|Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)|
Kharavela (Khāravela, खारवेल) (?209 - after 170 BC), was the king of Kalinga. He restored the power of Kalinga after it had been devastated in a war with Maurya King Ashoka. He was the third king of the Chedi dynasty. Not much information is known about this king. The only source of information is his famous Hathigumpha inscription. 
Clan of Kharvela
Kharvel or Khāravela(खारवेल) is a gotra of Jats in India. It is derived from Raja Khāravela ( खारवेल), who was a Jat king.  Kharavela was the king of Kalinga, in Orissa state of India. He was responsible for the propagation of Jainism in East India. He led many successful campaigns against Magadha, Anga and modern Tamil Nadu state. He restored the power of Kalinga after it had been devastated in a war with Maurya King Ashoka. He was the third king of the Mahameghavahana dynasty. The main source of information about Kharavela is his famous seventeen line Hathigumpha inscription in a cave on Udayagiri Hill near Bhubaneswar in Orissa.
Exact origin of Kharavela is not yet known to the historians. Some historians have tried to speculate the origin of Kharavela. Suniti Kumar Chatterji is of the opinion that Kharavela belonged to Dravidian stock. But how he came to the conclusion has not been explained. It would be better to take Kharavela as the prakrit form of Sanskrit word Ksharavela (Devanagari:क्षारवेल). It is significant to note here that the letter Khā (Devanagari:खा) in the Hathigumpha inscription invariably stands for kshā (Devanagari:क्षा) So, Khāra (Devanagari:खार) has to be taken as Kshāra (Devanagari:क्षार) meaning saltish and Vela means wave or shore. The word Khāra(Devanagari:खार) is still in vogue in many a northwestern Indian language in the sense “Saltish”, and the second component, vela, is also reminiscent of the word vela meaning wave or shore.  Khāra (Devanagari:खार) word of Hindi indicates its linkages with northwest India. In northwest India, we find mention of Khārvel as a clan originated from samrat Kharavela, in the list of Jat clans given by Jat historians. Similarly in Jat history books Ail (ऐल) has been mentioned as Aryans habitatants in northwest and Air (ऐर) as a Jat clan originated from Nagavanshi ruler named Airawat.  It needs more research to find the exact origin of Kharavela.
Dynasty of Kharavela
In the first line of Hathigumpha inscription Kharavela styles himself as IAST-Aireṇa Mahārājena Mahāmeghavāhana Cetarāja vasa Vadhanena xxx Kalimgādhipatinā Siri Khāravelan (Devanagari:ऐरेण महाराजेन महामेघवाहनेन चेतराज वस वधनेन पसथ सुभलखलेन चतुरंतलुठन गुणउपेनेत कलिंगाधिपतिना सिरि खारवेलेन) While the earliest scholar Prinsep and R L Mitra take the word Aira as the name of the king of Kalinga eulogised in the inscription, other few scholars are inclined to take the word as dynastic name and connected the ancestry of Kharavela with the puranic Aila belonging to the lunar Kshatriya dynasty. Bhagwan Lal Indraji is the first scholar to assert that the King whose activities are glorified in the inscription in named Kharavela.
It is significant to note here that there is also no direct evidence in Hathigumpha inscription to show that Kharavela belongs to Chedi Dynasty. The only meaning conveyed by this expression is that Kharavela was the son of Cetarāja (Devanagari:चेतराज).  There is a small crack in the stone above the letter ta (त) giving the impression of medial i. this crack misled some eminent scholars like R.D. Banerji and D.C. Sircar to decipher the word as Cheti (Devanagari:चेति) and this conjectural reading led the renowned scholars to hold the view that Kharavela belongs to Chedi dynasty. But in no way this can be accepted. It is pertinent to note in this context that a small inscription is found engraved in the Mancapuri Cave where King Kudepasiri (one of the successor of Kharavela) styled him self as Aira Maharaja Kalingadhipati Mahameghavahana (Devanagari:ऐरे महाराजा कलिंगाधिपतिना महामेघवाहन).
