Trigarta was a kingdom mentioned in the epic Mahabharata. Mahabharata mentions two different Trigarta kingdoms, one in the west close to the Sivi Kingdom and the other north to the Kuru Kingdom. The northern Trigarta kingdom roughly forms the modern day Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh, India, extending westward to the Punjab area. These Trigarta kings were allies of Duryodhana and enemies of Pandavas and Viratas. Their capital was named Prasthala. They attacked the Virata Kingdom aided by the Kurus to steal cattle from there. The Pandavas living there in anonymity helped the Viratas to resist the combined forces of Trigartas and Kurus. Trigarta kings fought the Kurukshetra War and were killed by Arjuna. Arjuna also annihilated an Akshouhini (a large military unit) of Trigarta warriors called the Samsaptakas. These warriors had vowed to either die or kill Arjuna as part of a larger plan by Duryodhana and to capture Yudhishthira alive.
References in Mahabharata
The Trigartas were mentioned along with the Salwasenas in the list of kingdoms of Bharata Varsha (6:9).
Kings Kshemankara, Suratha
Rulers of the western Trigarta territories
Trigarta army was the part of the army of Jayadratha, the king of Sindh supported by which he tried to abduct Draupadi the wife of the Pandavas. But the Pandavas came and rescued her by defeating the army of Jayadratha:- Pandavas killed in battle, with the arrow, the leaders of the Ikshwakus and the hosts of Sivis and Trigartas and Saindhavas (3:269).
Kshemankara is mentioned as the king of Trigarta at (3:263). Suratha is mentioned as the king of Trigartas at (3:269). It could be that Suratha was the family-name of king Kshemankara. Kotika, who was the main ally of Jayadratha, was mentioned as king Suratha’s son at (3:263,264). Kotika was slain by Bhima and Suratha was slain by Nakula during the fight with Jayadratha.Kshemankara, (and/or) Suratha of Trigarta, king of Pulinda and Suvala of Ikshwaku race all were part of Jayadratha’s army (3:263).
King Susarman of Prasthala
Susarman ruled the northern Trigartas
The Trigarta king Susarman ruled the from the city called Prasthala (6:114). Susarman was an ally of Duryodhana. His kingdom was constantly at war with the Matsya Kingdoms. He had enimity with Arjuna who invaded his kingdom duirning his northern millitary campaign. He was an active leader in the Kaurava army in the Kurukshetra War. His main antagonist was Arjuna and the leaders of the Matsya army. Against Arjuna he made a formidable team of warriors called the Samsaptakas. Susarman and his Samsaptaka army were slain by Arjuna in the Kurukshetra war. Susarman had a son named Niramitra (7:104).
Arjuna’s expedition to northern Trigarta
Arjuna came to northern Trigarta, to collect tribute for Yudhisthira’s Rajasuya sacrifice.Arjuna defeated the brave Kshatriyas of Kashmira and also king Lohita along with ten minor chiefs. Then the Trigartas, the Daravas, the Kokonadas, and various other Kshatriyas, advanced against the son of Pandu. That Prince of the Kuru race then took the delightful town of Avisari, and then brought under his sway Rochamana ruling in Uraga. Arjuna, putting forth his might, pressed the delightful town of Singhapura that was well-protected with various weapons (2:26).
Nakula’s expedition to western Trigarta
Nakula came to western Trigarta, to collect tribute for Yudhisthira’s Rajasuya sacrifice.The son of Pandu, viz. Nakula subjugated the Dasarnas, the Sivis, the Trigartas, the Amvashtas, the Malavas, the five tribes of the Karnatas, and those Brahmana classes that were called the Madhyamakeyas and Vattadhanas (2:31). Nakula was sent to conquer the Sivis and the Trigartas. He brought the western region under the power of Yudhisthira (5:23).
Tributes to king Yudhisthira
The Kairatas, the Daradas, the Darvas, the Suras, the Vaiamakas, the Audumvaras, the Durvibhagas, the Kumaras, the Paradas along with the Vahlikas, the Kashmiras, the Ghorakas, the Hansakayanas, the Sivis, the Trigartas, the Yauddheyas, the ruler of Madras and the Kaikeyas, the Amvashtas, the Kaukuras, the Tarkshyas, the Vastrapas along with the Palhavas, the Vashatayas, the Mauleyas along with the Kshudrakas, and the Malavas, the Paundrayas, the Kukkuras, the Sakas, the Angas, the Vangas, the Punras, the Sanavatyas, and the Gayas—these good and well-born Kshatriyas distributed into regular clans and trained to the use of arms, brought tribute unto Pandava king Yudhishthira by hundreds and thousands. (2:51).
