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Vincent Arthur Smith.

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The notices of affairs connected with India in the Chinese histories begin
about 120 B.C. The accounts recorded by the Buddhist pilgrims are still
more valuable. Fa-hien, the earliest pilgrim (A.D. 399-413), gives much
information about the state of India during the reign of Chandragupta II,
Vikramaditya. Hiuen Tsang (or Yuan Chwang), perhaps the most learned
of the pilgrims, who travelled between 629 and 645, is the most interesting
witness of his class, and throws a flood of light on the history of Harsha of
Kanauj, and other matters. Many other Chinese pilgrims contribute to
the sum total of knowledge.

Muhammadan evidence. From the middle of the ninth century, Muham-
madan travellers and historians begin to help. They tell us many things
concerning the Hindu dynasties which first met the invaders, and describe
the manner of the Muhammadan conquest. Our knowledge of the raids of
Mahmud of Ghazm is derived wholly from Muslim authors.

Further details will be found in the author's Early History of India,
3rd ed. (Oxford, 1914), which gives references.



HINDU INDIA FROM 600 B.C. TO A.D. 1193 ;
MAHMtJD OF GHAZNI.

CHAPTER IV

The dynasties preceding the Mauryas : Kosala ; Magadha ; the Nandas ;
Alexander the Great.

Beginning of regular history. The preceding chapters have
dealt with events which, excepting the foundation of the Jain
and Buddhist systems, cannot be dated. Regular history is
concerned only with events which can be arranged in order
of time and are capable of being dated approximately, if not
exactly. In the case of India such history cannot be attempted
before about 600 B.C., when we obtain a glimpse of a few
definite political facts. But even then, and for nearly three
centuries later, our knowledge is extremely scanty, and
almost wholly confined to certain states in the Gangetic basin.
Nothing is known about the Deccan or the Far South in those
early times.

Sixteen northern powers. The most ancient Buddhist books



56 HINDU INDIA FROM 600 B. C. TO A. D. 1193

give a list of sixteen states or tribal territories which existed
in Northern India about the time of the rise of Buddhism
or a little earlier. These extended from Gaiidhara, the
country of the Gandharas, on the extreme north-west of the
Pan jab, including the modern districts of Peshawar and
Rawalpindi, to Avanti, or Malwa, with its capital Ujjain,
which still retains its ancient name unchanged. Among
these sixteen states two are prominent in tradition namely
Kosala, or the territory of the Kosalas, and Magadha, or the
territory of the Magadhas.

Magadha. The kingdom of Magadha (S. Bihar), approxi-
mately equivalent originally to the Gaya and Patna Districts
south of the Ganges, is mentioned in the Mahabharata as
having attained the rank of a paramount power under King
Jarasandha. The earliest capital was the hill-fort of Raja-
griha or Rajgir (Girivraja). The most ancient king who can
be approximately dated was Sisunaga (about 600 B.C.), but
nothing is known about him or his next three successors.

Bimbisara ; Ajatasatru ; Darius. Bimbisara, or Srenika,
the fifth Saisunaga king, is credited with the foundation of
New Rajgir, the outer town at the base of the hill, and with
the annexation of the small kingdom to the east, Anga or
Champa, roughly equivalent to the Bhagalpur District, and
probably including Monghyr (Mungir). This annexation was
the first step in Magadha 's progress to greatness during
historical times. After a reign of twenty-eight years Bim-
bisara abdicated in favour of his son Ajatasatru, or Kuniya,
who would not await the course of nature, and cruelly starved
his father to death. Gautama Buddha is said to have met
Ajatasatru and reproved him for his crime. A fort built by
this king at Patali, to check the incursions of the Licchhavis of
Vaisali from the north side of the river, developed into the
magnificent city of Pataliputra, the modern Patna and
Bankipore.

About 500 B.C., in the reign of either Bimbisara or Ajatasa-
tru (for dates are uncertain), Darius, son of Hystaspes, king of



HINDU INDIA FROM 600 B. C. TO A. D. 1193 57

Persia, sent an expedition commanded by Sky lax of Karyanda,
to explore the rivers of the Pan jab. The admiral reached the
sea, and the Indus valley became a province of the Persian
empire, to which it yielded a large revenue. Indian archers
were included in the Persian army defeated at Plataea, in
Greece, in 479 B.C. The Persians probably ruled the Indus
region for many years, but how or when they lost control of
it is not known.

