The discussion should not be whether Pandit Radhakantta created Ashoka for John Princep–the real question is whether John Princep created Ashoka for Pandit Radhakantta? John Princep wanted desperately to create schisms in South Asia society. One of the schisms was religious. He wanted to perpetuate British Raj.
There was much Hindu-Muslim Unity in the latter half of the 19th century and a united front would have thrown out the “farangis” foreigners from South Asia. The British– masters at deception began inculcating the Hindu elite by telling them that once the British leave, they would hand over the power to the Hindus. This was magic to the ears of a population that had not been in charge of South Asia ever. John Princep began his so called “research” and came up with a composite figure of “Ashoka” who had not been mentioned in any history book before. Ashoka’s name had not appeared in Greek texts on local South Asian narratives. In coming up with Ashoka, John Princep came up with the notion of the ephemeral “Akhand Bharat” a mythical kingdom that existed from Kabul to Raj Kilhani a mythical land east of Bali.
This “research” was music to the ears of Pandit Radhakantta–who along with others began crafting this version of history which did not exist before 1837. Unfortunately, this version of British manufactured history is taught in Bharat (aka India) and also in other countries of the world. Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, Ashoka has become an icon of Bharat. Gandgharan symbols have been adopted by the state organs, and Ashoka the mythical figure is the icon of the state machinery.
According to the Asokan myth, he debunked Hinduism in favor of Buddhism–a subtle message of John Princep to the Hindus, to convert to Christianity.
As investigative historians, many around the world are probing the nooks and crannies of historical archives. South Asian history is still being unraveled. Many knots are being solved. The cloak of Hindu scripture and British colonialist dogma has been lifted and the rays of sunshine are now displaying the true history of the land of the Indus and land of the Ganges.
“Ashoka” is a mythical figure (probably a composite figure) who did not exist before James Princep conjured him up.
Although he is a major historical figure, little definitive information was known as there were no available records of his reign until the 19th century.
They have used various languages in these stone edicts–Maghadi, Sanskrit, Prakrit, Aramaic , Greek–which suggests multiple authors. The edicts contain little personal detail about the life of Ashoka. The book published by the Central Institute of Indian Languages (http://www.ciil-ebooks.net/html/iie/five.htm) clearly specifies that Sanskrit was not one of the languages used by Ashoka. The language the so called Asokan edicts is Prakrit. One edict written entirely in Greek script and language and another edict written in Greek and Aramaic script and languages are found in Skandar in Afghanistan while a record in Aramaic script and language found in Taxila (now in Pakistan). Edicts found at Dhauli, Jaugad?a (both in Bihar) and Er-r-agudi (in Andhra Pradesh) are written in what is called the Magadha.
The edicts are found scattered in more than thirty places throughout India, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some edicts in Afghanistan are written in Aramaic and Greek. Only ten with inscriptions still survive. Each pillar was originally capped by a capital, sometimes a roaring lion, a noble bull or a spirited horse, and the few capitals that survive. Scholars are skeptical about attaching any meaning to the pillars because the edicts say nothing about the philosophical aspects of Buddhism and some even pre-date Buddhism.
All these can be dated by several means:
A careful study shows that most of the edicts refer to Devanampiya. Some think he is the same the same as Devadatta. The apologists then claim that Ashoka had to change his name to Devadatta as it was a hated name among the Buddhists. Some think he was known as or Diodotus. Others call him Payadasa. In the Nittur Edict he explicitly calls himself the king of Pathavi. Romila Thapar attempt to explain this away by suggesting that Pathavi corresponds to Prithvi, or the Earth, and that the statement only demonstrates royal vainglory. No original Buddhist texts have been unearthed from modern India. G. Tucci pointed out that even the Stupa is of west Asian origin. Similar views were held by A. Coomaraswamy. Ashoka’s history matches that of Diodotus-I almost line by line–and James Princep’s histriography probably used Diodotus-I as a model. Romila Thapar concludes that he was unknown in the West. Her categorical remark, Greek sources mention Sandrocottus and Amitrochates but do not mention Ashoka. (Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas, Oxford Univ. Press, p. 20.) The classical writers, Prof. Romila Thapar tells us, did not refer to Ashoka.
The find-spot of a relic is of great importance in the reconstruction of history but one of the many problems in Indian history is that pillars were frequently re-written and re-erected at different locations. Some of the Ashokan pillars are about thirty tons, it is not safe to assume that these were erected in their present locations. H.C. Raychaudhuri concluded that … it is not always safe to ascribe all epigraphs that make mention of Priyadarsana, irrespective of their contents, to Ashoka the Great.
Wheeler was amazed by the double-lion capitals at Persepolis but could not recognise that these could have been erected by Alexander. When the Sarnath pillar was first discovered it created a flutter of sensation on an international scale. Sir John Marshall wrote['Cambridge History of Ancient India', ed. E.J. Rapson, p.562.]. As Cumont noted, the lion was a symbol of ancient Lydia. Four lions also guarded the Meghazil tomb near Amrit. His lions were Greek-inspired.
The Sarnath capital, on the other hand, though by no means a masterpiece, is the product of the most developed art of which the world was cognisant in the third century B.C.
In Coryat’s time the script of the inscriptions in the pillar was undeciphered but today, thanks to Prinsep, we know that it contains an inscription of Ashoka; yet there is more to it than meets the eye. We know that many of Ashoka’s pillars were not erected by him.
