Post Mauryan Dynasties And Invasion From Central Asia

Post Mauryan Dynasties And Invasion From Central Asia-In this article we published the details about the History of post Mauryan Age and the dynasties in post Mauryan age which were ruled in India after the Mauryan Empire and there culture, art, life Impacts on society, economy, religious impacts were discussed in this article.


The first to invade India were the Greeks, who were also called the Bactrian Greeks. In the beginning of 2nd Century BC, the Indo-Greeks occupied a large part of North-Western India. Two Greek dynasties ruled North-Western India on parallel lines at one and the same point. The most famous Indo-Greek ruler was the Menander (165-145 BC) with his capital at Sakala in Punjab. His reign is mentioned in the famous Milinda Panho written by Buddhist scholar Nagasena.

The Indo-Greek rule is important in the history of India because of large number of coins which the Greeks issued. The Indo-Greeks were the first rulers in India to issue coins which can be definitely attributed to the king. This is not possible in the early punch-marked coins which cannot be assigned with certainty to any dynasty.

The Indo-Greeks were the first to issue gold coins in India, which increased in number under the Kushanas. The Greek rule introduced features of Hellenistic art in the North-West frontier of India. This art was not purely Greek. It was outcome of the Greek contact with Non-Greek conquered peoples, after Alexander’s death Gandhara art was its best example in India.

The Shakas (90 BC – AD 100)

The Greeks were followed by the Shakas, who controlled a much greater part of India than the Greeks did. There were five branches of the Shakas with their seats of power in different parts of India and Afghanistan. One branch of Shakas settled in Afghanistan. The second branch settled in Punjab with its capital as Taxila.

The third branch settled in Mathura. The fourth branch established its hold over Western India, where the Shakas continued to rule until the AD 4th Century. The fifth branch of Shakas established its powers in the upper Deccan. Most famous Shakas ruler of Taxila was Mous (20BC-AD 20) and that of Mathura were Bhumaka and Nahpana.

The first Saka king in South Asia was Maues/Moga (1st century BC) who established Saka power in Gandhara, and Indus Valley. The Indo-Scythians extended their supremacy over north-western India, conquering the Indo-Greeks and other local kingdoms.

  • The Shakas used prestigious titles such as Rajadhiraj in addition of Maharaj. The most famous Shaka’s ruler in India was Rudradaman I (AD 130-150). He ruled not only over Sindh, but also over a good part of Gujarat, Konkan, the Narmada valley, Malwa and Kathiawar. He is famous in history because of the repairs, he undertook to improve the Sudarshana Lake in the Semi-arid Zone of Kathiawar. Although, a foreigner settled in India, he issued first ever long inscription in chaste Sanskrit The Junagarh Rock Inscription.
  • The Shakas Era is used by the Indian National calendar and a few other Hindu calendars.
The Parthians (AD 19-45)

The Shakas domination in North-Western India was followed by that of the Parthians and in many Ancient Indian Sanskrit texts the two people are together mentioned as Shakas-Pallavas. In fact, both of them ruled over this country on parallel lines for some time.

Originally, the Parthians lived in Iran from where they moved to India. In comparison with the Greeks and the Shakas they occupied a small portion of North-Western. India in the 1st Century. The most famous Parthian’s king was Gondophernes, in whose reign St Thomas is said to have come to India for the propagation of Christianity. In course of time, the Parthians, like Shakas before them, become an integral part of the Indian

The Kushanas

The Parthians were followed by the Kushanas, who were also called Yuehchis. The Kushanas Chief Kujula Kadphises united the give tribes of yuehchis. We come across two successive dynasties of the Kushanas. The first dynasty was founded by a house of Chiefs who were called Kadphises and who ruled for 28 years about AD 50. It had two kings.

The first was Kadphises I, also known as Kujula Kadphises I, who issued coins South of Hindukush. He was the first Yueh Chi Chief who crossed the Hindukush mountains and laid the foundation of Kushana Empire. He was succeeded by his son Kadphises II (Vima Kadphises), who issued a large number of gold coins and spread his kingdom East of the Indus. The house of Kadphises was succeeded by that of Kanishka. Its kingdom extended the Kushana power over upper India and the lower Indus basin.


Kanishka patronised Charaka who wrote Charaka Samhita. Another great medical student Sushruta also belonged to Kanishka’s time. He wrote the Sushruta Samhita. Kanishka was the most famous Kushana ruler. He is known to history because of two reasons. First, he started an era in AD 78, which is known as the Shaka as Era and is used by the Government of India. Secondly, he extended his whole hearted patronage to Buddhism. He organised the fourth Buddhist council in Kashmir’s Kundalavana on the advice of Parsvika Vasumitra acted as the President while Asvaghosh was appointed Vice President. The successors of Kanishka continued to rule till about AD 230 and some of them bore typical names such as Vasudeva.

