Wednesday, 10 January 2018



GENERAL FEATURES OF THE PERIOD. - The term Magadhan can be applied to the period which extended from 546 to 324 B.C.E and which is characterized by the constant growth of the kingdom of Magadha under the successive dynasties of the Haryankas (546-414 B.C.E), Sisunagas (414-346 B.C.E) and the Nine Nandas (346-324 B.C.E). Despite the palace dramas which regularly bathed the throne in blood, the princes had the interests of the state at heart and built up piecemeal an extensive kingdom which included the territories of the Vrjis and Kosala in the north, Kuru- Pancala and the Mathuri region in the west, the territories of the Avanti (Malwa), Haihaya on the Narmada and of Asmaka on the Upper Godavari in the centre and south-west, Bengal and Kalinga in the east.

The religious zeal of the princes was not as great as was their political consciousness; however, some of them showed sympathy for the Buddhist Order and favoured its development : Bimbisara, Ajatasattru (after his accession to the throne), Udayin, Munda and Kalasoka. Religious history cannot overlook two regions which had not yet been touched by Buddhist propaganda at the Magadhan period, but which were later to become two important holy lands : Uttarapatha and the island of Ceylon.

Uttarapatha, a region in the north-west, and its capital Taksasila, the seat of an ancient university, formed, at an early date, an influential centre of Indian culture. According to a late and probably apocryphal tradition, its king Pukkusati had known the Buddha in the sixth century and been converted. However, if this fact is true, the royal example was not followed by the mass of the population, and three more centuries were required for the Good Law to be implanted in the region. In the meantime, the north-west was drawn into a rapid succession of events :
the Achaemenid conquest and occupation (559-336 B.C.E); a lightning raid by Alexander (327-324 B.C.E), and quarrels among the Diadochi (325-305 B.C.E). It was only in 305 B.C.E, after the failure of Seleucus' campaign against Chandragupta, that the north-west returned to the mother-country and again entered the orbit of the Indian empire.

Towards the end of the sixth century B.C.E, the island of Ceylon was occupied by an Aryan colony, which originated in Lata (Gulf of Cambay), and superimposed itself on the primitive population of the Veddas. These Simhala, as they were called, were governed from 486 B.C.E to 250 B.C.E by five successive kings who organized the island, gave it a capital, Anuradhapura, and prepared it to receive the message of Sakyamuni which the missionary Mahinda was to bring to it.

During the Magadhan period, the Buddhist Community, of which the main centre was still the region of the Middle Ganges, settled down slowly but surely. Its first successes were far from spectacular and hardly surpassed those of the rival orders of the Nirgranthas, Ajivikas, Jatilakas, Tedandikas, Aviruddhakas or Devadharmikas.

The first concern of the nascent community was to codify the teaching of the Buddha and to give the Order a well-defined doctrine and discipline. Tradition attributes this undertaking to two Buddhist councils which followed each other at a century's interval : the Council of Rajagrha, which convened the very year of the Buddha's decease (486 B.C.E), compiled the Dharma and Vinaya; that of Vaisali, which was held in 386 B.C.E or 376 B.C.E , condemned the laxist tendencies which had permeated some of the parishes. However, the records devoted to these councils are riddled with improbabilities, anachronisms and contradictions; in the course of history, they were exploited to very different ends. It remains nonetheless a fact that the work done by the early disciples (sthavira) during the two centuries which followed the Nirvana supplied the original community with a law (dharma) and a set of rules (pratimoksa) which were more or less definitive : a sacred trust which constituted the common heritage of the schools which were to develop later.

It was on this basis that the canonical writings were elaborated, but their compilation required many centuries and was still not completed in the fifth century of the Christian era. Each sect claimed to possess its own code of writings and attempted, without always succeeding, to institute it by exploiting the common doctrinal fund, while enriching it with more or less authentic new compositions. This work was not carried out systematically, but with much classifying and reclassifying of the texts.

A history of Buddhism should also take into account the predictions which circulated very early on in the Community regarding the future disappearance of the Good Law, for it was accepted by the disciples of Sakyamuni that after a greater or lesser period the Buddha's Doctrine would finally deteriorate and disappear, only to be rediscovered and expounded again by the Buddhas of the future. These pessimistic forecasts concerning the vanishing of the Dharma and the circumstances which might accompany it are lacking in coherence. Nevertheless, they arose in the minds of believers and, because of that, deserve to be recorded and analyzed.

Sakyamuni had refused to designate a successor to preside over the destinies of the order he had founded. Indeed, Buddhists never acknowledged the authority of a single infallible leader. Each community, however, had its own masters, preceptors (upaddhyaya) and instructors (acharya) who were entrusted with conferring ordination on young recruits and guiding them along the paths of religious perfection. The monks of Ceylon have preserved, or compiled, a list of the "Vinaya Chiefs" (vinayapamokkha) and "Masters of scholastics" (abhidhammachariya) who succeeded one another in Magadha from the time of the Nirvana until that of Asoka, but they make no mention of "Masters of the Law" (dharmacharya), who were supposed to have received and transmitted the sacred trust of the doctrine. This list was to be compiled later, by the Sarvastivadins and Mulasarvastivadins from the north-west, about the second century A.D. It was widely distributed, particularly in Kashmir and China, but did not however compel recognition from all the sects of the continent.


MAGADHA. FROM 546 to 324 B.C.E

MAGADHAN DYNASTIES - Sinhalese sources dating from the fourth and fifth centuries A.D. : Dipavamsa (Ch. 111 and V), Mahavamsa (Ch. 11, IV and V) and Samantapasadika (I, pp. 72-3) count 218 years between the Buddha's decease and the consecration of Asoka (486-268 B.C.), 316 years between Bimbisara's accession and the death of Asoka (546-230 B.C.E). During the period, it is thought that four royal houses and thirteen sovereigns succeeded one another on the throne of Magadha.

I . Bimbisara (546-494 B.C.E )
2. Ajatasattru (494-462 B.C.E )
3. Udayabhadda (462-446 B.C.E )
4. Anuruddha
5. Munda
6. Nagadasaka (438-414 B.C.E )
7. Sisunaga (414-396 B.C.E )
8. Kalasoka (396-368 B.C.E )
9. Ten sons of 8 (368-346 B.C.E )
10. Nine Nandas (346-324 B.C.E )
I I . Chandragupta (324-300 B.C.E )
12. Bindusara (300-272 B.C.E )
13. Asoka (372-268  B.C.E Before consecration and 268-231 B.C.E  after consecration )

However, in the genealogy of the Samantapasadika (I, p. 73) and its Chinese recension (T 1462, ch. 2, p. 6876 2), the eighth sovereign Kilisoka is merely given as "Asoka, son of Susunaga"; he appears under the name of Kalasoka only on pages 33 and 72 of the Pali text, and on page 687a 24 of the Chinese. Since Kalasoka appears only in the Sinhalese sources, we can, as did P. Demieville, have doubts about his existence

Although the Sinhalese tradition was adopted by Burmese Buddhists, it was not so firmly established as has generally been believed. Thus Buddhaghosa, who subscribed to it in his Samantapasadika, discarded it in the Sumangalavilasini (I, p. 153). Indeed, in that work the order of succession of the first six sovereigns is as follows : Bimbisara, Ajatasattru, Udaya, Mahimunda, Anuruddha and Nagadasa.

Buddhist sources in Sanskrit which as we have seen claim that Asoka reigned in the year 100 of the Nirvana, nevertheless count twelve sovereigns within the short space of a century, i.e., from 368 to 268 B.C.E

This is notably the case for The Legend of Asoka (Divya, p. 369; T 2042, ch. 1, p. 99c. Also cf. T 99, ch. 23, p. 162a; T 2043, ch. 1, p. 132b) :

1. Bimbisara
2. AjataSatru
3. Udayabhadra
4. Munda
5. Kakavarnin
6. Sahalin
7. Tulakucin
8. Mahamandala
9. Prasenajit
10. Nanda
11. Bindusara
12. Susima

This genealogy contains errors and omissions : it classifies Prasenajit, king of Kosala, among the sovereigns of Magadha, and does not mention the Maurya Chandragupta. Its fifth sovereign Kakavarnin is known to the Purana by the name of Kakavarna, which is an epithet meaning "crow-coloured" and one might wonder whether the Sinhalese chroniclers were not referring to him by placing a Kalasoka "Asoka the Black" beside the great Asoka, the Maurya.

Another Sanskrit source, which also places Asoka in the year 100 of the Nirvana, supplies a series of badly classified facts and chronological indications which are quite different from the Sinhalese chronicles. This is the ManjusrimuIakalpa (w. 321-6; 353-79; 413-39):

1. Bimbisara
2. Ajatasattru
3. Udayin (reigned 20 years)
4. Asoka Mukhya (acceded to the throne 100 years after the Buddha, lived for 100 years  and ruled for 87 years)
5. Visoka (succeeded the last-named and ruled for 76 years)
6. Surasena (reigned 17 years)
7. Nanda (lived for 67 years)
8. Chandragupta
9. Bindusara (reigned until he was 70 years old).

This source mixes all the given facts : the first three sovereigns belong to the house of the Haryankas (546-414 B.C.E); numbers 5 and 6, to the house of the Sisunagas (414-346 B.C.E) if Visoka and Surasena are respectively identified with Kalasoka and his eldest son Bhadrasena of the Pali sources; number 7 represents the Nanda dynasty (346-324 B.C.E); numbers 8, 9 and 4 represent the first three Mauryas.