The King Sada has also been styled as Maharaja Kalinga Mahisika Adhipati Mahameghavahana. Both Kudepasiri and Sada, happen to be the successors of Kharavela, have never been stated in their respective inscription to be belonging to Cedi dysasty. It is significant that the word Aira has not been prefixed with the name of Sada.
The Vahana ending dynastic (and personal) names were quite popular during the few centuries preceding. The meaning of Mahameghavahana is the great one riding on clouds. Dr. Sahu takes Maha as the prefix of Megha and opines: “ Mahameghavahana literary means one whose vehicle is great cloud”.
In line 17 of the Hathigumpha inscription Kharavela claims to have been descended from Rajarsi Vasu Kula. King Vasu recorded in Hathigumpha inscription can not be taken as Chedi king. It is pertinent to note in the context that in Mahabharata, Meghavahana as a dynastic name is found mentioned (Sabha Parva, Mahabharata/Book II Chapter 13) while the same epic preserves detailed accounts regarding the activities of Chedi dynasty (Adi Parva, Mahabharata/Mahabharata Book I Chapter 63). Chedi and Meghavahana have been flourished as two distinct dynasties since the early times, so both the dynasties should not be equated.  We have already stated earlier that Chetaraja was the father of Kharavela and it seems probable that he was the immediate predecessor of Kharavela, belonging to be the second king in the Mahameghavahana line in Kalinga.
The line-7 of the Hathigumpha inscription indicates that the Queen of Vajiraghara (Chief Queen of Kharavela ?) gave birth to a son. Another inscription in the lower storey of the same caves informs us that it had been executed by the Aira Maharaja Kalingadhipati Mahameghavahana Kudepasiri. In this cave another inscription is incised which reveals the name of Kumara Badukha. It is to be noted here that Kumara Badukha has not assumed any royal title. However, it is difficult to be sure of the relationship between Kharavela and Kudepasir. As no available record speaks any thing more about prince Badukha, he stands an obscure figures, in history but seems to be the son or brother Kudepasiri.
The Sada rule came to an end during end first century / early second century A.D. 
As pointed out earlier it needs more research to find the exact origin of Kharavela. The author got a chance to visit Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves near Bhubaneswar on 15-2-2007 and saw Hathigumpha inscription personally. The main source of information about Kharavela is his famous seventeen line Hathigumpha inscription in a cave in Udayagiri hill near Bhubaneswar in Orissa.
To arrive at some conclusion we have to find the origin of words mentioned in Hathigupha inscription. From the very first line we find that
- Aireṇa Mahārājena Mahāmeghavāhana Cetarāja vasa Vadhanena xxx Kalimgādhipatinā Siri Khāravelan
Khāra word of Hindi indicates its linkages with northwest India. It means the origin of this clan is from Salt-range area situated in Sindh, which is considered to be the original home of Jats by historians. 
We agree with scholars who are inclined to take the word’ ‘El’ or ‘Ail’ as dynastic name and connected with the ancestry of Kharavela with the puranic Aila belonging to the lunar Kshatriya dynasty. Chetraja was his father as proved above. It is very important to note the significance of word Mahāmeghavāhana. I did an analysis of Jat gotras in Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh and found that Kharav gotra Jats live in village called Meghakheri.
Meghakheri (मेघाखेड़ी) is a village in Sadar tehsil of Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh. It is very ancient village. Population of the village is about 3000. It is mainly a village of Kharav Jats. Out of total population 50 percent are Kharav gotra Jats. Other Jats are Malik only four families. 
Thus we can conclude that Kharavela was a king of Kharav Jat clan originated from village Meghakheri and got the title of Mahāmeghavāhana on this basis.
Jat clans associated with Kharavela
If Kharavela was Jat then there must be other Jat clans to assist him. Now we find from Hathigumpha inscription some clues about other Jat clans also.
