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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (R)

Location of Poonchh and Nowshera districts of Kashmir

Darvabhisaras (दार्वाभिसार) is the name of a north western Indian tribe mentioned in the epic Mahabharata and Rajatarangini. Darvabhisara was the hilly region between Jhelum and Chenab rivers in western Kashmir. It included Poonchh and Nowshera districts of Kashmir. This hilly tract was attacked by Alexander the Great in 326 BC. who mentioned a king named Abhisara. [1]



H. W. Bellew[2] writes about Daritai - The last of the nations mentioned by Herodotus as composing the eleventh satrapy of the empire of Darius Hystaspes, is the Daritai. They are the Darada of Manu and the Purans, the Derdai of Strabo, the Dardai of Pliny, the Daradrai of Ptolemy, and the Dardu of the natives of our day; a people regarding whom the researches of Professor W. G. Leitner have furnished us with much interesting and instructive information.

[Page-148]: The country of the ancient Daritai may be described as comprising all that cluster of lofty mountains lying directly to the south of the junction of the Tsungling portion of the Himalaya and the Hindu Kush in the great Taghdumbash (Taghnungbash) or " Head of the Mountains," glacier region ; and extending as far south as the watershed range of the Panjkora and Swat rivers, and of the Kanra-Ghorband valleys north of Boner, on the west of the Indus, and to the Pakli district and watershed ridge of the Kishanganga river on its east bank. On the west it includes the Mastoch Valley in the highest part of Kashkar ; and on the east it is bounded by Baltistan, or Little Tibat, if it did not formerly include this tract also. The Dard country, or Dardistan, thus curves round the northern borders of the region we have previously assigned to the Gandarioi of the seventh satrapy, and, crossing the Indus, borders upon Kashmir and Baltistan on the south and north banks respectively of the western course of the Indus, before its bend to the south near Bunji. The country thus defined contains, in its northern half, the districts of Mastoch, Yasin, Ponyal, and Gilgit, together with the Kanjud country of Hunza and Nagar ; all which, along with Baltistan further to the eastward, constitute the Bolor country. In its southern half, it contains the subordinate valleys of Gor, Darel, Tangir, Kandya, etc., on the west bank of the Indus south of Gilgit, and the Chilas, Astor, Kaghan, and Shinkari district of Pakli on the opposite east bank ; all which tract constitutes the Kohistan, or Shinkari territory of the Dard, part of which, on the west bank of the Indus, still retains its independence as a free country.

Formerly the whole of the Pakli country seems to have been included in Dardistan ; its southern frontier corresponds to the Darvabhisara of the Rajatarangini, that is to the Dorh and Abhisara districts. From this Abhisara (the country of the Abissares mentioned by Arrian) is derived the modern Hazara, which includes Chach and Pakli.

In Rajatarangini

The Lohara family was founded by a Nara of Darvabhisara (IV.712).

Rajatarangini[3] tells us that after Kaniska reigned Abhimanyu without an enemy in the kingdom, and bestowed the village of Kantakoutsa to Brahmanas. He caused an image of Shiva to be made on which his name was inscribed. He also built a city called Abhimanyupura after his name. It was in his reign that the grammarians Chandracharjya and others flourished, and wrote the history of this king with his permission. The Buddhists, under their great loader Nagarjuna, continued to gain strength in the country ; they not only defeated in argument the Panditas who upheld the worship, of Shiva, and rejected the duties prescribed in the Nilapurana, but had the influence to discontinue the ceremonies and worship enjoined by it. The Nagas, in consequence, rose in arms, murdered many people, mostly Buddhists, by rolling down ice from the mountains ; and carried on their devastations year by year. The king avoided these scenes of tumult, and

[p.14]: retired in winter to such places as Darvabhisara (IV.712), &c. At last Chandradeva, a pious Brahma and a descendant of Kasyapa, appeased the tumult by worshipping Shiva who appeared to him in person, prevented the rolling of ice, and restored the rites according to the Nilapurana. This holy man had on a former occasion stopped a massacre of the Yakshas.

