A query has been raised that only the Brahmin and Ksatriya varnas were allowed to bear arms.
That statement was never true for Epic India or even later on.
That statement was hardly even true for Bollywood India for Chambal movies from where it actually comes from.
Even in the days of Mahabharata, we have Kings and royal dynast from all Varnas and Jatis. Of course, people keep confusing Varna and Jaati as same. That is understandable but was not true.
Read: Varna System?
The easiest way to state that this was false was the Virata Parva.
In Virata Parva when Susharma attacked, Virata rallied all able men who can bear arms. That included Brahmin Kanka, the Gopa Kundali, the Sudra cook Ballava, the Granthika of Vandi the charioteer caste and vaisya Tantripala.
Even in Epic Age, we have dynasties and Kings belonging to all Gotras and lineages.
- Kings of Kekaya were from days of King Sardandayana were Sootas being product of a Ksatriya and Brahamni. Their children were famous in Mahabharata and included the Kakaya warriors who fought on both sides, Chekitana, Sudeshna and Keechaka. Keechaka was also Commander-in-chief of the Matsaya armies.
- Kings of Matsaya were also descended from daughter of Satyavati and Parasara and Uparicharira Vasu. This was a case of close cousin marriage and also was cross caste marriage. Satyavati’s children were considered Parasaras and technically belonged to Brahmin lineage and Matsaya royal family was Ksatriya. In recent generations from the Mahabharata main lineage, there was King Dhvasan Dvaitavana who is also celebrated later in the Satapatha Brahmana who conducted many Asvamedhas as many as fourteen and was the considered superior to all Brahamans and ksatriyas despite born a soota. The Dwaita Lake and forest Dwaitavana in the Mahabharata is named after him.
- King Janasruti Pautrayana was Sudra and is also a famous king in Vedas. His lineage is thus Sudra as is lineage of tenth son of Vaivasvata Manu, Prshadharu.
- The Lineage of King Nabhaga was Vaisya as was lineage of Aurva Bhargava and the Talajangha group among Haihayas.
- Kings of Vaisali included the famous Maruta Avikshita lineage. Avikshita was a Sudra and his Vaisya wife was mother to Marutta the great. Marutta is thus Ayogava by caste and one of greatest Kings and performers of Asvamedhas.
- The Six main Panchala federated tribes includes Kesins the ex-Rakshasas, Sivas the cattle traders, Srnjayas the Brahmans, Turvacas and Krivis and King Drupada married Gopa queens.
- Kumbhakara Jataka and the Uttaradhyayana Sutra describe the Durmukha line of Panchalas, Naganjita line of Gandharas and Karakandu line of Kalinga as descended from Vaisya and Nishada mixture and thus expert tradesmen. That means Gandhari was not really a Kshatrani even. The caste of Gandhara and Kalimnga kings is also called Samgrahitri. That means Treasury officials.
- The Bharga dynasty of Vatsa was Nishada and intermarried with the Dantavakra lineage.
- The Karusha lineage was half Nishada while Paundrakas were Sudra kings.
There are many more such examples.
Among the Jatis of Kings who ruled at that period and came to Mahabharata:
- Senani indicating that ancestor was a general of uncertain caste in another kingdom.
- Antyaja, the servant caste or Salaried caste. Drona was an Antyaja. He was also given kingdom of North Panchala.
- Purohita, Vidura interacted with ministers of King whose caste was termed Purohita on his ancestor of uncertain origin being selected a Purohita then King. The third son of the Minister was deemed a Brahmin by his knowledge while older two sons are considered to be just Vaisya or Nagarikas (Citizens).
- The Mahishakas of South were called so on being descended from a Queen of uncertain origin being selected as Queen or Mahishi.
- The various Suta Royal lineages descended from Court Minstrels and Chroniclers.
- The Gramani Kings. (Kings whose ancestors were Village Chiefs or Guards.)
- The Kshattri lineage descended from Chamberlain of the Pururava. (In the story, this ancestor failed to secure the Mesha from the Gandharvas and was also Pratihara).
- Descendents of sons of Lakshaman were called Pratiharas. (also Vaitalikas, the story tellers).
- The Samgrahitri lineages of Kalinga and Gandhara and one of Panchala sub-lineages.
- There was Bhagadugha warriors (traditionally artisans and sculptors of Images.).
- There were the Akshavapas. (The name means Keepers of dice, they also included the people responsible for carrying food and drink for Kings especially Tamboola.)
- The Govikartanas. (This term means Housecarls. Literally those who enjoy princely patronage and is cover all for all friends of Princes. Radheya is also Vaikartana Karna which also translates as King’s companion).
- The Palagalas and many more castes are described as coming Kurukshetra.
