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Kartavirya (कार्तवीर्य) (Also known as Kartavirya Arjuna) or Sahasrarjuna or Sahasrabahu was a king of Haihaya Vansha. He was a legendary king of an ancient kingdom during the Ramayana period with capital at Mahishamati which is on the banks of Narmada River in the current state of Madhya Pradesh. Kartavirya was son of Kritavirya, king of the Haihayas. This is his patronymic, by which he is best known; his real name was Arjuna. He is described as having a thousand hands and a great devotee of god Dattatreya.

Vayu Purana extolls his virtues ""Having worshipped a portion of the divine being called Dattatreya, sprung from the race of Atri.

In Jat history

History of the Jats:Dr Kanungo/Origin and Early History (p.11-12) writes that There is no greater improbability in deriving Jat, Jat or Jut, - as the tribal name is pronounced in various forms in the different provinces from the Indian Yadu or Yadava than from the Chinese Yuti or Ye-ta-li-to. If the phonetic difficulty alone stands in the way of recognising the Yadava origin of the Jats, there cannot be any objection in identifying the Jats with the Jatas or Sujatas, a branch of the great Haihaya Yadavas.

Hundred sons of Kartavirya

Of the hundred sons of Kartavirya, the five principal were Sura, Surasena, Vrishana, Madhu and Jayadhwaja. From the last sprang up the five great divisions of the Haihaya tribe, the Talajanghas, Vitihotras, Avantyas, Tundikeras, and Jatas also called Sujatas from the prolific number (Wilson's Vishnu Puran pp. 417-418). Wilson seems to entertain a doubt whether the Haihayas are not the Huna and Saka tribes engrafted upon the great genealogical tree of the Aryans by the clever Puranic ethnologists. The Jats were known by the name of Sus, Abars, and many other names, as Beames says. We shall meet these contentions in the appendix "The Yadus.[1]

Town after Kartavirya

Sahaspur (सहसपुर) is an ancient historical village in Kawardha tahsil of Kawardha district in Chhattisgarh. It is 12 miles to the south-west of Kawardha. Sahaspur is only 21 miles away from Chaura an another ancient place of historical importance. There is a record of Yasoraja, dated in the Kalachuri year 934, or A.D. 1182. The town gets name after Sahasrarjuna or Sahasrabâhu (Also known as Kartavirya Arjuna).

Encounter Kartavirya Arjuna with Parashurama

The Puranas recount that Kartavirya Arjuna and his army visited a rishi named Jamadagni, who fed his guest and the whole army with offerings from his divine cow. The king demanded the cow for the betterment of his subjects; Jamadagni refused because he needed the cow for his religious ceremonies. King Kartavirya Arjuna sent his soldiers to take the cow.As the conflict developed among the Jamadagni and the King,Kartavirya Arjuna lost his cool and chopped off the head of Jamadagni .When Parashurama (Jamadagni's son and one of the DaśāvatārasVishnu) returned to the hermitage,he was informed of the context by his mother.In revenge, Parashurama killed the entire clan of Kartavirya Arjuna and the King with the axe given to him by Shiva, thus conquering the entire earth, which he gave to Brahamanas.

In another legend, Kartavirya Arjuna visited the hermitage of Jamadagni, and was received by that sage's wife Renuka with all respect; but he made an ill return for her hospitality, and carried off by violence "the calf of the milch-cow of the sacred oblation." For this outrage Parashurama cut off his thousand arms and killed him.

In another place a different character is given to him, and more in accordance with his behavior at Jamadagni's hut. "He oppressed both men and gods," so that the latter appealed to Vishnu for succor. That God then came down to the earth as Parashurama for the especial purpose of killing him.

Encounter with Ravana

Kartavirya's power is popularly told in the Ramayana. He was the contemporary of Ravana. The story goes that once when Kartavirya Arjuna was having a bath in the river Godavari along with his wives, he stopped the force of the river with his thousand arms from both the sides. Ravana (the Lord of Lanka), who was camping by the banks of the river was furious over this. Enraged, he challenged the former for a combat. Ravana was defeated and was put to humiliation.Then on Request of his maternal grandfather Pulastya the great king released Ravana (the Lord of Lanka) . Another account states that when Ravana came "in the course of his campaign of conquest to Mahishmati (the capital of Kartavirya), he was captured without difficulty, and was confined like a wild beast in a corner of his city." The Vayu Purana states that Kartavirya invaded Lanka, and there took Ravana as prisoner.[2]


विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[3] ने लेख किया है ...कशेरु (AS, p.152) 'इंद्रद्वीपं कशेरुं च ताम्रद्वीपं गभस्तिमत् गांधर्ववारुणं द्वीपं सौम्याक्षमिति च प्रभु': महाभारत सभापर्वा 38, दक्षिणात्य पाठ . अर्थात शक्तिशाली सहस्रबाहु ने इंद्रद्वीप, कशेरु, ताम्रद्वीप, गभस्तिमत्, गंधर्व, वारुण और सौम्याक्ष द्वीप को जीत लिया था. प्रसंग से यह इंडोनेशिया का कोई द्वीप जान पड़ता है. क्योंकि इंद्रद्वीप = सुमात्रा का एक भाग, ताम्रद्वीप = लंका, वारुण = बोर्नियो


  1. History of the Jats:Dr Kanungo/Origin and Early History,p.11
  2. Dowson, John (1984). A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology, and Religion, Geography, History. Calcutta: Rupa & Co.. pp. 151–2.
  3. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.152