THE PERIOD OF THE SAKA & PAHLAVAS
GENERAL FEATURES OF THE PERIOD. - In the course of this period, which covers roughly the years 100 B.C.E to 75 C.E., were successively to appear the Scytho-Parthians (Saka-Pahlavas) in the North-West, the Cedis and the first Satavahanas respectively in Kalinga and the northern Deccan and, finally, in Ceylon the group of the "Eleven Kings". With regard to this period, one of the most obscure in the history of India, details are sparse, fragmentary and often contradictory : some brief indications scattered throughout Indian literature, particularly Jaina texts; a few inscriptions in Brahmi or Kharosthi, doubtful in reading and in the main referrng to unknown eras; finally, an excessive number of coins struck by the most obscure of dynasts. Thus, the sequence and dating of the reigns are still subject to discussion. The most recent publications, which do not always show progress over their predecessors, frequently differ from the remarkable works devoted to the period in question by E.J. Rapson, W.W. Tam, A. Foucher and Sir John Marshall. It is advisable, for the sake of easy reading, to give a brief summary of the chronological system adopted in the present blog.
1. In the preceding blogs, we saw how North-West India had successively to submit to the yoke of Achaemenid Persia (559-328 B.C.E), of the Macedonian soldiery (327-312 B.C.E) and, finally, of Seleucus I (312-306 B.C.E ), before returning to the mother country in 305 B.C.E. For more than a century (305-190 B.C.E), it revolved in the orbit of the Indian empire of the Mauryas. The latter had not yet collapsed when the Greek kings of Bactria seized the Indian districts of the North-West by force, and established on their soil the Indo-Greek kingdoms, the last of which was to endure until approximately the year 30 B.C.E.
The progressive elimination of the Yavanas did not restore freedom to the North-West. The Greek domination was followed by that of the Saka-Pahlavas whose appearance in India occurred in about the year 110 B.C.E and continued in the North-West until approximately the year 60 C.E.
Between 174 B.C.E and 129 B.C.E, the peoples of Central Asia, particularly the Yueh chich, underwent a long period of disturbance. Under their impetus, the eastern Scythians (Saka Tigrakhudas, including the tribes of the Massagetae, Sacaraucae and Dahae scattered between the Caspian and the Jaxartes), wrested Bactria from the Greek king Heliocles (140 B.C.E ) and, continuing their march southward, came up against the kingdom the Arsacid Parthians (between 128 B.C.E and 120 B.C.E). Having ravaged Parthia, they massively occupied the Persian province of Drangiana, on the banks of the Helmand, and so considerably reinforced their kinsmen, the Saka Haumavarga (Amurgioi Scythians) who had transformed the land into 'Scythian Country" (Sakasthana, Sijistin, Seistan).
Expelled from that land by the Suren of the Parthian king Mithridates II, the Sakas moved eastward and, by the routes of Arachosia and Gedrosia, spread into the Sindh. That is how, in about the year 110 B.C.E (a doubtful date), the former Patalene became the cradle of an Indo- Scythia (the sakadvipa of the Indians ) from whence the Scythians set out on the conquest of India.
Between 90 and 53 B.C.E, the Sakas of Maues occupied Gandhara (Puskaravati) and the Western Punjab (Taxila), and that thrust marked the end of the western Greek kingdom. Simultaneously, some Scythian satraps settled on the Upper Indus, in the region of Chukhsa, and on the banks of the Yamuna, at Mathura.
Some time before the year 58 B.C.E, Scythian Sahis overran Surastra (Kathiawar and Gujarat) and reached Avanti (Malwa, capital Ujjayani). In 58 B.C.E Vikramiditya, the king of Malwa and possibly vassal of a Satavahana from the Deccan, expelled them from Ujjayini, and that victory marked the point of departure of the famous Indian era called the "Vikrama Era".
[One hundred and thirty-five years later, in 78 C.E, the point of departure. Of the $aka era, a return offensive by the Sakas was to cause the establishment in Western and Central India of two Scythian kingdoms :
1. the kingdom of the Ksharata satraps, which was to be destroyed in 124 C.E. by the Satavahana king, Gautamiputra Satakarni;
2. the kingdom of the Great Satraps of Ujjayani which was to last until the end of the fourth century C.E. when it fell to the attacks of the Indian emperor Chandragupta II .
Between the years 38 B.C.E to 30 B.C.E, the Saka Azes I conquered, to the east of the Jhelum, the last possessions of the eastern Greek kingdom (Sakala) and to the west, in Kapisa, gained the inheritance of the Greek king Hermaeus.
At the beginning of the Christian era, the Arsacid Parthians, having concluded a truce with the Romans, succeeded in imposing their authority over the Sakas in India. In approximately 19 C.E., the Pahlava Gondophares was named Suren of the Parthian king Artaban III and, in about 25 C.E., he set out to attack Indo-Scythia and rapidly conquered nearly all the Saka possessions. Of the kings of this period, Gondophares is the only one to emerge from the haze of numismatics and epigraphy and find a place in the literature. The Christian and pagan legend connects him with the apostle Saint Thomas and the Neopythagorean sage Apollonius of Tyana; these are, however, late and apocryphal traditions.
In approximately 60 C.E., at the end of the reign of Pacores, the successor to Gondophares, North-West India fell into the hands of the Kusana kings from Bactria.
2. While these events were taking place in the west, the collapse, around 40 or 30 B.C.E, of the Indian kingdom of the Sunga-Kanvas led to the formation on the sub-continent of two new powers : the Satavahanas of the northern Deccan and the Cedis of Kalinga. The first three Satavahanas, who reigned between 60 and 17 B.C.E, triumphed in the battles against the Kanvas and Sakas and, around Pratisthana, established a Deccan empire the dominion of which extended from Eastern Malwa to the district of Aurangabad (Hyderabad) passing through Maharastra. Under their king Kharavela (28-17 B.C.E), the Cedis of Kalinga gained some quick but ephemeral successes.
