The astronomical dating of the events in the two great historical texts of the ancient world, Ramayana and Mahabharata indicate that Ramayana took place at around 5000 BCE, while Mahabharata took place around 3000 BCE. So, it is but natural to ask, is there any mention about the descendants of Lord Rama in Mahabharata? Who were the descendants of Rama in the era of Mahabharata, and what was their role in the great war at Kurukshetra? Did they side with the Pandavas, or with the Kauravas or did they remain neutral?
Brothers of Rama
Lord Rama had three brothers. Lakshmana, Shatrughna and Bharata. Bharata founded the city of Takshashila, Taxila in modern Pakistan which later became the center of higher education in the ancient world with its majestic Takshashila University, one of the many great universities of ancient India. Lakshmana founded the city of Lakshmana Puri, modern day Lucknow. Shatrughna cleared a forest called Madhuvana and founded the modern city of Mathura, the city in which Krishna was born during the times of Mahabharata.
Children of Rama
Lord Rama had two sons Lava and Kusha. They were born at a place called Ramtirth or Rama Theertha, which is a famous pilgrimage in modern day Amritsar, 11 km from the city of Amritsar, in the state of Punjab. There is also a hut near the Ram Tirth temple here, where Maharshi Valmiki is said to have lived during the era of Ramayana.
Luv (Lava) – Son of Rama
Lava is said to be the founder of the modern city of Lahore in Pakistan, originally called Lavapuri. Modern day Laos was originally named after Lava. Ramayana is very popular in Laos even today, and has its own local version of Ramayana called Phra Lak Phra Ram.
Also the city of Lobpuri in Thailand, which is about 150 km from Bangkok, is named after Lava. Kalavarnadish, the king of Takshasila in 7th century founded this city in Thailand and named it after Lavpuri (Lahore) which later became Lobpuri.
Ayodhya was the capital of the Kosala Kingdom during the times of Rama. After Rama, his sons Lava and Kusha inherited the kingdom which was divided into North Kosala, to the north of Ayodhya and East Kosala, to the east of Ayodhya.
Shravasti was the capital of North Kosala. During the times of Gautama Buddha, Sravasti was one of the six largest cities in India. Buddhaghosa, a 5th century Buddhist scholar says that the city had a population of 180 million during the times of Buddha.
Kushavati, modern day Kushinagar, a town near Gorakhpur in the state of Uttar Pradesh was the capital of Kusha’s kingdom.
Kosala Kingdom in Mahabharata
During the times of Mahabharata, Kosala Kingdom was split into five.
The five Kosala kingdoms mentioned in Mahabharata are
- North Kosala
- South Kosala
- East Kosala
- Central Kosala
- Kosala Kingdom between Central Kosala and South Kosala
Eastern Kosala was captured by the Magadha king Jarasandha, who was later killed by Bhima in the Kurukshetra war of Mahabharata.
Central Kosala, the original Kosala ruled by Rama, still had Ayodhya as its capital during the times of Mahabharata and was ruled by Dheerghayaghnya. Central Kosala and North Kosala were conquered by the Pandava brother Bhima in his military expedition.
Southern Kosala, the native kingdom of Rama’s mother Kausalaya, in modern day Madhya Pradesh, was conquered by the Pandava Brother Sahadeva in his military expedition.
Brihadbala – Descendant of Rama via Kusha in the Mahabharata War
The fifth Kosala Kingdom between Central Kosala and South Kosala was ruled by Brihadbala, a descendant of Kusha. The kingdom of Kashi was probably a part of this Kosala kingdom during the times of Mahabharata. The paternal grandmothers of Pandavas, Ambika and Ambalika, who were the daughters of the King of Kashi, are referred in Mahabharata sometimes as the princesses of Kashi, and sometimes as the princesses of Kosala.
Brihadbala was the 28th descendant of Rama’s Son Kusha. And he fought on the side of the Kauravas in the Mahabharata war at Kurukshetra!
Mahabharata, while describing the ratings Bhishma gave to each major warrior on their side before the war, says that the warrior skills of Brihadbala were rated to be one Ratha. The different ratings were Ratha, Athiratha, Maharatha, etc.
On the thirteenth day of the Mahabharata war, Drona forms the Chakrya Vyuha formation, a seven-tier defensive spiral formation intended to capture Yudhishtira, the eldest of the Pandava brothers. A game plan had been already set to lure Arjuna away from the main battle field, as Arjuna was aware of the techniques of breaking this formation successfully. The Kaurava side hopes to capture Yudhishtira hoping that he would try to break this formation and would be captured as he is lacks the knowledge required to break it. However, Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna who has partial knowledge of breaking the Chakryavyuha formation, where in he knows how to enter it but not how to exit, takes up the challenge and enter the Chakrya Vyuha.
It is in this battle that Brihadbala, along with Ashvaththaama, Karna, Kritavarma, Krupacharya, Drona pounce upon Abhimanyu at the same time violating the rules of the war, in an effort to kill the heroic son of Arjuna. Abhimanyu after killing the warriors on Brihadbala’s side, kills his charioteer, breaks his bow, cuts his flag and finally beheads Brihadbala.
The descendant of Lord Rama not only ends up on the wrong side in Mahabharatha, he also ends up being a part of the battle which violated the very code of conduct of a warrior. The battle against Abhimanyu is recorded as the most shameless violation of the ethics of war in which a defenseless warrior was attacked and killed by multiple big warriors through illicit means. The other such incident in the war being the killing of an unarmed Karna by Arjuna.
Genealogy of Lord Rama after the Mahabharata War
The Genealogy of Lord Rama after the Mahabharata war is recorded as follows in the Puranas. The last in the list below, Sumitra was defeated by MahaPadma Nanda, the founder of the famous Nanda dynasty with Magadha as its capital. The descendants of MahaPadma Nanda were later over thrown by Chandragupta Maurya who went on to form one of the greatest empires in history, the Mauryan Empire.
- Sumitra Amitrajit
- Sanjaya Mahakosala
Appendix: Linage of Lord Rama till Brihadbala
Below is the lineage of Lord Rama till Brihadbala. To see a lineage of Lord Rama’s ancestors in the Ikshvaku lineage, read about Varanasi, the oldest continuously inhabited city on Earth.
- Lord Rama