The Anga Royal Lineage
King Uparichara Vasu conquered whole of India. He defeated the King Janamjeya of the main Hastinapur line and wrested the title of premier Puruvanshi lineage from that line. He also took the Chariot Somadatta of Puru from Janamjaya and used it himself.
His family would hold the chariot for 10 generations before Bhima will kill Jarasandha and take the chariot back and then give it to Krishna to make peace between the descendants of Puru and Yadu.
Read: The Flying Chariots
Uparicharira had seven sons and a daughter. The story of Mahabharata is the story of his family.
In Tryartho Mahabharata, a meaning of each sloka of Mahabharata is assigned as Uparicharira or Transcendental. He had seven sons who were assigned the kingdoms of Magadha, Kaushambi, Anga, Chedi, Matsaya et all.
It was his daughter adopted by Dasaraja, the King of Fisherman rather the owner of the banks of Ganga.
As already posted in
Satyavati’s real father was Uparichara Vasu who was descended from Kuru as was Pratipa. When Uparicharira defeated Janamjaya and became the Top Kuru King, he took on various Kuru lineages and princes as officers inside his new empire. Among the officers was Dasaraja. Dasaraja was grandson of the defeated King Janamjaya and thus nephew of Pratipa as well. (and cousin of Santanu).
He is considered as Dasa lineage. Anyway, for his services as officer, Dasaraja was made feudatory to Chedi Empire and allowed to raise Princess Satyavati.
As a mannat or a pledge taken by the family, members of Dasaraja family also took turns working as Boatmen and boatwomen on Ganga. This sort of family pledges have come down to this day and age. One of top Japanese corporation and business house families during the day work as selling Rice noodles from the cart while run the modern Corporation in the evenings. The Head of the family runs a stall selling noodles and in the evening donates all proceeds to a temple and then his limousine comes and he changes the garb of stall owner for that of the Captain of Industry.
One of the reasons, Dasararaja insisted that sons of Satyavati be Kings is because her seven brothers and their children were all ruling Kings.
After Uparicharira Vasu retired. His sons became Kings.
Brihadratha was King of Magadha and elder brother to Satyavati and Rajanya, King of Anga. He also remained an emperor for the time period and thus all kings in his lineage use his name as title Brahdratha. Just like descendants of Ceaser used his name as Royal title.
Brihadratha went to the forest to lead a life of retirement after having installed his eldest son on the throne. He began to do penance in the forest for the attainment of heaven. One day the hermit Sakayanya appeared before him and told him that he might ask any boon. Accordingly the king said, “Tell me, what eternal Truth is and give me the ultimate Spiritual knowledge“. The hermit complied with his request. (Maitri Upanisad).
Brihadratha also achieved the Self realization later associated with Buddha. Another close contemporary of Mahabharata story is King of Panchala Durmukha, who also achieved Pratyeka Buddhahood.
Brihadratha had three famous sons, including Brahadratha, Brhatkarma and Brhadbhanu.
Brahdratha succeeded to Magadha throne and also got Chedi; Brhadbhanu succeeded his uncle in Anga while Brhatkarma got lands in Kalinga and Anga but no children, his successor is his brother Brhadbhanu in Anga.
One of less famous Brihadratha’s sons was King Brhanmana who was adopted by his uncle Rajanya, the King of Anga. He was obviously succeeded by his more famous brother Brhadbhanu as King of Anga. (or Brhanmana and Brhadbhanu are two names of same man.) He married two daughters of Bahalika. Yasodevi and Satya. Satya was Brahamani by birth. Yasodevi was Kshatrani.
Brhanmana the king of Anga married a Brahmani and Kshatrani. What is the caste of the son of Kshatriya and Brahamani? Soota!!
Thus, Yasodevi had Rajendra Jayadratha then Drdharatha whose son was Janamejaya Anga.
Lady Satya gave birth to Soota Vijay whose son was Dhrti whose son was Dhrtvarta whose son was Satyakarma and whose son was Adhiratha, charioteer and advisor to Dhritrashtra.
Yasodevi’s lineage was loyal to Magadha while Satyadevi’s lineage was loyal to Hastinapur.
Brhadbhanu’s son Viswarupa Jayadratha, son of Yasodevi the Kshatrani Queen rescued a Brahamani in forest whose husband was killed by a tiger and married her, her children from Jayadratha thus became Sootas as well.
Brhadbhanu’s other Kshatriya son was Bhradisu whose descendent was eventually Jayadratha of Dushla fame.
And one of the kings in the Kshatriya branch Visvajita also rescued a widowed Brahamani whose husband was killed by a tiger in forest. Thus, the branch after Visvajita was also Soota as children of Barahmani and Kshatriya. And thus all Anga branches were technically Sootas.