After the mutiny at Hyphasis Alexander gave up his plans to march further east and to commemorate his presence in India erected twelve massive altars of dressed stone as a thanksgiving to the deities who had blessed his success. Arrian wrote,
He then divided the army into brigades, which he ordered to prepare twelve altars to equal in height the highest military towers, and to exceed them in point of breadth, to serve as thank offerings to the gods who had led him so far as a conqueror, and also as a memorial of his own labours. When the altars had been constructed, he offered sacrifice upon them with the customary rites, and celebrated a gymnastic and equestrian contest.
Surprisingly, although most of the writers place the altars on the right bank of the river, Pliny placed them on the left or the eastern bank. He wrote (vi, 21),
The Hyphasis was the limit of the marches of Alexander, who, however, crossed it, and dedicated altars on the further bank.
The senseless picture of Ashoka and the description of many anecdotes betray a callous attitude which should be denounced in the strongest terms. See http://en.wikipedia.org/Ashoka.
Ashoka’s edicts stopped appearing after 245 BC. The year of Ashoka’s death given by Thapar and others is 232 BC. Diodotus’ son, who was also a Diodotus, died in 232 BC.. Too much confusion.
The timeline for Ashoka is all wrong. New carbon dating evidence question the timeline of Buddha and Ashoka.
Traditionally, eastern Buddhists give the date of Buddha’s death as 949 B.C. (with variants including 878 B.C. and 686 B.C.), while northern Buddhists gave 881 B.C., and the southern Buddhists provide 543 B.C. as the correct year. More recent scholarship began to settle on the year 486 B.C. or even 368 B.C., so many textbooks usually fudge the issue and say he was born around 500 B.C. All methods rely on lists of kings and councils recorded in the Buddhist tradition itself, tied into known history through the Mauryan Emperors Candragupta and Asoka.
Three Brits arrive in South Asia in the 18th century–get some rudimentary knowledge of Pali and Sanskrit and within a few weeks of their arrival they conjure up “Ashoka” the greatest king that ever was!
For Hundreds of years no Bharati had ever mentioned Ashoka, nor written about him. All of a sudden three White men describe Ashoka and he now is represented on the Bharati flag, currency notes and what not.
A clear case of manufactured history—
In order for Ashoka to exist–there must be historical references to his rule–either by historians of his time or Greek invaders who intermingled with the society, and impacted South Asia dramatically. The Hellenic influences were the genesis of The Gandhara Civilization. Amazingly the Greek, great historians from the Homer days–never mention King Ashoka or any corruption of his name. Neither do any Bharati historians list Ashoka by name.
Historians are curious to find out where the connection between the mythical figure and Sir James Princep’s narrative. There is no record of a Lankan priest describing anything to the British linguist.
First Mr. Princep tried to pin Piyadasi on Buddha–then on other people. They finally settled on a new name which didn’t exist–Ashoka. Here is another excerpt which kind of uses the inscriptions to portray the territory. Of course it is a fact that all the inscriptions do not belong to a single date–they are all over the place–even in China and Korea.
For a while, Princep thought that the Devanampiya Piyadasi of the inscriptions was actually Devanampiya Tissa of Lanka – but he gave soon up the idea because there was no evidence of King Devanampiya Tissa having ruled those areas where the inscriptions were found. Of course soon after that, Prinsep and Turnour hit upon the correct identity of King Devanampiya Piyadasi in the inscriptions – Ashoka
Of course there is a huge anomaly in the inscriptions also. None of the inscriptions mentions Buddha or Buddhism.
However, if you read the actual wording of the pillars of Asoka (I highly encourage it, they are short reads), the Buddha is never mentioned. The only thing mentioned remotely Buddhist is the word dharma.
On pillar #11 “proper behavior towards servants and employees, respect for mother and father, generosity to friends, companions, relations, Brahmans and ascetics…”
Only Minor Edict 3 mentions the Buddha by name, and also the Sangha, and even presumes to advise on the specifics of Buddhist texts to be read! What can we say? It sticks out like a sore thumb from the rest of the edicts, and it is almost certainly a forgery much after the fact, not done by Asoka at all. It doesn’t even begin with the proper salutation “Beloved of the gods speaks thus: ” Am I the only person to look at this with any common sense? The translator even makes this point in the footnotes: “This edict was found inscribed on a small rock near the town of Bairat and is now housed at the Asiatic Society in Calcutta. Its date is not known.” (see http://www.cs.colostate.edu/~malaiya/ashoka.html for the translation and footnotes I am using.)
The Minor Pillar Edicts 1 and 2 are also so obviously, even in translation, of a different style and subject, it is a wonder how they were ever classified with the others. The translator admits in the footnotes concerning the 2nd minor pillar: “Allahabad version, date of issue not known.”
From the same website we see evidence that the pillar supposedly erected at the Buddha birth place has some problems of provenance: “As the centuries passed, both the language of the inscriptions and the sites themselves were lost. In the 14th-C Sultan Feroz Shah had two of the pillars transported to Delhi. Another was rediscovered and re-erected in 1896 in the Lumbini Garden, where it had first been erected in 254 BC, to mark the site of the birthplace of the Buddha.” Critical thinking indicates that something “rediscovered and re-erected in 1896″ is not the best historical source, and would tell us more about 1896 than what occurred 2000 years before.
Here is an excerpt that describes how Ashoka was transformed from ephemeral myth to some semblance of reality by three Britishers—who based their entire theory on two vague inscriptions–hardly “an overwhelming body of evidence”.
