Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Age of Amtiyoka

Question II of Dr, Sirkar:- About the age of ‘Amtiyoka’, the Yavanah monarch mentioned in the edicts of Asoka.
The above mentioned ‘Amtiyoka’ belonged to a branch of Bharatitya Yavana Kshatriyas. He was the ruler of ‘Simhapura’ one of the five Yavana kingdoms 1. Abhisara. 2, Uraga 3. Simhapura 4. Divyakataka 5. Uttarajyotisha. The other four rulers were subordinate to him. These five kingdoms were all beyond the borders of Asoka’s empire on the North-west and a group stretching in sequence from west to northeast. Now we find them included 1. in Kashmir, 2. in the North- west Frontier Province and 3, 4. 5, in Afghanistan. They were very small kingdoms. The people of these regions were Yavana Kshatriyas and martial people who lived on their arms i.e. served as mercenary soldiers under any ruler who paid them. Their women were very beautiful and they were employed as body-guards in the royal (harems) households of several Indian princes.
These mercenary soldiers were very loyal to the masters under whom they served and sacrifized their lives if necessary for the safety of their masters. They were Kshatriyas of Solar descent. But they were excommunicated from the Aryan Kshatriya fold on account of their disregarding and discarding the Vedic rituals and observances.(Manu 10-43, 45) They were regarded as Mlechchas. When they could not secure employment under wealthy masters who could maintain them, they used to live upon theft and banditry, raiding peaceful villages and carrying away loot to their mountain regions, They were cruel, indulging in violence, theft, and abducting women. Their homelands were rocky regions, infertile and unsuitable for cultivation. Later in the 12th century AD. they were converted to Islam. Even in very recent times, so late as 1948 A.D. it was the people of these regions that invaded Kashmir and looted the villages on the border.
The kingdoms surrounding the Yavana states were:—
On the East —- Kashmir and Gandhara,
On the South -- Gandhara,
On the West -- Ramatha, Amara Parvata, Hara, Huna.
Of these Ramatha was inhabited by a Kshatriya race known as Ramathas or Romakas or Rummas, Amara—Parvata by another Kshatriya sub-sect known as Barbaras, Hara by Haras (or Hurs) and Huna by Hunas, all kshatriyas. In course of time these Bharatiya Yavana kshtriyas, as they increased in numbers migrated further west and established their colonies there. Rome was such a colony of the Ramathas or Romakas. The Barbaras colonised in the North and East of Africa now called the Barbary States. The Hurs settled down in the North-West-Frontier-States and became Muhammadans and in Rajastan etc., they are now found among Hindus. The Hunas first settled down in Central Asia, but later as they became too numerous spread and came to the west, raiding countries in central Asia and India, sometimes in Europe also and settled down in various countries in Asia and Europe and established many kingdoms of their own mixing with the natives of those regions and evolving into the several nations of Europe of modern times.
Modern Europe might as well be termed a composite Huna kingdom.
"That the Europeans became in time many races and tribes and that they, mixing with the barbarians became themselves savages have been clearly proved by the researches of the European scholars themselves." (Vide Kallar’s "The Lake Dwellers" and Taylor’s "The origin of the Aryans.")
On the North:—1. Saka or Sakasthan (modern Drangiana comprising the river valley region at the bend of the river Helmond. 2. Aryanaka(Aria)-Capital Herat. 3. North Bahlika. Capital Balkh 4. Darada (or Daradastan)
The above four were to the north of the Yavana kingdoms; towards the west of the Yavana kingdoms were located in order- Ramatha, Hara, Huna, Sakasthana, then Iran, then Iraq and Syria and beyond the Red Sea and Suez, Egypt to the North-west.
