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History of Distrcit Kaithal, Haryana


Historically, it was known as Kapisthal, meaning "Abode of Kapi", another name of Lord Hanuman), and it is said to have been founded by the Pandava Emperor, Yudhisthira of Mahabharata. It is traditionally connected with Hanuman, and has a temple dedicated to Anjani, the mother of Hanuman. Timur stopped here in 1398, before attacking Delhi. Later, the city became a Muslim cultural centre, under the rule of Delhi Sultanate. Tombs of several Sufi saints dating from the 13th century can be found in the city today; most important among them is that of Sheikh Sala -ud-din of Bhalkh (1246 CE). The town was renovated and a fort was built during the rule of the Mughal Emperor, Akbar, and as per Ain-i-Akbari, it was a pargana, under the sarkar of Sirhind, and had developed into an agricultural centre.

In 1767, it fell into the hands of the Sikh chieftain, Bhai Desu Singh, whose descendants, the bhais of Kaithal, ranked among the most powerful Cis-Sutlej states. Their territories lapsed to the British in 1843 and became a municipality in 1867. In 1901, the town had a population of 14,408 and was the tehsil in the district of Karnal. The fort of the Bhais is still extant, and their title Bhai became common with the primary Sikh rulers.

Razia Sultana, the first woman ruler of India, reigned as the Sultana of Delhi Sultanate from 1236 to 1240. She fled Delhi with Malik Altúniya after they were defeated on the 24th of Rabí'u-l awwal A.H. 638 (Oct. 1240), and reached Kaithal the next day, where their remaining forces abandoned them, and they both fell into the hands of the Hindus and were killed. This aspect is still not well known outside Kaithal, but residents know about the mazaar of Razia Begum even generations later. The kaithal has many gates made by British rulers and used to control the entry of trade goods and other items.

Kaithal in Puranas

Till now we have described the antiquity of Kaithal from the material available in Vedic Samskrita literature but its aniquity has been described widely in other literature also. The author of Mahabharata and Shri Mad Bhagvat Purana, Maharsi Vedavyasa has widely written about antiquity of Kaithal and its nearby many pious and religious places :

"Kapilasya cha Kedaram samasadya sudurlabham !
Antardhanama avapnoti tapsa dagdhakilvisaha !!"
( Kedara of Kapila is unattainable.After meditation there all sins are destroyed and man attains the internal hidden knowledge).

Vaman Purana says: "Kapisthaleti vikhyatam sarvapatakanashanam yasmina sthitaha swayam devovridha kedara samgjijitaha"
(The destroyer of all devililsh deeds, famous Kapisthala sanctum is here because Lord Vridhakedara himself resides.)
It must be understood that Vridhakedara sanctum has become Vidkyara on the basis of philological principle of "mukhasukha" (easy to speak).

1. Mahabharata, Vanapurana, Chapter-83/74.
2. Vaman Purana Chapt er 36/24.


Furthermore, Durgacharya, the commentator of Nirukta, recognizes himself also a Kapisthala Vasistha i.e. a resident of Kapisthala, belonging to Vasistha gotra (Sub-Caste).

From Vedic age to Mahabharata and Vamana Purana Kaithal's ancient existence is a reality. Kaithal is as old as a vedic reer.

Kaithal's ancient show-case

Vedas are one of the most ancient scriptures still known, although the precise date of the Rigvedas' creation and writing are still somewhat in doubt. These treasure-troves of knowledge are the oldest source available for information on the culture of that location at that time.

(2) Generally it can be said that the writing period of Rigveda is not that old as western scholars think. Rrock edicts and engravings indicate that the pre-Harappan and Saraswata civilisations originated more than ten thousand years ago. Kaithal was an important town along the Saraswati river, and thus may be presumed to have begun ten thousand years ago or more. In this context, it must be kept in mind that the "Apaya" river, a sub-river of Saraswati has been referred in the third Mandala of Rigveda 3/23/4.

1. Page 87 2. Vedic Saraswati Nadi Shodha Abhiyana-Page 8.

As per the verse this rainy-seasonal river is one mile east of Manusa sanctum, which is close to Maheshwara Deva in Asthipura. The "Apaya" river, one mile from Manusa sanctum, near Kaithal is very true because near west of Kaithal, the location of Apaya and Apaga and Manusa Tirtha has been recognised by `Mahabharata' and `Vamana Purana' both respectively.

(1) In Ist Mandala also reference of `Apana' and `Manusha' comes.
(2) Drisadvatyama manusha apayayama saraswatyam sevadagne didiha.

In this part of the hymn, a Vedic saint establishes "Agni" (Fire) in `Manusa' sanctum situated on the bank of `Apaya', so `Kapisthala' writing place of Kathasamhita, Kaithal or its nearest area, exists here only. The "Samkhya Darshana" (Philosophical Samkhya thought) propounded by Saint Kapila was written here.

1.Mahabharata-Chapter 83, Vanaparva. 2.Rigveda-1/23/4.

There is some indication that the Taittiriya Samhita and Taittiriya Upanishads were also written in Titram village near Kaithal. Scholars say that this Samhita was written 4000-6000 years B.C., while the Taittiriya Akanyaka and Taittiriya Upanishad were compiled 2000 years B.C. The Puranas mention the Kathaka people as Madhyadeshiya or Madhyama, indicating that they were residing at Madhyadesha, although other scholars express the possibility that the Kathaka people moved into the Anavristi or Brahmavasta area of Kaithal-Pehowa-Kurukshetra, which is today Kithana or Kathayana. In the Puranas, we find references to of "Shri Tirtha" situated on the tributary of Saraswati near the village Kasan in Kaithal. The residences of Brahaman community belonging to Katha gotra can be found in the adjacent areas. According to grammarian Patanjali, the Kathasamhita teaching was prevalent in every village. "Grame Grame kathakam Kalapakam cha prochyate" - Mahabhasaya 4/3/101 Panini says that its writing was done by the Brahmans of Kapisthala gotra. Durgacharya in his Nirukta Commentary contemplates that the authors of this Samhita are Kapisthala Vashistha-Aham cha Kapisthalo Vasisthaha-Nirukta tika 4/4. Several scholars are of the view that this name refers to a specific place. This samhita was edited by Dr. Keith. His theory is that Kapisthala village represents modern Kaithal village, situated in Kurukshetra, close to the Saraswati river. Kashika and Varahmihira also refer to this village in Brihata Samhita 14/4. Apparently, the Taittiriya Brahmana and Katha Samhita was produced in Kaithal.

1. Dr. Baldev Upadhyaya - Vedic Sahitya and Samskriti - pages 132-133. The time honoured and influential works, Taittiriya Katha and Kapisthala Katha Samhitas, were written in Kaithal, which was also the place where the Katha Samhita, Taittiriya upanisada and Kathopanisada, propounding the principles of Samkhya philosophy.

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