:"This article is about the kingdom of Pandya in Indian epic literature. For the historical kingdom, see
Pandyan Kingdom. All the references (n:m) found in this article refer to Mahabharata, nth volume, mth chapter""
Pandyas were fierce warriors who took part in the
Kurukshetra Waras per the epic Mahabharata. They were mentioned both in the epic Mahabharataand epic Ramayana. A Pandya king named Sarangadwaja (alternatively Malayadwaja) is mentioned as participating in the Kurukshetra War, siding with the Pandavas. It is not clear if Pandyas were linked to the Pandavasof north-India. This kingdom existed in the southern part of modern day Tamil Nadustate of India, to the south of Kaveri River. Their capital was Madhuraon the banks of the "Tamraparni River", which is now known as Vaigairiver.
Pandyas, Cholas and Keralas were also mentioned in Tamil literature (See
Pandyan Kingdom) complementing their mention in the Sanskritliterature (constituted by Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas and Vedas).
References in Mahabharata
Places in Pandya Kingdom
"All the references (n:m) found in this article refer to
Mahabharata, nth book, mth chapter"
The mountain Rishabha in Pandya kingdom is mentioned at (
Mahabharata3:85). In the country of the Pandyas are the tirthas (places) named Agastya and Varuna! There, amongst the Pandyas, is the tirtha called the Kumaris (Kanyakumari) (3:88). Tamraparni and Gokarna ( Gokarn) also is mentioned in the same passage.
Krishna's encounter with the Pandyas
The mighty Sarangadhwaja, the king of the Pandyas, has white steeds, decked with armour set with stones of lapis lazuli. His country was invaded and his father was slain by Krishna in battle. Obtaining weapons then from
Bhishmaand Drona, Bala Ramaand Kripa, prince Sarangadhwaja became, in weapons, the equal of Rukmiand Karnaand Arjunaand Achyuta. He then desired to destroy the city of Dwaraka and subjugate the whole world. Wise friends, however, from desire of doing him good, counselled him against that course. Giving up all thoughts of revenge, he is now ruling his own dominions. Steeds that were all of the hue of the Atrusa flower bore a hundred and forty thousand principle car-warriors that followed that Sarangadhwaja, the king of the Pandyas, opposing Dronain Kurukshetra War.(7:23).
Sahadeva's expedition to South
Having brought king Nila of
Avanti Kingdomunder his sway thus, the victorious son of Madri( Sahadeva) then went further towards the south. He brought the king of Tripura under his sway. And next turning his forces against the Paurava kingdom, he vanquished and reduced to subjection the monarch thereof. And the prince, after this, with great efforts brought Akriti, the king of Saurashtra and preceptor of the Kausikas under his sway. The virtuous prince, while staying in the kingdom of Saurashtra sent an ambassador unto king Rukmin, the son of Bhishmaka within the territories of Bhojakata. And the monarch along with his son, remembering their relationship with Vasudeva Krishna, cheerfully accepted, the sway of the son of Pandu. He marched further to the south and reduced to subjection, Surparaka and Talakata, and the Dandakas also. The Kuru warrior then vanquished and brought under his subjection numberless kings of the Mlechchhatribe living on the sea coast, and the Nishadas and the cannibals and even the Karnapravarnas, and those tribes also called the Kalamukhas (dark faced) who were a cross between human beings and Rakshasas, and the whole of the Cole ( Chola or Kolwa) mountains, and also Surabhi-patna, and the island called the Copper island, and the mountain called Ramaka. He having brought under subjection king Timingila, conquered a wild tribe known by the name of the Kerakas. The son of Pandu also conquered the town of Sanjayanti and the country of the Pashandas and the Karanatakas by means of his messengers alone, and made all of them pay tributes to him. The hero brought under his subjection and exacted tributes from the Paundrayas (Pandyas?) and the Dravidas along with the Udrakeralas and the Andhras and the Talavanas, the Kalingas and the Ushtrakarnikas, and also the delightful city of Atavi and that of the Yavanas. And, He having arrived at the sea-shore, then dispatched with great assurance messengers unto the illustrious Vibhishana, the grandson of Pulastya and the ruler of Lanka (2:30).
Other Military expeditions to South
Bhishmaka, the mighty king of the Bhojas (of
Vidarbha Kingdom) who governs a fourth part of the world, by his learning conquered the Pandyas and the Kratha-Kausikas (2:14).
Having met with
Rukmi(of Vidarbha Kingdom), Karna, repaired to Pandya and the mountain, Sri. And by fighting, he made Karala Kerala?), king Nila, Venudari’s son, and other best of kings living in the southern direction pay tribute (3:252).
Tribute to Yudhisthira during Rajasuya
Pandya was present in the
Rajasuyaceremony of Pandavaking Yudhisthira(2:36,43).The Kings of Chola and Pandya, brought numberless jars of gold filled with fragrant sandal juice from the hills of Malaya, and loads of sandal and aloe wood from the Dardduras hills, and many gems of great brilliancy and fine cloths inlaid with gold. Singhalas gave those best of sea-born gems called the lapis lazuli, and heaps of pearls also, and hundreds of coverlets for elephants (2:51).
Pandyas in Kurukshetra War
"Pandya king Malayadwaja sided with the
Pandavasin the great Kurukshetra War. His main opponent was Ashwathama."
Bhishma's ratings, Pandya king was rated as a great "Ratha" (a grade for chariot-warriors) (5,172).
Pandya, who dwelt on the coast-land near the sea, came accompanied by troops of various kinds to
Yudhishthira, the king of kings (5:19). There hath come Pandya. Remarkably heroic and endued with prowess and energy that have no parallel, he is devoted to the Pandava cause. (5:22). Dhrishtadyumnaand Shikhandiand the five sons of Draupadiand the Prabhadrakas, and Satyakiand Chekitanawith the Dravida forces, and the Pandyas, the Cholas, and the Keralas, surrounded by a mighty array - were mentioned as part of the Pandavaarmy (8:12).
Pandya, that foremost of warriors skilled in shafts and weapons, was destroying crowds of foes by means of diverse kinds of shafts. Piercing the bodies of the elephants and steeds and men with sharp shafts, that foremost of smiters overthrew and deprived them of life. Cutting off with his own shafts the diverse weapons hurled at him by many foremost of foes, Pandya slew his enemies (8:19). He was slain by the
Kauravahero Ashwatthama(8:20,46) His name was mentioned as Malayadhwaja. It is not clear if the Pandya king Malayadhwaja and the Pandya king Sarangadhwaja were the same person.
There is a doubt if some other Pandya king sided with the
Kauravasas indicated by the following passage at (9:2):- When the mighty Pandya, that foremost of all wielders of weapons, has been slain in battle by the Pandavas, what can it be but destiny?
Kingdoms of Ancient India
Mahabharataof Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa, translated to English by Kisari Mohan Ganguli
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