The first breakthrough came in 1834. According to Prinsep, “upon carefully comparing them [the Delhi, Allahabad and Lauriya Nandangarh inscriptions] with a view to finding any other words that might be common to them … I was led to a most important discovery; namely that all three inscriptions were identically the same … except for a few lines at the bottom which appear to bear a local import”. The next clue would come from the great Stupa at Sanchi near Bhopal. Prinsep had received drawings and copies of inscriptions found at Sanchi. These included some short inscriptions found on stone railings around the main shrine – it were these “apparently trivial fragments of rude writing [wrote Prinsep] that have led to even more important results than the other inscriptions.” What followed was described by Prinsep in June 1837.
“While arranging and lithographing the numerous scraps of facsimiles [from the Sanchi stone railings], I was struck by their all ending in the same two letters. Coupling their circumstance with their extreme brevity, which proved that they could not be fragments of a continuous text, it immediately occurred that they must record either obituary notices, or more probably the offerings and presents of votaries, as is known to be the present custom … ‘Of so and so the gift’ must then be the form of each brief sentence; … [this] led to the speedy recognition of the word danam (gift), teaching me the very two letters d and n, most different from known forms. …
My acquaintance with ancient alphabets had become so familiar that most of the remaining letters in the present examples could be named at once on re-inspection. In the course of a few minutes I became possessed of the whole alphabet, which I tested by applying it to the inscription on the Delhi column.” Thus was deciphered the earliest Brahmi script, now known to be the most ancient post-Indus-Valley Indian script and the precursor of all Indian scripts in use today. So what did the inscription on the Delhi Pillar reveal? Prinsep read the first line as:
Devanampiya Piyadasi laja evam aha
Now that these inscriptions could be read, they still had to be understood. Prinsep – a Sanskrit scholar himself – along with a distinguished pundit set about the task. The language turned out to be one of the Prakrit languages, vernacular derivations of classical Sanskrit, which made translation a little difficult. But in a few weeks the translation of the “Delhi no 1” was ready:
Thus spake King Devanampiya Piyadasi. In the twenty-seventh year of my annointment I have caused this religious edict to be published in writing, I acknowledge and confess the faults that have been cherished in my heart … Let stone pillars be prepared and let this edict of religion be engraven thereon, that it may endure into the remotest ages.
The question now was, who was this person Devanampiya Piyadasi? Prinsep initially thought it could be the Buddha himself, for, so far as scholars then knew, no single Indian monarch had ruled over such a vast territory as was covered by the pillars and rock inscriptions. This explanation, however, had soon to be given up because the inscriptions referred to ‘such and such year of my reign’, and the Buddha had never been a monarch. Unfortunately, wrote Prinsep, “in all the Hindu genealogical tables with which I am acquainted, no prince can be discovered possessing this very remarkable name”. The mystery was solved within a few short months, with information gleaned, not from archaeological sites in India, but from distant Sri Lanka. George Turnour, a member of the Ceylon Civil Service, had taken upon himself the task of translating Sri Lankan Buddhist texts in Pali into English – a rather daunting task, since “no dictionaries then existed … and no teacher could be found capable of rendering them into English”. Turnour persisted, however, and his work threw light not only on the history of Sri Lanka but also on the history of Buddhism in India. Around August 1837 while going through a major work of Pali Buddhist literature, the Dipowanso, he came across one passage, which read:
Two hundred and eighteen years after the beatitude of Buddha, was the inauguration of Piyadassi … who, the grandson of Chandragupta, and own son of Bindusara, was at that time viceroy at Ujjayani.
So finally, the mystery was solved. King Devanampiya Piyadasi was none other than Ashoka, already known from the Sanskrit king lists as a descendent of Chandragupta Maurya and, from Himalayan Buddhist sources, as a patron of early Buddhism. Now, his historicity was dramatically established. With the discovery of Ashoka as the righteous ruler of a vast empire, a glorious chapter in the history of India was thrown open. Of course, much work still remained to be done. More and more evidence would be found over the years confirming Ashoka as King Devanampiya Piyadasi – but it would not be until 1915 that the matter was settled beyond all doubt when a rock edict referring to Ashoka explicitly as “Ashoka” was found in Maski in Raichur district in Karnataka.
However much of the “evidence” has now been refuted through carbon dating.
that early date for the reign of the Emperor Kanishka has been overthrown by the carbon dating of ancient Buddhist writing, and is no longer tenable. So the middle 100’s A.D. is a more accurate timetable for those first Buddhist-inspired artifacts [from www.nzherald.co.nz/category/story.cfm?c_id=82&ObjectID=10371631].The oldest extant Buddhist writings we have are the so-called “Dead Sea Scrolls of Buddhism,” the Kharosti Scrolls. Currently housed at the British Library, these scrolls are 60 fragments of text written in the ancient Kharosti script on birch bark, and are the earliest known Buddhist writings. They were produced by monks in the Greco-Buddhist society around Gandhara (more on that later). They are dated as early as 130-250 A.D.
The Pali Canon, the mother of all Buddhist scriptures, is usually asserted be first-century B.C. in origin, reflecting hundreds of years of oral tradition. However, that claim is itself based on legend, and the manuscripts we have available are no older than the 18th or 19th centuries A.D., and “the textual traditions of the different Buddhist countries represented by these manuscripts show much evidence of interweaving” [www.palitext.com/subpages/lan_lite.htm]. The basic fact is, in the Pali Canon, there is a lack of historical dates or descriptions of the Buddha that would provide any historical context or clues. The Pali Canon mostly details teachings and rules for monks, not Buddha as a person.
