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Part of Punjab, showing Trigartta - comprised Jalandhar, and the various small states between the Ravi River and the Satluj River

Trigartas (त्रिगर्त) were ancient people of Mahabharata period in the region of the same name. Trigartta gave rise to many Jat clans.


Jalandhar was the capital of Trigartas (people living in the "land between three rivers": Ravi, Beas and Sutlej) in the times of Mahabharata war. According to Alexander Cunningham[1] Trigartta is the usual Sanskrit name found in the Puranas. 'Hema-Kosha.' writes Jâlandharâs Trigarttâsyuh — "Jalandhara, that is Trigartta."


Alexander Cunningham[2] describes about the Hill States of the Punjab as the Chinese pilgrim Hwen Thsang has noticed so few of the many hill-states of the Panjab.

According to popular opinion the petty states of the Alpine Panjab, at the present time, consist of twenty-two Muhammadan and twenty-two Hindu chiefships, the former lying to the west, and the latter to the east of the Chenab river. [3]

An older classification divides them into three groups, each named after the most powerful state which formed the head of the confederation[4]. These were:

This division into three groups most probably existed prior to the seventh century, as we find that the states to the east of the Ravi were quite independent of Kashmir, while those of Urasa, Punach, and Rajapuri are spoken of in such a way as to show that they had kings of their own previous to their subjection by Kashmir.[5]

The Gakar chiefs hold the lower valley of the Jhelam, and the upper course of the Haro river to the south-west of Kashmir. The Gakars also occupy several portions of the eastern Doab, as Guliana, near Gujar Khan, and Bugial, under the lofty hill of Balnath. But these districts do not properly belong to the hills, although they were subject to Kashmir at the time of Hwen Thsang's visit in the seventh century. [6]

Alexander Cunningham[7]provides us the list which gives the names and positions of the various states attached to the eastern, or Jalandhar (Trigartta) division of the Alpine Panjab.

Vansha State
Somvansi 1. Kangra, or Katoch.
2. Guler, to S.W. of Kangra.
3. Jaswal, on Suhan River.
4. Datarpur, on lower Bias River.
5. Siba, on lower Bias River.
Surajvansi 6.Chamba, on Ravi River.
7. Kullu, on upper Bias River.
Pundir, or Pandayas. 8.Mandi, on middle Bias River.
9. Sukhet, to south of Mandi.
10. Nurpur, between Ravi River and Bias River.
11. Kotila, to East of Nurpur.
12. Kotlehar.

Of these twelve states no less than five are mere subdivisions of the once rich kingdom of Jalandhar, which embraced the whole of the Doab, or plain country, between the Bias and Satlej, and all the hill country lying between the Ravi and the frontiers of Mandi and Sukket, to the south of the Dhaola-dhar mountains. This included Nurpur, Kotila, and Kotlehar ; and as Mandi and Sukhet were at first under one rule, there were originally only four chiefships in the eastern division of the Alpine Panjab, namely, Jalandhar, Chamba, Kullu, and Mandi.

Alexander Cunningham[8] writes that Since the occupation of the plains by the Muhammadans, the ancient kingdom of Jalandhara has been confined almost entirely to its hill territories, which were generally known by the name of Kangra, after its most celebrated fortress.

Alexander Cunningham[9] writes that The royal family of Jalandhara and Kangra is one of the oldest in India, and their genealogy from the time of the founder, Susarma Chandra, appears to have a much stronger claim to our belief than any one of the long strings of names now shown by the more powerful families of Rajasthan. All the different scions of this house claim to be of Somavanshi descent ; and they assert that their ancestors held the district of Multan and fought in the Great War on the side of Duryodhan against the five Pandu brothers. After the war they lost their country, and retired under the leadership of Susarma Chandra to the Jalandhar Doab, where they established themselves, and built the stronghold of Kangra.