Kosala. Bimbisara of Magadha was married to the sister
of Prasenajit, king of Kosala, who naturally went to war with
Ajatasatru when he murdered his father. The war was
waged with varying fortune, but ultimately peace was made
and Prasenajit gave a daughter to Ajatasatru in marriage.
Some three years later, Virudhaka, Crown Prince, rebelled
against his father Prasenajit, who fled to the capital of his
former enemy of Magadha, but died before he entered the
gates. Virudhaka succeeded to the throne of Kosala, and is
remembered as the author of a cruel massacre of the Sakyas,
the kinsmen of Buddha. After his time the kingdom of
Kosala was overshadowed by the growing power of Magadha.
At an early date Kosala had absorbed the smaller kingdom
of Kasi or Benares, and when at its greatest extent included
the whole of Oudh, and all the country between the Ganges,
the Gandak, and the mountains. The capital was the city of
Sravasti, on the upper course of the Rapti, probably the
modern Saheth-Maheth in Northern Oudh. The whole of
this territory passed under the rule of Magadha, but we cannot
fix the date.

The * Nine Nandas '. Mahapadma Nanda, the son of the
last Saisunaga king, Mahanandin, by a Sudra woman, usurped
his father's throne, and is said to have been succeeded by his
eight sons. The dynasty of two generations is therefore
known to tradition as that of the Nine Nandas. Mahapadma
was reigning when Alexander the Great was in India, and the
invader was told that the king of Magadha possessed an army
of 200,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalry, 2,000 chariots, and 3,000




ALEXANDER THE GREAT (THE TIVOLI HERM)



HINDU INDIA FROM 600 B.C. TO A. D. 1193 59

or 4,000 war elephants ; but he was so unpopular that there
was reason to believe his army would not support him,
Alexander did not get the chance of testing the accuracy of
this information, as his own troops refused to plunge farther
into unknown country.

Alexander the Great. Alexander, king of Macedon, in the
north of Greece, in the course of the years from 334 to 331 B.C.
had conquered Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, and Persia, defeating
the Persian monarch, Darius Codomannus, in three pitched
battles, and taking his place. Having resolved to conquer
India, he crossed the Indus at Ohind in February or March,
326, and was hospitably received by the king of Taxila, then
a great city, the ruins of which are traceable near Hasan
Abdal, in the Attock District, Pan jab. 1 The Raja of the
country between the Indus and the Jihlam or Hydaspes river,
whom Greek and Roman writers call Porus, tried to stop the
invader, but was defeated in a battle near Jihlam. Alexander
then pushed on eastward, passing Sialkot, across the rivers
of the Pan jab, until he came to the last of them, the Bias
or Hyphasis, when his European troops refused to go on, and
he was obliged to turn back, and retrace his steps. Meantime
his officers had built near Jihlam a fleet of about 2,000 vessels,
on which he embarked part of his army. The rest marched
along the banks of the Hydaspes and other rivers, and after
ten months the whole force, fighting its way, reached the
mouths of the Indus. The courses of the rivers have changed
so much that it is not possible to trace the stages of Alex-
ander's voyage and marches from north to south through the
Panjab and Sind. The fleet sailed round by sea to the
Persian Gulf, and Alexander himself led a division of his
army through Balochistan or Gedrosia. After much suffering
and heavy losses, he met his fleet, and brought what was left
of his army into Persia. He had previously sent another

1 Excavations now (1914) in progress are yielding remarkable and unex-
pected results. The earliest part of the site is believed to be of immense
antiquity.



HINDU INDIA FROM 600 B. C. TO A. D. 1193 61

division back to that country by the Mula Pass route. In
June, 323 B.C., Alexander died at Babylon, aged thirty-two.
No other man in the history of the world ever accomplished
so much in so short a time and at such an early age.

He had intended to annex the Panjab and Sind to his
empire, but his premature death made the task impossible
no other hand could wield the sceptre of universal dominion.
The empire fell to pieces and was carved into kingdoms by
his generals, none of whom was strong enough to hold the
distant Indian provinces. In three or four years all traces of
Macedonian rule in the Indus valley had disappeared, and the
local powers were left to their own devices. Indian writers
do not mention Alexander's raid, for our knowledge of which
we are indebted to Greek authors. The Macedonian invasion
had practically no effect on Indian institutions. The Greek
influence which made itself felt in certain respects afterwards
came from the Bactrian kingdom, and still later from the
Asiatic provinces of the Roman empire.

CHAPTER V

The Maurya empire : Chandragupta ; accounts of India by Greek writers ;
Asoka and his successors.

