Where The Imperial Dreams Shattered
When you are asked: “What do you know about ancient Indian Civilzation?” You will start with great Maurya Empire and stumble upto Aryan Invasion. Some might give reference of “Indus Valley Civilization”. But is it true that the history of India is just a list of Military defeats. Is it a fact that had it not been for the British, we still ended up residing in the stone age? Then how could our ancestors ended up so advanced culturally, compared to their foreign counterparts. There is no denying of the legends of the Navaratna, Nalanda, Vikramashila, Vedas, Puranas etc. Or the truth is something else that was hidden and distorted with a specific propaganda. Western historian said that there was no “proper” history in pre-islamic India. But there is the existence of numerous Indian texts which describes that their is a tradition of Bharatbarsha Milatary: they seem to be accustomed to thrashing down the world conquerors from the ancient time, be it Assyria, Persia, Greek, Huns or any other. The invaders are known to have faced their worst nightmares right at the borders of Bharatbarsha, and whoever was lucky enough to dig a little deep, they did not face any more war, what they experienced was a complete butchery. Lets have a look what our own history tells about ourselves.
After India’s fall to British, one of the major objectives of European Historians and Philosophers was to solely establish the superiority of Christianity over Hinduism. Just because the colonial British were not able to digest the fact that world conquerors failed miserably at the borders of Bharatbarsha, they were simply relegated to mythology, or omitted from history. Had they won the round, it would have benefited their propaganda – Bharatbarsha, a country trivialized by anyone an everyone. An account of their failed attacks are listed below. If Greek accounts or sources went against the Colonial agenda, they, carefully, hedged their writing with terms like ‘half legendary account’ with ‘possibly’ , ‘supposed’ , ‘may represent’ with a few ‘doubtful’ also thrown in – for free. When it comes to Indian triumphs, Semiramis becomes half legendary. Yet in another book, the same Semiramis is hailed as ‘the great conquerors of antiquity.’ In a matter of a few pages, they used to dismiss Indian history in a half-Hegelian manner.
The Western Connection
1301 B.C. – There was the famous Chariot battle between Egyptian and Hittites which ended not so well for the powerful Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II. He had to make a peace treaty with the Hittites. One of the powerful allies of the Hittites was Rimisharrinaa. This name has a striking resemblance with the hindu name ‘Ramsharan’. It is also a fact that Hittites has a lot of similarity with Hindus. (Probably they were the Indians in the Middle East(?)). The Hittites (like Mittanis) did not impose their religion on the conquered peoples (Why does this sound familiar?). No royal tomb has ever been found for Hittites kings. In Vedic cultures, there are no royal tombs – like the Pyramids, or the Catacombs, or Mausoleums. Hindus cremate their dead royals. They do not build memorials or mausoleums. The civilization of the Hittites rose up suddenly, and it did fall down also without any prominent reason. Nobody knows where they came from and where did they go. The mind-blowing similarities of Hittites with Hindu Culture indicates that it may very well is possible, that, the Hittites were in fact nothing other than a Hindu colonization in the Middle East in ancient times.
The Assyrian Misadventure
805 B.C. -One of the earliest recorded attacks on India was by Semiramis (Sammurammit), who ruled the Assyrian Empire during the years 811-806 BCE – or nearly 500 years before the invasion of Alexander of Macedon. According to the accounts of ancient Greek historians Diodorus and Ctesias, after successfully carrying out several military campaigns to quash uprisings in Persia to the east and in Libya in North Africa. the warrior queen “resolved to subjugate the Indians on hearing that they were the most numerous of all nations, and possessed the largest and most beautiful country in the world”. For two years preparations were made throughout her whole kingdom – modern day Iraq, Egypt, Turkey and parts of Central Asia. In the third year she collected 3,000,000 foot soldiers, 500,000 horsemen and 100,000 chariots. Beside these, 100,000 camels were covered with the sewn skins of black oxen and fitted with fake movable trunks in order to trick the Indians into believing that she had a large elephant corps as well. King Supratika (or Satyabrata) (Stabrobates according to Greeks), the king of the Indians, awaited the Assyrians on the bank of the Indus with an even larger force gathered from the whole of India. In the ensuing battle, the soldiers of Semiramis resisted only a short time before the Indian elephants caused an immense slaughter. The Assyrians left their ranks and fled, and the king pressed forward against Semiramis. His arrow wounded her arm, and as she turned away his javelin struck her on the back. After exchanging prisoners Semiramis returned. She had lost two-thirds of her army. The kingdom of Assyria never dared to make an eye contact with ancient Hindus, again.