The Yavana kingdoms mentioned in Asoka’s edicts were comprised in Modern Afghanistan 1. in the eastern part of it, stretching from South to North-east up to Kashmir. The kingdoms of Saka, Bahlika and Darada, to the north of the Yavana kingdoms were in those days independent states. So the names of the states or the people of the states who were also other branches of Kshatriyas, the Sakas, Bahlikas and Daradas just like the Yavana Kshatriyas, have not been mentioned in the Inscriptions of Asoka. So we have to infer that Asoka’s empire extended only upto "Taxila" on the North-west and the influence of his religious zeal and humanitarian activities extended to the Yavana, Gandhara and Kambhoja states on the border of his empire (mentioned in the inscriptions). Even Kashmir is nowhere mentioned in his inscriptions. So Kashmir must have been an independent state of Bharat beyond the frontiers of his empire. To the west and to the north of modern Afghanistan existed in his time the states of Ramatha, Hara, Huna, and Saka, North Bahlika and Darada. These are nowhere mentioned in the inscriptions and no inscriptions (Edicts) of his have been discovered in those regions. Only the Yavana, Kambhoja and Gandhara states have been mentioned as the states beyond the frontiers of his empire on the north-west and so it is clear his empire extended to the east of these Bharatiya mlechcha states. The Yavana prince across the border of his empire ‘Amtiyoka’ mentioned in his inscriptions could be only one of the princes of the Bhratiya Yavana Kshatriya states viz. "Simhapura." The other four princes mentioned along with him in the inscriptions should be identified as the rulers of the other four Yavana states 1. Abhisara 2. Urasa 3, Divya Kataka and 4. Uttarajyotisha (Bharatiya Yavana states). From the western region of modern Afghanistan (comprising in those days these five Bharatiya Yavana states) to the eastern end of China the distance is 800 yojanas as mentioned in the inscriptions, and throughout this region touching on the western and northern borders of Bharat Buddhism was propagated, to the north of northern Latitude 30°, from the meridian of 62° east to the meridian of 120° east the distance works out to 58° x 69 (1 degree = 69 mi1es) = 4002 miles = 800 yojanas (1 Jyotisha Yojana being equal to about 5 English miles) the distance mentioned in the inscriptions of Asoka.
"By the 3rd century B.C., the Greeks had established their empire and Greek kings were ruling in Egypt. Syria_ etc. There were historians among them who wrote long and regular histories of Egypt, Syria and Macedon etc., who carefully mentioned in them even the most trifling details of any interest. Nowhere in those histories do we find any mention of Asoka of Bharat or of any religious or humanitarian missionaries sent to their countries or of any institutions for the medical treatment of men and animals established by him or his missionaries in their countries. All the above facts prove that the contemporary of Alexander was Gupta Chandra Gupta (327 B.C.) and not Chandragupta Maurya (1534 B.C.)” (Vide The Plot in Indian Chronology. p. 7, by this Author.) Of the Yona provinces (mentioned in the inscriptions of Asoka) Dr. Bhandarkar says in his ‘Asoka’ p. :29:- They formed part of Asoka’s Empire and had therefore nothing to do with the dominions of his neighbours. There was a Greek colony of the pre-Alexandrian period on the north-western confines of India and it was established between the rivers Kophen and the Indus."
Prof, Rhys Davids, the Pali scholar, expresses the opinion that "The story of the spread of Buddhism in Asoka’s time is better preserved in the Simhalese chronicles than in his edicts, They make no mention of any such missions to the Greek kingdoms of the west". (Quoted by Dr. Bhandarkar in his ‘Asoka, p. 158.)’
Dr. Bhandarkar further explains Rhys Davids thus:- In other words what Prof. Rhys Davids means is "that Buddhism could not have extended to the Greek dominions of western Asia— and as the Simhalese chronicles speak of the Buddhist faith being preached in Asoka’s time only in the bordering regions of India, that must be accepted as more probeable and more accurate”. (Vide Bhandarkar’s ‘Asoka’ p, 159)

It is a fact. that Buddhism was preached and prevails even today in all the kingdoms of Central Asia between Afghanistan. and China, including Sugadha, Kucha, Kusthana or Khotan, Sinkiang, Tibet, Mongolia, Manchuria, Korea and China, a length of roughly 800 yojanas.
"Megasthenes, in his account of India has not said a word about Buddha or his system". (Buddhist India By Rhys Davids, p. 178)
"The Greeks do not mention Asoka" (ibid. p. 181)
It is plausible to infer that the region of Asoka's missionary work beyond the northern frontiers of his empire extended from Afghanistan in the west to the eastern borders of China. Buddhism prevailed in those regions for a long time and prevails even now to a considerable extent. But there is no trace of the prevalence of Buddhism at any time in Syria, Egypt or Macedonia etc. The states to which missionaries were sent in the time of Asoka, for propagating the religion, are mentioned in the "Mahavamsa", a Buddhist treatise.
