James Todd Annals/Chapter 2 Genealogies continued

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James Tod: Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, Volume I,
Publisher: Humphrey Milford Oxford University Press 1920

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Chapter 2
Genealogies continued - Fictions in the Puranas — Union of the regal and the priestly characters — Legends of the Puranas confirmed by the Greek historians

Puranic Genealogies

The chronicles of the Bhagavat and Agni, containing the genealogies of the Surya (sun) and Indu [moon) races, shall now be examined. The first of these, by calculation, brings down the chain to a period six centuries subsequent to Vikramaditya (A.D. 650), so that these books may have been remodelled or commented on about this period : their fabrication, cannot be supposed.

Although portions of these genealogies by Sir William Jones, Mr. Bentley, and Colonel Wilford, have appeared in the volumes of the Asiatic Researches, yet no one should rest satisfied with the inquiries of others, if by any process he can reach the fountain-head himself.

If, after all, these are fabricated genealogies of the ancient

[p.30: families of India, the fabrication is of ancient date, and they are all they know themselves upon the subject. The step next in importance to obtaining a perfect acquaintance with the genuine early history of nations, is to learn what those nations repute to be such.

Doubtless the original Puranas contained much valuable historical matter ; but, at present, it is difficult to separate a little pure metal from the base alloy of ignorant expounders and interpolators. I have but skimmed the surface : research, to the capable, may yet be rewarded by many isolated facts and important transactions, now hid under the veil of ignorance and allegory.

Neglect of History by the Hindus

The Hindus, with the decrease of intellectual power, their possession of which is evinced by their architectural remains, where just proportion and elegant mythological device are still visible, lost the relish for the beauty of truth, and adopted the monstrous in their writings as well as their edifices. But for detection and shame, matters of history would be hideously distorted even in civilized Europe ; but in the East, in the moral decrepitude of ancient Asia, with no judge to condemn, no public to praise, each priestly expounder may revel in an unfettered imagination, and reckon his admirers in proportion to the mixture of the marvellous 1 [26]. Plain historical truths have long ceased to interest this artificially fed people.

If at such a comparatively modern period as the third century before Christ, the Babylonian historian Berosus composed his fictions, which assigned to that monarchy such incredible antiquity, it became capable of refutation from the many historians of repute who preceded him. But on the fabulist of India we have no such check. If Vyasa himself penned these legends as now existing, then is the stream of knowledge corrupt from the fountain-head. If such the source, the stream, filtering through ages of ignorance, has only been increased by fresh impurities. It is difficult to conceive how the arts and sciences could advance,

1. The celebrated Goguet remarks on the madness of most nations pretending to trace their origin to infinity. The Babylonians, the Egyptians, and the Scythians, particularly, piqued themselves on their high antiquity, and the first assimilate with- the Hindus in boasting they had observed the course of the stars 473,000 years. Each heaped ages on ages ; but the foundations of this pretended antiquity are not supported by probability, and are even of modern invention (Origin of Laws).

[p. 31]: when it is held impious to doubt the truth of whatever has been handed down, and still more to suppose that the degenerate could improve thereon. The highest ambition of the present learned priesthood, generation after generation, is to be able to comprehend what has thus reached them, and to form commentaries upon past wisdom ; which commentaries are commented on ad infinitum. Whoever dare now aspire to improve thereon must keep the secret in his own breast. They are but the expounders of the olden oracles ; were they more they would be infidels. But this could not always have been the case.

With the Hindus, as with other nations, the progress to the heights of science they attained must have been gradual ; unless we take from them the merit of original invention, and set them down as borrowers of a system. These slavish fetters of the mind must have been forged at a later period, and it is fair to infer that the monopoly of science and religion was simultaneous. What must be the effect of such monopoly on the impulses and operations of the understanding ? Where such exists, knowledge could not long remain stationary; it must perforce retrograde. Could we but discover the period when religion 1 ceased to be a profession [27] and became hereditary (and that such there was these very genealogies bear evidence), we might approximate the era when science attained its height.

