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HINDU PERIOD]
399
INDIA

female figures, the artists trust more and more to swelling breasts and towering chignons, and load the neck with constantly accumulating jewels. Nevertheless, the Grecian type of countenance long survived in Indian art. It is entirely unlike the present coarse conventional ideal of sculptured beauty, and may even be traced in the delicate profiles on the so-called sun temple at Kanarak, built in the 12th century A.D. on the remote Orissa shore.

Chandragupta (q.v.) was one of the greatest of Indian kings. The dominions that he had won back from the Greeks he administered with equal power. He maintained an army of 600,000 infantry, 30,000 horsemen, 36,000 The Maurya Dynasty. men with the elephants, and 24,000 men with the chariots, which was controlled by an elaborate war-office system. The account given of his reign by Megasthenes makes him better known to us than any other Indian monarch down to the time of Akbar. In 297 B.C. he was succeeded by his son, Bindusara, who is supposed to have extended his dominions down to Madras. In 272 B.C. he in turn was succeeded by Asoka, the Buddhist emperor, the religious side of whose reign has already been described. Asoka’s empire included the greater part of Afghanistan, a large part of Baluchistan, Sind, Kashmir, Nepal, Bengal to the mouths of the Ganges, and peninsular India down to the Palar river. After Asoka the Mauryas dwindled away, and the last of them, Brihadratha, was treacherously assassinated in 184 B.C. by his commander-in-chief, Pushyamitra Sunga, who founded the Sunga dynasty.

During the 2nd century B.C. north-western India was invaded and partially conquered by Antiochus III. the Great, Demetrius (q.v.), Eucratides (q.v.) and Menander (q.v.). With the last of these Pushyamitra Sunga waged successful Sunga, Kanva, and Andhra Dynasties. war, driving him from the Gangetic valley and confining him to his conquests in the west. Pushyamitra established his own paramountcy over northern India; but his reign is mainly memorable as marking the beginning of the Brahmanical reaction against Buddhism, a reaction which Pushyamitra is said to have forwarded not only by the peaceful revival of Hindu rites but by a savage persecution of the Buddhist monks. The Sunga dynasty, after lasting 112 years, was succeeded by the Kanva dynasty, which lasted 45 years, i.e. until about 27 B.C., when it was overthrown by an unknown king of the Andhra dynasty of the Satavahanas, whose power, originating in the deltas of the Godavari and Kistna rivers, by A.D. 200 had spread across India to Nasik and gradually pushed its way northwards.

About A.D. 100 there appeared in the west three foreign tribes from the north, who conquered the native population and established themselves in Malwa, Gujarat and Kathiawar. These tribes were the Sakas, a horde of pastoral The Saka Satraps. nomads from Central Asia (see Saka), the Pahlavas, whose name is supposed to be a corruption of “Parthiva” (i.e. Parthians of Persia), and the Yavanas (Ionians), i.e. foreigners from the old Indo-Greek kingdoms of the north west frontier, all of whom had been driven southwards by the Yue-chi (q.v.). Their rulers, of whom the first to be mentioned is Bhumaka, of the Kshaharata family, took the Persian title of satrap (Kshatrapa). They were hated by the Hindus as barbarians who disregarded the caste system and despised the holy law, and for centuries an intermittent struggle continued between the satraps and the Andhras, with varying fortune. Finally, however, about A.D. 236, the Andhra dynasty, after an existence of some 460 years, came to an end, under circumstances of which no record remains, and their place in western India was taken by the Kshaharata satraps, until the last of them was overthrown by Chandragupta Vikramaditya at the close of the 4th century.

