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Ayudhajivi Sanghas (आयुधजीवी संघ) were the Sanghas stated as such in the Ashtadhyayi of Panini. They were republican warrior tribes that lived by the profession of arms.[1] They were the same as Yodhajiva of Pali literature.

Variants of name

Mention by Panini

Ayudhajivins (आयुधजीविन), warrior tribes, is mentioned by Panini in Ashtadhyayi. [2]

Ayudhajivi Sanghas (आयुधजीवी संघ) are mentioned by Panini in Ashtadhyayi. [3]

Ayudhiya (आयुधीय), a member of warrior tribes, is a term mentioned by Panini in Ashtadhyayi. [4]

Ayudhiya-prayah (आयुधीय-प्राया:) is a term mentioned by Panini in Ashtadhyayi. [5]

Āyudhajīvī Sanghas

V S Agarwal [6] writes about Āyudhajīvī Sanghas – [p.434]: Panini refers to a number of Sanghas as Ayudhajivin (V.3.114-117), meaning those who lived by the profession of arms. Kautilya refers to two kinds of Janapadas,

  • (1) Āyudhīya prāyāh, those mostly comprising soldiers, and
  • (2) Shreni prāyāh, comprising guilds of craftsmen, traders and agriculturists. The former (and also his sastropajivins) correspond to Panini’s Ayudhajivi Sanghas, which were the same as Yodhajiva of Pali literature.

Four kinds of AyudhajivinsPanini classified his material of the Ayudhajivin Sanghas under several heads, viz.

  • 1. Sanghas in Vahika (V.3.114),
  • 2. Sanghas of Parvata (IV.3.91),
  • 3. Pūgas, organized under their Grāmaṇi in to some form of Sangha Govt (V.3.112), and lastly
  • 4. Vrātas living by depredation and violence (V.3.113, V.2.21), and having only semblance of Sangha.

The most advanced Ayudhajivin Sanghas belonged to the Vahika Country (V.3.114), which comprised the region from Indus to the Beas and and the Sutlej (Karnaparva, 44.7; Hindu polity, 1.34). These are the Yaudheyas, Kshudrakas and Malavas etc.

Mountaineers – A very important group of martial Sanghas comprised those occupying some parvata or mountainous region in north-west India.

[p.435] Evidently this parvata region must have been outside the plains of the Vahika Country, which brings us to the highlands of north-west as the homeland of the ayudhajivins. The Kashika mentions Hrdgoliyas Hridgola, probably Hi-lo of Yuan Chwang (modern Hidda south of Jalalabad); Andhakavartīyāḥ of Andhakavarta, perhaps Andkhui, a district in the north-east Afghanistan and Rohitagiriyas of Rohitagiri, which last is important as reminiscent of Roha, old name of Afghanistan. All this portion of the country is up to the present day peopled by hardy and warlike Mountaineers.The Markandeya Purana refers to mountain-dwellers of the west, including such names as Nihāras (Nigrahāra of Vayu, same as Nagarahāra or Jalalabad where Hṛidgola or Hiḍḍā is situated) and the Haṁsamārgas (modern Hunza in the north of Dardistan). Thus country of mountaineers extended from Kashmir to Afghanistan and most of the people settled in these mountains and their valleys were of the Ayudhajivin class. The Bhishmaparva specially mentions Girigahvaras (गिरिगह्वर) (VI.10.66), dwellers of mountain caves, as a people of the north-west (Bhishmaparva, 9.68, Udyogaparva, 30.24), and this epithet appropriately applies to the tribes of the north-west. They were the same as Sanghah girichāriṇaḥ and girigahvara-vasinah (Dronaparva, 93.48).

Arrian mentions these mountainous Indians as fighting in the army of Darius against Alexander at Arbela (Anabasis, III,8.3-6). It was these Parvatiya Ayudhajivin that offered stout resistance to Alexander in Bactria and Gandhara.

The approximate location of these Parvatiyas should be sought for in the region of the Hindukush on both sides of it. Roha, of medieval geographers, Rohitagiri of Panini, the ten Mandalas of Lohita (Sabhaparva, 24.16) and Rohitagiriyas of Kashika, all together point to the mountainous regions of the central and north-east Afghanistan as being the Parvata Country, which name survives in Kohistan.

