History Files


Far East Kingdoms

South Asia





Sometimes referred to as Banga, Vanga was an early Iron Age kingdom in East Banga (covering parts of West Bengal, modern Bangladesh, and neighbouring Samatata) in north-eastern India. It apparently also had an extension to the coast, perhaps at the mouth of the Ganges. Along with Anga, Kalinga, Pundra, and Suhma, it was ruled by one of five originally non-Vedic royal houses. They were all descended from King Vali, according to the Mahabharata, who himself may have been the king of Magadha.

The Mahabharata mentions that the Pandava Prince Bhima captured Vanga along with the other sister kingdoms (Pundra was defeated by Arjuna, brother of Bhima), and forced to become vassals of King Yudhistira in retaliation for their providing help to the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra War. Only two of Vanga's kings have been recorded for posterity.

(Information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha.)

Duryodhana, the eldest son of the blind king Dhritarashtra and one of the one hundred Kaurava brothers, establishes Karna as the ruler of the Angas.

c.1300? BC


King of Anga, and possibly king of Vanga too.


King of Anga & Vanga.


King of Anga & Vanga.

c.1250? BC

Pandava Prince Bhima captures Vanga along with the other sister kingdoms. It is forced to become a vassal of King Yudhistira in retaliation for providing help to the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra War.

Vanga village
A typical Vanga (and later Bengal) village, as photographed by Samuel Bourne

In Kalidasa's Raghuvangsha (written in the fourth or fifth century AD) the conquests of Raghu of the Ikshvaku dynasty are described., After having defeated the Suhmas he exterminates the Vangas, who are said to be able naval people (nausadhanodyatan). Raghu then sets up pillars of victory in the islands situated between the channels of the Ganges. This clearly indicates the location of Vanga (or part of it) in the triangular deltaic land between the two main streams of the Ganges, the Bhagirathi and the Padma.


Ruler of the Pragjyotisha kingdom to the north of Vanga.

6th century AD

Vanga and neighbouring Samatata often share the same rulers in the Middle Kingdom period in India. In the sixth century AD, dynasties of historical kings begin to form a power structure that eventually lead to all the minor states in the region being unified as Bengal.