Meanwhile, the Yue-chi had themselves crossed the Hindu Kush to the invasion of north-western India (see Yue-Chi). They were originally divided into five tribes, which were united under the rule of Kadphises I.[1] (? A.D. 45-85), the founder of The Kushan Dynasty A.D. 45-225. the Kushan dynasty, who conquered the Kabul valley, annihilating what remained there of the Greek dominion, and swept away the petty Indo-Greek and Indo-Parthian principalities on the Indus. His successors completed the conquest of north-western India from the delta of the Indus eastwards probably as far as Benares. One effect of the Yue-chi conquests was to open up a channel of commerce with the Roman empire by the northern trade routes; and the Indian embassy which, according to Dion. Cassius (ix. 58), visited Trajan after his arrival at Rome in A.D. 99, was probably[2] sent by Kadphises II. (Ooemokadphises) to announce his conquest of north-western India. The most celebrated of the Kushan kings, however, was Kanishka, whose date is still a matter of controversy.[3] From his capital at Purushapura (Peshawar) he not only maintained his hold on north-western India, but conquered Kashmir, attacked Pataliputra, carried on a successful war with the Parthians, and led an army across the appalling passes of the Taghdumbash Pamir to the conquest of Kashgar, Yarkand and Khotan. It is not, however, as a conqueror that Kanishka mainly lives on in tradition, but as a Buddhist monarch, second in reputation only to Asoka, and as the convener of the celebrated council of Kashmir already mentioned.

The dynasties of the Andhras in the centre and south and of the Kushans in the north came to an end almost at the same time (c. A.D. 236-225 respectively). The history of India during the remainder of the 3rd century is all but a blank, a confused record of meaningless names and disconnected events; and it Is not until the opening of the 4th century that the veil is lifted, with the rise to supreme power in Magadha (A.D. 320) of Chandragupta I., the founder of the Gupta dynasty and empire (see Gupta), the most extensive since the days of Asoka. He was succeeded by Chandragupta II. Vikramaditya, whose court and administration are described by the Chinese pilgrim Fa-hien, and who is supposed to have been the original of the mythical king Vikramaditya, who figures largely in Indian legends. The later Guptas were overwhelmed (c. 470) by the White Huns, or Ephthalites (q.v.), who after breaking the power of Persia and assailing the Kushan kingdom of Kabul, had poured into India, conquered Sind, and established their rule as far south as the Nerbudda. The dominion of the Huns in India, as elsewhere, was a mere organization for brigandage on an imperial scale and it did not long survive. It was shaken (c. 528) by the defeat, at the hands of tributary princes goaded to desperation, of Mihiragula, the most powerful and bloodthirsty of its rulers—the “Attila of India.” It collapsed with the overthrow of the central power of the White Huns on the Oxus (c. 565) by the Turks. Though, however, this stopped the incursions of Asiatic hordes from the north-west, and India was to remain almost exempt from foreign invasion for some 500 years, the Ephthalite conquest added new and permanent elements to the Indian population. After the fall of the central power, the scattered Hunnish settlers, like so many before them, became rapidly Hinduized, and are probably the ancestors of some of the most famous Rajput clans.[4]

The last native monarch, prior to the Mahommedan conquest, to establish and maintain paramount power in the north was Harsha, or Harshavardhana (also known as Siladitya), for whose reign (606-648) full and trustworthy materials exist in the book of travels written by the Chinese pilgrim Hsüan Tsang and the Harsha-charita (Deeds of Harsha) composed by Bana, a Brahman who lived at the royal court. Harsha was the younger son of the raja of Thanesar, and gained his first experience of campaigning while still a boy in the successful wars

  1. This is the conventional European form of the name. For other forms see Yue-Chi.
  2. V. A. Smith, Early Hist. of India, p. 238.
  3. Smith, op. cit. pp. 239, &c., says that he probably succeeded Kadphises II. about A.D. 120. Dr Fleet dates the beginning of Kanishka’s reign 58 B.C. (see Inscriptions: Indian). Mr Vincent Smith (Imp. Gaz. of India, The Indian Empire, ed. 1908, vol. ii. p. 289, note) dissents from this view, which is also held by Dr Otto Franke of Berlin, stating that Dr Stein’s discoveries in Chinese Turkestan “strongly confirm the view” held by himself.
  4. See V. A. Smith, op. cit. pp. 297, &c.