Trigarta’s invasion of the Matsya kingdom
Kichaka, the commander of the Matsya army was slain by an unknown person (actually by Pandava Bhima). The mighty king of the Trigartas, Susarman, who owned innumerable cars, regarded the opportunity to be a favourable one. King Susarman, eyeing Karna in askance, spoke these words unto Duryodhana, ‘My kingdom hath many a time been forcibly invaded (4:25) by the king of the Matsyas. The mighty Kichaka was that king’s generalissimo. That wretch, however, hath been slain by the Gandharvas, Kichaka being dead, king Virata, shorn of pride and his refuge gone, will, I imagine, lose all courage I think, we ought now to invade that kingdom. The accident that hath happened is, I imagine, a favourable one for us. Let us, therefore, repair to Virata’s kingdom abounding in corn. We will appropriate his gems and other wealth of diverse kinds, and let us go to share with each other as regards his villages and kingdom. Or, invading his city by force, let us carry off by thousands his excellent kine of various species. Uniting, O king, the forces of the Kauravas and the Trigartas, let us lift his cattle in droves. Or, uniting our forces well, we will check his power by forcing him to sue for peace. Or, destroying his entire host, we will bring Matsya under subjection (4:30). The two armies speedily set out, drawing up the forces in battle array and marshalling them in divisions. Susarman proceeded first, carefully concealing his intention. Following in their wake, Kauravas set out the day after in close array, for the prosperous dominions of king Matsya. The Trigartas, however, suddenly repair to the city of Virata, and coming upon the cowherds, seize that immense wealth (of kine). Kauravas also marching in two divisions, seized thousands of excellent kine furnished with auspicious marks.King Virata of Matsya, defeated both the armies with the help of the Pandavas.
Trigartas in Kurukshetra War
In Kurukshetra War, the Trigartas sided with the Kauravas.Trigarta, the ruler of the Prasthala was accompanied by a large number of the Kamvojas, and by Yavanas in thousands (6:88).Many combatants belonging to the Nishadas, the Sauviras, the Valhikas, the Daradas, the Westerners, the Northerners, the Malavas, the Abhighatas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, the Vasatis, the Salwas, the Sakas, the Trigartas, the Amvashthas, and the Kekayas, similarly fell upon Arjuna (6:118). The Abhishahas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, and the Vasatis, the Swalyas, the Matsyas, the Amvashtas, the Trigartas, and the Kekayas, the Sauviras, the Kitavas, and the dwellers of the Eastern, Western, and the Northern countries,—these twelve brave races were resolved to fight reckless of the lives protecting Bhishma, the commander-in-chief of the Kauravas(6:18).
Those warriors that are opposed to Arjuna, viz., the Sauvirakas, the Sindhava-Pauravas, headed by Karna, are regarded as foremost of car-warriors (7:108). Many combatants belonging to the Nishadas, the Sauviras, the Valhikas, the Daradas, the Westerners, the Northerners, the Malavas, the Abhighatas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, the Vasatis, the Salwas, the Sakas, the Trigartas, the Amvashthas, and the Kekayas, similarly fell upon Arjuna (6:118). Bhishma protected by the warriors headed by Saindhava and by the combatants of the East and the Sauviras and the Kekayas, fought with great impetuosity (6:52).
Bhisma’s rating of the Trigarta brothers:- The five royal brothers of Trigarta are, in my judgment, all foremost of Rathas (5:167). At (7:18) the Trigarta brothers fighting with Arjuna reckless of their lives were called the Samsaptakas. Trigarta car-warriors, of fierce deeds, accomplished in battle, were numbering three thousand (7:10). There were fifty Trigarta princes (7:138). The brothers of the Trigarta king were all slain by Arjuna (7:26). Arjuna crushed with his arrows the Lalithya, the Malava, the Mavellaka, and the Trigarta warriors (7:19).Trigarta’s king, Susarman with his younger brother, and accompanied by all his cars, rushed towards the king of Matsya (4:33).
Kuru king Hasti (who founded the Kuru capital Hastinapura) married Yasodhara, the princess of Trigarta (1:95).
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