Alexander Cunningham writes that In the seventh century, the Chinese pilgrim, Hwen Thsang, was courteously entertained for a whole month by Raja U-ti-to, or Udita,[10] whom I would identify with Adima of the genealogical lists. One hundred and sixty years later, in an inscription dated A.D. 804, the Raja of Jalandhara is named Jaya Chandra, who is the Jaya Malla Chandra of the lists, the seventh in descent from Adima. Lastly, Ananta, king of Kashmir, from A.D. 1028 to 1081, married two daughters of Indu Chandra, [11] Raja of Jalandhara, who is the Indra Chandra of the genealogical lists of Kangra. These instances are sufficient to show that Jalandhara existed as an independent State for many centuries before the Muhammadan conquest. [12]

The smaller chiefships of Guler, Jaswal, Datarpur, and Siba, are offshoots from the parent stem of Kangra. The independence of Guler, or Haripur, was established by Hari Chandra, about A.D. 1400, when he yielded Kangra to his younger brother, Karmma Chandra. [13]

The date of the foundation of the other principalities is unknown, but I believe that they were always tributary to the parent state until the time of the Muhammadans, when the capture of Kangra by Mahmud of Ghazni afforded them an opportunity of asserting their independence. [14]

Raja Utito, mentioned by Chinese pilgrim Hwen Thsang, was a tributary of Harsh Vardhana, who appear to have continued to rule over the country right up to the 12th century, with occasional interruptions, but their capital was Jalandhar and Kangra formed an important stronghold.

We find in above description provided by Alexander Cunningham that Guliana Rawalpindi (p.132) represented by Mohammadans and Guler state to S.W. of Kangra (p.136) represented by Hindu chiefs of Guler. We may believe that these were the ancestors of Guleria clan.

In Rajatarangini

Rajatarangini[15] tells that ....At the time when preparations for war were being made, three hill chiefs Jāsaṭa of Champa, Vajradhara of Vallapura And Sahajapala of Vartula and two heir apparent Kahla of Trigarta and Anandaraja of Vallapura assembled together and arrived at Kurukshetra. They found Bhikshachara who was saved by Asamati with Naravarmma; and Naravarmma gave gold to the former for, expenses on the way. Jasata was related to Bhikshachara and treated him well, and the other chiefs also honored him. They then arrived at Vallapura. (p.46)

Rajatarangini[16] tells us ...When the Damaras and the citizens deserted the, enemy and went over to the king and received befitting rewards, Manujeshvara and Koshta, both of whom aspired after reward from the king and wished for his friendship, quarreled between themselves, each wishing to go over first to the king. Bhikshu heard of this from the sooth-sayers, collected his attendants, and set out in the month of Ashada intending to go to some other country. The Damaras who followed him could not assuage his anger with pleasant words, nor make him turn back.

The vicious Koshteshvara, — himself a prostitute's son, — longed for the very beautiful wife of Bhikshu.

But who could touch his wife, or hold the .... (?)* of an angry lion, or the jewel in the hood of a serpent or the flame of the fire?

When Bhikshu asked Somapala for shelter, he did not give it, because he had made his peace with the son of Sussala. The victor had every where made attempt to kill Bhikshu, consequently Bhikshu went to Sulhari, crossing over an unapproachable tract of that country. "There is kindness in Trigartta, good behaviour at Champa, -ifts (?)* at Madramaṇḍala and friendship at Darvvabhisara. When you stay away, the king,

* word is not clear

[p.132]: relieved of fear, will oppress the Damaras. They will then gradually welcome you and make you king." Though the ministers told him that it would be well for him to ask the help of the people for the conquest of the dominion of Naravarmma, Bhikshu did not accept their counsel ; he adopted the advice of his father-in-law, and his servants left him on the plea that their families at home were anxious for them. [VIII(i),p.131-132]

Rajatarangini[17] writes .... on death of Avantivarman all the members of the family of Utpala aspired to the throne. But Ratnavardhana the Royal guard raised Shankaravarmma, son of the late king, to the throne. The minister Karnapavinnāpa became envious, and raises Sukhavarmma the son of Suravarmma to the dignity of heir-apparent and so the king and the heir-apparent became enemies to each other, and consequently the kingdom was frequently disturbed by their quarrels. Shivashakti and other warriors refused offers of wealth, honor, &c, from the opposite party, and remained faithful to their master, and died for him. Honorable men never desert their party. After much trouble the king prevailed at last. He defeated Samaravarmma and others, on several occasions, and acquired great fame.

