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IRANIAN CULTURAL IMPACT

A Review of Shamasastry's "India Under the Iranians


 

By Dr. Samar Abbas

Aligarh, India, 8th June 2007

 

In 1922 Dr. R. Shamasastry published a landmark paper in the Journal of the K.R.Cama Oriental Institute regarding the impact of Iranians in the Indus-Ganges valley. The publication is important as it makes the following points:

 

The Iranians were the first to settle in India, paving the way for the Vedic Indo-Aryans to enter later (p.75).

Jainism, Buddhism, Sankhya and Zoroastrianism all share features in common and originated amongst the followers of what Shamasastry calls the Iranian Asura religion (p.78, 79, 80, 83). This is manifested in the common essentials of their religious philosophies, their shared rejection of the Devic Brahmanic heresy and their opposition to the Sanskrit language.

The original Rig-Vedic faith was essentially Iranic and based on Asura-worship. It is only in the tenth mandala, which some consider to be a later Brahmanic interpolation, that the Asuras are suddenly transformed into evil demons. The Brahmanas inverted the original Iranic faith, corrupting the virtuous Asuras into demons and transmogrifying the demonic Devas into gods (p.79-80).

The Later Vedic faith or Devic heresy broke off from the original Ahura-religion of the Iranians in India itself, at the time of the composition of the tenth mandala (p.81).

These Iranian settlers later built the palace of Chandragupta at Pataliputra (p.83).

 

The ideas presented were much ahead of their time. The Cuneiform Iranians were, in the eyes of contemporary Irano-Semitic peoples, the successors to the Assyrian Empire, which had in turn succeeded to the Babylonian and Akkadian Empires. Hence, the term Asura as applying to the Iranians and Irano-Semitic peoples in general in the Vedic texts is but natural. On account of cultural and ethnic similarities, the Brahmanic schismatics were not able to distinguish between the kindred Irano-Semitic peoples and apparently lumped them all under the term "Asura", a word clearly derived from the term "Assyrian". Furthermore, R.P.Chanda and the 1931 Census explained the inversion of the original Aryan or Iranian Asura faith by the gradual take-over of the Dravidian Brahmins, thereby vindicating Shamasastry's observations on the original Iranic nature of the Rigvedic faith.

 

Moreover, Shamasastry's concept on the Iranian origin of the Buddha was recently confirmed by Prof. Michael Witzel of Harvard University in a striking passage:

"This cluster of East Iranian names is suspicious, and is typical for many of the later immigrations of Iranians that brought, among others, the Sakya/Śakya tribe into northern Bihar (the ancestors of the Buddha; more on this topic in the future) and later on, the Maga "Brahmins" of the Puraṇas. ... " (Witzel 2000, p.27, fn.62)

Further connections between Buddhism and Iran exist (Jorfi 1994). In fact, the Pali legend claims that the historical Buddha had two Iranian disciples. Further, Buddha's physician Jivaka was taught by Iranians at Taxila ("India and Iran: A Dialogue", paper by Prof. Lokesh Chandra, cited in Embassy 2005) The Zoroastrian doctrine of the Saviour (Saosyant) probably influenced the idea of the future Buddha, which later became part of the orthodox belief ("The Wonder that was India" by A L Basham, 1967, p 276, cited in Embassy 2005) Likewise, the Buddhist concept of 16 Mahajanapadas (Great States) (viz: Kasi, Kosala, Anga, Magadha, Vajji or Vriji, Malla, Chedi, Vatsa or Vamsa, Kuru, Panchala, Machcha or Matsya, Surasena, Assaka, Avanti, Gandhara, and Kamboja) was probably inspired by the original Zoroastrian concept of 16 Aryan lands of the Videvdad (viz. 1. Airyana Vaego, 2. Sughdha, 3. Mouru or Margiana, 4. Bakhdhi or Bactria, 5. Nisaya, 6. Haroyu, 7. Vaekereta, 8. Urva, 9. Khnenta, 10. Harahvaiti or Arachosia, 11. Haetumant, 12. Ragha, 13. Kakhra or Khurasan ?, 14. Varena, 15. Hapta-Hindawa or Punjab, 16. Rangha). Later, Mani, a scion of the Ashkanian family, founded an original set of beliefs and claimed to be an incarnation of the Buddha.

