madhyadeśa मध्यदेश

Definition: The ‘Middle Country,’ is, according to the Mānava Dharma śāstra, the land between the Himālaya in the north, the Vindhya in the south, Vinaáana in the west, and Prayāga (now Allahabad) in the east that is, between the place where the Sarasvatī disappears in the desert, and the point of the confluence of the Yamunā (Jumna) and the Gañgā (Ganges). The same authority defines Brahmarsi-deśa as denoting the land of Kuruksetra, the Matsyas, Pañcālas, and śūrasenakas, and Brahmāvarta as meaning the particularly holy land between the Sarasvatī and the Drṣadvatī. The Baudhāyana Dharma Sūtra4 defines Áryāvarta as the land east of Vinaśana; west of the Kālaka-vana, ‘ Black Forest,’ or rather Kanakhala, near Hardvār; south of the Himālaya; and north of the Pāriyātra or the Pāripātra Mountains; adding that, in the opinion of others, it was confined to the country between the Yamunā and the Gañgā, while the Bhāllavins took it as the country between the boundary-river (or perhaps the Saras-vatī) and the region where the sun rises. The Mānava Dharma śāstra, in accord with the Vasiṣṭha Dharma Sūtra, defines Áryāvarta as the region between the Vindhya and the Himālaya, the two ranges which seem to be the boundaries of the Aryan world in the Kauṣītaki Upaniṣad also. The term Madhyadeśa is not Vedic, but it is represented in the Aitareya Brāhmaṇa by the expression madhyamā pratisthā diś, ‘ the middle fixed region,’ the inhabitants of which are stated to be the Kurus, the Pañcālas, the Vaśas, and the Uśīnaras. The latter two peoples practically disappear later on, the Madhyadeśa being the country of the Kuru-Pañcālas, the land where the Brāhmaṇas and the later Samhitās were produced, bounded on the east by the Kosala-Videhas, and on the west by the desert. The western tribes are mentioned with disapproval both in the śatapatha Brāhmaṇa and the Aitareya Brāhmaṇa, while the tradition of the Brahminization of the Kosalas and the Videhas from the Kuru-Pañcāla country is preserved in the former Brāhmaṇa.

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