Surasena Kingdom was ruled by Yadava kings as per the epic Mahabharata. The capital city of this kingdom, Mathura was founded by Shatrughna, the brother of Raghava Rama the ruler of Kosala in Treta Yuga. He conquered this region after defeating the Asura king Madhu who dwelled in a forest named Madhu Forest named after him. In Dwapara Yuga it was ruled by Yadavas who took the kingdom from the descendants of Satrughna. Capital of Surasena kingdom was Mathura (Mathura, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh).Yadava chief Kansa, became the ruler of this kingdom for some time. He forcefully took the ruleship by imprisoning his own father Ugrasena. Magadha king Jarasandha was Kansa's father in law. Later Vasudeva Krishna, Kansa's sister's son, killed Kansa and gave the kingdom back to the old king Ugrasena. But Jarasandha attacked the kingdom and all the Yadavas had to flee to Dwaraka. There they founded their new kingdom.
References in Mahabharata
The 18 tribes which fled due to attacks from Jarasandha
- Mahabharata, Book 2, Chapter 14
Jarasandha was a powerful Ancient Indian king who ruled Magadha.
The eighteen tribes of the Bhojas, from fear of 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. So also the Matsyas and the Sannyastapadas, overcome with fear, leaving their dominions in the north, have fled into the southern country. And so all the Panchalas, alarmed at the power of Jarasandha, have left their own kingdom and fled in all directions.
Sahadeva's Military Campaign
- Mahabharata, Book 2, Chapter 30
Sahadeva, vanquishing completely at the outset the Surasenas, brought the king of Matsya under his sway. And the hero then, defeating Dantavakra, the mighty king of the Adhirajas and making him pay tribute, re-established him on his throne.
Arjuna's list of kingdoms close to Kuru Kingdom
- Mahabharata, Book 4, Chapter 1
Surrounding the kingdom of the Kurus, are, many countries beautiful and abounding in corn, such as Panchala, Chedi, Matsya, Surasena, Pattachchara, Dasarna, Navarashtra, Malla, Salva, Yugandhara, Saurashtra, Avanti , and the spacious Kuntirashtra.
Pandavas' journey to the Matsya Kingdom
- Mahabharata, Book 4, Chapter 5
The Pandavas leaving the Dwaita Forest, proceeded towards Yamuna river and reached its southern bank. And those mighty warriors, the Pandavas, leading the lives of hunters by killing the deer of the forest, passed through Yakrilloma and Surasena, leaving behind, on their right, the country of the Panchalas, and on their left, that of the Dasarnas. And those bowmen, looking wan and wearing beards and equipped with swords, entered Matsya’s dominions leaving the forest, giving themselves out as hunters.
Shift of alliances
- Mahabharata, Book 5, Chapter 54
The Matsyas, the Panchalas, the Salways and the Surasenas, all decline to pay thee homage now and all disregard Dhritarashtra. All of them have joined the Pandavas.
Kunti (Pandavas' Mother), mentioned as native of Surasena
- Mahabharata, Book 1, Chapter 110
Bhishma's words:- There are three maidens worthy of being allied to Kuru race. One is the daughter (Kunti) of Surasena, of the Yadava race; the other is the daughter (Gandhari) of Suvala; and the third is the princess (Madri) of Madra.
- Mahabharata, Book 5, Chapter 90
Vasudeva Krishna to Kunti:- The daughter of king Surasena, thou (Kunti) art, by marriage, admitted into Ajamida’s race (The race of Kurus).
Vasudeva Krishna mentioned as a native of Surasena Kingdom
- Mahabharata, Book 13, Chapter 147
Foremost among all the Surasenas, the puissant one, Krishna, residing at Dwaraka, will rule and protect the whole earth after vanquishing all her lords, conversant as he will be with the science of polity.
Sunaman, a king of Surasena, killed by Krishna
- Mahabharata, Book 7, Chapter 11
With Valadeva (Bala Rama as his second, Krishna, consumed in battle, with all his troops, the king of the Surasenas, viz., Sunaman the lord of a full Akshauhini, and the valiant second brother of Kansa, the king of the Bhojas.
Provinces in Bharata Varsha (Ancient India)
- Mahabharata, Book 6, Chapter 9
They are the Kuru-Panchalas, the Salwas, the Madreyas, the Jangalas, the Surasena, the Kalingas, the Vodhas, the Malas, the Matsyas, the Sauvalyas, the Kuntalas, the Kasi-kosalas, the Chedis, the Karushas, the Bhojas, the Sindhus….
Surasena's role in Kurukshetra War
The 12 tribes who protected Bhishma on Day 1
- Mahabharata, Book 6, Chapter 18
The Abhishahas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, and the Vasatis, the Swalyas, the Matsyas, the Amvashtas, the Trigartas, and the Kekayas, the Sauviras, the Kitavas, the dwellers of the Eastern, Western, and the Northern countries, these twelve brave races were resolved to fight reckless of the lives. And these protected the grandsire, Bhishma, with a multitudinous array of cars.
The Protection to Bhishma on Day 2
- Mahabharata, Book 6, Chapter 51
Let the Samsthanas, the Surasenas, the Venikas, the Kukkuras, the Rechakas, the Trigartas, the Madrakas, the Yavanas, with Satrunjayas, and Dussasana, and that excellent hero Vikarna, and Nanda and Upanandaka, and Chitrasena, along with the Manibhadrakas, protect Bhishma with their respective troops.