Having thus beaten and subjugated his own relatives,he made preparations for foreign conquests. Though the country was weak in population, he was able to set out with nine hundred thousand foot, three hundred elephants, and one hundred thousand horse. He, whose command had been ill obeyed in his own kingdom a short while before, now began to pass orders on kings.

[p.116]: His army was joined by the forces of tributary kings, and increased as he went on. On his approach the king of Darvabhisara fled in terror and there was no fighting. The Kashmirian army caught several lions and confined them in a fort, a sort of abode in which they had never lived before. The king then marched for the conquest of Gurjjara. Prithivi-chandra the king of Trigarta hid himself, but his son Bhuvanachandra, on whom the king of Kashmira had bestowed wealth before, came to pay homage. But when he saw the large army of Kashmira, he became afraid of being captured, and accordingly turned and fled. The king of Kashmira, whom the historians describe as a very handsome man, was regarded by other kings as Death. Shankaravarmma easily defeated Alakhāna king of Gurjjara who ceded Takka a part of his kingdom to his conqueror. The king of the Thakkiyaka family took service as guard under the king of Kashmira. The latter caused the kingdom of the Thakkiya king which had been usurped by the king of Bhoja to be restored to him. The king of the country which lay between Darat and Turushka, (as the Aryavarta lies between Himalaya and Vindhya,) Lalliya Shahi by name, who was among kings even as the sun is among stars, and was also lord over Alakhāna, did not submit to the king of Kashmira, on which the latter drove him out of his country.

Jat Gotras from Trigarta

In different section of the Mahabharata the number of the Trigarta brothers goes on increasing from one to five and then to six. Maheswari Prasad [18] writes, it appears that at the time of the final redaction of the Mahabharata the tradition of the six important clans of the Trigartas was well established. It is carious to note that in connection with the application of a suffix Panini makes a reference to the Damini (दामिनी) group and the six Trigartas (दामन्यादि त्रिगर्तसष्टाच्छ: v.3.116). On the basis of an ancient verse the Kashika commentary names these as Kauṇḍoparastha (कौण्डोपरस्थ) , Dāṇḍakī (दाण्डकी), Krauṣṭakī (क्रौष्टकी), Jālamāni (जालमानि), Brahmagupta (ब्रह्मगुप्त), and Jānaki (जानकी). These communities mentioned in the grammatical literature can be identified with following Jat Gotra names:

  • (3) Dāṇḍakī (दाण्डकी): Dangi,
  • (5) Jālamāni (जालमानि): Jali,

Location of Trigartas

The Mahabharata Book 2: Sabha Parva SECTION XXXI locates them along with Dasarnas, the Sivis, the Amvashtas, the Malavas, the five tribes of the Karnatas around Rohtak in Haryana as under:

शैरीषकं महेच्छं च वशे चक्रे महाथ्युतिः
शिबींस त्रिगर्तान अम्बष्ठान मालवान पञ्च कर्पटान ।। 6 ।।
Vaisampayana said,--"I shall now recite to you the deeds and triumphs of Nakula, and how that exalted one conquered the direction that had once been subjugated by Vasudeva. The intelligent Nakula, surrounded by a large host, set out from Khandavaprastha 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 (the celestial generalissimo) 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 twice born classes that were called the Madhyamakeyas and Vattadhanas. And making circuitous journey that bull among men then conquered the (Mlechcha) tribes called the Utsava-sanketas."[19]

The Trigartas have been variously located which shows that they had several settlements. The puranas call them the inhabitants of hills (Parvatāśrayinaḥ) (पर्वताश्रयिनः). The Bṛhatsamhitā locates them in the uttārapatha [20]. According to the Abhidhānachintānaṇi, Trigarta corresponds to Jālandhara (जालन्धरास्त्रिगर्ताःस्युः). The description of the Virat parva makes us believe that they were the northern neighbours of the Matsya Janapada (i.e. Bairat) and must have been living somewhere in modern Hissar. Reference to them are found in such later works as the Sarasvatīkaṇṭhābharaṇa (IV. 2.87) Goṇaratnamahodadhi (v.144) and Abhidhāna Chinatāmaṇi (p.382) [21]

