The Southern kekaya-s

The early kShatriya-s of the andhrApatha are important to understand the origins and transmission of the early medieval kaumAra sect. They are also critical to understand the peregrinations of kShatriya-s throughout India and the role they played in the unification of the country. These movements are also important to understand the early movements of the pAshupata shaiva lineage into the southern country. We have earlier alluded to the the role played by the ikShvAku-s of andhrApatha in the development of the kaumAra sect in the south. We believe that this movement of the ikShvAkus and associated clans into dakShiNA-patha was a key element of the entry of the kaumAra religion into the drAviDa country, where it has lingered in a peculiar form to this day even after it faded away in other parts of India. The ikShvAku movement to the south is suggested by the establishment of the principalities of ashvakas and mUlaka-s by members of this dynasty on the river banks of the godAvarI, which were around during the shatavAhana period. The fall of the shatavAhanas allowed many of these gain territory, and in andhrApatha a line of ikShvAku-s gained ground under the great king shAntamUla, the performer of vedic sacrifices and the worshiper of kumAra.

Interestingly, D Sircar’s studies on inscriptions brought to light a lineage of kekaya-s too in the southern country who lay to the West of the southern ikShvAku-s centered around the chitradurga town in Mysore. The kekaya-s are a member of the pa~ncha jana as per traditional testimony and are the descendants of anu. As per the testimony of the veda, purANa-s and itihAsa-s they along with another anu lineage, the mAdra-s, lay to the northwest of the sub-continent. Their great king ashvapati kekaya was rAjarShi who taught many brAhmaNas. The rAmAyaNa mentions them as in-laws of dasharatha and allies of the ikShvAku-s who helped bharata and his sons takSha and puShkala in the wars against the gandharas. The memory of their capital rAja-gR^iha in Balkh is recorded by the Chinese agent Yuan Chwang.

The inscriptions pertaining to the southern branch mentions “ikShvAkubhir api rAjarShibhiH kR^it AvAha vivAha– implying that they exchanged both sons and daughters in marriage with the family of ikShvAku rAjarShi-s. The use of the term rAjarShi strongly suggests that they were performers of shrauta sacrifices. The kadamba king viShNuvarman is mentioned as: “kaikeya-sutAyAm utapanna” implying that his mother was a kekaya princess. In an inscription from 470 CE we have the statement that the queen of the kadambas, wife of king mR^igeshavarman, is kaikeya mahAkula prasUtA (born in the noble family of the kekayas). Another inscription in Haldipur, Karnataka mentions the wife of the pallava chief chaNDamahAsena, who was a great kaumAra, as being from the kekaya kula. Their son was pallavarAja-gopAladeva. Thus the kekayas appear to have had relationship with the other 3 major southern dynasties, the ikShvAkus, pallavas and kadambas. Given that powerful dynasties like the shatavAhanas, pallavas, kadambas, viShNu-kuNDins and shAla~NkAyanas never claimed origin from the historic Aryan dynasties of the purANas, there is no reason to doubt that the ikShvAkus and kekayas of south India were migrant versions of the northern kShatriya dynasties. This suggests that after the rise of the mauryan power in North India, many remnants of the old dynasties started migrating outwards from their home zones, mainly towards dakShiNApatha. In the south they seem to have initially survived in the shadow of the shatavAhanas before coming of their own.

The end of the kekaya power seems to have come after the pallavas destroyed them along with the kadambas in the battlefield of naNakAsa. The chitradurga inscription mentions that their king shivanandavarman was wounded mortally in the battle and after the destruction of the kadamba king kR^iShNavarman, he lay on a darbha bed and waited for his death. This inscription mentions that he was a parama-mAhesvara, or a great pAshupata.

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