THE PERIOD OF THE SUNGAS, THE KANVAS AND THE YAVANAS:
GENERAL FEATURES OF THE PERIOD - The Mauryan period and especially the glorious reign of Asoka marked the golden age of Buddhism, but the last two centuries of the ancient era constituted a time of crisis during which the Good Law, even while making progress, had to overcome numerous problems. These originated for the most part from the political and social instability incurred by the weak and decentralized kingdoms of the Sungas (c. 187-75 B.C.E) and the Kanvas (75-30 B.C.E).
After he had assassinated King Brhadratha, the Indian general Pusyamitra established a kingdom on the ruins of the Mauryan empire, but its legitimacy was immediately contested. Of brahmin birth, he relied on the brahmin clan to remain in power and, on their advice, attempted to revive the old Vedic customs. This whole policy ran counter to Buddhist interests, and Pusyamitra alienated the disciples of the Sakya and the supporters of the Mauryan legitimacy. To many of his subjects, he appeared as a usurper and persecutor. The last Sungas and the Kanvas seem to have favoured the Bhagavata sect, the protagonist of a powerful theist movement which developed around the cult of the Hindu god Visnu. Rejected by the authorities in power, the Buddhists nevertheless found sympathy and support among some Sunga vassals who had settled in the Ganges basin, particularly at Bharhut, Kausambi, Ahicchatra and Mathura.
During the same period, the Simhala kings of Ceylon had to defend their island against repeated assaults by Dravidian invaders. However, the Good Law did not suffer from these ceaseless wars. Among the eighteen princes who succeeded one another in Anuradhapura between the years 200 B.C.E and 20 B.C.E, we note the names of Dutthagamani (104-80 B.C.E) and Vattagamani (47, 32-20 B.C.E). Dutthagamani appears as a national hero and a Buddhist holy one : after liberating the territory from the grasp of the Damilas ( Tamils ), he constructed famous monuments which are still the glory of Ceylon today : the Maricavatti Thupa (Mirisaveti Dagaba), the Brazen Palace (Lohapadasa) and especially the Mahathupa (Ruvanveli Dagaba), the consecration of which gave rise to ceremonies of unprecedented sumptuousness. The reign of Vattagamani was marked by two important events in religious history : the written compilation of the Pali canonical texts and the founding of the thupa and vihara of Abhayagiri. Soon the monks of that monastery separated from the Theras at the Mahiivihara in order to set up a rival school, open to new ideas and tendencies.
However, the most important political event was the active part played on Indian territory by foreign invaders : the Yavanas or Greeks who came from Bactria. Under the leadership of their kings, Euthydemus of Magnesia and Demetrius, between the years 205 B.C.E and 167 B.C.E, the Bactrians seized practically the entire Ganges basin. Even if internal dissensions prevented them from maintaining their advanced positions, for nearly a century and a half they remained in the region of North- West India where they established two rival kingdoms : the western Greek kingdom (169-90 B.C.E) and the eastern Greek kingdom (167-30 B.C.E). Weakened by incessant warfare, they were to succumb, one after the other, to the hordes of Saka invaders at the end of the ancient era.
The Buddhist Samgha suffered the consequences of all these events, but continued to advance without allowing itself to be stopped by the troubles :
1. According to a well-established tradition, Pusyamitra subjected the bhiksus to cruel persecution. Throughout his territory, he assassinated the religious, destroyed stupas and set fire to monasteries. An examination of the sources does not enable us to conclude that the persecution was general, but it is certain that the Buddhists believed themselves to be pursued and hunted, and that this state of mind induced in them a series of reactions which history must take into account.
2. The theist propaganda which began during the Sunga period in Visnuite circles led the Good Law into further grave danger, the risks of which do not seem to have been fully appreciated. Even though, Sakyamuni’s message was able to maintain its doctrinal integrity, at least in the beginning, unrest fomented by Hindu influences arose in some of the Buddhist sects and facilitated the advent of the Mahayana.
3. The obstacles which the Good Law encountered by no means interrupted the missionary movement. Viharas which dated back to the beginning and samgharamas founded in the Mauryan period were joined by new establishments about which some information is available from a list of Sinhalese origin.
4. The Sunga age also witnessed the birth and efflorescence of the ancient Central Indian school of sculpture which had its main centres at Bharhut, Bodh-Gaya ,Sanci and Amaravati (first style). Quite apart from its artistic value, this school of sculpture provides precious details on the religious beliefs and ideals of the lay circles which ensured its success.
Finally, we have to appraise the historical encounter between Buddhism and Hellenism, and the attitude taken by the disciples of Sakyamuni when confronted by foreign peoples. Generally speaking, the Greeks remained faithful to the gods of their traditional pantheon, but the requirements of policy induced some of them to become interested in Indian beliefs, and even rely on them in order to assert their authority. The Buddhists favoured this conciliation, thus demonstrating the universal nature of their religion. The Indo-Greek king Menander is supposed to have been converted to Buddhism and recent discoveries plead in favour of this tradition.
As for the Indians in general and the Buddhists in particular, they showed themselves refractory to foreign propaganda, and Hellenism had no effect on their innermost mentality. Some inscriptions carved by petty monarchs, strategoi or meridarchs who turned to Buddhism, show that the piety of these was not free from self-interest and that, unlike their Indian co-religionists, they had not fully understood the mechanism of the maturation of actions. However, this concerned only a few individuals. The Greek influence on Buddhism did not extend further than the field of artistic invention which was, however, important; despite the controversy over the subject, it remains likely that the idea of giving a human form to the Buddha in his last existence germinated in the mind of a Greek artist, but it was not until the beginning of the Christian era that it was applied generally. Furthermore, the Buddhist legend was enriched by contact with the universal folklore which was nourished by the Mediterranean world and the Near East.
THE SUCCESSION OF PRINCES. - The fall of the Mauryas in about 187 B.C.E led to the dissolution of the Indian empire. Foreign barbarians crossed the North-West frontiers and established powerful kingdoms in Gandhara in the Kabul valley, at Sakala in the Eastern Punjab, and in other places. The southern provinces attained independence, and rivaled in power and splendour with what remained of the Gangetic empire. Finally, in Madhyadesa, the Mauryas were replaced by a new dynasty which was weak from the outset and had to share power with numerous feudatories.