Neither the Jaina nor brahmanical tradition confirm the Buddhist sources, whether Pali or Sanskrit.

In his Parisistaparvan, the Jaina historian Hemacandra, from the end of the eleventh century A.D., lists only seven sovereigns :

1. Srenika
2. Kunika
3. Udayin
4. Nine Nandas
5. Chandragupta
6. Bindusara
7. Asoka

Srenika is the forename of Bimbisara, and Kunika, that of Ajatasattru. The same author dates the accession of Chandragupta in the year 155 after the death of Mahivira which occurred, it is believed, in 468 B.C.E

Therefore, according to this datum, which confirms the Kahavali of Bhadresvara, Chandragupta would have mounted the throne of Magadha in 313 B.C. However, another Jaina author, Merutunga, in his VicaraSreni, situates the accession sixty years later, i.e., in 253 B.C.E. According to the Purana (P., pp. 21 -2, 24-5, 28), fourteen sovereigns mounted the throne of Magadha, but over a period of 517 years.

1. Sisunaga (40 years)
2. Kakavarna (36 years)
3. Ksemadharman(20 years)
4. Kstraujas (40 years)
5. Bimbisara (28 years)
6. Ajatasattru (25 years)
7. Darsaka (25 years)
8. Udayin (33 years)
9. Nandivardhana (42 years)
10. Mahanandin (43 years)
11. Mahapadma and his 8 sons (100 years)
12. Chandragupta (24 years)
13. Bindusara (25 years)
14. Asoka (36 years)

Since it is impossible to reach a decision about these contradictory attestations, we will follow here the Sinhalese chronology, but with distinct reservations concerning the existence of a Kalasoka and the 218 years which supposedly separated the Nirvlna from the consecration of Asoka.

THE HARYANKAS (546-414 B.C.).

According to the Buddhacarita (XI, 2), the first kings of Magadha belonged to the illustrious Haryanka family. It achieved the unity of the Gangetic empire, but tarnished its reputation by numerous crimes : in order to accede to power more quickly, the crown princes regularly put their fathers to death : an uncontrollable but well established tradition.

1. Srenika Bimbisara (60-8 before the Nirvlna; 546-494 B.C.E) was the contemporary of the Buddha and of Mahivira. He came to the throne when aged 15 and had his residence in Rajagrha-Girivraja where he founded a new town, as the earlier one had constantly been destroyed by fire. He contracted marriages with the ruling families of the Madras, Kosala and Vaisali. His Kosalan wife brought him as dowry a village in the district of Varanasi which produced a revenue of one hundred thousand pieces of money. He defeated King Brahmadatta and annexed Anga (Bengal) to his crown. He was on friendly terms with King Pukkusati of Taxila, whom he instructed in the doctrine of the Buddha. His son Ajatasattru threw him into prison where he died of starvation; Queen Kosaladevi's death followed soon afterwards.

2. Kuniika Ajatasattru (during the period covering 8 years before to 24 years after the Nirvana; 493-462 B.C.E)' in his youth patronized Devadatta, the schismatic cousin of the Buddha, built the monastery of Gayasirsa for him and took part in his plots against the Buddha's life. Later, however, seized with remorse, he sought out the Blessed One and apologized to him : the Master expounded the Samannaphalasutta to him and pardoned him. From then on, Ajataiatru showed himself sympathetic towards Buddhism.

As a result of the odious murder of his own father Bimbisara, Kosala and the Vrjis leagued together against him. Battle was first engaged against Kosala. After initial successes, Ajatasattru was beaten and taken prisoner but his uncle Prasenajit, king of Kosala, freed him, gave him the hand of his daughter Vajri in marriage and acknowledged his possession of the village in the district of Kasi which had served as a pretext for the war. Dethroned by his son Virudhaka, Prasenajit sought refuge with Ajatasattru, but died of exhaustion before he was able to reach him. Ajatasattru arranged a fine funeral for his uncle, but did not disturb his cousin Virudhaka who had just ascended the throne of Kosala.

The war waged by Ajatasattru against the Vrji confederation, which included in particular the Licchavis of Vaisali and the Mallas of Kusinagara and Pava, continued for many years. The pretext for it was either the refusal of Cetaka, king of Vaisali, to restore to Ajatasattru a necklet which had once belonged to Bimbisara, or a dispute which had arisen between the Licchavis and Ajatasattru over the joint exploitation of a diamond mine on the banks of the Gangese. The very year of the Buddha's decease, Ajatasattru's ministers, Varsakara and Sunidha, had, on the right bank of the river, fortified the village of Pataligrama which was later to become the capital of the kingdom under the name of Pataliputra. Varsakara warned the Buddha of the aggressive intentions of his king. In order to resist the attack of his neighbour from the south, King Cetaka of Vaishali called to arms the eighteen Ganarajas of Kasi and Kosala together with the Licchavis and Mallas. However, dissension was sown among his troops by the minister Varsakara who, like a new Coriolanus, had pretended to pass to the enemy. Finally, Vaisali was taken by means of the catapults and heavy chariots of the Magadhans, and the Vrji territory was attached to Ajatasattru's possessions.

From the time of his conversion the king increased his marks of attachment to the Buddha and his disciples. His ministers had to take the greatest precautions when informing him of the Blessed One's decease. On pretext of protecting the king from the fatal effects of a bad dream, they placed him in a tank "filled with the four sweetnesses", then told him the sad news. The king fainted, and had to be plunged into a further two tanks and the announcement repeated before the king realized the extent of the misfortune lo. His despair was extreme; in tears he recalled the virtues of the Buddha and visited the places which the Buddha had sanctified by his presence. Not without difficulty, he obtained a portion of the Buddha's relics from the Mallas of Kusinagara, and took them back to his capital Rajagrha where he had them enclosed in a stone stupa. Two months later, during the Buddhist council held in Rajagrha, he gave his royal support to the Elders and ensured their subsistence.

The death of the first two masters of the Law, Mahakasyapa and Ananda, which took place during his reign, was a further cause of sorrow for Ajatasattru. Despite his keen desire to do so, he was unable to be present at their last moments, but he visited the Kukkutapada where the former had entered Nirvana and erected a stupa over the portion of the relics left by the second. It seems that Mahakasyapa died shortly after the council of Rajagrha (486 B.C.E), and Ananda the year which preceded the death of the king (463 B.C.E). In 462 B.C.E Ajatasattru, the patricide, in turn succumbed at the hands of his son Udayin or Udayabhadra : forseeing this turn of events, he had attempted in vain to make his son take up the religious life.

3. Udayin or Udayabhadra (24-40 after the Nirvana; 462-446 B.C.E) exercised a vice-royalty in Champa (also Campa )before acceding to the throne which he occupied for sixteen years. The Jaina sources agree with the Purana in attributing to him the founding of the town of Pataliputra or Kusumapura on the right bank of the Ganges, at the confluence of the Sona, in the fourth year of his reign (458 B.C.E) : this city was to remain the capital of the Magadhan empire for many centuries. Udayin was at war with the kingdom of Avanti which, at the time, had been enlarged by the addition of the territory of Kausambi : the hostilities which began under his father Ajatasattru did not end until some fifty years later with the triumph of Sisunaga over the king of Avanti. The Buddhists claim that Udayin had accepted the doctrine of the Buddha and had it written down" : the tradition is difficult to verify but should not be discarded a priori.

4. Anuruddha and 5.Munda (40-48 after the Nirvana; 446-438 B.C.). Anuruddha assassinated his father Udayin and in turn fell at the hands of his son Munda. The latter's wife was Bhadri. When she died, the king's grief was so acute that, at the request of the treasurer Piyaka, the Thera Narada, abbot of the Kukkutarama, went to Pataliputra to comfort Munda. That pious encounter confirmed the king in his Buddhist faith.

6. Nagadasaka (48-82 after the Nirvana; 438-414 B.C.) killed his father and ruled for twenty-four years. His subjects, who grew weary of his behaviour, rebelled against him and replaced him by a capable minister, known by the name of Sisunaga.

Although the house of the Haryankas was favourable to their religion, the Buddhists were severely censorious of that race of patricides.

The Manjusrimulakalpa mentions the visit paid by Ajatasatru to the Buddha in order to obtain pardon and support, and gives details of the vicissitudes of the war of the relics, but this is only in order to recall the Buddha's prophecies regarding the difficult beginnings of his religion :
"After my decease", he is reported to have said, "the masters of the world will kill each other from father to son; the bhiksus will be engrossed in business affairs and the people, victims of greed. The laity will lose their faith, will kill and spy on one another. The land will be invaded by Devas and Tirthikas, and the population will place its faith in the brihmins; men will take pleasure in killing living beings and they will lead a loose life" (w. 236-48). The same text emphasizes that Ajatasattru, king of Magadha, also ruled over Anga, the Varanasi region and, to the north, as far as Vaisali (vv. 321-2).

The episodes which affected the beginnings of Buddhism in its relationship with the kings of Magadha very soan attracted the attention of artists. The ancient school of sculpture in the second century B.C. produced a great many representations of the encounters between Bimbisara and the Buddha, the due apology and conversion of Ajatasattru, as well as various episodes in the war of the relics in which that king played the leading part. The same themes were also exploited by the artists of Gandhara and Amaravati.