3. Between the years 20 B.C.E and 75 C.E., the successors of the famous Vattagamani who occupied the Sinhalese throne were eleven in number. Some were notable for their cruelty (Coranaga) or their excesses (Anula), while others, in contrast, for their Buddhist devoutness and their generosity (Bhatikabhaya and Mahadathika).
Overcome by fear and stupor at the arrival of the Scythian hordes, the Indians in general and the Buddhists in particular did not have much to complain about. The atrocities and destructions merely marked the making of contact. Having been civilized by their long stay in Parthia and also tinged with Hellenism, the Sakas continued in the North-West the policy inaugurated by the Yavanas and took as their own the established institutions and customs. Even while remaining faithful to their Iranian beliefs, they showed favour to the Buddhists, and the Scythian satraps of Chukhsa (Liaka Kusulaka, Patika, Arta, Kharahostes, Manigula) as well as those in Mathura (Rajuvula, his wife Ayasia Kamuia, and his son Sodasa) appear in the lists of benefactors of the Community for having endowed in a princely way the establishments of the Sarvastivadins and Mahasamghikas. As for the Pahlavas, they were noteworthy, if not within their own borders at least outside, for their extreme religious tolerance. It is difficult to see how Gondophares could have entered the Christian and pagan legend on an equal footing if he had shown sectarianism or narrow-mindedness.
Nevertheless, in order to reach those simple and superficially Hellenized minds, the Buddhist preaching had to modify its methods and replace its long and learned sutras with more modest catechetics : short stanzas, supposedly endowed with magical power and expressing the quintessence of the doctrine in a striking manner, or again, alphabetical lists which enabled the basic truths to be easily remembered. Such somewhat childish procedures are doubtless evidence of the pliability and ingenutiy of the propagandists, but they do not mark any special progress in the diffusion of the doctrine. However, the latter was soon to be explained at length and in detail to the Chinese, who were to have access, in translation, to an enormous amount of Buddhist literature.
In another field, it was at the period with which we are concerned, near the beginning of the Christian era - and not in the second century B.C.E, as it was long believed - that the Buddhists took up the habit, wherever the terrain permitted it and particularly in the western Ghats, of carving for themselves caityagrha and vihara in the living rock. It is appropriate, therefore, to examine here the first inventions of this rockcut architecture which was to continue to be practised for many more centuries.
THE SCYTHIAN WORLD. - It was not Indians but barbarian hordes originating from Central Asia who put an end to the Greek occupation of North-West India. Among those peoples who appeared in the course of the second century B.C.E, the foremost place must be accorded to the Yueh chih and the Sakas.
Although the former, from the ethnographical point of view, have still not been properly identified, the latter, of Indo-European tongue and Iranian race, were known to history from the eighth century before the Christian era. Herodotus devotes a long account to them in his Histories (IV, 1-144). They were called Scythians by the Greeks, Sakas by the Iranians and Sakas by the Indians and these last associated them closely with the Pahlavas (Parthians).
The Scythians, being inveterate nomads, were dispersed into various tribes, each having its own king and subordinate chiefs. The latter were buried in wide graves (kurgan) with their horses and servants. The Scythian armies consisted of mounted archers, trained in the "scorched earth" tactic. They did not cultivate the soil but merely exploited the harvests of the sedentary populations who were exposed to their raids. In the region of the Black Sea, they sold the surplus to the Greeks of Pontus, and in exchange acquired pottery and metal utensils. Scythian tombs have yielded a profusion of ornaments made of gold (extracted from the Ural mines) which display a marked preference for animal motifs with representations of hunting scenes of excellent craftmanship.
The inscription by Darius at Naqs-i-Rustam (KENTp,. 137), records three groups of Sakas :
a. The Saka Tigrakhauda "weavers of pointed helmets", including the powerful tribes of the Massagetae, Sacaraucae and Dahae, who were scattered over the territory which extended from the Caspian Sea to the Jaxartes. These are the Sakai Scythians mentioned by Herodotus (VII, 64) and who served in the army of Xerxes with their neighbours, the Bactrians. "They had on their heads", says the historian, "caps ending in a point and which were straight and stiff
b. The Saka Haumavarga, who are the Sakai of Herodotus (VII, 64). In all likelihood they occupied, in the Persian province of Drangiana, the Helmand valley, a region which was subsequently to be designated by the name of "Saka Country" (Sakasthana, Sijistan, Seistan).
c. The Saka Paradraya or "Scythians from overseas", inhabitants of the Russian steppes to the north of the Black Sea. In the seventh century B.C.E, these last travelled through the territories situated between the Carpathians and the Don and including to the east the arid steppes between the Don and the Dnieper, to the west the fertile plains of the "Country of black earth". Between 650 and 620 B.C.E, a group of Scythian invaders conquered Upper Mesopotamia and Syria, while another wave advanced along the Carpathians as far as the Middle Danube. However, most of the Scythian forces remained in southern Russia. It was there that, in about 512 B.C.E, they triumphantly repulsed an invasion by the Persian king Darius and that, in 325 B.C.E, they destroyed the expeditionary force of Alexander's general Zopyrion.
However, after the year 300 B.C.E, they were driven from the Balkans and Central Europe by the Celts and, during the ensuing centuries, were replaced in Southern Russia by the Sarmatians. A few Scythians found refuge in the Crimea and Romania (Dobruja) but, under the Roman empire, the Scythians of Europe no longer played any political role.
The history of the Scythians of Asia was just as eventful. Under the impulse of other peoples of Central Asia, the Sakas of the Jaxartes and the Caspian invaded the Parthian empire during the second century B.C.E. Repelled by Mithridates II the Great, some of them went to reinforce the Sakas of Seistan, without, however, being able to hold their ground for long among them. Repulsed eastwards, the invaders crossed Baluchistan and went on to occupy the lower Sindh (Abiria and Patalene of the Greeks), which was then given the name of Sakadvipa. It was from this base that they set out in the first century B.C.E to conquer North- West India : a first wave, proceeding up the Indus, extended its march as far Western Punjab and Taxila; a second, travelling in a south-easterly direction, successively occupied Kaccha (Kutch), Surastra (Kathiawar) and Gujarat) and the coastral region as far as the port of Baruckaccha (Broach); from there, crossing the Narmada, it reached Ujjayani, the capital of Avanti.