According to the Purana (P., pp. 31-3), the Sunga kingdom lasted for 112 years (ca 187-75 B.C.E) and included ten sovereigns :
1. Pusyamitra reigned 36 years
2. Agnimitra reigned 8 years
3. Vasujyestha (Sujyestha) reigned 7 years
4. Vasumitra (Sumitra) reigned 10 years
5. Bhadraka (Odruka) reigned 2 (or 7) years
6. Pulindaka reigned 3 years
7. Ghosa reigned 3 years
8. Vajramitra reigned 7 (or 9) years
9. Bhaga (Bhlgavata) reigned 32 years
10. Devabhuti reigned 10 years
The sungas were succeeded by the Kanvayanas or Sungabhrtyas who ruled for 45 years (75-30 B.C.E) and were four in number :
1 .Vasudeva reigned 9 (or 5) years
2. Bhumimittra reigned 14 (or 24) years
3. Narayana reigned 12 years
4. Susarman reigned I0 (or 4) years
PUSYAMITRA (187-151 B.C.E) - The founder of the Sunga dynasty is known from some notes by grammarians (Panini, Astadhyayi, IV, 1 ,117; Patanjali, Mahabhasya, 111, 2, 11 1, 111, 2, 123), a Sanskrit inscription from Ayodhya (EI, XX, 1929, p. 54 sq.), certain passages in the Malavikagnimitra by Kalidasa (ed. KARMAKAR Poona, 1950, pp. 9-1 1;111-12). a short remark by Bana in his Harsacarita (ed. PARAB Bombay,1946, pp. 198-9), some lines in the Purana (P., pp. 31-3) and quite a large number of Buddhist sources : Asokavadana (T 2042, ch. 3, p. 11 la sq.; T. 2043, k.5, p. 149a sq.; Divyavadana, p. 433), Mahavibhasa (T 1545, ch. 125, p. 655bc), Sariputraparipeeha (T 1465, p. 900a-6); Manjusrimulakalpa (vv. 530-7) and Taranatha (p. 81). However, this is all scattered information which by no means constitutes a consistent history.
The Buddhist sources (Divya, p. 433) are mistaken in making Pusyamitra the last of the Mauryas. According to Panini (IV, 1, 117), the Sungas belonged to the brahmin clan of Bharadvaja and, according to Kalidasa (Malavika, p. 83), Pusyamitra was of the Baimbika family (kula). He was commander-in-chief (senani) of Brhadratha, the last of the Mauryas, and it was in that capacity, say the Purana (P., pp. 31-3),that he overthrew Brhadratha and wielded kingship for thirty-six years.
The general's treachery is stigmatized by Bana (Harsacarita p, p.198-9 ) "After having assembled the whole army on pretext of showing him the forces of the empire, a despicable general, Puspamitra (sic), slew hismaster the Maurya Brhadratha, a man who was feeble of purpose".
Pusyamitra ruled in Pataliputra with the title of general. His possessions extended to the south as far as the Narmada, to the north-west as far as Jalandhara and Sakala (Punjab). His son, the crown prince Agnimitra, established his personal court at Vidisa, present-day Besnagar, in Eastern Malwa, and imprisoned the former "Mauryan Minister" (Mauryasaciva) who represented the Mauryan legitimacy in Avanti. The brother-in-law of this minister, Yajnasena, the governor of Berar, deserted and founded the independent kingdom of Vidarbha (Malavika, p. 10). He immediately undertook to have his relative liberated.
The minor war of Vidarbha has all the ingredients of a tragi-comedy.However, Pusyamitra had to face a more serious danger originating from the North-West frontiers. Renewing the attempts of Alexander the Great, Seleucus I Nicator and Antiochus III the Great, Demetrius the king of Bactria and his lieutenants seized the Punjab and the Sindh, and plunged into the heart of the Indian empire. We will return later to this expedition, using the Greek and Puranic sources as a basis. Here, we will simply note that it was confirmed by a contemporary of Pusyamitra, the grammarian Patanjali. While explaining the tense of a verb which is required to specify whether it is a recent action which one could have witnessed, Patanjali gives an example with the phrases : Arunad Yavano Saketam; Arund Yavano Madhyamikam (Mahabhasya. 111, 2, 11 l),which means : "[In my time] the Greek besieged Saketa (Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh) and Madhyamika (Nagari in the former Rajputana, near Chitor)".
However, the enemy advance, which reached the walls of Pataliputra, was broken by dissensions between the Greeks, and the army of Demetrius was compelled to withdraw to the Punjab. During this retreat, some local successes were achieved by the Indians. Vasumitra, the grandson of Pusyamitra and son of Agnimitra, ambushed a troop of Yavanas on the southern bank of the Sindhu, i.e. the Indus or, more likely, the Kali Sindhu, a tributary of the Chambal, which passes some 150 km from Madhyamika.
Pusyamitra announced this success to Agnimitra in a letter, the text of which is reproduced by the Malavikagnimitra (pp. 1 1 1-12) :
"Greetings! From the ritual-ground, the commander-in-chief Pusyamitra affectionately embraces his son, the Venerable Agnimitra residing in Vidisa, and informs him of this news : Ready to carry out the sacrifice of the Rajasuya, I entrusted Vasumitra and a hundred (Indian) princes with the guardianship of the horse (destined for the sacrifice); then I freed the animal with the order to bring it back at the end of a year. In fact, while it was on the southern bank of the Sindhu, that horse was attacked by a troop of Yavanas. There was a brisk engagement between the two armies. After having vanquished the enemy, Vasumitra, the powerful archer, returned to me the excellent horse which they had attempted to take from him. I am now about to proceed with the sacrifice of the horse which my grandson brought back to me. Come without delay and in peace of mind with my daughters-in-law in order to attend the sacrifice".
Pusyamitra therefore reinstated esteem for the old Vedic ritual, which had been neglected by the pro-Buddhist Mauryas, and in particular performed that horse sacrifice (asvamedha) which requires no less than a year to complete. Before being immolated the horse roams freely for a year in the direction of the four cardinal points, surrounded by the guard of the king who claims the title of universal sovereign (cakravartin).
Therefore Patanjali, in his Mahabhasya (III,2, 123), has the brahmins of his time utter the solemn declaration : Iha Pusyamitram yajayamah "Here we perform sacrifices for Pusyamitra". A Sunga inscription, which incidentally is the first known Sanskrit inscription, attributes to the sovereign a dual asvamedha in celebration of his victories : "This altar was erected in honour of Phalgudeva, the father of the Dharmaraja ... by Dhana(-deva, -bhuti, etc.), ruler of Kosala, son of Kausiki, the sixth (son, or successor) of the Senapati Pusyamitra who twice celebrated the Asvamedha".
As will be seen further on, the Buddhist sources consider Pusyamitra as a persecutor of Buddhism, and say he met with an ignominious death. His rule seems to have marked the beginning of a brahmanical reaction which was to reach full development five centuries later under Samudragupta and his successors. The Sungas created an advisory council (sabha) or assembly of ministers (mantraparisad) in which the Brahmins were in the majority.
THE SUCCESSORS OF PUSYAMITRA (ca 151 -75 B.C.E ). - The adventures of Agnimitra, the viceroy of Vidisa, entitled Malavikagnimitra. His son Vasumitra or Sumitra, the fourth sunga, distinguished himself in his youth by the victory of the river Sindhu mentioned above; however, his taste for the theatre was his downfall : "A great lover of dramatic plays, he was assailed by Mitradeva amidst his actors and was beheaded with one blow of a scimitar" (Harsacarita, p. 198).
