Post-Vedic Republics of North-Western India

Jan 2016
1,637
India
In this thread, I'll write about the various Ganas or Republics that existed in the Uttarapatha after the end of the Vedic period (~500 BC).
 
Jan 2016
1,637
India
I. The Yaudheyas

The Yaudheyas were an ancient “clan-state” of north-western India who ruled for several centuries from their base in the fertile country of Bahudhanyaka (which comprised of modern day Rohtak and Hisar disctricts in Haryana), with capital at the city of Rohitaka (Rohtak). In the Puranas, they are called descendants of the king Usinara.

The term “clan-state” here means a political entity that was based on an agricultural economy, and made up of people of specialised professions. The warriors amongst these people would form a clan (jan), and take up the job of ruling and protecting the population living in the cities and villages (visah). These clan-states usually followed an oligarchic or a republic model of government. With later expansion in agriculture and territory; and proliferation of the ruling clans, these clan-states would naturally evolve into centralised monarchies. We see that the earliest centralised monarchies emerge in the eastern regions like Magadha, while those in the west such as Haryana, Panjab and eastern Rajasthan saw a slower evolution. In the post-Vedic times, there were tens of such clan-states in north-western India; and the Yaudheyas were probably the most prominent among them.

Coming to their history, their earliest coins are from the Sunga times, but they disappear after 4th century AD. Panini calls the Yaudheyas as Ayudhajivi Samgha, meaning the states that conducted war for a living. The very word Yaudheya itself means warrior. The Yaudheyas probably became prominent a century before the Greek invasions and maintained their autonomy throughout the ancient period. Almost nothing is known of their political or economic history, but they seem to have shifted southwards into Rajasthan probably due to the Saka threat, so as to come in clash with Rudradaman, as indicated by his Junagarh inscription, where he calls them "heroes among the Kshatriyas," but also claims to have defeated them. Also, Yaudheya records from the Scythian times have been excavated from Bharatpur and Hoshiarpur districts. In one such record, the president of the Yaudheyas styles himself as Maharaja (king) and Maha-senapati (commander general), and also claims that he was elected to this post by the Yaudheya parliament. In certain records, explicit references have been made to the Yaudheya parliament or cabinet as yaudheyanam jayamantradharanam mantradharas who are described as “those vested with the policy of state.” Last time when we hear of them was in the Allahabad inscription of Samudragupta (4th century AD) which mentions the Yaudheyas as one of the republics that paid tribute to him.

An interesting fact about the Yaudheyas is their extremely large and numerous hoards of coins found in sites near Rohtak, Bhiwani, Bhatner, Abohar, Sirsa, Hansi, Panipat, Sonipat, Depalpur, Multan, Satgarha, Kahror, Ludhiana etc. The hoard discovered at Rohtak was so large that Dr. Birbal Sahni described it as "richer than any yet recorded from any part of the world." Multiple mints of them have also been discovered near Rohtak.

The Yaudheyas were probably worshippers of the diety Kartikeya (who rides a peacock), as is evidenced by their coins. Also, in Mahabharata, the people of the Bahudhanyaka country are called as Matta-Mayurakas, which literally means “having enraptured peacocks.” Quite interestingly, peacock is still considered sacred in this region.

The modern descendants of the Yaudheyas are the Johiya Rajputs who live along the Sutlej line. They occupy a region called Johiyabar, which probably derives from the Sanskrit word Yaudheyavara.
 
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Aatreya

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
3,579
USA
The Yaudheyas were an ancient “clan-state” of north-western India who ruled for several centuries from their base in the fertile country of Bahudhanyaka (which comprised of modern day Rohtak and Hisar disctricts in Haryana), with capital at the city of Rohitaka (Rohtak). In the Puranas, they are called descendants of the king Usinara.

The term “clan-state” here means a political entity that was based on an agricultural economy, and made up of people of specialised professions. The warriors amongst these people would form a clan (jan), and take up the job of ruling and protecting the population living in the cities and villages (visah). These clan-states usually followed an oligarchic or a republic model of government. With later expansion in agriculture and territory; and proliferation of the ruling clans, these clan-states would naturally evolve into centralised monarchies. We see that the earliest centralised monarchies emerge in eastern regions like Magadha, while those in the west such as Haryana, Panjab and Eastern Rajasthan saw a slower evolution. In the post-Vedic times, there were tens of such clan-states in north-western India; and the Yaudheyas were probably the most prominent among them.