The paragraphs which follow will deal in turn with the movements of the Yueh chih and the Sakas in Central Asia, the invasion of the Parthian empire and, finally, the conquest of India.
THE YUEH CHIH AND THE SAKAS IN CENTRAL ASIA (174-129 B.C.E).
We owe most of the information with regard to this movement of peoples to the Chinese histories: Chapters 110 and 123 of the Shih chi or Historical Memoirs of Ssu ma Ch'ien (died in about the year 80 B.C.E); Chapters 61 and 96 of the Ch'ien Hun shu or History of the Former Han, written by Pan Ku (died in 92 or 91 C.E.) and completed by Pan Chao (died after 102 C.E)*.
At the beginning of the second century, the YUeh chich were living "between Tun huang and the Ch'i lien shan", in Western Kansu, where later the Greek geographer Ptolemy (VI, 16) was to note the existence of the people of the Thaguroi, a Mount Thaguron and a town Thogara. They were nomads, moving here and there with their flocks; they had the same customs as the Hsiung nu of Eastern Mongolia; their archers amounted to ten or twenty myriads. To begin with, they were strong and unbothered by the Hsiung nu. However, when Mao tun (209-174 B.C.E) became king, he attacked and defeated the Yueh chih. His successor, the Chen-yu Lao-chang of the Hsiung nu (174-160 B.C.E) even killed the king of the Yueh chih and made his skull into a drinking-cup. A small group of Yueh chich separated from the main body and reached the mountains of North-East Tibet, the Richthofen Range, where they were henceforth to be known to the Chinese Annals by the name of Hsiao Yueh chih "Little Yueh chih". The larger mass, which emigrated westwards, was finally to reach Bactria : they were called the Ta Yueh chih "Great Yueh chih".
During their first campaign (ca 172-161 B.C.E), the Ta Yueh chih, marching eastwards, reached the region of Issik-kul, between Ili and Ferghana. They seized the land of the Wu sun and killed their king Nan tou mi. Then, still continuing west, they repulsed the Sai (Sakas) : the Sai wang Saka king), fleeing southwards, took possession of Chi pin.
Meanwhile, the son of the Wu sun king Nan tou mi, having been an orphan from the cradle, was miraculously fed by a she-wolf and a crow and was given hospitality by the king of the Hsiung nu. When that prince, who was named Kun mo, grew up, he attacked and defeated the Yueh chih.
During a second campaign which took place between 133 and 129 B.C.E, "the Yueh chih fled far away and entered Ta yuan (Ferghana); to the west, they defeated the Ta hsia (inhabitants of Bactria) and subdued them. They then set up their headquarters to the north of the river Wei (Oxus)" (Shih-chi, Ch. 123). The Ch'ien Han shu adds that the king of the country of the Ta Yueh chih held his seat of government in Chien chih ch'eng (perhaps Marakanda or Samarkand) and that the Ta hsia (Bactrians) submitted without resisting : "At the outset, the Ta hsia had no great leaders. In the towns and hamlets, they often established minor chiefs. They were a weak people and fearful of war. That is why, when the Yueh chih came, they all submitted; they all received the Chinese envoys" (Ch'ien Han shu, Ch. 96 a). The subjection of Bactria was an accomplished fact, in 128 B.C.E, by the time of the journey of the Chinese envoy Chang Ch'ien in the western regions.
By that date, several years had already passed since the Greeks of the eastern kingdom had evacuated Bactria; in about 140 B.C.E, Heliocles, exhausted by his Indian campaigns, had withdrawn south of the Hindukush, leaving the indigenous Bactrians undefended against incursions from the North. The classical historians allude to them briefly : "The best known of the nomad tribes which seized Bactria from the Greeks are the Asioi, the Pasianoi, the Tokharoi (the Yueh chih of the Chinese Annals) and the Sakarauloi (a Saka tribe), all peoples who had come from the regions situated on the other side of the Jaxartes, i.e. the bank which faces the [present] possessions of the Sakai and Sogdiana and which was then occupied by the Sakai themselves" (Strabo, XI, 8, 2). Pompeius Trogus in turn says that "the Saraucae and the Asiani, Scythian peoples, seized Bactra and Sogdiana" (Justin, Prologue XLI, ed. CHAMBRY11,, p. 306).
By comparing these statements, we can assume that Bactria was wrested from the Greeks in about 140 B.C.E by various nomad tribes including the Sakas, before passing, in approximately 129 B.C.E, into the hands of the Ta Yueh chih or Tokharoi.
THE INVASION OF PARTHIA BY THE SAKAS (128-110 B.C.E).
In the reign of Mithridates I (171 -138 B.C.E ), Parthia had become a powerful empire. Between the years 160 and 145 B.C.E, Mithridates had seized two satraps from the Bactrian king Eucratides, conquered Media, penetrated as far as Mesopotamia and established his capital in Seleuceia. Summoned to their aid by the Greeks of the region, the Seleucid Demetrius II Nicator was vanquished and captured (140-139 B.C.E) by him.
Mithridates I was succeeded by Phraates II (137-128 B.C.E). The new king had to face an attempt by the Seleucid Antiochus VII Sidetes (138-129 B.C.E) who intended to free his brother Demetrius 11 and reconquer the lost provinces. The beginnings of the campaign were disastrous for the Parthians. Antiochus VII entered Mesopotamia, gained three successive victories and reached Ecbatana. Phraates II was forced to negotiate (129 B.C.E) : he freed Demetrius II whom he had held captive for ten years, evacuated all the conquered provinces with the exception of Parthyene and agreed to pay tribute. However, the negligence of the Greeks reduced their successes to nothing. The demands of the Greek soldiery quartered in Media disgusted the population; the discontent was exploited by Parthian agents and an uprising broke out; the rout of Antiochus was total, he himself was killed and part of his army was incorporated into the Parthian troops.
