ancient indian history

Ancient Tribes

The people of ancient India

Ancient tribes of North West India

From times immemorial north-west India was the home of several self-governing tribes. They were known as the Janapadas or Republics. Their warlike traditions had also earned them the alternate designation of Ayudhajivi Sanghas (i.e the tribals which depend upon arms for livelihood). The political institutions of these people, were at different stages of development. There were some who enjoyed highly developed democratic form of
Panini (5th cent. B.C.) was the first to compile exhaustive lists of these Janapadas. These are contained in his Ganapatha. He refers to a number of tribes in the text of his Ashtadhyayi. Most of his Janapadas belonged to the North-West.
The Maunjayanas (They gave their name to the country now called Munjan), the Savitriputras, the Piśāchas (of Darada, modern Dardistan-Chitral region), the Aśanis, the Kārshāpaņas, the Yaudheyas, the Saubhreyas, the Vârteyas (Oraitai of the Greek writers), the Trigartashashthas (i. e., the six tribal republics of Trigarta ), the Sivis or Sibis (of Usinara, mod. Jhang-Maghiana district), the Apritas.
Mainly in the Dominyādi, Pasvādi, Yaudhoyadi and Rajanyadi ganas
(ancestors of Afridis), the Madhumantas (ancestors of Mohmands), the Brahmana republics (one of which is named in the Kasika as the Gopālavas), the Rajanyas (of Kangra Hoshiarpur region), the Salańkayanas, the Kshudrakas, the Malavas, the Vasätis, the Hastinäyanas, the Aśvayanas or the Aśvakayanas, the Kambojas (located north of the Hindu Koh), the Salvas, the Kulunas, the Prakanvas, the Brahmanakas, the Saudrāyaṇas, the Masurakarņas, the Mauchukarnas, the Ambasht has, the Arishtas etc.

Ancient Greek accounts of Alexander’s invasion give us an idea of the character of these peoples and of the region they then occupied. Alexander found the Assakenoi (Aśvakas or Asvakayanas, the ancestors of the Afghans) living in the valleys of the Swat, the Panjshir, the Alishang and the Kunar. The Adristai (the Arishtas) lived east of the Ravi in the country lying between the modern cities of Pathankot and Gurdaspur. The Kathaioi (the Kathas) were their southern neighbours. In the district now known as Jhang-Maghiana lived the Siboi (the Sibis); south of the Kathas between the Ravi and the Sutlej lived the Oxydrakai (the Kshudrakas). Their southern neighbours and confederates, the Malloi (the Malavas) seem to have occupied all the region between the lower Jhelum and the lower Sarasvati. Along his route down the Indus Alexander encountered in succession the Agsinai (the Agraśrenis), the Abastai (the Ambashthas), the Sabarkai (the Saubhreyas), the Xathroi (the Kshatriyas), the Ossadioi (the Vasätis), the Musikanai (the Masurakarnas or the Mauchukarņas), the Presti the Prasthalas), and the Brachmanoi (the Brāhmaṇakas) who occupied the country around modern Bahmanabad. Near the river Hab lived the Arabitai (the Aravas), a people of Dravidian stock. Alexander subdued many of the tribal or the other republics and transferred the power to one of the monarchies. The Sabha Parvan of the Mahabharata gives an account of the conquest by Arjuna and Nakula of the countries and the peoples of the north and west of India; and the Bhishma Parvan gives a bare but exhaustive list of the peoples. In either context the Yavanas (i.e., the Greeks) are placed near the countries of the China, the Kambojas, the Pahlavas and other trans-Hindukoh peoples This situation obtained close after the invasion of Alexander. Curiously enough a Paurava king, Viśvagaśva, is stated to have been ruling over the country.
Besides, the familiar tribes mentioned by Panini and the Greek historians, the Mahabharata lists include the Lohas, the Kulindas (of Dehradun valley), the Barbaras (of Balochistan), and the Madhyamikas (of central Panjab). Lohita, the country of the Lohas. comprised ten mandalas or districts. It lay to the south of the Hindu Koh, the Lohita-giri of the ancient Indians.
There is plenty of evidence indicating that the North-Western republics, which survived Alexander’s invasion, were allowed to continue as semi-independent states under Mauryan sovereignty. The Kshudraka and the Malava (as also the Vriji) states are stated by Katyayana and Patañjali to be sovereign states and in flourishing condition. They may have been speaking of post-Mauryan times, though possibility of their repeating Murdhabhishikta or stock examples of Pāņini’s times cannot be ruled out.
A number of republics within the Mauryan Empire are mentioned in Asoka’s edicts.” In Rock Edict No. V Asoka enumerates,
1. the Yonas,
2. the Kambojas
3. the Gandhāras
4. the Rashtikas,
5. the Pitinikas,
6, the aparantas