Coming to their history, their earliest coins are from the Sunga times, but they disappear after 4th century AD. Panini calls the Yaudheyas as Ayudhajivi Samgha, meaning the states that conducted war for a living. The very word Yaudheya itself means warrior. The Yaudheyas probably became prominent a century before the Greek invasions and maintained their autonomy throughout the ancient period. Almost nothing is known of their political or economic history, but they seem to have shifted southwards into Rajasthan probably due to the Saka threat, so as to come in clash with Rudradaman, as indicated by his Junagarh inscription, where he calls them "heroes among the Kshatriyas," but also claims to have defeated them. Also, Yaudheya records from the Scythian times have been excavated from Bharatpur and Hoshiarpur districts. In one such record, the president of the Yaudheyas styles himself as Maharaja (king) and Maha-senapati (commander general), and also claims that he was elected to this post by the Yaudheya parliament. In certain records, explicit references have been made to the Yaudheya parliament or cabinet as yaudheyanam jayamantradharanam mantradharas who are described as “those vested with the policy of state.” Last time when we hear of them was in the Allahabad inscription of Samudragupta (4th century AD) which mentions the Yaudheyas as one of the republics that paid tribute to him.

An interesting fact about the Yaudheyas is their extremely large and numerous hoards of coins found in sites near Rohtak, Bhiwani, Bhatner, Abohar, Sirsa, Hansi, Panipat, Sonipat, Depalpur, Multan, Satgarha, Kahror, Ludhiana etc. The hoard discovered at Rohtak was so large that Dr. Birbal Sahni described it as "richer than any yet recorded from any part of the world." Multiple mints of them have also been discovered near Rohtak.

The Yaudheyas were probably worshippers of the diety Kartikeya (who rides a peacock), as is evidenced by their coins. Also, in Mahabharata, the people of the Bahudhanyaka country are called as Matta-Mayurakas, which literally means “having enraptured peacocks.” Quite interestingly, peacock is still considered sacred in this region.

The modern descendants of the Yaudheyas are the Johiya Rajputs who live along the Sutlej line. They occupy a region called Johiyabar, which probably derives from the Sanskrit word Yaudheyavara.
@Bhrigu, great post!

Were the Yaudheyas from 5th Century BCE? On a slightly unrelated note, what is the earliest evidence of Kartikeya worship? I am curious to know how Kartikeya was connected with Vedic Subrahmanya, and also with Tamil Murugan.
 
Jan 2016
1,637
India
@Bhrigu, great post!
Thanks. :)

Were the Yaudheyas from 5th Century BCE?
The earliest literary reference to the Yaudheyas is made by Panini in his Astadhyayi, which can be dated to 5th century BC. But I think that the Yaudheyas are a century or two older than Panini.

On a slightly unrelated note, what is the earliest evidence of Kartikeya worship?
The earliest coins of the Yaudheyas that contain images of Kartikeya are from 2nd century BC, because the Sanskrit legends on some of such coins are found to be written in the Brahmi script of 2nd and 1st century BC.


I am curious to know how Kartikeya was connected with Vedic Subrahmanya, and also with Tamil Murugan.
Sorry, I do not know much about history of worship of this deity.
 

civfanatic

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
3,318
Des Moines, Iowa
Good post.

Coming to their history, their earliest coins are from the Sunga times, but they disappear after 4th century AD. Panini calls the Yaudheyas as Ayudhajivi Samgha, meaning the states that conducted war for a living. The very word Yaudheya itself means warrior.
During the period of the so-called "Tripartite Struggle" in the late 8th and 9th centuries, there were several kings of Kannauj who had distinct names ending in -(a)yudha, such as Indrayudha, Chakrayudha, and Mahendrayudha. Is it possible that these kings of Kannauj were related in some way to the earlier Yaudheyas, and that their Yaudheya ancestry was preserved in their name suffix -yudha?
 
Jan 2016
1,637
India
Good post.
Thanks.

Is it possible that these kings of Kannauj were related in some way to the earlier Yaudheyas, and that their Yaudheya ancestry was preserved in their name suffix -yudha?
We have no way of knowing this. I do not think we have any details of this yudha family. All we know is that the king Indrayudha was installed by Vatsaraja while Chakrayudha was installed by Dharampala. We do not even know whether Indrayudha and Chakrayudha even belonged to the same family. But it is not impossible - though highly unlikely as there is a span of 4 centuries between the extinction of the Yaudheyas and the earliest records referring to these yudha kings. Also, we know of a 3rd century AD record from Uttaranchal where a Yaudheya king named Shilavarman who is said to have performed ashvamedha. We can see that this king's name does not end with a -yudha suffix. Apart from this, I do not think there are many mentions of Yaudehya kings or presidents in records, as nearly all their records were inscribed in the glory of the gana or the republic, rather than individual figures.
 