Impact Of Central Asian Contact


The Central Asian contracts led to the development of feudatory organisation as a result of which imposition of the rule of the Central Asian conqueror on numerous native princes. The idea of divine origin of kingship was further strengthened by the Shakas and Kushanas. The Kushanas considered themselves to be the sons of God. They also introduced the system of government by the Satraps. Certain practices, like hereditary dual rule, found their way into the Indian polity.


We find a large scale assimilation of foreigners into Indian society. The invaders ultimately lost their identities in India and became fully Indianised. Since, they came chiefly as conquerors, they were classified as Kshatriyas. The Shakas and the Kushanas introduced turban, trousers and long coat. The sherwani grew out of this long coat, caps, helmets and boots were introduced in India.


The contacts with foreigners led to changes in Indian religion. A few rulers adopted Buddhism. Since, Buddhism in its original form was too puritical and too abstract for the outsiders, they altered it in such a way as to satisfy their desire to have a more concrete and intelligible religion. The result was the rise of Mahayanism. Some of the foreign rulers embraced Vaishnavism and thereby, gave a fillip to its development.


Trade prospered India received a great deal of gold from Central Asia and through, trade with the Roman Empire. Culturally, the Central Asian contacts with India led to a great outburst of literary activities. Many of the foreign princes patronised Sanskrit literature. Indian art made tremendous progress on account of the support of the foreign princes. Indian artists and craftsmen came into contact with the Greeks and the Romans particularly in the Gandhara. As a result a new kind of art developed.

The Central Asian contacts led to the development of science and technology. The contacts with the Greeks benefitted Indian Astronomy and Astrology. The practice of making leather shoes is said to have begun on account of these contacts.

Economy In The Post Mauryan Age

The significant features of this period were monetisation of economy, development of crafts, growth of urban centres flourishing trade and lesser control of state over the farming operations.

Dighanikaya mentions about two dozen occupations. The existence of merchant donors show that they had prospered owing to the flourishing trade. Guilds became an important factor in urban life. The guild system scenes to have loosened the state control over the industrial life of the country. The guilds functioned as administrators of their trade. They fixed the rules of work, quality of the product and their prices.

Important changes in agriculture sector took place during this period. The state control loosened and individual farmers owning and practicing agriculture became the norm. Milindpanlro states that the person who brings the land under use is called the owner of the land. The state also took measure to increase the productivity of the land. Tanks seem to have been constructed by Shakas and Kushanas.

Society In The Post Mauryan Age

This age witnessed many for reaching changes in the traditional concept of varna and within the varna system emerged jatis. The situation was made more complex by the influx of large hoards of foreigners. The earliest use of jati is the context of a varna is found widely in Shudra. Around 2nd Century BC, the concept of Vratya and Varnasankara came into existence as a result of assimilation of the Nirukta.

Which speaks of a woman of Shudra jati divergent cultural and social groups. In the Brahminical lawbooks of the period an attempt is made for the first time to give a recognised status to a large number of tribes within the orthodox social system.

Science And Technology

Much progress was made in the field metallurgy. The pressence of Greek engineers in Kushana court shows on exchange in this field. Engineering skills in the building of dams and irrigation tanks are evident from their remains. Geometry scems to have been well developed and it was applied widely.

In the field of astronomy Greek influence was quite evident from the text Romaka Siddhanta. Indian medicine made removable progress during this period, Charaka wrote Charakasamihita. He Stayed at the Court of Kanishka.


Various types of coins were in circulation in this period. Nishakha, Dinar Suvarna and Pala were gold coins. Shatman were silver coin. Kakani were coins of copper. Indo-Greeks were the first to issue gold coins, these coins had bilingual inscriptions. The purest gold coins could be attributed to kus and they also issued maximum, number of copper coins. Satvahanas were the first to issue lead coins.

On Satvahana coins can be found images of fish ships and condishells. On the coins issued by Vashishtaputra puluyami can be found image of ships with two sails and Yajna Satakarni’s coin bore image of boats.

Development Of Art (200 BC – AD 300)

The period witnessed the development of a sophisticated kind of sculpture, which came to be associated with three different regions i.e., Gandhara, Mathura and Amravati. Sculptural art was never shown in this form and this quality before.

Religion played a great role in the development of this art. The subject matter and content was provided by religion. In the case of Gandhara School, the style was foreign (Hellenistic/Greek) but the subject matter and content was indigenous. In the case of Mathura as well as Amravati both the subject matter and style was indigenous.