The fifth Sunga appears in the Purana under the most various names : Bhadraka, Ardraka or Ordruka, Andhraka, finally Antaka. The same sources assign him a reign of two or seven years of rule. An inscription at Pabhosa (LUDERs 904) is dated the year 10 of a certain Udaka with whom this prince may possibly be identified. Sir John Marshall also compares him to the king Kasiputra Bhagabhadra, mentioned on the famous Garuda-pillar found at Vidisa (LUDERs 669).
Under the ninth sunga, Bhaga or Bhagavata, again in Vidisa, a second Garuda-pillar was erected; it is dated the twelfth year of the maharaja Bhagavata (Arch. Surv. Ind. An. Rep.. 1913-14, p. 190 sq.).
On the instigation of his minister Vasudeva, Devabhuti, the last Sunga, was assassinated by the daughter of a slave who had approached him disguised as the queen (Harsacarita, p. 199).
FEUDATORIES OF THE SUNGAS. - Whereas the royal house, after having attempted a revival of brahmanism, finally turned to the Bhagavata religion, its vassals as a general rule remained faithful to Buddhism.
1. The inscriptions enable us to reconstruct the lineage of the petty monarchs of Bharhut :
Visadeva = Goti
Agaraju = Vachi
Dhanabhuti = Nagarakhita
These princes erected the famous stiipa at Bharhut in central India and decorated it with sculptures :
"In the reign of the Sugas (sungas), a gateway (torana) was built and sculptures (silakammanta) carved, by order of Dhanabhuti Vachiputra, the son of Agaraju Gotiputra and grandson of the rajan Visadeva Gagiputra", (LUDERS 687; BARUA, ).
A cross-piece (suci of the palisade was a "gift from Nagarakhita, wife of the rajan Dhanabhujti ( LUDERs 882; BARUA1, 15).Another element is the "gift from Prince Vadhapala, son of the rajan Dhanabhuti" (LUDERs,869; BARUA1, 03).
The memory of the pious family also remains attached to Buddhist establishments in Mathura, particularly the "Precious House"; an inscription commemorates "the dedication of a balustrade (vedika) and gateways (torana) at the Ratnagrha by Vadhapala, [son] of Dhanabhuti Vatsiputra, in association with his parents and the four orders (parisa), in homage to all the Buddhas"(LUDERS 25 ).
2. In the year 10 of the reign of Udaka - who should perhaps be identified with Odruka, the fifth Sunga, - there ruled in Kausambi a King Bahasatimitra (Brhaspatimitra or Brhatsvatimitra) who gave evidence of his Buddhist faith by minting coins bearing an Indian ox before a caitya on the obverse and, on the reverse, a tree surrounded by a balustrade (CHI, p. 538, pl. V, 2). According to the Pabhosa inscriptions (LUDERS, 904-5) and inscribed bricks discovered at Ganeshra near Mathura, his genealogy may be established as follows :
Sonakayana, rajan of Ahicchatra
Rajan Bhagavata = Vaihidari
Yasamatam. a king of Mathura (Gomita?)
Asadhasena, the maternal uncle of King Bahasamitra, had caves dug in favour of the Buddhist sect of the Kasyapiyas at Prabhosa, near Kausambi : "Excavation of a cave (lena) by Asadhasena, son of Gopali Vaihidari and the maternal uncle of the rajan Bahasatimitra, son of Gopali, for the Kassapiya Arahamtas" (LUDERs 904). - "Excavation of a cave by Asadhasena, son of Vaihidari and the rajan Bhagavata, son of Tevani (Traivarni), son of Vamgapala, son of Sonakayana (Saunakayana) rajan of Ahicchatra" (LUDERs 905).
3. Already before the accession of the Sungas, a dynasty ruled in Ahicchatra, capital of Pancala (Rohilkhand), which consisted of no less than a dozen sovereigns. Their names, most of which end in mitra, are known through coins in the British Museum and the Museum of Lucknow (ALLAN, CCAI, pp. cxvicxx) : Agnimitra, Bhadraghose, Bhanumitra, Bhumimitra, Dhruvamitra, Indramitra, Jayagupta, Jayamitra, ,Phalgunimitra, Rudragupta, Suryamitra, Visnumitra, Visvapala and Brhaspatimitra. To judge from the deities or symbols which appear on the reverse of their coins, they were worshippers of Agni, Laksmi, Bhumi, Dhruva (Siva), Visnu or Surya. However, their immediate family certainly included Buddhist sympathizers : thus an architrave and several pillars of the palisade of the "Royal Temple" (rajaprasadacaitya) built by Asoka at Bodh-Gaya are "gifts from Kuramgi, the sister-in-law of Imdagimitra (Indragnimitra), the daughter of Jiva, to the Royal Temple" (LUDERs 9,3944).
4. Some copper coins, with the goddess Laksmi on the obverse and three mountend elephants on the reverse, preserve the names of a dozen of the Sunga vassals who settled in Mathura : Gomita (II), husband of Yasamata, daughter of Bahasatimitra the king of Kausambi : Balabhuti; Brahmamitra, etc. Post No. 91 of the palisade at Bodh-Gaya on which Indra, in the form of Santi, appears in high relief, is a "gift from Nagadeva, the sister-in-law of King Brahmamitra" (Bodh-Gaya, p. 58). Some half-hearted attempts have been made to correlate this Brahmamitra with his homonym, the Bhadramitra of the Mathura coins.
5. The Ayodhya inscription mentioned above (EI, XX, 1929, p. 57) refers to a Ruler of Kosala who was the sixth (son or successor?) of the commander-in-chief Pusyamitra. He was possibly related to Dhanabhuti, the petty monarch of Bharhut.
THE KANVAS (75-30 B.C.E). - "A minister named Vasudeva will overthrow the dissolute king Devabhumi, on account of his youth, and this minister will become king of the Sungas. That Kanvayana will reign for 9 years; his son Bhumitra, 14 years; his son Narayana, 12 years; his son Susarman, 10 years. They are mentioned as kings subservient to the Sungas (sungabhrtya) and descendants of the Kanvas (kanvayana). Those four Kanvas will remain in power for 45 years. Neighbouring princes will submit to them. They will be righteous. After they have gone, the territory will pass to the Andhras" (P., p. 34-5).