 

This immigration of the Iranian Sakas into Greater Magadha was part of a larger-scale migration of Iranic peoples into the Ganges valley. These kindred Iranian peoples included the Mauryas (Dehiya 1979), Licchavis and Magadhans themselves (Parpola 2002). Regarding the famous Licchavis, Vidyabhusana notes: "In my humble opinion the Licchavis were a Persian tribe, whose original home was Nisibis, which they left for India and Tibet in the 6th century BC and 4th century BC, respectively." (Vidyabhusana 1908, p.78) Furthermore, "The custom of exposing the dead to be devoured by wild animals, as it prevailed in Vaisali and is still found in Tibet, was, I believe, introduced into those countries from Persia by the Licchavi immigrants. It is hardly necessary to add that the practice of exposure of the dead is widely followed in Persia and its dependancies, including Nisibis." (Vidyabhusana 1908, p.80).

 

The journal which published this article is not readily available to researchers. Hence, I am reproducing extracts from this important paper for personal, research purposes which qualify for fair use under Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. S: 107. I am only providing important extracts of this important article; the interested reader is encouraged to obtain the entire original from the K.R.Cama Oriental Institute in Bombay, within walking distance of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). The full academic citation of the article is as follows:

Shamasastry 1921: "India Under the Iranians" by Dr. R. Shamasastry, Journal of the K.R.Cama Oriental Institute, ed. J.J.Modi, No.1 (1922) p.75-84.

 

 

Bibliography

Dehiya 1979: "The Mauryas: Their Identity" by B.S.Dehiya, Vishveshvaranand Indological Journal, Vol. XVII (1979), p.112-133; (Vishveshvaranand Vishva Bandhu Institute of Sanskrit and Indological Studies, Panjab Univ., Hoshiarpur.); http://www.iranchamber.com/history/articles/iranic_identity_of_mauryas1.php

Embassy 2005: "India & Iran : Age Old Ties" by Embassy of India, Tehran, Government of India, Tehran 2005; http://www.indianembassy-tehran.com/india-iran-links.html

Jorfi 1994: "Iran and India: Age Old Friendship" by Abdul Amir Jorfi, India Quarterly, vol.50 (Oct-Dec. 1994) p.65-92.

Parpola 2002: "Pre-Proto-Iranians of Afghanistan as Initiators of Śākta Tantrism: On the Scythian/Saka Affiliation of the Dāsas, Nuristanis and Magadhans" by Asko Parpola, Iranica Antiqua, vol.XXXVII (2002) p.233-324.

Vidyabhusana 1908: "Persian Affinities of the Licchavis" by Prof. Satis Chandra Vidyabhusana, The Indian Antiquary, Vol.XXXVII, (March 1908), p.78-80; Swati Publishers, 34, Central Market, Ashok Vihar, Delhi-110052, reprint 1985. http://www.iranchamber.com/history/articles/persian_affinities_licchavis_review.php

Witzel 2000: "The Home of the Aryans" by Michael Witzel, in Anusantatyai. Festschrift fu:r Johanna Narten zum 70. Geburtstag, ed. A. Hintze & E. Tichy. (Mu:nchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft, Beihefte NF 19) Dettelbach: J.H. Roell 2000, p.283-338; http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/AryanHome.pdf

 

 

KR Cama Oriental Research Institute Library, 136, Bombay Samachar Marg, opp. Lion Gate Fort (near BSE) Mumbai 400 001; Tel: 91-79-2843893 ; E-mail: krcamaoi@vsnl.com (Library hours are 10-5 on Monday thru Friday; 10-1 on Saturday).

 

 


 

India Under the Iranians

Dr. R. Shamasastry, B.A., Ph.D.