"When the Thera, Moggali-putra. the illuminator of the religion of the conqueror, had brought the 3rd council to an end, and when, looking into the future, he had beheld the founding of the religion in the adjacent countries, then in the month of Karthika he sent forth "Theras’ one here and one there. The Thera Majjhamtika he sent to Kashmira and Gandhara, the There Matadeva he sent to Mahisha-mandala(west of Magadha). To Vanavasa he sent the Thera named ‘Rakkita"' and to Aparamtika the Yona named ‘Maha Dhamma Rakkita', but ‘Thera Maharakkita’ he sent into the country of the Yona. He sent the ‘Thera Majjhima' to the Himalaya country, (i.e. Northern border) and to Savana Bhumi (Karna Suvarna in Burma) he sent the two Theras Sona and Uttara. The great Thera Mahinda, the Theras Itthiya, Uttiya. Sambala, and Boddhasala, his disciples, these five Theras he sent forth with the charge "Ye shall found in the loveiy island of Lanka the lovely religion of the conqueror. (Vide the Mahavamsa, chapter XII, p. 82) As stated in the above passage of Mahavamsa the adjacent countries of Asoka’s empire were the following:- (1) Kashmira (2) Gandhara (3) Mahishamandala (4) Vanavasa (5) Aparantika (il Yona country means (Abhisara, Ursa, Simhapura. Divya Kataka, Uttarajyotisha) (7) Himalayan country (i.e. Nepal etc.) These seven kingdoms were independent kingdoms. Tney were not included in the empire of Asoka. They were adjacent and neighbouring countries touching and contiguous to the north-western and northern borders of Asoka’s empire. It is wrong to identify them with the Greek kingdoms of Western Asia, Eastern Europe and Egypt. The 3rd council was held in the time of Asoka and the states mentioned in Mahavamsa in the passage quoted above were all adjacent to the northern border to the empire of Asoka. The coronation of Asoka took place 335 years after the demise of the Buddha in 1807 B C. ie. in 1472 B.C. The States to which Moggaliputra Bhikshu sent missionaries for the propagation of Buddhism include LankaYona, Kashmir, Gandhara and the north Himalayan states, Sugadha, Kucha, Kustana, Sinkiang, Tibet, Mangolia, China etc. The other states mentioned are all within Western Bharat. Ramatha, Hara, Huna, Saka, Bahlika, and Darada were all to the West and North of the Yona states and modern Afghanistan. These states are nowhere mentioned in the inscriptions of Asoka or the Mahavamsa as states to which any missionaries were sent, Yona is mentioned immediately after Kashmir and Gandhara. There is no mention anywhere of Egypt, Syria or Macedonia etc. Moreover the word ‘Greek’ is not found any where in the inscriptions of Asoka or Buddhistic religions treatises or any Hindu Purana or Sanskrit literary work.
In this connection Prof. Rhys Davids (the Pali scholar) in his "Buddhist India" page 196, 197 writes:-
"Now when Cunningham opened the Topes (brick burial mounds) at and near Sanchi he discovered under them several of the funeral urns containing ashes from the funeral pyres of the distinguished persons in whose honour the Topes had been built. One of the urns has inscribed round the outside of it, in letters of the 3rd Century B.C., the simple legend: "Of the good man, Kassapa-gotta, the teacher of all the Himalaya region". Round the inside of the urn is the legend: "Of the good man Majjhima". In another Tope close by at Sonari two urns bear the separate inscriptions "Of the good man, Kassapa-gotta, son of Koti, teacher of all the Himalaya region." and: ‘ Of the good man Majjhima, the son of Kodini'. In the same Tope was a third urn with the inscription: "Of the good man Gotiputta, of the Himalaya, successor of Dundubhissara."
"I see no better explanation than the very simple one that these men really went as missionary teachers to the Himalaya region, and that the fact that they had done so was handed down in unbroken tradition, till the Chroniclers put it down for us. They make no mention of any such missions to the Greek kingdoms in the distant West." (Vide ‘Buddhist India, By Rhys Davids pp ,196, 197.)
