Were the Mauryans vassals of the Seleucids?

Apr 2018
69
Ayodhya
#1
I just came across the paper, "The Maurya dynasty and the Seleucids", by Hartmut Scharfe (link given below). He has argued that the Mauryans ruled as vassals of the Seleucids. He says that after Chandragupta conquered Alexander's satraps in the Northwest, Seleucus invaded and that the two eventually formed a peace treaty, with Chandragupta agreeing to vassalage, just like Porus did with Alexander some years back. After Porus' defeat, he was given the additional territories of Ambhi and made a member of Alexander's "close friends of the king", who formed his political council. In return, he was expected to supply some elephants and troops for Alexander. Hartmut Scharfe finds a striking resemblance between that treaty and the Mauryan-Seleucid one. In the latter, Chandragupta was given the territories of Seleucus in Afghanistan, to rule in as a vassal. In return, he had to give up 500 elephants. That is the argument Scharfe makes.

He also provides an explanation for the Devanampriya title of Ashoka. Major rock edict 8, (Shahbazgarhi version), starts by saying: "In times past the Devanampriyas (Kings) used to set out on so-called pleasure-tours..." Hence, he takes this to mean that Ashoka's predecessors also had the Devanampriya title. As we know from inscriptions, Dasharatha Maurya also held that Devanampriya title. Hartmut Scharfe quotes a verse from Panini, where the latter says: "Before the second word of a compound, there is a non-disappearance of the genitive ending, if the compound expresses an insult". Hence we have caurasya-kulam (clan of robbers), instead of caura-kulam. So, he follows the logic and says that if devanampriya was an honorific title in Ashoka's days, then wouldn't there be a disappearance of the ending of the first word in that compound (devanam)? This, to him, suggests that devanampriya was an insult, even in Ashoka's days. So why would Ashoka bear a title that is in reality an insult? The Indic texts don't provide a solution.

To explain the the origin of Devanampriya (beloved of the gods), he looks at perhaps a foreign influence. He thinks that Devanampriya comes from the translation of the hellenistic court title, "friend of the kings", that was employed by the vassals of Alexander (and his successors). Since it was a trend to deify Hellenistic kings (as is what happened to Indian kings), the "Devanampriya" title, which is usually translated as "friend/beloved of the gods", may infact mean "friend of the king". That is to say, it may infact be a title for one of the vassals of the Hellenistic king. To support his argument, he directs the reader to the Aramic inscriptions of Ashoka in Kandahar and Taxila. In those inscriptions, devanampriya is translated as "mr'n" (marAn), the title given in the Elephantine Papyri to the Achaemenid Satraps of Egypt and Judea. Scharfe further say "is it thinkable that the Mauryan rulers were not sovereign?" Scharfe concludes that all this suggests that the Mauryan rulers from Chandragupta down (all of whom had the Devanampriya title), were Satraps of the Seleucids. In 206 BC, Antiochus III cross the Hindu Kush and renewed his alliance with the Mauryan ruler of India, Sophagasenus (Subhagasena?). The latter gave some elephants to Antiochus III as well. Could this be a renewal of the vassalship of the Mauryas that was temporarily terminated by the revolts in Bactria and Parthia that were occurring in the reign of Antiochus II?

What are your thoughts on this paper? Please do read and share your views...

The Maurya dynasty and the Seleucids on JSTOR
 
Mar 2019
1,535
KL
#2
what Hartmut Scharfe actually suggested was an improvement on the previous theory which stated that mauryans were infact greeks who ruled india as a greek colony, during colonialism there were vested efforts to links mauryans with either greeks or persians.

when everything else failed, mauryans were declared as influenced by persians and the greeks and that chandragupta got schooled by alexander himself at taxila.

i think the sooner we ditch european indology the better, but hindutva nationalists just provide them more reason to be legitimate story tellers of indian history since hindutva backed historiography seems ideology driven which european indology isnt.

