kuru कुरु

Definition: The Kurus appear as by far the most important people in the Brāhmana literature. There is clear evidence that it was in the country of the Kurus, or the allied Kuru- Pañcālas, that the great Brāhmanas were composed. The Kurus are comparatively seldom mentioned alone, their name being usually coupled with that of the Pañcālas on account of the intimate connexion of the two peoples. The Kuru-Pañcālas are often expressly referred to as a united nation. In the land of the Kuru-Pañcālas speech is said to have its particular home; the mode of sacrifice among the Kuru-Pañcālas is proclaimed to be the best; the Kuru-Pañcāla kings perform the Rājasūya or royal sacrifice; their princes march forth on raids in the dewy season, and return in the hot season Later on the Kuru-Pañcāla Brahmins are famous in the Upanisads. Weber and Grierson have sought to find traces in Vedic literature of a breach between the two tribes, the latter scholar seeing therein a confirmation of the theory that the Kurus belonged to the later stream of immigrants into India, who were specially Brahminical, as opposed to the Pañcālas, who were anti-Brahminical. In support of this view, Weber refers to the story in the Kāthaka Samhitā of a dispute between Vaka Dālbhya and Dhrtarāstra Vaicitravīrya, the former being held to be by origin a Pañcāla, while the latter is held to be a Kuru. But there is no trace of a quarrel between Kurus and Pañcālas in the passage in question, which merely preserves the record of a dispute on a ritual matter between a priest and a prince: the same passage refers to the Naimisīya sacrifice among the Kuru-Pañcālas, and emphasizes the close connexion of the two peoples. Secondly, Weber conjectures in the Vājasaneyi Samhitā that Subhadrikā of Kāmpīla was the chief queen of the king of a tribe living in the neighbour¬hood of the clan, for whose king the horse sacrifice described in the Samhitā was performed. But the interpretation of this passage by Weber is open to grave doubt; and in the Kānva recension of the Samhitā a passage used at the Rājasūya shows that the Kuru-Pañcālas had actually one king. More¬over, there is the evidence of the Satapatha Brāhmana that the old name of the Pañcālas was Krivi. This word looks very like a variant of Kuru, and Zimmer plausibly conjectures that the Kurus and Krivis formed the Vaikarna of the Rigveda, especially as both peoples are found about the Sindhu and the Asikni.The Kurus alone are chiefly mentioned in connexion with the locality which they occupied, Kuruksetra. We are told, however, of a domestic priest (Purohita) in the service of both the Kurus and the Srñjayas, who must therefore at one time have been closely connected. In the Chāndogya Upanisad reference is made to the Kurus being saved by a mare (aśvā), and to some disaster which befel them owing to a hailstorm. In the Sūtras, again, a ceremony (Vājapeya) of the Kurus is mentioned. There also a curse, which was pronounced on them and led to their being driven from Kuruksetra, is alluded to. This possibly adumbrates the misfortunes of the Kauravas in the epic tradition. In the Rigveda the Kurus do not appear under that name as a people. But mention is made of a prince, Kuruśravana (‘ Glory of the Kurus ^, and of a Pākasthāman Kaurayāna. In the Atharvaveda there occurs as a king of the Kurus Pariksit, whose son, Janamejaya, is mentioned in the śata¬patha Brāhmana as one of the great performers of the horse sacrifice.It is a probable conjecture of Oldenberg’s that the Kuru people, as known later, included some of the tribes referred to by other names in the Rigveda. Kuruśravana, shown by his name to be connected with the Kurus, is in the Rigveda called Trāsadasyava, * descendant of Trasadasyu,’ who is well known as a king of the Pūrus. Moreover, it is likely that the Trtsu- Bharatas, who appear in the Rigveda as enemies of the Pūrus, later coalesced with them to form the Kuru people. Since the Bharatas appear so prominently in the Brāhmana texts as a great people of the past, while the later literature ignores them in its list of nations, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that they became merged in some other tribe. Moreover, there is evidence that the Bharatas occupied the territory in which the Kurus were later found. Two of them are spoken of in a hymn of the Rigveda as having kindled fire on the Drsadvatī, the Apayā, and the Sarasvatī—that is to say, in the sacred places of the later Kuruksetra. Similarly, the goddess Bhāratī (‘ belonging to the Bharatas ’) is constantly mentioned in the Aprī (‘ propitiatory ’) hymns together with Sarasvatī. Again, according to the śatapatha Brāhmana, one Bharata king was victorious over the Kāśis, and another made offerings to Gañgā and Yamunā, while raids of the Bharatas against the Satvants are mentioned in the Aitareya Brāhmana. Nor is it without importance that the Bharatas appear as a variant for the Kuru-Pañcālas in a passage of the Vājasaneyi Samhitā, and that in the list of the great performers of the horse sacrifice the names of one Kuru and two Bharata princes are given without any mention of the people over which they ruled, while in other cases that information is specifically given.The territory of the Kuru-Pañcālas is declared in the Aitareya Brāhmana to be the middle country (Madhyadeśa). A group of the Kuru people still remained further north—the Uttara Kurus beyond the Himālaya. It appears from a passage of the śatapatha Brāhmana that the speech of the Northerners— that is, presumably, the Northern Kurus—and of the Kuru- Pañcālas was similar, and regarded as specially pure. There seems little doubt that the Brahminical culture was developed in the country of the Kuru-Pañcālas, and that it spread thence east, south, and west. Traces of this are seen in the Vrātya Stomas (sacrifices for the admission of non - Brahminical Aryans) of the Pañcavimśa Brāhmana, and in the fact that in the śāñkhāyana Áranyaka it is unusual for a Brahmin to dwell in the territory of Magadha. The repeated mention of Kuru- Pañcāla Brahmins is another indication of their missionary activity. The geographical position of the Kuru-Pañcālas renders it probable that they were later immigrants into India than the Kosala-Videha or the Kāśis, who must have been pushed into their more eastward territories by a new wave of Aryan settlers from the west. But there is no evidence in Vedic literature to show in what relation of time the immigration of the latter peoples stood to that of their neighbours on the west. It has, however, been conjectured, mainly on the ground of later linguistic phenomena, which have no cogency for the Vedic period, that the Kurus were later immigrants, who, coming by a new route, thrust themselves between the original Aryan tribes which were already in occupation of the country from east to west. Cf. also Krtvan. For other Kuru princes see Kauravya.

Dictionary: vedic_index
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