Usinara

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Ancestry of Usinara as per Bhagavata Purana

Usinaras (उसीनर) or Ushinaras were an ancient people attested to have been living in central Punjab since remote antiquity. They were Chandravanshi Kshatriyas often associated with Madras, Kekayas, Sibis etc and their territory formed part of Vahika country according to evidence of Panini.

Ancestry of Anu

YayatiAnuSabhanaraKalanaraJanamejayaMaha ShalaMahamanas → (1.Ushinara + 2.Titiksha)

History

V. S. Agrawala[1] writes that Ashtadhyayi of Panini mentions janapada Uśīnara (उशीनर) (IV.2.118) - Panini mentions Ushinara as part of Vahika. Panini mentions three divisions of Vahika Country, viz Kekaya, Uśīnara and Madra. Fourth division to be added to Vahika country is Śavasa. Of these Kekaya and Śavasa may be located between Jhelum and Chenab, the first in the south and second in north respectively; Madra and Ushinara between the Chenab and Ravi River in the north and south respectively.

The Divyadana refers to the Shvasas in Uttarapatha with headquarters at Takshasila to which Ashoka was deputed by his father Bindusara as Viceroy to quell their rebellion. The name of Savasa or Shvasa seems to be preserved in in the modern name Chhiba comprising of Punchh, Rajauri and Bhimbhara. In literature Ushinaras are often associated with the Śibis (greek - Siboi) whose chief town Śibipura has been identified with Shorkot in Jhang district.

Association with present Jat gotras

Ram Sarup Joon[2] writes ... Many names in the Genealogical tables of Yayati are associated with present Jat gotras. Some examples are Ushinar, Shishu Bhadra, Tak or Takshak, Satoti, Krishan or Kushana from the Yadhu branch; Dushyanta, Bharat, Bhardwaja, Hasti, Ajmirh, Kaushik, Gadh and Vishwamitra of Puru branch; Seth, Arh, Gandhi, Gaindhu and Gandhar of the Ardas branch.

Names given in the genealogical tables include only the important personages. Other Jat gotras maybe associated with names not included. It shows that majority of Jats belong to the Yayati dynasty. The five branches of Yayati dominated the whole of Northern India, Central Asia and some European countries. European scholars have known these conquerors as of Yayati dynasty. They are remembered by different names in different countries such as Yayati, Ayati, Yati, Yuti, Yeuchi, Jutes, Jeets, Jati, Gatae, Goth etc.


History of the Jats, End of Page-28



Quite a few names cut of the tables are associated with the area around Haridwar, called Shiv Ki Jata. Buddha married Ikshvaku’s sister Ahilya in this area. Rishi Vishwa Mitra’s son Gadh performed ‘tapasya’ here.


Bhagirath brought the River Ganges into the plains in this area and as legend goes, when Jhanu Rakshash (demon) drank it all, he cut open his thigh and released the Ganga River.


Actually Jhanu is also mentioned in the tables, and, as a ruler, must have opposed or disturbed the project of bringing the Ganga to the plains.


Shiv ji married Sati and Parbati in this area. This is the land where the Yayati dynasty prospered and expanded. The Puru dynasty had their capital in this area. Excavations in the area should lead to important revelations.


Ram Sarup Joon[3] writes....In the eight generation of Krishna was King Ushinar whose son was Shavi, more popularly known as Shiv Ji. He married Sati and Parbati and had two sons Ganesh or Ganpati and Somi Kartik. Ganesh or Ganpati are not names but titles meaning head of a tribe. Jats have a big Gotra called Shavi. Iran was once known as Shavi Desh as mentioned by Huen Tsang and Fa Hein in the account of their travels to India. They have stated that through Tartar, Kashgar and Pamir they reached Shavi Country. Shavi is even today remembered in Iran as Prophet Shish. A shrine on his name is situated on the bank of River Tigris. A province of Iran was called Shavisthan now known as Seistan. These Shavi


History of the Jats, End of Page-29


People came to be known as Shavisthani, Shavisthans or Scythians. A great Scythian writer Abul Ghazi has called himself a Jat of Chandravanshi dynasty. He also writes that the mother of Scythians was the daughter of Ahilya Devi.