Summarized in this way by the Purana, the history of these kings is not known elsewhere but, to judge from their names, two of them, Vasudeva and Narayana, must have been Visnuites just like the last Sungas. They were overthrown in approximately 30 B.C.E by the Andhra king Simuka and his allies who, says the Purana, "will attack the Kanvayanas and Susarman, destroy whatever remains of the Sungas (Sunganam caiva yac chesam ) and seize that territory" (P., p. 38). This passage seems to imply that the Andhras overthrew the Sungas and Kanvas simultaneously, and some historians have deduced from this that the 45 years of rule assigned to the Kanvas were included in the 112 years attributed to the Sungas. Notwithstanding, the Purana categorically assert that Devabhuti, the tenth sunga, was assassinated by the first Kanva. However, the new dynasty could have allowed some descendants of the Sungas to continue alongside it, and both would have been definitively destroyed by the Andhras around 30 B.C.E
BACTRIANS AND INDO-GREEKS:
1. THE GREEK KINGDOM OF BACTRIA-. Founded about 250 B.C.E by Diodotus I, the Greek kingdom of Bactria was formally recognized by the Seleucids at the convention of 206 B.C.E concluded between Antiochus III on the one hand, Euthydemus of Magnesia and his son Demetrius on the other.
Once the matter was settled, Antiochus III returned to his states via the Hindukush route, encountering on his way the Indian king Subhagasena, the last representative of the Mauryas in the North-West frontiers. Once back in Syria, Antiochus undertook transactions in the west which were to make him forget the oriental borderlands in his possession. He concluded a secret treaty with Philip V of Macedonia over the partition of Egyptian possessions overseas (202 B.C.E). Having become ruler of Ptolemaic Syria and Palestine (202-198 B.C.E ), he advanced on Europe with the intention of reconquering Thrace (196 B.C.E). The Seleucid intervention in the Mediterranean basin was a source of anxiety to the Roman senate. Legions were sent to meet Antiochus, who lost the battles of Thermopylae and Magnesia under Sipylos and suffered a severe naval defeat at Corycus. Through the peace of Apamea concluded in 188 B.C.E, the Seleucid empire ceased to be a Mediterranean power, and the following year Antiochus fell to the blows of an assassin. Meanwhile, the kings of Bactria had not waited for his death to cross the frontiers of India, which had been poorly defended since the humiliation inflicted on the Indian king Subhagasena in about 206 B.C.E.
End of the reign of Euthydemus (205-189 B.C.E). - Towards the year 200 B.C.E, Euthydemus crossed the passes of the Afghan massif and took possession of the Paropamisadae, Arachosia and Seistan. In fact, even if this silver coins of the "Profile of the Prince : Hercules seated on a rock" type are particularly numerous to the north of the Hindukush, in Balkh (Bactria) and Bukhara (Sogdiana), his bronze coins of the "Profile of Hercules : Galloping Horse" type are widespread in the regions of Kabul, Kandahar and Seistan. However, the legend remains exclusively Greek. The king died in about 189 B.C.E, leaving it to his son Demetrius to continue those conquests.
Demetrius (ca 189-167 B.C.). - Demetrius was to add to his title of king of Bactria that of the king of the Indians. His coinage was to bear traces of this new status. On his silver tetradrachms, the prince appears with an (Indian) elephant-hide head-dress and there is also an elephant's head on his bronze coins.
The patient research by Tam has traced his family. Demetrius was descended from Eulhydemus of Magnesia and the daughter of the Bactrian general Diodotus. His brother and colleagues were Antimachus I and Apollodotus; he had five children : Euthydemus II, Demetrius II, Pantaleon, Agathocles and Agathocleia, the future wife of General Menander.
At the time Demetrius assumed power, the Mauryan empire was on the point of collapsing, and the successive defeats of Antiochus III led to the fall of the Seleucids. The king of Bactria decided to take advantage of these circumstances to carve out a vast empire for himself in India.
1. During the first campaign which took place between 187 B.C.E and 182 B.C.E, Demetrius took possession of Gandhara, the Punjab and the Indus valley, and established his capital in Taxila. However, the city was transferred from Bhir Mound to Sirkap, on the other side of the Tamrapali; a new town was laid out on the chequer-board plan characteristic of Hellenistic cities. This is still easily recognizable despite the three centuries of Greek, Scythian, Parthian and Kusana occupation, a period when the city was transferred to Sirsukh.
As Demetrius was fully occupied with his military projects, he entrusted the administration of his states to viceroys chosen from among members of his family : Antimachus at Herat, Demetrius II in Gandhara, Pantaleon and Agathocles in Taxila (until 175 B.C.E). A square-shaped coin is attributed to Demetrius II; the obverse represents the prince with a head-dress of an elephant's scalp, and the reverse, a winged thunderbolt; the coin is inscribed with a bilingual legend in Greek and Kharosthi :, Maharajusa aparajitasa Demetriyusa.
2. The collapse of the Mauryan empire in 187 B.C.E and the assumption of power by the commander-in-chief Pusyamitra incited Demetrius to continue his march eastward. From the region of Sindh, he launched a pincer attack which very nearly led to the downfall of Pusyamitra. A Yavana army, commanded by Apollodotus, skirted the Indian desert towards the south-east, entered Kathiawar, Gujarat and Milwa and seized the viceroyalty of Ujjayini as well as the important port of Bharukaccha. Simultaneously, General Menander, at the head of another invading army, thrust in the direction of thc Ganges, seized Sakala, Mathura and Saketa in turn and laid siege to Pataliputra. In approximately the year 180 B.C.E, the Bactrians were in full possession of the two Indian provinces of Eastern Punjab (Sakala ) and Avanti (Ujjayini) and were a dangerous threat to the capital. Demetrius held territories which extended from eastern Iran to the Middle Ganges and from Russian Turkestan to the peninsula of Kathiawar. The Latin historian Justin (XLI, 6, 4) was quite correct in assigning to him the title of Rex Indorum.
The Greek and Indian sources have retained the memory of these memorable events, but unfortunately do not go into details.
Here we should reproduce the often quoted passage by Strabo (XI, ii, 1, p. 516) :
"Bactria, the northern frontier of which borders on Aria for a certain distance, far exceeds that country in the eastern direction. It is considerable in extent and its soil is suitable for all kinds of cultivation, except for that of olive trees. Thanks to its immense resources, the Greeks who had detached it [from the Seleucid empire] soon became so powerful that they could seize Ariana and India herself, according to Apollodorus of Arternita, and that their kings, especially Menander, if it is true that he crossed the Hypanis [Hyphasis or Beas ] and advanced eastwards as far as the Isamus [lomanes or Yamuni, a tributary of the Ganges; Icchumai, in Skt. Iksumati, the present-day Kannadi, a river of Pancala in the region of Kanauj; more probably Soamus or Sona, a tributary of the right bank of the Ganges, the confluence of which is situated near Pataliputra], finally numbered more subjects and dependents than Alexander ever had, thanks to the conquests made not only by Menander in person but also by Demetrius, son of the Bactrian king Euthydemus. We should add that, on the sea-board, not content with occupying the whole of Patalene [Sindh], they also took possession of the nearby coastland, namely the kingdoms of Saraostos [Surastra, i.e. Kathiawar and Gujarat] and Sigerdis [Sagaradvipa, or the Kutch peninsula]. In short, Apollodorus was right to call Bactria the boulevard of Ariana, the kings of that country having pushed their conquests as far as the frontiers of the Seres and Phruni [in Central Asia]
It appears from another passage by Strabo (XV, 1,27, p. 698) that the Greek thrust reached Pataliputra :
"Of the eastern part of India we only know what is on this side of the Hypanis [Hyphasis or Beas] and what has been added by others who, after Alexander, penetrated beyond the Hypanis as far as the Ganges and Palibothra [ Pataliputra ]
The exploits which Strabo assigns here to Menander and Demetrius are attributed to Apollodotus and Menander by Pompeius Trogus (Justin, XLI, Prologue).
