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Indian Republics of Punjab and Haryana

Indian Republics of Punjab and Haryana

Ancient India had a great tradition of republican states going back all the way to the Vedic period. With the rise of the great kingdoms, in Gangetic plains monarchy soon replaced or overcome Ganarajyas like Vaishali. In other parts of India especially the North West however republican states survived all the way up to the Gupta period.

Yaudheya Gana (यौधेय गण)

Unarguably one of the most prestigious & mightiest republics of ancient India was Yaudheya Gana. According to Pauranic literature, Yaudheyas were descendants of Yaudheya - son of Yudhisthira through his wife Devika, according to Harivamsha, however, they were descendants of King Usinara. Their territory comprised large areas of modern-day Haryana & Punjab. Rohtak was their capital, while Sunet & Naurangbad were their other important centers. They were celebrated for their martial qualities. For eg., Panini refers to them as “Ayudhajivin Sangha” ie Republic that lives by the profession of arms & Junagadh inscription praises them as “Heroes among all Kshatriyas”.

Greek Historians of Alexander praised them as “good agriculturists, brave in war & living under an excellent system of internal government”. Greeks further state that the Yaudheya parliament constituted 5000 representatives. All these references show the high reputation enjoyed by Yaudheyas. Yaudheya coins depicting Kartikeya with vel in one hand & rooster/peacock on the side. Other coins depict 6 headed Skanda or his temple. Being martial people Kartikeya was held in high reverence by them. According to MBh their capital Rohtak was the favored residence of Skanda.

After the collapse of the Maurya empire Yaudheyas seem to have been subjugated by foreign invaders. However soon they managed to gain their freedom by defeating them. They are credited with giving the first blow to the mighty Kushan empire. They celebrated their victory by issuing coins & seals with legends such as Yaudheyanam Jaya-mantra-dharnama (Yaudheyas - in possession of victory spell) & Yaudheya ganasya Jayah. Their name however survived as late as the medieval period for this is how Somadeva talks about Yaudheya territory in the 10th century.


Copper coin of Yaudheya tribe with the depiction of Kartikeya standing and holding spear the coin dated around 1st Cent. CE.

Audumbaras (औदुम्बर)

Theirs was a kind of republic where the ruler was elected by the members of the Sangha (Raja-sabd-opajivinah). Their territory was located in northeastern Punjab in the valley of Beas with Pathankot being their principal/capital town. It has been suggested by some scholars that they derived their name from Udumbara (fig) tree. Coins issued by Audumbaras depict sage Vishwamitra on obverse & Sacred Udumbara tree and Trishul-Battle ax on the reverse. Based on the literary evidence it has been suggested that Audumbaras claimed descent from Sage Vishwamitra. They were devotees of Shiva for their other coins also show Trishul-battle ax and shrine of Mahadev. Audumbaras were enterprising people with prosperous trade due to the strategic location of Pathankot on imp trade routes. This mighty republic disappeared due to foreign invasions/ merged with Yaudheyas.

Kuninda/Kulinda (कुणिन्द)

Also Raja-sabd-opajivinah Sangha. Their main territory was located in the hilly area between Sutlej & Jamuna. Their main area seems to have comprised Garhwal - Kumaon hills which have yielded a large number of coins issued by the Kuninda republic. Their coins depict antelope & Lakshmi on one side & auspicious symbols like Nandipada, Swastika, mountain & sacred trees on another side. Their high-quality silver coins have been found in large numbers as far as Takshashila which indicates that the Kuninda republic was very prosperous due to the trading activity of its people. Their presiding deity was Lord Chatreshwara (Shiva). Just like Yaudheyas they also seem to have issued coins in the name of Chatreshwara after defeating Kushanas. After survived as people but soon disappeared as a republic.

Kuluta Sangha (कुलूत)

Raja-sabd-opajivinah Sangha. First appeared nearby Takshashila but soon driven out by the foreign invasion. They ultimately settled into Kulu valley which derived its name from the Kuluta people who survived the final demise of the polity. Their coins show auspicious symbols like swastika, Nandipada, mountain & Dharmachakra. which indicates that they were prob. Buddhists.


They controlled a large territory in central Punjab. Their capital city Sakala, modern Sialkot, was very well reputed. Their antiquity goes back all the way to the Vedic period & they seem to have existed as late as 7th CE when Hiuen Tsang visited Punjab. In the earlier times, they followed the monarchy (Nakul & Sahadev’s mother Madri was a princess of Madra Desh) but later own they seem to have to republican system. In the earlier times capital of Madra Desh - Sakala was a great center of learning.

Vrishni (वृष्णि) Sangha

Again extremely prestigious Sangha of Yadava extract. Sri Krishna belonged to the Vrishni lineage of Mathura. Vrishni people of Punjab were probably remnants of the Vrishnis who migrated & finally settled in Mathura. Their unique coin depicts Nandipada above mysterious half elephant/half-lion animal on one side and chakra on the other. Among others, Vrishni Sangha is mentioned by Panini & Chanakya. Their territory in Punjab was probably located in Kangra valley.

Trigarta (त्रिगर्त) Janapada

So-called probably because it was watered by three rivers, Ravi, Sutlej & Beas, Ayudhajivin Sangha. Indian literary sources strongly associate Trigarta Janapada with Jalandhara. The polity vanished with time but just like Kuluta, the name Trigarta survived all the way into the 19th century when Katoch hill state of Kangra was still known as Trigarta kingdom.