Determined to exploit his victory, Phraates II resolved to make war against Syria, but the movements of the Scythians recalled him to the defence of his frontiers. "The Scythians had, with a promise of reward, called for the help of the Parthians against Antiochus VII, the king of Syria; however, having arrived when the war was over, they saw themselves frustrated of any reward under the pretext that they had come too late. Annoyed at having made a long journey for nothing, they asked to be compensated for their weariness or else to be used against another enemy. Angered by the scornful answer they were given, they set out to ravage the Parthian territory ... Phraates took to war with him a body of Greeks who had been taken prisoner in Antiochus' war, whom he treated with haughtiness and cruelty, without considering that captivity had not softened their hostile feelings and that rebellious grievances had exasperated them even further. Hence, seeing the Parthian army yielding, they entered the enemy ranks and avenged themselves for their captivity, as they had long wanted to do, with a bloody massacre of the Parthian army and of King Phraates himself' (Justin, XLII, 1, 2-5).
Phraates II was succeeded by his paternal uncle Artaban II (128-123). Having waged war on the Tocharians, he was wounded in the arm and died immediately (Justin, XLII, 2, 2).
There is every reason to suppose that, in about 130 B.C.E, the Scythians or Sakas conquered a large part of the Parthian empire. According to Herzfeld4, they founded the Scythian dynasty of Adiabene to the east of the Tigris and possibly Caracene (Muhammarah) on the Persian Gulf.
According to Ghirshman, the invaders spread in two directions : some thrust directly west through Merv, Hecatompylos, Ecbatana, while others turned southwards by descending from Merv to Herat, towards the rich province of Seistin. Justin (XLII, 2, 1) merely says that after having ravaged Parthia, the Scythians, satisfied with their victory, returned to their own country (in patriam revertuntur). However, we know from the information supplied above that this country was not only that of the Saka Tigrakhauda of the Caspian and the Jaxartes, but also of the Saka Haumavarga of Seistan. In this last province, the Scythians were very numerous; it is believed that Mithridates I had, some twenty-five years earlier, established his Saka mercenaries there and that that date - 155 B.C.E - was the point of departure of an early Saka era used by certain Indian inscriptions in Kharosthi.
However it may be, it was the son and successor of Artaban, Mithridates II (123-88 B.C.E) who had to re-establish the situation : "His exploits earned him the epithet of Great; he waged some successful battles against the Scythians, and avenged the outrage done to his parents" (Justin, XLII, 2, 3 and 5). His vassal the Suren, who belonged to one of the seven great Parthian families, waged a continuing battle with the Sakas, expelled them from Parthia and Seistan and received as a reward a personal fief, Seistan, the capital of which was to be found at Alexandria-Prophthasia.
Expelled in about the year 120 B.C.E from their second country, the Sakas, retracing in the opposite direction the route previously taken by Craterus, Alexander's general, followed the left bank of the Helmand, entered Arachosia and, through the passes of Bolan and Mulla, reached the districts of the Middle Indus (the Abiria of the Periplus, 41, and of Ptolemy, VII, 1 55) and the Lower Indus (the Patalene of Strabo, XV, I, 13, of Ptolemy, VII, 1, 55 etc.). The region of the Sindh, the conquest of which was completed in about 110 B.C.E, became the base of operations for the Scythians, from where they were to conquer North-West India. When several decades later, in about 62 B.C.E, they added to it the Kutch peninsula and Kathilwar, it rightly received the name of Indo-Scythia : "As for the entire region along the remaining part of the Indus, it bore the generic name of Indo-Scythia; the portion which is parallel with the mouths is Patalene; that which is above, Abiria; that which surrounds the mouths of the Indus and the Kanthian gulf is Syrastrene" (Ptolemy, VII, 1, 55).
THE.CONQUEST OF INDIA BY THE SAKAS AND PAHLAVA(S90 B.C.E-50 C.E.).
For a century and a half, the North-West was in the hands of Saka invaders, who acted at times on their own behalf, at others in the name of the central Parthian power which ended in frustrating them of the fruit of their conquests. The Indians who, in their lists of tribes, closely associate the Saka-Pahlavas with the Yavanas, envelop them with equal contempt : the Manusmrti (X, 43-4) considers them as races who gradually fell to the rank of Sudras "through omission of the rites and non-frequentation of the brahmins".
MAUES (90-53 B.C.E)- The first Scythian conqueror was named Maues or Mauakes in Greek, Moa or Moga in Sanskrit, Mu k'ua in Chinese. Some Kharosthi inscriptions from Manshera, district of Hazara (Konow p . 20), Fatehjang in the district of Attock (Id., p. 22) and Taxila (Id., pp. 28-9) and dated, the first two in the year 68, the third in the year 78 of the former Saka era which began in approximately 155 B.C.E, prove that before the years 87 B.C.E and 77 B.C.E, “ in the reign of the Great King, the Great Moga", the Sakas had taken possession of the Western Punjab and Taxila. We are therefore justified in thinking that in about 90 B.C.E, a Saka horde, led by Maues, went up the Indus on both banks and seized the Greek kingdom of Taxila from King Archebius(?).
The coinage of the period confirms such a conquest, since Maues, struck coins of the "Elephant Head : Cadeceus" and "Apollo : Tripod" types initiated at Taxila, the former by Demetrius, the latter by Apollodotus I.
In 88 B.C.E, the king of the Parthians, Mithridates II the Great died and his official title of "King of Kings" fell into disuse until the year 57 B.C.E, then to be taken up again by Orodes I. Severing the last links which still attached him to the Arsacids, Maues took advantage of the situation to arrogate it himself. Henceforth he was to call himself, Rajatirajasa mahatasa Moasa, and on the Kharosfhi inscription at Taxila, Maharayasa mahamtasa Mogasa (Konow, p. 28). Some of these coins, of the Poseidon with trident type, possibly commemorate a naval victory on the Indus or the Jhelum.
