Story Of Vedic Civilisation

English: Queen_Kumaradevi_and_King_Chandragupt...
Queen_Kumaradevi_and_King Chandragupta I on a coin of their son Samudragupta

Historical Dates From Puranic Sources

Prof. Narayan Rao

Sheet Anchor Date

Professor Max Muller improved upon the work of Sir William Jones by trying to correlate the Indian history with Greek history. One ancient event the date of which is well known in the Christian era is the invasion of Alexander. However, there is no mention whatsoever of Alexander or anything connected with his invasion in any Purana or any other ancient Indian account including the Buddhist Chronicles.

Professor Max Muller then searched the Greek accounts and the narrations of the other classical European writers for the name of any Indian ruler who could be located. One such name is Sandrocottus. He is said to have succeeded Xandramese who was a contemporary of Alexander. Sir William Jones had suggested that Chandragupta of Mudra Rakshasa could be the Sandrocottus of Greek history. Professor Max Muller confirmed this identification. His main purpose was to arrive at a chronology acceptable to the intellectuals of the nineteenth century. In fact his motives and methods are best described in his own words. In his “History of Ancient

Sanskrit Literature (Allahabad Edition 1859 A.D)” Professor Max Muller writes as follows …

There is but one means through which history of India can be connected with that of Greece, and its chronology be reduced to its proper limits. Although we look in vain in the literature of the Brahmanas or Buddhists for any allusion to Alexander’s conquest, and although it is impossible to identify any of the historical events, related by Alexander’s companions, with the historical traditions of India, one name has fortunately been preserved by classical writers who describe the events immediately following Alexander’s conquest, to form a connecting link between the history of the East and the West. This is the name of Sandrocottus or Sandrocyptus, the Sanskrit Chandragupta.

“We learn from classical writers Justin, Arrian, Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, Quintus Curtius and Plutarch, that in Alexander’s time, there was on the Ganges a powerful king of the name of Xandramese, and that soon after Alexander’s invasion, a new empire was founded there by Sandrocottus who was succeeded by Sandrocyptus. These accounts of the classical writers contain a number of distinct statements which could leave very little doubt as to the king to whom they referred.

“Indian historians, it is true, are generally so vague and so much given to exaggeration, that their kings are all very much alike, either all black or all bright. But nevertheless, if there ever was such a king of the Prasii, a usurper, residing at Pataliputra, called Sandrocottus; it is hardly possible that he should not be recognized in the historical traditions of India. The name of Chandragupta and the resemblance of this name with the name of Sandrocottus was first, I believe, pointed out by Sir William Jones. Dr.Wilford, Professor Wilson and Professor Lassen have afterwards added further evidence in confirmation of Sir William Jone’s conjecture; and although other scholars and particularly M.Troyer, in his edition of the Rajatarangini, have raised objections, we shall see that the evidence in favor of the identity of Chandragupta and Sandrocyptus is such as to admit of no reasonable doubt.”

From this identification, the coronation of Mourya Chandragupta around the year 327 B.C. was taken as the sheet anchor date for Indian chronology. Though most of the modern scholars of Indian history do not know it all the dates of ancient Indian history have been arrived at by calculating backward and forward from this sheet anchor date. For example Lord Buddha (according to some of the Buddhist chronicles) was born nearly 340 years before the coronation of Mourya Chandragupta. Accordingly his year of birth was fixed as 567 B.C.

Errors In Dating

Later as more and more Puranic and Buddhist documents were discovered those which did not confirm to the aforesaid chronology were either ignored or stated to be unreliable. For example among the different documents on Lord Buddha the Ceylonese chronicles have been accepted as most reliable though those were written much later in the Christian era in Pali language. The orientalists who have continued the research after Professor Max Muller have only tried to add to the earlier chronology without questioning its validity. Certain observations about the sheet anchor date are given in Appendix II.

Having worked out a chronology acceptable to the Europeans, the indologists started looking for archeological and other evidence to confirm it and this they thought they found in plenty in the form of stone inscriptions attributed to emperor Ashoka (and some other kings such as Kharabela). Here it must be emphasized that the European indologists deserve all the credit for their efforts to work out a detailed history of ancient India. Their failure to arrive at the correct dates and details of the events was only due to the firm belief among the intellectuals of their time that the universe is less than 6000 years old. Unfortunately, in the process they have altered certain verses and otherwise mutilated the texts of the Puranas in their editions, such as Wilson’s Vishnu Purana, which are today most widely read.

The Christian missionaries have also been unintentionally guilty of such vandalism as they have often destroyed some of the manuscripts of Puranas which fell in their hands. They were doing so with the firm belief that by such destruction they are saving the posterity from these sin provoking documents. However, sufficient number of the different versions of the different Puranas is still available in the monasteries in India, as well as the libraries in Great Britain, Germany, America and other countries for a complete and correct chronology of Indian history to be worked out.

In calculating the dates from the Puranas the following procedure should be adopted to rectify the errors and discrepancies.

1. Proper distinction should be made between the Puranas and the other ancient texts. For example, Abhigyana Shakuntalam, Mudra Rakshasa, Raghu Vansa, Harsha Charita etc. are magnificent literary works and not historical documents.

2. In some Puranas the dates are given in more than one era. In such cases comparison should be made to detect any possible error. Possible grammatical errors as well as the consistency and continuity of the verses should be carefully checked.

3  The dates of events worked out from different Puranas should be tallied and compared with the dates worked out from astronomical data.

English: The iron pillar in the Qutb complex n...
The iron pillar in the Qutb complex near Delhi, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Journal : A Page From History

Source :

Chandragupta Maurya has been praised by Indian and foreign authors alike for bestowing prosperity upon his country. Thus, Visakhadatta, the author of the Mudrarakshasa, has treated him as a deity descended upon earth to restore peace in the country, then troubled by barbarians.