The Priestly Office

In the early ages of these Solar and Lunar dynasties, the priestly office was not hereditary in families ; it was a profession ; and the genealogies exhibit frequent instances of branches of these races terminating their martial career in the

1. It has been said that the Brahmanical religion was foreign to India ; but as to the period of importation we have but loose assertion. We can easily give credit to various creeds and tenets of faith being from time to time incorporated, ere the present books were composed, and that previously the sons of royalty alone possessed the office. Authorities of weight inform us of these grafts ; for instance, Mr. Colebrooke gives a passage in his Indian Classes : " A chief of the twice-born tribe was brought by Vishnu's eagle from Saca Dwipa ; hence Saca Dwipa Brahmins were known in Jambu Dwipa." By Saka Dwipa, Scythia is understood, of which more will be said hereafter. Ferishta also, translating from ancient authorities, says, to the same effect, that " in the reign of Mahraje, King of Canouj, a Brahmin came from Persia, who introduced magic, idolatry, and the worship of the stars " ; so that there is no want of authority for the introduction of new tenets of faith. [The passage, inaccurately quoted, is taken from Dow i. 16. See Briggs's translation, i. Introd. Ixviii.]

[p.32]: commencement of a religions sect, or gotra, and of their descendants reassuming their warlike occupations. Thus, of the ten sons of Ikshwaku, 1 three are represented as abandoning worldly affairs and taking to religion ; and one of these, Kanina, is said to be the first who made an agnihotra, or pyreum, and worshipped fire, while another son embraced commerce. Of the Lunar line and the six sons of Pururavas, the name of the fourth was Raya ; " from him the fifteenth generation was Harita, who with his eight brothers took to the office of religion, and established the Kausika Gotra, or tribe of Brahmans."

From the twenty-fourth prince in lineal descent from Yayati, by name Bharadwaja, originated a celebrated sect, who still bear his name, and are the spiritual teachers of several Rajput tribes.

Of the twenty-sixth prince, Manava, two sons devoted themselves to religion, and established celebrated sects, viz. Mahavira, whose descendants were the Pushkar Brahmans ; and Sankriti. whose issue were learned in the Vedas From the line of Ajamidha these ministers of religion were continually branching off.

In the very early periods, the princes of the Solar line, like the Egyptians and Romans, combined the offices of the priesthood with kingly power, and this whether Brahmanical or Buddhist. 2 Many of the royal line, before and subsequent to Rama, passed great part of their lives as ascetics ; and in ancient sculpture and drawings the head is as often adorned with the braided lock of the ascetic as with the diadem of royalty. 3

The greatest monarchs bestowed their daughters on these royal hermits and sages [28]. Ahalya, the daughter of the powerful Panchala, 4 became the wife of the ascetic Gautama. The sage Jamadagni espoused the daughter of Sahasra 5 Arjuna, of

1.Sec Table T. [now obsolete, not reprinted].

2. Some of the earlier of the twenty-four Tirthakaras, or Jain hierarchs, trace their origin from the solar race of princes. [As usual, Buddhism confused with Jainism.]

3. Even now the Rana of Mewar mingles spiritual duties with those of royalty, and when he attends the temple of the tutelary deity of his race, he performs himself all the offices of the high priest for the day. In this point a strong resemblance exists to many of the races of antiquity.

4. Prince of the country of Panjab, or five streams east of the Indus. [Panchala was in the Ganges-Jumna Duab and its neighbourhood.]

5. The legend of this monarch stealing his son-in-law's, the hermit's, cow (of which the Ramayana gives another version), the incarnation of Parasuram, son of Jamadagni, and his exploits, appear purely allegorical, signifying the violence and oppression of royalty over the earth (prithivi), personified by the sacred gao, or cow; and that the Brahmans were enabled to 'wrest royalty from the martial tribe, shows how they had multiplied.

On the derivatives from the word gao, I venture an etymology for others to pursue :

[greek], that which produces all things (from ...., genero) ; the earth. — Jones's Dictionary.

TAAA, (greek) Milk. Gaola, Herdsman, in Sanskrit. [greek], Galatians, or Gauls, and Celts (allowed to be the same) would be the shepherd races, the pastoral invaders of Europe [?].

