ORIGINS OF MOON DYNASTY-ILA THE PROGENITOR
The traditional Indian history knows of many different streams of rulers, tribes and people but they are being placed in two main and distinct groups - the two royal magnificent races, which at the dawn of history came to be called the Solar and the Lunar races or dynasties - supposed to have been originated from the two main heavenly bodies Sun and Moon as the ancients believed in the cosmic origin of their rulers.
Many dynasties bifurcated from the prominent kings. The ancestors of Panchalas and Kurus had come from across the river valleys of Sindhu and it is because of this reason that they were originally called Sindhus derived from the river Sindhu which later changed to Indu and Indu being a name for moon, they became known as Indu or Lunar people. Some of the famous and illustrious kings of this line are Pururuvas, Nahusha,Yayati, Puru,Yadu, Bharata, Kuru, Shantanu, and Yudhishtra. Numerous also were the succeeding generations, and very abundant were the descendants and their ruling places
Territories of the Lunar Kings
The Lunar dynasty kings ruled from the Saraswati region. Their territories extended from the river Saraswati to Ganga, a vast area indeed ( later expanded to river Gomati in the east and Ravi in the west) This fact is also corroborated by the accounts in the Mahabharata which places the lunar kings on the Saraswati. The well known British Indologist, H.H. Wilson, on the basis of his dedicated researches in the ancient Sanskrit texts, also came to the same conclusions.
The Saraswati river is repeatedly mentioned in the Rig-veda, which makes it clear that the region of the Saraswati was a prime area of the Vedic people situated probably between Sutlej and Saraswati, stretching in an arc from Gujarat in the southwest to Bihar in the east..
Ila the Progenitor
The glamorous princess Ila is mentioned as the progenitor of the line of kings of this dynasty . She was the loving daughter of the divine Manu, a terminology used in the epics to mention an untraceable unknown origin in the remote past Tradition holds that Ila was the eldest among the children of Manu and she was appointed sovereign of the seven Dwípas by her father..There are reasons to speculate that Ila was a tribe name, originally inhabiting the regions of a river Ila located somewhere in the upper Indus valley, in the north western region in the close proximity of the dominions of king Ikshvaku. She is said to be a sister of Ikshvaku, thus making her a contemporary of Sun dynasty founder. Later Ila established her main capital city on the left bank of the Sutlej at a place called Aila-dhana, now identified with the present day Ludhiana in the Punjab. This ancient place finds mention in the Ramayana as well ( Rm II / 71 ). It literally means the ‘seat of Aila or Ila’s son’ and indeed the oldest extant site. The descendants of Ila were called as Ailas but later her son Pururuvas, came to be known as the founder of this dynasty. The Mahabharata (Sabha Parva, 14) mentions about the Ailas.
Myth of double personality
Princess Ila or Ella is an androgynous in Aryan literature known for her double personality. As a man she was known as Sudyumna, and as a woman-Ilā, considered as the chief progenitor of the Moon or Lunar Dynasty of Indian kings. According to another account, found in the Vayu Purana, Ilā was born female and remained a female. The Matsya also states that no change of sex took place in the first instance. The sex change of Ila is one of the fantastic myths coined to explain an important event which the later day authors and interpreters did not understand. The commentators too could not grasp the real historic event. Ila the progenitor of this line has been represented to have been miraculously changed into a man Sadyuman- to explain the puzzle as to how her son Pururuvas could be both her son and the son of Budha at the same time and in the process they got utterly confused. They mixed up the real celebrities with the heavenly bodies and mythologised them, conveniently forgetting that they were vilifying their own ancestors.
Flirtation with Saka Prince
In the historical context, Ila, the gracious and glamorous princess was very fond of hunting and outdoor picnics in the picturesque valleys of the Meru hills. Some of the Scythian tribes were also concentrated in the north western regions including Afghanistan at that remote period of time. Scythians are a branch of the Indo-European family and were very important people during those days. One day, while having a stroll in the splendid gardens of her realms with her attendants, she reached the Sharavan forest at the foothills of the Meru mountain (north Kashmir) where she chanced to meet an handsome prince named Bodin or Wodin, of the Scythians probably bordering the Aryan territory. She fell in love with him and they agreed to get married. In those days of remote antiquity there was no taboo on sex and the Society was free. Flirtations and Intra racial affairs and freedom to chose one’s life partner were common. From their wedlock a son named Pururuvas was born.This name Bodin was sanskritised as ‘Budha’, but mistaken by ignorant interpreters to mean the planet Mercury, son of Soma, the Moon.These obviously are interpolated names which have entirely distorted a real event. They are clearly the personal names and should not be confused with the planetary names. She stayed there for a number of years and gave birth to a son later to be called Pururuvas (one who roars majestically). Later, Ikshvaku, her brother, made peace with the Scythians and allowed her husband Bodin to have his residence in his own Aryan dominion. He was helped to establish a kingdom of his own with the capital at a place called Pratisthana which is not yet clearly identified, but which in all probability could be located near or close to the dominions of Ikshvaku. Pratisthana literally means ‘ a new capital ’ . Like Aila-dhana,it has to be in the Sutlej- Saraswati Doab and the scholars have identified it with a present day town of Patran, situated on the right bank of Ghaggar-Saraswati, a few kilometres from Patiala on the road to Hissar. A mound locally called Chichadwala Theh is imposing enough to agree with the antiquity attached to it. An ancient mound about forty feet high and extensive in area with a lake around reminds us of the antiquity of this site.( Punjab History Coference-18th session) . His territory seems to have extended to the main Saraswati region as a place known as Ilaspada or Ilayaspada, situated on the confluence of Saraswati and Drishadvati rivers, is said to have been named after Ila and it may have been the seat of power of Ailas in the earliest days.
The Scythian Connection
It will be relevant to quote here Col. Tod who has thoroughly researched the subject:
“Interestingly, the Scythians claim their origin from a virgin born of the earth (Ella ) of the shape of a woman from the waist upwards and below a serpent,a symbol of Budha or Mercury and that Jupiter had a son by her,named Scythes whose name the nation adopted. Scythes had two sons, Palas and Napas (the Nagas- lit.: the snake race). They led their forces as far as the Nile in Egypt and subdued many nations. Budha, the son of Indu the moon, became the patriarchal and spiritual leader of the tribes migrating to Europe ”.