Sauvira was a kingdom mentioned in the epic Mahabharata. According to the epic, Jayadratha was the king of Sindhus, Sauviras and Sivis. Probably Sauvira and Sivi were two kingdoms close to the Sindhu kingdom and Jayadratha conquered them. Jayadratha was an ally of Duryodhana and husband of Duryodhana's sister Dussala. The kingdom of Sauvira was also mentioned to be not very far away from Dwaraka and Anarta kingdoms.
According to some texts, Sauvira was south of Sindhu in the delta of the Indus river; while later historians (Al-Beruni) considered Sauvira to represent southwest Punjab, including Multan, Mithankot and adjacent areas at the region of the confluence of Indus river with other rivers of Punjab. Dr A H Dani, a noted archeologist and linguist of Pakistan, has suggested that the name of Seraiki language (widely spoken in southwest Punjab (Pakistan)) may be a derivative of Sauviraki (the language of Sauvira). Sauvira is presumed to be derived from two words: Su (great or good) or Sau (one hundred) and Veer (brave or wise).
References in Mahabharata
Main article Bahlika Culture
Culturally Sauviras were mentioned as similar to the Madras as per Karna:- The Prasthalas, the Madras, the Gandharas, the Arattas, those called Khasas, the Vasatis, the Sindhus and the Sauviras are almost as blamable in their practices (8:44).
The Gandharas (or 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 war 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).
Battles between Sindhu and Sauvira
At (5:133) we find Kunti telling the story of Vidula who persuaded her son, who was the king of Sauvira but banished by the Sindhu king, to fight against the Sindhus and take back his kingdom from them:- The princess Vidula, one day, rebuked her own son, who, after his defeat by the king of the Sindhus, lay prostrate with heart depressed by despair (5:133). Rejoice, O son, and make thyself happy in the possession of wealth in the company of the daughters of the Sauviras and do not, in weakness of heart, be ruled over by the daughters of the Saindhavas (5:134). Pierced by the wordy arrows of his mother, the son roused himself like a steed of proud mettle and achieved (defeating the Sindhus) all that his mother had pointed out. (5:136).
Kings of Sauvira
Jayadratha was not only the king of Sauvira but of Sindhu and other countries too (3:265). The warriors of the Sivi, Sauvira and Sindhu tribes were under the command of Jayadratha (3:269).At (11:22) Jayadradha is mentioned as the king of Sindhu and Saivira. Here (11:22) we find that apart from Dussala (the sister of Duryodhana), Jayadradha had two other wives, one from Gandhara and the other from Kamboja.Jayadratha is mentioned as the king of Sauvira at many places in Mahabharata. At (3:263) is a conversation of Jayadratha's ally Kotika and Draupadi the wife of the Pandavas
I am king Suratha’s son whom people know by the name of Kotika, and that man with eyes large as the petals of the lotus, sitting on a chariot of gold, is the warrior known by the name of Kshemankara, king of Trigarta. And behind him is the famous son of the king of Pulinda, who is even now gazing on thee. Armed with a mighty bow and endued with large eyes, and decorated with floral wreaths, he always liveth on the breasts of mountains. The dark and handsome young man, the scourge of his enemies, standing at the edge of that tank, is the son of Suvala of the race of Ikshwaku. And if, O excellent lady, thou hast ever heard the name of Jayadratha, the king of Sauviras, even he is there at the head of six thousand chariots, with horses and elephants and infantry, and followed by twelve Sauvira princes as his standard-bearers, named Angaraka, Kunjara, Guptaka, Satrunjaya, Srinjaya, Suprabiddha, Prabhankara, Bhramara, Ravi, Sura, Pratapa and Kuhana, all mounted on chariots drawn by chestnut horses. The brothers also of the king, viz., the powerful Valahaka, Anika, Vidarana and others, are among his followers. These strong-limbed and noble youths are the flowers of the Sauvira chivalry. The king is journeying in the company of these his friends.
Other Sauvira Kings
King named Satrunjaya among the Sauviras was mentioned again at (12:139) The whole chapter is a conversation between this king and a sage in the Bharadwaja clan.Arjuna and the other Pandava princes became so powerful that they slew in battle the great Sauvira who had performed a sacrifice extending over three years, undaunted by the raids of the Gandharvas (alternatively Gandharas). And the king of the Yavanas himself whom the powerful Pandu even had failed to bring under subjection was brought by Arjuna under control. Then again Vipula, the king of the Sauviras, endued with great prowess, who had always shown a disregard for the Kurus, was made by the intelligent Arjuna to feel the edge of his power. And Arjuna also repressed by means of his arrows (the pride of) king Sumitra of Sauvira, also known by the name of Dattamitra who had resolutely sought an encounter with him (1:141).King Suvira is mentioned at (1:67). Prajapati (patriarch) Manu's son was Ikshwaku. His tenth son was named Dasaswa who became the king of Mahishmati. Dasaswa’s son was Madiraswa. Madiraswa’s son was the king named Dyutimat. Dyutimat’s son was the highly devout and pious king who was famous in all the worlds under the name of Suvira. His soul was intent on religion. Suvira too had a son by the name of Sudurjaya (13:2).
- King Ajavindu among the Suviras was mentioned as an anihilator of his own race (5:74).
Sauvira in Kurukshetra War
In Kurukshetra War, Sauvira sided with the Kauravas under their ruler Jayadratha. (6:71), (7:10,136)
In Bhishma’s division were all the sons of Dhritarashtra, and also Sala who was a countryman of the Valhikas, and also all those Kshatriyas called Amvastas, and those called Sindhus, and those also that are called Sauviras, and the heroic dwellers of the country of the five rivers (6:20). The Abhishahas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, and the Vasatis, the Swalyas, the Matsyas, the Amvashtas, the Trigartas, and the Kekayas, the Sauviras, the Kitavas, and the dwellers of the Eastern, Western, and the Northern countries,—these twelve brave races were resolved to fight reckless of the lives (6:18).Those warriors that are opposed to Arjuna, viz., the Sauvirakas, the Sindhava-Pauravas, headed by Karna, are regarded as foremost of car-warriors (7:108). Many combatants belonging to the Nishadas, the Sauviras, the Valhikas, the Daradas, the Westerners, the Northerners, the Malavas, the Abhighatas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, the Vasatis, the Salwas, the Sakas, the Trigartas, the Amvashthas, and the Kekayas, similarly fell upon Arjuna (6:118). Bhishma protected by the warriors headed by Saindhava and by the combatants of the East and the Sauviras and the Kekayas, fought with great impetuosity (6:52). The diverse tribes of the Sauviras, the Vasatis, and the Kshudrakas, and the Malavas, all these, at the command of Bhishma, quickly approached Arjuna for battle (6:59).
- Prompted by sinful motives, Shishupala of Chedi ravished the reluctant wife of the innocent Vabhru (Akrura) on her way from Dwaraka to the country of the Sauviras. This is an indication of the ancient route that existed connecting Dwaraka and Sauvira.
- Manasyu (a king in the line of Puru) had for his wife Sauviri. And he begat upon her three sons called Sakta, Sahana, and Vagmi. (1:94).
- Shalya is mentioned as belonging to Sauvira clan at (8:9) (This could be a translation error).
Kingdoms of Ancient India