"It is difficult to judge of Asoka’s claim that his Dhamma was followed by the peoples of the kingdoms mentioned by him. Greece knew nothing about Buddhism previous to the rise of Alexandria in the Christian Era. Buddha is first mentioned by Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 150 -218). Centuries later Alberuni observed that ‘in former times, Khorasan, Persia, Iraq. Mosul and the country up to the frontier of Syria was Buddhisticc'. (Sachau, Alberuni's India p. 21.). That Indian culture spread to these regions during this period can hardly be doubted, but its extent cannot be, estimated till more positive evidence is available? (Vide Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s History Vol. II, page 616)
"We have evidence to show that Buddhism, and along with it Indian culture, was spread among the Parthians, the Yuch-chi, the Sogdians and various other peoples of central Asia before the beginning of the Christian Era. Even the Sassanians of the third century A.D. regarded Bactriana as virtually an Indian country and the Oxus, a river of Buddhists and the Brahmanas. The Greek writers always cite Bactriana with India and state that thousands of Brahmanas and Samanas(Buddhist monks) resided there. The recent explorations in Chineoe Turkestan have revealed the existence of a large number of flourishing cities with rich sanctuaries, and introduced us to a new world of Indian Culture which calls for a more detailed study"
"The Tarim basin, to which all the three routes led, is popularly known as Chinese Turkestan, and corresponds to the modern province of Sinkiang. This region lies immediately to the west of China.
“It was subsequently a meeting ground of diverse peoples and cultures, such as Indians, Persians, Turks, Chinese, Tibetans. Buddhists, Jews. Christians and Manichaeans. Two roads passing along its northern and southern fringes led from the west of China. Kashgar, on the western border. may be regarded as the starting point of both these routes which met on the Chinese frontier in east at a place called Yu-men-kuan or the Jade Gate, not far from the hills of Tunhwang which contain the caves ofthe thousand Buddhas."
"Along the southern route there were Indian colonies at Shule or Sailadesa (Kashgar), So-Khiu or Chokkuka (Yarkand), Khotamna(Khotan), and also at Domoko,Niya. Dandan-Oilik, Endere, Lou-lan, Rawak and Miran; and along the northern route at Po-lu-kia or Bharuka (Aqsu district, near Uch-Turfan). Kuchi (modern Kucha), Yen-ki (or Yen·chi) or Agni-desa (modern Qara-Shahr), and Turfan, in addition to various other localities. Future Explorations would no doubt considerably add to this number.
"Buddhism was the prevailing religion in all these localities. This is proved not only by the discovery of images and the remains of Buddhist stupas, Shrines and Viharas built after Indian models, but also by a large number of Buddhist texts, written in Sanskrit and Prakrit as well as in local languages of Central Asia, and in Indian scripts, both Brahmi and Kharoshthi. Large numbers of secular documents have also been discovered. These are written in Indian languages and scripts on wodden tablets, leather, paper and silk. (Vide Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s History Vol II, page 638.)
"Khotan was very important centre of Buddhism. Its famous monastery, Gomati-Vihara, was one of the biggest institutions of Buddhist learning in Central Asia. A number of able Indian scholars lived there, and many Chiense pil- grims, instead of coming to India for special instruction (Bagchi, India and China. pp. 14-15)
"There were other Indian colonies on the southern route like Khotan but, beyond archaeological remains. we have no historical information about any of them.
"On the northern route, Kuchi (modern Kucha) was the leading centre of Indian culture. (Cf. S. Levi’s account of Kucha in JRAS, 1914. pp. 959 ff.) Its ancient rulers bore Indian names such as Suvarnapushpa. Haripushpa, Haradeva. Suvarnadeva, etc.. It was a flourishing city with anumber of large Buddhist monasteries and splendid buildings. Kuchi had received Buddhism from India at a very early period and the whole of the local civilization was Buddhist. The lite- rature discovered at Kochi throws interesting light on the method of studying Sanskrit, the sacred language taught in the local monasteries. The students began with learning the alphabet. and many alphabetical tables have been dug out traced by more or less skilled hands."