In the fifth and seventh centuries A.D., the memory of the ancient kings of Magadha was still young in India. During his journey to the holy places, the pilgrim Fa-hsien recorded the traditions according to which Ajatasattru had, in his youth, sent a drunken elephant against the Buddha, built a new city in Rajagrha and assembled half of Ananda's relics on the banks of the Ganges. Two centuries later, Hsuan tsang mentions no less than two roadways constructed by Bimbisara in the area of Rajagrha, in the Yastivana and on the Grdhrakutaparvata, for the sole purpose of having better access to the Buddha'. The master of the Law also knew of the old tradition which attributed the founding of New Rajagrha sometimes to Bimbisara and sometimes to Ajatasattru. To the west of the Venuvana, he saw the stupa which the latter had erected over his share of the Buddha's relics.

THE SISUNAGAS (414-346 B.C.)

According to the evidence of the Sinhalese chronicles, this dynasty included among its ranks Sisuniga, Kalasoka and the Ten Sons of Kalasoka. K.P. Jayaswal suggests identifying Kalasoka with the Visoka of the Manjusrimulakalpa (v.413), and one of his ten sons with the Surasena of the same source (v.417). It will be noted that the Jaina historians make no mention of this dynasty, that the 'Legend of Asoka' in Sanskrit replaces it with three sovereigns whose family is not named (Kakavarnin, Sahalin and Tulakucin), it will also be noted that the Puranas place the Sisunagas before the Haryankas and, finally, that the Manjusrimulakalpa situates Visoka and Surasena after Asoka the Maurya. This chronological uncertainty in no way authorizes a comparison, however tempting, between the Kakavarnin of the Puranas and of the 'Legend of Asoka' and the Kalasoka of the Pali chronicles.

The latter give Kalasoka as the patron of the second Buddhist council which was held in Vaishali in the year 100 or 110 of the Nirvana, but, according to the Tibetan historian Taranatha (p. 41), those meetings took place under the protection of a king of Licchavi origin called Nandin. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the Sinhalese chroniclers entirely invented a Sisunaga, Kalasoka, in order to harmonize two traditions from different sources : one, of continental origin, according to which a Buddhist council was held in Vaishali in the year 100 of the Nirvana, and the other, of Sinhalese origin, which mentions a council which took place in Pataliputra in the year 236 of the Nirvana, under Asoka the Maurya. Such chroniclers would therefore have duplicated the Asoka Maurya by assuming the existence, 136 years before his time, of an Asoka of the Sisunaga family. They called him "Black Asoka" (Kalasoka), taking their inspiration from the Purana. in which the name Kakavarna designates the son of Sisunaga. Buddhist source in Sanskrit, such as The Legend of Asoka and the Manjusrimulakalpa, which give Asoka the Maurya as ruling in the year 100 of the Nirvana and know nothing whatever about the council of Pataliputra, had no need of such subterfuge.

1. Sisunaga (72-90 after the Nirvana, 414-396 B.C.E). - Sisunaga, whom a popular uprising placed on the throne of Magadha, was, according to the Mahavamsatika (p. 155), the son of a Licchavi raja and a courtesan. The Purana (P., p. 21) inform us that he settled his son in Varanasi and made Girivraja (Rajagrha) his capital. However, the Burmese tradition has it that, in memory of his mother, he transferred his residence to VaishaIi and that from then on Rajagrha lost its rank of capital which it was never to regain . Pursuing the policy of absorption inaugurated by Bimbisara and Ajatasattru. Sisunaga "destroyed all the prestige" of the Pradyotas of Avanti and thus annexed Malwa to his crown.

2. Kalasoka (90-118 after the Nirvana; 396-368 B.C.E). - Kalasoka, the son of Sisunaga, transferred his capital from Rajagrha to Pataliputra, but made VaishaIi one of his residences. It was there that a laxist movement broke out among the Vrjis, monks from Vaishali, who took great liberties with the monastic discipline. At first the king supported them but, when his sister Nandi intervened, he transferred his patronage to the orthodox monks; a council took place with his consent at the Valikarama in Vaishali in the year 100 of the Nirvana (386 B.C.E) and the Vrjis were declared to be in the wrong. It should be remembered that, according to Taranatha, this council was held during the reign of a King Nandin of Licchavi origin.

Some historians have identified Kalasoka with Kakavarna or Kakavarnin in the Purana and the Legend of Asoka. The latter reigned for thirty-six years and, in the words of the Harsacarita ( p. 199), met with a violent death : a dagger was plunged into his throat when he was not far from his city.

Kalasoka has also been compared to Visoka who is mentioned in the Manjusrimulakalpa (v. 413), but the latter succeeded Asoka the Maurya and died of a fever after having venerated the Buddha's relics for seventy-six years. These "wild" identifications do not help to solve the problem.

3. The ten sons of Kalasoka (118-140 after the Nirvana; 368-346 B.C.E). - They reigned jointly for twenty-two years and the Mahabodhivamsa (p. 98) gives their names : Bhaddasena, Korandavanna, Mangura, Sabbanjaha, Jalika, Ubhaka, Sanjaya, Korabya, Nandivaddhana and Pancamaka. The Manjusrimulakalpa (v. 417) knows of a Surasena who has been compared to Bhaddasena : he had stupas erected as far as the shores of the Ocean and ruled for seventeen years. The Purana (P., p. 22) also note among the Saisunagas a Nandivardhana who succeeded Udayin and reigned for forty years.

THE NINE NANDAS (346-324 B.C.E).

According to the Sinhalese sources, the Sisunaga dynasty was overthrown by a brigand who usurped the throne and established the house of the Nine Nandas which remained in power for twenty-two years. The Mahabodhivamsa (p. 98) gives their names : Uggasena -Nanda, Panduka-Nanda, Pandugati-Nanda, Bhutapala-Nanda, Ratthapala-Nanda, Govisanaka-Nanda, Dasasiddhaka- Nanda, Kevatta-Nanda and Dhana-Nanda : the latter was killed by Chandragupta with the help of Chanakya, and his throne was seized.

The Manjusrimulakalpa (vv. 422-8) knows of only one Nanda whom it gives as succeeding Surasena : this King Nanda was to reign in Puspapura (Pataliputra), have a large army and enjoy great power. He was known as the Chief of the Peasants (nicamukhya) probably because of his low birth. He had been prime minister, but had usurped the kingship by magical means. He lived surrounded by proud and demanding brahmins to whom he was lavish with his gifts; however, on the entreaties of a "spiritual friend" he did not refuse the Buddhists his favours : he had twenty-four viharas constructed and richly endowed the precious relics of the Buddha. Among his friends and counsellors were two grammarians of brahmin origin but favourable to Buddhism : Panini, the author of the Astadhyayi, and Vararuci, known for a treatise on metrics (Srutabodha) and a Prakrit grammar (Prakrtaprakasa). Towards the end of his reign, Nanda alienated the sympathy of his ministers but, he died of a disease at the age of sixty-seven, a rare priviledge for a Magadhan king.

The information supplied here can be completed by Indian and foreign sources.

The Kharavela inscription at Hathigumpha tells us that in the fifth year of his reign King Kharavela of Kalinga extended a canal, which had been inaugurated 300 years earlier by King Nanda, from the Tanasuliya highway to his capital. While visiting the five stupas erected by Asoka over the remains of the Buddha's relics in Pataliputra, Hsuan tsang learned of a fanciful rumour, put about by disciples of little faith, according to which those stupas contained the five treasures of King Nanda (T 2087, ch. 8, p. 912b).

The Purana (P., 25-6) assign to the Nine Nandas a duration of 100 years : 88 years to Mahapadma-Nanda, founder of the dynasty, 12 years to his eight sons the eldest of whom was Sukalpa. Mahapadma-Nanda was the son of Mahanandin, the last representative of the Sisunaga dynasty, and of a sudra. He exterminated all his neighbours, noble ksatriyas from the surrounding area : Aiksviku of Kosala, Pancala of Doab, Kaseya of Varanasi, Haihaya of the Narmada, Kalinga of Orissa, Asmaka of the upper Godavari, Kuru of Thanesar, Maithila of the district of Muzaffarpur, Surasena of the Yamuna and Mathura, Vithotra on the borders of Malwa. Mahapadma-Nanda's victory brought sudras of low caste to the throne, which they held for a century. The brahmin Kautilya (alias Chanakya) was to uproot them all and they were replaced by the Mauryas.

According to the Jaina sources, the Nine Nandas directly succeeded Udayin, the son of Ajatasattru, and occupied the throne of Magadha from 468 to 313 B.C.E, i.e., a duration of 155 years; after that time, they were overthrown by Chanakya on behalf of Chandragupta (Parisistaparvan, VIII, 339). Nanda, the founder of the dynasty, was the son of a barber and a courtesan (ibid., VI, 231-2). His empire extended as far as the oceans.

Some inscriptions of Mysore, dating from later (thirteenth century), attribute to the Nandas the possession of Kuntala, a territory including the southern part of Maharashtra and the portions adjoining the states of Hyderabad and Mysore. Actually the Nandas got no further south than the valleys of the Krsna and the Tungabhadra.