Curator, Government Oriental Library, Mysore

(read on 9th Dec. 1921);
J. of the K.R.Cama Oriental Institute, ed. J.J.Modi, No.1 (1922) pp.75-84.

 

It has been believed by almost all western scholars that about 2000 years before the Christian era, the Medes conquered Babylon and occupied Asia Minor. It is also believed that the Vedic Aryans lived with them till they separated from them on account of some religious schism and came to India about the 15th century BC when Zarathustra reformed the Iranian religion.[1] It has also been taken as a historical fact that about this time the Vedic Aryans settled in India and began to compose their Rigvedic hymns in praise of Indra, Agni, Soma, Varuṇa and other gods as well as of the Indian rivers, the Indus, the Satadru, the Ganges, the Jamna and the like. Another presumption is that on the conquest of Persia by the Arabs, the Parsis, as the Iranians were called later, emigrated into India about the year 720 AD and that there were no Iranians in India before 720 AD.[2] But there is evidence to prove that instead of coming to India for the first time about the year 720 AD, the Iranians were the first to invade and conquer India, paving the way for the Vedic Aryans to come and settle in India later. It is my endeavour to set forth as briefly as possible the evidence which goes to show that the Iranians were the first to invade and occupy India.

 

A careful study of the Brahmanic and the Avesta literature will convince the reader that there was a religious schism between the Iranians and the later Vedic Aryans. While in the Yasnas of the Zend Avesta the Devas, their Indra and other gods and their sacrifices are all condemned as ungodly, the Asuras are painted in the most hideous colour in the Brahmanic literature . Throughout the Brahmanic literature we meet with passages after passages referring to battles between the Devas and the Asuras and attributing the victory sometimes to the Asuras and at other times to the Devas. In a number of passages of the Satapatha Brahmana the Asuras and the Devas are said to have been descended from the same parent called Prajāpati [3]. The Asuras were found fault with by the Devas for their mispronunciation and faulty accentuation. They were called Mlechchas on account of their mispronunciation. Their mispronunciation is called Mlechchita[4]. They are said to have cried out `He lavah,' when they had to say `He Arayah,' `O, Enemies.' In the Taitt. Samhita (II 4,12,1) the faulty accentuation of Tvashtri, the Asura priest, is said to have enabled Indra to slay Vritra. In short defeat in war, death and other calamities of the Asuras are often attributed to their utterance of their sacrificial formulas with faulty or misplaced accents. Patanjali has also referred to this fact in his Mahabhashya. In the Tait. Samhita (II,5) Indra is said to have committed the sin of murdering a Brahman for slaying Visvarupa, the son of Tvashtri from an Asura mother.

 

From these facts it is clear that the Asuras were the kinsmen of the Devas and that they talked in the same language or dialect as the Devas or the Vedic Aryans spoke. With the exception of some difference here and there, the sacrifices and the sacrificial prayers of the Asuras are said to have been of the same type as those of the Devas or the Vedic Aryans. The Nidana Sutra of the Sama Veda distinguishes between Asura and Deva metres and this statement of the Nidanasutra is corroborated by the metres found in the Yasna literature.

A comparison of the Vedic dialect with that of the Yasna of the Zend Avesta goes to show that the Brahmanic description of the Asura dialect is not far from the fact. But for the change of hard consonants into soft and `s' into `h' and modifications of vowels, one can boldly declare these two dialects to be identical. For the most part the earliest gods of both these peoples, the Asuras and the Devas are the same. Here is a verse from the Yasna closely resembling the Vedic dialect. –

 

Tvam .. yazaonte .. aurvaonho

Tvam .. yajante .. aurvasah

Ahuraonho .. .. .. danhupatyao

Asurasah .. .. .. dasyupatayo

Putraonho .. .. .. danhupaitinam

Putrasah .. .. .. dasyupatinam

 

Thee worship the labourers, the lords, the rulers of Dasyus and the sons of the rulers of Dasyus.

