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Karnata (कर्णाट) was a southern kingdom ruled by non-Vedic rulers during the period of the epic Mahabharata. The southern Karnata kingdom gave the name to the Indian state Karnataka. The Karnata Kingdom forms the northern and central portion of Karnataka state of India.


Amoda Plates Of Prithvideva I (Kalachuri) Year 831 (=1079 AD)

Amoda Plates Of Prithvideva I (Kalachuri) Year 831 (=1079 AD)[1] mentions in VV.4-6 as under:

(V. 4) The kings born in his (Kartavirya) family became (known as) Haihayas on the earth. In their family was born that (famous) Kôkkala, the first king of the Chaidyas (the people of the Chedi country)

(V. 5) By that king was erected on the earth a pillar of victory after forcibly dispossessing the kings of Karnata and Vanga, the lord of the Gurjaras, the ruler of Konkana, the lord of Shakambhari, the Turushka and the descendant of Raghu (Probably the contemporary prince of the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty) of their treasure, horses and elephants.

(V. 6) He had eighteen, very valiant sons, who destroyed their enemies as lions break open the frontal globes of elephants , the eldest of them, an excellent prince, became the lord of Tripuri and he made his brothers the lords of mandalas by his side.


The Karnata tribe was a Dravidian tribe. Konkanas, Tulus, Karnatas, Mahishakas, Mushikas, Keralas, Pandyas, Cholas, Kanchis, Dravidas, Andhras etc. were Dravidian tribes.

They could have migrated from the Sindh-Baluchistan area. A Karnata kingdom is mentioned to be located in the Sindh region as per the epic.

The southern Karnata kingdom gave the name to the South Indian state Karnataka. The Karnata Kingdom forms the northern and central portion of Karnataka state of India.

According to the Nagpur inscription, "when he (Bhoja) had become Indra's companion, when the realm was overrun by floods in which its sovereign was submerged, his relative Udayaditya become king delivering the earth which was troubled by kings and taken possession of by Karna...... joined by Karnatas."

Alexander Cunningham[2] writes that I cannot close this account without noting that M. Yivien de Saint-Martin has stated his suspicion that the name of Dandaka is connected with Dhanakakata[3] The Dandakaranya, or forest of Dandaka, is celebrated in Indian story. Varaha Mihira,[4] the great astronomer, mentions Dandaka along with other places in the South of India as follows : Kerala, Karnata, Kanchipura, Konkana, Chinna-pattana (or Madras), etc.

Sandhya Jain[5] writes that Karnata (Karahataka) - The Mahabharata Book 2: Sabha Parva SECTION XXXI locates The Trigartas, the Dasharnas, the Sivis, the Amvashtas, the Malavas, the five tribes of the Karnatas around Rohtak in Haryana.


विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[6] ने लेख किया है ...कर्णाट (AS, p.144) प्राचीन बुंदेलखंड का एक भाग जहाँ हैहयशवंशीय क्षत्रियों का राज्य था।

In Rajatarangini

Rajatarangini[7] mentions that King of Kashmir Mihirakula (r.515-530 AD) reached the Southern Sea and invaded Ceylon. He assuaged his anger by killing the king of the place, set up another, a cruel man on his throne, and returned to his kingdom, bringing with him from Ceylon a picture of the sun named Ushadeva. On his return he passed through Chola, Karnata, Nata, &c. The kings of these places fled on his approach, and returned to their ravaged capitals after he had gone away.

Rajatarangini[8] mentions the victory of Kashmira king Lalitaditya over various kingdoms. ...He marched thence with his army towards the east. He passed Kalingga, where elephants were caught. And then he came to Goura. Thence he reached the Eastern Sea, and pursued his course along the coast towards the south, conquering as he went. Karnāta submitted on his approach. A beautiful Karnāti lady named Ratti who ruled supreme in the south, her territories extending

[p.69]: as far as the Vindhya hills, also submitted to him. The army then rested on the banks of the Kaveri beneath the palm trees, drinking the water of coconuts. Thence he marched to Chandanadri. And then the king crossed the sea passing from one Island to another ; and thence marched towards the west, the sea singing the songs of his victory. He then attacked the seven Kramuka and the seven Kongkana which suffered much thereby. His army was anxious to enter Dvaraka situated on the Western Sea. The army then crossed the Vindhya hills and entered Avanti where there was an image of Shiva named Mahakala.

