Middle Kingdoms of India, Part 9


Elephants of War

Apr 06, 2015 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation of India's great history, religious movements and temple architecture.

The Indo-Greeks

The Yavanas

"The Yavanas or Yonas were described as living beyond Gandhara. There was another country mentioned in the epic as Parama Yona, in the far west of Yavana. This could be the Ionia of Greece, somehow related to Indian Ionians or Yavanas. The name Yavana could be the Sanskritized form of the name Ionia. Some believe that the name Ionia originated from the Sanskrit word 'ayonija', meaning one who is born not from a (human) womb or people with extra ordinary origins.

The Yavanas, Sakas, Pahlavas and Hunas were sometimes described as Mlechhas. Sometimes along with them, the Madras, Kambojas, Kekeyas, Sindhus and Gandharas were included. This name was used to indicate their cultural differences with the Vedic culture, which prevailed in the Kuru–Panchala Kingdoms."[1]

At the time of the Battle of Kurukshetra, according to Markandey Purana, there existed seven famous Kirat kingdoms: Aswakut ( Kabul), Kulya (Kulu Valley); Matsya (North Bihar); Paundra (Bengal); Sumer (Assam); Malak (Mlek or Lohit); Kinner Kirat (Garhwal); and Nepal

The Kirat nation in those days included people known as the Khambos (or Khamboja), Yavana, Saka (Scythian), Pallava (Parthian), Parad (Balhikas), Assyrian and Khasas. Many of the people from these Kirat kingdoms took part in the Kurukshetra war, and in other historical events narrated in Mahabharata.

Along with the Sakas and Yavanas, the Sivis and Vasatis marched in the huge army of Kauravas (Mh. 5,198). The Sakas, the Kiratas, the Yavanas, and the Pahlavas are mentioned in the description of a battle-array formed by the Kauravas (Mh. 6,20). Similarly, they are mentioned in another battle-array formed on another day at (Mh. 6,50).

Battle Horse in Elephant Attire

Satyaki, a Yadava chief on the side of the Pandavas, made this statement during Kurukshetra War:

    "Those other elephants 700 in number, all cased in armour and ridden by Kiratas, and decked with ornaments, the king of the Kiratas, desirous of his life, had formerly presented to Arjuna. These were formerly employed in doing good to Yudhisthira. Behold the vicissitudes that time brings about, for these are now battling against Yudhisthira.

    Those elephants are ridden by Kiratas difficult to defeat in battle. They are accomplished in fighting from elephants, and are all sprung from the race of Agni.

    Formerly, they were all vanquished in battle by Arjuna. They are now waiting for me carefully, under the orders of Duryodhana. Slaying with my shafts these Kiratas difficult of defeat in battle, I shall follow in the track of Arjuna." (Mh. 7,109)

The Mahabharata also mentions the role played by the Yavanas and other Kirats after the war:

    "The fete of kshatriyas, of kings in myriads, who fought with Arjuna on the occasion of his military campaign to collect tribute for Yudhisthira's Ashwamedha sacrifice for having lost their kinsmen on the field of Kurukshetra, was countless. Innumerable Kiratas and also Yavanas, who were all excellent bowmen, and diverse tribes of Mlechechas too, who were discomfited before (by the Pandavas on the field of Kurukshetra), and many Aryan kings, who possessed of soldiers and animals, encountered Arjuna in battle (Mh. 14,73). He battled with the Kasis, the Angas, the Kosalas, the Kiratas, and the Tanganas." (Mh. (14,83)


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