 

As in the old Vedic dialect, the nominative plural in `As' is retained in the Yasna dialect. Before `s' in the plural, the Asuras seem to have used a nasal. The use of the word Ahuranho, the nominative plural of Ahura, in the sense of lords deserves to be particularly noticed. In a note on this passage Prof. Haug says as follows: -

 

"From this passage one may clearly see that Ahura is not a title confined to the supreme being, but can be applied to men also. The same is the case with the Hebrew word Elohim, god, which is now and then used in the sense of judges."[5]

This disposes of Dr. Sir. R.G.Bhandarkar's objection to taking the word `Ahura' in the sense of a people, namely the Iranians; for on the authority of the above passage, we may say without fear of contradiction that the Iranians called both their god and themselves Ahura, the Sanskrit equivalent of which is Asura.

 

Again in laying the brick of the Durva grass with three lines marked upon it in the fire-alter, the Devas are said to have put it down with the mark uppermost, while Asuras with the mark undermost.[6] The Taitt. Samhita (VII. 6, 11) says that the smaller metres were among the Devas and the larger among the Asuras and that in order to surpass the Asuras, the Devas recast their metres. Again the Satapatha Brahmana (XIII.8, 1, 5; 8, 2, 1) says that while the Devas made their burial places four-cornered, the Asuras made them round. According to J.H.Moulton, the Tower of Silence of the Parsees is even today a round structure of brick or stone.

The above references to Asuras found in the Brahmanic literature point to the conclusion that the Vedic Aryans were in close touch with the Asuras and were thoroughly familiar with their language, rites, customs and usages at the Brahmanic period from the 10th century to the 6th century BC.

 

Coming down to the Epics and Puranas, we find in the most ancient compositions a thrilling account of the mighty deeds of the Asuras and their maltreatment of gods and men. Even the nine incarnations of Vishnu which form the main theme of the Puranas are said to have taken place to put down the Asuras and reinstate the Devas in their original abodes. There is no Puranic king who is not said to have fought against the Asuras. The Taittiriya Brahmana (I, 5, 9) calls Prahlada, son of Hiranyakasipu, Kayadhava, ie. the son of Kayadhu, his mother.[7] The Atharva Veda ( VIII, 10, 22 ) says that Virochana was the son of Prahlada. In the Zend Avesta Kayadhas or Kayadhus are said to have been a tribe hostile to the Asuras.[8] In the Mahabharata ( Adiparva Ch.67 ) the Jainas and the Buddhists are described as the descendants of old Asuras. Their religion which seems to have been based upon the Sankhya philosophy of Kapila is said to be the religion of the Asuras. As Kapila's Sankhya philosophy is said to be Avaidika, or opposed to the religion of the Vedas,[9] it was considered to be the religion of the Asuras. Asuri, the disciple of Kapila, might have been an Asura.

 

In the Satapatha Brahmana (X, 5, 2, 20) the Asuras are said to serve the divine person under the name Māya. The same fact is stated in the Atharva Veda. Prof. L.H. Mills says in his translation of the Zend Avesta, Part III, p.94, that "`Māya' is the mysterious wisdom of the divine benevolence, colourless and abstract indeed, but yet possessing great religious depth." Who can deny that it is this Māya, the mysterious wisdom of Ahura that is found referred to in the Atharvaveda as well as in the Satapatha Brahmana. In the Bhagavadgita also Māya-worship is said to have formed part of the Asura religion. In VII 15, the Bhagavadgita says : -

"Not me do the evil-doers seek, the deluded, the vilest of men, deprived of wisdom by Māya, following the view of the Asuras." 

What is meant in this verse and in the two other verses preceding it is this: - The Asuras and those who follow the view of the Asuras, as expounded in the Sankhya system or in the Zend Avesta, are entirely devoted to the worship of Māya alone and they do not worship God at all as the one supreme being worthy of worship. According to the Sankhya Philosophy, it is Māya, termed as Prakriti, that is productive of the whole world consisting of good and bad. According to L.H. Mills, Magism makes the world to consist of two principles, Ahura Mazda the good principle and Angra Mainyu the evil principle. Thus so far as the essentials of religious philosophy are concerned, the Jaina, the Buddha, the Sankhya and the Zoroastrian systems are all alike and appear therefore to be deserving the name of Asura religion.

