Tuesday, September 29, 2009

2. Maurya Inscriptions of Ashoka

35 inscriptions of Asoka have been discovered so far. But in none of them is the time of Asoka himself given. Only the year of the reign of Asoka is mentioned every now and then— eg:'in the 7th year of the reign of Emperor Asoka'. It is therefore not possible to determine the time of Asoka with the help of these inscriptions. Nor is any direct evidence forth—coming in the shape of literature, inscriptions, coins or buildings, for fixing with certainty the time of Chandragupta Maurya, the grandfather of Asoka, the vaunted sheet-anchor of the modern construction of Ancient Indian history.

If we consider the alleged evidence in the writings of the Chinese pilgrim, Hieun-tsang, it is admitted and declared by General Cunningham as well as the editors of the history published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan that his writings are unreliable and contain more false than true statements. We have reproduced these opinions of the worth of the alleged writings of Hieun-tsang as evidence for historical purposes in connection with our discussion of Hieun-tsang. The alleged statemcnts in his writings, advanced in support of their theories of the time of Chandragupta Maurya by the modern historians must have been interpolated into his writings by themselves for their own purposes. These could not have been written by Hieun-tsang. There could be no reason for Hieun-tsang who visitcd India 22 centuries after the time of Chandrngupta Maurya to refer to the great emperor of such remote past. At least Hieun-tsang’s evidece is after all based on hearsay and popular tradition. Such evidence could never annul or disprove the indigenous history by native writers based on the court records of the emperor.

These modern historians have willfully neglected and ignored the authoritative historical literature of the country and therefore to buttress their unwarranted determination of the time of Asoka as the 3rd century B.C., they were obliged to resort to several fictitious statements, as:

" The Yona princes mentioned in Asoka‘s inscriptions as ruling on the frontiers of his kingdom have been identified as Greek princes of the 3rd century B.C., ruling in Syria, Egypt, Macedonia, Epirus and Cyrene by the European orientalists." But none of these kingdoms could have been on the borders of his empire.

The Buddhist historical and religious literature (like Mahavamsa) claims missionaries to have been sent by the emperor to the neighboring countries or the northern border like the Yona Kingdoms on the north-West, Kashmir, Nepal, Bhutan, Sinkiang, Tibet, Khotan, Kucha, Kusthan etc., and never so far as Greece or the Greek kingdoms of those times.

In fact the words Greek or Greece are mentioned nowhere in the inscriptions. We find only the term Yona. Yonas are not Greeks. They were Indians of Kshatriya Origin. Asoka’s empire extended only up to Takshasila in the West and to the Himalayas in the North. To the west of Takshasila there spread the Yona kingdoms of 1. Abhisara. 2. Urasa or Uraga 3.Simhapura, 4. Divyakataka. and 5. Uttarajyotisha. These five Yona kingdoms were in existence even in very ancient times. The humanitarian activities and missions of Asoka could have extended only to such kingdoms on the borders of his empire and not at all so far as Asia Minor, Greece and Egypt. No Greek kingdoms were on the borders of his empire. So it is an erroneous interpretation. Indian historians had been set on a wrong track by these erroneous identifications and they have not been able to escape from their meshes and discover the truth so far.

Yonas, Kshatriyas of Indian Origin, came to occupy, in very ancient times, the region now known as Greece, and gave it the name of Ionia. They had mixed up by intermarriage with the Greeks who were later immigrants into the country. Their descendents were therefore given mixed Ionian and Greek names. Hence names slightly resembling the names of the Yavana or Yona princes on the borders of Asoka’s empire, could be found among the Greek kings of the 3rd century B.C.
S.No. Yavana name Iono - Greek name resembling it
1 Amtiyoka or Atiyoga Antiochus Theos
2 Amtikini Antigonus Gonatus
3 Alikasudara Alexander
4 Tulamaya Ptolemy Philadalphos
5 Maka Mages
Thus among the Iono-Greek names came to prevail Yona names with Greek admixture and terminations. On account of such resemblance, to claim these names in the inscriptions to be Greek names and to identify them, on that assumption, with the Greek princes of the 3rd century and advance it as proof of the correctness of their own determination of the time of Asoka according to their basic conjecture of the contemporenity of Alexander the Great and Chandragupta Maurya is unwarranted and presumptuous. The Greeks had never been in India or its neighbourhood in such times. The inscriptions could refer only to the Yona princes on the borders of the empire of Asoka (of the 15th ceutury B.C.) and it is absurd to identify them with the Iono Greek princes of the 3rd century B.C. By the time of Asoka 1472 B.C., there was no Greece, no Greeks and no Greek kingdoms.

In the writings of the Greek historians of the 3rd century B.C., there is no mention of Asoka or his humanitarian missions as we should expect if he had really belonged to the 3rd century before Christ and his humanitarian activities had extended to such remote lands as modern Greece. The Greeks had never heard of the religion of Buddha or the mission of Asoka, declares Prof. Bury in his history of Greece.
"The Greeks donot mention Asoka" (ibid. p. 181)
Megasthenes, in his account of India has not said a word about Buddha or his system." (Buddhist India by Rhys Davids. p,178).

It is a fact that Buddhism was preached and prevail 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 (one yojana = 4.92 English Miles) or about 4000 miles.

It is plausibie 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. Buddism prevailed in those regions for a long time and prevails even now to a considerable extent. But there is no trace of the prevalance of Buddhism at any time in Syria, Egypt or Macedonia etc.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. This blog is an excellent resource.