Danda (alias Dandaka, a kingdom and a forest had the same name) was a colonial state of Lanka under the reign of Ravana. Ravana's governor Khara ruled this province. It was the stronghold of all the Rakshasa tribes living in the Dandaka Forest. It is roughly the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra with Janasthana (Aurangabad city) as its capital. It was from here that the Rakshasa Khara attacked Raghava Rama of Kosala, who lived with his wife and brother at Panchavati (modern day Nasik) , not far away.

References in Mahabharata

Though Dandaka was mentioned in the epic Ramayana, with great detail, a few mentions of this kingdom is found in the epic Mahabharata.

Sahadeva's conquests

Sahadeva, the Pandava general, and younger brother of Pandava king Yudhisthira, came to southern regions to collect tribute for the Rajasuya sacrifice of the king.

Sahadeva, having exacted jewels and wealth from king Rukmin (ruling at the second capital of Vidarbha, named Bhojakata), marched further to the south. There he, reduced to subjection, Surparaka and Talakata, and the Dandakas also. The Kuru warrior then vanquished and brought under his subjection numberless kings of the Mlechchha tribe living on the sea coast (2,30).

Dandaka forest

The forest of Dandaka was the biggest forest in ancient India. It streached from Vindhya ranges in central Indian to the banks of river Krishnavenna (now known as river Krishna) and Tughabhadra in the south. Mention of this forest is found in Mahabharata at (3-85). The sacred forest of Dandaka is mentioned here along with its possible boundaries and the rivers flowing within it. Surparaka (southern Gujarat) probably formed its western boundary. Mahendra Mountains in Orissa formed its eastern boundary. The rivers Godavari, and Krishnavenna run through this forest. the river or lake Payoshni is mentioned at the northern entrance of this forest. In epic Ramayana no kingdom except the Dandaka kingdom and Kishkindha Kingdom is mentioned as lying within this forest. During epic Mahabharata many regions that was formerly Dandaka forest were found to be habitable kingdoms.

Dandaka Kingdom was a kingdom of Rakshasas in the midst of the Dandaka forests

Raghava Rama lived for some time in the forest of Dandaka, from desire of slaying the Rakshasas. At Janasthana (the capital of Dandaka Kingdom ) he cut off the head of a wicked-souled Rakshasa (as per epic Ramayana, his name was Khara) with a razor-headed shaft of great sharpness (9,39)

Raghava Rama, that foremost of bowmen, taking his bow and in company with his queen (Sita and brother (Lakshmana), with the view of compassing his father’s welfare, began to reside in the Dandaka forest. From Janasthana (the capital of Dandaka Kingdom ), that mighty Rakshasa monarch, the wicked Ravana, carried away Rama’s queen. (3,146).

A southern path through the Dandaka woods existed during the time of Raghava Rama. He travelled through this path in search of his wife, abducted by Ravana. Many uninhabited asylums of ascetics, scattered over with seats of Kusa grass and umbrellas of leaves and broken water-pots, and abounding with hundreds of jackals were seen along that path.(3,277).

An older or a later Dandaka Kingdom

Either before or after the rule of the Rakshasas, there was some other rulers who ruled the Dandaka territoires. This kingdom was then destryoed by the oppositions of Bhrahmanas. This is evident in the following passages.

The Wrath of Brahmana's burns Dandak forest - this mention is repeated at (3,205) and (13,151). The large kingdom of the Dandakas was destroyed by a Brahmana (13,152).

Other References

There was a place (a sacred region) called Dandaparna (also known as Danda) near the city called Champapuri, in Anga Kingdom, on the banks of river Ganga. (3-85,275). A king by the name Danda ruled the outskirts of Magadha Kingdom which was close to the Anga Kingdom.

See also

Kingdoms of Ancient India

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Created by Jijith Nadumuri at 13 Jan 2010 09:59 and updated at 06 Jun 2010 06:03

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