Sivi (alias Sibi, Shibi, Shivi) is mentioned as a kingdom and as the name of a king in the epic Mahabharata. Probably there was a Sivi king who became famous as Sivi or the kingdom itself may be named after him. Sivi (alias Sibi, Saivya) king was famous for his truthfulness. The legend about his truthfulness and compassion goes as follows:- King Sivi protected a dove who was chased by a hawlk (which wanted to eat the dove as its mid-day meal) and gave flesh from his thigh, as a substitute meal to the halwk.

It is also mentioned in the epic that Jayadratha was the king of Sindhu, Sauvira and Sivi kingdoms. Probably Sauvira and Sivi were two kingdom close to the Sindhu kingdom and Jayadratha conquered them. Jayadratha was an ally of Duryodhana and husband of Duryodhana's sister Dussala.

References in Mahabharata

Cultural traits

At (3:196) the people of the Sivi tribe is mentioned to have meat of bull cooked with rice as part of their diet. This practice is similar to the non-vegitarianism of the Bahlika Culture, where people ate cakes of barley mixed with beef.
The words of Karna upon various tribes and their charecteristics (Karna's openeion is however, biased):- The Magadhas are comprehenders of signs; the Koshalas comprehend from what they see; the Kurus and the Pancalas comprehend from a half-uttered speech; the Salwas cannot comprehend till the whole speech is uttered. The Parvatas like the Sivis, are very stupid. The Yavanas are omniscient; the Suras are particularly so. The mlecchas are wedded to the creations of their own fancy that ther peoples cannot understand (8:45).

Millitary habits

It is mentioned at (12:165) that the Sivis aquired the science of using swords in battle from the Yadavas. At (12:100) there is a mention that the southerners are skilled in fighting sword. It is not clear if any link existed between the southern kingdoms (Cholas, Pandyas and Keralas) with the Sivis. However the word Sivi is indicative of the worship of Siva. Southerners also were well-known Siva-worshipers. King Pratardana is mentioned as aquiring the knowledge of sword-fight from Sivis(12:100). Pratardana was the son of Madhavi and Kasi king named Divodasa, thus the step brother of king Sivi (5:117). Kasi was, and even now is the seat of Siva-worship.

Kings of Sivi

King Sivi

King Sivi seems to be the founder of the Sivi royal family. His father Usinara could be a Bhoja-Yadava.

King Sivi is mentioned as the son of Usinara (3:196,197, 1:188). The name of King Sivi's mother was Madhavi, described to be the daughter of king Yayati (Yayati is mentioned as likned to Sivi at many passages like 1:93, 5:121,122) of Lunar Dynasty. At (5:118) king Usinara is mentioned as a Bhoja (a sub-sect of Yadavas). He is mentioned as saying:- My wealth exists for only my subjects residing in the city and the country, and not for my own comforts and enjoyment. That king who giveth away for his own pleasure the wealth that belongeth to others, can never earn virtue or fame. At (3:196) Sivi is described as the king of the Sivi tribe. The legend connecting the Sivi king with the hawk chasing the dove also is detailed here. Sivi is mentioned to have a son named Kapota-roman, who is mentioned to be a great king of the Sauratha clan. Another son of Sivi is also mentioned thus:- Sivi’s son of great energy, viz., Gopati by name, has been brought up in the forest among kine (due to fear of Bhargava Rama, who massacered Kshatriyas) (12:49). The legend of Sivi is repeated at many passages (13:32, 14:90). King Sivi, the son of Usinara, of great forbearance attained to heaven, which is hard to reach, giving away his own flesh (3:207). King Sivi granted life to the pigeon (13:67). Usinara’s son Sivi,gave his own limbs and the dear son of loins for the sake of a Brahmana (12:233). King Sivi, the son of Usinara, offered the life of his dear son, for the benefit of a Brahmana (13:137). At a sacrifice which had been performed in former times by Sivi’s son he had given away unto the Ritwiks a son of his as the sacrificial present (13:93). The royal son of Sivi also won the highest regions of felicity by having gratified Surya along with his companion (12:292).

A certain king of the name of Suhotra belonging to the Kuru race went on a visit to the great Rishis. And as he was returning from that visit, he beheld king Sivi the son of Usinara, seated on his car, and as each came before the other, each saluted the other as best befitted his age and each regarding himself as the equal of the other (3:193).Sivi is considered as one among the famous kings of ancient era (2:8, 4:56, 6:9, 13:115). King Sivi himself had said this, viz., ‘Fie on that king in whose kingdom a Brahmana or even any other man languishes from hunger.’ (5:90, 13:61). King Sivi caused the whole earth to resound with the rattle of his wheels and subjugated all monarchs (12:29). Vishwabhuk, Bhutadhaman, Sivi of great energy, Santi the fourth, and Tejaswin, these it is said were the five Indras of old (1:199).
(7:56):- That king had, as it were, put a leathern girdle around the earth, making the earth with her mountains and islands and seas and forests resound with the clatter of his car. The vanquisher of foes, viz., king Sivi. always slew the foremost of foes. He performed many sacrifices with presents in profusion unto the Brahmanas. That monarch of great prowess and great intelligence had acquired enormous wealth. In battle: he won the applause of all Kshatriyas. Having brought the whole earth under subjection, he performed many Horse-sacrifices (Ashwamedha, without any obstruction, giving away (as sacrificial present) a thousand crores of golden nishkas, and many elephants and steeds and other kinds of animals, much grain, and many deer and sheep. And king Sivi gave away the sacred earth consisting of diverse kinds of soil unto the Brahmanas. Indeed, Usinara’s son, Sivi, gave away great number of kine. Many were the sacrifices, with every kind of rites, that king Sivi performed. In those sacrifices, the stakes, the carpets, the houses, the walls, and the arches, were all made of gold. Food and drink, agreeable to the taste and perfectly clean were kept in profusion. Milk and curds were collected in large tanks.

