By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Dandakaranya, DaNDakAraNya, Dandakaaranya
Daṇḍakāraṇya literally means ‘forest of Daṇḍaka’.
Daṇḍakāraṇya, As per Vālmīki
Daṇḍakāraṇya in Purana-s
Daṇḍaka was one of the hundred princes sons of the king Ikṣvāku. Daṇḍaka had been assigned to rule over this area. His villainous nature made him molest Arajā, the daughter of his own guru, Śukrācārya. Consequently, he incurred the wrath of Śukrācārya who cursed him.
As a result, Daṇḍaka and his entire entourage was decimated and the kingdom itself reduced to a barren land leaving a small part. Hence this region was named as Daṇdaka or Daṇḍakāraṇya. Later on it was also known as Janasthāna, since several sages (jana = people) came there and settled down.
Daṇḍakāraṇya, In Modern Times
The area around the modern town of Nāsik (in Maharashtra) has now been identified as a part of Daṇḍakāraṇya.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore