Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > World History Forum > Asian History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

Asian History Asian History Forum - China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, and the Asia-Pacific Region


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old June 1st, 2014, 07:35 PM   #1
Historian
 
Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 2,253
Persian Invasion of India


I know that Persia at one time occupied parts of India, but I don't know much else about it. So I have some questions.

Which parts of India did Persia occupy and when?
What are the sources and the evidence and proof for this Persian occupation? Are there any Indian, Persian or Greek records and if so by whom and when?
What influence did the Persian occupation have on Indians? Anything left behind in terms of science, technology, art, culture, religion or racial groups?

I have heard the Persian army had many Indian soldiers in it too and apparently Indian populations were present in Persia, to what extent could we say that Persia and India were distinct from one another? Were there clear geographical and cultural boundaries differentiating them, or can they be considered the same civilization?

I would greatly appreciate your time to share your knowledge with me.

Last edited by Joshua A; June 1st, 2014 at 07:40 PM.
Joshua A is offline  
Remove Ads
Old June 1st, 2014, 09:00 PM   #2

tornada's Avatar
Wind Lord
 
Joined: Mar 2013
From: India
Posts: 15,110
Blog Entries: 2

I'm not aware of the specific details.

However the province of Gandhara is believed to have become a Persian Satrapy at some point, likely under Darius. I'm not sure about sources, but i believe there are some Persian inscriptions and Herodotus which mention this.

How this "invasion" was carried out is unknown. For all we know, there may have been no invasion, and the king of Gandhara received financial aid for swearing sovereignty to the Great King

The sources mentioning Gandhara under Persian control are also from the Alexander-era Greek texts, which indicate that Ambhi (called Taxiles) was originally a Persian satrap. It is pertinent to remember that Persian satraps were highly autonomous in their functioning. Given the cultural dissonance on the matter of "sovereignty" in India and Persia, it is entirely possible that while the Persians considered Gandhara a "subservient satrap", the Indian kings thought nothing of it and considered themselves fully independent. Either way, we have very few sources dealing with the matter.

As to the question of Persian influences on Indian art and architecture. Given the paucity of information and lack of archaeological information from India prior to about 600-700 BCE, it becomes impossible to determine extent of influence. Marking the Greek influence is easy because of the availability of pre-greek influence examples as well as relatively high number of sources. Some theories argue that certain architectural phenomenon such as Asoka's inscriptions and the pillars seen at various places, may have been inspired from Persian art, or atleast borrowed certain aspects of it. However, most of these arguments also carry significant rebuttals, and there isn't any way to corroborate it. Thus determining the degree and extent of Persian influence in India, or vice versa is very difficult.


Greek Historians such as herodotus, note that Indians have been noted to fight in Persian armies. One of the many stories regarding the death of Cyrus the Great, have him dying at the hands of an Indian spearman, possibly on an elephant. This story doesn't carry much by way of historical popularity among scholars. The elephants in the army of Darius, particularly at Gaugamela, may have been Indian elephants, although equally they could have been the smaller African elephants
tornada is offline  
Old June 2nd, 2014, 12:55 AM   #3

Rakshasa's Avatar
Lecturer
 
Joined: Mar 2013
From: India
Posts: 410

The gradual encroachment of land in India by the Persian/IndoAryan Bharata tribe starting from thioriginal 'homeland' of Kuru-Panschala is a form of early persian invasion. Later most of the IndoAryan mixed with the nativea, while the creed of Persian oracles/priests called Brahmins continued to maintain their distinct identity, which they did by adopting native cults.
Rakshasa is offline  
Old June 2nd, 2014, 01:15 AM   #4
Historian
 
Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 2,253

Fantastic and informative reply as always Tornada.

So, if I have understood you correctly, the only record we have of a Persian occupation or Indian states being under Persian rule is Herodotus? How can we be sure this is reliable? Is there any corroborating and supporting evidence?
Joshua A is offline  
Old June 2nd, 2014, 02:51 AM   #5
Scholar
 
Joined: Mar 2013
From: Breakdancing on the Moon.
Posts: 898

No, there is a lot of evidence. Arrianus too, other writers. Persian inscriptions mention India (Sindhu) too. Ashokan inscriptions btw depend on familiarity with earlier Aramaic inscription habits so, yes, Persian influence there too.
World Focker is offline  
Old June 2nd, 2014, 03:55 AM   #6

tornada's Avatar
Wind Lord
 
Joined: Mar 2013
From: India
Posts: 15,110
Blog Entries: 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joshua A View Post
Fantastic and informative reply as always Tornada.

So, if I have understood you correctly, the only record we have of a Persian occupation or Indian states being under Persian rule is Herodotus? How can we be sure this is reliable? Is there any corroborating and supporting evidence?
No. I'm familiar with Herodotus, but i think there are some other sources which mention this, mostly in passing. And ofcourse Alexandrian sources mention it as well.
tornada is offline  
Old June 2nd, 2014, 07:43 AM   #7
Historian
 
Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 2,253

I found an article on it which offers some of the evidence:

The Persian Invasion of India - Important India
Joshua A is offline  
Old June 2nd, 2014, 08:14 AM   #8

tornada's Avatar
Wind Lord
 
Joined: Mar 2013
From: India
Posts: 15,110
Blog Entries: 2

Couple of points.

One, it is hard to determine the extent of the Persian Empire in India, because the Greeks were very unfamiliar with India. The "Indian" satrapy seemed to refer a region stretching from Bactria-Sogdiana (That's northern Afghanistan), all the way to the middle or lower Indus.

Another aspect is regards tribute. In Indian empires, a defeated king would offer "tribute" to the king who defeated him. However this "vassalage" did not translate to any lack of autonomy or freedom for the defeated king. In effect there were no changes. This isn't a universal rule, and Ajatshatru and Magadha onwards, this began to change, but my point is to illustrate, that trying to determine how much control Persia exerted on India is impossible to ascertain. The Persians were known to "appoint" satraps, but from the case in India, it would appear that the "satrap" was an Indian king in the fashion of other kings. Now it is possible i have misunderstood the Persian Satarpy system - I'm no expert - but i get the impression that the Indian "satraps" were perhaps different from the regular satraps in Persia. I'm not saying the Persians didn't conquer the region, but as Alex discovered, India was very far from Babylon, Persepolis and Susa as well as being separated by fairly formidable geographic features. Thus the extent of direct control of Persia over the Indian satraps may have been much less, or perhaps involved more autonomy. It might explain the frequent conquests of possibly the same territory by subsequent kings (Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes). The reception of "tribute" may infact have meant different things to Greeks, Persians and Indians, and so it becomes a little hard to determine the extent and nature of Persian control in India. It should be remembered, that Herodotus is a bit unreliable, and given to exaggeration, particularly when dealing with subjects unfamiliar to him. I'm not suggesting that the Persian conquest didn't happen, but it is perhaps possible, that there may be aspects of Herodotus' records which might not gel with Indian or Persian culture towards vassalage.

Darius Codomannus is supposed to have been tied up extensively in the East, putting down revolts, while Alexander was stomping around Anatolia. Darius then appeared at Gaugamela with Elephants, though he did not use them. It is my belief, that these Elephants may have been Indian, rather than the conventional north-african ones, because Darius would have been coming from the East, and i doubt he hadmuch by way of resources from Egypt. I'm however speculating here.
tornada is offline  
Old June 2nd, 2014, 10:17 AM   #9

Immchr's Avatar
Scholar
 
Joined: May 2012
From: Western India
Posts: 632

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joshua A View Post
I know that Persia at one time occupied parts of India, but I don't know much else about it. So I have some questions.

Which parts of India did Persia occupy and when?
What are the sources and the evidence and proof for this Persian occupation? Are there any Indian, Persian or Greek records and if so by whom and when?
What influence did the Persian occupation have on Indians? Anything left behind in terms of science, technology, art, culture, religion or racial groups?

I have heard the Persian army had many Indian soldiers in it too and apparently Indian populations were present in Persia, to what extent could we say that Persia and India were distinct from one another? Were there clear geographical and cultural boundaries differentiating them, or can they be considered the same civilization?

I would greatly appreciate your time to share your knowledge with me.
Before we tackle this question let us remember that in ancient times the NW frontier of India was significantly further to the West than it is today. Infact, the boundary separating Pakistani Baluchistan from Iranian Baluchistan is roughly indicative of the extent of Indian territory in the Southern NW. It was after all the Gedrosia mentioned by the ancient Greeks which was ceded by Seleucus to Chandragupta.

Up North, the region of Arachosia (Eastern Afghanistan) and then further North the Hindu Kush was the Indian border for a very long period of time.

Infact, even when the territories mentioned above seem to have been under rulers of other origins the people and the culture was yet considered Indian.

We have this situation atleast from the time of Chandragupta to the period when Sindh is captured by the Arabs in 712 CE.

