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Kekaya – Ancient Community In India

The antiquity of the Kekaya community goes back to the Vedic times. The Kekayas, along with the Madrakas and the Ushinaras, were a branch of the family of Anu, son of Yayati, according to Matsya Purana and Vayu Purana. The ‘Anu’ tribe is frequently mentioned in the Rig Veda as dwelling near the Purushni or Ravi River.

The Ramayana also refers to the Kekaya territory as lying beyond the Vipasa or Beas and the Mahabharata associates them with the Madras occupied in Sakala (Sialkot, now in Pakistan) region.

Arian places the Kekians on the Saranges River, which was probably a tributary of the Hydraotes or the Ravi.

Kaikeyi, queen of Dasaratha and mother of Bharata, was a Kekaya princess. From Ayodhya to the Kekaya capital, it was a seven-day journey.

Satapatha Brahmana and Chandogya Upanishad refer to the Kekaya king as a man of learning who instructed even Brahmins like Aruna Aupavesi Gautama, Mahasla Jabala, Budila, Asvatarasvi, Indradyumna Bhallaveya, Uddalaka Aruni and so on.

The kings of the Kekayas bore the title of Asvapati. The Ramayana refers to the Kekaya capital as Rajagrha or Girivraja, which has been identified by Alexander Cunningham with Girjak or Jalapur on the Jhelum River.

The Jaina writers, however, mention Seyaviya as a Kekaya city and tell us that one-half of their kingdom was Aryan. A branch of the Kekayas seems to have migrated to southern India in later times and established a kingdom in the Mysore country, as is mentioned in some of their inscriptions.