By Swami Harshananda
Mlecchas literally means ‘those who speak in an uncultured way’.
General Definition of Mlecchas
The word ‘mleccha’ has often been used in the epics and the purāṇas to describe the non-Āryan tribes who perhaps came from outside the country. People of countries beyond the Āryāvarta, where the varṇāśrama system did not exist, had been dubbed as mlecchas.
Mlecchas as per Mahābhārata
The Mahābhārata has some interesting details about the mlecchas:
- They were produced from the tail of the celestial cow Nandinī of Vasiṣṭha and drove away the army of Viśvāmitra.
- They were living in the coastal regions and their king was Aṅga.
- Aṅga was killed by Bhīma in the Kurukṣetra war.
- The wealth that was left over in the yāgaśālā of Yudhiṣṭhira after the Aśvamedha sacrifice was taken away by the mlecchas.
- Kalki, the future incarnation of Visṇu will destroy the mlecchas who will be found everywhere in the world.
Other References of Mlecchas
- The Śaṭapatha Brāhmana declares that those who speak an incorrect and corrupt dialect are asuras and mlecchas.
- The Gautama-dharmasutras prohibits a person from speaking with mlecchas as also impure and irreligious persons.
- Yāgaśālā means sacrificial shed.
- Śaṭapatha Brāhmana 18.104.22.168 and 24
- Gautama-dharmasutras 9.17
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore