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The city of Indraprastha (City of Indra) (Pali: Indapatta, Sanskrit: इन्‍द्रप्रस्‍थ (इन्द्रप्रस्थ) or Indraprastha), a city in ancient India that was the capital of the kingdom led by the Pandavas in the Mahabharata epic. It was located upon the banks of the river Yamuna and close to the modern national capital of Delhi.

Contents

Construction of the city

Mahabharata contains a passage (Book1, chapter 209) referring to how the Pandavas made this city on the banks of Yamuna.

Indraprastha, a birds eye view as observed by Krishna and Arjuna from an elevated ground

After the Pandavas became powerful due to their alliance with Panchala king Drupada, by obtaining as wife Drupada's daughter Draupadi, king Dhritarashtra of Hastinapura summoned them to his palace. King Dhritarashtra addressing Yudhishthira, said, ‘Listen, O son of Kunti, with thy brothers, to what I say. Repair ye to Khandavaprastha so that no difference may arise again (between you and my sons). If you take up your quarters there no one will be able to do you any injury. Protected by Partha (Arjuna), reside you at Khandavaprastha, taking half of the kingdom.’

Agreeing to what Dhritarashtra said, the Pandavas set out from Hastinapura. And content with half the kingdom, they removed to Khandavaprastha, which was in unreclaimed desert. Then the Pandavas, with Krishna at their head, arriving there, beautified the place and made it a second heaven. And those mighty car-warriors, selecting with Krishna Dwaipayana’s assistance a sacred and auspicious region, performed certain propitiatory ceremonies and measured out a piece of land for their city. Then surrounded by a trench wide as the sea and by walls reaching high up to the heavens and white as the fleecy clouds or the rays of the moon, that foremost of cities looked resplendent like Bhogavati (the capital of the Nagas) decked with the Nagas. And it stood adorned with palatial mansions and numerous gates, each furnished with a couple of panels resembling the out-stretched wings of Garuda. And it was protected with gateways looking like the clouds and high as the Mandara mountains. And well-furnished with numerous weapons of attack, the missiles of the foes could not make slightest impression on them. And they were almost covered with darts and other missiles like double-tongued snakes. The turrets along the walls were filled with armed men in course of training; and the walls were lined with numerous warriors along their whole length. And there were thousands of sharp hooks and Sataghnis (machines slaying a century of warriors) and numerous other machines on the battlements. There were also large iron wheels planted on them. And with all these was that foremost of cities adorned. The streets were all wide and laid out excellently; and there was no fear in them of accident. And decked with innumerable mansions, the city became like unto Amaravati and came to be called Indraprastha (like unto Indra’s city). In a delightful and auspicious part of the city rose the palace of the Pandavas filled with every kind of wealth and like unto the mansion of the celestial treasurer (Kubera) himself. And it looked like a mass of clouds charged with lightning.

“When the city was built, there came, numerous Brahmanas well-acquainted with all the Vedas and conversant with every language, wishing to dwell there. And there came also unto that town numerous merchants from every direction, in the hope of earning wealth. There also came numerous persons well-skilled in all the arts, wishing to take up their abode there. And around the city were laid out many delightful gardens adorned with numerous trees bearing both fruits and flowers. There were Amras (mango trees) and Amaratakas, and Kadamvas and Asokas, and Champakas; and Punnagas and Nagas and Lakuchas and Panasas; and Salas and Talas (palm trees) and Tamalas and Vakulas, and Ketakas with their fragrant loads; beautiful and blossoming and grand Amalakas with branches bent down with the weight of fruits and Lodhras and blossoming Ankolas; and Jamvus (blackberry trees) and Patalas and Kunjakas and Atimuktas; and Karaviras and Parijatas and numerous other kinds of trees always adorned with flowers and fruits and alive with feathery creatures of various species. And those verdant groves always resounded with the notes of maddened peacocks and Kokilas (blackbirds). And there were various pleasure-houses, bright as mirrors, and numerous bowers of creepers, and charming and artificial hillocks, and many lakes full to the brim of crystal water, and delightful tanks fragrant with lotuses and lilies and adorned with swans and ducks and chakravakas (brahminy ducks). And there were many delicious pools overgrown with fine aquatic plants. And there were also diverse ponds of great beauty and large dimension. And, the joy of the Pandavas increased from day to day, in consequence of their residence in that large kingdom that was peopled with pious men.

Thus in consequence of the virtuous behaviour of Bhishma and king Dhritarashtra towards them, the Pandavas took up their abode in Khandavaprastha. Adorned with those five mighty warriors, each equal unto Indra himself, that foremost of cities looked like Bhogavati adorned with the Nagas.

