Nepal in the Mahabharata Period, Part 5

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BY: SUN STAFF - 8.10 2018

Elephants of War (detail) 

Sri Krsna's liberation of Banasura, the Yadava dynasty's presence in Nepal, and the events that preceded and followed.

At the time of the Battle of Kurukshetra, according to Markandey Purana, there existed seven famous Kirat kingdoms: Aswakut ( Kabul), Kulya (Kulu Valley), Matsya (North Bihar), Paundra (Bengal), Sumer (Assam), Malak (Mlek or Lohit), Kinner Kirat (Garhwal) and Nepal. The Kirat nation in those days included people known as the Khambos (or Khamboja), Yavana, Saka (Scythian), Pallava (Parthian), Parad (Balhikas), Assyrian and Khasas.

Many of the people from these Kirat kingdoms took part in the Kurukshetra war, and in other historical events narrated in Mahabharata. The Kiratas of Bhutan and China were part of the one akshouhini of troops under King Bhagadatta of Pragjyotisha (Assam), who joined the side of the Kauravas (Mahabharata 5,19). An akshouhini of troops is comprised of 21,870 elephants, 21,870 chariots, 65,610 horses and 109,350 foot soldiers.

Battle Horse in Elephant Attire

Participation of the Western Kiratas at Kurukshetra is also mentioned in the Mahabharata. Along with the Sakas and Yavanas, the Sivis and Vasatis marched in the huge army of Kauravas (Mh. 5,198). The Sakas, the Kiratas, the Yavanas, and the Pahlavas are mentioned in the description of a battle-array formed by the Kauravas (Mh. 6,20). Similarly, they are mentioned in another battle-array formed on another day at (Mh. 6,50). Satyaki, a Yadava chief on the side of the Pandavas, made this statement during Kurukshetra War:

"Those other elephants 700 in number, all cased in armour and ridden by Kiratas, and decked with ornaments, the king of the Kiratas, desirous of his life, had formerly presented to Arjuna. These were formerly employed in doing good to Yudhisthira. Behold the vicissitudes that time brings about, for these are now battling against Yudhisthira.

Those elephants are ridden by Kiratas difficult to defeat in battle. They are accomplished in fighting from elephants, and are all sprung from the race of Agni.

Formerly, they were all vanquished in battle by Arjuna. They are now waiting for me carefully, under the orders of Duryodhana. Slaying with my shafts these Kiratas difficult of defeat in battle, I shall follow in the track of Arjuna." (Mh. 7,109)

Elephants of War 
(Rama riding into Battle)

The Mahabharata also mentions the role played by Kirats after the war:

"The fete of kshatriyas, of kings in myriads, who fought with Arjuna on the occasion of his military campaign to collect tribute for Yudhisthira's Ashwamedha sacrifice for having lost their kinsmen on the field of Kurukshetra, was countless. Innumerable Kiratas and also Yavanas, who were all excellent bowmen, and diverse tribes of Mlechechas too, who were discomfited before (by the Pandavas on the field of Kurukshetra), and many Aryan kings, who possessed of soldiers and animals, encountered Arjuna in battle (Mh. 14,73). He battled with the Kasis, the Angas, the Kosalas, the Kiratas, and the Tanganas." (Mh. (14,83)"