I was reading the Baudhayana Dharma Sutra and saw the following.

  1. He who has visited the (countries of the) Āraṭṭas, Kāraskaras, Puṇḍras, Sauvīras, Vaṅgas, Kaliṅgas, (or) Prānūnas shall offer a Punastoma or a Sarvapṛṣṭhā (iṣṭi).
  2. Now they quote also (the following verses): 'He commits sin through his feet, who travels to the (country of the) Kaliṅgas. The sages declare the Vaiśvānarī iṣṭi to be a purification for him.'
  3. 'Even if many offences have been committed, they recommend for the removal of the sin the Pavitreṣṭi. For that (sacrifice) is a most excellent means of purification.'
  4. Now they quote also (the following verse): 'He who performs (by turns) in each season the Vaiśvānarī (iṣṭi), the Vrātapatī (iṣṭi), and the Pavitreṣṭi is freed from (all) sins.'

Why were these lands considered unholy when these were mentioned even in the Mahabharata?

  • Āpastamba I, 11, 32, 18. -> reference for verse 12 provided by the same website. Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 4:58

2 Answers 2


It's possible that when Baudhāyana Dharma Sūtras were being written, the Kaliṅga region was not ruled or conquered by a Kṣatriya king and cāturvarṇya (system of four castes) was not established there.

Commenting on Manu 2.23 this is what Medhātithi says:

Similarly, if a certain well-behaved king of the Kṣatriya-caste should happen to defeat the mlecchas and make that land inhabited by people of the four castes, relegating the indigenous, mlecchas to the category of ‘Chāṇḍāla,’ as they are in Āryāvarta, then that which was a ‘country of the mlecchas’ would become a ‘land fit for sacrifices.’ And this for the simple reason that no laud is by itself defective; it is only by association that it becomes defective, just as it is when soiled by impure things. Hence, even apart from the countries designated here as ‘fit for sacrifices,’ if, in a certain place, all the necessary conditions are available, one should perform his sacrifices, even though it be a place where the spotted deer does not roam.

From all this it follows that the statement—‘this should, be known as the country fit for sacrifices, and beyond is the land of the mlecchas’ is purely descriptive, being meant to be supplementary to the injunction that follows in the next verse (The twice-born people should seek to resort to these countries; the Śūdra may however, when distressed for a living, reside in any land)

  • Hmmm interesting. Baudhayana Dharma Sutras may have been written around 800BCE to 600BCE. Lets see the history of Kalinga at that time. As far as i have read there was a large presence of buddhism and Jainism in Kalinga at that time. I remember reading this article. But didn't jain followed caturvarna ? sambadenglish.com/…
    – Arka1998
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 5:36
  • 'As far as i have read there was a large presence of buddhism and Jainism in Kalinga at that time' - if what you say is true, was the author of Baudhayana Dharma Sutras (who most likely is a North Indian) aware of presence of Buddhists and Jains in Odisha/Kalinga region? As for dates of Baudhayana Dharma Sutra, Patrick Olivelle in the introduction to his translation says it could be have been written around 300-200 BCE. @Arka1998 Commented Oct 31, 2020 at 3:06

The same page gives a justification from the Apastamba Dharma Sutram

Let him not visit inferior men (such as Niṣādas), nor countries which are inhabited by them.

Also, Manu Smriti parvam 4:

  1. Let him not dwell in a village where the sacred law is not obeyed, nor (stay) long where diseases are endemic; let him not go alone on a journey, nor reside long on a mountain.
  2. Let him not dwell in a country where the rulers are Sudras, nor in one which is surrounded by unrighteous men, nor in one which has become subject to heretics, nor in one swarming with men of the lowest castes.

Many people in Kalinga have crossed the sea at one point of time (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maritime_history_of_Odisha). They have thus lost their caste and become Shudras. That is why their kingdom is considered unholy. This is just my theory.

  • That kind of make sense even Vanga has coast and Sauvira kingdom may had been a coastal kingdom on west coast🤔
    – Arka1998
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 18:38
  • But even south indian kingdoms like Cholas crossed the sea. Why aren't they named here?
    – RishX
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 2:59
  • 1
    @RishX The Cholas crossed the sea ca. 1500s, when the Telugu Cholas ruled. That period comes nearly 700 years after the writing of the BDS. Keep in mind that Cheras (Kerala) and the independent Tirumenis and Nairs who ruled after the last perumals were very averse to crossing the sea. People only came to Malabar from abroad; virtually no one went from Malabar to a place across the sea. However, there is the story of Cheraman Perumal who crossed the sea and converted to Islam. However, Koṭṭāratil Śanquṇṇi tells us that he was deposed shortly afterwards and replaced by a dharmishṭha king. Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 7:40
  • @AravindSuresh yes I know that story of cheraman perumal. I doubt if its true.
    – RishX
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 9:47
  • 2
    @AravindSuresh and cholas crossed the sea during Raja Raja Chola's reign. They even won half of Sri lanka. Raja Raja Chola is said to have been killed treacherously by one buddhist woman from sri lanka. He was pushed from Brihadesvara temple in Thanjavur. Maybe that's why some people consider Brihadesvara temple to be unlucky. Though we can't historically prove this incident. But his son further expanded his empire by winning all Sri Lanka and even south east asia. So that means cholas had crossed the sea by 1056 AD. Rest I agree with you.
    – RishX
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 9:52

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