[p. 33]: Mahishmat, 1 king of the Haihaya tribe, a great branch of the Yadu race.

Among the Egyptians, according to Herodotus [ii. 87, 141], the priests succeeded to sovereignty, as they and the military class alone could hold lands ; and Sethos, the priest of Vulcan, caused a revolution, by depriving the military of their estates.

We have various instances in India of the Brahmans from Jamadagni to the Mahratta Peshwa, contesting for sovereignty ; power 2 and homage being still their great aim, as in the days of Vishvamitra 3 and Vasishtha, the royal sages [29] whom " Janaka

1. Maheswar, on the Nerbudda River.

2. Hindustan abounds with Brahmans, who make excellent soldiers, as far as bravery is a virtue ; but our officers are cautious, from experience, of admitting too many into a troop or company, for they still retain their intriguing habits. I have seen nearly as many of the Brahmans as of military in some companies ; a dangerous error [realized in the Great Mutiny]. ;

3. The Brahman Vasishtha possessed a cow named Savala, so fruitful that with her assistance he could accomplish whatever he desired. By her aid he entertained King Vishvamitra and his army. It is evident that this cow denotes some tract of country which the priest held (bearing in mind that gao, prithivi, signify ' the earth,' as well as ' cow ') : a grant, beyond doubt, by some of Vishvamitra's unwise ancestors, and which he wished to resume. From her were supplied " the oblations to the gods and the pitrideva (father- gods, or ancestors), the perpetual sacrificial fire, the burnt-offerings and sacrifices." This was " the fountain of devotional acts " ; this was the Savala for which the king offered " a hundred thousand cows " ; this was " the jewel of which a king only should be proprietor." — The subjects of the Brahman appeared not to relish such transfer, and by " the lowing of the cow Savala " obtained numerous foreign auxiliaries, which enabled the Brahman to set his sovereign at defiance. Of these " the Pahlavi (Persian); kings, the dreadful Sakas (Sakai), and Yavanas (Greeks), with scymitars and ; gold armour, the Kambojas," etc., were each in turn created by the all- producing cow. The armies of the Pahlavi kings were cut to pieces by Vishvamitra ; who at last, by continual reinforcements, was overpowered

[p.34]: sovereign of Mithila, addressed with folded hands in token of superiority."

Relations of Rajputs with Brahmans

But this deference for the Brahmans is certainly, with many Rajput classes, very weak. In obedience to prejudice, they show them outward civility ; but, unless when their fears or wishes interfere, they are less esteemed than the bards.

The story of the King Vishvamitra of Gadhipura 1 and the Brahman Vasishtha, which fills so many sections of the first book of the Ramayana, 2 exemplifies, under the veil of allegory, the

by the Brahman's levies. These reinforcements would appear to have been the ancient Persians, the Sacae, the Greeks, the inhabitants of Assam and Southern India, and various races out of the pale of the Hindu religion ; all classed under the term Mlechchha, equivalent to the ' barbarian ' of the Greeks and Romans.

The King Vishvamitra, defeated and disgraced by this powerful priest, " like a serpent with his teeth broken, like the sun robbed by the eclipse of its splendour, was filled with perturbation. Deprived of his sons and array, stripped of his pride and confidence, he was left without resource as a bird bereft of his wings." He abandoned his kingdom to his son, and like all Hindu princes in distress, determined, by penitential rites and austerities, " to obtain Brahmanhood." He took up his abode at the sacred Pushkar, living on fruits and roots, and fixing his mind, said, " I will become a Brahman." By these penances he attained such spiritual power that he was enabled to usurp the Brahman's office. The theocrats caution Vishvamitra, thus determined to become a Brahman by austerity, that " the divine books are to be observed with care only by those acquainted with their evidence ; nor does it become thee (Vishvamitra) to subvert the order of things established by the ancients." The history of his wanderings, austerities, and the temptations thrown in his way is related. The celestial fair were commissioned to break in upon his meditations. The mother of love herself descended ; while Indra, joining the cause of the Brahmans, took the shape of the kokila, and added the melody of his notes to the allurements of Rambha, and the perfumed zephyrs which assailed the royal saint in the wilderness. He was proof against all temptation, and condemned the fair to become a pillar of stone. He persevered " till every passion was subdued," till " not a tincture of sin appeared in him," and gave such alarm to the whole priesthood, that they dreaded lest his excessive sanctity should be fatal to them : they feared " mankind would become atheists." " The gods and Brahma at their head were obliged to grant his desire of Brahman- hood ; and Vashishtha, conciliated by the gods, acquiesced in their wish, and formed a friendship with Vishvamitra " [Muir, Original Sanskril Texts, Part i. (1858), 75 ff.].

