ancient indian history

The Yavanas

The Pre-Alexandrian Yavana

“Yona” is a Pali word used in ancient India to designate Greek speakers. Its equivalent in Sanskrit is the word “Yavana”. “Yona” and “Yavana” are both transliterations of the Greek word for “Ionians” who were probably the first Greeks to be known in the East.
Yona, Yauna or Yavana is the only name whereby all Greeks, whether Macedonian, Pre-Macedonian or postMacedonian, were known to the Indians and Persiaus. Since this name is obviously derived from Ionia, the first Greeks known in these parts were all, exhypothesi, Ionians and not Macedonians. This supports the view held by Jayaswal and others that there was a pre-Alexandrian Ionian Greek settlement on the banks of the Kabul river, notably at Nysa. The location given of Nysa by Greek writers shows that it lay close to and was built on the lower slopes of the mountain which they call Meros (Meru, Pali Nera), and which according to the legend in the Mahabharata and the Puranas, was one of the four mountains that surrounded, Mt. Sumeru, i.e., Pamir Knot.” Identifying Mt. Meros with the Sulaiman range, and Mt. Nysa with a spur of the same, one may get very close to the site of the Yavana hill-state. Holdich is inclined to locate the city in the lower spurs and valleys of Koh-i-Mor, while Bhandarkar places it somewhere between the river Kophen (Kabul) and the Indus. Manu regards the Yavanas as Kshatriyas.
The word Yona appears in Achaemenian (Persian) inscriptions in the forms Yauna and Ia-ma-nu and referred to the Ionian Greeks of Asia Minor, who were conquered by the Achaemenid king Cyrus the Great in 545 bc.

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