Chandragupta Maurya. About the time of Alexander's
death, or a little later, a revolution took place in Magadha,
which cost the unpopular Nanda king his throne and life.
A young man named Chandragupta, who is said to have met
Alexander, and seems to have been related to the Nanda royal
family, assembled a force of robber clans from the north and
seized the kingdom of Magadha, the capital of which was then
Pataliputra, the modern Patna. His agent in effecting the
revolution was Chanakya, also called Kautilya or Vishnugupta,
a wily Brahman, who became his minister. An ancient
treatise called Arthasastra, attributed to Kautilya, gives pre-
cise details of the systems of government in the small Hindu
kingdoms of Northern India as worked before Chandraenpta



62 HINDU INDIA FROM 600 B. C. TO A. D. 1193

made himself the master of them all. The accession of
Chandragupta may be dated in 322 B.C., but at this period
it is impossible to fix dates with absolute precision. The
family name Maurya is supposed to be derived from Mura, the
mother of Chandragupta. The line of his successors down to
about 184 B. c. is spoken of as the Maurya dynasty.

The first emperor of India. Before the time of Chandragupta
India had been parcelled into a multitude of small states,
some monarchies, some tribal republics, which were con-
tinually fighting among themselves, and owned no allegiance
to any overlord. But the new king of Magadha, a stern and
masterful man, was determined to bring his neighbours into
subjection. In the course of a reign of twenty-four years he
carried 6ut this plan and made himself the sovereign of at
least all Northern India. He is the first historical person who
can be described as Emperor of India, but, of course, his rule
did not extend to the Far South. Its exact limits southwards
are not known.

Seleucus Nikator. When Alexander's empire was finally
partitioned in 321 B.C. among his generals, one of them,
Seleucus, surnamed Nikator, ' the Victorious,' obtained as his
share Syria, Asia Minor, and the eastern provinces. After
a prolonged struggle with rivals he was crowned king at
Babylon in 312 B.C., and is known to historians as king of
Syria. Seleucus thought that he would like to recover
Alexander's conquests. About 305 B. c. he crossed the Indus
with the intention of subduing the country. But Chandra-
gupta was too strong for him, and Seleucus was obliged to
retreat, surrendering all claim to the satrapies or provinces
west of the Indus. Those provinces passed under the sway
of Chandragupta, who thus ruled the countries now called
Balochistan and Afghanistan, as well as all Northern India.
Seleucus was content to take five hundred elephants as
compensation for three rich provinces, and concluded a matri-
monial alliance with Chandragupta, probably giving a daughter
to the Indian king.



HINDU INDIA FROM 600 B.C. TO A. D. 1193 63

Megasthenes, and Greek accounts of India. Soon afterwards
the Syrian monarch sent an envoy named Megasthenes to
the court of Chandragupta at Pataliputra. That officer lived
there a long time and spent his leisure in compiling a careful
account of the geography, products, and institutions of India,
which continued to be the principal authority on the subject
for European readers until modern times. Although his book
has been lost, copious extracts from it have been preserved by
other writers, which give the pith of the work. Our know-
ledge of the system of government in the time of Chandra-
gupta is derived largely from Megasthenes. His statements
disclose a well-ordered State, governed by a stern, capable
despot, who did not hesitate to shed blood, and consequently
lived in daily fear of assassination. But, so far as appears,
Chandragupta died in his bed. According to some traditions
he was a Jain, abdicated, and starved himself to death. His
empire certainly passed undiminished to his son and grandson.

The army of the Mauryas. The main instrument of authority
was a powerful standing army of paid soldiers equipped from
government arsenals, and, as usual in ancient India, com-
prising the four arms of infantry, cavalry, chariots, and
elephant corps. The war elephants numbered 9,000, attended
by 36,000 men, the cavalry were 30,000, and the infantry
600,000. The chariots kept by Mahapadma Nanda numbered
8,000, and Chandragupta 's force in that arm, of which the
strength is not stated, probably was still greater. The four
arms were administered by four Boards ; transport, com-
missariat, and army service were the business of a fifth Board,
and a sixth attended to admiralty affairs.

The capital and civil administration. The capital city,
Pataliputra, situated on the northern bank of the Son, which
then joined the Ganges below the city, was strongly fortified,
and administered by a Municipal Commission composed of six
Boards or panchayals, consisting each of five members, and
charged with various duties. The other great cities of the
empire probably were governed on similar lines. The general



64 HINDU INDIA FROM 600 B. C. TO A. D. 1193

civil administration also was effective. Elaborate rules pro-
viding for the proper treatment of strangers show that the
empire had constant dealings with foreign states. The
mainstay of finance was then, as now, the land revenue, or
Crown rent, generally amounting to one-fourth of the gross
produce. Like the modern Government of India, the king
levied water-rates, and assessed land at rates varying with
the mode of irrigation. The subject of irrigation was carefully
attended to by a special department, as it is now by the
Canals branch of the Public Works staff. Besides the land
revenue and water rates, many other taxes and cesses were
levied, among the most profitable to the treasury being the
tax on goods sold.