It is revealed from Line-4 of the Hathigumpha inscription that Kharavela in the second year of his reign dispatched a strong force comprising cavalry, elephantry, infantry and chariotry to the western quarter without caring for or bothering about Sātakarnī, and Asikanagara was frightened on its reaching the river Kanhavemṇā. Some scholars prefer to read Masikanagara instead of Asikanagara and locate it in the coastal region of Andhra Pradesh.
An article about Raja Kharavela in Orissa mentions about the rule of Kaswan in 2nd century of Vikram samvat. It has been mentioned in ‘Hathi Gumpha and three other inscriptions’ (page 24) in Sanskrit as [under:
- Sanskrit - कुसवानाम् क्षत्रियानां च सहाय्यतावतां प्राप्त मसिक नगरम्
- IAST - “Kusawānāṃ kshatriyānāṃ ca Sahāyyatāvatāṃ prāpt masika nagaraṃ”.
This translates that the city of 'Masiknagara' was obtained with the help of 'Kuswan' Kshatriyas 
According to Sadananda Agrawal interpretation of the city as Masikanagara is not well-supported. Kanhavemṇā is commonly equated with the river Krishna coastal flowing in Andhra Pradesh. However, Krishna lies much to the south of Kalinga, and not west as averred in the epigraph (Devanagari: पछिमदिसं). But there is another stream flowing to the west of Kalinga in Vidarbha and known locally at present as Kanhan which flows about 17 km northwest of Nagpur and joins the river Vena (Wainganga), and it is the combined flow of these two streams that is spoken as Kanhavemṇā in our records. 
The recent find of a sealing belonging to the Asikajanapada in course of intensive archaeological excavations at Adam (Nagpur district) has solved also the problem of locating Asikanagara whose king or and people became frightful at the arrival of Kharavela's army at Kanhavemṇā. In view of the evidence of a highly prosperous city unearthed at Adam, Prof AM Shastri is of the opinion that Adam itself represents the Asikanagara of Hathigumpha inscription. It is worth noting in the present context that a terracotta sealing having a legend, has been discovered from Adam, situated on the right bank of the river Wainganga, which reads Asakajanapadasa (Devanagari: असकजनपदस). 
The township of Asikanagara to the west of Nagpur indicates the township of Asiagh or Siyak jats. This is also supported by Thakur Deshraj that Asiagh Jats moved from Asirgarh in Malwa to Rajasthan. This must have been migration to Rajasthan of these people when their rule came to an end. After this period their rule is recorded in Jangladesh by the Historians James Tod and Thakur Deshraj.
From the above description we can interpret that Kaswan Jat was a chieftain who helped Kharavela in his war expedition. Kaswan Jats must also have moved along with Kharavela to Kalinga. It is also confirmed from following inscription:
X- Tatowāgumphā inscription (Cave No -1)
The record of this inscription is incised over one of the entrances to the inner chamber. The Text reads in Sanskrit as
- पादमुलिकस कुसुमस लेणं x [।।] (IAST: pādamulikas kusumas lenam x)
Translation: The cave of Kusuma, the padamulika.
Notes:- There is a syllable after the word lenam, which may be read as 'ni or phi,. padamulika literally means, one who serves at the feet [of king].
According to Kishori Lal Faujdar, Here Kusuma seems to be related with Kaswan clan of Jats. He refers an article ‘Hathi Gumpha and three other inscriptions’ (page 24) in Devanagari as under:
- कुसवानाम् क्षत्रियानां च सहाय्यतावतां प्राप्त मसिक नगरम्
- IAST - Kusawānāṃ kshatriyānāṃ ca Sahāyyatāvatāṃ prāpt masika nagaraṃ.
There is one small inscription in Udayagiri caves about Prince Vaḍukha, which has not yet been interpreted by the historians. Had the historians knowledge about Jat clans it would have been easy to interpret it. The inscription details are as under.