 

Now the question is who were these Asuras whose race, language, religion, and customs are so clearly described as familiar things in the Brahmanic literature ? Were they the Assyrians ? Or were they the Iranians ? As the Assyrians are found to differ from the Vedic Aryans both in racial and linguistic matters, they cannot be taken to have been meant by the word Asura in the Vedic and Brahmanic works. As already hinted, the Asuras must necessarily be the Iranians. If so, were they in India in close touch with the Vedic Aryans during the Vedic period or were they far away from them ? If they were more than a thousand miles away somewhere near Babylon in Asia Minor, would the authors of the Brahmanas describe them to have been in so close a touch with themselves as to occasion frequent wars with them ?

 

Let us for the sake of argument assume that the Asuras were in Asia Minor and that some religious split between them and the Devas occurred in Asia Minor itself, necessitating the migration of the Devas to India. The Devas would under such circumstances come to India with feelings of hatred and enmity towards the Asuras and lose no opportunity of giving expression to their feelings of enmity towards the Asuras in the very first hymns of the Rigveda which are admitted on all hands as having been composed on the banks of the Indus. What we actually find in these hymns upto the ninth Mandala of the Rigveda is not any expression of enmity towards the Asuras, but cordial praise. A few of the most favourite epithets which are applied to both gods and men in the Rigveda are (1) Asura, (2) Asurya, (3) Asuriya, (4) Asuratva. According to Sayana the words Asura means `life-giving'. Western scholars have taken it to mean majestic and powerful. Whatever its original meaning might be, it occurs in more than fifty places in the Rigveda. There is no Rigvedic god that is not described as an Asura. Dyaus, Adityas, Asvins, Rudra, Varuna, Matarisvam, Aryaman, Indra, Agni, Soma, Savitri, and Pushan are all alike called Asura.1 In I.126, 2; and VII 56, 24, kings are also called Asuras. The use of the word Asura in a good sense in all these passages goes to show that the poets of the Rigveda had no [ 1. I.54; 122; 131; etc. 2 4 V, 42, 11, 5 II 27, 10; 6 vii 36, 2. 7 VIII, 27, 20. ] repulsive feeling to what is called Asura, as the authors of the Brahmanas did. In all the twenty two verses of the 55th hymn of the Rigveda, the one favourite burden of the song is "Great and singular is the Asura-hood of the gods.' In VII 56, 24, the poet prays to Maruts to endow his Asura king with vigour so that he may take the poet together with his people to fair lands on other side of a river. In the Tait. Samhita the Asuras are said to have owned all the lands, leaving to the Vedic poets not even as much space as a deer would run across at one stretch. In the whole of Brahmanic literature, on the other hand, the very word Asura is always used in a bad sense and the Asuras and the Devas are frequently said to have been at war with each other. This change of feeling on the part of the Vedic Aryans can only be explained on the supposition that the Asuras, first invaded and occupied India and were followed by the Vedic Aryans, their kinsmen, later; for a time they both lived together on friendly terms till a split occurred between them somewhere about the time of the composition of the tenth Mandala of the Rigveda; for the split itself seems to have been referred to in the 124th hymn of the 10th mandala of the Rigveda. The hymn runs as follows:  

To this our sacrifice, O Agni, come; it is of seven priests of three folds, and of seven threads.

Be the bearer of our oblations, be our leader; thou hast long been sleeping in darkness.

(Agni says): -

Seeing well and coming out from the godless in a cave at your request, I a deva, attain immortality.

When as an inauspicious being I abandon that which is auspicious, then I go out from my own friendly womb.

Beholding myself as a guest of another family, I created manifold systems of sacrifice.

I say farewell to old father Asura and pass from a place unfit for sacrifice to the place yielding fit sacrificial share.

I spent many years in this godless cave, preferring Indra, I now abandon the old father (Asura). Agni, Soma and Varuna, - these fall down. Returning I protect that kingom which returns to me.

Those Asuras become guileless; thou, O Varuna, desirest me.