The conquests of Maues to the west were very extensive; coins of the "Elephant : Indian Buffalo" and "Goddess of Puskaravati : Indian Buffalo" types prove that he ruled, not only at Taxila, but also at Puskaravati in Gandhara. Coins of the Kapisi "Enthroned Zeus" type copied from Eucratides and Antialcidas, also lead us to believe that he extended his domination over Kapisa; notwithstanding, on his death which occurred in about 53 B.C.E, it was not a Saka but a Greek, Amyntas, who ruled over the Paropamisadae.
Maues governed part of the possessions through the intermediary of satraps. The region of Chukhsa on the Upper Indus, including the eastern valley of Peshawar, and the present-day districts of Hazara, Attock and Mianwali, obeyed the orders of the kstrapa Liaka Kusulaka whose name appears on the copper plate of Taxila (Konow, p. 28) which probably dates from the year 78 B.C.E, as well as on coins of the "Pilei of the Dioscuri" . This satrap, as well as his son Patika, belonged to the Scythian family of the Ksaharatas whose members reigned over Surastra and Avanti.
It is doubtful whether Maues empire extended east of the Jhelum. Nevertheless, during his time, Saka satraps ruled in Mathura where they struck coins. The latter, copied from the Indian princes whom they had supplanted, bore the goddess Laksmi on the obverse and a horse on the reverse; these khatapas or mahakhatapas who followed each other between 87 B.C.E and 38 B.C.E were named Sivaghosa, Sivadatta, Hagamasa and Hagana.
In his capacity of King of Kings (sahanu sahi ] and suzerain (samantadhipati), Maues had under his orders a quantity of vassals (samanta), bearing the title of kings (sahi) but in fact merely tribal chiefs. Towards the end of his reign, at all events shortly before the year 58 B.C.E (beginning of the Vikrama era), a sahi defection resulted in the extension of Scythian power in Western and Central India at a time when the Kanva empire, already displaying signs of weakness, was about to collapse under the impact of internal dissensions and Andhran arms. A Jaina work of unknown date, the Kalakacaryakathanaka, reports the
events as follows :
The Jaina master Kalaka, whose sister had been abducted by Gardabhilla, the king of Ujjayani [in the service of the Andhras?], went to the kula of the Sagakulas [kula of the Sakas situated in the Sindh]. There, the vassals (samanta) were called Sahis "kings" and their supreme chief (simantahivai) Sahanu Sahi "King of Kings". Kalaka stayed with one of those Sahis, and when that chief, with ninety-five other Sahis, fell into disgrace with the "King of Kings" [Maues?], Kalaka invited him to accompany him to Hindugades [Hindukadesa, the Indian sub-continent]. They crossed the Indus (Uttariuna Sindhum), went in boats (samaruhiuna janavattesu), made their way to Surattha [Surastra, present day Kathiawar and Gujarat] and divided the country between them.
When autumn arrived, the master [Kalaka] took him to Ujjayani, where Gardabhilla was made prisoner. A Sahi was established as King of Kings (rayahiraya = rajatiraja), and in that manner the dynasty of the $aka kings was founded.
Some time afterwards, Vikramiditya, the king of Malava [and doubtless a vassal of the ~Satavahanas of the Deccan] overthrew that Saka dynasty and established his own era [the Vikrama era which began in 58 B.C.E]. However, that dynasty was also overthrown by another Saka king who founded his own era when 135 years of the Vikrama era had already passed [the Saka era beginning in 78 C.E.].
It ensues from this passage that, shortly before the year 58 B.C.E, some Scythian sahis, breaking away from the King of Kings of the Sindh, scattered in Aparanta and Avanti and that Ujjayini, the capital, was governed for some time by a new King of Kings, independently of the Sindh. Expelled from Ujjayini in 58 B.C.E by the Indian king Vikrama, the Sakas nevertheless remained on the western coast, in Surastra and the ports of Bharukaccha and Surparaka where their presence is recorded, in the first century of the Common era, by the author of the Periplus . One hundred and thirty-five years later, a Saka king reconquered even Avanti and placed his capital in Ujjayini. This victory which occurred in 78 C.E., the point of departure of the new Saka era, marked the beginnings of two separate Saka kingdoms : that of the Ksharata satrap kings occupying Surastra and Aparanta, and that of the great satraps of Ujjayini established in Avanti. Both, we believe, adopted the new Saka era in the year 78 C.E. and, if this calculation is correct, the first kingdom was overthrown in the year 124 C.E. by the Satavahana king Gautamiputra Sri Satakarni ,while the satraps of Ujjayini remained in power until approximately the year 390 C.E., a date at which their possessions were added to the crown of the Indian emperor Chandragupta II
In any case, at the beginning of the second half of the last century of the ancient era, the Sakas held a considerable portion of Indian territory :
1. The possessions of Maues extended over Arachosia, the Sindh, Gandhara and the Western Punjab. In these last two provinces, his states were wedged between the last representatives of the eastern and western Greek kingdoms. The second of these, reduced to the territory of the Paropamisadae or Kapisa, was governed, towards the end of Maues' reign, by a certain Amyntas who is believed to be Greek. Probably supported by the Yueh chih princes who then occupied Bactria as far as the northern slopes of the Hindukush, this Amyntas had seized Kapisa or had proclaimed his independence there; he struck coins of the "Enthroned Zeus" type with the legend in Kharosthi. He is believed to have ruled from 54 to 49 B.C.E, and was succeeded by Hermaeus.
2. The region of Chukhsa on the Upper Indus was under the command of the Ksaharata Liaka Kusulaka, a vassal of Maues.
3. Saka satraps governed the region of Mathura in their own names.
4. Finally, some Scythian Sahis, who had evaded the authority of Maues, had crossed the Indus and reached the western coast of Surastra by sea. From there they had gone on to Avanti and, for a time, occupied Ujjayini from where King Vikrama expelled them.
An indication of Scythian power at that period is the fact that, according to Pseudo-Lucian (Macrobii, 15), the Sakaraukoi were able to impose on the Parthians a king of their own choice, Sinatruces (77-70 B.C.E), the brother of Phraates II or son of Arsaces Dikaius, who had lived among them for a long time. However, the division and rivalries of the Saka princes, recorded by the Greek historians, was to cause their downfall.