III-Manchapuri cave inscription 'B' (Lower storey)'
This inscription has been engraved on the right wall of Veranda, to the right of the entrance to the right-hand side chamber of the main wing, consisting of one line. The text in Devanagari script is as under:
- कुमारो वडुखस लेणं (IAST: kumāro vadukhas lenam)
Translation - [This is] the cave of Prince Vaḍukha.
Note:- On palaeographic ground Prof Banergy considers this inscription to be a little earlier than the inscription of king Kudepasiri. According to Sadananda Agrawal, Prince Badukha stands an obscure figure in history, but Badukha seems to be the son or brother of Kudepasiri. Here Badukha is the prakrat form of Barduk or Burdak, where 'r' is missing in inscription. Burdak is again a Jat clan of northwest India.
IV- Inscriptions in the sarpagumpha (Over the door way)
This inscription consisting of one line, is incised over the doorway of the sarpagumpha. The text in Devanagari script is as under:
- चूलकमस कोठाजेया च (IAST: chūlakamas koţhājeyā cha)
Translation - The chamber and veranda/or side chamber of hūlakama. Note:- However Dr. Sahu interpreted Ajeya being united by a Sandhi qualifying Koṭha there by denoting invincible. But he ignored the conjunction ca (Devanagari: च) which follows Koṭha(Devanagari:कोठा) and Jeya (Devanagari:जेया).
VI- Haridas cave inscription
This inscription contains one line has been incised over one of the three entrances to the main chamber of the cave from the veranda. The text in Devanagari script is as under:
- चूलकमस पसातो कोठाजेया च (IAST: chūlakamas pasāto koţhājeyā cha)
Translation :- The chamber and veranda (or side chamber) are the gift of chūlakama.
Queen of Kharavela was Lal Jat
I- Mancapuri cave inscription (Upper storey)
This inscription is engraved on the raised space between the second and third doorways of the cave. The text in Devanagari script is as under:
- L.1- अरहंत पसादाय कलिंगानं समनानं लेनं कारितं राजिनो ललाकस
- L.2- हथिसिहस पपोतस धुतुना कलिंग चकवतिनो सिरिखारवेलस
- L.3- अगमहिसिना कारितं
Translation - By the blessings of Arhats the chief queen of Kharavela, the Cakravarti monarch of Kalinga, the great grand-daughter of Hathisiha (Hasti Simha) and the daughter of Lalāka or Lalārka caused to be excavated the cave for the sramanas of Kalinga.
The Line of Hathigumpha inscription mentions that in the seventh year of his reign [the Queen] of Vajiraghara was blessed with a son attained motherhood. Sometime before his coronation the prince very probably married chief queen as per presence was essentially required in anointation ceremony. The chief queen, whose record has been engraved in the upper storey of Mancapuri Cave, was the great-grand daughter of Hastisimha and the daughter of king Lalaka or Lalarka. It is to be pointed out here that nothing is known abouth Hastisimha and Lalarka from any other source.
Note:- It is to be noted here that historians do not have any idea about queen of Kharavela. Infact she was daughter of Lalaka or Lala gotra Jats found in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh. Lal (लल) gotra Jats live in Muzaffarnagar district in Badhai Kala, Barwala, Chunsa, Fahimpur, Lisad, Moghpur, villages and Muzaffarnagar town .
The famous Panjtar stone inscription, now in (Pakistan), written in the year 122 of Saka ara, refers to one “ Lala, the protector of the Kushana dynasty of Maharaja Kanishka”. This Lala, was a Lalli “Jat” It also refers to the gift of two trees by one Moika in the eastern region of “ Kasua”. That last word Kasua is the same as Kasuan the name of the Kushana clan (and territory) which is still existing. 
After the death of Kanishka, his successors continued to rule north-west India, but their empire was much reduced. About the middle of 3rd century Vasudeva, one of Kanishka's successor, was defeated by Shahpur I of the new Sasanian dynasty of Persia, and from now on the north-west came under Iranian influence. Meanwhile new kingdoms had been set up in India. In Orissa a great conqueror, Khāravela, appeared in the latter half of the 1st century BC; he raided far and wide over India and was a great patron of Jainism; but his empire was short-lived, and we know nothing of his successors. 