Encounter of Arjuna and Bhishma on Day 2
- Mahabharata, Book 6, Chapter 52
Slaughtering the Kaurava divisions and the Surasenas also, Arjuna speedily came to the encounter with Bhishma.
Kauravas make the Garuda Military-Formation on Day 3
- Mahabharata, Book 6, Chapter 56
Vinda and Anuvinda of Avanti, and the Kamvojas with the Sakas, and the Surasenas formed its tail.
Kauravas make the Crane Military-Formation on Day 6
- Mahabharata, Book 6, Chapter 75
And in its neck were Surasena, and Duryodhanasurrounded by many kings.
The Loyal defenders of Bhishma
- Mahabharata, Book 6, Chapter 107
The Sauviras, the Kitavas, the Easterners, the Westerners, the Northerners, the Malavas, the Abhishahas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, and the Vasatis, did not avoid Bhishma in battle although they were incessantly slaughtered.
Resisting Arjuna for aiding Bhishma
- Mahabharata, Book 6, Chapter 118
Many combatants also, 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, like flights of insects upon a fire.
Surasenas finally abandons Bhishma
- Mahabharata, Book 6, Chapter 120
The Sauviras, the Kitavas, the Easterners, the Westerners, the Northerners, the Malavas, the Abhishahas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, the Vasatis, the Salwas, the Sayas, the Trigartas, the Amvashthas, and the Kaikeyas, these and many other illustrious warriors, afflicted with arrows and pained by their wounds, abandoned Bhishma in that battle while he was fighting with the diadem-decked Arjuna.
After Bhishma's fall, fighting under Drona
- Mahabharata, Book 7, Chapter 7
The Madras, the Trigartas the Amvashthas, the Westerners, the Northerners, the Malavas, the Surasenas, the Sudras the Maladas, the Sauviras, the Kaitavas, the Easterners, and the Southerners placing Duryodhana and Karna at their head, forming the rear guard, gladdened warriors of their own army.
Drona's Garuda Military-Formation
- Mahabharata, Book 7, Chapter 20
Bhutasarman, and Kshemasarman, and the valiant Karakaksha, and the Kalingas, the Singhalas, the Easterners, the Sudras, the Abhiras, the Daserakas, the Sakas, the Yavanas, the Kamvojas, the Hangsapadas, the Surasenas, the Daradas, the Madras, and the Kalikeyas, with hundreds and thousands of elephants, steeds, cars, and foot-soldiers were stationed at its neck.
Drona encounters Arjuna
- Mahabharata, Book 7, Chapter 88
The Abhishahas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, the Vasatis, the Mavellakas, the Lilithyas, the Kaikeyas, the Madrakas, the Narayana Gopalas, and the various tribes of the Kamvojas who had before been vanquished by Karna, all of whom were regarded as very brave, placing Drona at their head, and becoming regardless of their lives, rushed towards Arjuna.
Resisting Arjuna for aiding Drona
- Mahabharata, Book 7, Chapter 90
The Abhishahas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, the Vasatis began to scatter their arrowy showers on Arjuna.
Resisting Satyaki for aiding Drona
- Mahabharata, Book 7, Chapter 90
Then the brave warriors of the Surasenas endeavoured to check Satyaki, striking him with showers of shafts, like a driver striking an infuriated elephant with the hook.
Destruction of some Surasenas along with Jayadratha
- Mahabharata, Book 7, Chapter 147
King Jayadratha hath been slain, and Somadatta’s son also of great energy, and the Abhishahas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, and the Vasatis.
Resisting Yudhisthira for aiding Drona
- Mahabharata, Book 7, Chapter 154
Yudhisthira cutting off the Abhishahas, the Surasenas, the Valhikas, and the Vasatis, he caused the earth to be miry with flesh and blood. And he also despatched within a trice, by means of many shafts the Yaudheyas, the Malavas, and large numbers of the Madrakas.
Resisting Bhima for aiding Drona
- Mahabharata, Book 7, Chapter 158
Bhima, mangling the Abhishahas, the Surasenas, and other Kshatriyas difficult to defeat in battle, made the earth miry with blood.
Destruction of Surasenas aiding Karna
- Mahabharata, Book 8, Chapter 5
The Vasatis, numbering 2,000, effectual smiters of all, as also the Surasenas endued with prowess, have all been slain in battle. 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. Those other heroes also, the Narayana Gopas, who live and grew in Gokula, have been slain by Savyasaci (Arjuna). Many thousands of Srenis, as also the samsaptakas, approaching Arjuna, have all dead.
Surasenas on the side of the Pandavas
- Mahabharata, Book 8, Chapter 47
Kripa and Kritavarma, and Sakuni accompanied by troops fought with the Kosalas, the Kasis, the Matsyas, the Karusas, the Kaikayas, and the Surasenas.
- Mahabharata, Book 8, Chapter 48
Aiming then, five irresistible shafts, Karna, otherwise called Vaikartana or Vrisha, slew five Pancala warriors. The five Pancalas that he slew in that battle were Bhanudeva and Citrasena and Senavindu and Tapana and Surasena.
(The above passage indicates that a part of Surasena Kingdom, was under the territories of the Panchala Kingdom).
Karna rating the qualities of various tribes
- Mahabharata, Book 8, Chapter 45
The Pancalas observe the duties enjoined in the Vedas; the Kauravas observe truth; the Matsyas and the Surasenas perform sacrifices, the Easterners follow the practices of the Sudras; the Southerners are fallen; the Vahikas are thieves; the Saurashtras are bastards.
Kingdoms of Ancient India