ancient indian history



Religious affiliations of some of the Indo-Greek kings can be deduced, or confirmed if otherwise known, from their coins. Menander’s conversion to Buddhism, already known from the Milindapañho, is confirmed by his coin-devices. Besides the “wheel” type,” Menander’s Buddhist coinage include, those on which Menander assumes the title Dikaios or Dhramika (Skt. Dharmika).” There are only two main Dikaios types. Whitehead refers to only three silver and one or two copper ones. Two of the silver types are almost identical, the only difference between them being that in one Nike is depicted in her conventional form and in the other in an unconventional one. Since these types do not represent one denomination, it need not be assumed that they were issued one after the other. Coins of all denominations are to be issued each year to meet the community’s needs. It is significant that the bust of the king on all the Dikaios types “is that of an aged man, so it would appear that towards the end of his long reign the title of Menander on the coinage was altered from ΣΩTHP to ∆IKAIOΣ. On the basis of his aged bust alone, Menander’s Buddhist coinage has to be confined to a short span of two to three years. Hence there can be little doubt that his death occurred about three years after the occupation of Sakala. About the nature of the some divinities on Indo Greek coins nothing can be said with full confidence as to whether they are Kula-devatas or Nagara-devatas. These divinities are: Demeter (goddess of tillage and corn), Artemis, Poseidon (parallel to the Indian god Varuna). Triton (holding a dolphin on a type of Hippostratua). Of these, Poseidon (i. e. Varuna) and one of his trumpeters, the demi-god Triton, need not be considered as nagara-devatas. Poseidon holding his trident figures on a coin-type of Antimachus Theos who ruled in Merv in south-eastern Iran, Nikias is known to have issued two types with naval symbolism. In the first, Poseidon with trident appears on the obverse, and a dolphin twined round anchor on the reverse. In the second, only a dolphin twined round anchor is depicted on the reverse. Nikias probably was a sub-king of Menander in his later years, or of Strato in his early ones. Location of his sub-kingdom is not known. But his name seems to have some association with the city of Nikaea near modern Kabul. Triton holding dolphin and rudder appears on a type of Hippostratus.”” City goddess with mural crown and palm, appearing on the reverse of this coin, indicates the location of his principality around Pushkalāvati in western Gandhara. His “Apollo and tripod” types” connect him with the family of Apollodotus. He probably succeeded Hermaeus and was the last Indo-Greek ruler. Much has been made out of the naval symbolism found on the Indo-Greek coins. Dr. Tarn asserts that they symbolise naval victories presumably over the Sakas. Antimachus, according to him, won his on the Oxus in the early years of his reign, since Poseidon and trident are portrayed regularly on his coins right from the commencement of his reign. But to start a reign with a naval victory, and issue the very first type in commemoration, is rather unusual. The naval victories, if any, of the two petty princes, Nikias and Hippostratus, could not have been won against any powerful enemies like the Sakas. They must have been insignificant from political and military view-points. In fact, I am not inclined to connect such symbolism with naval action at all. We should bear in mind that the hill torrents of Pushkalavati-Kapist region. where Nikias and Hippostratus ruled, do not provide a suitable site for naval activity. It is really fallacious to connect naval symbolism on Indo-Greek coinage with military events. The utmost that can be conceded is that in some cases it represents the claim to naval power of the king or merely indicates his ambition of achieving it. Poseidon again figures on as many as three types of the Saka king, Maues and on two types of Azes. The goddess Artemis appears on an issue of Demetrius, type: “Herakles: Artemis”, copper, round Obv. Bearded bust of Herakles to r. ; knot of lion-skin in front of neck, and ivy wreath in hair; club over 1. shoulder.. Rev.: Artemis standing to front, head radiate, wearing chiton and buskin; holds bow in 1. hand and with right hand draws an arrow from a quiver at her back: legend to r. BAΣIΛEΩΣ to 1. ∆HMHTPIOY. L. mon. The pure Greek legend places this type north of the Hindu Koh. It is known that a temple of radiate Anahid, who was identified by the Greeks with Artemis, stood at Bactra. Rawlinson in his Bactria traces the history of this temple of Anahid or Artemis in something like these words: “At Bactra the capital of Bactria, stood one of the many rich temples of the goddess Anahid, or Anaitis-the Tanata of the Persians, and Ananita of the Avesta hymns. Anaitis was a Scythian goddess, and her cult was probably brought into Media by Cyrus on his return from the East. She was then identified with the Assyrian Mylitta (the Arabian Alytta), the Venus Urania of Greece. Artaxerxes adorned the shrine at Bactra with a magnificent statue. This famous image is celebrated in Avesta hymns, (S. B. E., vol. ii, p. 82), where the Bactrian Anahid is described as the “High girdled one, clad in a mantle of gold, having on thy head a golden crown, with eight rays and a hundred stars, and clad in a robe of thirty otter-skins of the sort with a shining fur. The opulence of the Bactrian goddess is in keeping with the wealth and splendour of her other shrines. She figures in her eight-rayed crown on a fine coin of the Graeco Bactrian Demetrius. After the death of Alexander, the Greeks remaining in Bactria, appeared to have intermarried with the Iranian people. Even in religion a compromise seems to have been effected, the Greeks recognising in Anahid of Bactria their own Artemis or Venus. No doubt, this type of Demetrius was minted at Bactra. But the same cannot be said of the other two cases where Artemis figures on Indo-Greek coins. After Demetrius she reappeared after a long obscurity on the coins of Artemidorus. From his name, it appears that Artemidorus attached some personal significance to this goddess. Both of his types represented in L.M. Catalogue, e.g. “bust of king: Artemis” and “Artemis : bull”-are bilingual, indicating the location of this issue south of the Hindu Koh. The appearance of “bull” with Artemis and of “panther” on another types would point to Pushkalavati as the mint city of this prince. Artemis also appears on the only type known of Peukolaos. The type “Artemis: Flower-bearing goddess” has already been located at Pushkalavati. From the last two coins it appears that Artemidorus and Peucolaos were blood relations, probably father and son. The former, who ruled at Pushkalavati, adopted this goddess for personal reasons. His son maintained his tradition, but at the same time added the figure of the Artemis herself did local goddess Kali on the reverse. not belong to Pushkalavati. Most probably, Artemidorus was born at Bactra and his parents attributed his birth to the blessings of the local goddess Artemis. But his son was born at Pushkalävati through the blessings of the goddess Pushkalavati or Kali and was named after her. These two princes show affinity neither to the house of Euthydemus nor to that of Eukratides. The family gods of these houses are totally absent from their available coins. Most probably Artemidorus, an officer of Antialkidas, set up a line of petty princes at Pushkalavatī. After a brief rule this dynasty was destroyed by the Sakas, who raised Hermaeus to the throne of Peucolaos. Demeter holding in left hand cornucopiae appears only once on the Indo-Greek coinage. The type is “Demeter: humped bull of Philoxenos. The presence of bull would point to Pushkalavati as the mint city and the goddess must be the Pushkalavati devata. The horn which is not very clear as such, appears more like a lotus-stalk. Smith¹ has rightly described her as “City.” But the horseman device, which appears on another type his, has been located by some scholars at Bacephala on the western bank of Jhelum. It is improbable that this obscure prince should have ruled over all the territory, though not very large itself, between Jhelum and Pushkalavati, I am not inclined to believe that there was a mint at all at Bucephala and that the “horseman” is the Bucephala type. It must also be remembered in this connection that horse also figures in a device of Euthydemus I. The type is “Heracles : horse. In a type of Theophilos “Herakles: cornucopiae,” cornucopiae, perhaps represents Demeter. A deity driving quadriga appears on the reverse of the coins of Plato. The deity has usually been identified with Sun-god, i.e. Apollo or Helios.” But she may as well be compared to Athena or Pallas, who appears riding a quadriga of horned elephants, and Nike driving a quadriga of horned horses with a warrior who rides behind her. These two devices occur on early Syrian coins.” The monogram on one such coin of Plato is analysed by some scholars into PMI and interpreted as referring to the year 147 of the Seleucid era.But this conjecture is doubtful. A series of square copper coins has raised a lot of controversy. The type is:- Obv. Buddhist stupa surmounted by star in exergue, Kh. legend, Agathukreyasa. Rev. Tree inside a railing, in ex.. Kh. legend, hiranasame.

