Salwa is a kingdom grouped among the western kingdoms in the epic Mahabharata. It is close to Madra Kingdom as both are mentioned together in many places. Saubha is its capital. Martikavati (alias Matika, Matrika, Matrikavati) also is mentioned as the capital of Salwa kingdom. The famous prince Satyavan was from Salwa. He married the Madra princess, Savitri, the daughter of Madra king Aswapati. Their history is a famous narration in Mahabharata. Seven chapters 3:291 to 3:297 is dedicated to this history of Satyavan and Savitri.
References in Mahabharata
The Common ancestry of Salwas and Madras
There was, in ancient times, a king in the race of Puru, known by the name of Vyushitaswa. He was devoted to truth and virtue. Vyushitaswa, who was endued with the strength of ten elephants very soon performed the horse-sacrifice, overthrowing, all the kings of the East, the North, the West and the South, and exacted tributes from them all. The seven children all of whom became kings viz., three Salwas and four Madras were sons of Vyushitaswa. (1:121).
Location of Salwa Kingdom
Salwa kingdom is mentioned very close to Madra kingdom at (6:9) which describe kingdoms of Bharata Varsha. Another kingdom named Salwasena is mentioend close to Trigarta Kingdom. The Matsyas, the Panchalas, the Salways and the Surasenas were mentioned as not very far away from Kuru Kingdom at (5:54). King Jayadratha of Sauvira Kingdom is mentioned as travelling to Salwa Kingdom through Kamyaka woods. (3:262).
Salwas were included in the kingdoms that falls in the larger circle of the mainstream culture propounded by the Kurus and Panchalas
The Kauravas with the Pancalas, the Salwas, the Matsyas, the Naimishas, the Koshalas, the Kasapaundras, the Kalingas, the Magadhas, and the Cedis who are all highly blessed, know what the eternal religion is. (8:45).
King Dyumatsena of Salwa
Dyumantsena was the father of Satyavan, the famous prince who wedded the Madra princess Savitri. Section 3:292 describes the history of Dyumatsena:-
There was, amongst the Salwas, a virtuous Kshatriya king known by the name of Dyumatsena. And it came to pass that in course of time he became blind. And that blind king possessed of wisdom had an only son. And it so happened that an old enemy dwelling in the vicinity, taking advantage of the king’s mishap, deprived him of his kingdom. And thereupon the monarch, accompanied by his wife bearing a child on her breast, went into the woods. His son, born in the city, began to grow in the hermitage. The Brahmanas have named the son Satyavan. In his childhood he took great delight in horses, and used to make horses of clay. And he used also to draw pictures of horses. And for this that youth is sometimes called by the name of Chitraswa. The Madra princess Savitri knew about this prince and fell in love with him. Later she marreid him. Dyumatsena's minsiter somehow slew the enemy king and Dyumatesena regained his kingdom.
Salwa king contemporary to Bhisma
A Salwa king (5:179) was mentioned as a lover of Amba, the eldest princess of Kasi Kingdom, who was abducted by Bhishma, a warrior from Kuru Kingdom, along with her sisters Ambika and Amblika. Bhisma wished to make her the wife of Kuru prince Vichitravirya, but Amba wished to marry the Salwa king. Bhishma sent her to Salwa but the Salwa king rejected her.
Salwa king contemporary to Krishna
Yet another Salwa king (3:12, 7:11) attacked Dwaraka and was killed by Vasudeva Krishna.According to the narration in the epic, he possessed an aircraft known as Saubha Vimana and used it for air travel and for aireal warfare. (See Dwaraka Kingdom for more details).
Impact of Magadha over Salwa
The eighteen tribes of the Bhojas, from fear of Magadha king Jarasandha, have all fled towards the west; so also have the Surasenas, the Bhadrakas, the Vodhas, the Salwas, the Patachchavas, the Susthalas, the Mukuttas, and the Kulindas, along with the Kuntis. And the king of the Salwayana tribe with their brethren and followers; and the southern Panchalas and the eastern Kosalas have all fled to the country of the Kuntis. (2:14).
Salwas in Kurukshetra War
A Salwa king allied with Duryodhana in Kurukshetra War (5:161). At (9:20) his final battle against the Pandavas is mentioned. A Salwa king has sided with Pandavas too in the Kurukshetra War. (7:23) Bhimaratha, (brother of Duryodhana), with six sharp shafts of great swiftness and made wholly of iron, despatched Salwa along with his steeds and charioteer to Yama’s abode. Salwakas along with Malavakas were mentioned as allies of the Pandavas ( 5:57). At (5:30) Salwakas were mentioned as fighting for Kauravas.
- Son of Salwa is mentioned as present in the self choice ceremony at Panchala Kingdom. (5:4)
- The Salwa prince Dyutimat of great splendour attained to the highest regions by giving his kingdom to Richika. (13:137) (12,233).
Kingdoms of Ancient India
Ancient Indian kingdoms