Successors of MAUES-. Historians have given various opinions on the order of succession of the Saka or Pahlava princes who followed Maues, but the coinage of Arachosia enabled Tarn and Marshall to establish this classification :
Some silver coins copied from Heliocles but of a special type, representing the prince on horseback on the obverse and, on the reverse, an effigy of Zeus standing, full-face, bearded and with head bent, were struck successively in Arachosia by :
a. Vonones and his legate Spalahores given the purely honorific title of "brother of the Great King" : on the obverse,; on the reverse, the Kharosthi legend, Maharajabhrata dhramikasa Spalahorasa.
b. Vonones and Spalagadames.
c. Spalirises alone.
d. Spalirises and Azes I.
e. Azes I alone.
The sequence led Tam and Marshalls reconstructed as the succession of Maues in the following order :
1. Vonones and his legates Spalahores (or Spalyris) and Spalagadames,
3. Azes I,
5. Azes II.
VONONES (53-40 B.C.E). - The imperial title of King of Kings which became vacant on the death of Maues was assumed in about 53 B.C.E by the Parthian Vonones, the Suren of Eastern Iran. In Arachosia, his suzerainty was recognized by Spalahores or Spalyris, "Brother of the Great King", and his son spalagadames. Coins of both dynasts having been found in the Scythian layers at Sirkap, we may assume that they also functioned in Taxila as legates of Vonones. They perhaps came into conflict with Amyntas, the Greek king of Kapisa. However, on the death of the latter in approximately 49 B.C.E, Parthian domination over the Western Punjab was temporarily interrupted. Again it was a Greek, Hermaeus (49-38 B.C.), who succeeded Amyntas in Kapisa where he struck coins of the "Bust of the king : Enthroned Zeus" 'type with the legends Maharajasa tratarasa Heramayasa. The same prince wasted no time in seizing Gandhara and the Western Punjab where his coins are found in quite large numbers : on the obverse they bear the bust of the king to the right with a Greek legend erased; on the reverse, winged Nike holding a garland in her right hand and a palm in her left, with the Kharosthi legend Maharajasa Heramayasa.
After the decease of Spalagadames which occurred in about 49 B.C.E, the Suren Vonones established Spalirises his legate and "brother". On a silver coin of the "Standing Zeus" type, Spalirises does in fact bear the title of brother of the king. However, it was not long before he gained his independence and took to himself the title of "Great King" in conjunction with his son Azes I, then after the death of Vonones, that of"Great King of Kings" :
SPALIRISES (45-38 B.C.E). - The copper coins on which Spalirises appears with his imperial title of Maharajasa mahaptakasa Spalirisasa are of the "Enthroned Zeus" type characteristic of the town of Klpisi. All the same, it is doubtful whether that prince really seized Kapisa, since the Paropamisadae seem to have remained in the hands of the Greeks until the death of Hermaeus in about the year 30 B.C.E. It is probable that the Kapisi of Vonones was merely intended to assert in theory the rights of Parthia over the region of the Paropamisadae.
At the time of Vonones, the more or less independent Saka satraps continued to govern certain territories in the North-West : Hagamasa and Hagana in Mathura; Patika in Chukhsa. Patika, of the Ksaharata family, was the son of Liaka Kusulaka, the vassal of Maues. The copper plate at Taxila (Konow, p. 28) informs us that, during his father's lifetime, he re-established to the north of Taxila a "dislodged" relic of the Bhagavat Shakyamuni as well as a monastery, thus earning him the Buddhist title of "Great Benefactor" (rnahadanapati ). The inscription on the Lion Capital of Mathura (Know p,. 48) shows that he succeeded his father with the title of Mahasatrapa and that he doubtless had the ksatrapa Mevaki Miyika as a colleague and neighbour.
AZES I (38-10 B.C.E). - Azes I, the son of Spalirises, was the most powerful Saka dynast after Maues. During his father's lifetime, in about 45 B.C.E, he already bore the title of Great King. Having mounted the throne in approximately the year 38 B.C.E, he inherited the imperial title, as is proved by Arachosian coins of the "King on horseback : Standing Zeus" type, with the legends Maharajasa rajarajasa mahatasa Ayasa. It is not without astonishment that we see all the great figures of the Greek pantheon appearing on the coins of the Saka king : Zeus, Poseidon, Pallas, Hermes, Hephaestus, the winged Nike and Demeter with the horn of plenty. His conquests were considerable :
a. From Hermaeus he retook Gandhara (Puskaravati) and the Western Punjab (Taxila). This is proved by the fact that he struck coins of the "City of Puskaravati : Indian Ox" and "Elephant : Indian Buffalo" typcs, characteristic of thosc two regions.
b. To the east of the Jhelum, he captured the Greek kingdom of the Eastern Punjab, capital Sakala, from the last Euthydemids. Indeed, he overstruck certain coins of Apollodotus I and Hippostratus and adopted the "Athena Promachos" or "Athena" type which characterized the Euthydemid house.
c. Again, in all probability, he annexed Kapisa on the death of Hermaeus which took place in the year 30, since he himself, as well as his successor Azilises, struck local coins of the "Zeus Nikephorus, standing with sceptre" and "Zeus Nikephorus, seated on the throne".
d. The suzerainty of Azes also extended to the region of Mathura, where the Indian era known as Vikrama was in use, and which began in the year 58 B.C.E Azes seems to have adopted this calculation, while changing its name "Vikrama era" to "Era of Azes (Ayasa)". Dated in the era of Azes are the inscription of Sivaraksita at Shahdaur (Konow,p. 17) the number of which has been effaced, the copper plate at Kalawan (J. MARSHALL Taxila, I, p. 327) in the year 134 (= 76 C.E.), and the silver scroll of Taxila (Konow p, . 77) in the year 136 (= 78 C.E.).