Revenue and criminal law. The revenue and criminal law
was severe and sternly administered. Theft was ordinarily
punished by mutilation, which was also the penalty for
wilful false statements made to revenue officers, and for
sundry other crimes. Evasion of the town duty on goods
sold was punishable with death, which was inflicted without
scruple for many offences. But this severity, if repugnant
to modern feeling, had the good effect of maintaining order.
Judicial torture for the purpose of extracting confessions was
recognized and freely used, the principle laid down being that
' those whose guilt is believed to be true shall be subjected to
torture ', of which there were eighteen kinds, including seven
varieties of whipping. A regular system of excise was in
force, the drinking-shops being under official supervision, as
they now are.

Reign of Bindusara. About 298 B.C. Chandragupta either
died or abdicated, and was succeeded by his son Bindusara
Amitraghata. No record of the events of his reign has
survived, but the history of Asoka shows that Bindusara
certainly maintained and probably enlarged the empire
inherited from his father.

Asoka 273 or 272 B. C. Asoka, or to give him his full
name, Asoka-vardhana, was viceroy of Ujjain at the time of




\ \



SABNATH CAPITAL (ASOKA PEBIOD)



1776



66 HINDU INDIA FROM 600 B. C. TO A. D. 1193

his father's death, if Buddhist tradition may be believed.
The Buddhist monks pretend that Asoka in his youth was
cruel and wicked, attaining the throne by the murder of
ninety -eight out of ninety -nine brothers. But there does not
seem to be any truth in these tales, because Asoka 's inscrip-
tions prove that long after his accession he had brothers and
sisters living for whose welfare he took anxious care. His
inscriptions, which are numerous, are the best authority for
the events of his reign. The coronation of Asoka (about
269 B.C.) did not take place until four years after his accession..
The delay may or may not have been due to some dispute
about the succession.

War with Kalinga. Some eight years after his coronation,
Asoka went to war with Kalinga, the country on the coast of
the Bay of Bengal between the Mahanadi and Godavari rivers.
After hard fighting he overcame all resistance and conquered
that kingdom. But he was horrified at the suffering caused
by his ambition, and has receded his ' remorse on account of
the conquest of the Kalingas, because, during the subjugation
of a previously unconquered country, slaughter, death, and
taking away captive of the people necessarily occur, whereat
His Majesty feels profound sorrow and regret '. Asoka 's first
war was his last, and for the rest of his life he devoted himself
to winning ' the chief est conquest, the conquest by the Law of
Piety or Duty (dharma) '.

Asoka' s devotion to Buddhism. This sudden change in his
feelings seems to have been due to his acceptance of the
teachings of Buddhism, to which, as the years went on, he
became more and more devoted, even to the extent of assum-
ing the robes and vows of a monk.

Asoka is said to have convened at his capital a council of
Buddhist monks to reform the church and revise the scrip-
tures. As a means of diffusing a knowledge of the Buddhist
dharma, or moral law, he engraved a series of edicts on rocks
and stone pillars throughout his dominions, which have been
deciphered by European scholars during the last eighty years.



HINDU INDIA FROM 600 B.C. TO A. D. 1193 67

These records, which are found in Orissa, Mysore, the Panjab,
on the Bombay coast, and in other places, prove that Asoka
ruled all India, except the extreme south below the fourteenth
parallel of latitude.

FACSIMILE




TRAN SLIT ERATION

1. Devanapiyena piyadasina lajina visativasabhisitena

2. atana agacha mahiyite hida budhe jate sakyamumti

3. sila vigadabhlcha kalapita silathabhecha usapapite

4. hida bhagavam jateti lumminigame ubalikekate

5. athabhagiyecha

ASOKA' s INSCRIPTION AT RUMMINDEI

Asoka' s teaching. One of these inscriptions, on a rock in
Mysore, may be quoted as giving a short summary of his
moral teaching. It runs : ' Thus saith His Majesty :
" Father and mother must be obeyed ; similarly, respect for



68 HINDU INDIA FROM 600 B.C. TO A. D. 1193

living creatures must be enforced ; truth must be spoken.
These are the virtues of the Law of Piety (dharma), which
must be practised. Similarly, the teacher must be revered
by the pupil, and proper courtesy must be shown to relations.
This is the ancient standard of piety this leads to length of
days, -and according to this men must act." '

Censors were appointed to enforce obedience to these rules
with all the power of the government, and the moral regula-
tions were supplemented by works of practical piety. Banyan
trees for shade and mango trees for fruit were planted along
the high-roads, wells were dug, rest-houses were built, watering
places were prepared for travellers, and abundant provision
was made for the relief and cure of the poor and sick. All
the forms of Indian religion were treated with respect, and
the emperor enjoined his subjects to abstain from speaking
evil of their neighbour's faith. Everybody, however, what-
ever his creed might be, had to obey the regulations of the
government concerning his conduct. Men might believe
what they liked, but must do as they were told.