Hartmut Scharfe else where suggests in some cuckoo theory that panini was a persian subject, but none of panini works indicate that persians were ruling his lands.

if chandragupta was a vassal, he would not have defeated seleucid and this is clearly mentioned even the greeks who admit that the guy was badly defeated by him, he would not offer his daughter to him, this only happens when a king is defeated and not when he defeats, chandragupta would also not rule the lands he ruled in the east, if he would be defeated, those kingdoms in the east would proclaim independence, he would also not expand afterwards being a vassal.

the entire scenario of porus getting defeated and letting live by alexander can also be used on the other hand to show how alexander killed all the rest of the kings and let only porus live which means porus never got defeated in the first place and the greek historians are simply making this up to save the honour of alexander.

regards
 
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Apr 2018
69
Ayodhya
#3
what Hartmut Scharfe actually suggested was an improvement on the previous theory which stated that mauryans were infact greeks who ruled india as a greek colony, during colonialism there were vested efforts to links mauryans with either greeks or persians.

when everything else failed, mauryans were declared as influenced by persians and the greeks and that chandragupta got schooled by alexander himself at taxila.

i think the sooner we ditch european indology the better, but hindutva nationalists just provide them more reason to be legitimate story tellers of indian history since hindutva backed historiography seems ideology driven which european indology isnt.

Hartmut Scharfe else where suggests in some cuckoo theory that panini was a persian subject, but none of panini works indicate that persians were ruling his lands.

regards
That was my initial reaction when I skipped some pages and read the ultimate conclusion he arrives at. But after reading the paper in full, I find some of his arguments here convincing. In addition to what I wrote above... He directs us to Pliny, who states that in an expedition to India, Seleucus reached as far as Pataliputra. Now, the only expedition of Seleucus to India, after Alexander's death, was the one he took against Chandragupta. If he reached as far as Pataliputra, then it implies that he did cause some serious trouble to Chandragupta. So, right now, I don't find his theory too far fetched. I am not 100% in support of it, but I think it is something that may be considered...

Here is the quote from Pliny:

However, that we may come to a better understanding relative to the description of these regions, we will follow in the track of Alexander the Great. Diognetus and Bæton, whose duty it was to ascertain the distances and length of his expeditions, have written that from the Caspian Gates to Hecatompylon, the city of the Parthians, the distance is the number of miles which we have already12 stated; and that from thence to Alexandria,13 of the Arii, which city was founded by the same king, the distance is five hundred and seventy-five miles; from thence to Prophthasia,14 the city of the Drangæ, one hundred and ninety-nine; from thence to the city of the Arachosii,15 five hundred and sixty-five; from thence to Ortospanum,16 one hundred and seventy-five; and from thence to the city built by Alexander,17 fifty, miles. In some copies, however, the numbers are found differently stated; and we find this last city even placed at the very foot of Mount Caucasus! From this place to the river Cophes18 and Peucolaitis, a city of India, is two hundred and thirty-seven miles; from thence to the river Indus and the city of Taxilla19 sixty; from thence to the famous river Hydaspes20 one hundred and twenty; and from thence to the Hypasis,21a river no less famous, two hundred and ninety miles, and three hundred and ninety paces. This last was the extreme limit of the expedition of Alexander, though he crossed the river and dedicated certain altars22 on the opposite side. The dispatches written by order of that king fully agree with the distances above stated.

The remaining distances beyond the above point were ascertained on the expedition of Seleucus Nicator. They are, to the river Sydrus,23 one hundred and sixty-eight miles; to the river Jomanes, the same; some copies, however, add to this last distance five miles; thence to the Ganges, one hundred and twelve miles; to Rhodapha, five hundred and sixty-nine—though, according to some writers, this last distance is only three hundred and twenty-five miles; to the town of Calinipaxa,24 one hundred and sixty-seven, according to some, two hundred and sixty-five; thence to the confluence of the river Jomanes25and Ganges, six hundred and twenty-five; most writers, however, add thirteen miles to this last distance; thence to the city of Palibothra,26 four hundred and twenty-five—and thence to the mouth of the Ganges, six hundred and thirty-seven miles and a half.