When Alexander the Great reached the Hyphasis (Beis) in 326 B.C., the king of the Indians or, to use the eastern term, the king of the Gangaridae ("Inhabitants of the Ganges") and the Prasioi (from Pracya "Easteners"), was none other than the last Nanda, named by the classical historians as Xandrames or Aggrammes. This is the Dhana- Nanda of the Sinhalese sources, the son of Ugrasena-Nanda according to the Mahibodhivamsa, of Mahapadma-Nanda according to the Purana. If the comparison is correct, his name Xandrames-Aggrammes would go back to a Sanskrit original of Augrasainya "Son of Ugrasena", and not to Candramas as is most often claimed. Quintus Curtius (IX, 2, 6-7) supplies facts about this Dhana-Nanda and his father, the usurper, which are quite similar to those given by the Jaina and Buddhist traditions : "Aggrammes (Dhana-Nanda Augrasainya) who ruled, not only lacked nobility, but was of a lowly condition (i.e., a Sudra); for his father (Mahapadma-Nanda), a barber, whose daily earnings barely prevented him from dying of hunger, had seduced the queen by his charming external appearance. She gained for him the friendship of the prince who was ruling at that time and was the last representative of the Sisunaga house; he treacherously killed the prince and then, pretexting a regency, he appropriated the sovereignty; after he had assassinated the king's children, he had a son who is the one now reigning (Dhana-Nanda), a prince who is disliked and scorned by his compatriots, and who remembered his father's condition rather than this own.

Alexander's historians, Diodorus of Sicily (XVII, 93, 2), Pliny the Elder (VI, 68), Quintus Curtius (IX, 2, 3-4) and Plutarch (Life of Alex., LXII), disagree over the number of armed forces at the disposal of the king of the Gangaridae and Prasioi, but that army, in accordance with Indian custom, was indeed composed of four different types of troops (caturangabala) :

                                 Infantry               Cavalry         Chariots            Elephants
Diodorus                  200,000               20,000            2,000                  4,000
Pliny                         60000                 30,000                ?                      9,000
Quintus Curtius        200,000              20,000            2,000                   3,000
Plutarch                   200,000               80,000            8,000                  6,000

According to the same historians, these particulars were given to Alexander by Phegeus, an Indian prince who ruled over a territory downstream from Kangra on the Hyphasis. However, the meeting between Alexander and Phegeus is merely a myth and the point of departure for the legend according to which Alexander is supposed to have gone as far as the Ganges. The information which Phegeus is supposed to have supplied is, moreover, incorrect, as it situates the kingdom of the Gangaridae and Prasioi on the other bank of the Ganges. Arrian (Anabasis of Alexander, V, 25, 1) who made use of better sources than the above-mentioned historians, knew nothing whatever of a meeting between Alexander and Phegeus; what the Macedonian conqueror did learn regarding the Hyphasis was of little importance : "On the other side of the Hyphasis, the land is fertile, the men good tillers, valiant warriors, wisely administered from the interior : most of them are governed by aristocrats, and the latter ask nothing of them that is not appropriate. These native inhabitants possess a number of elephants much superior to that of other Indians; these elephants are large in size and valorous". The more detailed information recorded by the other historians and which they attribute to Phegeus is probably taken from the reports supplied later by the ambassadors of the Seleucids at the Maurya court.

The Nandas are known to history for their fabulous wealth : in the work which he devoted to Cyrus the Elder, king of Persia (559-530), the Athenian Xenophon (430-355), reports that Cyrus, who needed money to raise a new army, asked the king of India for funds through the intermediary of a Chaldaean embassy (Cyropaedia,III, 2, 25). This seems to indicate that the Greece of the fourth century B.C.E already attributed great opulence to the Indian rajas.


In the sixth century B.CE., the fifteenth and sixteenth Great Regions which were not part of the Madhyadesa constituted the Region of the North (Uttarapatha) or, to be more exact, the North-West. Was inhabited by the Gandharas, Kambojas and Yonas to whom Asoka was later to refer in his fifth and sixth rock edicts (BLOCH, pp. 103, 130). Ancient Gandhara extended along both banks of the Indus, embracing to the west the present-day district of Peshawar, capital Puskaravati, and to the east the district of Rawalpindi, capital Taksasila. Further north, the Kambojas covered the south-westem part of Kasmir and Kafiristan : the Mahabharata (VII, 4, 5) in fact associates them with the city of Rajapura, situated in Punch by Hsuan tsang (T 2087, ch. 3, p. 888a). As for the Yonas of the sixth century B.C.E, they were represented by a small colony of Greeks who claimed to have been taken to India by Dionysus and settled in Nysa somewhere in Bajaur, a mountainous region of Yaghistan (Arrian, Anab., V, 1-2; VI, 2-3; Ind., I, 5; V, 9). According to an old Buddhist sutta in the Majjhima (II, p. 149) among the Yonas and Kambojas, as well as in the other frontier-regions, there were only two castes, masters and slaves : a master could become a slave and vice versa; the Jatakas (VI, p. 208) attributed wild and detestable customs to the Kambojas. Furthermore, Kamboja is regularly mentioned as the "homeland of horses"(asvanam ayatanam), and it was this well-established reputation which possibly earned the horse-breeders of Bajaur and Swat the epithet of Aspasioi (from Old Pers. aspa) and Assakenoi (from Skt. asva "horse").

However that may be, from the sixth to the third century B.C.E, Uttarapatha lived through an eventful history which caused it to pass from the hands of the Indian king Pukkusati to the power of the Achaemenid Persians, of Alexander the Great and, finally of the Diadochi.


In the sixth century before the Christian era, the capital of Gandhara was Taksasila.

This town, which was to be moved twice in the course of history, at that time occupied the site of Bhir Mound. Located on the great road connecting Bactria to the Indian peninsula, it was a privileged bartering place for ideas as well as merchandise. As the seat of the first Indian university, there flocked to its walls, from Magadha, Lata, Kuruksetra and the land of the Sibis, many young people wishing to study the three Vedas and the eighteen sciences, or to learn medicine, magic and rituals. The admission fees were high and, generally were as much as a thousand pieces of gold. The student was quartered with a master who forced him to do domestic work during the day; in the evening, he took his courses and devoted himself to study. It often happened that, once his instruction was completed, the pupil married one of his master's daughters.

At the time of the Buddha, the king of Taksasila was Pukkusati, whose history we learn from a late and partly apocryphal tradition. He was on friendly terms with Bimbisara, king of Magadha, and communicated with him by means of caravaneers. One day Pukkusati sent Bimbisara eight precious garments enclosed in lacquered caskets. In return the king of Magadha decided to initiate his friend in the Buddhist doctrine : he had a description of the Three Jewels and some characteristic texts of the Law engraved on gold plates. Those plates, placed in precious caskets, were sent in procession to Pukkusati. When the king of Gandhara had acquainted himself with them, he renounced the world, cut off his hair and beard and wore the yellow robe of the monk. Desirous of meeting the Master, he went to Rajagrha where he expected to find him; the Buddha who was then residing in Sravasti agreed to go and meet him. He engaged the old king in conversation and preached the Dhatuvibhangasutta for his benefit.

Other traditions, which we will study further on, attribute to Sakyamuni a long journey in Uttarapatha and ascribe to his contemporaries, the Sakyas who had escaped Virudhaka's massacre, the founding of the kingdoms of Uddiyana, Himatala, Sambi and even Bamyan. Like the history of the Gandharan king Pukkusati, these traditions must be considered apocryphal. Indeed, in the sixth century B.C.E, Achaemenid Persia had seized Uttarapatha from the rest of the Indian world and drawn it into its own orbit.


From the beginning of the reign of Cyrus, at least part of Uttarapatha fell into the hands of the Achaemenids and was included in the complex of the eastern satrapies of the Persian empire. Cyrus (559-530 B.C.E) attempted to invade the Indian territory, but the difficulties of the road soon forced him to beat a retreat after having lost the major part of his army : it was with only seven soldiers that he regained his own states (Strabo, XV, 1, 5; XV, 2, 5; Aman, Anab., VI, 24, 3). Nevertheless, according to Pliny the Elder (VI, 92), he conquered Kapisa and destroyed the capital Kapisi, i.e. Begram, on the confluence of the Ghorband and the Panjshir in Kohistan. The region was inhabited by the Indian peoples of the Astakas and Asvakas, the Astakenoi and Assakenoi of the Greek historians, who, "surrendered to the Persians, and brought Cyrus tributes from their land, which Cyrus commanded" (Aman, Ind., I, I, 1-31).

Having thus become master of the Trans-Hindukush, known as Para-Uparaesana by the Persians, Paropanisadae or Paropamisadae by the Greeks, Cyrus had little trouble in seizing the kingdom of Gandhiira, which was to appear among the possessions of his successor.

According to the inscription of Bahistan (520-518 B.C.E ), Darius (522-486 B.C.E) held, through the favours of Ahuramazda but also doubtless by paternal heritage, twenty-three provinces, the nineteenth of which was Gadara or Gandhara (KENTp,. 117). He soon undertook to enlarge his Indian domain, for already in the year 519 "he wanted to know where the river Indus flowed into the sea; he therefore sent by boat some men whom he trusted to bring him back the truth, among others Scylax of Caryanda. Those men left Caspatyrus or Kaspapyrus (Ksayapapura, near present-day Multan on the Indus) and the land of Paktyike (Pathan); they sailed downstream towards the dawn and the rising sun (actually southwards) until they reached the sea (the Indian Ocean); then, navigating westwards, in the thirtieth month, they reached that very place from which the king of Egypt had sent out the Phoenicians, in order to make a voyage to Libya, . . . After they had completed that voyage, Darius subdued the Indians and made use of that sea" (Herodotus, IV, 44)

This victory over the Indians, which occurred before 515 B.C.E, gave Darius possession of the province of Sindh on the lower Indus. Indeed, the province of Hidus was henceforth to appear, alongside Gadara, in the list of the Achaemenid satrapies on the inscriptions of Darius at Persepolis E, Naqs-i-Rustam A, Susa E and M (KENT, pp. 136, 137, 141, 145) and of his successor Xerxes at Persepolis H (KENT, p. 151).