Ram Swarup Joon[4] writes that Shavi was the son of the king Ushinar. He was a Yogi and an ascetic. He was married to, Sati the daughter of king Daksha. After her death he married Parvati. His seat of tapasya was on the Gangotri Mountain. He had two sons, Smokartik and Ganpati (Ganesh).

The Shavi dynasty prospered well. The Descendants of his dynasty are famous as Takshak, Bachak, Bharhaich, Nags etc. Shavi founded the country of Shavisthan (Siestan) in Iran and also the Island of Jatoli. They also founded kingdoms of Turkistan and Scandinavia.

The Shavi rulers constructed the Shorkot fort in Jhang.

In Iran there is a Mausoleum of prophet Shish. Hieun T-sang and Fahien have also called Iran as Shavi country.


Usinaras in Vedic Literature

There is reference to princess Usinarini (i.e queen of Usinara) in the Rigveda [5] Aitareya Brahmana seems to locate Usinaras along with the Kurus, Panchalas and the Vasas (Savasa) in middle region or Madhyadesha (Mid India) [6]. Kaushitakai Upanishada collocates the Usinaras with the Satvat-Matsyas, the Kuru-Panchalas and the Sasas [7]. They probably lived in a territory to the north of Madhyadesa, as neighbors to the Udichyas or the northerners. This is why the Gopatha Brahamana collocates the Usinaras and Svasas with the Udichyas or northerners [8].

Divyavadana refers to the Svasas as people of Uttarapatha with headquarters at Takshasila to which king Ashoka was deputed by his father Bindusara as a Viceroy to quell their rebellion. The ancient Savasa or Svasa is said to be modern Chhibba which comprises Punch, Rajauri and Bhimbara.

Thus, the Usinaras, the very neighbors of the Svasas must also be located in Punjab proper.

Mahabharata references

There are many references to Usinaras in the Epic poetry Mahabharata. At several places, it refers to king Usinara and his son prince Sibi or Sivi whose charity has been enormously glorified by sage Markandeya.[9].

Usinara prince in Draupadis’ Sywayamvara

Adi Parava of Mahabharata says that prince Sivi, son of Usinara had attended Draupadi's self-choice (Swayamvara) ceremony along with the kings of neighbouring kingdoms viz Shalya, the king of Madra Kingdom, with his son, the heroic Rukmangada, Rukmaratha, Somadatta (king of Bahlika Kingdom) of the Kuru race with his three sons - Bhuri, Bhurisrava, and Sala and Sudakshina Kamboja the arch-bowman of the Puru race [10] See Ganguli's Trans: [1].

Usinaras in Kurukshetra war

The Usinaras had joined the Kurukshetra war on the side of Kauravas. Karna Parava refers to the Kekayas, the Malavas, the Madrakas, the Dravidas of fierce prowess, the Yaudheyas, the Lalittyas, the Kshudrakas, the Usinaras, the Tundikeras, the Savitriputras etc who had supported Karna on 17th day of the war, as all having been slain by Arjuna [11].

Further epic references

According to Mahabharatra, Sibi was son of the king of Usinara country near Gandhara. The charity and devotion of prince Sibi have been greatly extolled by the sage Markandeya in the epic.

Mahabharata also speaks of Usinara princes as sacrificing on two small streams near Yamuna [12] There was also one king Usinara i.e king of Usinara country, contemporary of king Janaka of Videha. Garagya Balaki, a contemporary of Janaka lived for some time in Usinara country.

Mahabharata (and Katha sarit-sagara) refer to Usinaragiri which is located near Kankhala at the point where Ganges issues from the hills [13]. It is said to be identical with Usiragiri of Divayavadana and Usira-dhvaja of Vanaya texts [14].

There is also an epic reference Suyajna, the king of the Usinaras.

