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Shurasena (Sanskrit: शूरसेन, Śūrasena)(Hindi:was an ancient Yadava ruler of Mathura[1] [2] [3] after whom the Surasena Kingdom or mahajanpada and the Yadava sept of Surasenas or Shoorsainis [4] [5] [6] were named. According to a tradition, found in the Linga Purana (I.68.19), Shurasena was son of Kartavirya Arjuna. According to another tradition found in the Ramayana (VII.62.6) and the Vishnu Purana (IV.4.46), Shurasena was son of Shatrughna, brother of Rama.[7] According to the Devibhagavata Purana (IV.1.2), Shurasena was father of Vasudeva (father of Krishna).[8] He is extensively mentioned in both the Mahabharata and the Puranas as the father of Vasudeva (father of Krishna) and Pŗtha or Kunti (mother of Pandava).[9] The Saini community originated from Maharaja Shoor Saini. The tribal identity of Saini community of Punjab, who were displaced from Mathura to Punjab due to prolonged warfare between the Saini rulers and earlier Muhammadan raiders, is derived from this ancient patriarch. Their ancestors were also known as 'Shura Rajputs' sometimes , apart from their traditional epical and historical appellation of Shoorsainis.

According to historian Dashratha Sharma, these Shura Rajputs were strongly allied with the Chauhans when the foreign raids on North India began.

"They had their kingdom in Karauli in Rajasthan. They were called Shoorsainis. Krishna's grandfather was Shoorsen because of which the region around Mathura was known as Shoorsen and Yadavas of this region were called Shoorsainis." -Mangi Lal Mahecha, Rājasthāna ke Rājapūta (The Rajputs of Rajasthan) , Rajasthan, 1965

"Surasenas had a separate dialect, known in ancient times as Suraseni, just as their descendants..." -REPORT OF A TOUR IN EASTERN RAJPUTANA IN 1882-83 , VOLUME XX, pp 2 , A. Cunningham, Archaeological Survey of India

Sourasenoi by Megasthenes

Ancient Greek traveller and ambassador to India, Megasthenes, came across the Saini clan in its glory days as the ruling tribe with its capital in Mathura.

Megasthenes described this tribe as Sourasenoi and their patron deity and ancestor as Herakles:

“..This Herakles is held in special honour by the Sourasenoi, an Indian tribe, who possess two large cities, Methora and Cleisobora” Arrian, Indika, viii, Methora is Mathura ; Growse (Mathura, 3rd ed. 279) suggests Cleisbora is Krisnhapura , ‘ city of Krishna’…” -ANNALS AND ANTIQUITIES OF RAJASTHAN, James Tod, Vol. 1, pp 36, Oxford University Press, 1920

Ancestor of Raja Porus an Ancient Saini warrior

Colonel James Tod had concluded that Porus was a Yadava or Yaduvanshi King and he further added that this conclusion was not based on any superficial similarity of names but based on a host of other available facts.

His view is worth a mention in this regard:

“To convince the reader I do not build upon nominal resemblance, when localities do not bear me out, he is requested to call to mind,that we have elsewhere assigned to Yadus of the Punjab the honour of furnishing the well known king named Porus; although the Puar, the usual pronunciation of Pramar, would afford a more ready solution.” -Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, pp 283, By James Tod, Edition: 2, Published by Asian Educational Services, 2001

Tod went on further to specifically point out Shoorsainis as the Puru tribe whose king was called Porus, the legendary Indian adversary of Alexander the Great:

“Puru became the patronymic of this branch of the Lunar race. Of this Alexander’s historians made Porus. The Suraseni of Methoras (descendants of the Soor Sen of Mathura) were all Purus, the Prasioi of Megasthenes…” – Annals and Antiquities of Rajast’han, James Tod, pp 36, Published by Higginbotham and co., 1873

This theory of Tod enjoys a general consensus in academic community. Dr. Ishwari Prasad, Dr. Pritam Saini [10] and a number of other history scholars from Indian History Congress either have backed this theory in entirety or strongly indicated a link of his army with the Shoorsainis of Mathura.

Krishna or Balaram as Indian Herakles and on the banner of Porus’ Infantry

More than one scholar have opined that king Porus belonged to Shoorsaini tribe also based on the fact that his vanguard soldiers carried the image of Balarama (Herakles as per Greeks) on their banners. Balarama, Krishna’s elder brother, was both the ancestor and patron deity of Shoorsainis. Col. Tod indicated that Indian Herakles could refer to both Krishna or his brother, although the image of Herakles with club in loin cloth, as described by Greek writers, corresponds more with that of Balaram:

“How invaluable such remnants of ancient race of Harikula! How refreshing to the mind yet to discover, amidst the ruins on the Yamuna, Hercules (Baldeva, god of strength) retaining his club and lion’s hide, standing on his pedestal at Baldeo, and yet worshipped by Suraseni! This was name given to a large tract of country round Mathura, or rather round Surpura, the ancient capital founded by Surasena, the grandfather of the Indian brother-deities, Krishna and Baldeva, Apollo and Hercules. The title would apply to either; though Baldeva has the attributes of ‘god of strength’. Both are es (lords) of the race (kula) of Hari (Hari-kul-es), of which the Greeks might have made the compound Hercules. Might not a colony after the Great War have migrated westward?” – Annals and Antiquities of Rajast’han, James Tod, pp 36, Published by Higginbotham and co., 1873

Here quoting the commentary of Edwin Bryant would not be out of context who identified Herakles with Krishna:

“According to Indica by Arrian, Bibliotheca historica by Diodorus Siculus, Quintus Curtius and Geographica by Strabo, Megasthenes described an Indian tribe called Sourasenoi, who especially worshiped Herakles in their land, and this land had two cities, Methora and Kleisobora, and a navigable river, the Jobares. As was common iin the ancient period, the Greeks sometimes described foreign gods in terms of their own divinities, and there is is a little doubt that the Sourasenoi refers to the Shurasenas, a branch of the Yadu dynasty to which Krishna belonged; Herakles to Krishna, or Hari-Krishna: Mehtora to Mathura, where Krishna was born; Kleisobora to Krishnapura, meaning the “the city of Krishna”; and the Jobares to the Yamuna, the famous river in the Krishna story. Qunitus Curtius also mentions that when Alexander the Great confronted Porus, Porus’s soldiers were carrying an image of Herakles in their vanguard.” -Krishna: a sourcebook, pp 5, Edwin Francis Bryant, Oxford University Press US, 2007

Indian History Congress reached the same consensus (see Proceedings, pp 72, Indian History Congress, Published 1957 ).[1]

Several Indian tribes such as Sainis of Punjab,[10] Yaduvanshi Ahirs, Bhatis, Jadejas, some Meo clans of Rajput descent, etc trace their origin to the Yadava tribe of Shoorsainis or Surasenas named after this eponymous Yaduvanshi king.

Other Communities with Possible Link

Apart from Sainis [11] of Punjab, the following Rajput descent communities in North India also link their ancestry with this revered scion of ancient Yadavas:

  • Jadons of Karauli (synonymous with Sainis till 12 CE)
  • Bhatis(Rajput) of Jaiselmer and Bhatner (synonymous with Sainis till 5 CE)
  • Muslim communities of Samejas, Khanzadas and Jadaun Meos
  • Saini-Jadon origin Jat clan of Sinsinwars (erstwhile ruling house of Bharatpur)[2]
  • Bhati origin Jat Sikh clan of Brars (erstwhile ruling house of Patiala)

Some of the former ruling houses of South India, Kathiawar and Marathas claiming link with Yaduvanshis may also be directly or indirectly linked with this ancient patriarch.


  1. ^ "During the Mahabharata age the region around Mathura was ruled by the Surasena dynasty." The Quarterly Review of Historical Studies, By Institute of Historical Studies (Calcutta, India),Published by Institute of Historical, Studies., 1983, Item notes: v.22, Original from the University of Michigan, Digitized 29 Aug 2008
  2. ^ "Surasena was a Yadava. One of his descendants could, therefore, call himself a Yadava or a Surasena as he liked..." Chauhān Dynasties: A Study of Chauhān Political History, Chauhān Political Institutions, and Life in the Chauhān Dominions, from 800 to 1316 A.D., By Dasharatha Sharma, pp 103, Published by Motilal Banarsidass, 1975
  3. ^ Tales From the Mahabharat, pp31, By B.K. Chaturvedi, Published by Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. ISBN 8128812289, 9788128812286
  4. ^ The Ancient Geography of India, pp 374 , By Alexander Cunningham, Published by Trübner and co., 1871, Item notes: v.1, Original from the University of Michigan
  5. ^ "The Surasenas were Jadavas, or Jadovansis, to which race belonged both Krishna and his antagonist Kansa, the king of Mathura." Report of a Tour in Eastern Rajputana in 1882-83,By Alexander Cunningham,Published by Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, 1885, Original from Oxford University
  6. ^ "As Bhadanaka-desa was almost coterminous with Surasena janapada, we may designate the Apabhramsa of the area as Shoorsaini Apabhramsa..." Early Chauhān Dynasties: A Study of Chauhān Political History, Chauhān Political Institutions, and Life in the Chauhān Dominions, from 800 to 1316 A.D., By Dasharatha Sharma, pp 103, Published by Motilal Banarsidass, 1975
  7. ^ Pargiter, F.E. (1972) [1922]. Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, pp.170-1,171fn2
  8. ^ Swami Vijnanananda (2008) [1921]. The S'rimad Devi Bhagawatam. Volume I. BiblioBazaar, LLC. p. 334. ISBN 9781437530599.
  9. ^ According to the Mahabharata (VII.144.6030-1), he was son of Devamidha, while according to the Puranas, his father's name is Devamidhusa.He is extensively mentioned in both the Mahabharata and the Puranas as the father of Vasudeva (father of Krishna) and Pŗtha or Kunti (mother of Pandava).Ghazni to Jaiselmer (Pre-medieval History of the Bhatis), p.42, Hari Singh Bhati, Publisher: Hari Singh Bhati, 1998, Printers: Sankhala Printers, Bikaner
  10. ^ "Referencing the historical texts extant and available during his time and demonstrating Chandra Vansha (Lunar Dynasty) of Lord Krishna as the origin of Saini community and reproducing the entire lineage of Chandra Vansha he concluded: " The progeny of Chandra Vanshi King Yadu started being called Yadava. After 42 generations in the same lineage was born a ruler called King Shoorsen who controlled Mathura and surrounding area...After Chaudhary Lal Saini's 'Taarikh Quam Shoorsaini' the other historians of Shoorsaini community (which is also called Saini community) have regarded Shiv Lal's history work to be the basis of their research and publications", Dr. Pritam Saini as quoted in Saini Jagat : Utpati Ate Vikas, Professor Surjit Singh Nanua, pp 115, Manjot Publications, Patiala, 2008
  11. ^ Annals and antiquities of Rajasthan : or, The central and western Rajpoot states of India Author: James Tod, Asian Education Services, New Delhi 2001.