Meaning of Trigarta

Trigarta literally means three pits, valleys or settlements and also the people living there. In ancient period people were named after areas and areas also got the names of people. Therefore the word garta (गर्त) is significant and requires examination. The normal Prakrit formation from garta would be gatla or gaṭṭa but jarta or Jaṭṭa is also possible. The philologists are of the view that the Indo-European language had a frontal ee which change to ē in greek and a in Sanskrit and due to this change k and g got changed in sanskrit to their corresponding palatals e.g. Greek Genos, sanskrit Jana. This phenomena is called the Law of palatals. The change form K and g to C and J can also be seen in such Sanskrit words as Cakāra, Jagāma. One may therefore presume two formations garta and Jarta existing side by side. Whereas garta is available in the Rigveda and later Sanskrit works Jarta existed in dialect. One should not think that the emergence of dialects is a late phenomenon. The philologists opine that already in the Indo-European period the parent language was divided people in dialects. [22]

The Trigartas were an ancient people closely associated with the Sibis, Yaudheyas and other groups and belonged to the Āyudhajīvī Samgha at the time of Panini. Their location in Hissar as suggested be the Virat Parva is pointer to the fact that they were the part of the people among whom the Yaudheya clan had excelled. When the political centres are destroyed by the powerful adversaries, new leadership springs up form the masses and with them come up new names for leadership. In such a situation , the word Jarta, an oblique form of gart, appears to have come in prominence. From Jarta ot Jaṭṭa and then, under the Law of Moves, Jāṭ is a normal linguistic formation. [23]

To sum up the results of the present study, it must be stressed that the Jats belong to the proto-vedic Aryan stock. But being on the periphery of the Madhyadesa, the cradle of vedic culture, they did not undergo the social transformation on the line of varna system and monarchical political organization. The power of decision making remained with elders and clan organizations described in literature as Jeṣṭha Vṛiddha, Samsad or Sabha. A few ancestors of Jats have been named in this study and others are waiting for a comprehensive study. [24]


  1. The Ancient Geography of India,p.136-137
  2. The Ancient Geography of India/Singhapura,pp.130-136
  3. Alexander Cunningham:The Ancient Geography of India/Singhapura,pp.130
  4. Alexander Cunningham:The Ancient Geography of India/Singhapura,pp.131
  5. Alexander Cunningham:The Ancient Geography of India/Singhapura,pp.131
  6. Alexander Cunningham:The Ancient Geography of India/Singhapura,p.132
  7. Alexander Cunningham:The Ancient Geography of India/Singhapura,pp.136
  8. The Ancient Geography of India,p.136
  9. The Ancient Geography of India,p.138
  10. Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' i. 261.
  11. ' Raja Tarangini,' vii. 150
  12. Alexander Cunningham: The Ancient Geography of India,p.139
  13. Alexander Cunningham: The Ancient Geography of India,p.139
  14. Alexander Cunningham: The Ancient Geography of India,p.139
  15. Kings of Kashmira Vol 2 (Rajatarangini of Kalhana)/Book VIII,p.46
  16. Kings of Kashmira Vol 2 (Rajatarangini of Kalhana)/Book VIII (i) ,p.131-132
  17. Rajatarangini of Kalhana:Kings of Kashmira/Book V,pp. 115-116
  18. Maheswari Prasad, “Jats in Ancient India”:The Jats, Ed. Dr Vir Singh, Vol.I, p. 26
  19. [Mahabharata Sabha Parva on Jatland Wiki
  20. Bṛhatsamhitā XIV. 25
  21. Maheswari Prasad, “Jats in Ancient India”:The Jats, Ed. Dr Vir Singh, Vol.I, p. 26
  22. Maheswari Prasad, “Jats in Ancient India”:The Jats, Ed. Dr Vir Singh, Vol.I, p. 27
  23. Maheswari Prasad, “Jats in Ancient India”:The Jats, Ed. Dr Vir Singh, Vol.I, p. 27
  24. Maheswari Prasad, “Jats in Ancient India”:The Jats, Ed. Dr Vir Singh, Vol.I, p. 27

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