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Ashva (अश्व) was an ancient tribe inhabiting the Swat valley. Aswa means horse in Sanskrit.

Variants of name

Jat clans

Mention by Panini

Ashva (अश्व) is mentioned by Panini in Ashtadhyayi. [1]

Ashva Nadi (अश्व-नदी) is a River mentioned by Panini in Ashtadhyayi. [2]


V. S. Agrawala[3] mentions Ayudhjivi Sanghas in the Ganapatha under Yaudheyadi group, repeated twice in the Panini's Ashtadhyayi (IV.1.178) and (V.3.117) which includes - Dhārteya – unidentified, probably the same as the Dārteyas. The Greek writers mention Dyrta as a town of Assakenoi or the Āśvakāyanas of Massaga, and this may have been the capital of the Darteyas.

V. S. Agrawala[4] writes that Ashtadhyayi of Panini mentions janapada Kunti (कुंति) (IV.1.170) - Mahabharata speaks of Kunti as the region through which flowed the Ashva Nadi (Vanaparva, 308.7) a tributary of Chambal. Kunti is identified with Kontwar through which flows Kumari River.

V S Agarwal [5] writes names of some important tribes in the Ganapatha, which deserve to be mentioned as being of considerable importance. We are indebted to the Greek historians of Alexander for the information that most of these were republics. These tribes include - Hāstināyana, Āśvāyana, Āśvakāyana. The first is mentioned in Sutra VI.4.174, the second in IV.1.110, and the third in Naḍadi gana (IV.1.99)

[p.454]: While describing Alexander’s campaign from Kapisa towards the Indus through Gandhara, the Greek historians mention three warlike peoples, viz., Astakenoi, with capital at Peukelaotis, the Aspasioi in the valley of Kunar or Chitral River and the Assakenoi settled between the Swat and the Panjkora rivers, with the capital at Massaga, and more especially in the mountainous regions of the Swat. The Paninian evidence throws light on these three names for the first time:

The Asvayanas and the Asvakayanas were the bravest fighters of all, being strongly entrenched in their mountainous fortresses. Alexander himself directed the operations against them. The Ashvakayana capital at Massaga or Masakavati is given in Bhashya as the name of a river (IV.2.71), that should be looked for in that portion of the Suvastu in its lower reaches where Mazaga or Massanagar is situated on it at a distance of 24 miles from Bajaur in the Yusufzai country. In times of danger the Asvakayanas withdrew into the impregnable defences of their hilly fortress which the Greeks have named Aornos. It appears to be same as Varaṇā of the Ashtadhyayi (see ante, p.69, for its identification with modern Uṇrā on the Indus). The Greeks also mention another of their towns, viz., Arigaeon, which commanded the road between the Kunar and Panjkira valleys, and is comparable with Ārjunāva of the Kashika (ṛijunāvām nivāso deshaḥ, IV.2.69).

H. W. Bellew[6] writes that After the capture of Aornos, Alexander, descending from the Rock, marched into the territories of the Assakenoi (perhaps the Aswaka or Assaka, the tribe perhaps of the Assagetes, which name may stand for Assa Jat of the Assa tribe of the Jat nation or race; the Assakenoi may be now represented by the Yaskun as before stated), in pursuit of the Barbarians who had fled into the mountains there; and when he arrived at the city of Dyrta (capital perhaps of the Darada), there, he found both that and the country around entirely destitute of inhabitants. (Alexander appears to have crossed the Barandu river into the Puran and Chakesar valleys, now inhabited by the Chagharzi Afghans; there is a castellated village in Chakesar called Daud perhaps the Musalman disguise of a native Dardu, possibly so named from inhabitants of the Dardu tribe.)

James Tod [7] writes that The Indo-Scythic tribes were designated by the names of animals. The Barahas are the hogs ; the Numries, the foxes ; Takshaks, the snakes ; Aswas or Asi, the horses, etc.

James Tod[8] writes that the tribes here alluded to are the Haihaya or Aswa, the Takshak, and the Jat or Getae; the similitude of whose theogony, names in their early genealogies, and many other points, with the Chinese, Tatar, Mogul, Hindu, and Scythic races, would appear to warrant the assertion of one common origin.

