WAR OF 10 KINGS
VEDAS AND AVESTAN

When asked about the ancient classics of Bharat, most would quickly reply with The Ramayan and The MahaBharat. Although this answer is correct, there is an even more ancient story that has been forgotten. That ancient story is called the Dasharajnya or ‘Battle of ten Kings.

This battle is memorialized in the 7th Mandala of the Rigved, in hymns 18, 33 and 83.4-8). In this Battle of Ten Kings all the people of the Rig ved Bharat were involved. It took place near the Parusni River (Ravi River) in Punjab. The place where they fought later became the site of the city of Harappa, possibly the first modern urban center in history.

This Battle is also Important as it heralded the spread of Vedic beliefs to other parts of the world, for the simple reason the kings and their subjects were forced to pay tributes and had to migrate outwards towards the present lands now called as Iran, Iraq, Egypt etc… An Aryan migration, out of Bharat could be seen here.

In the battle some of the powerful Puru tribes created an alliance with other tribes from the Bharat and Persia. Guided by the royal sage Vishvamitra, this army came on to oppose the Bharat King Sudas (Note: King Sudas was also descendant of Puru Dynasty) in battle. But, Sudas defeated them all, and captured all the Rig vedic tribes.

King Sudas was the grandson of the powerful king Divodas Atithigva and son of King Pijavana. Divodas had his empire in the regions of Punjab and earned fame as a warrior by waging a long war with the powerful non-Arya King Sambara whom he ultimately defeated and killed.

Sudas’s capital city was on the Sarasvati River. He inherited the kingdom from his grandfather and greatly expanded it. He was also supported by the spiritual mentorship of his guru, the legendary sage Vashishth. In the process, he alienated all the neighboring kingdoms surrounding him. After years of subjugation, a group of roughly a dozen or ‘ten’ (dasha) kings and chieftans (‘raja; rajnya’) formed a confederacy to combine their strength and defeat King Sudas once and for all.

This Battle is also Important as it heralded the spread of Vedic beliefs to other parts of the world, for the simple reason the kings and their subjects were forced to pay tributes and had to migrate outwards towards the present lands now called as Iran, Iraq, Egypt etc… An Aryan migration, out of Bharat could be seen here.

Sudas’s capital city was on the Sarasvati River. He inherited the kingdom from his grandfather and greatly expanded it. He was also supported by the spiritual mentorship of his guru, the legendary sage Vasishta. In the process, he alienated all the neighboring kingdoms surrounding him. After years of subjugation, a group of roughly a dozen or ‘ten’ (dasha) kings and chieftans (‘raja; rajnya’) formed a confederacy to combine their strength and defeat King Sudas once and for all.

The list of confederate kings involved in this war is actually slightly over ten, but was referred to roughly as ‘dasha’ (ten) in the Rig Ved. It may be that they belonged to ten tribes in all. Some of the Tribes mentioned in Rigved are:

  • Paktha RV(7.18.7)

  • Alinas : it was suggested that they lived to the north-east of Nuristan, because the land was
    mentioned by the Chinese pilgrim Hiouen Thsang. RV(7.18.7)

  • Anu : Some place them in the Parusni (Ravi) area. RV(7.18.13)

  • Bhrigus : The priestly family descended from the ancient Kavi Bhrigu. Later, they are
    related to the composition of parts of the Atharv Ved (Bhrigu-Angiras). RV(7.18.6)

  • Bhalanas : Some scholars have argued that the Bhalanas lived in the Bolan Pass area. RV (7.18.7)

  • Druhyus : Some align them with the Gandhari. (Later age Druids of Europe) RV (7.18.6)

  • Matsya : are only mentioned in the Rig ved (7.18.6), but later in connection with the Salva Kingdom.

  • Parsus : The Parsu have been connected by some with the ancient Persians. RV (7.83.1)

  • Purus: One of the major tribal confederations in the Rig ved.

  • Panis : Also the name of a class of demons; later associated with the Scythians.

  • Vishanin RV (7.18.7)

  • Shivi RV (7.18.7)

  • Turvasha RV (7.18.6)

  • Matsya RV (7.18.6)

  • Vaikarnas RV (7.18.11) ( 21 in number)

  • Pruthus (which includes Kavi Chayamana) RV(7.18.8)

  • Simyu RV (7.18.5)

These all were segregated under 10 kings for the war. Along with this, there were many other enemies with whom Sudas fought the war on the banks of Yamuna. They were :

  • Yakshas RV (7.18.19)

  • Shigrus RV(7.18.19)

  • Aja RV (7.18.19) and whose leader was a king called Bheda RV (7.18.19)


There were other enemies who had attacked on the Vashishth :

  • Yudhyamadhi, who were killed by drowning RV(7.18.24)

  • Trushnaj RV(7.33.5)
The only known ally of Sudas in this war were Trutsu people (Ikshvakus)

Now after knowing the participants of the war, let us now see how the war took place.