Rajatarangini[4] tells that Ratna the minister for peace and war, who had amassed much wealth, set up a temple for the god Ratnasvami. Nara and other proprietors of the village Vimalashva, who were the judges of Darvabhisara, &c, lived at the latter place as princes. The line of Karkota became almost extinct, and the family of Utpala began to thrive.

Rajatarangini[5] writes that On death of Avantivarman (r. 855-883 A.D.) all the members of the family of Utpala aspired to the throne. But Ratnavardhana the Royal guard raised Shankaravarmma (A.D. 883 to 901), 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.

Rajatarangini[6] 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]

Genealogy of Kings of Darvabhisara

According to Rajatarangini[7]Uchchala addressed to the king Harsha of Kashmir and his ministers with harsh and angry words as under:

Genealogy of Nara, Kings of Darvabhisara
" Formerly at Darvvabhisara there lived a king named Nara of the Gotra of Bharadvaja, who had a son named Naravahana, and Naravahana had a son named Phulla. Phulla had a son named Sarthavahana, his son was Chandana, and Chandana had two sons, Gopala and Sinharaja, Sinharaja had several children, his daughter Didda was married to Kshemagupta. Didda made Sanggramaraja (son of her brother Udayaraja) king. She had another brother, Kantiraja, and he had a son named Jassaraja, Sanggramaraja had a son named Ananta, while of Jassaraja were born Tanvangga and Gungga. Ananta's son was Kalasharaja, and of Gungga was born Malla. Kalasha's son is king Harshadeva, and we are Malla's sons !* Why then do the wicked enquire who we are? But so long as the earth is for the enjoyment of the powerful, wherein is the necessity for genealogy ? And who is the friend of the powerful, but his own arms. Fortunately the

* Genealogy according to the speech of Uchchala at the court of Khasha.

[p.267]: kings or Kashmira have ruled by their valor, not by the favor of their subordinates, and you will now see my valor."


विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[8] ने लेख किया है ...दार्वाभिसार (AS, p.432) :दार्वाभिसार झेलम तथा चिनाब नदियों के बीच का पहाड़ी देश (पश्चिमी कश्मीर) था। इस देश में पुंछ और नौशेरां के ज़िले सम्मिलित थे। इस पहाड़ी देश पर यूनान के महान् अलक्षेन्द्र ने आक्रमण किया था। ग्रीक लेखकों ने अलक्षेन्द्र के भारत पर आक्रमण के संबंध में इस देश के राजा अभिसार का उल्लेख किया है।

In Mahabharata

Darvabhisara (दार्वाभिसारा) in Mahabharata (VIII.51.18)

Karna Parva/Mahabharata Book VIII Chapter 51 describes terrible massacre and warriors who were killed on seventeenth day of Kurukshetra War: Darvabhisara (दार्वाभिसारा) are mentioned in Mahabharata (VIII.51.18). [9]....Of terrible deeds and exceedingly fierce, the Tukharas, the Yavanas, the Khasas, the Darvabhisaras, the Daradas, the Sakas, the Kamathas, the Ramathas, the Tanganas.... fighting for Duryodhana.


  1. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.432
  2. An Inquiry Into the Ethnography of Afghanistan,p.147-148
  3. Rajatarangini of Kalhana:Kings of Kashmira/Book I,p.13-14
  4. Rajatarangini of Kalhana:Kings of Kashmira/Book IV,p.104
  5. Rajatarangini of Kalhana:Kings of Kashmira/Book V,pp. 115-1116
  6. Kings of Kashmira Vol 2 (Rajatarangini of Kalhana)/Book VIII (i) ,p.131-132
  7. Rajatarangini of Kalhana:Kings of Kashmira/Book VII (i),p.266-267
  8. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.432
  9. उग्राश च करूरकर्माणस तुखारा यवनाः खशाः, दार्वाभिसारा दरदा: शका रमठ तङ्गणाः (VIII.51.18)

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