Shattered Dream of Persian Empire
530 B.C. – The first ruler of Persian Achaemenid dynasty, Cyrus The Great, was victorious battle after battle. His armies defeated all others they came across. Building on the Assyrian Empire, he expanded his empire across most of Southwest Asia and much of Central Asia, from Egypt and the Hellespont in the west to the Indus River in the east. After all these victories, he turned his attention towards India. Why trying to conquer India, he met his nemesis. The battle against the Indian border state, Massaga, is judged as to be be the bloodiest battle he had witnessed. Not even a Persian messenger survived to carry the tale of the battle, and for years his people did not know what had become of Cyrus. After this battle, the Persians switched their expansionary vision towards the west. They were never able to cross the border tribes of ancient Bharat.
Myth of Alexander
Alexander’s troubles began as soon as he crossed the Indian border. He first faced resistance in the Kunar, Swat, Buner and Peshawar valleys where the Aspasioi and Assakenoi, known in Hindu texts as Ashvayana and Ashvakayana, stopped his advance. Although small by Indian standards they did not submit before Alexander’s killing machine.
326 B.C. – The Assakenoi offered stubborn resistance from their mountain strongholds of Massaga, Bazira and Ora. The bloody fighting at Massaga was a prelude to what awaited Alexander in India. On the first day after bitter fighting the Macedonians and Greeks were forced to retreat with heavy losses. Alexander himself was seriously wounded in the ankle. On the fourth day the king of Massaga was killed but the city refused to surrender. The command of the army went to his old mother, which brought the entire women of the area into the fighting. Realising that his plans to storm India were going down at its very gates, Alexander called for a truce. The Assakenoi agreed; the old queen was too trusting. That night when the citizens of Massaga had gone off to sleep after their celebrations, Alexander’s troops entered the city and massacred the entire citizenry. A similar slaughter then followed at Ora. However, the fierce resistance put up by the Indian defenders had reduced the strength – and perhaps the confidence – of the until then all-conquering Macedonian army.
326 B.C. – Battle of Hydaspes – For more than 25 centuries it was believed that Alexander’s forces defeated the Indians. Greek and Roman accounts say the Indians were bested by the superior courage and stature of the Macedonians. Two millennia later, British historians latched on to the Alexander legend and described the campaign as the triumph of the organised West against the chaotic East. In 1957, while addressing the cadets of the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun, Zhukov said Alexander’s actions after the Battle of Hydaspes suggest he had suffered an outright defeat. Zhukov would know a fleeing force if he saw one; he had chased the German Army over 2000 km from Stalingrad to Berlin. Facing this tumultuous force led by the genius of Alexander was the Paurava army of 20,000 infantry, 2000 cavalry and 200 war elephants. Being a comparatively small kingdom by Indian standards, Paurava couldn’t have maintained such a large standing army, so it’s likely many of its defenders were hastily armed civilians. Also, the Greeks habitually exaggerated enemy strength. The battle was savagely fought. As the volleys of heavy arrows from the long Indian bows scythed into the enemy’s formations, the first wave of war elephants waded into the Macedonian phalanx that was bristling with 17-feet long sarissas. Some of the animals got impaled in the process. Then a second wave of these mighty beasts rushed into the gap created by the first, either trampling the Macedonian soldiers or grabbing them by their trunks and presenting them up for the mounted Indian soldiers to cut or spear them. It was a nightmarish scenario for the invaders. As the terrified Macedonians pushed back, the Indian infantry charged into the gap. In the first charge, by the Indians, King Purushottam (Puru or Porus)’s brother Amar killed Alexander’s favourite horse Bucephalus, forcing Alexander to dismount. This was a big deal. In battles outside India the elite Macedonian bodyguards had not allowed a single enemy soldier to deliver so much as a scratch on their king’s body, let alone slay his mount. Yet in this battle Indian troops not only broke into Alexander’s inner cordon, they also killed Nicaea, one of his leading commanders. According to the Roman historian Marcus Justinus, Porus challenged Alexander, who charged him on horseback. In the ensuing duel, Alexander fell off his horse and was at the mercy of the Indian king’s spear. But Porus dithered for a second and Alexander’s bodyguards rushed in to save their king. Says Plutarch: “The combat with Porus took the edge off the Macedonians’ courage, and stayed their further progress into India. For having found it hard enough to defeat an enemy who brought but 20,000 foot and 2000 horse into the field, they thought they had reason to oppose Alexander’s design of leading them on to pass the Ganges, on the further side of which was covered with multitudes of enemies.” Indeed, on the other side of the Ganges was the mighty kingdom of Magadh, ruled by the wily Nandas, who commanded one of the most powerful and largest standing armies in the world. According to Plutarch, the courage of the Macedonians evaporated when they came to know the Nandas “were awaiting them with 200,000 infantry, 80,000 cavalry, 8000 war chariots and 6000 fighting elephants”. Undoubtedly, Alexander’s army would have walked into a slaughterhouse. Alexander ordered a retreat.
