ancient indian history

Nasik Cave Inscription of Abhiras.

Abhiras were an ancient race whose original habitat lay in the north-western parts of
India. The Mahabharata mentions three divisions of the Abhiras, viz., those who lived on the bank of
the sacred rivers Sutlej, Sarasvati & Yamuna. Abhira were fishermen communities & had strong-hold in punjab. It was in this part of the country dherein Arjuna was attacked by the Abhiras as he was
escorting the wives of the Yadavas after the death of Krishna. These and other references indicate
that the part of the Punjab between the Satlaj and the Yamuna was their original home-land.
Like some
other tribes, Abhira also spread to eastern and the southern part of India.
In the
Allahabad stone pillar inscription of the Gupta Emperor, Samudragupta they are mentioned together
with such other well-known republican tribes of the North as the Malavas and the Arjunayanas.

Some Abhiras are known to have occupied high political position under the Western

Ishwarsena is the only confirmed ruler of Abhira dynasity,mentioned in this Nasik cave inscription. In the inscription, he has made two investments of 1,000 and 500 Karshapanas in trade guilds at Govardhana (Old Nasik) for providing medicines for the sick monks living in the monasteries of the Nasik.
Coins of Ishwarsena are dated only in the first and second years of his reign and are found in Saurashtra and Rajsthan.

A number of feudatories of the Abhiras ruled in different other parts of Maharashtra.
It is understood that after the break up of Satavahana empire during 3rd century AD,
several small kingdoms had arisen in different parts of Maharashtra. The Puranas mention the
Andhras, Abhiras, Gardabhins, Yavanas, Tusaras, Sakas, Murundas, Maunas and Kilakilas as the
successors of Satavahanas.

As has been discussed earlier, a few inscriptions, of the Saka ruler Rudrasimha, have been found which record, various community & charity services undertaken by the king or his general Rudrabhuti.
Consequent to decline of Satvahana power, an Abhira kingdom was founded in the North Konkan belt of Maharashtra by Raja Mathariputra Isvarasena, around 250 CE. Abhira was the tribal community name.
Present day Ahir community is believed to be connected with Abhira community. Abhira kingdom in the Deccan lasted till the middle of 4th century CE. Its territory was taken over by the Traikutak dynasty. The Allahabad pillar inscription of Samudra Gupta describes the Abhira as one of the many tribal states incorporated into the Gupta Empire. This Abhira state was probably in Central India (Ahirwada) and not the kingdom in the Deccan.
Back in the Deccan, Abhira chiefs were noted till as late in the 13th century CE, in the campaigns of the Yadavas of Devagiri. No mleccha activity was attributed to the Abhira in this region.

Inscription number 152
Nasik Cave Inscription of Raja Isvarasena Abhira.
Regnal Year 9, (257-258 A D.)
Provenance: Nasik, Nasik District, Maharashtra. On the left wall of the court in Cave No. 10.
Script: Early Brahmi.
Language: Prakrit influenced by Sanskrit.
References: Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic
Society, VII, pp.37 ff.: Bhagwanlal Indraji, Mumbai,
Gazetteer, XVI, pp.544 ff. Buhler Arch. Survey of Western India. pp.180 ff.;
E. Senart. Ep-Ind., VIII, pp.88-89. No. 15.


1. सिधं ( द्धम ) राज्ञ: माढ़री पुत्रस्य शिवदत्ता मीर-पुत्रस्य
2. आभीरस्येश्वरसेनस्य संवत्सरे [ नवम ] [ मि * ]
3. [ म्ह ] पखे – चोथे =दिवस त्रयोदश १३ ——:-
4. य पुवय शकाग्निवर्म्मनण दुहिता गणपक –
5. रेमिलस्य भर्यया गणयकस्य विश्ववर्मस्य –
6. [त्राश ] कनिकया उपासिकाय विष्णुद [ ता ] या सर्व
सत्व-हि –
7. त सुखार्थ त्रिरश्मि पर्वत-विहार वास्तव्यस्य चातुदिश-
8. भिक्षु-संघस्य गिलान- भेष जार्थमक्षय निवि प्रयुक्ता वास्त
9. व्यसु आगतानागतासु श्रेणिषु यतः कुलरिक-श्रेण्या हस्ते कार्षापण
10. सहस्र १००० ओदयंत्रिक-श्रेण्या सहस्राणि द्वे
11. ण्या : शतानि पंच 501 तिल-पिषक-श्रेण [ या*]
12. एते च कार्षापण-चतालेय
13. ——————————-

Isvarasena is the only Abhira King of Nasik region known to us though the Puranas speak of ten Abhira kings, who
ruled for 67 Years. Since no royal title is given to his father, Sivadatta, in this, his only Inscription known.
It is assumed that he was the founder of the Abhira dynasty.
It is probable that the Kalachuri or Chedi era, commencing from 248 to 249 A.D, was counted from his accession. He seems to have carved out his kingdom around Nasik in
succession to the Satavahanas and the western Saka Kshatrapas.
Abhiras had been generals of the westem Kshatrapas. The
Gunda North surashtra inscription of 181 AD. belonging to the time of Rudrasimha 1, records, the digging of a tank by the Abhira general Ruarabhuti, son of General Bapaka. (Supra 110-137) According to Chandravalli Inscription (N.H.I.P., VI, 238)
Abhiras came into conflict with the Kadamba King Mayura,-Sarman in the middle of the 4th century A D.

2. From the facsimile in Ep.Ind. VIII, Plate VII, No. 15. (Opp. p.88) The inscription 16, is in very bad shape. Many of the readings are conjectured from the context.
1. Buhler: Arch of Western India – सुगतागतासु
2. Bhagwan lal Indra ji Bombay gaz read this line as त्य मस सर्वरक्षाति विध
Buhler: Arch survey of India reads स्य मास सर्वरक्षाति विष्णु दता
But in facismile provided in the Ep.Ind VIII, though traces of letters in 11.13 to 16, are visible, they are totally illegible.

English Translation of the inscription
Success ! In the ninth year of King Isvarasena, the Abhira, son of Sivadatta, the Abhira, son of Madhari, on the thirteenth- 13th- day of the fourth – 4th– fortnight of summer,. On the aforementioned. (date) by the lay devotee Vishnudatta, the Saka lady, the mother of the Ganapaka
Visvavaman, wife of the Ganapaka Rebhila (and) the daughter
of Agnivaman, the Saka, for the well-being and happiness of all beings, in order to Provide medicines for the sick of the smgha of monks of whatever sect & original dwelling in
the monastery on mount Trirasmi, a perpetual endowment has
been invested for all time to come with the guilds (lit. guilds existing or not existing at the moment i.e. Those
likely to come into existence in futur dwelling at Govardhana viz in the hands of the guild of Potters, one Thousand 1000, Karshapanas (in the hands)of the guild of udyantrkas two
thousand, ——
(in tho hands) of the guild of
five hundred -500, — (In the hands) of the guild of oil-millers —–
and those karshapanas.

1. From उद -यंत्र i.e water engine

2. Senart equates Ganapaka with Ganaka, (from गण + णिस् )
meaning an ‘accountant or ‘astrologer’. Buhler interprets it in the sense of “the Protector or leader of a gana, which consists of three gulmas or battalions.

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