By comparing the list of the Achaemenid satrapies supplied by these inscriptions with the enumeration of the Nomoi or fiscal circumscriptions which are to be found in Herodotus (111, 90-4), we obtain the following picture with regard to the oriental satrapies and the tribute they turned over to the treasury.

The 16th province, three hundred talents, comprised Parthia (Parthava), Aria (Haraiva), Khorasmia (Uvarazmi) and Sogdiana (Suguda). The 14th province, six hundred talents, formed Drangiana (Zraka) and included the Sarangoi (Zaraka) and Thamanaioi of Drangiana, the Sargartioi (Asagarta) of the Iranian desert, the Utioi (Yutija) of Carmania and the Mukoi (Maka) of the coastal region to the east of the straits of Ormuz (Moghistan, Makran).

The 12th, three hundred and sixty talents, included Bactria (Baxtris), and doubtless also Margiana (Margu) as far as the Aigloi, an unknown people.

The 7th, one hundred and seventy talents, extended from the sources of the river Kabul to the Beas, and included Kapisa and Gandhara with the populations of the Sattagudai (Thatagus) of the Ghazni region, the Gandaroi (Gadara) of the present-day districts of Peshawar and Rawalpindi, the Dadikai of Dardistan and the Aparutai, perhaps to be compared with the modem Afridis.

The 15th, two hundred and fifty talents, consisted of the Sakai, or more precisely, the Sakai Amurgioi (Saka Haumavarga) of Seistan mentioned by Herodotus at book VII, ch. 24, the Kaspioi also called Kasperaoi by Ptolemy (VII, 43-7) and who are the Kassapiya or Kassapapuriya of the lower Punjab in the region of Multan; finally, although they are not named, the Arachotoi of Arachosia (Harauvatis), the modem province of Kandahar.

The 17th, four hundred talents, coincided with Makran (Maka) and included the Parikanioi of Gedrosia (Baluchistan) and the Asiatic Aethopes along the coast.

Finally, the 20th province, that of the Indoi of the Sindh (Hindu), alone poured into the treasury three hundred and sixty talents of powdered gold "a tribute comparable to that of all the other provinces combined", which in reality represented 4,800 silver talents compared with the 9,540 or 9,880 paid by the other Nomoi. Nevertheless, Indian gold, called pipilika because it was extracted from the sand by ants (Mbh, 11, 52, 4; Herod., 111, 102; Arrian, Anab., V, 4, 3), did not come from the Sindh region but, according to Strabo (XV, 1, 44), who cites Megasthenes and Nearchus, from the land of the Dards, present-day Dardistan.

Darius, engaged in unknown territory, led ill-fated campaigns against the Scythians, the Ionian cities of Asia Minor and the Greeks which culminated in the disaster of Marathon.

On his accession to the throne his successor, Xerxes (485-465 B.C.E), was confronted with a revolt of a satrapy, where devas, the sworn enemies of Mazdeism, were revered, and which we have every reason to consider of Indian origin. In the inscription at Persepolis H, Xerxes declares : "When I became king, there was among the lands over which I ruled one that was in revolt. Eventually, Ahuramazda brought me aid; through his favour, I crushed that land and brought it back under control. And among those lands, there was a place where false gods (daeva) were previously venerated. Later, through the favour of Ahuramazda, I destroyed that sanctuary of demons and made this proclamation : "Demons shall no longer be venerated". Wherever demons were venerated before, I respectfully venerated Ahuramazda and Arta" (KENT, p. 151).

The great Persian army which was mobilized by Xerxes against continental Greece and gave battle at Thermopylae (480 B.C.E) and Plataeae (479 B.C.E) contained contingents raised from the oriental satrapies, particularly Indians. According to Herodotus (VII, 64-67,86), we find among the latter the Indians of the Sindh, clothed in vegetable wool, armed with cane bows and iron-pointed arrows made of reeds, and commanded by the Iranian Pharnazathres; the Gandharoi and Dadikai from Gandhara and Dardistan, equipped like the Bactrians with Median head-gear, cane bows and short spears, and commanded by Artyphius; the Kaspioi from Lower Punjab dressed in skins, armed with cane bows and swords, under the command of Ariomardus; finally, the Paktyikoi of Pathan, equipped in the same way as the preceding ones and commanded by Artayntes. The Indians and Kaspioi also supplied contingents of cavalry armed like foot-soldiers : they led saddle-horses and chariots harnessed to horses and wild asses.

Towards the end of the fifth century, Ctesias of Cnidos, who resided for seventeen years (from 415 to 397 B.C.E) at the Persian court as physician to Darius II and Artaxerxes Mnemon, published a collection of fables about India and Persia which prove that, at the time, India still remained a land unknown to the Mediterranean world. Some of these fables are to be found in ancient Indian books, and Ctesias did not invent them but accepted them uncritically.

Under the last Achaemenids, Persia's grip on the oriental satrapies relaxed, and the Indian provinces recovered their independence, in practice if not in theory.


The armies of the last Darius, which fought at Arbela or Gaugamela against Alexander the Great (331 B.C.E), also contained Indian contingents; however it is significant that the latter were not commanded by satraps of their own nationality,-but by the governors of neighbouring districts. This fact is clarified by Arrian (Anab., 111, 8, 3-4) who declares : "Aid was brought to Darius by all the Indians neighbouring on the Bactrians as well as the Bactrians themselves and the Sogdians : all of them were led by Bessus, the satrap of Bactria . . . Barsaentes, the satrap of Arachosia, led the Arachotoi and the Indians known as Highlanders".

The information supplied by the historians of Alexander shows that, in the first quarter of the fourth century B.C.E, the Indian provinces of the North-West were practically autonomous. Here according to Diodorus of Sicily (XVII), Quintus Curtius (VIII-IX), Plutarch (Vita Alex., LVII-LXVIII) and Aman (Anab., IV-VI), completed by Strabo (XV), is the record of those Indian states :

I. On the river of Kabul (Kubha, Kophes or Kophen) and the southern upper valleys watered by the Kunar (Khoes), the Panjkora (Gauri, Gouraios), and the Swat (Suvastu, Soastos or Souastos), were to be found :

(1-3) The temtory of the Aspasioi, the country of the Gouraioi and the kingdom of the Assakenoi. They were highlanders who formed a single tribe but, those in the west spoke an Iranian dialect and, those in the east, an Indian dialect. They were great horse-breeders, and were called Aspaka in Iranian, Asvaka in Sanskrit (from aspa and asva "horse"), in Greek Aspasioi, Assakenoi and Hupasioi, i.e. Hippasioi, in Strabo (XV, 1, 17; XV, 1,27). Those of them who lived on the banks of the Gauri were given the name of Gouraioi. Panini (IV, 1, 110) notes in the same region some Asvayana (variant of a gana, Asvakayana, Asmayana), and coins bearing the legend Vatasvaka (CCAI, p. 264) can be attributed to them. The capital of the Assakenoi was called Massaga (Masakavati?) by the Greeks. King Assakenos, the son of a certain Cleophes, and brother of Eryx and Aphikes, possessed an army of 20,000 cavalrymen, 30,000 infantrymen and 30 elephants (Arrian, Anab., IV, 25, 5).

(4) The Greek (?) colony of Nysa, somewhere in Swit near Kohi-Mor. It was governed by President Akouphis, assisted by an aristocracy of 300 members. "Those Nusaioi are not of Indian race; they are descendants of the invaders who followed Dionysus (to India) : either Greeks who had been disabled in the wars which Dionysus led against the Indians, or also natives whom, at their request, he had settled with the Greeks" (Arrian, Ind., I, 4-5). We have seen earlier that a sutta from the Majjhirna (11, p. 149) records some Yona (Greeks) in Uttarapatha and attributes to them, as well as to their neighbours the Kambojas, a social organisation which is completely alien to India.

5) Peucelaotis (Puskaravati, present-day Charsadda), the old capital of western Gandhara before the founding of Peshawar in the second century C.E. It was governed by the hipparchus Astes whose name is connected with the toponym Hasht-nagar which designated eight cities bordering the Swat in the district of Peshawar.

II. The autonomous kingdoms and states of the Upper Punjab separated by the rivers Indus (Sindhu, Indos), Jhelum (Vitasta, Hydaspes), Chenab (Asikni or Candrabhaga, Acesines), Ravi (Parusni or Iravati, Hydraotes), Bias (Vipas or Vipasa, Hyphasis), Sutlej (Sutudri, Zaradros or Hesydrus).

(6) The kingdom of Taxila (Taksasila-Bhir Mound) between the Indus and the Jhelum, the princes of which supported Alexander. The Taxiles presented the conquering Macedonian with 200 silver talents, 3,000 head of cattle 10,000 sheep and 30 elephants (Arrian, Anab., V, 3, 5), and his son Omphis (Ambhi) gave him gold crowns and 80 talents of silver coin (Quintus Curtius, VIII, 12, 15). Strabo (XV, 1, 28) and Plutarch (Vita Alex., LIX) compare that kingdom with Egypt both with regard to the extent of the territory, the abundance of pasture-land and the wisdom of its princes.