The Indian sources confirm the Greek evidence in their own way. As we saw above, Patanjali in his Mahabhasya (111, 1, I l I) notes that in his time : "the Greek besieged Saketa and Madhyamika"; Saketa is a town in Kosala, very near Ayodhya; Madhyamiki is Nagari, near Chitor, in the former Rajputana.
In the detestable prophetic style of the Purana, the Gargi Samhita (YP., 94-1 16) deplores the Greek advance up to the walls of the capital and the confusion it led to in Indian society itself :
"Having conquered Saketa [Ayodhya], the Pancalas [Doab] and Mathura, the wicked but valiant Yavanas will reach Kusumadhvaja [Pataliputra]. Once the thick walls of Puspapura [Pataliputra] have been reached, all the provinces will be thrown into confusion. Finally, a great battle with swords and bludgeons will take place. At the end of the yuga, there will be irreligious Anaryans; Brahmana, Ksatriya, Vaisya and Sudra will be inferior men, making use of the same clothes and customs. Men will join the heretics and conclude alliances for women. There will be base bhiksuka, dressed in the religious robe, wearing their hair in plaits and bark clothing; those men of lowly caste, [improvised guardians] of the three fires, will offer oblations, unscrupulously, with hymns beginning with the Omkara. , Sudras will challenge the brahmins with "Bho!" and the brahmins will greet them with the word "Arya". The ancient Tama of Dharmamita [Demetrius] will devour the people. The Yavanas will be in command and the princes will disappear.However, the Yavanas. intoxicated with warfare, will not remain in Madhyadesa. A civil war will break out among them; on their own territory, a terrible, extremely murderous battle will take place and it will result in the complete destruction of the Yavanas".
Meanwhile Demetrius, called Dattamitra in the Mahabharata (I, 139, 23), did not remain inactive; his name remains attached to numerous Demetriads founded by himself : Tarmita, Termez in Sogdiana, is mentioned by the name of Dharmamitra in a Sanskrit text translated into Tibetan (JA, 1933, p. 27, n. 1); a Demetrias-polis is recorded in the Stationes Parthicae (19) of Isidorus of Charax; a Dattamitri in Sauvira (Sindh) is reported by the grammarian Kramadisvara (p. 796); finally, an inscription at Nasik (LUDERs 11, 40), records a "Yonaka from Otarika", i.e. a Greek from the North, a native of a Dattimitri, otherwise unspecified.
It does not seem as though Apollodotus continued his advance towards Vidisa, the second most important town of the Sunga kingdom, where Pusyamitra's son, Agnimitra, was living. We saw previously, on the evidence of the Mulavikagnimitra (pp. 1 1 1 - 12), how Vasumitra routed a troop of Yavanas on the bank of the Kali Sindhu. Some writers think that from 175 B.C.E on Apollodotus, at the request of his brother, was viceroy of Taxila.
3. The civil war destroyed the work of the Greeks in eastern Iran and India. The eastward transfer of Bactrian power left the western frontiers dangerously depleted. The Indians themselves became aware that the dissension among the Greeks militated in their favour; apart from the Gargi Samhita (1.c.) which attributes the evacuation of Madhyedesa to the civil war breaking out "on the very territory" of the Yavanas, the Purana (P., p. 56) state that the Yavana usurpers "devoted to blameworthy practices owing to the decadence of the times, massacred each other".
Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-163 B.C.E), the last great Seleucid king, attempted to restore the Syrian empire and save it from disintegration by means of a policy of in-depth Hellenization. His intervention in Egypt (169 B.C.E.) and contentions with the Jews (168 B.C.E) did not prevent him from assessing the threat which the growing power of Demetrius presented to his eastern frontiers. It is possible that he charged one of his lieutenants, Eucratides, with restoring the Seleucid legitimacy in Bactria. Tarn makes this Eucratides the true cousin of Antiochus IV. In any case, royal blood flowed in his veins. The joined busts of his parents, the satrap Heliocles (bareheaded) and the Seleucid princess Laodice (diadem head-dress), appear on silver tetradrachms which Eucratides had struck after his successes in Bactria.
The campaign began in about the year 168 B.C.E, but historical details are lacking. It is probable that Eucratides, taking advantage of the absence of Demetrius who was detained in his Indian possessions, hustled his viceroys, Agathocles in Arachosia-Seistan, Antimachus at Herat, and victoriously entered Bactria. Struck from behind, Demetrius probably ordered Menander to withdraw from the Ganges region and entrench himself in the eastern Punjab. He himself returned hurriedly to Bactria to restore the situation. It was doubtless there that, about the years 168 B.C.E or 167 B.C.E, he was able to take his stand against his rival. The encounter concluded with the total defeat and undoubtedly the death of Demetrius and several of his lieutenants. Justin (XLI, 6, 4) sums up the operation in a few lines : "Although his forces were depleted, Eucratides, besieged by Demetrius the king of the Indians, made continual sallies and, with 300 soldiers, defeated a force of 60,000 (sic) enemies. Having compelled the siege to be raised, he reduced India to subjection".
Thus in 167 B.C.E, on the death of Demetrius, there remained two Greek enemy kingdoms : the western Greek kingdom ruled by Eucratides and comprising Bactria, Sogdiana, Aria, Seistan and Arachosia; the eastern Greek kingdom ruled by the Euthydemid Apollodotus I (territories situated west of the Jhelum : Western Punjab, Gandhara and Kapisa) and the general Menander (territories located to the east of same river : eastern Punjab).
The two rival kingdoms each developed on their own account, but the only information that can be gathered regarding them is provided by some inscriptions and numerous coins the interpretation of which is mostly hypothesis : "Every minor prince has ambassadors, every large town strikes coins; the coins are re-struck; the place where they are found is not always an indication of their origin; the effigy of the prince outlives his reign" (after A. Foucher).
2. THE EASTERN GREEK KINGDOM (167-30 B.C.E). - This was ruled Over by princes who, while remaining faithful to Hellenic customs and traditions, understood the Indian population, respected its beliefs and showed themselves favourable to Buddhism.