In a campaign at Sangala in Punjab, the Indian attack was so ferocious it completely destroyed the Greek cavalry, forcing Alexander to attack on foot. In the next battle, against the Malavs of Multan, he was felled by an Indian warrior whose arrow pierced the Macedonian’s breastplate and ribs.
After Alexander failed in his first major battle in ancient Bharat, he did not live much longer. He died on his way back towards Greece. His general, Seleucus assumed the greek empire. On the other hand, one significant political change was on its way in Bharat heartland. One civil war was ignited to claim the throne of most powerful state then – the Magadha. Defeating the incumbent Nanda dynasty, Chandragupta Maurya became King of Magadha. He instantly initiated his campaign of bringing entire Bharat under a centralized administration. To manage a vast empire, he re-organized the administrative infrastructure. This Mauryan system was so robust that the same core is being followed even today. The Mauryan empire was unique in nature. Usually, building up an empire after destroying the old one requires two or three generations of time. But Chandragupta Maurya not only fought with Magadha Kings twice in his lifetime, also after ascending the throne, he was able to expand the borders until Hindukush. Half the credit of achieving this impossible task goes to the legendary personality – Chanakya. Maurya empire appeared out of nowhere. It is still the largest empire that ever existed in Bharat (as per known history). Though the Mauryan-s usually get out-shined by another empire of latter Bharat (Gupta empire), it is a undeniable fact that Mauryans could successfully carry out the initiative of Grand Unification of Bharat. Apart from that, the economic and administrative restructuring Maurya Kings introduced, was very fruitful for ancient Bharat to deal with an endless series of successive foreign invasion.
305 B.C. – Ultimate Test of Power between Bharat and Greece – With rise of Maurya empire, matters got worse for Greeks, since now they had to face a unified Bharat. Alexander’s army got beaten so badly by king Puru (or Purushotam) that they lost their stomach to continue the war. The contemporary Magadha was at least 10 times stronger than king Puru in terms of military strength. And then, under the reign of Chandragupta Maurya, not only Magadha, entire northern Bharat got unified and was posing a serious threat. After securing the empired within Bharat mainland, Chandragupta Maurya started pushing inside the greek territory. While no accounts of the actual battle fought exist today, the historical consensus is that Chandragupta Maurya emerged victorious against the Greek forces. Post the battle, Chandragupta continued control over all the regions he had conquered previously. Seleucus also ceded to Chandragupta his territories in Arachosia (Kandahar), Gedrosia (Balochisthan) and Gandhara. Around the same time, Chandragupta is said to have taken over the Hindu Kush, eastern Iran, Punjab and east Afghanistan – greatly growing his empire and expanding his victory of Seleucius to establish his dominance from modern-day Afghanistan to Bihar. The terms of terms of peace negotiated by Seleucus with Chandragupta went beyond the ceding of Greek territories to the Indian monarch. Seleucus is also speculated to have married off his daughter to Chandragupta. This battle ended the Greek dominance in this region permanently. Mauryan empire was extended up to the eastern part of modern day Iran.
Starting from the reign of Ashoka, Maurya kings had gradually been inclining towards a more pacifist foreign policy, notably giving a preference towards non-violence. While non-violence usually gets an upper-hand in philosophical debates, there is absolutely no doubt that it is of no use in maintaining sovereignty of a nation, specially when that nation is surrounded by hostile and aggressive neighbours. That newly adopted doctrine of non-violence had made a fatal impact on Military network of ancient Bharat. Until the early-Mauryan era, foreign invasions used to be squashed right at the gateway of Hidukush, and that too without the need of any grand alliance between Bharat kingdoms. But, once the impractical concept of non-violence started to prevail in royal administration, the cracks in border defense also were becoming prominent day by day. Without the active support from the royal court, spying network began to lose their edge, army positions were compromised in border, and the nation which once was able to thrash legendary conquerors, fell prey to comparatively much lesser threats.