(7-8) Further to the north, in the present-day districts of Hazara on the one hand, and Punch and Nowshera on the other, the kingdoms of Arsaces (the Urasarajya of the kharosthi inscription Konow, p. 89) and Abisares (Atisara of the Mbh., VII, 93, 44).

(9) Between the Jhelum and the Chenab, the kingdom of Porus the Elder, a descendant of the Puru or Paurava of the &-Veda, the Brhat Samhita (XIV, 27) and the Mahabharata (11, 27, 14-16). He vigorously resisted Alexander, with an army of 30,000 infantry, 4,000 cavalry, 300 chariots and 200 elephants according to Arrian (Anab., 15,4), of 50,000 infantry, 3,000 cavalry, 1,000 chariots and 130 elephants according to Diodorus of Sicily (XVII, 87, 2), of 30,000 infantry. 300 chariots and 85 elephants according to Quintus Curtius (VIII, 13, 6). The kingdom, which corresponded to the modem districts of Guzrat and Shahpur, contained, in the words of Strabo (XV, 1, 29), approximately 300 cities.

(10) A neighbour of Porus, but still between the Jhelum and the Chenab, the autonomous state of the Glausai or Glauganikai (Glaucukayana of Panini, IV, 1,90) included a great number of villages and 37 cities from 5,000 to over 10,000 inhabitants (Arrian, Anab., V, 20,

(11) Between the Chenab and the Ravi, the kingdom of Porus the Younger, which occupied the eastern part of the Gandaris mentioned by Strabo (XV, 1, 30).

(12-13) On the eastern bank of the Ravi, the autonomous peoples of the Adraistai and the Kathaoi. The Adraistai, whose capital was named Pimprama, were perhaps the Adrja mentioned in the Mahabharata (VII, 159, 5) among the tribes of the North-West, unless their name Aratta merely means "those who have no king" (Skt. Arastraka). The Kathaoi, whose stronghold was Sangala (which has nothing in common with Sakala or Sialkot, between the Chenab and the Ravi), are known to Panini (II,4,20) by the name of Kantha, and to the Mahabharata (VIII, 85, 16) by that of Kratha. In Sanskrit, Katha means "hard".

(14-15) The kingdoms of Sopeithes or Sophytes and of Phegelas or Phegeus situated, the former somewhere to the east of the Jhelum, and the latter - if he is not a fictitious person -, between the Ravi and the Beis. Some coins of a king Saubhuti have been found in Taxila with the head of a prince on the obverse and the image of a cock on the reverse. As for Phegelas, he possibly belonged to that royal race of ksatriyas mentioned by the name of Bhagala in the Ganapatha.

111. The states of the Middle Punjab, on the confluences of five rivers comprising :

(16-17) The Sibai or Sibi and the Agalassoi, at the junction of the Jhelum and the Chenab. The former, under the name of Siva or Sibi, are well-known to the Vedas and Buddhist and Brahmanical literature; their capital Sibipura is mentioned on a Shorkot inscription (EI, XVI, 1921, p. 16). The Agalassoi possessed an army of 40,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry (Did., XVII, 96, 3).

(18-19) The Sudrakai and the Malloi, to the south of the confluence of the Jhelum and Chenab, represented the Ksudraka of the Mahabharata (11, 52, 15; VII, 70, 1 I) and the Milava of Indian history. Diodorus of Sicily (XVII, 98, 1) attributes to them an army of 80,000 infantry, 10,000 cavalry and 700 chariots; Quintus Curtius (IX, 4, IS), of 90,000 infantry, 10,000 cavalry and 900 chariots.

(20-22) On the Lower Chenab and between the confluence of that river with the Ravi and their junction with the Indus respectively, the Abastanoi (var. Sambastai, Sabarcae, Sabagrae), the Xathroi and the Ossadioi. The Abastanoi are the Ambastha mentioned in the Aitareya Brahmana (VIII, 21), the Mahabharata (11, 52, 15), Pinini (IV, 1, 74), the Barhaspatya Arthasastra (p. 21), and the Jatakas (IV, p. 363). They formed a democracy and possessed, according to Diodorus (XVII, 102, 2), an army of 60,000 infantry, 6,000 cavalry and 500 war chariots. The Xathroi are identified with the impure class of the Kvtri referred to by the Laws of Manu (X, 12); the Ossadioi have been compared to the Vasati of the Mahabharata (VII, 20, 11 ; 91, 38; VIII, 44, 47).

IV. The province of Sindh on the Lower Indus consisted of a whole series of states and principalities :

(23-24) On the two banks of the Indus, to the south of the confluences of the rivers of the Punjab, the Sodrai (Sogdoi) and the Masianoi. The Sodrai are most probably the Sudra of the epic, a people closely associated with the Abhira of Sarasvati (Patanjali, I, 2, 72; Mbh., VII, 20, 6; IX, 37, 1).

(25) The kingdom of Musicanus (Musika? Mausikara?), the richest of the region, the capital of which has been identified with Alor in the district of Sukkur. Although strictly subjected to the influence of the brahmins, the population was characterized by special customs which, according to Strabo (XVII, 1, 34), were not dissimilar to those of the Dorians of Sparta and Crete.

(26) The monarchy of Oxycanus or Porticanus whose subjects, named Preasti by Quintus Curtius (IX, 8, 1 l), recall the Prostha of the Mahabharata (VI, 9, 61).

(27) The principality of Sambus (Sambhu or Samba), a mountainous region near the kingdom of Musicanus. The capital Sindimana has not been identified with certainty.

(28) Patalene on the Indus delta the capital of which Pattala, called Tauala by Diodorus (XVIII, 104, l), occupied the present-day site of Brahmanabad. Like ancient Sparta, it was governed by two kings, subject to the authority of a Council of Elders.

At the beginning of the fourth century, the Indian kingdoms and republics escaped the control of the Achaemenid suzerain. The rivalries which set them against each other made them an easy prey for the conquering Macedonian, Alexander the Great.


Having vanquished Darius III Codoman in the battles of Issus (334 B.C.E ) and Gaugamela (331 B.C.E ). Alexander continued his progression eastwards and, in 330 B.C.E, reached the southern slopes of the Hindukush, where he founded, at Parvan in Kohistan of Kabul, Alexandria-under-the-Caucasus. Having devoted two years to the pacification of Bactria and Sogdiana, in 327 B.C.E he undertook the conquest of India or, to be more precise, "the region which extends eastward from the Indus" (Aman, Ind., 11, 1). He set out from Bactria, crossed in ten days the Afghan massif, passed through Bamyan and reached Alexandria-under-the-Caucasus which he had founded, on the southern slope. Three further stages led him to Lampaka (Laghman), where he concentrated his troops in Nicaea, a temporary encampment to be found between the villages of Mandrawar and Chahar-bagh. He ordered Hephaestion and Perdiccas, with the main part of the Macedonian forces, to descend the Kabul valley in order to seize Peucelaotis or Puskaravati, the ancient Gandharan capital. Alexander himself subdued the highland tribes of the Aspasioi and Assakenoi and seized Massaga, the capital of the latter. He laid siege to the fortress (avarana) of Aornus located above Una, between the Swat and the Indus, and accepted the submission of Peucelaotis. Once he had captured Aornus, he launched another attack on the Assakenoi and advanced as far as the Indus. There he received a visit from Ambhi, king of Taksasila, who renewed the homage which his father had paid earlier to the Macedonian conqueror, and provided a contingent of 700 cavalry as well as ample supplies.

In the spring of 326 B.C.E, Alexander crossed the Indus on a bridge of boats constructed by his lieutenants in Udubhanda (Ohind, Und). He entered Taksasila peacefully where Ambhi joined him with a contingent of 5,000 men. On the opposite bank of the Hydaspes, the Indian king Porus was waiting for him at the head of a powerful army, firmly determined to prevent him from passing. However, Alexander crossed the river by surprise, either at Jalalpur or, more probably at Jhelum, and routed the Indian army after a furious battle. Porus, who was injured in the fighting, submitted to Alexander. The latter celebrated his victory by founding, on either side of the Hydaspes, the towns of Nicaea on the west bank and Bucephala on the east bank. After a raid against the Glausai or Glauganikai, and the surrender of Abhisara and Porus the Younger, Alexander crossed the Acesines and the Hydraotes and, after heavy fighting, conquered the fortified town of Sangala. He was ready to cross the Hyphasis and encounter the forces of the Gangaridae and Prasioi, when his soldiers mutinied and forced him to retreat.

The Macedonian army crossed the Hydraotes and the Acesines again and halted on the Hyphasis where a fleet was equipped. Porus was given the command of the territories situated between the Hydaspes and the Hyphasis. Alexander then descended the Hydaspes to its confluence with the Acesines, overcame the Sibi and Agalassoi, and concentrated his forces at the confluence of the Acesines and Hydraotes.