Pliny the Elder, The Natural History, BOOK VI. AN ACCOUNT OF COUNTRIES, NATIONS, SEAS, TOWNS, HAVENS, MOUNTAINS, RIVERS, DISTANCES, AND PEOPLES WHO NOW EXIST, OR FORMERLY EXISTED., CHAP. 21.—THE NATIONS OF INDIA.
 
Mar 2019
1,535
KL
#4
That was my initial reaction when I skipped some pages and read the ultimate conclusion he arrives at. But after reading the paper in full, I find some of his arguments here convincing. In addition to what I wrote above... He directs us to Pliny, who states that in an expedition to India, Seleucus reached as far as Pataliputra. Now, the only expedition of Seleucus to India, after Alexander's death, was the one he took against Chandragupta. If he reached as far as Pataliputra, then it implies that he did cause some serious trouble to Chandragupta. So, right now, I don't find his theory too far fetched. I am not 100% in support of it, but I think it is something that may be considered...

Here is the quote from Pliny:

However, that we may come to a better understanding relative to the description of these regions, we will follow in the track of Alexander the Great. Diognetus and Bæton, whose duty it was to ascertain the distances and length of his expeditions, have written that from the Caspian Gates to Hecatompylon, the city of the Parthians, the distance is the number of miles which we have already12 stated; and that from thence to Alexandria,13 of the Arii, which city was founded by the same king, the distance is five hundred and seventy-five miles; from thence to Prophthasia,14 the city of the Drangæ, one hundred and ninety-nine; from thence to the city of the Arachosii,15 five hundred and sixty-five; from thence to Ortospanum,16 one hundred and seventy-five; and from thence to the city built by Alexander,17 fifty, miles. In some copies, however, the numbers are found differently stated; and we find this last city even placed at the very foot of Mount Caucasus! From this place to the river Cophes18 and Peucolaitis, a city of India, is two hundred and thirty-seven miles; from thence to the river Indus and the city of Taxilla19 sixty; from thence to the famous river Hydaspes20 one hundred and twenty; and from thence to the Hypasis,21a river no less famous, two hundred and ninety miles, and three hundred and ninety paces. This last was the extreme limit of the expedition of Alexander, though he crossed the river and dedicated certain altars22 on the opposite side. The dispatches written by order of that king fully agree with the distances above stated.

The remaining distances beyond the above point were ascertained on the expedition of Seleucus Nicator. They are, to the river Sydrus,23 one hundred and sixty-eight miles; to the river Jomanes, the same; some copies, however, add to this last distance five miles; thence to the Ganges, one hundred and twelve miles; to Rhodapha, five hundred and sixty-nine—though, according to some writers, this last distance is only three hundred and twenty-five miles; to the town of Calinipaxa,24 one hundred and sixty-seven, according to some, two hundred and sixty-five; thence to the confluence of the river Jomanes25and Ganges, six hundred and twenty-five; most writers, however, add thirteen miles to this last distance; thence to the city of Palibothra,26 four hundred and twenty-five—and thence to the mouth of the Ganges, six hundred and thirty-seven miles and a half.

Pliny the Elder, The Natural History, BOOK VI. AN ACCOUNT OF COUNTRIES, NATIONS, SEAS, TOWNS, HAVENS, MOUNTAINS, RIVERS, DISTANCES, AND PEOPLES WHO NOW EXIST, OR FORMERLY EXISTED., CHAP. 21.—THE NATIONS OF INDIA.
greek historians were known for cooking a lot of stuff up and the above texts doesnt indicate if seleucid actually defeated chandragupta, this would be in direct contradiction to other greek historians who mention otherwise, a vassal state doesnt get offered daughters for marriage, seleucid offered his daughter which means he was the one who got defeated and offered his daughter as a peace deal and not chandragupta.

regards
 
Oct 2012
3,315
Des Moines, Iowa
#5
this would be in direct contradiction to other greek historians who mention otherwise, a vassal state doesnt get offered daughters for marriage, seleucid offered his daughter which means he was the one who got defeated and offered his daughter as a peace deal and not chandragupta.
Which Greek source says that Seleucus offered his daughter to Chandragupta?
 
