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Page:Provincial geographies of India (Volume 1).djvu/183

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PERIOD, 500 b.c.-1ooo a.d.

his conversion to the teaching of Gautama Buddha, thought war a sin. Asoka strove to lead his people into the right path by means of pithy abstracts of the moral law of his master graven on rocks and pillars. It is curious to remember that this missionary king was peacefully ruling a great empire in India during the twenty-four years of the struggle between Rome and Carthage, which we call the first Punic War. Of the four Viceroys who governed the outlying provinces of the empire one had his headquarters at Taxila. One of the rock edicts is at Mansehra in Hazara and another at Shahbazgarhi in Peshawar. From this time and for many centuries the dominant religion in the Pan jab was Buddhism, but the religion of the villages may then have been as remote from the State creed as it is to-day from orthodox Brahmanism.

Graeco-Bactrian and Graeco-Parthian Rule.— The Panjab slipped from the feeble grasp of Asoka's successors, and for four centuries it looked not to the Ganges, but to the Kabul and the Oxus rivers.

Up to the middle of the first century of our era it was first under Graeco-Bactrian, and later under Graeco-Parthian, rule directly, or indirectly through local rulers with Greek names or Saka Satraps. The Sakas, one of


Fig. 57. Coin — -obverse and reverse of Menander.

the central Asian shepherd hordes, were pushed out of their pastures on the upper Jaxartes by another horde.