200 B.C. – 180 B.C. – The Unsung Heroes – After the defeat at the hand of Chandragupta Maurya, though the greek army went back to Macedonia, greek colonies still continued to exist in middle-East. Greek culture influenced this region so much that gradually an entirely new empire rose there, popularly known as Bactrian Greek kingdom. Unlike this name indicates, politically they did not have any connection with original Greeks. While the Mauryas were on their decline in ancient Bharat, Bactrian Greeks seized the opportunity and initiated their invasion in India. Thanks to the policy of non-violence, Mauryas could not strike back in time. Bactrian greeks were moving quite fast within the Bharat territory and were headed towards Magadha. They got active support from the Buddhists which made their task much easier. Bactrian Greeks planned an infiltration under the disguise of Buddhist monks. The general of Maurya army, Pushyamitra Shunga, caught this act and he initiated a contingency plan. Not only he was able to destroy the safe houses of invaders, he caught both the infiltrators and traitors red-handed. Still, the Maurya king, refused to take any legal action against those Buddhists. Seeing no other way, Pushyamitra Shunga killed the King in a duel and assumed the throne. His first task was to devise a plan to beat back the invaders. Being a war veteran himself, he knew that, to deal with the foreign invasion, which already grew muh stronger, it was a necessity to form a centralized defensive force.He tightened his hold over the remnants of once-formidable Maurya empire. Greek records claim that Bactrian Greeks were able to conquer Pataliputra, the political center of Bharat; but the Bharat narrations do not support this statement. Also, no evidence or link is found till today to prove that those invaders were able to get an upper-hand over Pushyamitra Shunga. Usually, historians agree upon that fact that once Shunga rulers took over the throne of Magadha and switched back to an aggressive military doctrine, Bactrian Greek invasion was stopped. Their effort to capture Magadha failed and they were defeated undoubtedly. This was the first defeat of Bactrian Greeks after their entry into Bharat. This important but untold history can be found in ‘Malabikagnitram‘ , which was composed by Kalidasa.
~ 180 B.C – Just when Magadha was witnessing the rise of Shunga empire, another neighbouring power also was on its rise – Kalinga. Kalinga had a long time rivalry with Magadha. King Kharavela of Kalinga wanted to utilize the opportunity of internal disturbance of Magadha and mobilized his army to attack Magadha from the South. On his campaign against Magadha, King Kharavela of Kalinga was reported that one Bactrian Greek King, also attacked Magadha from the west. For King Kharavela, had he joined the invaders, it would have been quite easy to defeat powerful Magadha. But ancient Bharat military generals not only possessed fighting and commanding skills, they used to excel in planning of deep-rooted political goals also. King Kharavela understood that though an alliance with invaders will result him a temporary gain of Magadha territory, but that means invaders would have also got a chance to set up a strong base in Bharat which might create socio-political imbalance on a long term. Hence, he withdrew his attack on Magadha and redirected them against the foreign forces instead. Bactrian greeks could never make even a wild guess about the delicate political dynamics within Bharat powers and they were caught off-guard. There was no other way for the invaders other than retreat.
~180 B.C. – ~160.B.C. – We never get any mentioning about how and why Bactrian-Greeks vanished from Bharat mainland. Historians also keep mum about their constant disasters against Bharat kings after the battle of Pataliputra. Shunga rulers did not stop after successfully defending their territory, they went ahead and aimed to chase back invaders from entire Bharat. Back-to-back attacks forced Bactrian-Greeks to retreat. It is a proven fact that they lost entire Ganges basin pretty quickly. Possibly ancient Bharat witnessed rise of several other smaller and regional powers (like Arjunayanas or Yaudheyas, as mentioned in numismatic evidences) which too made an offensive stance against foreign army that time. Some inscriptions suggest that Bactrian-Greeks were chased back until the other bank of river Indus.