"Sanskrit grammar was then studied according to the Katantra system, presumable because it was more fitted than Panini for non·Indians. Then the students made verbatim translations from Sanskrit into Kuchean. In addition to famous religious texts like Udanavarga, we have actual examples of astronomical and medical texts treated in this manner. This incidentally shows how, in addition to religion and its handmaid art, Indian astronomy, or rather astrology, and medi- cine were spread in this region. There was an extensive Kuchean literature, but all the works are based upon Sanskrit originals. At Ming-Oi, west of Kuchi, Brahmi fragments in Sanskrit have been found which belong to the second century A.D., (CII,II. Part 1,, p. Lxxiii). Kochi was also an important centre for the propaganda of Buddhism in other countries."
"Beyond Kuchi, ‘Qara Shahr’ was also an important Indian colony. It was known as Agnidesa and its kings had Indian names like Indrarjuna. Chandrarjuna, etc. Like Kuchi it also played an active part in the spread of Buddhism to China and other countries. Another important site is Bazaklik. It was an important Buddhist centre with hundreds of temples which had wall-paintings of Indian monks in yellow robes with names written in Brahmi to distinguish them from other monks in violet robes, with names written in Chinese and Tibetan"
"It is not possible here to refer in detail to all ancient Sites which were colonised by the Indians and the antiquities discovered in them. Taken as a whole, the artistic remains architecture, sculpture and painting and the large number of written texts, discovered in Central Asia, constitute a massive and most enduring monument of Indian culture and civili- zation which must have been widely spread all over the region in the early centuries of the Christian Era. Although Buddhism was the prevailing religion, Brahmanical culture was not altogether absent. This is proved by the seals with effigies of Kubera and Trimukha, discovered at Niya, and the painted Ganesha at Endere. Both Hinayana and Mahayana forms of Buddhism were prevalent, but by far the largest number of paintings and sculptures belong to the latter." (Ibid pp. 641-642)
"According to Chinese tradition, Buddhist missionaries from India proceeded to China as early as 217 B.C., but this can hardly be accepted as historical. According to another account, a Chinese general, who led a military expedition to Central Asia in 121 B.C, brought a golden statue of the Buddha, and thus the Chinese first came to know of Buddhism. This is also very doubtful. It is, however, definitely known that in the year 2 B.C., the Yueh—chi rulers in Oxus valley presented some Buddhist texts to the Chinese count." (ibid page 645)
"The official account of the intrcduction of Buddhism into China places the event in A.D. 65. In that year the Han emperor Ming-ti saw a golden man in a dream and was told by his courtiers that it was the Buddha. He accordingly send ambassadors to the west, who brought with them two Indian monks named Dharmaratna (Bagchi (op. cit) gives the name Dharmaraksha on pp. 7 and 32 and Dhar· maratna on p. 217. The last is also given in Le Canon Bouddhiqueen China, p. 4) and Kasyapa Matanga. These missionaries brought a load of sacred texts and relics on a white horse. Hence the monastery built for them by Imperial order at the captial city was called “The White Horse Monastery". The two monks spent the rest of their lives in China, translating Buddhist texts into Chinese and preaching Buddhism among the people."
"This story is probable, substantially correct. But Buddhism must have also passed into China by the other overland route from India through Burma. There are good grounds to believe that Buddhist missionaries came by this route and were already active in China by the middle of the first century A.D." (Ibid pages 645.)
According to Asokan inscriptions and Mahavamsa Buddhism was preached in the countries adjacent to the western and northern borders of Asokan empire i.e. the five Yona provinces (Uttarajyotisha. Divya A, Simha- pura, Urasa, Abhisara). Kashmir, Sakastan, Daradastan, Bactria, Kucha. Kustana, Yarkand, Khotan, Sinkiang and China, a distance of 800 yojanas (i. e 4000 miles) from the west of Afganistan to China in the east in the time of Asoka. (15th century B.C.)
So "Amtiyoka" was a Bharatiya Yavana prince, not an Iono-Greek or Greek prince. He was the contemporary of Ashoka. His age was from 1472-36 B.C. The "Yavana" of Northwest Bharat became Ionian in Asia minor and Greece and mixing with the Greek the Ionian becae Iono-Greek and then by the order of the Government of Ionia or Greece, the Iono-Greek became "Greek" and the country became "Greece".

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