Before Chandragupta, there was the Achaemenid empire and we do not know what was considered as the Indian boundary before that.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Now there were 3 Iranian empires - the Achaemenid, the Parthian and the Sassanid upto the time when they collapsed before the Arabs.

Of these 3, the most reliable evidence of control of Indian territories happens to be for the Achaemenids. Here is a good article on it INDIA iii. RELATIONS: ACHAEMENID PERIOD ? Encyclopaedia Iranica

Interestingly, if we consider the Long Chronology, the entry of the Western Kshatrapas into India happens around 550 BC, the same period when the Achaemenids extended their influence upto India. What remains to be known is whether these Saka kings had allegiance with the Achaemenids. Their self-designation ( Satrap/Kshatrapa - Iranian provincial governor) is quite puzzling because they by all accounts appear to have acted quite independently and seem to have even followed Indian religion.

-------------------------------------------------

Of the Parthians we know the least but the Chinese sources of the 1st & 2nd centuries tell us that the region around Kabul or Kapisa (I am not certain which of the two is indicated), was continuously being swapped between the Parthians, Indians and Kashmiris when either of them grew strong. This suggests some very limited temporal control of this region which was considered Indian territory, by the Parthians.

About the Sassanids, what we know is that some of their emperors did make claims about capturing some Indian territories. They had made some of the Later Kushans their vassals and captured the western territories of the former Kushan empire.

From the Shahnameh, we get a picture of cordial relations between the Sassanids and the Indian empire ( Firdausi mentions the Indian king as ruling from Kannauj and having under his subjection kings of Kashmir, Kabul, Multan etc. ). Bahram Gur is said to have married the daughter of the Indian emperor. Chess is also said to have been sent to Iran from India during the 6th century.

Also it is in the time of the Sassanids that the Gypsies left India for the Iranian court.

The following book gives a good account of the Indian frontier on the North-West as it was perceived by the Arabs. Al-Hind, the Making of the Indo-Islamic World: Early Medieval India and the ... - André Wink - Google Books

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

As for cultural impact of these Iranian empires, they seem to have left hardly any impact on the Indian mainland but there appears to be some measure of Iranian imprint on the frontier regions of India which from time to time did fall under Iranian control.

There is some tentative suggestion of architectural influence from Achaemenid times during the Mauryan era, especially in the artwork, but this is purely speculative. We also need to bear in mind that the pillars & other remains considered to be Mauryan have never actually been scientifically dated. Hence we dont whether they preceded the time of Achaemenids or succeeded it.

There was also a suggestion that Achaemenid expansion into South Asia brought about Urbanism in the North-West. However, one of the largest sites in Afghanistan named Akra, which was excavated some years back revealed that Urbanism had appeared in that region in the 9th - 10th century BC itself.

Last edited by Immchr; June 2nd, 2014 at 10:31 AM.
Immchr is offline  
Old June 2nd, 2014, 10:55 PM   #10

Rakshasa's Avatar
Lecturer
 
Joined: Mar 2013
From: India
Posts: 410

Quote:
Before we tackle this question let us remember that in ancient times the NW frontier of India was significantly further to the West than it is today. Infact, the boundary separating Pakistani Baluchistan from Iranian Baluchistan is roughly indicative of the extent of Indian territory in the Southern NW. It was after all the Gedrosia mentioned by the ancient Greeks which was ceded by Seleucus to Chandragupta.
You mean the 'Republic of India'? NW India has always been the territory of the Caucasian scythian/Iranic ethnicities. It remains that till today. The only difference is that the Scythic Jats, gujjar-pratiharas, Hepthalite/rajputs and Brahmins eventually became 'Indian' after Brtish occupation.

Gandhara was considere foreign land during Buddha's time. In fact in brahmanic sriptures uses the term 'mlecchas' in reference to the Hunas and Scythians occupying these territories during that time the real 'indian' ethnicities were the australoid Dravidians, austro-asiayic tribes and castes who resided in the whole 'india' except north west. There was probably Not a single white skinned person residing in this realm except Brahmins or foreign travellers.
Rakshasa is offline  
Reply

  Historum > World History Forum > Asian History

Tags
india, invasion, persian



Search tags for this page
Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Roman Invasion of India Salah Speculative History 190 October 27th, 2015 05:31 PM
Aryan Invasion Theory - India Rasta Asian History 1554 December 28th, 2014 02:35 AM
The Persian army of the Great Greek Invasion wigglywaffles Ancient History 14 December 28th, 2012 12:56 PM
Themistocles and Second Persian Invasion Alcibiades Ancient History 20 January 14th, 2012 10:02 PM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.