The Domino Effect and the Immovable Nation
Around the time when Bactrian-Greeks were struggling against Bharat Kings, another major turn of events took place across central Asia. A confederation of Chinese Han empire and Xiongnu has defeated the Yuezhis and pushed them out of their original place. Yuezhis started to move westward and came into conflict with other warlords. They, in turn, created a domino effect and as a result, troops and warriors from entire central Asia started to flood into the gateway of Bharat. First one among them are commonly referred as Indo-Scythians or “Saka” -s. Although the term ‘Indo-Scythians‘ does not refer any specific ethnic group. Indo-Scythians were followed by Yuezis, and then the Xiongnu-s themselves. This aggressive advancement of a huge population, who usually belong to most ruthless among warrior tribes across the globe, had created a chaos throughout two continents (Asia and Europe). But Bharat still managed to stand still and hold her ground. After Bactrian-Greeks were repelled back from Bharat, their power was greatly diminished and they were destroyed by Indo-Scythians. Those Indo-Scythians started their invasion inside Bharat approximately around 60 B.C. At that time, Shunga empire in northern Bharat was on their decline. Absence of any strong indigenous force was felt heavily throughout north-western Bharat. Almost immediately after Bactrian Greeks were dealt with, Indo-Scythian invasion started. Comparatively smaller Kingdoms could not check the invasion and again, north-western Bharat temporarily fell under a foreign force. After conquering the smaller kingdoms there, Indo-Scythians were divided into three different branches, who went South, South-East and East respectively.
~57 B.C. – While Southern and Eastern branches of Indo-Scythians were able to penetrate further, the South-Eastern troops met with an immovable obstacle against the empire of King Vikramadiya. Please note that, in Bharat history, we get reference of at least 16 different kings who assumed the title ‘Vikramaditya’ . Here we are talking about Vikramaditya from Paramara dynasty. Exact events of king Vikramaditya’s rule cannot be extracted properly, but it seems that he at least secured a victory over Indo-Scythians near modern day Multan. King Vikramaditya is probably one of most highlighted rulers in Bharat history. Legends about him have reached to such an extent that it is almost impossible to differentiate between facts and fantacies. Several inscriptions and texts discovered recently suggest that, he was one of rare kings of Bharat history, who was able to project power outside geographical boundary of the subcontinent, even up to as far as the Arabia. However, that is a different topic, we get strong and solid evidence that he managed to end the Indo-Scythian invasaion which was headed towards conquering Ujjwayinee.
~100 A.D. – ~130 A.D. – Southern branches of Indo-Scythians (commonly known as western satraps) managed to get an hold over the conquered territories. The reached their peak of power under the rule of Nahapana. During his rule, the invaders managed to snatch away territories from Malawas and Satabahanas. They were followers of Buddhism and were on their way of expanding their Kingdom. Slowly but steadily, they were also promoting their own culture over Bharat ones in conquered regions. It took quite a long time for any indigenous King to grow strong enough to deal with the threat possessed by Indo-Scythians. Finally the mostly celebrated ruler of the Satabahanas, Gautamiputra Satkarni waged war against them and gained victory. After this defeat, they were driven away from southern Bharat. Gautamiputra Satkarni permanently marked this victory by re-strucking Nahapana’s coins with his own symbol on it.
Just like Bactrian Greeks, Indo-Scythians also had been dropping from their zenith very quickly once Bharat Kings began to claim back their territories. Due to pressing from Bharat kingdoms, they were almost wiped out from central and southern Bharat. At the same time, next wave of foreign invasion appeared from the North. Those invaders are commonly referred as ‘Kushan’ -s, who actually belonged to the Yuezhi clan. Indo-Scythians were sandwiched between Kushan-s from north and Bharat kings from south. They could not hold their own and submitted almost without a fight. This surrender of Indo-scythians offered a clear pathway to Kushan-s. Kushan-s stormed through northern Bharat without much resistance. Kingdom of Malwa tried as much as they could but it went in vain. Kushan-s too were patrons of Buddhism. Usually Chinese texts and other sources try to portray Kushans as some dynasty who have brought golden age to Bharat. It indeed is true that Kushans became economically strong once they got hold of the silk road, but they were no different than other invaders. Kushans used to conduct frequent raids in nearby localities to raise fund to fill-up their treasury. They were known to kill almost 9,00,000 parthians after capturing the region. After defeating the kingdom of Malwa, one particular act what Kushan-s did, was to start an entirely new dating system, replacing the already existing ‘Vikram Sambat’ . This information signifies that Kushan-s too were not tolerant enough to let any native culture to co-exist.