Clearing of the surrounding forest

Mahabharata also has another passage where describing how the surrounding forest of Khandava was burnt by Krishna and Arjuna(Mbh 1.229):- Arjuna covered the forest of Khandava with innumerable arrows like a thick fog. When the sky above that forest was thus covered with the arrows of Arjuna no living creature could then escape from below. It so happened that while that forest was burning, Takshaka, the chief of the Nagas, was not there, having gone at that time to the field of Kurukshetra. But Aswasena, the mighty son of Takshaka, was there. He made great efforts to escape from that fire; but confined by Arjuna’s shafts he succeeded not in finding a way.

The inhabitants of this forest were mentioned as Nagas, Asuras and Rakshasas. They made stiff resistance to Arjuna:- Armed with machines vomiting from their throats (mouths?) iron balls and bullets, and catapults for propelling huge stones, and rockets, they approached to strike Krishna and Arjuna, their energy and strength increased by wrath. But though they rained a perfect shower of weapons, Arjuna, addressing them reproachfully, struck off their heads with his own sharp arrows.

Some of them were displaced and some others were destroyed by this act of Arjuna. Some like the Naga Takshaka became a great enemy of the Kurus due to this incident, culminating in the assassination of Kuru king Parikshit, who was the grandson of Arjuna and subsequently leading to the partial destruction of the race of Nagas at the hands of Kuru king Janamejaya, the son of Parikshit. Some others like Asura, Maya, became an ally of the Pandavas. Maya, to show gratitude to Arjuna for not killing him, made the great palatial sabha (hall) for king Yudhisthira, on the land cleared after burning the Khandava forest.

Construction of the palatial hall by Asura architect Maya

Maya Sabha built after clearing the forest of Khandava

The following passage in Mahabharata narrates how a wonderful palatial hall was constructed by Asura architect Maya in the area cleared by burning the forest (MBh 2.1,3)

Maya Danava, repeatedly spoke to Arjuna-‘O son of Kunti, I am saved by you. I want to return a favor to you'. Arjuna said,--‘O great Asura, everything hath already been done by thee (even by this offer of thine). Blest be thou. Go whithersoever thou likest. Be kind and well-disposed towards me, as we are even kind to and well-pleased with thee!’ When Maya persisted Krishna told him:- -‘Let a palatial sabha (meeting hall) as thou choosest, be built (by thee), if thou, O son of Diti, who art the foremost of all artists, desirest to do good to Yudhishthira the just. Indeed, build thou such a palace that persons belonging to the world of men may not be able to imitate it even after examining it with care, while seated within. And, O Maya, build thou a mansion in which we may behold a combination of godly, asuric and human designs.’”

Then Krishna and Partha (Arjuna) after having narrated everything unto king Yudhishthira the just, introduced Maya unto him. Yudhishthira received Maya with respect, offering him the honour he deserved. And, O Bharata, Maya accepted that honour thinking highly of it. That great son of Diti then recited unto the sons of Pandu the history of the Danava Vrisha-parva, and that foremost of artists then, having rested awhile, set himself after much thoughtful planning to build a palace for the illustrious sons of Pandu. Having performed on an auspicious day the initial propitiatory rites of foundation and having also gratified thousands of well-versed Brahmanas with sweetened milk and rice and with rich presents of various kinds, measured out a plot of land five thousand cubits square, which was delightful and exceedingly handsome to behold and which was favourable for construction of a building well-suited to the exigencies of every season.

Then Maya Danava addressed Arjuna, saying ‘I now go with thy leave, but shall come back soon. On the north of the Kailasa peak near the mountains of Mainaka, while the Danavas were engaged in a sacrifice on the banks of Vindu lake, I gathered a huge quantity of delightful and variegated vanda (a kind of rough materials) composed of jewels and gems. This was placed in the mansion of Vrishaparva ever devoted to truth. If it be yet existing, I shall come back, O Bharata, with it. I shall then commence the construction of the delightful palace of the Pandavas, which is to be adorned with every kind of gems.

