Kamboja or Kamvoja is a kingdom grouped among the western kingdoms in the epic Mahabharata. Western kingdoms were cold countries and people used blankets. They also reared sheep and drank sheep milk. Kamboja Horses were of excellent quality. Their horses and even horsemen were used in the wars between kings of Aryavarta (North Indian kingdoms where Vedic culture of the norm, prevailed). Their soldiers used to aid both the parties engaged in a battle on a payment basis. In the Kurukshetra War, there were Kamboja soldiers on both Pandava side and Kaurava side.In the epic Mahabharata, Kamboja is sometimes referred to as a republic or a kingless country where elected chiefs among the people ruled the country. A kingless country is othervise called Arashtra or Aratta. This name is sometimes collectively used to denote many other western kingdoms like Madra, Kekeya and Gandhara. Another collective name denoting the western kingdoms is Bahika ( Vahika, Vahlika, Bahlika or Vahika) meaning outsider. This is to denote that their culture was outside or different from the Vedic culture, prevailed in the Kuru, Panchala and other kingdoms of the Gangatic plain. The Kamboja country closest to Aryavarta was the one with Rajapura as its capital, which is identified as Rajauri of Kashmir. Other than this country, the epic mentions about a Kamboja close to Darada Kingdom, an eastern Kamboja and a Parama Kamboja country in the far north, all famous for excellent breeds of horses. Another country Aswaka (the horse country) also is related to Kamboja, being either a province of Parama Kamboja or a neighbouring country. Some historians believes that Afganistan is a name derived from the name Aswaka Stana meaning, the land of horses.A clan of tribess called Kinnaras were believed to be the Kamboja horse warriors. Kinnaras were described to be horse-headed humans. This could be an
exaggeration of their extra ordinary skill in cavelry warfare. In Kali Yuga, Kambojas had many colonial states in central India, inculding the Asmaka or Aswaka of Maharashtra state. Cambodia, a modern country of South East Asia, is another colony of Kambojas during the time of recorded history. The word Kam can mean 'woolen cloth' (Kambala), denoting the dress of the people. Another meaning of the word Kam is 'place' or 'region'. It is surprising to note that there are many places in Asia, Europe and especially around Mount Meru of Tanzania in Africa with the word Kam in it, denoting the meaning place or region, hinting towards the African origin of human beings (homo sapiens).

References in Mahabharata

Among the tribes of the north are the Mlecchas, and the Kruras, the Yavanas, the Chinas, the Kamvojas, the Darunas, and many Mleccha tribes; the Sukritvahas, the Kulatthas, the Hunas, and the Parasikas; the Ramanas, and the Dasamalikas. Kamboja mentioned as a kingdom in ancient India (Bharata Varsha). (6,9)

The migration of Kambojas

The Yamas, Kamvojas, Gandharas, Kiratas and Barbaras. All of them were characterised by practices alien to the normal culture. In the Krita age they were nowhere on earth. It is from the Treta that they have had their origin and began to multiply. When the terrible period came, joining Treta and the Dwapara, the Kshatriyas, approaching one another, engaged themselves in battle. (12,206).

Absence of Brahmins in Kambojaa

It is in consequence of the absence of Brahmanas from among them that the Sakas, the Yavanas, the Kamvojas and other Kshatriya tribes have become fallen and degraded into the status of Sudras. The Dravidas, the Kalingas, the Pulandas, the Usinaras, the Kolisarpas, the Mahishakas and other Kshatriyas, have, in consequence of the absence of Brahmanas from among their midst, become degraded into Sudras. (13,33)The passage gives signs of the cultural differences prevailed in Kalinga with the mainstream culture prevailed in the plains of Ganga.(13,33)

Arjuna's conquests

Arjuna encountered two Kamboja kingdoms in the northern region. One is close to the Daradas, and the other one is the eastern Kambojas.Arjuna defeated the Kashmiras, the king Lohita along with ten minor chiefs, the Trigartas, the Daravas, the Kokonadas, the delightful town of Avisari, the king Rochamana ruling in Uraga, the town of Singhapura that was well-protected with various weapons, the regions called Suhma and Sumala and the Valhikas always difficult of being vanquished. Then, Arjuna taking with him a select force, defeated the Daradas along with the Kambojas. Then the exalted son of Indra vanquished the robber tribes that dwelt in the north-eastern frontier and those also that dwelt in the woods. He also subjugated the allied tribes of the Lohas, the eastern Kambojas, and northern Rishikas. And the battle with the Rishikas was fierce in the extreme.