~127 A.D. – ~150 A.D. – Kaniska is the most hailed king of the Kushans. He extended his empire thorughout Norther Bharat to a great extent. In some Tibetan texts, it is claimed that Kushans gained control over Pataliputra. But, real-life evidences say otherwise. In case eastern Bharat had gone under Kushan control, there would have been much more numerous numismatic evidence in that area (like Mathura or Gandhar). Additionally, as per Bharat texts, one Buddhist philosopher, Ashwaghosa was carried off from Pataliputra by Kushan king Kaniska. That means, Pataliputra remained outside of Kushan empire even when their empire was at maximum extent. Though we do not get reference of any battle between Kushan-s and Magadha, it is evident that Kushan-s stopped right at the border of Magadha.
~170 A.D. – ~199 A.D. – Rivalry between Indo-Scythians and Satabahanas did not stop after Gautamiputra Satkarni’s victory and it continued throughout the century. Over time, again Indo-Scythians got the upper-hand and they were pushing the boundary further. Possibly by this time, Indo-Scythians became vassals of Kushan-s. The benefit were bothways. On one hand, Indo-Scythians had quite little worry in their northern border and they could concentrate against Satavahanas. On the other hand, Kushan-s too, got hold of larger territory. It is unclear whether any military alliance existed between the two. But both of those foreign parties suffered severe blow when Satavahanas gained a final and determining victory under the command of Yajna Sri Satkarni. Satavahanas managed to capture territories up to modern day Gujrat. After this catastrophic defeat, presence of Indo-Scythians were removed from entire southern Bharat.
The Hindukush has a very critical geographical importance on Bharat civilization. Bharat mainland enjoys natural defense in north and south by the Himalayas and the Ocean, respectively. Each and every foreign invasion till date (except the British) have made their way through the valleys of Hindukush. In simpler words, the Hindukush acts as a gateway towards Bharat. Whenever it remained guarded, invaders used to face their doom then and there. Otherwise, they would get the opportunity to spread across the Ganges basin like termites. That explains the reason why world conquering forces like Semiramis or Alexander failed to make any impact on Bharat but central Asian warlords managed to break through. Though the indigenous forces were able to successfully beat back those central Asian invaders, need for another unified Government was becoming eminent day by day. Around mid of third century, another Bharat dynasty started to pave its way towards a glorious future. That dynasty, which is now famous as the ‘Gupta’ -s, marks the most glorious era of Bharat history. Gupta kings were also well aware about this fact that, to become a rich and prosperous nation, the first task was to reinforce that gateway. They also knew that a strong military was a must-have for that objective. During the Gupta era, Bharat military had gone through several innovations and restructuring. Cavalry used to get much importance and heavy armored cavalry was introduced for the first time. Elephants started to lose their premium status. All these revamps proved to be fruitful in their military conquests. Within a very short time, the Gupta-s managed to expand their grip up to Hindukush. The Gupta-s had carried out two most important jobs – they wiped out remnants of two foreign forces – Indo-Scythians and the Kushans. Almost four centuries after the fall of mighty Maurya empire, Bharat civilization got rid of the curse of foreign intruders. The Gupta empire not only brought entire northern Bharat under their control, the border were pushed as far as the Oxus in the west.
~340 A.D. – ~350 A.D. – After Kaniska’s death, Kushans were continuously at their decline. Probably rise of Gupta empire was also a major cause of it. A powerful and indomitable neighbor is not something of desirable political choice for any empire, but unfortunately, Kushans had no choice. After the fall of their ally, the Indo-Scythians, against Satavahanas, Kushan empire was always at the brink of war against Bharat forces. Guptas too, was making slow but steady advancement. Once Samudragupta ascended the throne and initiated his undefeated campaign, Kushans were forced to retreat from Ganges basin. Samudragupta did not stop his victory lap until Kushans lost their last foothold in Punjab (modern day).
~360 A.D. – ~368 A.D. – Samudragupta was not only a military genius, he was a great diplomat as well. On the north-western border, Kidarites surrendered and accepted his suzerainty. Thus, he managed to reinforce Bharat gateway and secured Bharat mainland after almost five hundred years of trouble caused by foreign forces. Next, he moved towards the next one in line – the Sassanian empire. Though the Sassanids were not exactly on war terms with Bharat, Samudragupta made the first move and launched an attack. Though details is not retrieved yet about the trade of blows between these two powerhouses, some of Bharat narration indicates that Guptas emerged victorious not once, but twice.