 

O king, distinguishing truth from falsehood, accept sovereignty over my realm.

From the fourth verse it is clear that Angi preferred Indra, the god of the Vedic poets, and abandoning the old father Asura, returned to the kingdom of the Devas. Like Agni, Soma and Varuna also lost their supremacy among the Asuras. From this hymn onwards down to the last passage of the latest Brahmana, we see a continuous expression of hatred to whatever is called Asura and Asuralike. Had the split between the Asuras and the Devas really occurred in Asia Minor and had the Vedic peots emigrated into India with feelings of hatred towards the Asuras, they would not have used the word Asura in good sense in the first nine Mandalas of the Rigveda and begun to use it in bad sense only in the tenth Mandala and the later Brahmanic works. But as a matter of fact the poets of the first nine Mnadalas of the Rigveda exhibit inimical feelings towards the Asuras in none of the hymns of those Mandalas. The feeling of enmity is clearly as late as the tenth Mandala of the Rigveda. It follows therefore that a religious split between the Asuras and the Devas occurred not in Asia Minor but in India and, that too, about the time of the composition of the 10th Mandala of the Rigveda. James Darmesteter, the translator of the Zend Avesta, seems inclined to hold the same view. In P. LVIII of his Introduction of Part I of the Zend Avesta he says as follows:

"And in fact, the evidence (supplied by the words Asura, Indra and Deva about the split), appealed to, when more closely considered, goes to speak against the very theory it is meant to support. The word Asura, which in the Avesta means the lord and is the name of the supreme god means a demon in the Brahmanical literature, but in the older religion of the Vedas it is quite as august as in the Avesta, and is applied to the highest deities, and particularly to Varuna, the Indian brother of Ahura. This shows that when the Iranians and the Indians sallied forth from their common native land, the Asura continued for a long to time to be lord in India as well as in Persia, and the change took place, not in Iran, but in India."

 

Likewise Prof. Martin Haug says as follows;  

"Asura is, in the form, Ahura, the first part of Ahura-Mazda (Hormazd), the name of god among the Parsis; and the Zoroastrian religion is distinctly called the Ahura religion (see Yasna, XII 9, p.174), in strict opposition to the Deva religion. But among the Hindus Asura has assumed a bad meaning and is applied to the bitterest enemies of their Devas (gods), with whom the Asuras are constantly waging war, and not always without success, as even Hindu legends acknowledge. This is the case throughout the Puranic literature, and as far back as the later parts of the Vedas; but in the older parts of the Rigveda Samhita we find the word Asura used in as good and elevated a sense as in the Zend Avesta. The Chief gods, such as Indra (Rig. i 54, 3), Varuna (i 24, 14), Agni (iv 2, 5; vii 2, 3), Savitri (i 35, 7), Rudra or Shiva (V 42, 11) etc. are honoured with the epithet `Asura', which means `living, spiritual,' signifying the divine, in its opposition to human nature. In the plural, it is even used, now and then, as a name for all the gods, as for instance in Rig. i 108, 6: "This Soma is to be distributed as an offering among the Asuras," by which word the Rishi means his own gods whom he was worshipping. We often find one Asura particularly mentioned, who is called Asura of Heaven, (Rig. V 41, 3); heaven itself is called by this name (Rig. i 131, 1), our father, who pours down waters (Rig. V 83, 6); Agni, the fire-god is born out of his womb (Rig. III 29, 14 ) his sons support heaven.