[p.436]: We may now form a clear conception of the geographical distribution of three types of Sanghas in Panini:

  • (1) The Ayudhajivins of Vahika from the Indus upto the Beas and the Sutlej, of whom a special group occupying the mountainous Kangra region was called Trigarta-Shashṭha (V.3.116);
  • (2) Pugas, under the leadership of Gramanis, settled on the right bank of Indus (Sabhaparva,32.9), corresponding in all probability of present “Tribal Areas” to the west of the Indus;
  • (3) Parvatiyas, or the highlanders of Afghanistan and Hindukush, who included the tribes of Dardistan. These contained many living only in the Vrata stage of existence. It is evident that the Sanghas in the inner most belt were the best organized owing to Aryan contact and proximity and those in the outlying parts were much less civilized.

But besides Sanghas there were other elementary forms of democratic institutions in existence amongst those Ayudhajivins, three of which as Shreni, Pūga and Vrāta are particularly noteworthy. The word Shreni possessed a political significance. The Mahabharata also knows of Shreni as political institution. It mentions Shrenis fighting on the side of Duryodhana (Karnaparva, 5.40)

V S Agarwal [7] writes about Pūga – [p.437]: Puga was less developed than a regular Ayudhajivi Sangha, but better organized than a Vrāta. Kashika makes Puga a species of Sangha composed of members of different castes without any regular occupation, but probably of a peaceful character intent on earning money (V.3.112).

Panini mentions Puga along with Sangha and Gana in connection with a quorum. This shows that method of their deliberation in Puga was similar to that Sangha.

Grāmanī constitution of Puga - Sutra (V.3.112) throws light on the nature and constitution of Puga. It shows that Pugas derived their names in two ways; some were named after their leader or Gramani and some from other circumstances. The Kashika mentions Lohadhvaja, Chātaka and Sibi as Pugas whose names were not derived from those of their leaders. But Devadattaka and Yjñadattaka are given a typical names of Pugas called after the name of their Gramani. Thus those who recognized Devadatta as their Gramani were called Devadattakaḥ.

[p.438]: This custom is still prevailing in the north-west. Many of the Pathan tribes or khels are named after their ancestral leaders corresponding to ancient Gramanis. Isazai, Yusufzai both living on the banks of the Indus, are names of this type. The name of Puga as derived from its original Gramani founder continued later on through generations.

The association of Puga with Gramani in Panini’s Sutra points to their definite geographical area. We are told in Mahabharata that the warlike Grāmaṇīyas, i.e. clans named after their Garamanis, lived on the banks of Indus and they fought against Nakula in his western campaign. (Sindhu-kulasrita ye cha gramanya mahabala, Sabhaparva, 32.9).

We may thus locate the Puga type of Sanghas organized under Garamani leaders in the tribal area to the west of the Indus. Panini names some of these war like tribes of the north-west frontier, e.g. Aśani (V.3.117), Shinwāris with their parent stock of the Kārshbuns, to be identified with Kārshāpaṇas in the same Gana, the Āprītas or Aparītas (IV.2.53) , same as Greek Aparytai, modern Afridis.

The Pathans are an ancient people, settled in their original homeland, the country of Pakthas or Pakteys (country Paktyike) mentioned as being in the north-west India by Herodotus, from which Pakhtun is derived.

Several ancient Sanskrit names in Ganas correspond to name of these clans, e.g. Pavindas (IV.1.110) corresponding to modern Powindas settled in Gomal valley, armed tribesmen formerly occupying the Wana plain, and Vanavyas (IV.1.99, people of the Vanāyu country), corresponding to the people of wide open Wana Valley in the north of Gomal River.

These clans (Pugas) are still governed by their council of Elders.

