Sudakshina (Sanskrit: सुदक्षिण) was a king of the Kambojas, mentioned in the Mahabharata as fighting on the side of the Kauravas and being slain by Arjuna. Sudakshina Kamboja is the third king of the Kambojas referred to in the Mahabharata. And is also the most referenced of all the Kamboja kings in the whole Mahabharata and most illustrious warrior of the Kambojas of Epic Age.
Kamboj traditions and Sudakshina
According to the traditions of the Kamboj community passed on to it from its ancestors, a certain king Sodakhsh (Sudakshina) is believed to have descended from the line of god Chander Burman of remote Ancient antiquity|antiquity.
It is apparent that the Chander Burman of Kamboj traditions is same as the great Asura prince Chandravarma Kamboja who finds reference in the Adiparava section of Mahabharata.
Physical Characteristics of Sudakshina
Physically, Sudakshina Kamboj is described as very tall, gaura- varna and extremely handsome (sudarshaniya) young prince. He is stated to be a very fierce, brave, intelligent and illustrious warrior in the battlefield.
Sudakshina at Abhisheka ceremony of Yudhisthra
Sudakshina was present at the consecration ceremony (abhisheka) of king Yudhishtra and had presented him a chariot with white Kamboja horses, yoked to it (MBH 2.53.5).
:Sudakshinasta.n yuyuje shvetaih Kambojajairhayaih || 5 ||
Sudakshina at Draupadi’s Swayamvara
According to epic evidence, Sudakshina Kamboj had participated in the Swayamvara of Draupadi, the princess of Panchala.
Sudaksinaz.ca.Kambojo.drdha.dhanvaa.ca.Kauravah. ||MBH 1.185.15||
Sudakshina Kamboja in Mahabharata war
- Sudakshina and his army
King Draupida of Panchala had advised Yudhishtra to send messengers to Kamboja and other neighbouring tribes to seek their military help before Duryodhana could do the same (MBH 5.4.18), but it appears that Duryodhana had pre-empted the show and wrested the initiative from the Pandavas. Sudakshina was not committed to any side prior to the war. It appears that he had joined the The Kurus |Kuru side on prior invitation from Duryodhana. Dr Pargiter opines that Sudakshina, though uncommitted to either side, had joined the Kurus on persuasion from Jaidratha of Sindhu (Journal of Royal Asiatic Society, 1906, p 320, P. E. Pargiter).
Sudakshina had participated in the Mahabharata war with full division (Akshauhini) army of wrathful warriors comprising the Kambojas, Sakas and the Yavanas from Central Asia. He was the supreme commander of this composite army which looked like multi-coloured rainy clouds moved by powerful winds. The mass of his army is stated to have covered Kurukshetra battle-fields like a swarm of locust (MBH 5.19.21-23).
Dr B. C. Law says that Sudakshina was one of the few Maharathas or great heroes on the field of Kurukshetra and with his prowess and that of his Kamboja army, he had rendered a great service to the Kuru side in the long-drawn battle at Kurukshetra (Some Kshatriya Tribes, p 241).
- Sudakshina one of ten salient commanders of Kurus
There were numerous great warriors in the composite army of The Kurus |Kauravas, capable of striking fierce force, but from amongst them, after careful consideration, king Duryodhana had picked up 10 most intelligent and brave Chiefs/Generals, including Sudakshina Kamboja to manage his army efficiently. These ten Generals are described as very intelligent, mighty, powerful, lionlike and Mahabahu and most illustrious among the warriors of the Kuru army (MBH 6.16.15-17; 5.155.30-33).
- Krshna extols Sudakshina
At the start of war, Krishna |Vasudeva glorifies Sudakshina Kamboj and lists him amongst the greatest Maharathas gathered at Kurukshetra battlefield (MBH 5.95.19-21).
- Bhishma extols Sudakshina
In the enumeration of great heroes on Kuru side, Bhishma extols the prowess of Sudakshina of Kambojas and calls him a lion among the chariot warriors, and in might and fight, a match equal to god Indra himself. The best of the chariot warriors (Maharathas) under him are strikers of fierce force, and the great host of his army covering the land like a swarm of locusts (MBH 5.165.1-3; op cit, p 242, Dr B. C. Law).