Maya brought all these materials and built the hall. The palace that Maya built consisted of columns of gold, and occupied, an area of five thousand cubits. The palace, possessing an exceedingly beautiful form, like unto that of Agni or Suryya, or Soma, shone in great splendour, and by its brilliance seemed to darken even the bright rays of the sun. And with the effulgence it exhibited, which was a mixture of both celestial and terrestrial light, it looked as if it was on fire. Like unto a mass of new clouds conspicuous in the sky, the palace rose up coming into view of all. Indeed, the palace that the dexterous Maya built was so wide, delightful, and refreshing, and composed of such excellent materials, and furnished with such golden walls and archways, and adorned with so many varied pictures. And eight thousand Rakshasas called Kinkaras, fierce, huge-bodied and endued with great strength, of red coppery eyes and arrowy ears, well-armed and capable of ranging through the air, used to guard and protect that palace. Within that palace Maya placed a peerless tank, and in that tank were lotuses with leaves of dark-coloured gems and stalks of bright jewels, and other flowers also of golden leaves. And aquatic fowls of various species sported on its bosom. Itself variegated with full-blown lotuses and stocked with fishes and tortoises of golden hue, its bottom was without mud and its water transparent. There was a flight of crystal stairs leading from the banks to the edge of the water. The gentle breezes that swept along its bosom softly shook the flowers that studded it. The banks of that tank were overlaid with slabs of costly marble set with pearls. And beholding that tank thus adorned all around with jewels and precious stones, many kings that came there mistook it for land and fell into it with eyes open. Many tall trees of various kinds were planted all around the palace. Of green foliage and cool shade, and ever blossoming, they were all very charming to behold. Artificial woods were laid around, always emitting a delicious fragrance. And there were many tanks also that were adorned with swans and Karandavas and Chakravakas (Brahminy ducks) in the grounds lying about the mansion. And the breeze bearing the fragrance of lotuses growing in water and (of those growing on land) ministered unto the pleasure and happiness of the Pandavas.

Inaugural day at the palatial hall of Indraprastha

Maya Sabha during its inaugural day, when Pandava king entered the hall with his brothers and ascended the throne. Many kings and sages along with the Yadava heroes like Krishna, Balarama and Ugrasena assembled in that wonderful palatial hall constructed by Asura architect Maya for the Pandavas

(MBh 2.4) Then that chief of men, king Yudhishthira, entered that palatial sabha. Upon the seats in that palace sat, along with the Pandavas, Rishis and kings that came from various countries, viz., Asita and Devala, Satya, Sarpamali and Mahasira; Arvavasu, Sumitra, Maitreya, Sunaka and Vali; Vaka, Dalvya, Sthulasira, Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa, and Suka Sumanta, Jaimini, Paila, and the disciples of Vyasa. Tittiri, Yajanavalkya, and Lomaharshana with his son; Apsuhomya, Dhaumya, Animandavya; and Kausika; Damoshnisha and Traivali, Parnada, and Varayanuka, Maunjayana, Vayubhaksha, Parasarya, and Sarika; Valivaka, Silivaka, Satyapala, and Krita-srama; Jatukarna, and Sikhavat. Alamva and Parijataka; the exalted Parvata, and the great Muni Markandeya; Pavitrapani, Savarna, Bhaluki, and Galava. Janghabandhu, Raibhya, Kopavega, and Bhrigu: Harivabhru, Kaundinya, Vabhrumali, and Sanatana, Kakshivat, and Ashija, Nachiketa, and Aushija, Nachiketa, and Gautama;

Painga, Varaha, Sunaka, and Sandilya of great ascetic merit: Kukkura, Venujangha, Kalapa and Katha;--these virtuous and learned Munis with senses and souls under complete control, and many others as numerous, all well-skilled in the Vedas and Vedangas and conversant with (rules of) morality and pure and spotless in behaviour, waited on the illustrious Yudhishthira, and gladdened him by their sacred discourses. And so also numerous principal Kshatriyas, such as the illustrious and virtuous Mujaketu, Vivarddhana, Sangramjit, Durmukha, the powerful Ugrasena;

Kakshasena, the lord of the Earth, Kshemaka the invincible; Kamatha, the king of Kamboja, and the mighty Kampana who alone made the Yavanas to ever tremble at his name just as the god that wieldeth the thunder-bolt maketh those Asuras, the Kalakeyas, tremble before him; Jatasura, and the king of the Madrakas, Kunti, Pulinda the king of the Kiratas, and the kings of Anga and Vanga, and Pandrya, and the king of Udhara, and Andhaka; Sumitra, and Saivya that slayer of foes; Sumanas, the king of the Kiratas, and Chanur the King of the Yavanas, Devarata, Bhoja, and the so called Bhimaratha, Srutayudha—the king of Kalinga, Jayasena the king of Magadha; and Sukarman, and Chekitana, and Puru that slayer of foes;