V S Agarwal [8] writes about Vrātas = Vrātyas - [p.440]: The Vratas seem to have been same as Vratyas. They are said to used a kind of very small wagon covered with a plank for seat and useful for driving along trackless paths (vipatha; also phalakāstīrṇa, from which Hindi word phirak, a dialectical word still in use), a string less bow not using arrows but probably sling balls or pellets, below like skin quivers as used by Shakas, a silver disc around neck, goat-skin or postīn (āvika), tilted cornate turban, and a kind of cloth woven with black thread or of a different colour, but fringed with streaks of black colour, and called kadru . Panini’s reference to Taitila-Kadru (VI.2.42) is very likely to the Kadru cloth of the Taitila Country. Kautilya mentions Taitila as a breed of horses which from its association with other names of north-western countries as Kambhoja, Sindhu, Bahlika, Sauvira, and Vānāyu (Wana Valley) should be taken as being imported from north-west India. This gives an indication of the place of origin of the Taitila-kadru, if the rendering of kadru as the name of a fabric in use amongst the Vratya be correct.

The Vratyas were more backward in their political organization than Pugas. They were subordinate to a leader distinguished by his nishka ornament of silver. Like the Pugas, their leader also seems to have been called Gramani (V.3.112)

[p.441]: Vratya-stomas - Earnest attempts were made to reclaim these people to the Aryan fold by the performance of some easy rituals called Vratya-stomas, considered adequate to purify them, to put an end to their stigma, and to entitle them to social intercourse. These social formations indicate a vigourous movement to absorb in the Hindu society elements that were outside the Aryan pail. In Panini’s time social movements of this type were in brisk operation as evidenced by certain words in the Ashtadhyayi. Sometimes even after transition of a particular people from the Vrata stage to Sangha, pockets of Vrata soldiery continued to exist. This was true of Andhaka-Vrishni Sangha, about which Krishna says that ‘contingents, 18000 strong, are organized still as Vratas in our Kula organization’(Sabhaparva, 13.55).

V. S. Agrawala[9] mentions Ayudhajivi Sanghas – [p.443]: Panini mentions Ayudhajivi Sanghas by name in sutra V.3.115-117 and in the three Ganas of these sutras, Dāmanayādi, Parśvādi, and Yaudheyādi. The chapter opens with a reference to such Sanghas in the Vāhīka country, the cradle land of martial tribes who cultivated military art as a way of life. Mostly they were Kshatriyas, But Sutra V.3.114 shows that some of them were Brahmans also, e.g. the Gopālavas, and others called Rājanyas, which most likely correspond to those Hill States whose ruling classes designate themselves as Ranas. The Śālaṅkayanas are stated by Kashika to have belonged to the Rajanya class, and they seem to be an ancient community, as even Patanjali mentions them by the name Trika (V.1.58; II.352), probably on account of their League of three states (on the analogy of Shashtha as applied to League of six Trigartas, V.3.116).

Names of Sanghas in the Sutras – The following ayudhjivi Sanghas are mentioned in the Sutras:

1. Vṛika (V.3.115) 2. Damani (V.3.116) 3. Trigarta-Shashṭha (V.3.116) 4. Yaudheya (V.3.117) 5. Parśu (V.3.117)

For details see - India as Known to Panini (pp.443-466)

Jats as Ayudhajivi Samghas

Jat - Panini gives an exhaustive list of the "Ayudhjivi ganas' from whom the Jats are positively believed to have descended.[10] (Aggarwal, V.S.; India as known to Panini, Appendix III. pp. 522-560)

Jat Sangha - A number of the gotras of the present-day Jats are reminiscent of the Ayudhajivi republican ganas and samghas which flourished at the time of Panini.

Hukum Singh Panwar (Pauria)[11] writes abouy Ayudhajivi Samghas: In addition to the above tribes the classical historians of Alexander have described numerous other republican tribes of the Panjab and Sindh with some of their anthropological details. These republican tribes are dealt with at length by Panini but, unfortunately, he remains silent regarding their anthropological picture and ethnological affiliations. However, the recent researches show that the republican tribes Ayudhajivi Samghas were unquestionably the forefathers of the Jats of the Panjab and Sindh. "The evidence of anthropometry and of physical similarity between the modern Jats and the republican tribes of the ancient Panjab, of a close survey of linguistics, customs, usages, institutions and habits of the present day Jats and those of the Warrior tribes of ancient Panjab, reveals a remarkable similarity between the two people. Very significantly the present day Jat fraternity displays almost the same preference for equality, kinship and democratic ways, the adeptness in war and agriculture, and the same repugnance to the rigidity of caste, creed and ritual, whichwere so characteristic of the republicans of the Panjab and Sindh. These similarities are so crucial that we cannot brush them aside lightly without seriously undermining the proof of customs, usages and institutions in ethnic studies. A small amount of positive evidence is more valuable than a great deal of doubtful conjecture"193.