Azes I governed his vast possessions through intermediaries :
a. In the satrapy of Chukhsa, Kharahostes is mentioned on the Lion Capital of Mathura (Konow p, . 48) as a yuvaraja, the son of Arta, husband of Abuhola and father of Ayasi Kamuia. The latter was to marry Rajula or Rajuvula, the satrap of Mathura. Kharahostes, who doubtless succeeded Patika as satrap of Chukhsa, struck coins representing on the obverse the king on horseback, with a pointed lance
AZILES (10 B.C.E-5 C.E.) and AZES II (5-19 C.E.). The great King of Kings Azilises wielded power first under the aegis of his father Azes I, then alone, finally in association with his son Azes II. His very varied coinage attests the extent of his states : silver coins of the "Standing Zeus" type (Arachosia), copper ones of the "Standing or seated Heracles" type (Arachosia), "Goddess of the city and Zeus" (Gandhara), "Elephant and Indian Buffalo" (Taxila). The coin which he struck in association with his son Azes II is of copper. The obverse represents Heracles, with the club and lion-skin, crowning himself.
That Azes II left coins of the "King on horseback : Pallas Athena" type bearing on the reverse the Kharosthi legend Indravarmaputrasa Aspavarmasa strategasa. From this it can be concluded that Azes II took as his lieutenant a certain Aspavarma whose father, Indravarma, had already served under Azilises.
As for the rest, Azilises and Azes II resorted to the services of numerous vassals :
a. In the Western Punjab (Taxila), Indravarma under Azilises, Aspavarma under Azes II. Indravarma, under the name of Imdravasa. Struck coins of the "King on Horseback : Pallas Athena" type. As for his son Aspavarma, he can perhaps be identified with that Isparaka whose name appears on an inscribed ladle found in Mahal, near Taxila : "A gift from Isparaka to the community of the four regions at the Uttararama of Taksasila, in favour of Kasyapiyas
b. In the Eastern Punjab (Sakala),Bhadrayasa who, on his copper coins of the Athena Alkis
c. In the satrapy of Chuhksa, Manigula (Konow p, . 82), continuing the lineage of Liaka Kusulaka, Patika, Arta and Kharahostes (Konow, p. 48).
d. Finally in Mathura, Sodasa, the son of Rajuvula, the great satrap of Azes I, and who seems to have succeeded his father, but only in the region of Mathura, from the year 17 B.C.E onwards. Sodasa bears the title of Satrap then of Great Satrap on the Kharosthi and Brahmi inscriptions at Mathura.On his coins of the Laksmi type, rediscovered in the region of Mathura exclusively, he bears the titles of "Satrap Sodas son of the Great Satrap", "Satrap Sodasa, son of Rajuvula" and finally, "Great Satrap Sodasa".
GONDOPHARES (19-45 C.E.). - During the final decades of the ancient era, the Arsacids, absorbed in the skirmishes with Rome, had no leisure to concern themselves with their eastern possessions and left the field open to the Sakas in their Indian undertakings.
The reigns of Orodes I (57-38 B.C.E) and Phraates IV (37-2 B.C.E) were marked by fierce battles against the Romans. In 53 B.C.E, the Suren of Orodes vanquished the legions of the triumvir Crassus in the famous battle of Carrhae (Harran) which cost the Romans twenty thousand dead and ten thousand prisoners. Crassus perished in the skirmish, and the Suren abused his corpse. The conquered man's right hand and head were cut off and sent to Artaxata and the frightful trophy was cast by Sillaces at the feet of Orodes and his son Pacorus.
In 42 B.C.E, the Parthians invaded Syria and Judaea but, in 38 B.C.E, they were attacked in the Taurus by Antony's general, Ventidius Bassus. At Gindarus, they suffered a serious defeat during which Pacorus met his death. Orodes then relinquished the power and his second son, Phraates IV, mounted the throne. He immediately had to confront a renewed Roman attack commanded by Antony in person. Eager to avenge the affront inflicted twenty years earlier on the Roman eagles and Crassus, the triumvir marched on the Euphrates; however, once again the expedition ended in defeat, followed by a disastrous retreat (36 B.C.E).
The accession of Augustus and the policy of peace which the emperor inaugurated in the East protected the Parthians against the imperial eagles for nearly a century. Phraates IV sent an embassy to Augustus, returned the trophies captured from Crassus and Antony and had his four sons educated in Rome. Furthermore, the emperor having presented him with an Italian slave, Musa, he married her and elevated her to the rank of queen. From this union was born a son, Phraataces, and in order that he might accede to the Parthian throne, Musa had no hesitation in poisoning the old king.
Phraataces, under the name of Phraates V (2 B.C.E-4 C.E.), ruled for some time jointly with his mother. In the end, a rebellion by the nobility forced him to retire to Roman territory. Brought to power by the nobility, the usurper Orodes II occupied the throne for only four years (4-8 C.E.). He made himself unbearable through his cruelty and was assassinated during a hunting party.
The Parthian nobility asked Rome for one of the four sons of Phraates IV to be sent to occupy the throne, and the choice fell on Vonones I. His reign was brief (8-11 C.E.) since, having been educated in the West and therefore unfamiliar with Persian customs, he soon displeased his subjects. A rival, Artaban, prince of Media and an Arsacid through his mother, was given the power by the malcontents, and Vonones went to Armenia where he occupied the then vacantthrone.
Artaban III was to rule for some thirty years (11-40 C.E.) in perfect harmony with the Roman Empire with which, in the year 18 C.E, he renewed the pact of friendship which had formerly been concluded by Phraates IV.
Orthagnes, Artaban's Suren, governed Seistan with the title of Great King of Kings. His vassals in Arachosia were Gondophares and his brother Guda or Gada. Copper coins exist which bear on the obverse the bust of Orthagnes and, on the reverse, a standing Victory, with the Kharosthi legend Maharajasa rajatirajasa mahatasa Gudapharasa Gudasa.
