Generally the Punjab region on the bank of pañcanadī is known as Āraṭṭa (Aratta). During the time of Mahābhārata (Mahabharata), the cultural significance of this region suffered a decline. So the inhabitants of Āraṭṭa and all those who lived by the five rivers, had been condemned —
āraṭṭānāṁ pañcanadan dhigastu.
In Mahābhārata , the people of Āraṭṭa had often been viewed as identical with the Vāhīka (Vahika) people —
āraṭṭā nāma vāhīka.
It is said that no Aryan nobleman should stay here even for two days, because in this land of Āraṭta, inhabited by the Vāhīka people, Brāhmaṇa (Brahmana) and Caṇḍāla(Candala) take bath in the same water. The Aryan nobleman has no grace and dignity in that region. In any circumstances, a noble person should never go there.
There is dispute among the scholars as to whether the people called Āraṭṭa and the land of Āraṭṭa were the same, or whether the people of Āraṭṭa were called Vāhīka. However, in Mahābhārata, the Āraṭṭa people are seen as identical with the Vāhika, and likewise, the Vāhīka are also identified with the Jartika tribe —
jartikānāma vāhīkāsteṣāṁ vṛttaṁ suninditam.
With the evidence of Mahābhārata, B.C. Law has sought to argue that Āraṭṭa, Vāhīka or Jartika — all these tribes lived in the place, and their capital was called Śākala (Sakala), the modern Sialkot located in present Pakistan. The Buddhist Milinda’s capital was also located here — though according to Pāṇini (Panini) and Patañjali (Patanjali) [Sūtra 4.2.117; 5.3.114], the Vāhīka were the ancient inhabitants of Punjab. B.C. Law has idebtified the people of Āraṭṭa as Arattai, the tribe mentioned by the Greek Periplus.
Āraṭṭa, Vāhika, Jartika– these names have been viewed as a whole, but we think that these are names of small tribes, who were together termed ̍Vāhīka̍, in a sense of condemnation. The reason for this generalisation was perhaps the factor that the behaviour and customs of these tribal people were beyond the understanding and traditional ways of the Aryan people. Repeatedly these Āraṭṭa people have been called ̎ninditāḥ̍, ̍varjanīyāḥ̍ and naṣṭadharmāḥ̍, atikutsitāḥ̍ (all dereogatory terms). Perhaps that is why in the digvijaya-parva, upāyana-parva and in the geographical descripton of Mahābhārata, the land of Āraṭṭa has not been mentioned at all. And in Baudhāyana Dharmmasūtra, it is clearly forbidden to go to Āraṭṭa.
In the time of Mahābhārata, the reasons for condemning this Āraṭṭa region were many. First, the Aryan language speaking people ,leaving the land of the seven seas, initially came to live on the banks of Sarasvatī and Dṛṣadvatī, and in the second phase, leaving the sides of Yamunā they extended their civilisation to the regions by the bank of Gaṇgā. So, the local tribal communities occupied the places left by them. The Sanskrit name of Āraṭṭa is Arāṣṭraka– that is, the definition of monarchy has been transformed here into the rule of tribal communities, and its native definition has been turned into the native Prākṛta term, ̍ Āraṭṭa̍ — in the time of Mahābhārata. Second, after the fall of the Mauryan dynasty, here commenced the rule of Dimitrius-Menander, and this caused the decline of Aryan culture in these regions.
However much ̍non-refined̍ the Āraṭṭa-land might have been, the horses of these regions were very famous. They were large in size, and full of vital energy. So this horses were well-built and of high quality– mahāsatvā, mahākāyāḥ and so on.
The Āraṭṭa-people were good warriors, but they got distracted and dispersed, after the death of Droṇācārya, and Kṛtavarmā fled away along with the Āraṭṭa soldiers that came with him. Vāhlīka or Vāhīka soldiers were also along with the Āraṭṭa soldiers.