who were the Indo-Greeks
Mauryan emperor Chandragupta Maurya had taken control of the boundaries of his empire over the northwestern regions and Afghanistan. He expanded this border by defeating the Greek ruler Seleucus. By this victory, friendly relations were established between the Greeks and the Indians, these relations continued till 305-206 BC. But after Emperor Ashoka, due to weak successors, attacks on India started again from the north-west. The Yavana rulers of Balkh (Bactria) were the first to come among these foreign invaders. He conquered some territories of India. These Indo-Yavan kings are called Hind-Yavans (Hind-Greek) or Bakhtri-Yavans (Bactrian-Greek).
Sources for knowing the history of Indo-Greek rulers
As a source for knowing the history of the Indo-Yavan rulers, we use them as a source, along with their sporadic mentions in Indian texts – the descriptions of Roman classical writers, the writings of the Yavana rulers, and the majority of their postures. Is.
The mention of the Yavana caste is found in the Mahabharata.
Information about the Indo-Yavan ruler Menander is obtained from the Buddhist scholar Nagasen’s ‘Milindapanho’.
In classical writers, we get information about Indo-Yavan rulers from the description of Strabo, Justin, Plutarch, etc.
Coins and inscriptions of Indo-Greek rulers
There are many such articles and coins in abundance, in which important information is obtained about the Indo-Yavan rulers.
The majority of the coins of the Indo-Yavan rulers have been obtained from different places in western, north western and central India.
“Gold coins were first introduced in the North-West by the Yavana rulers.”
|Coins and inscriptions of Indo-Greek rulers|
history of Yawns
There were two important parts of Seleucus’ empire – Parthia and Bactria.
Both parts remained the Seleucid Empire until the time of Seleucus’ successor, Antiochus I (281–261 BC).
The two territories became independent around 250 BC during the reign of Antiochus II (261–246) BC.
- Arsex was the one who liberated Parthia.
- Diodotus was the one who liberated Bactria.
The founder of the independent Greek kingdom of Bactria was Diodotus. He was a powerful ruler. After the death of Diodotus, Euthydemus an ambitious man seized power by killing his minor son.
Euthydemus – Seleucus dynasty Antiochus Tritiya fought with Euthidemus but failed, eventually the two got into a treaty and Antiochus accepted Euthydemus as the ruler of Bactria and married his daughter to him.
After this, Antiochus attacked the Indian ruler Sophagsenus (Subhagsen) through the route of Kabul by doing Hindukush. Subhagasena (a successor of Ashoka) accepted the submission and gifted 500 elephants.
Euthidemus’s empire was confined to the Hindukush. There is no mention of Euthidemus’s invasion of India. Probably the powerful son Demotrius started the attack on India.
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Demetrius – After the death of Euthydemus around 190 BC, his son Demetrius became the ruler of the Yavana kingdom of Bactria. He was an ambitious ruler and with a huge army he conquered Punjab by crossing the Hindukush hills.
This attack probably happened during the time of Pushyamitra Shunga. (First Yavana Invasion).
Demetrius captured western Punjab and the lower Indus valley. His copper coins have been found from these regions. ‘Timitra’ is inscribed on these mudras. These articles are written in Unani and Kharoshthi script.
At the time when Eucratides was conquering India, Eucratides usurped his kingdom. Eucratides made himself the ruler of 1000 cities. Justin has mentioned his Indian conquests. His coins have been found in western Punjab. Inscriptions are found in his Greek and Kharoshthi script.
As a result of the Indian conquests of Eucratide, two Yavana kingdoms were established in northwestern India.
(1) The kingdom of Eucratides and his descendants – It extended from Bactria to the Jhelum river and its capital was Taxila.
(2) The kingdom of the descendants of Euthidemus – It extended from Jhelum to Mathura and Shakal (Sialkot) was its capital.
Justin’s description suggests that Eucrates was murdered by his son, Heliocles. The Yavana rule ended in Bactria around 125 BC and the rule of the Shakas was established there. Heliocles returned to his kingdom in the Kabul valley and the Indus.
Menander was the most powerful and famous ruler among the Indo-Greek rulers. Menander was a great ruler, Strabo, Justin Plutarch etc. have given details about him. Menander’s empire extended from Jhelum to Mathura.
Menander’s capital was Shakal (Sialkot). Menander’s coins are found up to Gujarat, Kathiawar, and western Uttar Pradesh. Dharmachakra is found on his coins. He was a follower of Buddhism.
Menander had built many stupas, which has been described by Ksemendra in ‘Avadankalpalata’.
Milindapanho (Milinda-prasna) – In this book, the great Buddhist monk Nagasena answers many esoteric philosophical questions of King Milinda and eventually he embraces Buddhism under their influence. After becoming a Buddhist, Menander handed over his kingdom to his son and became a monk. According to Milindapanho, Menander was born in Kalsigram on the island of Alsand (Alexandria near Kabul). After the death of Menander, many stupas were built on his ashes.
Descendants of Eucratide – After the fall of Euthydemus dynasty, the descendants of Eucratide became powerful. The names of two kings of this dynasty are known who made this dynasty powerful. Antialkidus and Hermes. Antialkidus was the ruler of Taxila who sent his ambassador Heliodorus to the court of the Sunga king Bhagmadra in Vidisha. It is mentioned in the Garuda pillar-inscription of Besnagar.
Hermes was the last Hindu ruler of Eucratide’s dynasty. His kingdom was limited to Upper Kabul. 30 Earlier, with the death of Hermes, further rule in northwestern India came to an end.
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Impact of the Yavana Empire on India
- The Greek influence on India can be assessed from the fact that many Indo-Yavan rulers became followers of Buddhism and Bhagavata religion.
- Indians were also influenced by the art of the Greeks and the Gandhara art style developed.
- The technique of casting currency was learned by the Indians from the Greeks.
- The Indo-Greek rulers were the first to get the inscriptions engraved on the coins.
- In the field of astrology also India took inspiration from Greece.
- The calculation of date period and the use of eras were also learned from the Greeks.
In this way, the Indian Empire of Hind-Yavan i.e. Greek rulers had an impact on India as well, but it could not affect the basic elements of culture. It had no effect on Indian civilization.