Saraswati was the largest river of ancient India (20000 BC to 5000 BC) . It originated from the Manasa lake in the valley of Kailasa, flowed through the Himalayas, the Kurukshetra (in Hariyana) and finally drained into the sea near Dwaraka in the Arabian_Sea. There was a channel from Yamuna connecting it with river Saraswati in the far west. This channel flowed through the forest of Khandava. This channel was the older course of Yamuna which then (before 5000 BC) flowed into Saraswati and not to Ganga. Due to tectonic movements (5000 BC to 1000 BC), Yamuna changed its course and started flowing to Ganga. Similarly, another tributary of Saraswati viz Satadru tilted its course and flowed to river Sindhu. Saraswati was left with only a few tributaries like Drisadwati. Thus the river Saraswati dried up, and the population on its banks moved to the banks of Charmanwati, Yamuna and Ganga.
The tribe of Manu, (Manu, the son of Vivaswat, the first king known to humanity) was an ancient fishermen tribe (Matsya tribe) that settled on the banks of Saraswati. When the river dried up they moved to river Charmanwati. Similarly the tribe of Nishada (fisher-men) moved to Charmanwati and established the Nishadha kingdom. Close examination of Mahabharata reveals that even the Videha kingdom that lied as far as Bhiar too had their roots on the banks of Saraswati. The original Matsya kingdom that continued to exist on the banks of Saraswati (ruled by Manu) later became known as the Sudra (Sura) kingdom. (It is also speculated that the Surasena kingdom originated from this Sura (Sudra) kingdom that lied on the banks of Saraswati.) The Abhiras joined the Suras forming the Abhira kingdom on the banks of Saraswati. The Salwa kingdom lied on the banks of Saraswati. Krishna established his Yadava kingdom in Dwaraka that lied close to the mouth of Saraswati as it joined the western sea. There is a famous passage in Mahabharata spanning two chapters, that describe the grand pilgrimage of the Yadava Bala Rama along the banks of Saraswati, starting from Dwaraka and ending at the sources of Saraswati in Himalayas.
Dwaraka city, as it lied to the mouth of Saraswati was one among the major Saraswati-valley cities. The Abhiras, the Sudras and the Nishadas and the Salwas were hostile to the Dwaraka kingdom. Nishada king Ekalavya battled with Krishna and was killed. Salwa king also was killed by Krishna and the Yadavas in a hostile encounter that was fought on land and sea. The Abhiras assisted by the Gandharas (the political opponents of the Yadavas of Dwaraka), probably inflamed the in-fighting among the Yadavas living in Dwaraka. This lead to a terrible fight that lead to the self-destruction of Yadavas in Dwaraka. The island of Dwaraka also gradually sub-merged into sea, due to the same tectonic movements that caused the drying up and disappearance of Saraswati. The remaining Yadavas were defeated by the Abhiras. The Yadava ladies and children were taken captive by the Abhiras. A small portion lived along with the Kurus aided by the Pandava general Arjuna and the Pandava king Yudhishthira.
- References in Mahabharata
Created by Jijith Nadumuri at 23 Mar 2010 08:41 and updated at 20 May 2010 09:42