Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/96

This page needs to be proofread.


92 THE SCYTHIC INROADS. known as Vikramaditya Sakari, or Vikramaditya the enemy of the Scythians. According to the Indian tradition, he was a learned as well as a valiant monarch, and he gathered round him the poets and philosophers of his time. The chief of these were called ' The Nine Jewels ' of the court of Vikramaditya. They became so famous, that in after times a great many of the best Sanskrit poems or dramas, and works of philosophy or science, were ascribed to them ; although the style and contents of the works prove that they must have been written at widely different periods. The truth is that the name Vikramaditya is merely a royal title, meaning ' A very Sun in Prowess,' which has been borne by several kings in Indian history. But the Vikra- maditya of the first century before Christ was the most famous of them — famous alike as a defender of his country against the Scythian hordes, as a patron of men of learning, and as a good ruler of his subjects. King Salivahana, 78 A.D. — About a hundred years later, another valiant Indian king arose against the Scythians. His name was Salivahana ; and a new era, called the Sdka or Scythian, was founded in his honour in 78 a.d. These two eras — the Samvat, beginning in 57 B.C., and the Sdka, com- mencing in 78 a.d. — still form two well-known systems of reckoning historical dates in India. Later Opponents of the Scythians. — During the next five centuries, three great Indian dynasties maintained the struggle against the Scythians. The Sah kings reigned in the north-west of Bombay from 60 to 235 a.d. The Gupta kings reigned in Oudh and Northern India from 319 to 470 a.d., when they seem to have been overpowered by fresh hosts of Huns or Scythians. The Valabhi kings ruled over Cutch, Malwa, and the north-western districts of Bombay from 480 to after 722 a.d. The Greek traders in the Red Sea heard of the Huns as a powerful nation of Northern India about 535 a.d. The Chinese Pilgrim, Hiuen Tsiang, gives a full account of the court and people of Valabhf (630-640 a.d.). His description shows that Buddhism was the State religion ; but heretics (i.e. Brahmans) abounded ; and the Buddhists themselves were divided between the northern school of the