1. Apollodotus I (ca 167-163 B.C.E). - Apollodotus, the brother of Demetrius, occupied, from approximately 175 B.C.E, the viceroyalty of the Western Punjab (Taxila). Despite the victory of Eucratides over Demetrius and his lieutenants, he. continued to rule for some time over the territories situated to the west of the Jhelum, with the title of Maharajasa Apaladatasa Tradarasa. He appealed to thc patronage of Apollo, as is apparent from copper coins of the "Apollo : tripod" type struck in his effigy. On the other hand, silver coins of the "Elephant : Indian buffalo" type show that he wielded power over the town of Taxila in the Eastern Punjab (symbolized by the elephant) and over that of Puskaravati in Gandhara (represented by Siva's Indian buffalo).
However, in about 164 B.C.E Eucratides, who had already seized Bactria, Sogdiana, Aria, Seistan and Arachosia from the Euthydemids, continued his march forward. He took possession of Kapisa (Paropamisadae) and Gandhara, and reached the Indus. It is doubtful whether he crossed that river and got to Taxila. Apollodotus died during the combats between himself and Eucratides, but his states were saved and recovered by the general Menander who was allied to the Euthydemid family through his marriage to Agathocleia.
2. Menander (ca 163-150 B.C.E). - The most famous of the Indo- Greek kings was Menander, Mememdra on coins, Minadra on inscriptions, Milinda in Pali, Minara in Taranitha. The Milindapanha (pp. 82- 3), says he was born "in the village of Kalasi. in the dipa of Alasanda, two hundred yojana (leagues) from the town of Sagala". According to this indication, Menander was a native of Kavisi (Kapisi) in the district of Alexandria-under-the-Caucasus situated approximately 200 leagues from Shakala in the eastern Punjab : one may suppose, as did A.Foucher, that his father was Greek and his mother a native, and being of mixed blood, he was particularly capable of understanding both the Hellenic and Indian worlds. However, the Chinese translation of the Milindapanha (tr. DEMIEVILLE p,p . 30, 168) says he was born "beside the sea, in the land of Ta ch'in (Hellenic East), the country of A li sun situated who thousand yojana (from Sakala) equivalent to eighty thousand Ii" : which leads us to Alexandria in Egypt.
However that may be, Menander was, together with Apollodotus I the best supporter of the Euthydemid throne. In his capacity as one of the generals of Demetrius, he led a Yavana army across Doab and Oudh as far as the walls of Pataliputra (ca 180 B.C.E). When the surprise attack by Eucratides compelled Demetrius to withdraw from the Ganges basin, Menander entrenched himself with his army in the Eastern Punjab (167 B.C.E); it was doubtless about the same time that he married Agathocleia, the daughter of Demetrius, and set up his headquarters at Sakala. After the rout and death of Apollodotus (ca 163 B.C.E) and the occupation of the Paropamisadae and Gandhara by Eucratides, Menander recovered all the Euthydernid possessions. Shortly afterwards, he succeeded in regaining Gandhara, but had to abandon Kapisa to his enemy. Finally, after the defeat inflicted on Eucratides by the Parthian king Mithridates (l59 B.C.E), Menander seems to have re-established his authority over Arachosia.
The Milindapaiha opens with an idyllic description of the town of Sakala over which Menander ruled, surrounded by a praetorian guard of 500 Yavanas and assisted by ministers with Greek names (p. 29) : Devamantiya (Demetrius?), Anantakaya (Antiochus), Mankura (Pacorus) and Sabbadinna (Sabbadotus?). Sakala (Pili, Sagala) has been identified with the present-day town of Sialkot, between the Chenab and the Ravi. It is mentioned in the Mahabharata (11, 32, 14) and the Divyavadana (. 434). We know from the geographer Ptolemy (VII, 1,46) that it was also called Euthydemia (variant : Euthymedia). In the former case, it is believed that the Greeks, Menander in this instance, so named it in memory of the glorious lineage of the Indo-Greek kings commenced by Euthydemus of Magnesia. In the latter case, it is thought that Euthymedia is an allusion to Menander's conversion to Buddhism, the Greek term ~68upq6ia appearing as the literal translation of the Buddhist word samyaksamkalpa "right resolve" presented by the Buddha as one of the eight limbs of the noble eightfold Path to Nirvana.
Menander's states were very extensive. It is possible, but not certain, that in the east the king's sway included the town of Mathura, capital of the Surasena district on the Yamuna. However, the region did not take long to become a Sunga fief under the authority of Indian princes of whom coins and some inscriptions have retained the names.
To the west of the Indus, vast territories were governed by Menander's viceroys, who were chosen from among both the natives and the Greeks :
1. In Gandhara, to judge from the coins, Antimachus II, Polyxenus and Epander ruled as viceroys of Menander and Strato I.
2. In Uddiyina, or to be more precise in the district of Bajaur situated twenty miles to the west of the confluence of the Panjkora and the Swat, the Indian petty monarch Viyakamitra, who installed a relic of the Buddha in the Shinkot stupa (EI, XXIV, 1937, p. 7), claimed to be a contemporary and vassal of Menander.
Conversely, the Kohistanese region of Kapisa remained in the hands of Eucratides who began the minting in Kapisi of coins of the "Enthroned Zeus" type which were characteristic of the area.
3. Also dependents of Menander were Sindh, Kaccha (Kutch peninsula), Surastra (Kathiawar and Gujarat) as well as the coastal region as far as the port of Bharukaccha (Broach). Indeed, the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (47) shows that, until the end of the first century C.E., "still current in Barygaza were ancient drachmas carved with Greek characters and bearing the effigy of those who ruled after Alexander : Apollodotus and Menander".
4. Finally, in approximately 159 B.C.E, the date at which the Parthian king Mithridates seized part of Eucratides' possessions in Aria and Arachosia, Menander seems to have reconquered Eastern Arachosia, where he was represented by the viceroy Zoilus.
There are plenty of different types of Menander's coinage, such as "Nike", "Bucephala" and especially "Athena Promachos". The legend is bilingual, Maharajasa tratarasa Menemdrasa. The title of "Saviour", already adopted by Apollodotus I, seems to indicate that the Euthydemids of the eastern kingdom set themselves up as defenders, not only of the Yavanas, but also of the Buddhists of the North-West and the former supporters of the Mauryan legitimacy against the usurper Pusyamitra. While not being specifically Buddhist, the symbol of the eight-spoked wheel which appears on Menander's coins could not fail to evoke either the figure of a "King of the Dharma" such as the Buddha, or again that of a Cakravartin or universal conqueror.
As much from the Indian as the Greek side, Menander was considered as a Buddhist holy one. Further on, we will examine if not the cogency, at least the developments of that tradition.
3. Strato I and his successors (150-30 B.C.E). - On the death of Menander which occurred in about the year 150 B.C.E, his son Strato had still not come of age. His mother Agathocleia therefore wielded power as a regent. A copper coin of the "Seated Heracles" type represents on the observe the bust of the queen and on the reverse Heracles seated on a rock with the legend Maharajasa tratarasa dhramikasa Stratasa.