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Jan 2016
1,637
India
punajb and sindh are not part of North west India. they are part of Pakistan.
The term "north-west India" in my posts is used in a wider historic sense, and has little relation with current political boundaries of India or Pakistan. What I actually mean by "north-west India" here is the historical territory of Uttarapatha. According to Kavyamimamsa of Rajashekhara, this territory lays west to the ancient city of Prithudaka (modern day Pehoa in Haryana) and includes all lands of the Indus valley. According to Banabhatta, Uttarapatha includes the lands from West UP all the way upto NWFP.

still great post.
Thanks.
 
Jan 2016
1,637
India
II. The Malavas

The Malavas were another militarised gana originating in southern Panjab, and neighboured other ganas such as the Kshudrakas, the Yaudheyas, the Sibis etc. Their core territory is not certainly known, but it is clear that they were based in area encompassing both sides of the lower Sutlej and their eastern boundary roughly corresponded to the Sarasvati river. The origins of the Malavas are unclear, but they were ruling southern Panjab during the times of Alexander, as evidenced by the Greek accounts. Therefore, it can be deduced that, like the Yaudheyas, the Malavas too were very ancient clans, directly descending from the Vedic tribal republics that ruled in north-western India.

After the fall of the Mauryan empire, the Malavas consolidated the lower Panjab, and also started expanding gradually in both east and south. They established strongholds in eastern Rajasthan, as is indicated by their coins found near Jaipur, that bear the legend Malavanam Jayah, meaning "victory to the Malavas." These coins have been dated to around 150 BC; therefore, it can be assumed that these migrations towards south and east were a result of the Indo-Greek invasions in the 2nd century BC. The Malavas migrated to the east and settled around Ludhiana-Patiala, giving their name to this region and it's language. After this, they were in constant conflict with the Sakas, and defeated the Uttambhadras, who were the vassals of the Sakas. The Malavas of Panjab soon submitted to the Sakas, but those in Rajasthan remained powerful and independent. They expanded further towards the east and settled around Ujjain, again giving their name to this region and it's language. The Malavas also appear to have started the Vikrami Samvat (or Malava era) to commemorate the victories that they gained over Sakas and their vassals. This is because the earliest use of this era is found in the Malava inscriptions of Rajasthan and MP, and also, this era was exclusively used by Indian clans, while those like non-Indian clans followed foreign eras such as Saka or Varsha.

Before the Sakas could make further moves towards the east, they were subjugated by the Kushanas; and under the suzerainty of the Kushan emperor Kanishka, the Kardamak Saka family defeated the Malavas and established itself at Ujjain. But the Malavas seem to have kept ruling their territories in Rajasthan, as they later expanded east towards MP, and their inscriptions bearing the Samvat era have been found in the Hadoti region. One such inscription refers to a Mahasenapati Bala of the Maukhari clan, indicating that this clan was subordinate to the Malavas. This Maukhari clan would later establish a kingdom at Kannauj.

After the decline of the Kushana authority, the Malavas continued their conflict with the Western Kshatraps as the Kshatrap Nahapan (2nd century AD) claims to have relieved the Uttambhadras from the Malava forces in Ajmer by scoring a hard-fought victory, in his Nasik cave inscription of 120 AD. The conflict between the Sakas and Malavas continued well into the 4th century, when the Sakas were permanently crushed by Chandragupta II. From their inscriptions and coins, it seems that, along with such powerful clans as the Yaudheyas and Arjunayans, the Malavs maintained their independence throughout this time period, and akin to their medieval successors in the form of the Rajputs, never halted their resistance against mleccha invaders.

Finally, they are also listed in the Allahabad inscription of Samudragupta among his republican vassals, e.g. the Yaudheyas, the Madras etc. Last notable figure from this clan was the chief Yasodharman who scored a decisive victory over the Sakas, and erected a victory pillar in Mandsaur. He belonged to the Aulikara sub-clan of the Malavas. After this, the Malavas are not heard of again.
 
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Nov 2015
330
abroad
@Bhrigu, great post!

Were the Yaudheyas from 5th Century BCE? On a slightly unrelated note, what is the earliest evidence of Kartikeya worship? I am curious to know how Kartikeya was connected with Vedic Subrahmanya, and also with Tamil Murugan.
in vedas it says khanda another name of karthikeya was son of agniras which is referred to agni or rudra or many person actually.

Murugan is an adjective name of karthikeya or subramaniyan in tamil culture its origin is from either jain or Buddhist monks of north migrated to tamilnadu.

complexity arises when same name is referred to multiple persons...