Created by Jijith Nadumuri at 16 Oct 2010 11:15 and updated at 16 Oct 2010 11:55

Kulindas were a tribe mentioned in Mahabharata. They were an ally of the Pandavas. Karna is mentioned as defeating the Kulindas.

Kulindas in Kurukshetra War

They took part in the Kurukshetra War siding with the Pandavas. It is likely that the Kulinda army joined the Pandavas after the war commenced. They were mentioned as fighting since the 16th day onwards out of the 18 day Kurukshetra war. They possessed war-elephants in their division. They attacked many heroes in the Kaurava army like Kripa, Sakuni and Duryodhana. A Kulinda warrior is mentioned as attacking Nakula's son. Hence some Kulindas joined the Kaurava side too.

Origin of the name

There was a species of bird named Kulinga. It is not clear if the name Kulinda is derived from Kulinga. Based on some etymology, the meaning of Kulinda is explained as the one with inferior upbringing., though this could be based upon an orthodox racial view. Kulindas had a democratic system of administration, with a central assembly of cheifs sharing power with their king. They had relations with other tribes in their neighborhood like the Kulutas and the Audumvaras (Audumbaras).

Geographical location

The location of Kulinda during the Mahabharata period was in Himalayas especially in Himachal_Pradesh. They were thus a mountain tribe, having their small kingdoms in mountains and forests (vana-rashtras). They lived in the area surrounded by the rivers Sutlej, Beas and Yamuna. The regions in and around Shimla and Sirmur were their main centers. The Markanda Valley in Sirmur was part of their territories. They were also spread to Ambala in Hariyana and Saharanpur in Uttarpradesh, both close to Himachal Pradesh.

King Bhagadatta of Pragjyotisha was like an emperor unto the Kulinda tribe. After affiliating themselves with Bhagadatta, Kulindas seems to have spread along Bhagadatta's territories in the foothills of Himalayas reaching from Himachal Pradesh to Assam. Hence, places named after Kulinda is found in Bangladesh too. Example is a village named Kulinda in Rajshahi, Bangladesh (Lat: 24.63333 Long: 88.4).

Kulindas as traders

Another explanation for Kulindas in Bangladesh, is that they were traders and had their settlements close to the mouth of Ganga in Bangladesh, which was a major center of trade during the period of Mahabharata. This regions were occupied by Mlecha (Meluhha) traders. Mahabharata mentions the territory of Kulinda as rich in heaps of jewels. They were also mentioned as bringing tribute to Pandava king Yudhisthira in heaps of gold measured in dronas jars.

Related Tribes

  1. Kulutas
  2. Audumbaras


  1. Mahabharata:- Kulindas, Kulinda
  2. Kulindas in Himachal Pradesh
  3. Kulinda in Bangladesh
  4. Kulinda etymology

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