1. Kanauj, the ancient capital of the present race of Marwar. [This is a myth.]

2. See translation of this epic, by Messrs. Carey and Marshman [in verse, by R. T. H. Griffith].

[p. 35]: contests for power between the Brahmanical and military classes, and will serve to indicate the probable period when the castes became immutable. Stripped of its allegory, the legend appears to point to a time when the division of the classes was yet imperfect ; though we may infer, from the violence of the struggle, that it was the last in which Brahmanhood could be obtained by the military.

Vishvamitra was the son of Gadhi (of the race of Kausika), King of Gadhipura, and contemporary of Ambarisha, King of Ayodhya or Oudh, the fortieth prince from Ikshwaku ; consequently about two hundred years anterior to Rama. This event therefore, whence we infer that the system of castes was approaching perfection, was probably about one thousand four hundred years before Christ.

Dates of the Genealogies

If proof can be given that these genealogies existed in the days of Alexander, the fact would be interesting. The legend in the Puranas, of the origin of the Lunar race, appears to afford this testimony.

Vyasa, the author of the grand epic the Mahabharata, was son of Santanu (of the race of Hari), 1 sovereign of Delhi, by Yojanagandha, a fisherman's daughter, 2 [30] consequently illegitimate. He became the spiritual father, or preceptor, of his nieces, the daughters of Vichitravirya, the son and successor of Santanu.

The Herakles Legend. — Vichitravirya had no male offspring. Of his three daughters, one was named Pandaia 3 ; and Vyasa,

1. Hari-Kula.

2. It is a very curious circumstance that Hindu legend gives to two of their most celebrated authors, whom they have invested with a sacred character, a descent from the aboriginal and impure tribes of India : Vyasa from a fisherman, and Valmiki, the author of the other grand epic the Ramayana, from a Baddhik or robber, an associate of the Bhil tribe at Abu. The conversion of Valmiki (said to have been miraculous, when in the act of robbing the shrine of the deity) is worked into a story of considerable effect, in the works of Chand, from olden authority.

3. The reason for this name is thus given. One of these daughters being by a slave, it was necessary to ascertain which : a difficult matter, from the seclusion in which they were kept. It was therefore left to Vyasa to discover the pure of birth, who determined that nobility of blood would show itself, and commanded that the princesses should walk uncovered before him. The elder, from shame, closed her eyes, and from her was born the blind Dhritarashtra, sovereign of Hastinapura ; the second, from the same feeling, covered herself with yellow ochre, called pandu, and henceforth she bore the name of Pandya, and her son was called Pandu ; while the third stepped forth unabashed. She was adjudged not of gentle blood, and her issue was Vidura.

[p.36]: being the sole remaining male branch of the house of Santanu, took his niece, and spiritual daughter, Pandaia, to wife, and became the father of Pandu, afterwards sovereign of Indraprastha. Arrian gives the story thus : "It is further said that he (Herakles) 1 had a very numerous progeny of children born to

1. A generic term for the sovereigns of the race of Hari, used by Arrian as a proper name [?]. A section of the Mahabharata is devoted to the history of the Harikula, of which race was Vyasa.

Arrian notices the similarity of the Theban and the Hindu Hercules, and cites as authority the ambassador of Seleucus, Megasthenes, who says : " This Herakles is held in special honour by the Sourasenoi, an Indian tribe who possess two large cities, Methora and Cleisobora. . . . But the dress which this Herakles wore, Megasthenes tells us, resembled that of the Theban Herakles, as the Indians themselves admit." [Arrian, Indika, viii., Methora is Mathura ; Growse (Mathura, 3rd ed. 279) suggests that Cleisobora is Krishnapura, ' city of Krishna.']