Gandhar School Of Art

  • The influence on this Art was mainly Hellenistic in context of style and Buddhist in context of Religion.
  • The main centers were Peshawar, Jalalabad, Taxila, Bamyan, Begram and Shah-Ji-ki-Dheri, here we find the remains of this art form. The main patrons of this art form were the Kushanas and Shaka.

Certain distinctive features of this art were

  1. Realistic representation of human figure (it is the hallmark of this art form) clearly indicating limbs and other organs of body, i.e., the representation was proto-type of human body.
  2. In realistic representation, the anatomical accuracy was emphasised.
  3. Distinguished muscles constituted a distinctive part of the images made under this art.
  4. The hair style was curly, which represents Greek influence.
  5. The drapery as transparent and here we find a beautiful harmony between the drapery and physical features of human body.
  6. One excellent example was the Bamiyan Buddha of Afghanistan.
  • Grey sandstone is used in Gandhara school of Art and the other materials used were mud, lime, stucco. Marble was not used.

Mathura School Of Art

  • The origin of Mathura art form is traced back to 2nd Century BC.
  • The influence on this art form was a mixed one. All the three main religion of the time i.e., Buddhism, Jainism and Brahmanism influenced this art form in one way or the other. This influence provided the subject matter and content to this school. The influence here is not only from Buddhism as we find in the case of Gandhara School.
  • In the initial stage, we find influence from Jainism and latter on Brahmanism and Buddhism also influence.
  • The Hellenistic or Greek influence on this style was absent to a great extent.
  • The Mathura School of Art, was not only religious but also secular, which is absent in the Gandhara School of Art. Various patterns of life were portrayed, e.g., we have scenes from forests where men and women are collecting flowers, women playing with cranes and offering fruits to birds, women playing in Garden and water tanks etc.
  • Aristocratic elements to some extent were present in the Mathura art. This art form was also associated with the ruling groups and here we find the images of kings and prominent persons, associated with ruling class.
  • Statues of rulers and many head of Scythian dignitaries have been found at Mat village in Mathura. These discoveries indicate that Mathura was the most important centre of the Eastern part of the Kushanas Empire.
  • The chief patron of this art form was Kushanas and chief material was white spotted red sandstone.
  • The main centre was Mathura and its adjoining areas but it spread far and wide.

Amravati School Of Art

  • Its patrons were Satavahanas and Ikshvakus.
  • The main centers were Ghantasala, Nagarjunakonda, Amravati, Jaggay-Yapeta etc.
  • Chief material used was white marble. The principle influence in this case was of Buddhist themes.
  • Physical beauty was elegantly expressed in images.
  • Images shows sensual expressions.
  • It focuses upon human beings but representation was rather than individualistic narrative.
  • The kings, princes etc were represented through images. But, this representation does not focus upon the individual presence of king or princes.
  • Rather king was associated with various activities and shown in a group.
  • Notable achievements were the female figure in different moods and poses.

Scholars Of The Period

  1. Ashvaghosha Books Saundaranand, Buddhacharita, Sariputra, Prakarana and Vijrasuchi.
  2. Nagarjuna Also known as Indian Einstien for propounding the theory of Relativity in his book ‘Prajana Paramita Sutra Shastra’.
  3. Vasumitra Book on Buddhist philosophy titled Mahavibhasa Shastra.
  4. Charak Charak Samhita.
  5. Patanjali Book on grammar Mahabhasya.
  6. Gunadhya Brihat Katha in Paisachi dialect.
  7. Hala Gathasapt asati
  8. Sarvaraman Katantra
  9. Bhasa Svapna Vasavadatta, Ravanabadh, Vrubhanga

Geographical Discoveries In Post Mauryan Period

  1. A Greek sailor, Hippalus, discovered the monsoon sea route to India from West Asia in AD 46-47.
  2. New Ports Bharoch and Bar bairicum on Western coast, Aricamedu/Podeku (according to Periplus) on Eastern coast near Pondicherry.
  3. Bullion was flowing out of Rome to India. This statement was made by Pliny.
  4. Geographica Strabo.
  5. Ptolemy Ptollmy.
  6. Natural History Pliny.
  7. Periplus of the Erithryan Sea Unknown.

Thus, India expanded trade contacts to central Asia, China, Greek, Roman, World and South-East Asia.

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Post Mauryan Dynasties And Invasion From Central Asia

Post Mauryan Dynasties And Invasion From Central Asia

Post Mauryan Dynasties And Invasion From Central Asia

Post Mauryan Dynasties And Invasion From Central Asia

Post Mauryan Dynasties And Invasion From Central Asia

Post Mauryan Dynasties And Invasion From Central Asia

Post Mauryan Dynasties And Invasion From Central Asia

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