Karna's conquests

Karna conqured the Kamboja kingdom with Rajapura as its capital.Karna vanquish the Kamvojas having proceeded to Rajpura their capital. (7,4) Karna vanquished all the Kambojas and the Amvashthas with the Kaikeyas (8,9)

Vasudeva Krishna's conquests

The Daserakas, the Kasmirakas, the Aurasikas, the Pisachas, the Samudgalas, the Kamvojas, the Vatadhanas, the Trigartas, the Malavas, the Daradas were mentioend as conqured by Vasudeva Krishna (7,11)

Kamboja Kings

Kamboja King Chadravarman

Chadravarman a king of Kamboja is mentioned, linking him with the Daitya clan of Asuras. (1,67)

Kamobja King Sudakshina

Sudakshina is mentioend to have attended Draupadi's self-choice ceremony along with the kings of neighbouring kingdoms viz Shalya, the king of Madra Kingdom, with his son, the heroic Rukmangada, Rukmaratha, Somadatta (king of Bahlika Kingdom) of the Kuru race with his three sons - Bhuri, Bhurisrava, and Sala. He is said to be of Puru's race. (1,188)He was one among the generals of the Kaurava army in Kurukshetra War (6,16),(5,156). The Kaurava generalissimo rated this car-warrior as a Ratha. Bhishma's words:- Sudhakshina, the ruler of the Kamvojas, is in my judgment, equal to a single Ratha. Desiring the success of Duryodhana's object, he will fight. As regards the car-army of this king, those smiters of fierce impetus, the Kamvojas, will cover a large area like a flight of locusts! (5,167)

Kamboja King Kamatha

Kamboja King Kamatha was mentioned along with King Kakshasena, king Kshemaka, king Kampana who terrorized the Yavanas and the king of the Madrakas. All of them came to attend the event of Pandava king Yudhisthira's entry to his new palace at Indraprastha. (2,4)

Tribute to Yudhisthira

The king of Kambhoja sent unto Yudhisthira as tribute innumerable skins, black, darkish, and red, of the deer Kadali, as also numberless blankets of excellent textures. (2,48)The king of Kamboja gave innumerable skins of the best king, and blankets made of wool, of the soft fur of rodents and other burroughers, and of the hair of cats,—all inlaid with threads of gold. And he also gave three hundred horses of the Titteti and the Kalmasha species possessing noses like parrots. And he also gave three hundred camels and an equal number of she-asses, all fattened with the olives and the Pilusha. (2,50).Kamboja king Sudakshina himself yoked thereto four white horses of Kamboja breed (2,52)

Kambojas in Kurukshetra War

  • Drupada, the father in law of Pandavas wished to bring kings of the Kamboja and the Richika tribes to their side (5,5).
  • But Kambojas were allied with the Kauravas (5-58,95,161,162).
  • One of the wives of Jayadratha, the brother-in-law of Duryodhana was from Kamboja, the other one from Yavana (11,22)
  • Sudakshina, the king of the Kambhojas accompanied by the Yavanas and Sakas, came to Duryodhana with an Akshauhini of troops. (5,19)

The armies from western kingdoms in Kaurava side

Accompanied by Shalya's own force consisting of Ajaneyas, Saindhavas, mountaineers, dwellers of riparian regions, Kambojas, and Vanayus, the king of the Gandharas stayeth on the field, desirous of battling for Duryodhana's sake. (8,7)

Sudakshina, becomes one of the generals of Kaurava army

Between the two sides, the total number was 18 Akshauhinis. Of this, the Pandava force consisted of 7 Akshauhinis, while the Kaurava force consisted of 11. King Duryodhana, selecting from among them brave and intelligent warriors, made them the leaders of his troops. Duryodhana placed an Akshauhini of troops under each of those best of men. They were (5,156):-

  1. Kripa, a preceptor of warfare, in the race of Gautama
  2. Drona, a preceptor of warfare, in the race of Bharadwaja
  3. Shalya, the king of Madra Kingdom
  4. Jayadratha the king of the Sindhus
  5. Sudakshina the ruler of the Kamvojas
  6. Kritavarman, a Yadava chief from Anarta Kingdom
  7. Aswatthaman, son of Drona, ruler of North Panchala Kingdom
  8. Karna, the king of Anga Kingdom
  9. Bhurisravas, a chief from Bahlika
  10. Shakuni, a chief from Gandhara Kingdom
  11. Bahlika king

This is repeated at (6,16) with slight variations. The generals of Kaurava army mentioned at (6,16) were:-

  1. Sakuni, a chief from Gandhara Kingdom
  2. Shalya, the king of Madra Kingdom
  3. Jayadratha, the king of Sindhu Kingdom
  4. Vinda and Anuvinda, two brothers and kings of Avanti Kingdom
  5. The Kekaya brothers from Kekeya Kingdom (oppoesed the Kekayas on the Pandava side)
  6. Sudakshina the king of Kamboja Kingdom
  7. Srutayudha the king of Kalinga Kingdom
  8. Jayatsena a king of Magadha Kingdom
  9. Vrihadvala the king of Kosala Kingdom
  10. Kritavarma, a Yadava chief from Anarta Kingdom

Kambojas under Sudakshina is mentioned to take part in several war-racings of Kurukshetra War(6-16,45,47,51,56,65,75,88,100,103,109,112), (7-7,20,72,85,88). They fought along with other armies from their neighbouring western kingdoms like the Yavanas, Sakas, Tusharas, Madras, Amvasthas, Trigartas, Gandharas, Daradas and Kasmiras.