James Todd[9] writes that To the Indu race of Aswa (the descendants of Dvimidha and Bajaswa), spread over the countries on both sides the Indus, do we probably owe the distinctive appellation of Asia. Herodotus [10] says the Greeks denominated Asia from the wife of Prometheus ; while others deduce it from a grandson of Manes, indicating the Aswa descendants of the patriarch Manu. Asa, Sakambhari, Mata, is the divinity Hope, ' mother-protectress of the Sakha,' or races. Every Rajput adores Asapurna, ' the fulfiller of desire ' ; or, as Sakambhari Devi (goddess protectress), she is invoked previous to any undertaking.

The Aswas were chiefly of the Indu race ; yet a branch of the Suryas also bore this designation. It appears to indicate their celebrity as horsemen. [11] All of them worshipped the horse, which they sacrificed to the sun. This grand rite, the Asvamedha, on

[p. 77]: the festival of the winter solstice, would alone go far to exemplify their common Scythic origin with the Getic Saka, authorising the inference of Pinkerton, " that a grand Scythic nation extended from the Caspian to the Ganges."

H. W. Bellew writes with reference to Arrian who calls them Aspioi which is nearer to the current Pukhto Isapi or Isapzi (of the modern Yusufzi) and in that of Asskanus (Aswaka — " of the Aswa," a tribe anciently inhabiting the Swat valley, now represented by the Aspin of Chitral, and Yashkun or Yaskan of Yasin and Gilgit), in the beginning of spring he descended into the plains to the city of Taxila (the site of which is marked by the modern Takhal villages near the Peshawar cantonment ; not by the Taxila found east of the Indus, for Alexander has nob yet crossed that river).[12]

In Mahabharata

Ashwa (अश्व) is mentioned in Mahabharata (I.59.24), (I.61.14),

Adi Parva, Mahabharata/Mahabharata Book I Chapter 59 mentions Genealogy of Danavas, Gandharvas, Apsaras, Yakshas, Rakshasas. Ashwa was son of Danu mentioned in verse (I.59.24). [13]

Adi Parva, Mahabharata/Mahabharata Book I Chapter 61 mentions Genealogy of the Danavas, Asuras etc. Ashwa is mentioned in verse (I.61.14)...."That great Asura who was known as Ashwa (I.61.14) became on earth the monarch Ashoka of exceeding energy and invincible in battle. [14] The younger brother of Ashwa who was known as Ashwapati, a son of Diti, became on earth the mighty monarch Hardikya (I.61.15). 15 [15]

External links


  1. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.154, 184, 219
  2. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.60
  3. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.450
  4. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.60
  5. V S Agarwal, India as Known to Panini,p.453-454
  6. An Inquiry Into the Ethnography of Afghanistan, H. W. Bellew, p.69
  7. Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, Volume II, Annals of Jaisalmer, pp.209, fn-5
  8. Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, Volume I,, James Todd Annals/Chapter 6 Genealogical history of the Rajput tribes subsequent to Vikramaditya
  9. James Todd Annals/Chapter 6 Genealogical history of the Rajput tribes subsequent to Vikramaditya, Vol I, pp.76-77
  10. iv. 45 [Asia probably means ' land of the rising sun.']
  11. Aswa and haya are synonymous Sanskrit terms for ' horse ' ; asp in Persian ; and as applied by the prophet Ezekiel [xxxviti. 6] to the Getic invasion of Scythia, a.c. 600 : " the sons of Togarmah riding on horses " ; described by Diodorus, the period the same as the Takshak invasion of India.
  12. An Inquiry Into the Ethnography of Afghanistan By H. W. Bellew, The Oriental University Institute, Woking, 1891, p.65
  13. सवर्भानुर अश्वॊ ऽशवपतिर वृषपर्वाअजकस तथा, अश्वग्रीवश च सूक्ष्मश च तुहुण्डश च महासुरः (I.59.24)
  14. यस तव अश्व इति विख्यातः शरीमान आसीन महासुरः, अशॊकॊ नाम राजासीन महावीर्यपराक्रमः (I.61.14)
  15. तस्माद अवरजॊ यस तु राजन्न अश्वपतिः समृतः, दैतेयः सॊ ऽभवद राजा हार्दिक्यॊ मनुजर्षभः (I.61.15)

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