Asoka designates the whole set 1 to 5 to be aparantas”. Some of these, e.g., the Yonas, the Kambojas and the Pitinikas occur in another list, Rock Edict XIII (Girnar), where they are predicated with here amongst the raja-vishayas’.

1 the Yonas,
2. the Kambojas,
3. the Nabhaka and the Nabha-panktis,
4. the Bhojas,
5. the Pitinikas,
6. the Andhras and the Pulindas.
Asoka always speaks of his territories as ‘my empire’. After using throughout my empire’ the use in the same sentence of raja-vishaya leads to the same conclusion.
Dr. Jayaswal used the phrase ruling (or sovereign) states in the sense of self-governing states within Asoka’s empire acknowledging his sovereignty. In the words of Dr. Barua, “Semi-independent ruling peoples within his (Asoka’s) empire are broadly termed as aparantas.
Thus we get from Rock Edict V, the Yonas, the Kambojas and the Gandhāras, as typical Aparantas,
According to Dr. Barua, the Nabhakas (Sankrit. Nabhägas ) and the Nabhapaṁktis, were the ruling races of the Haimavata region. The Yaunas, Kambojas and Gandhäras are grouped together as typical peoples of the Uttarapatha in the Mahabharata. The first two are treated as the border peoples of the West, i.e. North-West in the Pali Assalayana Sutta. The territories of all the three tribes were therefore contiguous. Dr. Barua takes the term aparanta in the sense of western’, but explains, “It must be also with reference to the western or north-western and of the Uttarapatha Asoka North-Western Road, or represented the Yaunas, Kambojas, Gandharas, Nabhakas Näbhapamktis and others as aparantas or Westerns, in as much as their territories were situated near about it.
The Gandharas
According to the Ramayana the territory of the Gändbaras or Gandharvas of the Uttarapatha lay on both sides of the Indus. The principal city of their transIndus territories was Pusbkalavatı or Utpalävat which is now represented by Prang and Charsadda, 17 miles north east of Peshawar on the Swat river. Taksbasila near Rawalpindi was the main city of their Indus territory. Gandhara or Gandharva was the collective designation of numerous peoples inhabiting the Gandhāra country, e.g., the Apritas, the Madhumantas, the Aśvakas and the highly cultured people of the Takshasila region. Afridis are the descendants of the Apritas. Their country Triravatika (mod. Afridi Tira) is demarcated on three sides by the rivers Kabul, Indus and Kurram. The country of the Madhumantas called Tryakshayaṇa (modern. Tar Khan) lies between the rivers Kunar and Panjkora. Now known as Mohmands, they continue to occupy their old homes. The Aśvakas lived in the Swat valley and their coins, with the Brahmi legend Vatasvaka, are found from this district. Also known as the Aśvaganas, they have given their name to the whole of Afghanistan.
In Asoka’s time only the northern portion of the Gandhara territory, on either side of the Indus above Shahbazgarhi and Mansehra, formed the semi-independent tribal states, the rest being under his direct rule.15
Vayu Purana, 88. 189-90 Ramayana, Benaras ed., VII, 101. 10-11 Lahore ed., VII. 103. 9-10:
हतेषु तेषु सर्वेषु भरतः कैकयीसुतः । निवेशयामास तदा समृद्धे द्वे पुरोत्तमे ।। तक्षं तक्षशिलायां तु पुष्कलं पुष्कलावते । गंधर्वदेशे रुचिरे गांधारविषये च सः ॥
Santi Parvan:
उत्तरापथजन्मानः कार्तयिष्यामि तानपि । यौन-काम्बोज – गांधारा: किराता बबरैः सह ॥
सिन्धोरुभयतः पाश्र्व देश: परमशोभनः ।
तं च रक्षन्ति गंधर्वाः सायुधा युद्धकोविदा ॥

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