Rajatarangini[9] tells.... When Sujji was away from the country, the tree of his iniquities nourished by Sajjijāḍya was about to bear fruit. Viḍḍasimha remained indignant for two or three years. He took refuge with the warrior king [of Kashmira] and with his friends, he put down from a distance, the rising of the people by means of active trade and agriculture. He engaged himself in conspiracy with Alakarachakra and other Damaras who were related by marriage to the ministers of Darad. At the time when he first marched out with a view to obtain possession of the mountains and forts, a low

[p.223]: person named Janakabhadra had become his friend ; this man now expired by his side. In Karṇāṭa and in many other places through which he was seen to pass, some rose in rebellion and some became friendly. He planned to enter (the capital of Darad?). Though he made grand preparations yet he artfully made his progress slow, and the king of Darad, inactive through indolence, overlooked him. The king of the world [Kashmira] sent Udaya, lord of Dvara, with men. He brought riches to the peaceful and tumults to the turbulent. [VIII (ii),p.222-223]

Rajatarangini[10] tells us that ....When Lothana and others, after escaping with difficulty from Karnata, joined Alankarachakra, the first idea which occurred was that the king would be conquered. It was in vain that with his party he [Alankarachakra] garrisoned Kantha, for the lord of Dvara who came rapidly made a vigorous attack on it.

Sahadeva's Military Campaign to the South India

Mahabharata, Book 2, Chapter 30 : Sahadeva conquered the town of Sanjayanti and the country of the Pashandas and the Karanatakas by means of his messengers alone, and made all of them pay tributes to him. The hero brought under his subjection and exacted tributes from the Paundrayas and the Dravidas along with the Udrakeralas and the Andhras and the Talavanas, the Kalingas and the Ushtrakarnikas, and also the delightful city of Atavi and that of the Yavanas.

This is error of English translation, the Sanskrit and Hindi versions state Karhatas not Karnatas. Karhatas mean republican tribes.

एकपादांश च पुरुषान केवलान वनवासिनः
नगरीं संजयन्तीं च पिच्छण्डं करहाटकम
दूतैर एव वशे चक्रे करं चैनान अथापयत (Mahabharata:II.28.47)
पाण्ड्यांश च दरविदांश चैव सहितांश चॊथ्र केरलैः
अन्ध्रांस तलवनांश चैव कलिङ्गान ओष्ट्र कर्णिकान (Mahabharata:II.28.48)
अन्ताखीं चैव रॊमां च यवनानां पुरं तदा
दूतैर एव वशे चक्रे करं चैनान अथापयत (Mahabharata:II.28.49)

Nakula's Military Campaign to the West of India

Mahabharata, Book 2, Chapter 31: Nakula 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.

तत्र युद्धं महद वृत्तं शूरैर मत्तमयूरकैः
मरु भूमिं च कार्त्स्न्येन तदैव बहु धान्यकम (Mahabharata:II.29.5)
शैरीषकं महेच्छं च वशे चक्रे महाद्युतिः
शिबींस त्रिगर्तान अम्बष्ठान मालवान पञ्च कर्पटान (Mahabharata:II.29.6)
तथा मध्यमिकायांश च वाटधानान द्विजान अद
पुनश च परिवृत्याद पुष्करारण्यवासिनः (Mahabharata:II.29.7)


  1. Corpus Inscriptionium Indicarium Vol IV Part 2 Inscriptions of the Kalachuri-Chedi Era, Vasudev Vishnu Mirashi, 1955, p.401-409
  2. The Ancient Geography of India/Southern India, p.544
  3. M. Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' iii. 396. ' Memoire Analytique sur la Carte de I'Asie Centrale et de I'lnde.'
  4. Kern's ' Brihat-Sanhita,' c. xiv. ; v. 12, 13, 14.
  5. Sandhya Jain:Adi Deo Arya Devata - A Panoramic View of Tribal-Hindu Cultural Interface, Rupa & Co, 7/16, Ansari Road Daryaganj, New Delhi, 2004,p.130
  6. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.144
  7. Rajatarangini of Kalhana:Kings of Kashmira/Book I,p.19
  8. Rajatarangini of Kalhana:Kings of Kashmira/Book IV,p.68-69
  9. Kings of Kashmira Vol 2 (Rajatarangini of Kalhana)/Book VIII (ii),p.222-223
  10. Kings of Kashmira Vol 2 (Rajatarangini of Kalhana)/Book VIII (ii),p.227

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