An Asura named Sivi is mentioned as the son of Diti at (1:67). (Diti was a matriach, whose descendants form the race of Daityas, a group of Asuras.) Diti had one son called Hiranyakasipu. And the illustrious Hiranyakasipu had five sons, all famous throughout the world. The eldest of them all was Prahlada, the next was Sahradha; the third was Anuhrada; and after him were Sivi and Vashkala (1:65).


Jayadratha was not only the king of Sivi kingdom, but also the king of Sauvira, Sindhu and other countries too (3:265). The warriors of the Sivi, Sauvira and Sindhu tribes were under the command of Jayadratha (3:269). Jayadratha is mentioned as the sole ruler, governing with justice the rich countries of Saivya, Sivi, Sindhu and others at (3:265). Jayadratha had under his sway ten kingdoms, having Sindhu as the manin kingdom (8:5).Jayadratha is mentioned to have a son named Suratha at (14:78). Suratha's son battled with Arjuna during his millitary campaign after the great Kurukshetra War. Words of Dussala (sister of Duryodhana and wife of Jayadratha spoken to Arjuna:- Even as Parikshit, has been born of your son Abhimanyu, so has this child, my grandson, sprung from Suratha.


Kotika (also known as Kotikakhya) is mentioned as the ornament of Sivi’s race at (3:264) and as the scion of the race of Sivi at (3:265). Here he is mentioned as under the command of Sindhu king Jayadratha. He engages in a conversation with Pandavas's wife Draupadi, on behalf of king Jayadratha. Jayadratha tried to abduct Draupadi. But the Pandavas came and recued her by defeating the army of Jayadratha:- Pandavas killed in battle, with the arrow, the leaders of the Ikshwakus and the hosts of Sivis and Trigartas and Saindhavas (3:269).Kotika is mentioned as king Suratha's son at (3:263,264). Suratha is mentioned as the king of Trigartas at (3:269) Kotika was slain by Bhima and Suratha was slain by Nakula during the fight with Jayadratha. (In Mahabharata there are many people with the name Suratha. One was the son of Drupada a Kurukshetra War hero, another is mentioned as one among the grat kings of the acneint era.) Another epithet of Kotika, mentioned here is Saivya. It is unclear if the term Saivya meant belonging to the Sivi clan or if Saivyas were a different tribe altogather, other than the Sivis.

Suratha, could as well be used as a family-name in most of the above cases.

Other Sivi (Saivya) kings

  • A Saivya king is mentioned as much afflicted by the loss of his children (1:1)
  • A Saivya king was slain by Vasudeva Krishna (3:12).
  • A Saivya king who was Vrishadarbha’s son was mentioned at (13:93).

Nakula's expedition to Sivi Kingdom

Nakula, surrounded by a large host, set out from Khandavaprastha (older name of Indraprastha, the capital of the kingdom of Pandavas) for the west, making this earth tremble with the shouts and the leonine roars of the warriors and the deep rattle of chariot wheels. And the hero first assailed the mountainous country called Rohitaka that was dear unto Kartikeya and which was delightful and prosperous and full of kine and every kind of wealth and produce. And the encounter the son of Pandu had with the Mattamyurakas of that country was fierce. And the illustrious Nakula after this, subjugated the whole of the desert country and the region known as Sairishaka full of plenty, as also that other one called Mahetta. And the hero had a fierce encounter with the royal sage Akrosa. And the son of Pandu left that part of the country having subjugated the Dasarnas, the Sivis, the Trigartas, the Amvashtas, the Malavas, the five tribes of the Karnatas, and those Brahmana classes that were called the Madhyamakeyas and Vattadhanas (2:31).Nakula was sent to conquer the Sivis and the Trigartas. He brought the western region under the power of Yudhisthira (5:23).

Tributes to king Yudhisthira

The Kairatas, the Daradas, the Darvas, the Suras, the Vaiamakas, the Audumvaras, the Durvibhagas, the Kumaras, the Paradas along with the Vahlikas, the Kashmiras, the Ghorakas, the Hansakayanas, the Sivis, the Trigartas, the Yauddheyas, the ruler of Madras and the Kaikeyas, the Amvashtas, the Kaukuras, the Tarkshyas, the Vastrapas along with the Palhavas, the Vashatayas, the Mauleyas along with the Kshudrakas, and the Malavas, the Paundrayas, the Kukkuras, the Sakas, the Angas, the Vangas, the Punras, the Sanavatyas, and the Gayas—these good and well-born Kshatriyas distributed into regular clans and trained to the use of arms, brought tribute unto Pandava king Yudhishthira by hundreds and thousands. (2:51).