(Visvajita may be another name for Viswarupa Jayadratha. Various Puranas use either name as fount of the parallel soota lineages of Anga).
Queen Satyavati of Hastinapur favored several of her brother’s lineages. One of Magadha main line was Rshabha’s line. That was adopted by Satyavati into Kuru family. Rshabha family fought alongside Duryodhana in Kurukshetra.
Satyavati also favored the line of Brahmani Queen Satya. Satyavati herself had children by Parasara, a Brahmana, brother of Asmaka, the King of Panchala.
Satya’s lineage continued through Soota Vijay.
Pandu when he became King attacked Magadha, killed King Deergha, killed his two brothers or main cousins and replaced the King and lineage in Magadha and Anga both. Pandu thus annexed Anga and Vatsa to the main Kuru Hastinapur control. Two brothers of Deergha died with him in battle while his grand nephew Visvajita lost the throne of Anga. Pandu nominated another cousin from Vijaya’s line of Anga royal family as the new King Satyakarma while royal prince Yuvaraj Adhiratha, son of Satyakarma, accompanied Pandu back and became confidante and charioteer of Dhritrashtra. He was first the Royal Herald then minister later King. Adhiartha was King of Anga as per Purana’s (Devi Bhagwata and Bhagwata Purana).
Satyakarma is also called brother to Adiratha in other Puranas and that may be a brother of Adhiratha who got the same name as their father.
After Pandu went to exile, the Magadhans restored the main line to throne under Sambhava and fought back. They removed Satyakarma or Adhiratha from throne and put in another branch of family on throne. Adhiratha and his family became royal pensioners in Hastinapur with Adhiratha becoming royal companion to Dhritrashtra.
Sambhava put back Janamejaya of the Drdharatha line on throne or of his family. And so back and forth the puppets on the Anga throne sat whenever Magadha or Hastinapur had more power. More than fourteen sat on throne of Anga in the period.
Jarasandha even offered the throne to his nephew Adhiratha. Adhiratha chose loyalty to Dhritrashtra and his cousin/brother/father Satyakarma was given the throne of Anga. Magadha again became a powerful state as Kuru kingdom stagnated under the blind Caretaker.
When Yudhishthara came to the Hastinapur, he was presumptive Yuvaraj. He was already 16 years of age at that time. He went away and studied under various Gurus. Though he was not officially crowned till age 30 after Pradarshani and Panchala adventures, Yudhishthara called Dharmaputra in actual slokas in this period was part of administration.
One of his first actions was to recreate his father’s frontiers (as later detailed by Dhritrashtra in Udyoga Parva to Duryodhana in Krishna visit). Dhrishtrashtra recalled that the kingdom was tripled in size by Pandu and he had lost it all due to his blindness. (this raises questions on efficacy of Bheeshma). He noted that Yudhishthara restored the kingdom to the size left by Pandu, thus even half of the Kingdom is more than what Pandu or Dhritrashtra ever inherited.
Yudhishthara had deputed Bhima east and annexed back Vatsa and Anga. This change in Kuru polity coincided with death of Kamsa, Jarasandha’s son-in-law and ally in west. Jarasandh was busy with Yadavas to worry about his cousin’s kingdoms though they were part of his coalition. Satyakarma’s line was removed from ruling Anga and claims of all Anga family members studied for new candidate to be selected. Dhrtavrata was alive, so was Visvajita, Adhiratha, his brothers, his cousins. Meanwhile, the kingdoms of Anga and Vatsa were placed under Kuru treasury, Treasurer was certain Prince Duryodhana.
Later Bhima and Arjuna restored Hastinapur control over Anga. That was the Anga promised to royal pensioner Radheya Karna by Duryodhana. After Pradarshani, Pandavas conquered Panchala where Duryodhana, Karna and Kauravas suffered a humiliating defeat. A year after that, Yudhishthara was crowned Yuavaraja and in next couple of years, Arjuna and Bhima ran victorious campaigns winning back Sauvira and Anga from Magadhan control. No mention in Mahabharata of any active work done by Karna to conquer his kingdom of Anga which was given as charity by Duryodhana to his father’s friend’s son.
Vasushena’s entrance to Pradarshani seems to be a calculated plan by either Adhiratha and Vasushena to outshine the other Anga claimants or a stratagem devised by Duryodhana and his friend Vasushena (Karna states in Udyoga that he was student of Drona and friend to Duryodhana) to challenge and kill Arjuna. Arjuna was then 18 years of age, a callow youth while Vasushena was almost forty years of age and at prime of his training. At this point, Kripacharya’s question indicates that Kripacharya (who later was always a mouthpiece to Duryodhana) was in on the stratagem or deflected it to the planned coronation.