At a later stage, Strato and his mother reigned together. Silver. Coins of the "Athena Promachos" type represent their busts side by side. In the end, Strato wielded power alone, and struck silver coins, still of the "Athena Promachos" type, on which he appears in turn in the form of a helmeted young man, then as a bearded adult and finally as a frail old man.
At the beginning of his reign, the Western Punjab (Taxila) and Gandhara (Puskaravati) still formed part of his possessions, as is apparently established on the one hand by copper coins of the "Apollo :tripod" type, copied from Apollodotus I, and on the other, by copper coins of the "Bust of Heracles : Nike" type. Maharajasa pracachasa tratarasa Stratasa.
However, Strato was unable to maintain the integrity of Menander's kingdom for very long. Certain coins of the Bactrian king Heliocles show the humped bull of Gandhara and the elephant of Taxila, and other coins of Strato, of the "Nike" type, were restruck in the name of Heliocles. It can be concluded from this that at a certain date (145 B.C.E) Heliocles seized Arachosia, Gandhara, Taxila and Sind Sagar Doab from Strato. Driven back to the west of the Jhelum, Strato and his successors were relegated to the band of territory situated between that river and the Yamuna, with the capital Sakala in Rechna Doab.
The successors of Strato, Apollodotus II, Dionysius and Zoilus, continued to strike copper coins of the "Apollo : tripod" type and silver coins of the "Athena Promachos" type, the latter marked with an identical monogram. On the other hand, "Athena Promachos" coins exist on which the legend associates the name of Strato I with that of his grandson Strato II as, Maharajanam tratarasa Stratasa potrasa casa priyapita- Stratasa.
The eastern Greek kingdom disappeared in about the year 30 B.C.E through the conquest of the Saka Azes I, and, as a sign of his victory, the Scythian king in turn struck coins bearing the Athene Promachos on the reverse.
3. THE WESTERN GREEK KINGDOM (ca 164-90 B.C.E). - The second volet of the diptych is filled with the feats of the western Greek kingdom which was founded by Eucratides after his victory over Demetrius. At the risk of being repetitive, we must summarize here the main stages of its history.
1. Eucratides (ca 164-158 B.C.E). - a. In approximately the year 168-167 B.C.E, at the request of the Seleucid Antiochus IV, Eucratides, the son of Princess Laodice, attacked the Bactro-Indian empire of the Euthydemid Demetrius. The latter besieged him with superior forces in Bactria, but Eucratides weakened his adversary by continual sallies and finally triumphed. He immediately seized Bactria, Sogdiana, Aria, Seistan and Arachosia.
The successes Eucratides achieved in the eastern satrapies did not prevent his suzerain Antiochus IV from suffering serious disasters elsewhere : the ultimatum from the consul Popilius Laenas forced him to evacuate Egypt (169- 168 B.C.E ); the persecuted Jews rebelled (168-167 B.C.E ), and Antiochus IV met his death during an expedition against Artaxias in Armenia (164 B.C.E). The Seleucid empire immediately disintegrzited; almost everywhere, the satraps established their independence and Eucratides proclaimed himself great king of Bactria. His first coins are silver tetradrachms which reveal the aristocratic beauty of the prince : on the obverse, the bust of the diademed king, with or without a helmet, his shoulders covered or bare backed; on the reverse, the Dioscuri, with pilei headdresses charging on horseback.
Strabo (XI, 11, 2, p. 516) is impressed by the might of the new king :
"The kings of Bactria had more than one important town in their states : first Bactra, or as it is sometimes called Zariaspa, through which flows a river of the same name, a tributary of the Oxus; then Adraspa and several others more. Among the number of principal towns in the country there also appeared Eucratidaea, thus named after the [Greek] king [who had founded it]. Once they were masters of Bactria, the Greeks [following the example of the Persians] had subdivided it into satrapies"
b. Administrative worries were not enough to quell the warlike ardour of the king of Bactria : "Eucratides waged several wars with great courage ... and reduced India into his power" (Justin, XLI, 6, 4).
Details are lacking regarding that Indian campaign which, between the years 163 B.C.E and 160 B.C.E, led Eucratides to triumph over the two Euthydemids Apollodotus I and Menander, but the bilingual coins show that the Basileus megas in turn considered himself as a maharaja.
Coinage once again enables us to follow his progress eastwards in the direction of the Indus.
Crossing the Hindukush, Eucratides first of all seized the Paropamisadae, or Kapisa, which was long to remain a fief coveted by the western Greek kingdom. As a mark of his victory, he minted copper coins of the "City of Kapisi" type : on the obverse, the bust of the helmeted king; on the reverse, Zeus enthroned between two emblems, the forepart of an elephant to the left and a mountain to the right, with the legend Kavisiye nagara devata "divinity of the town of Kapisi”.
Continuing his march eastwards, Eucratides wrested Gandhara from Apollodotus, and in that region minted copper coins of the "Nike with garland and palm" type and the legend Maharajasa Evukratitasa.
It is possible, but not certain, that the conqueror crossed the Indus and seized the town of Taxila. In any case, he was the first to strike silver coins bearing the "Pilei of the Dioscuri" on the reverse, a type proper to the town of Taxila and which was used after him by a long series of sovereigns.
Eucratides' seizure of the Kabul valley led to the disappearance of his rival, King Apollodotus (163 B.C.E), but the eastern Greek kingdom was saved by Menander who was able to take advantage of favourable political circumstances in order partly to restore the empire of Euthydemus.
c. The end of Eucratides' rcign was marked by an eclipse in power. First of all, he was expulsed from Gandhiira - but not from Kapisa - by Menander, and it was the latter's turn to have his coins struck with the "Winged Victory" characteristic of the region.
However, the most dangerous enemy for the new Indo-Greek kingdom, as, moreover, for the Seleucid empire, was the Parthian king Mithridates I or Arsaces VI (171-138 B.C.E) of whom Eucratides was contemporary, as Justin (XLI, 6. 1) remarks. Between the years 160 B.C.E and 140 B.C.E, Mithridates, the true founder of Parthian power, was to deprive the Seleucids and their vassals of Media, Persia and Susiana, and settle in Mesopotamia where, facing Seleucia, he established a vast military camp which was later to become the Parthian capital, Ctesiphon. The resistance offered by Syria resulted in a humiliating defeat : Demetrius II Nicator was beaten and captured (140-139 B.C.E).
Eucratides was the first victim of the Parthian advance. At the very beginning of the campaign, in about 159 B.C.E, "two satrapies known as Aspionus and Turiva were wrested from the Bactrians by the Parthians, in the reign of Eucratides" (Strabo, XI, 11, 2, p. 517). In all probability these were two districts in Aria, Tapuria and Traxiana, the former situated on the Upper Atrek and the latter in the valley of Kasaf-rud, both around present-day Meched.