Diodorus has the same legend, with some variety. He says : " Hercules was born amongst the Indians, and like the Greeks they furnish him with a club and lion's hide. In strength (bala) he excelled all men, and cleared the sea and land of monsters and wild beasts. He had many sons, but only one daughter. It is said that he built Palibothra, and divided his kingdom amongst his sons (the Bahka-putras, sons of Bah). They never colonized ; but in time most of the cities assumed a democratical form of government (though some were monarchical) till Alexander's time." The combats of Hercules, to which Diodorus alludes, are those in the legendary haunts of the Harikulas, during their twelve years' exile from the seats of their fore- fathers.

How invaluable such remnants of the ancient race of Harikula ! How refreshing to the mind yet to discover, amidst the ruins on the Yamuna, Hercules (Baldeva, god of strength) retaining his club and lion's hide, standing on his pedestal at Baldeo, and yet worshipped by the Suraseni ! This name was given to a large tract of country round Mathura, or rather round Surpura, the ancient capital founded by Surasena, the grandfather of the Indian brother-deities, Krishna and Baldeva, Apollo and Hercules. The title would apply to either ; though Baldeva has the attributes of the ' god of strength.' Both are es (lords) of the race (kula) of Hari (Hari-kul-es), of which the Greeks might have made the compound Hercules. Might not a colony after the Great War have migrated westward ? The period of the return of the Heraclidae, the descendants of Atrens (Atri is progenitor of the Harikula), would answer : it was about half a century after the Great War. [These speculations are worthless.]

It is unfortunate that Alexander's historians were unable to penetrate into the arcana of the Hindus, as Herodotus appears to have done with those of the Egyptians. The shortness of Alexander's stay, the unknown language in which their science and religion were hid, presented an insuperable difficulty. They could have made very little progress in the study of the language without discovering its analogy to their own.

[p. 37]:

him in India . . . [31] but that he had only one daughter. 1 The name of this child was Pandaia, and the land in which she was born, and with the sovereignty of which Herakles entrusted her, was called after her name Pandaia " (Indika, viii.).

This is the very legend contained in the Puranas, of Vyasa (who was Hari-kul-es, or chief of the race of Hari) and his spiritual daughter Pandaia, from whom the grand race the Pandavas, and from whom Delhi and its dependencies were designated the Pandava sovereignty.

Her issue ruled for thirty-one generations in direct descents, or from 1120 to 610 before Christ ; when the military minister, 2 connected by blood, was chosen by the chiefs who rebelled against the last Pandu king, represented as " neglectful of all the cares of government," and whose deposition and death introduced a new dynasty.

Two other dynasties succeeded in like manner by the usurpation of these military ministers, until Vikramaditya, when the Pandava sovereignty and era of Yudhishthira were both overturned.

1. Arrian generally exercises his judgment in these matters, and is the reverse of credulous. On this point he says, " Now to me it seems that even if Herakles could have done a thing so marvellous, he could have made himself longer-lived, in order to have intercourse with his daughter when she was of mature age " [Indika, ix.].

Sandrocottus is mentioned by Arrian to be of this line ; and we can have no hesitation, therefore, in giving him a place in the dynasty of Puru, the second son of Yayati, whence the patronymic used by the race now extinct, as was Yadu, the elder brother of Puru. Hence Sandrocottus, if not a Puru himself, is connected with the chain of which the links are Jarasandha (a hero of the Bharat), Ripunjaya, the twenty-third in descent, when a new race, headed by Sanaka and Sheshnag, about six hundred years before Christ, usurped the seat of the lineal descendants of Puru ; in which line of usurpation is Chandragupta, of the tribe Maurya, the Sandrocottus of Alexander, a branch of this Sheshnag, Takshak, or Snake race, a race which, stripped of its allegory, will afford room for subsequent dissertation. The Prasioi of Arrian would be the stock of Puru; Prayag is claimed in the annals yet existing as the cradle of their race. This is the modern Allahabad ; and the Eranaboas must be the Jumna, and the point of junction with the Ganges, where we must place the capital of the Prasioi. [For Sandrokottos or Chandragupta Maurya see Smith, EHI, 42 ff. He certainly did not belong to the ' Snake Race.' The Erannoboas (Skr. Hiranyavaha, ' gold-bearing ') is the river Son. The Prasioi (Skr. Prachyas, dwellers in the east') had their capital at Pataliputra, the modern Patna (McCrindle, Alexander, 365 f.).]