Sivis in Kurukshetra War

In Kurukshetra War, the Sivis under Jayadratha sided with the Kauravas. Similary a Saivya clan of Govasanas, (though Yudhisthira had an wife belonging to this clan) sided with the Kauravas. Another Sivi king seems to side with the Pandavas, who probably was the descendant of the original Sivi king.

On Kaurava's side

King Saivya of the country of the Govasanas, accompanied by all the monarchs, went out on a princely elephant worthy of royal use and graced with a banner on its back, on the side of the Kauravas (6:17). This Saivya is mentioned again at (6:100). Saivya, the chief of the Govasanas, with a thousand foremost warriors, faced the son of the king of the Kasis and resisted him (7:92,93).

Sakuni, the ruler of the Gandharas, and all the chiefs of the eastern and the northern regions, and the Sakas, the Kiratas, and Yavanas, the Sivis and the Vasatis with their Maharathas at the heads of their respective divisions came and joined the Kaurava army (5:198).

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). 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 protecting Bhishma, the commander-in-chief of the Kauravas(6:18).

The Abhishahas, clad in mail, capable of smiting effectually, and fierce in battle, also the Sivis, those foremost of car-warriors, with the Kalingas, have all been slain (8:5). Sivi's on the side of Kauravas were mentioned at many other passages like at (6:51,107, 7:90,158)

On Pandava's side

The king of Kasi, and also Saivya, being very friendly to Yudhishthira, arrived there, each accompanied by an Akshauhini of troops (4:72). Yuyudhana, and Virata, and that mighty car-warrior Drupada, and Dhrishtaketu, and Chekitana, and the ruler of Kasi and Purujit, and Kuntibhoja, and Saivya that bull among men; and Yudhamanyu of great prowess, and Uttamaujas ..etc were mentioned as leaders of the Pandava army (6:25). This Saivya is mentioned again at (6:50,51). At (7:10) he is mentioned as the grandson of Usinara:- (words of Dhritarashtra) We do not see in the three worlds a second person other than Usinara’s son who, was, has ever been, or will ever be born, who hath attained heaven, O, who (amongst my army) resisted that Saivya, that grandson of that Usinara’s son, while he came upon Drona? Saivya that foremost of men had learnt the science of arms under Arjuna (2:4).

Bhimasena and Arjuna and Satyaki, and the sons of Drupada, and the ruler of Kasi, the son of Saivya, and Sivi himself, cheerfully and with loud roars covered Drona with their arrows (7:8). Virata and Drupada, and the Kaikeya princes, and Satyaki, and Sivi, and Vyaghradatta, the prince of the Panchalas, and the valiant Singhasena, these, and many others, desirous of rescuing Yudhishthira, surrounded Drona (7:16).

King Sivi, of great prowess, filled with rage, proceeded against that mighty car-warrior, viz., the heroic son of Bharadwaja, viz. Drona, while the latter was thus employed in grinding (the hostile combatants). Beholding that great car-warrior of the Pandavas advancing, Drona pierced him with ten shafts made entirely of iron. Sivi, however, pierced Drona in return with thirty shafts, winged with Kanka feathers. And smiling the while, he also, with a broad-headed shaft felled the driver of Drona’s car. Drona then, slaying the steeds of the illustrious Sivi as also the driver of his car, cut off from his trunk Sivi’s head with head-gear on it. (7:152).

Sivi (Saivya) Princesses

There was born in the family of the Ikshwaku tribe, a ruler of the earth named Sagara. He had two wives. One a princess of the Vidarbha race, and the other of the royal line of Sivi (3:106). A son was born to Sagara, known by the name of Asamanjas, he who was given birth to by the princess of Sivi. And he used to seize by throat the feeble children of the townsmen, and threw them while screaming into the river (3:107).Salwa king Dyumatsena's wife also was a Saivya princess (3:296,297). Satyavan was their son. Kuru king Pratipa married Sunanda, the daughter of Sivi, and begat upon her three sons, viz., Devapi, Santanu and Valhika (1:95). Yudhishthira, having obtained for his wife Devika, the daughter of Govasana of the Saivya tribe, in a self-choice ceremony, begat upon her a son named Yaudheya. (Yudhisthira seems to have abducted Devika against the will of his father, as king Saivya of Govasana is mentioned as battling against the Pandavas in Kurukshetra War). Vasudeva Krishna had a wife called Saivya (princess of Sivi kingdom ) (16:7).

Other References

  • One of the horses possesed by Vasudeva Krishna was named Siavya (1:122)(belonging to the Sivi country), the other being Sugriva.
  • A river named Saivya is mentioned at (6:9)

See also

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Created by Jijith Nadumuri at 13 Jan 2010 12:22 and updated at 06 Jun 2010 18:12

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