Battle of ten kings (Dasharajna))

Battle of Ten Kings: Dasharajna: 1st Recorded Battle of Indian History

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Whenever we read Ancient Indian History we get fascinated by the stories of the great Mauryas, Kushans, Sungas, Satvahanas, etc. Their contribution to India in literature, cultural development, and architecture inspires young generations to delve deep into their unending saga of stories.

However, apart from the tales of these vast empires, there is another incident that occurs in Ancient India that no one knows about.

Battle of ten kings (Dasharajna)
Artistic depiction of the Battle of Ten kings.

This is the story of the first ever recorded battle in the History of the Indian Sub-continent which took place in the Vedic Age. This first war of Indian history is known as the Battle of 10 kings.

According to Rigveda (Book 7 or 7th Mandal), this battle took place on the banks of the river Ravi also known as Paurushni in Sanskrit. 

In this article, we will tell the story of this Great War which changed the course of Ancient Indian History.


Rise of Vedic Culture (1500 Bce-1000 Bce)

After the downfall of the great Indus Valley Civilization, another prosperous culture emerged which is known as the Vedic Culture.

However, the Vedic culture is further divided into two cultures namely:

Early Vedic: 1500-1000 BCE

Rig vedic text 
Battle of ten kings Dasharajna
Rig Veda Text

Later Vedic: 1000-500 BCE

The battle of 10 Kings/ Dasarajna took place in the Early Vedic Age.

Important facts of Vedic Culture

The Rig Vedic society was a tribal society which was patrinienal in nature, but it is also true that women in this period hold important positions in society.

Most women were educated and attended certain important Rig Vedic assemblies like Vidatha (assembly with diverse functions).

Furthermore, the Vedic society advanced tremendously in the field of military technique. They possessed horse-drawn chariots and the charioteers wear coats of mail known as Varma, swords (Asi), arrows (Hanas), etc.

We also find that the Vedic people followed Polytheism (Naturalistic) and worshiped natural forces like wind, fire, thunder, etc.

Indra was their greatest God followed by Agni and Varuna.

Battle of Ten Kings/ Dasharajna

The battle was fought between the two powerful Rigvedic tribes. The Bharata tribe was on one side and a confederacy of ten other tribes.

The Bharata king (chief) Sudas defeated the powerful confederacy of 10 other tribes in this titanic encounter.

According to Rigveda King Sudas was the grandson of the powerful king Divodas Athithigva who had established its hegemony around modern-day Punjab.  

Rig-Veda also mentioned that king Sudas expanded his empire in all possible directions.

The tribes that fought against the Bharatas were Anus, Druhyus, Bhalana, Alina, Prithu, Sivas, Bhrgu, Parsu, Shimyu, Matsyas, and Purus.

The leader of this large confederacy was the Purus tribe. Earlier the Purus is considered a big tribe and the Bharata tribe was a part of them.

The cause behind this great ancient battle is a little ambiguous as historians had suggested different reasons for the cause of this war.

However, two important reasons on which most historians rely are:

1 It is believed that due to the expansionist policy of King Sudas. Under him, as mentioned in Rigveda there was an immense rise of the Bharata tribe under the leadership of Sudas.

So in order to halt the advance and its growing strength, several tribes decided to form a confederacy against them.

2 Second reason behind the war is that King Sudas removed the famous priest (also known as Purohit) Vishwamitra and appointed Vasishtha in his place. After this Vishwamitra decided to take revenge on the Bharata king and due to this resentment he organized a strong confederacy of ten kings against king Sudas.

In this war, several key battles were fought stretched the duration of the battle. Later the battle at the river Ravi became the decisive one in which king Sudas defeated the strong confederacy of ten tribes.

According to Rigveda the confederacy of ten kings want to divert the water channel of the Ravi River and were constructing a dam on it. But their plan failed miserably and most of their troops drowned in the river.

In the main battle, the Purus tribe lost their king and after the battle, the Bharatas moved eastward of the river Ravi and settled themselves around the region of modern-day Kurukshetra.

Later the Bharata tribe merged with the Purus which later formed the Kuru tribe. This Kuru tribe was an important link in another great war which is known as Mahabharata.

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