2 Analogous to the maire du palais of the first races of the Franks.

[p.38]: Indraprastha remained without a sovereign, supreme power being removed from the north to the southern parts of India, till the fourth, or, according to some authorities, the eighth century after Vikrama, when the throne of Yudhishthira was once more occupied by the Tuar tribe of Rajputs, claiming descents from the Pandus. To this ancient capital, thus re founded, the new appellation of Delhi was given ; and the dynasty of the founder, Anangpal, lasted to the twelfth century, when he abdicated in favour of his grandson, 1 Prithiviraja, the last imperial Rajput sovereign of India, whose defeat and death introduced the Muhammadans.

This line has also closed with the pageant of a prince, and a colony returned from the extreme west is now the sole arbiter of the thrones of Pandu and Timur.

Britain has become heir to the monuments of Indraprastha raised by the descendants of Budha and Ila ; to the iron pillar of the Pandavas, " whose pedestal 2 [32] is fixed in hell " ; to the columns reared to victory, inscribed with characters yet unknown ; to the massive ruins of its ancient continuous cities, encompassing a space still larger than the largest city in the world, whose mouldering domes and sites of fortresses, 3 the very names of which are

1 His daughter's son. This is not the first or only instance of the Salic law of India being set aside. There are two in the history of the sovereigns of Anhilwara Patan. In all adoptions of this nature, when the child ' binds round his head the turban ' of his adopted father, he is finally severed from the stock whence he had his birth. [For the early history of Delhi see Smith, EHI, 386 ff.]

2 The khil, or iron pillar of the Pandus, is mentioned in the poems of Chand. An infidel Tuar prince wished to prove the truth of the tradition of its depth of foundation : " blood gushed up from the earth's centre, the pillar became loose (dhili)," as did the fortune of the house from such impiety. This is the origin of Delhi. [The inscription on the pillar proves the falsity of the legend, and the name Delhi is older than the Tuar dynasty (IGI, xi.233).]

3. I doubt if Shahpur is yet known. I traced its extent from the remains of a tower between Humayun's tomb and the grand column, the Kutb. In 1809 I resided four months at the mausoleum of Safdar Jang, the ancestor of the present [late] King of Oudh, amidst the ruins of Indraprastha, several miles from inhabited Delhi, but with which these ruins forms detached links of connexion. I went to that retirement with a friend now no more, Lieutenant Macartney, a name well known and honoured. We had both been employed in surveying the canals which had their sources in common from the head of the Jumna, where this river leaves its rocky barriers, the Siwalik chain, and issues into the plains of Hindustan. These canals on each side, fed by the parent stream, returned the waters again into it ; one through the city of Delhi, the other on the opposite side. (Cunningham, ASR, i. 207 ff.) proved that the true site of the ancient city, Siri, was the old ruined fort to the north-east of Rai Pithora's stronghold, which is at present called Shahpur. This identification has been disputed by C. J. Campbell (JASB, 1866, p. 206). But Cunningham gives good reasons for maintaining his opinion. The place took its name from Sher Shah and his son Islam or Salim Shah. See also Carr Stephens, Archaeological and Monumental Remains of DeUii (1876), pp. 87 f., 190.]

[p.39]: lost, present a noble field for speculation on the ephemeral nature of power and glory. What monument would Britain bequeath to distant posterity of her succession to this dominion ? Not one : except it be that of a still less perishable nature, the monument of national benefit. Much is in our power : much has been given, and posterity will demand the result.

End of Chapter 2 Genealogies continued