It must be noted that this coin does not bear any Greek legend. This is against all Greek tradition. It has been tempting to conclude that this type commemorates Agathocles conversion to Buddhism. The title IKAIOS (Skt. Dharmika) on his commemorative types” has also lent itself to such an interpretation. But it is extremely doubtful that the Indo-Greeks came under the Indian cultural influence, so early during their contact with this country. It must also be remembered in this context that Agathocles and the other princes of the Euthydemid house were engaged at this period in a life and death struggle with the invading armies of Eukratides, and that a bitter propaganda war accompanied this struggle, each party trying to prove its descent from the great Greek heroes like Alexander and Seleucus. In these circumstances it would have been fatal for the cause of his family for a Euthydemid prince to repudiate Greek gods in favour of the native ones, and adopt a Buddhist title on those very coins through which he was trying to assert his royal Greek pedigree. The suspicious absence of Greek legend on his Hiranasame type, and of even his name on another similar type indicates that was doing something which he did not want his Greek compatriots to take note of. He wanted to win over the sympathies of the Indian people. At the same time he did not want to lose those of the Greek soldiers. Hence the adoption of Buddhist symbolism and pure Kharoshthi legend. Dr. Tarn has opined that Hirañasame (Skt. Hiranyaśrama or Golden Hermitage) was a district adjacent to Taxila, and that Agathocles, though not ruling over Takla, adopted a Taxilan type for trade purposes. This explanation is not warranted by the evidence at our disposal, nor is it convincing. How much Agathocles was interested in the local support can be guessed from the fact that he and Pantaleon were the first and the only Indo-Greek princes to introduce Brahmi legends on their coins. The events led to the adoption of Brahmi script by Pantaleon and Agathocles on their Pushkalavati coins.

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