The Hathigumpha inscription mentions that:
In the 12th year of his reign, he attacked the king of Uttarapatha. He then attacks the kingdom of Magadha, and in Pataliputra, the capital of the Sunga, makes king "Bahasatimita" (thought to be a Sunga king Brhaspatimitra, or Pusyamitra himself) bow at his feet.
An article about Raja Kharavela in Orissa mentions about the rule of Kaswan in 2nd century of Vikram samvat. It has been mentioned in ‘Hathi Gumpha and three other inscriptions’ (page 24) in Sanskrit as under:
- कुसवानाम् क्षत्रियानां च सहाय्यतावतां प्राप्त मसिक नगरम्
- “Kusawānāṃ kshatriyānāṃ ca Sahāyyatāvatāṃ prāpt masika nagaraṃ”.
He seems to have abandoned his throne in the 13th year of his reign, and was succeeded by his son Kudeparisi.
Hathigumpha Inscription of Kharavela of Kalinga
- (Line 1) Salutation to the Arhats (Arihats = lit. 'Conquerors of Enemies,' i.e., Jinas). Salutation to all the Siddhas. By illustrious Kharavela, the Aira (Aila), the Great King, the descendant of Mahameghavahana, the increaser (of the glory) of the Cheti (Chedi) dynasty, (endowed) with excellent and auspicious marks and features, possessed of virtues which have reached (the ends of) the four quarters, overlord of Kalinga,
- (L. 2) for fifteen years, with a body ruddy and handsome were played youthsome sport; after that (by him who) had mastered (royal) correspondence, currency, finance, civil and religious laws (and) who had become well-versed in all (branches) of learning, for nine years (the office of) Yuvaraja (heir apparent) was administered. Having completed the twenty-fourth year, at that time, (he) who had been prosperous (vardhamana) since his infancy (?) and who (was destined) to have wide conquests as those of Vena,
- (L. 3) then in the state of manhood, obtains the imperial (maharajya) coronation in the dynasty of Kalinga. As soon as he is anointed, in the first (regnal) year (he) causes repairs of the gates, the walls and the buildings (of the city), (which had been) damaged by storm; in the city of Kalinga (he) causes the erection of the embankments of the lake (called after) Khibira Rishi, (and) of (other) tanks and cisterns, (also) the restoration of all the gardens (he) causes to be
- (L. 4) done at (the cost of) thirty-five-hundred-thousands, and (he) gratifies the People. And in the second year (he), disregarding Satakamini, despatches to the western regions an army strong in cavalry, elephants, infantry (nara) and chariots (ratha) and by that army having reached the Kanha-bemna, he throws the city of the Musikas into consternation. Again in the third year,
- (L. 5) (he) versed in the science of the Gandharvas (i.e., music), entertains the capital with the exhibition of dapa, dancing, singing and instrumental music and by causing to be held festivities and assemblies (samajas); similarly in the fourth year, 'the Abode of Vidyadharas' built by the former Kalingan king(s), which had not been damaged before ………..................... with their coronets rendered meaningless, with their helmets (?) (bilma) cut in twain (?), and with their umbrellas and
- (L. 6) bhingaras cast away, deprived of their jewels (i.e., ratana, Skt. ratna, precious objects) all the Rathikas and Bhojakas (he) causes to bow down at his feet. Now in the fifth year he brings into the capital from the road of Tansauliya the canal excavated in the year one hundred-and-three of King Nanda ................... ......... Having been (re-)anointed (he while) celebrating the Rajasuya, remits all tithes and cesses,
- (L. 7) bestows many privileges (amounting to) hundreds of thousands or the City-Corporation and the Realm-Corporation. In the seventh year of his reign, his famous wife of Vajiraghara obtained the dignity of auspicious motherhood ………….Then in the eighth year, (he) with a large army having sacked Goradhagiri
- (L.8) causes pressure on Rajagaha (Rajagriha). On account of the loud report of this act of valour, the Yavana (Greek) King Dimi[ta] retreated to Mathura having extricated his demoralized army and transport.… …………….(He) gives……………..with foliage
- (L. 9) Kalpa (wish-fulfilling) trees, elephants, chariots with their drivers, houses, residences and rest-houses. And to make all these acceptable (he) gives at a fire sacrifice (?) exemption (from taxes) to the caste of Brahmanas. Of Arhat ..................................
