Sanis are Kshatriya Yadav's who consider their origin form King Soorsain the grandfather of Lord Krishna . Sainis, also known as Shoorsaini in Puranic literature, are now found by their original name in Punjab and in the neighboring states of Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Pakistan. They trace their descent from Rajputs of the Yaduvanshi Surasena lineage, originating from Yadava King Shurasena, who was the grandfather of both Krishna and the legendary Pandava warriors. Sainis relocated to Punjab from Mathura and surrounding areas over different periods of time.
Ancient Greek traveller and ambassdor to India, Megasthenes, also came across this clan in its glory days as the ruling tribe with its capital in Mathura. There is also an academic opinion that the ancient king Porus, the celebrated opponent of Alexander the Great, belonged to this once most dominant Yadava sept. Megasthenes described this tribe as Sourasenoi.
Puranic and epical etymology
Visnu Purana records the migration of some of the Yadava descendants and kinsmen of Lord Krishna from Mathura to Dwarka and from Dwarka to Punjab with the help of Prince Arjuna.These descendants and kinsmen of Lord Krishna are also referred in Puranic literature as Shaursaini or Shoorseni after Shoorsena (also spelt Sursena) who was paternal grandfather of Krishna and maternal grandfather of legendary Pandava warriors of Kuru clan. Saini appears to be etymologically derived from this Puranic and Mahabharta term and seems to be an abbreviated version of it.
The area around Mathura was also named "Shoorsena" or Surasena in ancient time after this prominent Yadava king. This suggests that Shoorsena , the claimed mythico-historical founder of Saini clan, must have had enough influence to have the entire principality, or Janapada, named after him. Note: A later name of Surasena was also Sinsini.
The etymology and origin of the term can be broken down as follows:
Shoorsen (also spelt in English as Sursena) ---> Yadava king, the father of Vasudeva and the grandfather of Krishna and Pandavas
Shaursen in Prakrit ; Shoorsena in Sanskrit (also spelt in English as Surasena) ---> The kingdom ruled by Shoorsen or Sursen. Also see Surasena Kingdom
Shaurseni in Prakrit (also spelt variously in English as Shoorseni and Shaursaini); Surasenah in Sanskrit ---> The Yadava or Jadoan clansmen and lineal descendants of Shoorsen or Sursen.
Saini---> Abbreviated Prakrit version of Shoorsaini or Shoorseni or Sanskrit Surasenah.
Mahabharta and Puranic references about Surasenas or Sainis
In the Mahabharta, Sage Vyasa clearly identifies Krishna as Shoorseni :
Foremost among all the Shoorsenis , the powerful one, Krishna, residing at Dwaraka, will rule and protect the whole earth after vanquishing all her lords, conversant as he will be with the science of polity.
Devi Bhagvat Purana describes Kunti as the princess of Shoorseni Pradesh:
"....while the names of Pandus wives were , Kunti, the princess of Shoorseni Pradesh..."
Srimad Bhagvat Purana identifies Shoorsena as the chief of Yadu dynasty:
"...Formerly, Shoorsena (Surasena), the chief of the Yadu dynasty, had gone to live in the city of Mathura. There he enjoyed the places known as Mathura and Shoorsena (Surasena)..."
Srimad Bhagvat Purana identifies descendants of Shoorsena as a distinct Yadava clan and Krishna's kinsmen:
"... Assisted by the descendants of Bhoja, Vrsni, Andhaka, Madhu, Shoorsena, Dasarha, Kuru, Srnjaya and Pandu, Lord Krsna performed various activities..."
Yudhisthra identifies Shoorsena as his grandfather, and Krishna's father, Vasudeva, as his maternal uncle in Srimad Bhavat Purana:
"...Is my respectable grandfather Shoorsena in a happy mood? And are my maternal uncle Vasudeva and his younger brothers all doing well?..."
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