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In the Ayodhya Kanda of the Ramayana, Kaikeyii's evil servant Manthara convinces Kaikeyii to exile Rama and make her son Bharata as king. Manthara reminds Kaikeyii that she had received two boons from Dasharatha, because she had saved Dasharatha's life in a war:

O Queen! Once upon a time, when there was a battle between celestials and demons, your husband Dasaratha went along with you and other holy kings to help Indra in battle, to a famous city called Vaijayanta in which the demon Timidhvaja lived in a southern direction in the forest of Dandaka. That great demon famously called shambara, who had several magic effects, defeated all the celestials and conferred battle upon Devendra. In that great battle, demons approached and forcefully killed men who were injured by arrows and also those who were sleeping at night.

Then, king Dasaratha fought a great battle there. With their weapons, demons made into pieces the long armed Dasaratha. O Queen! You saved the life of your unconscious husband by taking him away from the battle field. There also, you again saved him, when beaten by demons with their weapons. O Kaikeyi with auspicious appearance! Getting delighted, he gave two boons to you. Then, you said, "I shall ask you whenever I require them". He then agreed to it.

My question isn't about Kaikieyii's infamous two boons, but rather about the war that Dasharatha was fighting in. My question is, who is this Asura (demon) called Timidhwaja or Shambara whom Dasharatha and "other holy kings" helped Indra to fight?

There is one demon by the name of Shambara who was famously defeated by Indra to help the king Divodasa, as described in numerous hymns in the Rig Veda including this one:

In the wild joy of Soma I demolished Śambara's forts, ninety-and-nine, together;

And, utterly, the hundredth habitation, when helping Divodāsa Atithigva.

(Who the I is in this hymn is actually a complicated issue that I may discuss in a future question, but suffice it to say that it's about the deeds of Indra even though the "I" may not be Indra.) So is this Shambara who had a hundred forts the same Shambara that Dasharatha helped fight? Is this city of Vaijayanta in the Dandaka forest the hundredth fort of Shambara, which Indra "utterly demolished"? That would explain why Rama didn't encounter any such city when he was exiled to the Dandaka forest many years later.

On a side note, the Kamba Ramayana claims that Jatayu the bird fought alongside Dasharatha in the battle against Shambara, as I discuss in this question.

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Rig Veda IV.26.3 was quoted in the question, and the OP made a statement - suffice it to say that it's about the deeds of Indra even though the "I" may not be Indra.

In the wild joy of Soma I demolished Śambara's forts, ninety-and-nine, together; And, utterly, the hundredth habitation, when helping Divodāsa Atithigva.

This Hymn is dedicated to Indra. However, the question of the OP is valid, as Indra was stating in 1st person here, unlike in other hymns, where the sage addresses the god as Indra.


Here lies the subtlety of the mantra. When one merges in the BRAHMAN, one becomes BRAHMAN.

This Hymn was composed by Rishi Vamadeva (page 130 of H.H. Wilson). And, in ecstasy, as his mind got merged in INDRA, ie., BRAHMAN, he was saying as if he is INDRA.

Another example :

Rig Veda IV.26.1

I WAS aforetime Manu, I was Sūrya: I am the sage Kakṣīvān, holy singer. Kutsa the son of Ārjuni I master. I am the sapient Uśanā behold me.

This is similar to Sri Krishna, the great Yogi of his times, declaring (B.G. 4.1) that he taught Yoga to Vivasvan.

The Bhagavat said This changeless Yoga I had properly taught thus to Vivasvat; Vivasvat correctly told it ot Manu; and Manu declared to Iksvaku.


Rig Veda III.47.4 also says Indra eliminated Sambara. However, Dasaratha was not mentioned in the Veda. Sage Valmiki might have composed this episode, based on victory of Indra, with the assistance of Maruts, over Sambara.

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Sambarasura is not just one asura but there were many who ruled in the land of Gandharvas which is in current NW region of India (Afghan, NWFP etc.)

Here is a link to a speech by Dr. KS Narayanacharya recently. He gives fantastic historical references to many including Sambarasura. Half of it is in English but he had to switch to Kannada due to request by audience.

https://youtu.be/WPR3nqCRAX8

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