In January 325 B.C.E, Alexander, having subdued the Malloi and other tribes of the Middle Punjab, sailed down the Indus with his army and fleet. Musicanus, the king of Alor, came to pay him homage but shortly after rose against him : he was immediately seized and crucified. At Shikarpur, Alexander sent part of his troops back to Susiana under the command of the general Craterus : the latter reached his goal by the road via Kandahar and Seistan. Continuing southwards, Alexander came to Pattala in the Indus delta, the western and eastern arms of which he explored succesively. In September 325 B.C.E, the order was given for the final departure : Alexander, at the head of some 10,000 men, travelled through Gedrosia along the Makran coast; Nearchus, leading a flotilla of a thousand units, followed the coast of the Oritae and Makran towards the Persian Gulf. The three armies linked up in Susiana in the spring of 324 B.C.E. A year later Alexander died and his Indian possessions, like the rest of his empire, were soon dismembered.

Among the twenty-odd Alexandrias founded by the Macedonian during his conquest of the Asiatic world, eight were situated in the oriental provinces of the ancient Achaemenid empire : Alexandria of Margiana (Merv), of Aria (Herat), Prophthasia in Seistin, Alexandria in Makarena or of the Oritae, Alexandria of Arachosia (Ghazni) also Alexandria-Bactra, Alexandria in Sogdiana on the Oxus (Termez) and Alexandria-Eschate on the Jaxartes (Khodjend), also known as Alexandria of Scythia. On the territory of native Indian-speakers, there were Alexandria-under-the-Caucasus (Parvan amidst the Paropamisadae), Nicaea and Alexandria- Bucephala on the Jhelum in the domains of King Porus, Alexandria- Iomousa on the Chenab, and possibly also - for it is doubtful whether they existed - two Alexandrias on the Indus.

Alexander maintained for his own profit the old provinces of the Achaemenid empire and generally entrusted their government to local inhabitants, assisted and supervised by Macedonian strategoi and episcopoi.The oriental satrapies on the Iranian border were four or six in number :

1. Parthia-Hyrcania, capital Zadracarta, was administered by Amminapes, assisted by the Macedonian episcopos Tlepolemus, before it was handed over to its old governor Phrataphernes, whose loyalty to Alexander never failed.

2. Aria, capital Herat, first remained under the command of two native princes Satibarzanes and Arsaces and then passed, after they revolted into the hands of Stasanor of Soloi who kept it, with the addition of Drangiana, until after 323 B.C.E.

3. Arachosia, or the region of Ghazni, was successively directed by Menon (330-325 B.C.E) and Sibyrtius (325-317 B.C.E) : the latter, a host and friend of the historian Megasthenes, added to it the Oritae territory and Gedrosia.

4. Parapamisus, where Alexander had founded his Alexandria-under-the Caucasus, remained in the hands of the indigenous dynasts, the Persians Proexes and Tyriespes, then the Sogdian Oxyartes, the father of Roxane, Alexander's wife.

5. Bactria-Sogdiana, augmented by Margiana, passed successively into the hands of the Persian Artabazus (329 B.C.E ), the Macedonian Amyntas, then, after the assassination of the latter by his soldiers (325 B.C.E ), of the general Philippus : powerfully fortified, for a long time this satrapy sheltered important Graeco-Macedonian garrisons whose insubordination caused serious difficulties to Alexander and his successors.

The Indian possessions of Alexander included three satrapies and two Indian kingdoms which were nominally independent :

1. Situated to the west of the river, the satrapy of the Upper Indus consisted of Peucelaotis (Kabul valley), the land of the Assakenoi as well as many principalities. In 327 B.C.E, its government was entrusted to the Macedonian Nicanor who retained it for two years. Small indigenous states subsisted under faithful leaders : Sangaius (Sanjaya) of Puskaravati, Kophaius or Cophaeus of the region of Kabul, Akouphis of Nysa, Assagetes (Asvajit) and Sissikottos (Sasigupta) who was in charge of the district of the Assakenoi. However, strong Macedonian garrisons were established at Bazira (Bir-Kot), Ora (Udegram) and on the Aornus (Pir- Sar).

2. The satrapy of the Middle Indus, which was also created in 327 B.C.E, included the indigenous kingdoms of the Taxiles Ambhi, of Spitaces as well as the temtory of the Malloi and the Oxydrachai at the confluence of the Acesines and the Indus. It was entrusted to Philippus, the son of Machatas, assisted by a Thracian garrison, who governed the region jointly with the king of Taxila. After the assassination of Nicanor by the Assakenoi in 326, Philippus annexed the district of the Upper Indus to his satrapy. However, Philippus fell at the hands of his Greek mercenaries. Alexander, who was then in Carmania, wrote entrusting the guardianship of the territory to the Indian Taxiles until a new satrap was nominated; the Macedonian Eudemus was appointed as commander of the Macedonian garrison.

3. The satrapy of the Lower Indus, which was organized in 325 B.C.E , covered the district of Sindh and included the ancient kingdom of the Sodrai, the principalities of Musicanus, Oxycanus and Sambus, as well as Patalene, one king of which was named Moeres. Its command was entrusted to Peithon, the son of Agenor, and to Oxyartes, who were also in charge of the surveillance of the coastal region.

Outside this organization, Alexander kept two independent kingdoms to the east of the Hydaspes : those of Porus and Abisares.

The first was created in 326 B.C.E after the victory of the Hydaspes. Alexander returned to Porus his former possessions to which he soon added the territory of the Glausai or Glauganikai between the Hydaspes and the Acesines (Arrian, Anab., V, 19, 3; V, 20, 4), the states of Porus the Younger between the Acesines and the Hydraotes (Id., ibid., V, 21, 4), as well as other regions situated more to the east. Before leaving India, Alexander, in the presence of his hetairoi and indigenous ambassadors, established Porus as king of all the Indian territories he had conquered : seven nations and more than two thousand cities (Id., ibid., VI, 2, 1).

The kingdom of Abisares, located in Punch and the region of Nowshera, was maintained by Alexander after the wholly platonic submission of its king (Arrian, Anab., V, 8, 3; V, 20, 5; V, 29, 4).


After the death of Alexander which took place on June 13th 323 B.C.E, North-West India was involved in battles which opposed the Diadochi against each other. It is said that as Alexander lay dying he had declared : "My generals will give me a bloody funeral". In fact, from the day of his death, blood flowed and war almost broke out. The Macedonian generals agreed, however, to recognize as kings Arrhidaeus, a bastard of Philip of Macedonia, and Alexander Aigos, an infant son of Alexander. General Perdiccas, to whom the Macedonian conqueror had bequeathed his ring, received, together with the title of chiliarch, the regency of the kingdom. The other generals received provinces to govern. In Asia, Antigonus Monophthalmus received Phrygia; Eumenes, Cappadocia, and Peithon, Media. In Europe, Antipater obtained Macedonia and Greece, and Lysimachus, Thracia. Finally, in Africa, Ptolemy, son of Lagus, acquired Egypt.

1. During the distribution of the satrapies which took place in 323 B.C.E, Perdiccas maintained the status quo in the oriental border-lands. Phrata-phernes retained Parthia-Hyrcania, Stasanor of Soloi Aria-Drangiana, Sibyrtius Arachosia-Gedrosia, Oxyartes (the father of Roxane / Rukhsana ), the Paropamisadae, and Philippus Bactria-Sogdiana. The two Indians, Taxiles and Porus, remained in possession of the kingdoms which Alexander had given them (DiOd., XVIII, 3).

However, the Greek settlers in Bactria, who had already rebelled in 325 B.C.E, started fresh agitations. Instigated first by Athenodorus, then by the Aenean Philo, they insisted on returning to their mother-country across the Asiatic continent. Perdiccas ordered the satrap of Media, Peithon, to repress the uprising. Peithon had no trouble in quelling the rebels but, contrary to the instructions he had received, he tried to spare them in the secret hope of enrolling them in his own troops. The latter thwarted the plans of their general by suddenly massacring all the mutineers. The Greek element was therefore forced to remain in Bactria, and it was only in the middle of the third century B.C.E that it was able to free itself from Macedonian authority (Quintus Curtius, IX, 7,3-11; Did., XVII, 99,6; XVIII, 7, 1-9).

The authoritarian attitude taken by Perdiccas in all circumstances alienated some of his colleagues, particularly Antigonus, Antipater and Ptolemy. Eumenes was practically the only one to remain loyal to him. During a campaign in Egypt, Perdiccas was assassinated in his tent by two rebellious officers : Peithon of Media and Seleucus, the commander of the hipparchy of hetairoi. Eumenes, victorious in Asia, was not able to prevent the dissidents from joining up at Triparadisus in Syria on the upper Orontes. With the agreement of Antigonus and Ptolemy, Antipater of Phrygia received full powers and proceeded with a second distribution of the satrapies : the partition at Triparadisus (321 B.C.E).

2. According to the measures taken by Antipater, Cappadocia which had belonged to Eumenes passed to Nicanor; Seleucus received Babylonia, while Peithon regained Northern Media. Some changes took place in the eastern Iranian borderlands : Parthia fell to Philippus who abandoned Bactria-Sogdiana to Stasanor of Soloi; Stasandrus of Cyprus received Aria and Drangiana (Diod., XVIII, 39). The situation remained unchanged in the territories of Indian tongue and civilization : Oxyartes continued, in the Paropamisadae; the domain of Peithon, the son of Agcnor, who had received from Alexander the satrapy of the Lower Indus, was reduced to the "region" of India, adjacent to the Paropamisadae".As for the Indian kingdoms of the Indus and Hydaspes, they remained respectively in the hands of Taxiles and Porus "because it was impossible to oust them" (Diod., XVIII, 39, 6). Therefore, less than six years after the Macedonian conquest, the Indian kingdoms had only very slight links with the occupying authorities, links which were maintained by a Macedonian gamson under the command of Eudemus.