The war was started on the banks of the river Parushni. RV (7.18.8) records that the banks of the Parushni were broken and badly damaged by the enemies. The war was a big one and Sudas and his army fought bravely. The enemies were destroyed and finally Sudas won the war, Later on, he had to fight Aja, Shigru and Yakshas on the Yamuna and he defeated them too. They had to pay a war revenue to Sudas.

Sudas emerged as a winner of the war. A total of 6666 people were killed in the war as mentioned in RV (7.18.14).

He donated handsome gifts to the Vashishth as mentioned in RV (7.18.22-25).
These kings, though some are described as Aryans, were actually fallen Aryans, or rebellious and materialistic kings who had given up the spiritual path and were conquered by King Sudas.

Occasionally, there was a degeneration of the spiritual kingdom in areas of Bharat, and wars had to be fought in order to reestablish the spiritual Aryan culture in these areas.

The war was started on the banks of the Parusni (Ravi) river and it span for many years between Puru and Bharat. According to Rig ved, Sudas and his army was forced to retreat but managed to cross the Parusni river safely, while his foes, trying to pursue, were scattered by a flood and either drowned or were slaughtered by Sudas’s men. Later on, he had to fight Aja, Shigru and Yakshas on the Yamuna river and he defeated them too.

Sudas was able to defeat the entire confederacy of ten+ Kings and emerge as victorious. All enemies of Sudas were defeated, thousands were killed.

There are diffferent account as to when this battle actually took place due to different hypothesis from different scholars. Some date it back to near 3000-4000 BCE while other consider it to be dated around the 2350 BCE.

The Battle of Ten Kings or the dasharajanya war is the Worlds first recorded Battle. Not just that, it was no mere neolithic stick and stone fight. It was the first organized war with infantry, archers and elephants.

After the Battle of Ten Kings, many inhabitants of Bharat got scared and out of fear migrated west wards into Iran and beyond. (RV-VII:18,19,33,83). Western scholars easily misinterpreted this battle to mean an invasion of nomadic people called Aryans rather than simply a war in which the superior Aryan kings re-established the spiritual values and the Vedic Aryan way of life.

It is important to note that the Sanskrit word ‘Arya’ (English: ‘Aryan’) has no racial connotation in the Vedas and is a term originally used to identify the members of the Puru-Bharat Dynasty. The Vedic Aryans were not the ultimate ancestors of the different tribes and peoples found in the Sanskrit texts. They have a definite historical identity: the Vedic Aryans were the Purus of the ancient texts.

The Purus were a confederation of tribes located at the banks of the Sarasvati River. According to the Purans (ancient Hindu texts), the Bharats are descendant of the Purus. “Bharat”– the official name of the Republic of Bharat — is actually named after a descendant of the Puru dynasty King Bharat and King Sudas was the descendant of Emperor Bharat. This Puru-Bharat dynasty provided the continuity of leadership for thousands of years which is documented in the ancient scriptures, particularly the Rigved.

The Bharat ruler later allied and merged with the Purus Tribe, to form the Kuru Dynasty. It was King Sudas, whose later descendants fought the great Mahabharat war.

After 15 generations of Kuru Dunasty, Kauravas and Pandavas were born who fought the epic battle of Mahabharat.

According to historian, King Porus who fought Alexander in the Battle of the Hydaspes River, was descendant of the Purus and Pandava of Mahabharat. The modern Punjabi surname Puri may have originated with the Puru tribe.

Effects of the War of 10 kings (Dashradnya Yuddh) :

As discussed in my earlier post, the War of Ten Kings or Dasharadnya Yuddha is one of the major wars described in the Rigved. We have seen how Sudas defeated his enemies and won over much of the land in Sapta-Sindhu region and expanded his kingdom North Panchal which existed in the doab region between Ganga and Saraswati in east Haryana.

But the effects of this war do not stop here. There are many significant effects which can be attributed to this war which in turn was instrumental in giving birth to a contemporary religion to ours- Zoroastrianism.

A piece of history which one needs to know is that Sudas' grandson Somaka had also fought with the same people along with the Gautam family rishis. This battle is called Varshagira Battle which took place in Afghanistan.

Now we all know the Avesta is the scripture of Zoroastrianism and Zoroaster or Zaruthustra is their God. The Avesta in it's Gathas and Vendidad has striking references to Rigvedic people. But how come these people got related to the Vedic people in Bharat?

The answer is, the communities who had to leave Bharat after the War of Ten Kings were indeed those who composed the Avesta...!!!!

Lets have a look at the communities who left Bharat after the war :

  • Prithus or Parthavas (VII.83.1) : Parthians.

  • Parshus or Parshavas (VII .83.1) : Persians.

  • Pakthas (VII.18.7) : Pakhtoons.

  • Bhalanas (VII.18.7) : Baluchis.

  • Shivas (VII.18.7) : Khivas.