Arjuna slays Sudakshina the ruler of Kambojas

Sudakshina, rushed on his swift steeds against Arjuna. Arjuna then cut Sudakshina’s car into fragments. Arjuna pierced Sudakshina, the prince of the Kamvojas with a sharp arrow in the chest. Then the brave prince of the Kamvojas, his coat of mail cut off, his limbs weakened, his diadem displaced, fell head downwards, like a pole of Indra when hurled from an engine. (7-89,91,147), (8,72), (9-2,24), (11,20). At (11,25) Kamboja queen is mentioned to weep seeing the dead body of Sudakshina.Kamboja army continued their fight under other generals (7-109,110,116,117,118,125), (8-46,56,88) (9-1,8).Bhima slew 10,000 Kamboja mountaneers in battle (8,70)

The skills of soldiers hailing from varous kingdoms

The Gandharvas, the Sindhus, and the Sauviras fight best with their nails and lances. They are brave and endued with great strength. Their armies are capable of vanquishing all forces, The Usinaras are possessed of great strength and skilled in all kinds of weapons. The Easterners are skilled in fighting from the backs of elephants and are conversant with all the ways of unfair fight. The Yavanas, the Kamvojas, and those that dwell around Mathura are well skilled in fighting with bare arms. The Southerners are skilled in fighting sword in hand. (12,100)

Kambojas admittance into mainstream culture

The following passage shows the dialemma that troubled the mainstream culture when it encountered cultures outside the Vedic-culture.What duties should be performed by the Yavanas, the Kiratas, the Gandharvas, the Chinas, the Savaras, the Barbaras, the Sakas, the Tusharas, the Kankas, the Pathavas, the Andhras, the Madrakas, the Paundras, the Pulindas, the Ramathas, the Kamvojas, the several castes that have sprung up from Brahmanas and Kshatriyas, the Vaisyas, and the Sudras, that reside in the dominions of (Arya) kings? (12,64)

The origin of sword fight in India

Bhishma conversed with Nakula on the history of sword.This passage mentioned that sword was invented to prevent the invasion of Danavas. It was known as Asi and was a highly polished and sharp edged weapon. After the wars between Danavas and Devas, the sword and its usage was passed on to varous tribes like the Rishikas, the Yakshas, the Ikshwakus and it finally came to the Lunar dynasty of kings starting with Pururavas Aila. From Puruavas it passed through Ayus, Nahusha, Yayati, Puru, Amurtarya, Bhumisaya, Dushmanta, Bharata, Ailavila, most of them the kings in the line of Pururavas. From Ailavila it reached Dhundumara and from him to Kamboja. From Kambojas the usage of sword spread to the Solar dynasty of kings like Muchukunda, Marutta, Raivata, Yuvanaswa, Raghu and Haryaswa. From them, it was taken by Sunaka, Usinara and finally by Bhojas and Yadavas. From Yadavas it spread to Sivis and to Pratarddana, Ashtaka, Prishadaswa and finally to the Bharadwajas including Drona. Drona taugth it to Kripa and both of them taught its usage to [Pandavas]]] including Nakula. (12,165)

Kamboja horses

  • Kamboja steeds are mentioned as excellent steeds used in the war (6-71,91), (7-23,34,122) (13,118)
  • Nakula's horses were from Kamboja. (7,23)
  • Giving away Kamboja stteds as gifts is considered as meritorious (12,35)
  • Karna offers in gift Kamboja horses to those who discovers Arjuna for him in Kurukshetra (8,9)
  • Vasudeva Krishna aslo possessed Kamboja steeds (10,13)

The rise of Kamboja power

As a prediction of future, the followin passage is present in Mahabharata

In the Kali Yuga (period after Kurukshetra War) , the Brahmanas in that age also abstain from prayers and meditation while the Sudras betake themselves to these! Numerous Mleccha kings then rule over the earth! The Andhhas, the Sakas, the Pulindas, the Yavanas, the Kamvojas, the Valhikas and the Abhiras, then become possessed of bravery and the sovereignty of the earth. (3,187)

Other References

See Also

Kingdoms of Ancient India

Share:- Facebook

Created by Jijith Nadumuri at 13 Jan 2010 09:43 and updated at 06 Jun 2010 04:39

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License