Serious questions are being raised about the timeline of Buddha.
there was a Greek writer, Megasthenes, who lived for ten years, around 300 B.C., in the very heartland of where the Buddha had taught, and he makes no mention of Buddhism when describing the religious or social practices of India. There were also no sculptures or art that exist from B.C. that talk about Buddha.
New Delhi considers itself the successor state to Ashoka. This is the only figure that the bigots can find to justify the unity of the conglomeration of more than 570 states. The 80 year rule is considered the map of “Greater India.” The figure of Ashoka has a larger than life presence for the Hinduvata and New Delhi. Many extremist Hindus base their ideology on Ashoka and try to build a case that Ashoka’s empire should be resurrected as “Akhand Bharat“. Pakistani history is being hijacked by people outside the borders of Pakistan. Now scholars are questioning the existence of Ahoka and many others.
there is also little evidence for even assuming they were written B.C. It is a huge body of literature, with many obvious layers [“there are texts within the canon either attributed to specific monks or related to an event post-dating the time of the Buddha or that can be shown to have been composed after that time”
[from www.buddhacommunity.org/scriptures.htm]. Which passages are the oldest, when were they written? Very hard to say. [Read some of the mind-numbing discussion of the issues related to dating the Pali Canon here. See a nice basic overview summary of the Canon here and a more in-depth summary, here.]
Another basic problem is that if the lists of kings and masters are not accurate, then the chronology is totally thrown off. The variability of the chronologies accounts for the wide range in dates used traditionally by the various Buddhist schools. In fact, it is not until the time of the commentaries of Buddhaghosa, Dhammapala, and others — that is to say, the fifth to sixth centuries A.D. — that we can know anything definite about the actual contents of this canon, according to the leading expert in Pali Canon studies, Dr. Gregory Schopen. http://religionnewsblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/historicity-of-buddha-lack-of-evidence.html
For centuries historians have been trying to establish the chronology of early “India”. The question of whether Chandragupta can be identified with the figure known in Western texts as Sandrokottas is an important element in fixing the chronology. The philologist William Jones began the systematic study of the chronology in the late 18th century. His work and that of his contemporaries are still highly regarded. However, even William Jones could not believe in the antiquity of the Bharata War since…
Very little is known about the entire Maurya dynasty. For example little is known about Chandragupta’s youth. Much of what is known about his youth is gathered from later classical Sanskrit literature, as well as classical Greek and Latin sources which refer to Chandragupta by the names “Sandracottos” or “Andracottus”. He was paragon for next rulers.
Dr. Naveed Tajammal has written some fascinating articles on Ashoka. He claims that Ashoka never existed and is simply a figment of the imagination of the Hinduvata who needed a figure to justify the myth that India belonged to the Hindus and on one else.
As, per the records submitted to Sir William Jones, acclaimed as father of Indianology by Pandit Radhakantta of Calcutta.in 1770-1780, a period when world chronology was redefined,the term
It is a fact that the name Ashoka did not exist in the chronologies of historians before the British Indianologist started talking to the religious figures of the Hinduvata. Is it possible that Ashoka might have been a composite figure made out of many kings and his stature embellished with the passage of time.
Dr. Naveed Tajammal, an American educated and trained scholar claims that:
- Mother India or Bharat Mata is a figment of the fertile Brahman mind. Historically, such a state never existed in the annals of history. Even the very term,”ASHOKA” is a post -1837, creation. It is a term coined by a James Princep an English man!
- Per the records submitted to Sir William Jones, acclaimed as father of Indianology by Pandit Radhakantta of Calcutta. Before 1770-1780, a period when world chronology was redefined, the term ‘ASHOKA’ does not EXIST.
- (R?dh?k?nta Tarkav?g??a, a pandit of Bengal who toward the end of his career became involved with the British, first with Warren Hastings and then Sir William Jones. Through his career one can see how for many pandits living at the close of the eighteenth century service to British courts had become a way of life. http://www.jstor.org/pss/604088),
- Researching ancient Subcontinental, Greek and Chinese narratives, we find no record of Ashoka or many of the kings attributed to be alive at the time.
- Nehru wanted a creation of a Mahabharata inclusive of Afghanistan, from Oxus to Burma, down to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) inclusive of Tibet.
- (Dubious Foundations of Historical records:Calcutta’s intellectual life received a great boost in 1784 with the foundation of the Asiatic Society of Bengal by Sir William Jones, with the encouragement of Warren Hastings, himself no mean Oriental scholar. Jones worked closely with the pandits of the Kalighat Temple, together with the local ulema, in translating and producing new editions of rare and forgotten texts. His study of Sanskrit with Pandit Ramlochan at Nadiya led him to posit the existence of the Indo-European family of languages. Many distinguished scholars, English and Bengali,such as Henry Thomas Colebrooke, James Prinsep and Pandit Radhakanta Sarman would grace the Society’s meetings and publications over the following century, vastly enriching knowledge of India’s culture and past.)
- In the Greek accounts, we find the statements of the Greek and Roman writers belonging to the period from 4th century BC to 2nd century AD None of them have mentioned the names of Kautilya or Asoka.
- Per the records submitted to Sir william jones, acclaimed as father of Indianology, (he should be declared an indian for how he distorted our past) by pandit Radhakantta (R?dh?k?nta Tarkav?g??a, a pandit of Bengal who toward the end of his career became involved with the British, first with Warren Hastings and then Sir William Jones.
- Through his career one can see how for many pandits living at the close of the eighteenth century provided services to British courts. This had become a way of life. http://www.jstor.org/pss/604088), of callcutta.in 1770-1780–a period when world chornology was redefined,the term ‘ASHOKA’ does NOT exit.