Srimad Bhagavatam and the Usinaras

Bhagavatam Purana attests that the prince of Usinara along with princes from Matsya, Kosala, Vidharbha, Kuru, Srnjaya, Kamboja, Kekaya, Madra, Kunti, Anarta, Kerala was present at Samanta-pancaka in Kurukshetra at the occasion of the solar eclipse [15]. [2]

Srimad Bhagavatam also states that the Usinaras, the Sibi, the Madras, and the Kekayas were the direct descendants of Yayati's son Anu. Sibi or Sivi is stated to be son of Usinara [16]. [3]

Consequently, in the literature, the Usinaras are often associated with the Shivis or Sibis (Sibois of the Greek writings) whose chief town Sibipura has been identified with Shorkot, in Jhang district in Pakistan.

Panini’s Ashtadhyayi

Panini refers to the Usinaras in several sutras of his Ashtadhyayi [17] and mentions their land as a part of the Vahika country [18]. Though not stated specifically by Panini, in all probability, the Usinaras were under a Sangha government [19].

Usinara in Buddhist literature

There is a Buddhist reference to one Usinara, said to be king of Benares who lived in the time of Kassapa Buddha. His story is related in the Maha-Kanha Jataka [20]. He is mentioned in a list of kings who, although they gave great gifts, could not get beyond the domain of sense [21]. It is however, not clear if this Usinara was from the Usinara clan or else 'Usinara' was his personal name only.

References

  1. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.53
  2. History of the Jats/Chapter II,p. 28
  3. History of the Jats/Chapter II,p. 29-30
  4. Ram Swarup Joon: History of the Jats/Chapter V, p. 101
  5. 10.69.10
  6. Aitareya Brahmana VIII.14.
  7. The Upanishads, Part I (SBE01): Kaushîtaki-Upanishad: 4.1.
  8. i.e Savasas-Usinareshu-Udichyeshu, Gopatha Brahmana II. 9
  9. Mahabharata 12.29.39; 1.93; 3.197 etc.
  10. Mahabharata 1.185-13-15
  11. Mahabharata 8.5.
  12. Mahabharata 3.130.21
  13. Mahabharata 5.111.16-23; Katha sarit-sagara, (Ed) Durgaprasad and Kasinath Pandurang Parab, 3rd Edition, p 5. Kankhala is located near Hardwar in Saharanpur District in Uttar Prsdesh.
  14. Political History of Ancient India, 1006, p 60, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury.
  15. Tatragataste dadrśuh suhrt-sambandhino nrpān
    Matsyośīnara-kauśalya-vidarbha-kuru-srnjayān
    Kamboja kaikayān madrān kuntīn ānarta-keralān
    Anyāmś caivātma-paksīyān parāmś ca śataśo nrpa
    Nandādīn suhrdo gopān gopīś cotkanthitāś ciram
    (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.82.12-13)
    Trans:
    The Yadavas saw that many of the kings who had arrived were old friends and relatives-- the Matsyas, Uśīnaras, Kosalas, Vidarbhas, Kurus, Srnjayas, Kambojas, Kaikayas, Madras, Kuntis and the kings of Ānarta and Kerala. They also saw many hundreds of other kings, both allies and adversaries. In addition, my dear King Parīkṣit, they saw their dear friends Nanda Mahārāja and the cowherd men and women, who had been suffering in anxiety for so long.
  16. “Anu, the fourth son of Yayati, had three sons, named Sabhanara, Caksu and Paresnu. From Sabhanara came a son named Kalanara, and from Kalanara came a son named Srnjaya. From Srnjaya came a son named Janamejaya. From Janamejaya came Mahasala; from Mahasala, Mahamana; and from Mahamana two sons, named Usinara and Titiksu.The four sons of Usinara were Sibi, Vara, Krmi and Daksa, and from Sibi again came four sons, named Vrsadarbha, Sudhira, Madra and atma-tattva-vit Kekaya....” (Srimad Bhagavatam, 9.23.1-4).
  17. II.4.20; IV.2.118
  18. cf: Kashika on Sutra IV.2.118: Usinareshu ye Vahikagramah.
  19. India as Known to Paqnini, p 453, Dr V. S. Aggarwala.
  20. Jataka.iv.181ff
  21. Jataka.VI.99.

See also


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