Who are MAHROKS, a warrior tribe which participated in Mahabharata

  • By Jeevan Deepak
  • March 28, 2023
  • Here are excerpts from Mahroks: The Story of the Kambojas, Sikhs and Shaheeds


In 3137 BCE, with the advent of the Mahabharata war, conflict arose from a succession struggle between the supporters of cousins, the Kauravas and the Pandavas, for the throne of Hastinapur. This war resulted in the involvement of several ancient kingdoms, participating as allies of the rival groups. As a last attempt at peace and mediation was called for in Rajdharma, Sri Krishna, the chieftain of the Yadavas, Lord of the kingdom of Dwarka, travelled to Hastinapur to persuade the Kauravas to see reality and avoid all the bloodshed of their kith and kin.


Sri Krishna embarked upon a peaceful path as a goodwill emissary of the Pandavas. Unfortunately, Duryodhana did not listen to the peace message of his cousins. Sri Krishna presented himself to the Kuru Mahasabha to relay the peace message and to ask Duryodhana to return Indraprastha to the Pandavas and restore their relationship, but Duryodhana was reluctant to give even an inch of land to the Pandavas.


After exhausting all avenues, even to the extent that Krishna was humiliated by Duryodhana, Sri Krishna cursed him, saying that his downfall was certain, and returned to inform the Pandavas of the inevitable that was to occur. Thus, the cousins faced each other in the fields of Kurukshetra.


King Sudakshina, the king of the Kambojas and the brother of Duryodhana’s wife, Bhanumati, was called on to help their cause. Sudakshina did not come alone to be on Duryodhana’s side but with nine other Kamboj kings and chieftains, including the king of Mehrok desha with his army of warriors, horses and elephants from Ghar Gazni. Sudakshina was to be the commander of the combined warriors, supporting the Kauravas against the Pandavas.


A fierce battle took place, and on the fourteenth day, Arjuna, with his charioteer, Sri Krishna, attempted to reach Jayadratha. Duryodhana, with his men, tried until sunset to impede Arjuna’s path. Sudakshina threw a spear at Arjuna, which injured him badly. However, he recovered quickly and invoked the Indrastra, composed of multiple arrows, which resulted in Sudakshina’s death, hit by one of the arrows.


After the eighteenth day of fighting, the Kauravas were defeated, and all was lost for them and their allies. Yudhishtra was crowned the king of Hastinapur. One of the consequences of the war was a large-scale migration of people. Some escaped to safer places, while many were taken as prisoners and the remainder dispersed into the adjoining forests and oblivion.


Being Kshatriyas, it was forbidden to return after losing the war, so the Kamboja kings, chieftains and warriors were stranded and separated from their loved ones in a hostile environment. They were hunted and killed by the victors, so the formerly strong and valiant warriors were left at the mercy of others. With time, these warrior men and women of the Kambojas started to mix and settle in with the Rajputanas.


The Mahroks did not do badly at all. They started re-establishing themselves and the warriors they had brought with them, for the Mahabharata did not leave them. Soon they started living the life they were accustomed to. As mentioned earlier, by the fifth century, King Mehrokole was well established in his kingdom at Gazni. The descendants of Mehrokole spread their wings, and by the eleventh century, they were ruling a vast area in the Gangetic Plains, and were now established as the Gahadavala Dynasty.


Raja Yashovhraha was the first monarch of the dynasty, which ruled over vast parts of the present-day Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Their capital was in Varanasi in the Gangetic plains, and for a short period, they also controlled Kanyakubja (modern-day Kannauj).


According to Chandrawati inscriptions dating from 1093 and 1100, the Gahadavalas occupied Kanyakubja after the descendants of Devpal had been destroyed. Devpala can be identified as the mid-tenth century Gurjara-Pratihara king of Kanyakubja. Chanderdeva started his career as a feudatory but declared independence sometime before 1089.


The sudden rise of the Gahadavalas has led to speculation that they had descended from an earlier royal house. The dynastic name appears in only four inscriptions of the Gahadavalas. These are three inscriptions issued by Chanderdeva’s grandson, Govind Chandra, and the Sarnath inscription issued by his wife, Kumara Devi.


The dynastic name does not appear in contemporary literature. Therefore, if it has any geographical significance, it points to newly-acquired territories in northern India. Jai Chand was the last king of this dynasty that traced its lineage to King Mahrokole and reigned until 1194.

Author Jewan Deepak is an aviator, an IT specialist, a trained classical musician and a historian.

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