- Dr. Ahmed Hassan Dani has agreed on this point (Journal of Central Asia.vol.20, July 1997. page 193.). Chandragupta Maurya’s rise to power is shrouded in mystery and controversy. On the one hand, a number of ancient Indian accounts, such as the drama Mudrarakshasa (Poem of Rakshasa - Rakshasa was the prime minister of Magadha) by Visakhadatta, describe his royal ancestry and even link him with the Nanda family. A Kshatriya tribe known as the Maurya’s are referred to in the earliest Buddhist texts, Mahaparinibbana Sutta. However, any conclusions are hard to make without further historical evidence. Chandragupta first emerges in Greek accounts as “Sandrokottos“…
The Indologists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were reluctant to believe in the veracity of Indian history books or to accept the antiquity of Indian history. Arthur A. McDonnell
Early India wrote no history because it never made any. The ancient Indians never went through a struggle for life like the Greeks, the Persians and the Romans. Secondly, the Brahmans early embraced the doctrine that all action and existence are a positive evil and could therefore have felt but little inclination to chronicle historical events.
Later scholars took this identity of Sandrokottas with Chandragupta Maurya as proven and carried on further research. James Princep, an employee of the East India Company, deciphered the Brahmi script and was supposedly able to read the inscriptions of Piyadassana. Turnour, another employee of the Company in Ceylon, found in the Ceylonese chronicles that Piyadassana was used as a surname of Asoka, the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya. The inscription bearing the name of Asoka was not found till the time of Turnour. In 1838, Princep found five names of the Yona kings in Asoka’s inscriptions and identified them as the five Greek kings near Greece of the third century BC who were contemporary with Asoka
Almost all of the Ancient Greek works was lost because of the incidents like fire in the library of Alexandria and just because the mode of storing the knowledge was perishable. This is in stark contrast with much of ancient Indian work, which was in Sanskrit and had to memorized from one generation to the next. There was no contradiction in the works from different parts of the country. The works attributed to Strabo, etc. are translations from the later work in Arabic and hence a lot got mixed into the actual facts. To analyze linguistically based on that is more than a stretch.
According to the Greek accounts, Xandrammes was deposed by Sandrokottas and Sandrocyptus was the son of Sandrokottas. In the case of Chandragupta Maurya, he had opposed Dhanananda of the Nanda dynasty and the name of his son was Bindusara. Both these names, Dhanananda and Bindusara, have no phonetic similarity with the names Xandrammes and Sandrocyptus of the Greek accounts.
In the Greek accounts, we find the statements of the Greek and Roman writers belonging to the period from 4th century BC to 2nd century AD None of them have mentioned the names of Kautilya or Asoka. Kautilya’s work on polity is an important document of India’s mastery on this subject. It was with his assistance that Chandragupta had come to the throne. Asoka’s empire was bigger than that of Chandragupta and he had sent missionaries to the so-called Yavana countries. But both of them are not mentioned. Colebrook has pointed out that the Greek writers did not say anything about the Buddhist Bhikkus though that was the flourishing religion of that time with the royal patronage of Asoka. Roychaudhari also wonders why the Greek accounts are silent on Buddhism
Nanda Dynasty affiliation
Some Indian literary traditions connect him with the Nanda Dynasty of Magadha in eastern India. The Sanskrit drama Mudrarakashasa not only calls him Mauryaputra (Act II) but also a Nandanvaya (Act IV). Dhundiraja, a commentator of 18th century on Mudrarakshas states that Chandragupta was son of Maurya who in turn, was son of the Nanda king Sarvarthasiddhi by a wife named Mura, daughter of a Vrishala (shudra). Mudrarakshas especially uses terms like kula-hina and Vrishala for Chandragupta’s lineage. This reinforces Justin’s contention that Chandragupta had a humble origin. On the other hand, the same play describes the Nandas as of Prathita-kula i.e illustrious lineage. The commentator on the Vishnu Purana informs us that Chandragupta was son of a Nanda prince and a dasi (Hindi:maid), Mura. Pandit Kshmendra and Somadeva call him Purvananda-suta, son of genuine Nanda as opposed to Yoga-Nanda i.e pseudo Nanda.
Other literary traditions imply that Chandragupta was raised by peacock-tamers (Sanskrit: Mayura-Poshakha), which earned him the Maurya epithet. Both the Buddhist as well as Jaina traditions testify to the supposed connection between the Moriya (Maurya) and Mora or Mayura (Peacock). While the Buddhist tradition describes him as the son of the chief of the Peacock clan (Moriya), the Jaina tradition on the other hand, refers to him as the maternal grandson of the headman of the village of peacock tamers (Moraposaga). This view suggests a degraded background of Chandragupta. (The same Jain tradition also describes Nanda as the son of a barber by a courtesan).
According to some scholars, there are some monumental evidence connecting the Mauryas with peacocks. The pillar of Ashoka in Nandangarh bears on its bottom the figures of a peacock which is repeated in many sculptures of Ashoka at Sanchi. According to Turnour, Buddhist tradition also testifies to the connection between Moriya and Mora or Mayura or peacock. Aelian informs us that tame peacocks were kept in the parks of the Maurya palace at Pataliputra. But scholars like Foucher do not regard these birds as a sort of canting badge for the dynasty of Mauryas. They prefer to imagine in them a possible allusion to the Mora Jataka. Moreover, besides the peacocks, there were also other birds like pheasants, parrots as well as a variety of fishes etc also kept in the parks and water pools of the Mauryas.