The first vassal of the Suren, Gudaphara, was destined to a brilliant future and his exploits nourished the legend as much as the chronicle. He was called in Iranian Vindapharna, "Conqueror of glory", but his name appears in the most diverse forms : Gudaphara on inscriptions from the North-West, Guduphara or Gadaphama on the Kharosthi legends of coins, Undopheros, Undopherros or Gondopherros on the Greek legends of the same coins, and finally, Gudnafar, Gundafor, Gundoforus and Goundaphorus in the apocryphal Acta.
In approximately the year 19 C.E., this Gondophares, as he is called by modem historians, succeeded Orthagnes as Suren of Eastern Iran. In that capacity, he governed the province of Aria, the districts situated between Lake Hamun and the river Helmand (Drangiana and Seistan) and, finally, Kandahar or Arachosia, a region called "White India".
Gondophares wielded power with the full agreement of the Arsacids, and the characteristic monogram which appears on his coins as well as those of the Parthian kings Orodes I, Phraates IV and Artaban III, is perhaps an indication of this allegiance.
While his predecessor, the Suren Orthagnes, had styled himself "King of Kings" after the example of his suzerains, Gondophares had first to be content with the more modest title of "Saviour King"; this is evident from coins of the "Bust of the King : Nike" type.
It is generally believed that in about the year 25 C.E. Gondophares made an attack on Indo-Scythia, vanquished the Saka Azes II and his general ASpavarma, and established his capital in Taxila. It was then perhaps that he assumed the imperial title of "Great King of Kings", making him the equal of the Arsacid princes. From then on, he struck silver and copper coins of the "King on Horseback : Standing Zeus" type.
Starting from Taxila, Gondophares extended his conquests towards the west and east. According to J. Marshall, his empire when at its largest, included SeistAn (Sakasthana) the Sindh (Sakadvipa) with prolongations to the Kutch peninsula (Kaccha) and Kathiawar (Surastra), Arachosia, the Paropamisadae, Gandhira and the plains of the Punjab as least as far as Ravi.
Of the countless Saka-~Pahlavas of Indo-Scythia, Gondophares is the only one to have emerged from obscurity to take his place in legend. His name and those of certain of his intimates, such as Guda and Abdagases, are mentioned in the Christian and pagan traditions concerning the journey of the apostle Thomas to India, the visit to Taxila by Apollonius of Tyana, and the pilgrimage to Nazareth of the three wise kings.
PACORES (50-60 C.E.). - In approximately the year 50 C.E, the Pahlava Pacores succeeded Gondophares as the Suren of Eastern Iran. During this period, the Parthians were prey to discord and divided over the question of power (Tacitus, Ann., XI, 8-10; XII, 10-14). Throughout the five years which followed the death of Artaban III, his two sons, Vardanes and Gotarzes, quarrelled over the crown (41- 45 C.E.). After the assassination of Vardanes during a hunting party, Gotarzes wielded power alone until 51 C.E. It was in vain that, at the request of the nobility who were tired of his cruelty and prodigality, the emperor Claudius had sent to Parthia to replace him Prince Meherdates, the grandson of Phraates IV and son of Vonones I. Meherdates, who was betrayed into the hands of Gotarzes, was maimed so that, in accordance with Persian custom, he was unable to occupy the throne. Vonones II, who succeeded Gotarzes in 51 C.E, ruled only for a few months and does not seem to have struck any coins. He was replaced by his son Vologeses I (51-78 C.E). A nationalist and anti-Hellenistic movement is taking form : on the king's coins appear semitic characters, and the Greek legends gradually disappear; the prince had fragments of the Avesta collected. The question of Armenia brought Vologeses into conflict with the Romans. Domitius Corbulo, the proconsul of Asia, legate of Cappadocia and Galatia, seized and destroyed Artaxata, and took Tigranocerta without a struggle (51 C.E). Armenia thus once again became Roman, but only for a short time since Vologeses, through his victory at Arsamosata, re-established Tiridates on the vassal throne of the Parthians (53 C.E). Between the years 58 C.E and 63 C.E, Corbulo attempted to reconquer Armenia and, despite the reverses of the general Caesannius Paetus, was successful in reaching an agreement with the Parthians over the Armenian question (63 C.E). During his long reign, Vologeses also had to repulse an invasion of Alani who ravaged Armenia and Media, to fight his own son Vardanes II who, in the year 55 C.E, rebelled against him, and finally, to quell, in 58 C.E, a revolt in Hyrcania.
The difficulties encountered by the central power left the field free for Pacores, the Suren of Eastern Iran.
However, the authority of the Suren was no firmer than that of the Parthian emperors. It was exercised in only a nominal way over the Pahlava chiefs, Sasan, Sapedanes and Satavastra, who continued to govern the Sindh, without ever agreeing among themselves. Their port was Barbaricon (perhaps the present-day Bahardipur) on the Indus delta, but the capital of Scythia, or to be more precise of Indo-Scythia, was named Minnagara, to be identified with the Patala of Alexander's expedition. According to the contemporary evidence of the Periplus (38), "it was governed by the Parthians, who were continually pursuing one another".
On the evidence of Jaina writers, it is believed that the region of Taxila was devastated, in about 57 C.E., by an infectious disease. The community of Naddulapura (Nodol in Rajputana) put the holy Manadevi Suri in charge of fighting the plague. Shortly afterwards, the Yueh chih seized Gandhara and expelled the Saka-Pahlavas once and for all from North-West India : "Three years after the plague, the great city (Taxila) was destroyed by the Turuskas, and brazen and stone images are still to be found in the subterranean houses [of the old city]".
The conquest of North-West India by the Turuskas, otherwise called Kusanas, occurred between the year 103 of the era of Azes (45 C.E., the last attested date of Gondophares) and the year 122 of the same era (64 C.E), the date of the Kusana inscription of Panjtar in the Mahaban massif (Konow p,. 70). The silver scroll of Taxila (Konow p,. 77) from the year 136 of Azes (78 C.E) proves that at that date Taxila was in the hands of the Kusana Devaputras and, the conquest was later confirmed by the Chinese annalists. Ruined by the invasion, the city of Taxila, in approximately the year 80 C.E., was transferred from Sirkap to Sirsukh.