 

In a bad sense we find Asura only twice in the older parts of the Rigveda (ii 32, 4; vii 99, 5), in which passages the defeat of the `sons or men of the Asura' is ordered or spoken of; but we find the word more frequently in this sense in the last books of the Rigveda (which is only an appendix to the whole made in later times) and in the Atharavaveda, where the Rishis are said to have frustrated the tricks of the Asuras (IV 23, 5) and to have the power of putting down (VI 7, 3). In the Brahmanas or sacrificial books, belonging to each of the Vedas, we find the Devas always fighting with the Asuras. The latter are the constant enemies of the Hindu gods, and always make attacks upon the sacrifices offered by devotees. To defeat them all the craft and cunning of the Devas were required; and the means of checking them was generally found in a new sacrificial rite. Thus the Asuras are said to have given rise to a good many sacrificial customs, and in this way they largely contributed towards making the Brahmanical sacrifices so complicated and full of particular rites and ceremonies.[10]

 

From what Bhattakumarila says in his Tantravartika, Commentary on the Mimansa Sutras (I-3-10) regarding the determination of the meaning of such words as are found to be common to Vedic and Mlechcha languages, it appears that the Mlechchas were a set of people talking in a corrupt and ungrammatical form of the Vedic language. In I, 3, 24 he says that the word Mlechchita means the distortion of the reading of the Veda established by tradition, or the using of the language of the Mlechchas[11]." He does not however definitely say who the Mlechchas were. All that he says about them is that they were different both from the local Dravidas and "such distant people as the Parsees, the Barbaras, the Yavanas and the Raumakas," and that they were usually employed in agriculture, menial service, house building and the like. He assures us that unlike the Dravidian tongue, the language of the Mlechchas was quite similar to the Sanskrit and contained a number of words similar to those found in the Vedic and Sanskrit literature. He condemns the etymological speculation of some grammarians of his time who, in their zeal to derive the Dravidian tongue from Sanskrit, went so far as to trace such Dravidian words as `chor' (cooked rice), `atar' (road), `papa' (snake), `mal' (woman) and `vair' (stomach) to Sanskrit words `chora' (thief), `atara' (uncrossable), `papa' (evil), `mala' (garland) and `vairi' (enemy) respectively . He finds, on the contrary, nothing irrational in the attempt to decide the sense of Vedic words of doubtful meaning by ascertaining the sense in which the same words are used by the Mlechchas. He mentions picka (cuckoo), nema (half), tamarasa (lotus plant) and yava (barley) as instances.

 

It is clear therefore that according to Bhattakumarila the Mlechchas were a set of local people speaking in a corrupt form of Aryan language and quite different from the local Dravidians and the foreigners such as the Parsis (the Zoroastrians of Persia), the Yavanas (the Greeks), and the Raumakas (the Romans). Therefore I take the Mlechchas to be the early Iranian settlers in India who, on the conquest of India by the Vedic Aryans, lost their supremacy and employed themselves in agriculture, weaving, architecture, and other occupations. They seem to have been the progenitors of the later Jainas and the Buddhists and of those architects who built a palace of the Iranian type of architecture for Chandragupta at Pataliputra.

 

This explains the inference of Iranian influence upon ancient India made by Sir John Marshall and Dr. Spooner on the basis of some archaeological excavations at Taxila and Pataliputra. In the excavations carried on at Taxila, about 24 miles from Rawalpindi, Sir John Marshall discovered a temple and identified it with a Zoroastrian fire temple for reasons of its Iranian style of architecture. Dr. Spooner goes further, and by finding in the excavations of the ruins of ancient Pataliputra buildings

 

constructed after the style of Iranian architecture, arrives at the conclusion that "Upon the threshold of the historical period, a dynasty of almost purely Persian type ruled over India. If what I said above regarding the early invasion of India by the Iranians were to prove true, this new theory advanced by Dr. Spooner would startle noone. In fact it is what it ought to be. 



[1] Enc. Brit. Vol. XVIII, pp.561 and 653

[2] Ibid. Vol. XVIII, p.325

[3] Sat.Br. I.5, 4, 6; XIII.8, 1, 5.

[4] Ibid III.2,1,23-24.

[5] Essays on the Parsis, p.199.

[6] { ... missing footnote and wrong number ... }.

[7] Tait. S. V, 2, 8.

[8] Zend Avesta Part III, p.301; 313; 342.

[9] Sankara's Commentary on the Brahma Sutras II. 1, 1.

[10] Essays on the Parsis, pp.269-271, ed. 1884.

[11] Ganganatha Jha's Translation of the Tantravartika, page 274.

 

 

 

 

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