Moriya clan view
Silver punch mark coin of the Mauryan empire, with symbols of wheel and elephant. 3rd century BCE.
Yet there are other literary traditions according to which Chandragupta belonged to Moriyas, a Kshatriya (warrior) clan of a little ancient republic of Pippalivana located between Rummindei in the Nepalese Tarai and Kasia in the Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh. Tradition suggests that this clan was reduced to great straights in the 4th century BCE under Magadhan rule, and young Chandragupta grew up among the peacock-tamers, herdsmen and hunters.
The Buddhist text of the Mahavamsa calls Chandragupta a scion of the Khattya (Kshatriya) clan named Moriya (Maurya). Divyavadana calls Bindusara, son of Chandragupta, an anointed Kshatriya, Kshatriya Murdhabhishikata, and in the same work, king Ashoka, son of Bindusara, is also styled a Kshatriya. The Mahaparinnibhana Sutta of the Buddhist canon states that the Moriyas (Mauryas) belonged to the Kshatriya community of Pippalivana. These traditions, at least, indicate that Chandragupta may have come from a Kshatriya lineage.
The Mahavamshatika connects him with the Sakya clan of the Buddha, a clan which also claimed to belong to the race of Aditya i.e solar race.
A medieval age inscription represents the Maurya clan as belonging to the solar race of Kshatriyas. It is stated that the Maurya line sprang from Suryavamsi Mandhatri, son of prince Yuvanashva of the solar race. 
Alternate views on Maurya origin
As it can be noticed from above, there is no concrete evidence on Chandragupta’s origin and all the above referred to theories are quite divergent. Therefore, additional views have been proposed by an alternative school of scholars.
North-western origin view
There is school of scholars like B.M. Barua, Dr J.W. McCrindle, Dr D.B. Spooner, Dr H.C. Seth, Dr Hari Ram Gupta, Dr Ranajit Pal and others who connect Chandragupta (Sandrokottos) to the north-western frontiers.
B.M. Barua calls him a man of Uttarapatha or Gandhara if not exactly of Taksashila.
Based on Plutarch’s evidence, Dr J.W. McCrindle and Dr H. R. Gupta write that Chandragupta Maurya was a Punjabi and belonged to the Ashvaka (Assakenoi) territory.
Appian of Alexandria (95CE-165CE), author of a Roman History attests that ‘Antrokottos (Chandragupta), the king of the Indians, dwelt on river Indus’. This reference also seems to indicate that Chandragupta belonged to north-west rather than East India.
These scholars relate Sandrocottos (or Androcottos) with Sisicottos of the Classical writings. Sisicottos was the ruler of Paropamisos (Hindukush) who had helped Bessus of Bactria against Alexander but later co-operated with the latter throughout the Sogdian campaigns. During Alexander’s campaign of Kabol and Swat valleys, prince Sisicottos had rendered great service to Alexander in reducing several principalities of the Ashvakas. During war of rock-fort of Aornos, where Alexander faced stiff resistance from the tribals, Sisicottos was put in command of this fort of great strategical importance. Arrian calls Sisicottos the governor of Assakenois. It is however not quite clear if this Sisicottos was same as Sandrocottos or if they were brothers or else they were related in someway. Dr J. W. McCrindle and Dr H. R. Gupta think that they both possibly belonged two different branches of the Ashvakas. Meri was probably another political centre of the Mor or Meros people. It is asserted by scholars of this school that the name Moriya or Maurya comes from the Mor (Modern name Koh-i-Mor i.e Mor hill—the ancient Meros of the classical writings) located in the Paropamisadae region between river Kunar and Swat in the land of Ashvakas (q.v.). It is pointed out that since Chandragupta Maurya belonged to Mor (Meros of classical writings) hence he was called Moriya or Maurya after his motherland.
It is notable that Adiparva of Mahabharata (verses 1/67/13-14) also seem to connect Maurya Ashoka with the Ashvakas.
Dr Spooner observes: “After Alexander’s death, when Chandragupta marched on Magadha, it was with largely the Persian army (Shaka-Yavana-Kamboja-Parasika-Bahlika) that he won the throne of India. The testimony of the Mudrarakshasa is explicit on this point, and we have no reason to doubt its accuracy in matter of this kind“. Thus, Dr Spooner’s comments also point to the north-western origin of the Mauryas.
It is however interesting to see that the scholars also identify the Ashvakas as a branch of the Kambojas. They were so-called since they were specialised in horse-profession and their services as cavalrymen were frequently requisitioned in ancient wars.
Calcutta’s intellectual life received a great boost in 1784 with the foundation of the Asiatic Society of Bengal by Sir William Jones, with the encouragement of Warren Hastings, himself no mean Oriental scholar. Jones worked closely with the pandits of the Kalighat Temple, together with the local ulema, in translating and producing new editions of rare and forgotten texts. His study of Sanskrit with Pandit Ramlochan at Nadiya led him to posit the existence of the Indo-European family of languages. Many distinguished scholars, English and Bengali,such as Henry Thomas Colebrooke, James Prinsep and Pandit Radhakanta Sarman would grace the Society’s meetings and publications over the following century, vastly enriching knowledge of India’s culture and past
Scythian origin view
A Jat writer B.S.Dehiya published a paper titled The Mauryas: Their Identity in 1979 and a book titled Jats the Ancient rulers in 1982, wherein he concludes that the Mauryas were the Muras or rather Mors and were jatt of Scythian or Indo-Scythian origin. It is claimed that the Jatts still have Maur or Maud as one of their clan name.