- (L. 10) ..................(He) causes to be built . . . . a royal residence (called) the Palace of Great Victory (Mahavijaya) at the cost of thirty-eight hundred thousands. And in the tenth year (he), following (the three-fold policy) of chastisement, alliance and conciliation sends out an expedition against Bharatavasa (and) brings about the conquest of the land (or, country) ........ and obtains jewels and precious things of the (kings) attacked.
- (L.11) .................. And the market-town (?) Pithumda founded by the Ava King he ploughs down with a plough of asses; and (he) thoroughly breaks up the confederacy of the T[r]amira (Dramira) countries of one hundred and thirteen years, which has been a source of danger to (his) Country (Janapada). And in the twelfth year he terrifies the kings of the Utarapatha with .................. thousands of
- (L.12) .................. And causing panic amongst the people of Magadha (he) drives (his) elephants into the Sugamgiya (Palace), and (he) makes the King of Magadha, Bahasatimita, bow at his feet. And (he) sets up (the image) 'the Jina of Kalinga' which had been taken away by King Nanda .................. and causes to be brought home the riches of Amga and Magadha along with the keepers of the family jewels of ....................
- (L. 13) .................(He) builds excellent towers with carved interiors and creates a settlement of a hundred masons, giving them exemption from land revenue. And a wonderful and marvellous enclosure of stockade for driving in the elephants (he)...... and horses, elephants, jewels and rubies as well as numerous pearls in hundreds (he) causes to be brought here from the Pandya King.
- (L. 14) .................(he) subjugates. In the thirteenth year, on the Kumari Hill where the Wheel of Conquest had been well-revolved (i.e., the religion of Jina had been preached), (he) offers respectfully royal maintenances, China clothes (silks) and white clothes to (the monks) who (by their austerities) have extinguished the round of lives, the preachers on the religious life and conduct at the Relic Memorial. By Kharavela, the illustrious, an a layman devoted to worship, is realised (the nature of) jiva and deha
- (L. 15) ................ bringing about a Council of the wise ascetics and sages, from hundred (i.e., all) quarters, the monks (samanas) of good deeds and who have fully followed (the injunctions) .................. near the Relic Depository of the Arhat, on the top of the hill, ............ with stones .............. brought from many miles (yojanas) quarried from excellent mines (he builds) shelters for the Sinhapatha Queen Sindhula. ................ .........................
- (L. 16) .................Patalaka(?)………(he) sets up four columns inlaid with beryl……..at the cost of twenty-five hundred thousands; (he) causes to be compiled expeditiously the (text) of the seven-fold Angas of the sixty-four (letters). He is the King of Peace, the King of Prosperity, the King of Monks (bhikshus), the King of Religion (Dharma), who has been seeing, hearing and realising blessings (kalyanas)-
- (L. 17) ................ accomplished in extraordinary virtues, respector of every sect, the repairer of all temples, one whose chariot and army are irresistible, one whose empire is protected by the chief of the empire (himself), descended from the family of the Royal Sage Vasu, the Great conqueror, the King, the illustrious Kharavela.
- From: Epigraphia Indica, Vol. XX (1929-30). Delhi: Manager of Publications, 1933, 86-89.
- Adi Parva, Mahabharata/Mahabharata Book I Chapter 63 - Mahabharata describes about king of the name of Uparichara. That king of the Paurava race, called also Vasu, conquered the excellent and delightful kingdom of Chedi.