For about a millennium (from the 4th century B.C. to the 6th century A.D.) the republican tribes had to wage a tough struggle for survival and to maintain themselves and their way of life. Sandwiched as they were between the successive foreign invasions from the west after 4th century B.C. and the imperialistic onslaughts from Magadha

The Jats:Their Origin, Antiquity and Migrations: End of p.147

or Patliputra in the east194, these "Audhajivi ganas and samghas", were compelled to move to the hinter lands in the south eastern Panjab, U.P. and the north eastern Rajasthan195.

Their migrations:

Their migrations are confirmed by numismatic records. They are mentioned in the Allahabad Pillar Inscription of Samudra Gupta, _ "the Nepoleon of India". They are said to have Played a Significant role in the elections of Harshavardhana (A.D. 606) and Gopala (A.D. 750). Godaras later reserved the right consecrating the so-called Rajput rulers of the Bikaner native State. Soma Dev Suri gives a graphic description of the Yaudheyas in "Yasastilakchampu", a work of 11th century. They are described at length by Varahamihira in his "Brihatsamhita". Al Biruni makes a special mention of Sibis (Sivis or Sivas), of Jattaur (present Chitor). Later on they were called Sivarav or Seorana of Dadri and Loharu areas. Some important works,like Sarswatikan-thabharana of Raja Bhoja, Vijayanibhumikhanda and Ganaratanama-hodadhi (all of 12th century give a laudatory account of certain republic tribes like Yaudheyas, Arjunayanas and Uddhehikas. In addition to these medieval sources, modern historians and ethnographers, e.g., KK Dasgupta, Bela Lahiri, Sudhakar Chattopadhayay, Debi Prasad Chattopadhayaya, Shastri Yogananda, J.P: Sharma, S.B. Chaudhuri, M.K Sharan, M.R. Singh etc. have thrown a flood of light on the republican tribes of north-western India. But it is mainly M.K Sharan and late G.C. Dwivedi who amply testify to the fact that these tribes, despite the trials and tribulations expenenced by them in the course of their migrations, did not discard their republican character, the salient feature of their political life, and trace their descendents in the Jats and Rajputs of to-day, but mostly among Jats195a. They, however, remained unvanquished and without diminishing their undaunted spirit of martial emprise, which was, as inherited from their ancestors, assiduously kept intact by their descendents, the Jats196 . A number of the gotras of the present-day Jats are reminiscent of the Ayudhajivi republican ganas and samghas which flourished at the time of Panini 197 (Supra).

193. Dwivedi, Girish Chandra, op, cit., pp. 39Of.
194. Majumdar, RC.; Corporate Life in Anc. Ind., Cal., 1978, pp, 105-7, 121.22. Jayaswal, K.P.; Andhkar Yugin Bharat, pp. 3OOf.
195. Majumdar, RC.; op. cit., pp. 113·133. See also S.B. Chaudhuri. Ethnic Settlements in Anc.Ind., Vol. 1; M.R. Singh, Geog. Data from the Earliest Purana,; M.K. Saran, Tribal Coins; K.K. Das Gupta. Republican Tribes of Anc. lad.
195a. Supra. J.P. Sharma, 1968, p. 25.
196. Dwivedi, op. cit., p. 390 ..
197. Ibid .. p. 391, fn. 85.

List of Ayudhajivi Sanghas

Panini refers to a number of Sanghas as Ayudhajivin (V.3.114-117). Here is the list from V. S. Agrawala:India as Known to Panini, with page number in bracket:

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