Among foreign writers the only one who has accused Chandragupta of tyranny is the Roman historian Justin. But his opinion is in contradiction with the earlier account of Megasthenes, who everywhere refers to the prosperity of the Indian people.

Chandragupta Maurya1

Chandragupta distinguished himself in many dimensions. He was the conqueror of a vast territory, the emancipator of his country, the capable administrator of a great empire, and the harbinger of peace to his people. Considered to be the first historical emperor of India, he was undoubtedly the mightiest ruler of his time and one of the most lustrous stars in the firmament of monarchy.

It is not easy to embark upon a comparison, but as it is one of the best ways of understanding a person, it would be worthwhile to compare Chandragupta with three of the world’s greatest kings : Alexander, Akbar and Napoleon.

Alexander the Great was undoubtedly a great conqueror. We are bound to be dazzled when we recall to mind his wide conquests in a brief space of time, for he died quite young. Yet the truth is that much of what Alexander accomplished had already been planned by his father, Philip, a man of uncommon ability. Alexander had found his field prepared by his father, and thus had little difficulty to face at the outset of his career. In the words of Mr. H. G. Wells ” the true hero of the history of Alexander is not so much Alexander as his father Philip/’

Moreover, the countries conquered by Alexander gained nothing by the change of masters. It may be argued that he had schemes of organisation which were frustrated by his early death. But this is hardly borne out by his career. His vanity was insuperable, and his purpose seems to have been to dazzle the world by his valour. His purpose accomplished, he literally drank himself to death.

Chandragupta, on the other hand, was a man of a different metal. As brave and couragous as Alexander himself, his sole purpose seems to have been to bring peace and honour to his country. He had no advantages of birth and was actually an exile at the outset of his career. He too was a young man when he came on the scene, but in a brief space of time he had not only conquered but thoroughly organized a vast empire, giving all the advantages of a good government to his people.

Akbar, the Moghul monarch, was indeed much like Chandragupta. He has often been compared with Asoka, but in many respects his genius was more aligned with that of Chandragupta. Like Chandragupta, he was a man of ‘blood and iron’. Like him again, he was a great conqueror and a great administrator. But it must be remembered that Akbar had inherited the resources needed for forming a great empire as against Chandragupta who struggled from poverty and exile to power.

The success of Akbar’s administration was more due to the personal qualities of his ministers than to his thorough organisation and even Dr. Vincent Smith has admitted that” Akbar’s machine of government never attained the standard of efficiency reached by the Mauryas eighteen or nineteen centuries before his time.”

Napoleon certainly was one of the most brilliant figures in history. He resembles Chandragupta in as much as he also rose by dint of merit, and not by virtue of his birth. In his early youth he dreamt of an independent Corsica, much as Chandragupta seems to have dreamt of the independence of his country. Later though, Napoleon intent coiled up around mere ambition for conquest, and he actually failed to maintain the consequent empire. In fact, his country gained nothing by his splendid exploits.

Chandragupta was thus, on the whole, an uncommon genius. He was the founder of the greatest Hindu dynasty, to which also belonged the most famous Buddhist and Jain monarchs.

*** * ***

Provision In Respect Of Slavery  in Arthashastra …

A Manual For Social, Political & Economic Administration

Author : Kautilya, Chandragupta’a Prime Minister

“In regard to slavery, Kautilya’s attitude stands apart as a glowing light of liberalism and humanity in a barbaric age. While his contemporary Aristotle was justifying slavery as a divine and a beneficient human institution not only sanctioned by nature, but justified by the circumstances of social existence, Kautilya denounced it and strove to abolish it, characterising it as a custom which could exist only among the savage Mlechchhas ( a term for Greeks in his time).

“He boldly enunciated that among Aryas (free-born) none should be unfree or enslaved. His definition of the Arya was not narrow. According to him, the Sudra was equally an Arya, along with members of the higher castes/’  Chanakya (as Kautilya, came to be known) was one of the pioneers to include the Sudra within the Aryan fold, and his motive must have been to strengthen Aryavarta, the country of Bharata.

“His view on other social matters are also generally liberal and commendable. He was, hence, not without admirers, for Kamandaka, the author of Nitisara, has praised him highly.”

* * *

According to Megasthenes, Greek King Seleukos Nikator’s ambassador in Chandragupta’s court, all Indians were free and not one of them was a slave. But in the light of Arthasastra, we have to modify this statement. As a matter of fact, slavery did exist but a perusal of Arthasastra makes it clear that it was so different from the slavery which prevailed in the west, that a Greek could hardly notice it.

It was forbidden to sell an Arya or freeman (including Sudra) into slavery except at the person’s own option and dire necessity.

“It is no crime/’ says Kautilya, “for Mlechchhas to sell or mortgage the life of their own offspring, but never shall an Arya be subjected to slavery/’ He then proceeds to say that if a man is enslaved for inevitable reasons, he should be soon redeemed.

“But in order to tide over family troubles, to find money for fines or court decrees, or to recover the (confiscated) household implements, if the life of an Arya is mortgaged, they (his kinsmen) shall as soon as possible redeem him (from bondage); and more so if he is a youth or an adult capable of giving help/’

Moreover, a slave in the west had no personal rights; his person was dead. In India, a dasa was little worse than a servant as long as he was not redeemed. His offsprings were free even during his period of bondage. A dasa could even earn independently if he had time from his master’s work, and could regain his Aryahood if his independent savings became equal to the value for which he was purchased.

If a man abused or caused hurt to his slave, or employed the latter to do an ignoble work, the slave became free. Thus it is clear that although there were dasas in India, the kind of slavery prevalent in the west was non-existent in India.

Chandragupta Maurya - Map