Asoka's missions. The emperor organized a system of
missions to carry his teaching to all the protected states on
the frontiers of the empire, including the Himalayan regions,
to the independent Tamil kingdoms of the Far South,
to Ceylon, and to the Greek monarchies of Syria, Egypt,
Gyrene (west of Egypt), Macedonia, and Epirus, thus embrac-
ing three continents, Asia, Africa, and Europe. The state-
ment of some authorities that missionaries were sent also to
Burma does not seem to be correct. The leading missionary
to Ceylon was Mahendra (Mahinda), the brother, or, according
to others, a son, of Asoka. In this way, Buddhism, which had
been merely the creed of a local Indian sect, became one of
the chief religions of the world, a position which, in spite
of many ups and downs, it still holds. This result is the work
of Asoka alone, and entitles him to rank for all time in that
small body of men who may be said to have changed the
faiths of the world. The numerous and wealthy Buddhist




ASOKA PILLAR



70 HINDU INDIA FROM 600 B.C. TO A. D. 1193

monasteries founded in the time of Asoka and in later ages
did much to spread Buddhism, and no doubt looked after the
education of the young, as the monks now do in Burma.

The later Mauryas. In or about 232 B. c. the great Asoka
passed away, the most notable figure in the early history of
India. One tradition asserts that he died at Taxila, but
nothing is known with certainty concerning his latter days
or his death. Inscriptions prove that he was succeeded in
the eastern part of his dominions by his grandson Dasaratha,
and, according to tradition, the western provinces passed
under the rule of another grandson, Samprati, who favoured
the Jain religion. The names of five later members of the
dynasty are recorded, but nothing is known about their
reigns. It is clear that these princes must have enjoyed only
limited power, and that the empire could not be held together
after the removal of Asoka 's controlling hand. The last of
the Mauryas, Brihadratha, was slain, in or about 184 B. c.,
by his commander-in-chief, Pushyamitra Sunga.

Sunga Kanva and Andhra dynasties. Very little is on record
about the Sunga dynasty founded by Pushyamitra, which
is said to have lasted for a hundred and twelve years. The
great grammarian, Patanjali, was a contemporary of Push-
yamitra, in whose time a Greek king, most likely Menander,
invaded India.

The Sunga s were succeeded by the Kanva dynasty, to which
forty -five years are assigned by the lists in the Puranas. The
last Sunga was killed by an Andhra prince, about 27 B. c.
But the Andhra dynasty had been established some two
centuries earlier, probably soon after the death of Asoka, and
had acquired a wide dominion extending across the Deccan
from sea to sea. There is no distinct evidence that the
Andhras held Magadha, and the history of the dynasty is
extremely obscure.




ore

'o/nt Calimere



(Cro



C.Comonn Tamraparni '
(Gfcylon)



THE EMPIRE

OF

A SO K A

260 B.C.

Scale of Miles
50100 200 300 400

Roch Edicts A

Minor Rock Edicts x

Pillar Edicts j.

Kingdom X.



72 HINDU INDIA FROM 600 B. C. TO A. D.l 193

The Kings of Magadha.

Approximate dates, mostly not o-

B. c.

Sisunaga .... ace. 600

Bimbisara .... ace. 528 (Prasenajit of Kosalcontemp.)

Death of Mahavira . .- ? 527

Ajatasatru .... ace. 500

Death of Gautama Buddha . . ? 487

rhe Nine Nandas . . ace. 371

Campaign of Alexander the Great 326-325 (date exact).

Chandragupta Maurya . . . ace. 322

Invasion of Seleucus Nikator 305

Embassy of Megasthenea . 303

Bindusara .... ace. 298

Asoka . . . . . ace. 273

Coronation . . . 269

War with Kalinga . . 261

Death of Asoka ... 232

Other Mauryan kings . . 232-184

Sunga dynasty . . . 184-72

Invasion of (?) Menander . ? 155

Kanva dynasty . . . 72-27



CHAPTER VI

Fhe foreign dynasties of the north-west : the Kushan (Kusana) mpire ;



Online LibraryVincent Arthur SmithThe Oxford student's history of India → online text (page 5 of 27)