The Rajputana Gazetteer describes the Moris (Mauryas?) as a Rajput clan.
Fa-Hsien visited South Asia hundreds of years after the so called existence of a conjured up entity called “Ashoka”. The non-entity was supposedly born in 304 BC and supposedly died in 232 BC, about six hundred years before the arrival of Fa-Hsien.
Fa-Hsien of his Travels in India and Ceylon (A.D. 399-414) does not contain the world “Ashoka”. It is pedagogical to note that When —Dr. Eitel’s “Handbook for the Student of Chinese Buddhism” appeared in 1870–
Any research done post Princep begins to count on the disinformation created by James Princep. What is needed is work on “Ashoka” during the 300BC era–and that does not exist. Tons of work on Alexander and all the kinds he interacted with or did not interact with–and no mention of “Ashoka” in any contemporary writing. What gives?
It is true that the Greeks did not mention America–they did not know about it. However Greeks were present in South Asia at the time. In fact there were Greeks present in the areas supposedly ruled by “Ashoka”–even present in the city of his supposed birth—and no one noticed “Ashoka” either as a young man or a King. Why? because he did not exist and was in fact conjured by up Pandit Randhakantta and Sir James Princep. They did it for political reasons.
Another expert in the area is Dr. Naveed Tajammal. He is an encyclopedia on the subject.
This is a colossal ommision. None of the Greek authors mention “Ashoka”:
- Xenophon, Greek general, historian and essayist (c. 430 BC – after 357 BC)
- Plato (originally Aristocles}, Greek philosopher (c. 427 BC – 347 BC)
- Aristippus, Greek philosopher and founder of the Cyrenaic school (425? BC – 366? BC)
- Ezra (Esdras), Hebrew scribe and priest (5th century BC)
- Brennus, Celtic leader of the Senonian Gauls (fl. 390 BC)
- Iphicrates, Athenian general (419 BC – 348 BC)
- Diogenes (“The Cynic”), Greek philosopher (412 BC – 323 BC)
- Phocion, Athenian general and patriot (402? BC – 317 BC)
- Anaxandrides, Greek comic poet (fl. 370 BC)
- Scopas, Greek sculptor and architect (400 BC – 320 BC)
- Antipater, Macedonian general and statesman (398? BC – 319 BC)
- Xenocrates, Greek philosopher (396 BC – 314 BC) -
- Dionysius the Younger, Syracusan tyrant (c. 367 BC – 356 BC)
- Antiphanes of Macedonia, Greek comic poet (fl. 360 BC)
- Aeschines, Greek statesman and orator (389 BC – 314 BC)
- Aristotle, Greek philosopher (384 BC – 322 BC)
- Antigonus I (“The Cyclops”) (Antigonius), Phrygian ruler and one of Alexander’s generals (382? BC – 301 BC)
- Demosthenes, Greek orator and statesman (382 BC – 322 BC)
- Philip of Macedon, Macedonian king, father of Alexander the Great (382 BC – 336 BC)
- Archidamus III, Greek king of Sparta (fl. 350 BC)
- Demades, Greek orator and politician (fl. 350 BC)
- Phryne, Athenian courtesan (fl. 350 BC)
- Tachos, Egyptian king (c. 350 BC)
- Pyrrho, Greek philosopher and skeptic (c. 376 BC – 270 BC)
- Demodocus, Greek epigrammatist (4th century BC)
- Mencius, Chinese philosopher (371 BC – 289 BC)
- Theodorus of Cyrene, Greek philosopher (fl. 340 BC)
- Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi), Chinese philosopher (369 BC – 286 BC)
- Parmenio, Macedonian general under Alexander (fl. 335 BC)
- Archestratus, Greek naturalistic poet (fl. 330 BC)
- Philemon, Greek poet of new comedy (360? BC – 262? BC)
- Pytheas, Greek mariner of Marseilles (c. 330 BC)
- Alexander, the Great, Macedonian general and ruler (356 BC – 323 BC)
- Apelles, Greek painter (fl. 325 BC)
- Cercidas of Crete, Greek epigrammatist (c. 325 BC)
- Menedemus, Greek philosopher (350 BC? – 276 BC?)
- Appius Caecus Claudius (“The Censor”), Roman censor, dictator and poet, started building of Appian Way (fl. 312 BC)
- Epicurus, Greek philosopher (341 BC – 271 BC)
- Menander, Greek dramatic poet (c. 341 BC – c. 293 BC)
- Qu Yuan, Chinese poet and patriot (340 BC – 278 BC)
- Amphis, Greek playwright (4th century BC)
- Bion of Smyrna, Greek popular philosopher and poet (c. 325 BC – c. 255 BC)
- Euclid, Greek geometer (c. 323 BC – 283 BC)
- Pyrrhus, Epirus king (318? BC – 272 BC)
- Arcesilaus, Greek philosopher (c. 316 BC – c. 241 BC)
- Appius Claudius Caecus, Roman orator (c. 312 BC – 278 BC)
- Callimachus, Greek poet and grammarian (310 BC – 240 BC)
Peter Turchin, Jonathan M. Adams, and Thomas D. Hall. East-West Orientation of Historical Empires. University of Connecticut, November 2004.
Roger Boesche (2003). “Kautilya’s Arthashastra on War and Diplomacy in Ancient India”, The Journal of Military History 67 (p. 12).
Colin McEvedy and Richard Jones (1978), “Atlas of World Population History”, Facts on File (p. 342-351). New York.