Mar 2019
1,535
KL
#6
The Indians occupy in part some of the countries situated along the Indus, which formerly belonged to the Persians: Alexander deprived the Ariani of them, and established there settlements of his own. But Seleucus Nicator gave them to Sandrocottus in consequence of a marriage contract (Epigamia, Greek: Ἐπιγαμία), and received in return five hundred elephants.— Strabo 15.2.1(9)[60]

Chandragupta Maurya - Wikipedia

so here it is clearly mentioned that in return for the marriage alliance he received war elephants, which means he received elephants in return for the marriage alliance.

regards
 
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Jun 2012
7,382
Malaysia
#7
That was my initial reaction when I skipped some pages and read the ultimate conclusion he arrives at. But after reading the paper in full, I find some of his arguments here convincing. In addition to what I wrote above... He directs us to Pliny, who states that in an expedition to India, Seleucus reached as far as Pataliputra. Now, the only expedition of Seleucus to India, after Alexander's death, was the one he took against Chandragupta. If he reached as far as Pataliputra, then it implies that he did cause some serious trouble to Chandragupta. So, right now, I don't find his theory too far fetched. I am not 100% in support of it, but I think it is something that may be considered...
We are contingent on the words of Pliny on that. He was a Greek scribe beholden to the Greek court. Him describing a Greek defeat could have meant his job. Or worse still, especially in that kind of time, his head. Maybe Seleucus did not even reach Pataliputra at all.

The Greeks - including Alexander himself - were not Kryptonians, they were Earth humans. They were mortal & beatable too. Especially when forced to fight against a sizeable elephant-backed army many thousands of miles away from Greece. It's not like they were the All Blacks playing against a schoolboy rugby team.

Heck. Maybe Alexander actually lost at Hydaspes too. Why not. Why is that impossible. Or else, why did his army mutiny on him & refuse to march further east against a much bigger army. There would have been plunder & loot beyond imagination to be won.

The Germans of WW2 reached Stalingrad. With all their tanks to boot, too. Big deal. Who won, eventually, them or the Russians?
 
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Likes: No Bias FTW
Apr 2018
1,562
Mythical land.
#8
Greek sources are clear on the fact that marriage did take place,and from indian sources its clear that it was daughter of selecus that was married to indian prince,so yeah maurya being vassal of selecids is far fetched nonsense at this point.

and add to that fact that nicator actually had to give up many areas under his control,this whole idea is not supported at all.
 
Oct 2012
3,315
Des Moines, Iowa
#9
The Indians occupy in part some of the countries situated along the Indus, which formerly belonged to the Persians: Alexander deprived the Ariani of them, and established there settlements of his own. But Seleucus Nicator gave them to Sandrocottus in consequence of a marriage contract (Epigamia, Greek: Ἐπιγαμία), and received in return five hundred elephants.— Strabo 15.2.1(9)[60]
I did not ask for a source about a marital alliance between Seleucids and Mauryas. Everyone is already agreed on that point, as Strabo and Appian explicitly mention it. I asked for a source for Seleucus offering his daughter to Chandragupta. In what source is that mentioned?


Greek sources are clear on the fact that marriage did take place,and from indian sources its clear that it was daughter of selecus that was married to indian prince
Which "Indian sources" mention the daughter of Selecus being married to an Indian prince?
 
#10
The sources really only suggest a post-war alliance, not vassalage. There is a marriage, Seleucus receives elephants and Chandragupta receives more land. Also, the Seleucids had enough trouble with Bactria-Sogdiana, Parthia, Asia Minor and Coele-Syria. To enforce a sustained vassalage on the Mauryas would have required security within the already unwieldy Seleucid Empire and numerous gargantuan campaigns.

As for Pliny, perhaps Seleucus really did reach that far, but it's also possible that geographers on his expedition were recording distances from a combination of personal data, information received from Indian guides and perhaps eventually their new Mauryan allies.
 
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