Ketumata, Vasudana, and Vaideha and Kritakshana: Sudharman, Aniruddha, Srutayu endued with great strength; the invincible Anuparaja, the handsome Karmajit; Sisupala with his son, the king of Karusha; and the invincible youths of the Vrishni race, all equal in beauty unto the celestials, viz., Ahuka, Viprithu, Sada, Sarana, Akrura, Kritavarman, and Satyaka, the son of Sini; and Bhismaka, Ankriti, and the powerful Dyumatsena, those chief of bowmen viz., the Kaikeyas and Yajnasena of the Somaka race; these Kshatriyas endured with great might, all well-armed and wealthy, and many others also regarded as the foremost, all waited upon Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, in that Sabha, desirous of ministering to his happiness. And those princes also, endued with great strength, who dressing themselves in deer-skins learnt the science of weapons under Arjuna, waited upon Yudhishthira. The princes also of the Vrishni race, viz., Pradyumna (the son of Rukmini) and Samva, and Yuyudhana the son of Satyaka and Sudharman and Aniruddha and Saivya that foremost of men who had learnt the science of arms under Arjuna these and many other kings, O lord of the Earth, used to wait on Yudhishthira on that occasion. And that friend of Dhananjaya, Tumvuru, and the Gandharva Chittasena with his ministers, any many other Gandharvas and Apsaras, well-skilled in vocal and instrumental music and in cadence and Kinnaras also well-versed in (musical) measures and motions singing celestial tunes in proper and charming voices, waited upon and gladdened the sons of Pandu and the Rishis who sat in that Sabha. And seated in that Sabha, those bull among men, of rigid vows and devoted to truth, all waited upon Yudhishthira like the celestials in heaven waiting upon Brahma.

Aftermath

Ancient Indian (Bharata) cities and Places(Title and location names are in English.)

After the Pandavas were banished by the Kauravas into forest, Indraprastha fell into the hands of Kaurava crown prince Duryodhana. Later when Pandavas defeated the Kauravas in Kurukshetra War, and king Yudhisthira, ascended the throne of Hastinapura, his brother Arjuna stayed at Indraprastha, with Krishna, his friend and teacher, and looked after the matters of boarders of the kingdom. When Pandavas renounced the kingdom and went into forest as ascetics, Arjuna's grandson Parikshit was installed king of Hastinapura and Yuyutsu son of King Dhritarashtra, was installed as the king of Indraprasta. Vajra, Krishna's grandson is named ruler of the Yadavas and he and the tribe are instated in Indraprastha after the destruction of Dwarka. Parikshit's son king Janamejaya was mentioned as ruling the kingdom from Hastinapura.

Hindu monarch Raja Dhilu is said to have founded the ancient city of Delhi close to Indraprastha.[1]

List of Kings

About 30 Emperors belonging to the House of Yushisthir ruled in Indraprath collectively for 1,770 years, 11 months and 10 days: The following is thes ist of Rulers and Years of Reign (Year, month, day)

  1. Yudhisthir 36 Years 8 Months 25 Days
  2. Parikshita 60 Years 0 Months 0 Days
  3. Janamejaya 84 Years 7 Months 23 Days
  4. Ashwamedha 82 Years 8 Months 22 Days
  5. Rama II 88 Years 2 Months 8 Days
  6. Chhatra Mala 81 Years 11 Months 27 Days
  7. Chitraratha 75 Years 3 Months 18 Days
  8. Dushtashailya 75 Years 10 Months 24 Days
  9. Ugrasena 78 Years 7 Months 21 Days
  10. Shurasena 78 Years 7 Months 21 Days
  11. Bhuvanapati 69 Years 5 Months 5 Days
  12. Ranajita 65 Years 10 Months 4 Days
  13. Rikshaka 64 Years 7 Months 4 Days
  14. Sukhdeva 62 Years 0 Months 24 Days
  15. Naraharideva 51 Years 10 Months 2 Days
  16. Suchiratha 42 Years 11 Months 2 Days
  17. Shurasena II 58 Years 10 Months 8 Days
  18. Parvatasena 55 Years 8 Months 10 Days
  19. Medhavi 52 Years 10 Months 10 Days
  20. Sonachira 50 Years 8 Months 21 Days
  21. Bhimadeva 47 Years 9 Months 20 Days
  22. Nriharideva 45 Years 11 Months 23 Days
  23. Purnamala 44 Years 8 Months 7 Days
  24. Karadavi 44 Years 10 Months 8 Days
  25. Alammika 50 Years 11 Months 8 Days
  26. Udayapala 38 Years 9 Months 0 Days
  27. Duvanamala 40 Years 10 Months 26 Days
  28. Damata 32 Years 0 Months 0 Days
  29. Shimpala 58 Years 5 Months 8 Days
  30. Kshemaka 48 Years 11 Months 21 Days

References

  1. ^ http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Ithaca/3440/books.html Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Satyarth Prakash.

See also

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