- Durodhana extols Sudakshina
Duryodhana gives a very important place to the Sudakshina by placing him side by side with the greatest heroes on his side. He boasts of to Pandavas saying that his immense army has Bhishma as the current which cannot be crossed, Drona as the alligator which cannot be approached, Karna and Salya as a swarm of small fishes and the Kamboja as volcanic mouth giving out flames (MBH 5.160.40; Op cit, p 242, Dr B. C. Law).
Duryodhana again he extols the prowess of Sudakshina, along with Bhishma, Drona Acharya, Kripa Acharya, Kritvarma, Bhurisravas, Vikarna and Bhagadatta--- describing them all as 'Great Maharathas, high born, recklessly fearless, and in might and fight, more than a match even to the three worlds put together (MBH 6.65.31-33).
- Sudakshina’s duels in the war
For fifteen days, Sudakshina had fought fearlessly and fiercely with many leading Maharathas of the Pandava side. As a General, Sudakshina had displayed great leadership, skill, courage and manoeuvrability in the Kurukshetra war field. Reading of Mahabharata reveals that the Kamboja army under Sudakshina was always placed at key positions, which indisputably shows that king Duryodhana had high faith in the leadership and competence of General Suadakshina and his Kamboja army.
Apart of others, Sudakshina had fought several very memorable and ferocious duels with Shrutakarma (6.45.63-65), Abhimanyu (MBH 6.110.15, 6.111.18-21) and Arjuna (7.92.61-75).....all of them are stated to be great Maharathas of the Pandava army. He had fought very valiantly until slain by Arjuna on the fifteenth day of the war. While fighting, Sudakshina roared like a lion (sinha.nadamathanadat) and gave Arjuna indeed a very tough fight.
In the final and deadly duel with Arjuna, Kamboja Sudakshina had seriously wounded Arjuna and sent him into a terrible swoon, but finally and unfortunately, he was overcome and fell a magnificent martyr to Kuru cause (MBH 7.92.61-76). The last scenes of the duel between Arjuna and Sudakshina are memorable [https://www.ibiblio.org/sripedia/ebooks/mb/m07/m07087.htm].
- Duryodhan at the death of Sudakshina
Near the end of the war, Duryodhana grievously laments the death of the heroes of his army including Sudakshina of Kamboja of whom he says “ the great hero and Maharatha, who proudly came to battle for my sake, caring the least for his own life and was ever prepared to lay down his life. When I see him (Sudakshina) and also Alambusha and other allies of mine dead and gone, I have no desire left to remain alive " (MBH 7.150.22-23).
- Karna at the death of Sudakshina
Suryaputra Karna glorifies Sudakshina as a great stalwart and includes him among the greatest Generals of Bharata war, stating that Sudakshina and other few select warriors were undefeatable even by the gods themselves (MBH 7/158/64-66)
- Vasudeva at the death of Sudakshina
Krishna glorified Sudakshina and others at the conclusion of war stating that none except Arjuna could face the wrath of these mighty warriors like Drona, Bhishma, Bhagadatta, Sudakshina Kamboja, Vinda-Anuvinda of Avanti, Mahabali Shrutayu, Acutayu etc and still be alive---each of these great Maharathas being no less than god Indra (MBH: 8.72.17-20; also: 5.95.19-21)
- Gandhari at the death of Sudakshina
Gandhari deplored the death of Sudakshina stating that he was indeed the irresistible warrior with shoulders like those of a bull and though deserving of being stretched at his ease on the Kamboja blankets, was now woefully lying amid the dust (MBH 11.25.01).
Brave Sudakshina was one of the few great heroes on the battlefield and has numerously been applauded as great Maharatham, Purushavyaghrah, Shurah, durdharsha (invincible), Parighabahavah, Mahabahu, or a great hero, invincible in the battlefield even by the gods (6.45.65; 6.45.68; 11.25.01). Though he had nothing against Pandavas, since he was invited by Duryodhana, he as a true Kshatriya had fought for Duryodhana with great valour, honour, loyalty, dedication and sacrifice for friendship, and in full compliance of the war ethics. In the end, he fell a magnificent martyr to Kuru side.