~370 A.D. – ~380 A.D. – Though the Satavahanas were able to bring down the power of Indo-Scythians to a great extent, they were still a threat. They way Indo-Scythians made a non-aggression treaty with the Yuezhis (Kushan), it had given rise to a possibility that similar turn of events would have been repeated in future. To prevent the central Asian clans to build up a formidable setup and form an alliance, eradication of them was no more something to be deferred. After establishing his control over major part of northern Bharat, king Samudragupta changed his direction towards the Indo-Scythian settlement in central Bharat. Probably the battle was short, outcome was precise and in favor of the sons of soil. In the “Ashoka Pillar” at modern day Prayagraj (Ashoka Pillar -s are a series of columns dispersed throughout the Indian subcontinent, erected or at least inscribed with edicts by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka during his reign), it is inscribed that the Indo-Scythian king offered his daughters for marriage as terms of surrender. Thus, one of most important and rich cities of Bharat, Mathura got rid of foreign rulers after a really long time.
~410 A.D. – ~430 A.D. – The End of Indo-Scythians – Samudragupta never lost a war in his lifetime. His son, Chandragupta-II (not to be confused with Chandragupta Maurya, he was a different king) also continued the legacy. Chandragupta-II resumed the campaign against Indo-Scythians, who still was holding their own in western Bharat. He determined to uproot the invaders once and for all. Hence, he moved the army base into central Bharat and set up a military stronghold there. His long-term campaign against Indo-Scythians consisted of a series of battles and was a mixture of brute-force and strategy. Indo-Scythians were bolted in western Bharat for more than three centuries and it was not an easy task to beat them there. Hence Chandragupta-II relied on pressing tactic – a slow but steady approach. Though minute details are not known about his campaign, there is no confusion about his victory. A couple of narrations tell that Chandragupta-II himself led a covert operation to kill the Indo-Scythian ruler, which was the final blow. After this campaign, Indo-Scythian rule in Bharat came to an end.
Powerful rule of Samudragupta or Chandragupta-II managed to put a temporary stop to foreign attacks. One of the major reasons behind the rise of Gupta empire was a reinforced and upgraded military. Although the neighboring Persia was continuously under scorching heat of invasions, Bharat was comparatively much stabler politically. But, over time, Gupta empire started its way towards decline too. With the gradually diminishing power of Gupta-s, next bunch of foreign invaders loomed large at the feet of Hindukush. This time, the army which was knocking at the doorstep, were popularly known as ‘Hun’ -s (or Hephthalites as in roman texts written by Procopius of Caesarea). If we can recall the events of domino effect in central Asia which caused the Indo-Scythians and Yuezhis to rush towards Bharat, it was actually started when powerful Yuezhis were defeated by Xiongnu on northern China region. Ethnicity of Hun-s has been traced back to those Xiongnu-s. They hunted down all other states throughout entire central Asia and then turned their gaze towards Europe, Caliphate, Persia and Bharat. They were probably most brutal and most barbaric group in the known history of entire world. Though some historians try to establish an opinion that the attackers of Europe belonged to some other Ethnicity than the aggressors at Persian and Bharat border, it is now a widely accepted fact that Hun-s actually refer to a political and cultural groups primarily, rather than any specific ethnic group.
455 A.D. – 458 A.D. – The King who stopped a Juggernaut – Hun-s were infamous to lay waste on wherever they went. Any military victory of Hun-s was immediately followed by plundering and destruction, thus displaying their demonic sadism. They identified Persia as their next target during late-fourth century. Numerous references of more than one battles between them indicate that Persian empire was forced to give up parts of its territory to come to a non-aggression treaty. Hun-s reached the top of their military prowess around mid-fifth century and maintained that status for almost a few decades. During this period, they are known to have ignite terror throughout Asia and Europe. They dared to take on Roman empire head-on. It took them only a couple of years to beat down one of most powerful European empire to its knees, Costantinople was lost. Even after that, they continued their aggression against rest of Roman Empire. Western Rome was shaken from its core, Huns-s were able to mark their footprint until today’s Paris. Hun-s stopped their advancement in Europe only after getting the assurance of a lumpsum amount of annual tribute. In Asia, they started their offensive against Bharat at the same time. Since Gupta empire was on its decline at that time, north-western Bharat again saw rise of smaller independent Kingdoms. But, they were not powerful enough to stand in front of one of most terrifying army in world history. But still, ancient Bharat never had a scarcity of lion-hearts. This time too, one King stood firm against a force which already had put shame on two of most glorious empires (Persian and Roman). That king (then only a Prince though), Skandagupta was able to inflict a decissive and crushing defeat to Hun-s. Both Bhitari and Junagarh inscriptions carries the glorious legacy of Bharat. Probably, this was the first time the unstoppable Hun-s experienced the taste of defeat. They never dared to come back during Skandagupta’s lifetime.