Karna had already been part of two plots, killing Bhima and his foster brother the charioteer’s son at Pramanakoti and burning Kunti alive at Vrikaprastha. Both these stories are mentioned in Vanaparva and in Udyogaparva. There is another one where kauravas tortured an elephant and who almost killed Dushasana himself. Bhima had to kill the poor maddened beast saving Dushasana’s life then.
Krishna mentioned the 12 misdeeds and plots of Kauravas by counting twelve places where they happened when asking for any of five villages from this list of 12.
When Treasurer Duryodhana gave away the throne of Anga to Radheya, son of Adhiratha, he also overruled the claims of Satyakarma, Brhamanas and Vijay’s lineages, giving preference to Dhritavrta’s lineage. Radheya’s cousin Satyakarma’s son Satyavana became Minister to Dhritrashtra replacing Adhiratha whose son Radheya became Angaraja. Even other cousins, Vijay’s descendants were Kaurava officers in Mahabharata War serving with Karna.
There are couple of other cadet branches from Satyadevi described also who claimed Anga throne. Thus, we find as many as Five or more Anga kings who came to fight in Mahabharata.
Vijaya, Dhrti, Dhrtvrta, Satyakarma, Adiratha and Karna made six generations, seventh was son of Karna Surasena and his son became Dvija Vipra aka Twice-born Brahmin.
Every seventh generation of sootas become Brahmins taking on Gotra of original Brahamani ancestor.
Magadha family and its Anga cadet lines (there is another Dhritavrta family as well, Dhrtavrta is most likely Radha’s father)
Brihadratha ===Brahadratha ===Deergha ===Sambhava ===Jarasandh ===Soma then Sahadeva === Kshemaka
From Brihadratha to Jarasandha was total of 10 generations. Main kings are mentioned.
Brihadratha ==Brahadbhanu==Viswarupa ==Brhadratha II==Visvajita==Adhiratha==Karna==Bhanusena== Prthusena
Brihadratha ===Brahadbhanu===Viswarupa === Brhadratha II ===Visvajita==Satyakarma===Satyavan (in MBH War)
Brihadratha ===Brahadbhanu=== Brhadatma == Brhamanas ===Jayadrtha II ===Vijaya==Sons in Mahabharata War
Brihadratha ===Brahadbhanu=== Brhadkarma==Dhvaja lineage ========Hansadhvaja after war.
The dhvaja lineage may be ruling at Mithila or Sankasya and not Anga itself.
Prithusena is one of eighteen grandsons of Karna from Bhanusena. One of eighteen might have survived was a Brahmin son of Satyasena. Prthusena also died in Mahabharata but was Brahmin by rank.
Vrashadhwaja listed by Jaimini is not the son of Karna but descended from Vrshadhwaja lineage from Brahdratha that ruled in Mithila and his Bhima’s grandson.
Bhima, Nakula, Arjuna et all killed many Angarajas during the war. Karna’s extended family participated in this war.
Anga was also name for a region near Gandhara as well as region near Magadha. King of Gandhara Anga was killed by Bhima with his elephants.
Parasurama had major beef with Angas. Karna may have lied by stating he is Brahmin instead of Soota to hide his identity as Soota prince of Anga. He was hiding Kula not Caste.
Parasurama was not a mindless killer. He fought a King of Panchala during his eighteen expeditions (3 minor ones make total twenty one). He found him worthy and that gentleman Srnjaya became Parasurama’s friend.
Descendents of Panchala King were disciples and friends of Parasurama including Hotravahana, Amba’s grandfather.
Brhadratha II on Anga had committed crimes against brahamins and Parasurama sought him out to punish him. Lamsuras, a forest tribe of the mountain of Grhddakuta saved this king from extermination. Under the laws of guest protection, the Lamasuras gave their oath to protect the Anga King.
Parasurama did not want to kill the tribals who were doing their duty and thus spared the Anga king but was angry with that lineage ever since.
Haihayas, Malavas, Vasatis, and several other kingdom families were hated by him. This is described in Shanti Parva chapter 49 and Drona Parva Chapters 57 & 62.
Another Anga lineage king was Dadhivahana, his son Diviratha was killed by Parasurama but Kripacarya rescued and saved Diviratha’s son and gave him raksha and refuge.
So the reason of Karna lying to Parasurama was not caste or dharmik but political based on Parasurama’s anger with certain Kshatriyas. When Karna withstood the pain of Alarka, Parasurama knew that Karna had lied.
Parasurama ‘s friend and disciple Akritvarna was low caste, his disciple Sumaha (who has role in Virata Parva Dakshiantya chapter 12) was definitely a Soota.
Sootji, the narrator of Mahabharata is also a disciple of Parasurama. You can guess his caste as well.
Naam mein aadmni caste doondh leta hai.