [1807], A journey from Madras through the countries of Mysore, Canara and Malabar, Volume 1, Asian Educational Services, ISBN 978-81-206-0386-8
  2. ^ Buchanan, Francis (1807), A Journey from Madras Through the Countries of Mysore, Canara and Malabar, Volume 2, T. Cadell and W. Davies
  3. ^ Buchanan, Francis (1807), A Journey from Madras Through the Countries of Mysore, Canara and Malabar, Volume 3, T. Cadell and W. Davies

External linksEdit