~515 A.D. – Defeat by Bharat king Skandagupta was an unexpected blow to Hun-s. Though their eastern campaign stopped for a brief period of time, they concentrated on western Asia again. Islamic caliphate was trembling under their attacks. Situation at Persia was no better either. After death of Skandagupta, again there was a vacuum of power in Bharat and Hun-s resumed their attacks. This time, even the Gupta empire fell in front of them. They have destroyed buildings, arts, localities and what not!!! When the Hunic terror was about to spread over rest of Bharat, again another heroic personality rose from kingdom of Malwa – Prakashadharma. According to a recent archaeological discovery from excavation at Mandsaur, we get the reference that Hun-s were defeated very badly by king Prakashadharma. Also, there is another inscription known as ‘Rishtal stone slab inscription’ which supports this incident. Hun-s retreated back from central and eastern Bharat and confined within north-western region only. Hun leader, Toramana is said to have died shortly after this battle.
520 A.D. – Within a decade, Hun-s built up a new army for another invasion. This time, they reached up to the city of Pataliputra. It was for the first time ever in known history where any foreign force became capable of laying hands on this city. Great city of Pataliputra reduced to a small village. This time, Hun invasion was led by Mihirgula, whose cruelity and barbarism can only be compared with that of Attila. Hun-s were giving their everything in an attempt to conquer the land of Bharat, which seemed to be the only civilization continuing to hold their own against Hunic onslaught. Yes, it may sound surprising, but it is a fact that neither Romans, Persians, Turks or Caliphate had enough fight left within themselves to look straight towards Hun-s. On the contrary, Bharat kingdoms were still offering stiff resistance. So, to complete the unfinished business, Hun-s returned back to end this decade-long battle. But, little did they know about thousands of years of military legacy of ancient Bharat. They were right in their analysis that there were no single Bharat power to endure the attack, but the Hun-s did not take into account any possibility of coalition. Malwa king Yoshadharman took the initiative to build up an counter-offensive with help of other smaller kingdoms, including the remnants of Gupta-s (king Narasimhagupta Baladitya) too. A fierce battle was fought at Sondani. Hun-s were completely destroyed and finally surrendered. Being true to military ethics of Bharat, king Yoshadharman did not kill an enemy who had given up and dropped their weapons. Hun-s understood that it was not possible for them to conquer Bharat and went back from Bharat mainlands. It may sound unbelievable but true, that the force which conquered almost half of Europe, met their doom at Bharat.
The antiquities of Asia – Diodorus Siculus, Diodorus, Edwin Murphy
Women Warriors – David E. Jones
War Elephants – John M. Kistler
King Porus, A Legend of Old – Michael Madhusudan Dutta
History of Porus – Buddha Prakash
Ancient India – Ramesh Chandra Majumder
Ancient Indian History and Civilization – Sailendra Nath Sen
Malabikagnimitram – Kalidasa
Raghubamsham – Kalidasa
Rise and Fall of Imperial Guptas – Ashwini Agarwal
Alberuni’s India – Edward C. Sachau (Routledge / Trench, Trübner & Co. pp. 5–6. ISBN 978-1-136-38385-4)
Ancient India – V.D, Mahajan (S. Chand Publishing. ISBN 9789352531325)
History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The crossroads of civilizations, A.D. 250 to 750 – Dani, Ahmad Hasan; Litvinsky, B. A. (1996)
Aulikara Vamsha ke Itihas par Naya Prakash (in Hindi) in M.D. Khare ed. Malwa through the Ages, Bhopal: Directorate of Archaeology & Museums, Government of Madhya Pradesh – V.S. Wakankar