Monday, August 17, 2009

Introduction to suryavanshis

The Sun Dynasty or Solar Dynasty (Sūrya-vaṃśa) is one of the most prominent dynasties in the history of Hinduism, along with the "Chandra-vaṃśa" or Lunar Dynasty.
"Suryavanshi" means a person belonging to this dynasty. This clan was the oldest and biggest kshatriya clan of India which was also known by many synonyms as Adityavamsha, Mitrawamsha, Arkawamsha, Raviwamsha, etc. It was the most prosperous clan in ancient India till the rise of Magadh in the 6th century BCE. The early Suryavanshis considered Sun-god ('Surya', 'Aditya' or 'Arka') as their kul-devta (clan God) and mainly practised sun-worship.
The clan founder, Vivasvan or Vaivaswat Manu, also known as Arka-tanaya (अर्क तनय) or son of Arka (Surya), is supposed to have lived coeval with the origin of the world. The name Vivaswan literally means master of the rays. That is, The Sun or Sun God. The first historically important king of this dynasty was Vivaswan's grandson Ikshvaku, so the dynasty is also known as the Ikshvaku dynasty [1].
The solar clan is especially associated with Rama, the King of Ayodhya whose story is told in the Ramayana. Rama was the rightful heir according to the rule of primogeniture, but because his father had made a promise to his second queen, Kaikeyi, who asked for Rama to be exiled to the forest for 14 years and her own son crowned in Rama's place, Rama was disqualified from ruling, however, Kaikeyi's son Bharata never accepted the throne but ruled as regent till Rama came back from exile.
The last important king of Ayodhya was Brihdbal, who was killed by Abhimanyu in the Kurukshetra war. The last ruling king of the dynasty at Ayodhya was Sumitra in the 4th century BC, who, after being forced out of Ayodhya by emperor Mahapadma Nanda of Magadha's Nanda Dynasty, continued the royal line at Rohtas.
As laid down by Manu, the kings of the solar dynasty followed the rule of primogeniture. Only the eldest male offspring of the king could succeed to the throne, unless disqualified by the priests for being physically disabled or some other reason. The younger sons also produced many prominent historical Kshatriyas and Vaishyas, but these are not included in the following list of monarchs. The list, however, does include some rightful heirs who were disqualified by the priests.

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