Relinquishing part of his authority, Antipater entrusted Antigonus of Phrygia with the command of the royal army and ordered him to continue the fight against Eumenes and the remaining partisans of Perdiccas. Antigonus met Eumenes in Cappadocia in the plain of Orkynia and, having forced him to retreat, besieged him in the fortress of Nora, but without being able to capture him personally. The death of Antipater, which occurred in 319 B.C.E, only intensified the struggle between the Diadochi.

3. The dying Antipater had withheld power from his son Cassander and had chosen an old soldier, Polyperchon, as his successor. Cassander, who considered himself wronged declared war against the new regent. He allied himself with Antigonus of Phrygia, Ptolemy of Egypt and Lysimachus of Thrace, and also won over to his cause Peithon of Media and Seleucus of Babylon. In contrast, Polyperchon was supported in Asia by Eumenes who concentrated troops in Susiana.

A series of events led the satraps of the higher regions to embrace Eumenes' cause. Peithon, the satrap of Media, usurping the function of a plenipotentiary strategos, had Philippus, the satrap of Parthia executed, and replaced him by his own brother Eudamus. Fearing a similar fate, the governors of the higher regions formed a league against him and responded to the call made by Eumenes for assistance. They succeeded in assembling approximately 18,700 infantry, 4,600 cavalry and 120 elephants to join the army of Eumenes in Susiana (317 B.C.E).

According to Diodorus of Sicily, these are the contingents supplied by the various satraps : Stasandrus (Aria-Drangiana-Bactria) : 1,500 infantry and 1,000 cavalry. - Sibyrtius (Arachosia) : 1,000 infantry, 116 cavalry. - Androbazus, lieutenant of Oxyartes (Paropamisadae) : 1,200 infantry, 400 cavalry. - Tlepolemus (Carmania) : 1,500 infantry, 700 cavalry. As for the strategos Eudemus who, since 324 B.C.E, commanded the Macedonian garrison on the Middle Indus, he killed King Porus, whose states extended along the east bank of the Jhelum, and seized the Indian elephants which had distinguished themselves at the battle of the Hydaspes; thus he arrived with a contingent of 3,000 infantry, 500 cavalry and 120 elephants (Diod., XIX, 14)The only one who did not embrace Eumenes' cause was Peithon, the son of Agenor, who since 324 B.C.E held command of the satrapy of the Lower Indus, but who, at the time of the partition of Triparadisus, held only a strip of territory neighbouring on the Paropamisadae to govern. He too left his territory but, it seems, in order to join up with the forces of Antigonus, the rival of Eumenes (Did., XIX, 56,4).

Freed from the foreign troops which had occupied them, the Indian kingdoms of the Punjab returned to the mother country, and the Indian emperor Chandragupta immediately added them to his crown (317 B.C.E).

The support of the higher satrapies was not able to ensure victory for Eumenes. After two indecisive battles, in 317 B.C.E and 316 B.C.E in Paraecene and Gabiene, he was betrayed by his own argyraspides and delivered to the enemy. Now that he was master of Eumenes' person and of his whole army, Antigonus seized Antigenes, the leader of the argyraspides who had betrayed his own lord, had him enclosed in a casket and burnt alive. He also put to death Eudemus, the murderer of Porus, who had led the elephants from India. As for Eumenes, who was held to secrecy, he sought a method of saving him. Nevertheless, he finally yielded to the entreaties of the Macedonians who demanded a pitiless punishment and Eumenes was strangled in his prison (Did., XIX, 44).

Determined to be sole master in Asia, Antigonus also rid himself of the friends who until then had supported his cause. Peithon of Media, who was implicated in an attempted military uprising, was summoned before a court martial, condemned and executed; his satrapy was given to the Median Orontopates and to the strategos Hippostratus (Diod., XIX, 46). Seleucus, the satrap of Babylon, was accused of extortion and forced to flee to Egypt where he took refuge with Ptolemy; Babylonia passed into the hands of Peithon, the son of Agenor, who had earlier been the satrap of the Lower Indus (Diod., XIX, 56).

For the third time since the death of Alexander, Antigonus undertook the partition of the higher satrapies (316 B.C.E). He kept Carmania for Tlepolemus and Bactria for Stasanor "since it was not easy to expel those men from their provinces". He retained Oxyartes, the father of Roxane, at the head of the Paropamisadae "since much time and a strong army would have been needed to oust him". Reconciled with Sibyrtius, he confirmed him in his satrapy of Arachosia. It was only in Aria that he was able to make new nominations : that of Evitus, soon followed by Evagoras (Diod., XIX, 48). It will be noticed that, at this last partition, there is no further question of either the two Indian kingdoms or the satrapies on the Indus. In fact, those territories, having reverted to the Indian empire of Chandragupta, broke loose from the authority of Antigonus.

4. The successes which Antigonus achieved in Persia, and which were soon to be followed by the conquest of Northern Syria (315 B.C.E), brought the other Diadochi out in league against him. On the instigation of Seleucus, Ptolemy of Egypt, Lysimachus of Thrace, Cassander of Macedonia and Greece formed a coalition and sent Antigonus an ultimatum which he repulsed with disdain.

In the spring of 312 B.C.E, Ptolemy and Seleucus won a decisive victory at Gaza over the armies of Antigonus which were commanded by Demetrius, son of Antigonus, and Peithon, son of Agenor, satrap of Babylon. Demetrius was routed and Peithon was left among the dead. Without waiting any longer, Seleucus, escorted by 800 infantry and 200 cavalry, pushed eastwards and entered Babylonia where the population received him joyfully. He then stormed the fortress of Babylon, put Nicanor, the military administrator of the higher satrapies, to flight and killed Euagrus, the satrap of Persia, in a night battle. Seleucus treated all those who had surrendered with kindness and, having become master of a great anny, easily seized Susiana and Media (Diod., XIX, 90-2). These spectacular successes mark the start of the Seleucid era which began in Babylonia on 1st Nisan 311-310, i.e. April 311 B.C.E

5. In order to restore the Indo-Iranian possessions of Alexander for his own profit, Seleucus had to reconquer the upper regions of Eastern Iran and wrest Punjab and Sindh from Chandragupta.

The first part of the programme was achieved in 311 B.C.E. Nicanor, while in flight, warned Antigonus by letter of the successes gained by Seleucus, and Antigonus, alarmed about the higher satrapies, sent his son Demetrius to Babylonia, to create a diversion. This short-lived raid did not deter Seleucus from his projects (Diod., XIX, 100). He seized Media and other higher satrapies and with his own hand killed their military administrator, Nicanor (Appian, Syriaca, LV). The Indus again became, but only for a short time, the frontier between Iran, held by Seleucus, and the Indian empire of Chandragupta : "Seleucus", says Appian, "ruled over Mesopotamia, Armenia, Cappadocia of the Seleucid, the Persians, Parthians, Bactrians, Tapurians, Sogdiana, Arachosia, Hyrcania and all the neighbouring peoples as far as the Indus, peoples whom Alexander had already conquered, with the result that the major part of Asia, in the period which followed Alexander, was bordered by that river" (Syriaca, LV).

Seleucus was to fail in the second part of his programme : the reconquest of the Punjab and Sindh which, for ten years from 327 B.C.E to 317 B.C.E, had been part of the Alexandrian possessions, before it returned to the mother country after the departure of the strategos Eudemus and the satrap Peithon, son of Agenor. Chandragupta had immediately added those territories to his crown.

Bent on reconquering them, about 305-304 B.C.E, Seleucus organized an expedition into open Indian territory : "Having crossed the Indus, he waged war on Andrakottos (Chandragupta), the king of the Indians located around that river, until he had concluded a treaty of friendship and a matrimonial alliance with him" (Appian, Syriaca, LV).

Strabo (XV, 2, 9), confirmed by Plutarch (Vita Alex., LXII), states that "Seleucus Nicator ceded [the contested territories] to Sandracottus as a guarantee of a matrimonial covenant (dlrtyapia) and in exchange for 500 elephants". It is generally believed, since Bouche-Leclerq, that this covenant authorized mixed marriages between the Hellenes and the Bactrians and guaranteed the social position of the Graeco-Macedonians who had remained in the Indian territories recovered by Chandragupta From two passagcs by the geographer Eratosthenes (third century B.C.E) quoted by Strabo (XV, 1, 10; XV, 2, 9) and supported by Pliny the Elder (VI, 78) it would appear that Seleucus returned to his rival all or part of the Paropamisadae, Arachosia and Gedrosia together with some districts of Aria. According to A. Foucher, the new frontier followed roughly the 62nd degree longitude east of Paris.

The new demarcation line was, at least theoretically, to remain unchanged for the major part of the Maurya era and was only violated about the year 200, during the eastward thrust of King Euthydemus of Bactria. In the meantime, religious propaganda was able to proceed unmolested, and most of the districts of the North-West rallied to Buddhism.

As for Seleucus, once his eastern frontier was laid down, he joined up with the separatist generals who were in league against Antigonus. The victory at Ipsus in 301 B.C.E, where the elephants supplied by Chandragupta performed wonders, gave him access to the sea across Syria and Cilicia. Finally, he conquered Asia Minor with the victory of Curopediurn gained over Lysimachus (281 B.C.E). He entered Europe and was about to ascend the throne of Macedonia when he was assassinated in 280 B.C.E by Ptolemy Keraunos.

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