Eucratides, who was absent at the time of the sudden attack, hastened to return to his states :
"On his return, he was assassinated on the road by his son with whom he had shared the empire and who, without concealing his patricide and as if he had killed an enemy and not a father, drove his chariot over the bleeding body and had it cast away unburied" (Justin, XLI, 6, 5)
Menander took advantage of these events to recover Eastern Arachosia, as seems to be indicated by coinage of the "Elephant and Club type which that prince struck, the club being the symbol of Heracles whose connection with Arachosia is attested by subsequent coinage.
2. Heliocles (ca 158-135 B.C.E). - The successor of Eucratides was Heliocles, possibly the patricidal son whose name Justin does not state. He also was more an Indian than a Greek king.
Without assessing the danger to Bactria, caused by Scythian nomad incursions and Parthian ambitions, he yielded to the Indian phantasm and attempted to win back the states which had been wrested from his father by Menander and Strato I.
In approximately the year 145 B.C.E, making Kapisa the base of his operations, he advanced eastward and southward, and succeeded in taking Arachosia, Gandhara, Taxila and Sind Sagar Doiab from Strato I, achieving much greater success than did Eucratides. However, here again, the coinage is the only source of information.
a. For Bactria and Arachosia, "Standing Zeus", holding a thunderbolt in his right hand and a sceptre in his left.
b. For Kapisa or the Paropamisadae, "Enthroned Zeus", a type which Eucratides was the first to strike.
c. For Gandhara and Taxila together, copper coins of the "Elephant : Indian Buffalo" type, first minted by Apollodotus I, the elephant representing Taxila and the buffalo (of Siva), Gandhara
d. For Taxila alone, Heliocles invented the copper "Bust of the king: Elephant", and one of his successors, Antialcidas, continued to strike it. Heliocles was the last Indo-Greek king to rule simultaneously over Bactria and North-West India, on both sides of the Hindukush. However, perpetual warfare had exhausted the Bactrians
"Tossed from war to war, they lost not only their empire but also their freedom. Exhausted by their wars against the Sogdians, Arachosians, Drangians, Arians and Indians, they finally fell, as if worn out, under the yoke of the Parthians who until then had been weaker than them" (Justin, XLI, 6, 3)".
In fact, in about the year 140 B.C.E, after an important transfer of populations to which we will refer further on, the Greeks had to abandon Bactria to the nomads and withdraw to the south of the Hindukush. Heliocles' states were reduced to the Kabul valley and the Western Punjab; to the east of the Jhelum they were adjacent to the possessions of Strato and his successors. Heliocles seems to have settled in Taxila, leaving viceroys - Diomedes, Philoxenus, Artemidorus and Peucolaus - to govern the district of Puskarivati in Gandhira. In fact, all those princes struck coins of the "Puskaravati Goddess : Indian Buffalo" type, with the Prakrit legend Pakhalavadi devada, usabhe. The goddess in question appears in the form of a native woman (coins of Philoxenus) or again in that of Artemis (coins of Artemidorus and Peucolaus). The very name of Peucolaus is derived from the toponym Peucolaitis or Peucelaotis, the Greek transcription of Puskaravati.
3. Lysias (ca 135-125 B.C.). - Lysias succeeded Heliocles on the throne of Taxila and awarded himself the title of invincible : Maharajasa apadihatasa Lisikasa. His silver coins of the "Standing Heracles" type, copied from Demetrius, link him with Arachosia. He may have started as a viceroy in Arachosia, under Heliocles, before accompanying the latter to the Punjab.
4. Antialcidas (ca 125-100 B.C.). - A single copper coin exists which associates Lysias and Antialcidas : the name of the former appears on the obverse with a bust of Heracles, that of the latter on the reverse with the "Pilei of the Dioscuri". This connection is an indication of an immediate succession.
An inscription from Vidisa, present-day Besnagar (LUDERS 669), has Antialcidas reign in Taxila, and gives him as a contemporary of the Indian king Kasiputra Bhagabhadra who we believe may have been the fifth Sunga known to the Purana by the name of Bhadraka : "That Garudadhvaja (pillar surmounted by a Garuda bird) of Vasudeva (Visnu), god of gods, was erected by Heliodora (Heliodoms), a follower of the Bhagavat, son of Diya (Dion) and an inhabitant of Taksasila who came as the Greek ambassador (yavanaduta) of the great king Amtalikita (Antialcidas) to king Kasiputra Bhagabhadra, the saviour (tratara), in the fourtheenth year of his reign".
This is an attempt to connect a Greek sovereign, Antialcidas, with an Indian king of the Sunga dynasty, Bhagabhadra. The first relations between the Yavanas and Sungas were of a distinctly offensive nature :
the Euthydemids Demetrius, Apollodotus I and Menander had brought war to the very heart of the Indian kingdom then, after the constitution of the eastern Greek kingdom, Apollodotus and Menander had set themselves up as "Saviours", ( tratara) of the Buddhist Indians against the endeavours of Pusyamitra who posed as a restorer of brahmanical institutions. Relations were doubtless no better between the last Euthydemids, Strato I and his successors, who were still favourable to Buddhism, and the last Sungas, Bhadraka, etc., who had turned to the religion of the Bhagavatas and favoured Visnuite propaganda in the region of Vidisa, in Avanti. As representative of the western Greek kingdom founded by Eucratides and Heliocles, Antialcidas, profiting from that antagonism, attempted to inflict a fatal blow on his rivals, the Euthydemids of the eastern kingdom. Once he had been informed of the sympathy nurtured by the Indian king Bhagabhadra for Visnuism, he sent him as ambassador a Greek from Taxila named Dio, who was also an adhercnt of the Bhagavata religion. When he reached Vidisa, the ambassador erected a pillar surmounted by a Garuda in honour of Visnu. This converted Greek could not fail to be welcome at the Sunga court. Doubtless, his activity was not limited to that pious gesture : it can be supposed that he negotiated an alfiance between Antialcidas and Bhagabhadra, directed against the eastern Greek kingdom. Nevertheless, the latter survived until the arrival of the Saka hordes.
Antialcidas left silver coins representing on the obverse the bust of the king, wearing a diadem or a helmet and carrying the kausia; on the reverse Zeus enthroned, a type introduced by Eucratides in Kapisi. The copper coins are of the "Bust of the King : Taxilan Elephant" type or, more often, "Bust of Zeus : Pilei of the Dioscuri" a type first struck by Eucratides in Taxila.
5. Archebius (ca 100-90 B.C.E). - The "Pilei of the Dioscuri" which appear in turn on the reverse of the coins of Eucratides, of Lysias and Antialcidas together, and finally of Antialcidas alone, are again found on the coins of the Maharasajasa dhramikasa jayadharasa Arkhebiyasa. From this we can conclude that Archebius immediately succeeded Antialcidas as king of Taxila. After his time, the western Punjab fell into the hands of the Sakas of Maues, and it was the turn of a Scythian satrap, Liaka Kusulaka, to strike coins of the "Pilei of the Dioscuri" type copied, it is true. not from Archebius directly, but from his distant predecessor Eucratides.