  • Vishanins (VII.18.7) : Pishachas (Dards).

    These were some of the major communities and we find that their names reflect current names

    in today's Afghanistan and Central Asia.

    But apart from this, one more thing in common in these people is that majority of these people
    belong to the Anu tribe.

Now let us look at the story from the side of the Avesta :

The Avesta states that it's people had roamed 16 lands and gives it's names. The names clearly go in an order from North to south and then towards east. They are-

Sogdiana (Gava), Margiana (Mourv), Bactria (Baxti, Nisaya between Margiana and Bactria, Areia (Haroiva), Kabulistan (Vaekarsta), the Gazni region (Urva), Xnanta, Arachosia (Haraxvaiti), Drangiana (Haetumant), a territory between Zamin-davar and Qal‘at-i-Gilzay (Raya), the Lugar valley (Caxra), Buner (Varana), Punjab (Hapta Handu), Ranha (between the Kabul and the Kurram, in the region where it seems likely the Vedic river Rasa flowed.) and Airyana Vaejah…

Airyana Vaejah is the 16th land and by logic if the lands start from north to south and then to east, we say that Airyana Vaejah is to the east of Ranha or the area of Rasa which is obviously Kashmir.With a striking similarity, the Puranas also state that indeed the Anu people lived in Kashmir..!!!!

Let us directly look at the references to Vedic people in Avesta :

(Y.44.20) of the Gathas directly mentions Ausijas, a branch of Angiras family.
The term Anu got itself replicated for a region in Afghanistan called Anauon.
Bhargavas were the priests of the Anus and their names are used interchangeably in the Rigved RV(5.31.4) with RV(4.16.20) or RV(7.18.14) with RV(7.18.6)
Ahur Mazda who led the Avestans out of their land Airyana Vaejah says Angra Manyu had created severe cold due to which they had to leave.
It is mentioned that Zaruthustra had a debate with a person called Nadhyaongha Goetema (can be gautam Rishi son Nodha) which is clearly Nodhas
Gautam and the Rigved also confirms this part of history as we saw that indeed Somaka had gone to Afghanistan for war with the Gautam family of rishis.
We know that Kavasha Ailusha was a person who fought against Sudas. This name Kavash also appears in the Avesta.
We know Kavi Chayamana was also against Sudas. If these names are combined to Kavi Kavasha, then it sounds similar to Kavi Kavata, the founder of the Avestan dynasty.
The Avestan people call themselves Dah (Das), Dahyu (Dasyu) and Ahur (Asur) proudly who were enemies in the Rig ved.
Also, Indra who is a Deva in Rigved is ridiculed in Avesta by calling him Andra. The Daeva ( Devas) are their enemy.

This gives us a clear indication that indeed the Avestan people were those who migrated from Bharat after the war of 10 kings. These people were Anus which can be proven from their journey to Afghanistan.

First the Avesta tells they were present in Airyana Vaejah which we have shown to be Kashmir. And as stated, even the Purans tell us that Anus were indeed ruling the Kashmir area. Then the Avesta says they shifted to the region of HaptaHandu or Sapta Sindhu or Punjab. And the Puranic history tells us that during the era of Ikshavku king Mandhata, the Druhyus who were then ruling in Punjab were pushed back by him to the far north-west and the vacant place in the Punjab was occupied by Anus who established Kekaya, Madra, Shivi kingdoms there.

So we can scrutinize the different periods of the Anu migrations with respect to the Rigvedic era-

•  Pre-Rigvedic period

The Anus were living in Kashmir. The Avesta was not in existence and very early hymns of Rigved were in existence

•  Early Rigvedic period

The Anus found vacant space in Punjab due to Mandhata's war with the Druhyus and they shifted to Punjab or Sapta Sindhu, The Avesta was not composed in this time but the Avestans remember this period as their stay in the Hapta-Handu area. In this era, the Anus were in cordial relations with the Bharats. They even had fought the Hariyupiya war together against the Yadus and Turvasus.

•  Middle Rigvedic period

This was the era of king Sudas when the relations between the Anus and Bharats declined and they went on war. The Anus were defeated and some of them left Bharat and went further west to Afghanistan. This is the early era of the Avesta. Zaruthustra was existing in there times when he had a debate with Nodhas Gautam (Nodha son of Rishi Gautam). Sudas's grandson Somaka also went to Afghanistan and had war with the Avestan people. This era was the times of tension.

•  Late Rigvedic period

In this era, majority of the Rigved was composed and the Avesta was halfway composed. In this era, the Avestan people got their separate land and the tensions got reduced between them and the Vedic people. Soon everything was forgotten. A new religion of Zoroastrianism had been born in Iran.

One war, and so much effects. And the most positive point of this war description is that we end up proving that the movement of people was from Bharat to central Asia and not vice versa as stated by the Aryan Invasion Theory.

RV Means Rig Ved