Hindu Books Universe – Content
Strabo II,I, 9
“He (Seleucus) next made an expedition into India, which, after the death of Alexander, had shaken, as it were, the yoke of servitude from its neck, and put his governors to death. The author of this liberation was Sandrocottus, who afterwards, however, turned their semblance of liberty into slavery; for, making himself king, he oppressed the people whom he had delivered from a foreign power, with a cruel tyranny. This man was of mean origin, but was stimulated to aspire to regal power by supernatural encouragement; for, having offended Alexander by his boldness of speech, and orders being given to kill him, he saved himself by swiftness of foot; and while he was lying asleep, after his fatigue, a lion of great size having come up to him, licked off with his tongue the sweat that was running from him, and after gently waking him, left him. Being first prompted by this prodigy to conceive hopes of royal dignity, he drew together a band of robbers, and solicited the Indians to support his new sovereignty. Some time after, as he was going to war with the generals of Alexander, a wild elephant of great bulk presented itself before him of its own accord, and, as if tamed down to gentleness, took him on its back, and became his guide in the war, and conspicuous in fields of battle. Sandrocottus, having thus acquired a throne, was in possession of India” (Justin “Epitome of the Philippic History” XV-4)
There is however, a controversy about Justin’s above mentioned account. Justin actually refers to a name Nandrum, which many scholars believe is reference to Nanda (Dhana Nanda of Magadha), while others say that it refers to Alexandrum, i.e. Alexender. It makes some difference which version one believes
- Parisishtaparvan, p 56, VIII239f
- A Guide to Sanchi, pp 44, 62, Sir Johmn Marshal.
- Mahavamsa (Mahawamsa), xxxix f.
- Monuments of Sanchi, 231.
- Edited by Cowel and Neil., p 370
- Mahaparinnibhana Sutta, page 409
- also Avadanakalpalata, No 59.
- Epigraphia Indica, II, 222.
- For prince Mandhatri, son of prince Yuvanashva, please refer to Mahabharata 7/62/1-10
‘To me Candragupta was a man of the Uttarapatha or Gandhara if not exactly of Taksashila’ (Indian Culture, vol. X, p. 34, B. M. Barua).
Invasion of India by Alexander the great, p. 405. Plutarch attests that Androcottos had seen Alexander when he (Androcottos) was a lad and afterwards he used to declare that Alexander might easily have conquered the whole country (India); Was Chandragupta Maurya a Punjabi? Article in Punjab History Conference, Second Session, Oct 28-30, 1966, Punjabi University Patiala, p 32-35
Appian (XI, 55). Some historians state that he belonged to Kunar and Swat valleys. See: The Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, pp 150-51, Kirpal Singh.
Arrian. iv, 30. 4.
Invasion of Alexander, 2nd Ed, p 112, Dr J. W. McCrindle; Op cit., p 33, Dr H. R. Gupta; Dr McCrindle further writes that modern Afghanistan was the ancient Kamboja and that the name Afghanistan is evidently derived from the Ashvakas or Assakenois of Arrian See: Megasthenes and Arrian, p 180; Alexander’s Invasion of India, p 38; Dr J. C. Vidyalankar identifies Sisicottos as a Kamboja ruler: See Itihaas Parvesh, pp 133-34, Dr J. C. Vidyalankar; Kamboj Itihaas, 1973, p 58-59, H. S. Thind.
Op. cit., pp 32-35, Dr H. C. Gupta; Also: The Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, pp 149-154.
Tribune writes: “Most historians are of the view that Chandragupta Maurya belonged to Bihar, and that he called himself Maurya because his mother was the keeper of royal peacocks (mor) at Pataliputra. He came to Punjab and conquered it. Afterwards, with the help of the Punjab army he seized the Nanda empire. However, there are reasons to believe that Chandragupta belonged to the Kshatriya caste of the ruling Ashvaka tribe of the Koh-i-Mor territory. He called himself Maurya after his homeland” (Ref: Article in Sunday Tribune, January 10, 1999 They taught lessons to kings, Gur Rattan Pal Singh; Also cf: Was Chandragupta Maurya a Punjabi?, Punjab History Conference, Second Session, Oct 28-30, 1966, Punjabi University Patiala, p 33, Dr H. R. Gupta)
yastvashva iti vikhyAtaH shrImAnAsInmahAsuraH |. Ashoko nAma rAjAsInmahAvIryaparAkramaH. ||14|| tasmAdavarajo yastu rAjannashvapatiH smR^itaH |. daiteyaH so.abhavadrAjA hArdikyo manujarShabhaH ||15.|| ( See English Translation): “That great Asura who was known as Aswa became on earth the monarch Asoka of exceeding energy and invincible in battle.”
op cit., (Part II), p.416-17, Dr D. B. Spooner
Vishveshvaranand Indological Journal, Vol. 17 (1979), p.112-133.
Jats the Ancient rulers, Dahinam Publishers, Sonipat, Haryana, by B. S. Dahiya I.R.S.
This view may become creditable only if it is accepted that the Jatts evolved from the Madras, Kekayas, Yonas, Kambojas and the Gandharas of the north-west borderlands of ancient Indian sub-continent. This is because king Ashoka’s own Inscriptions refer only to the Yonas, Kambojas and the Gandharas as the most important people of his north-west frontiers during third century BCE. They do not make any reference whatsoever, to the Sakas, Shakas or the Scythians. See: Rock Edict No 5  and Rock Edict No 13  ( Shahbazgarhi version).
II A, the Mewar Residency by Major K. D. Erskine, p 14.
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