Did Megasthenes Meet Chandragupta Maurya

I got a comment on the post Dating Indian History by one GD Prasad , who claimed that to see the correct Indian History refer to Purana date, which I dismissed it as there was nothing to backup the comment. But curiously he said that the Chandragupta at the time of Alexander was of Gupta Dynasty not Maurya Dynasty. Now that worm has entered my head, After Googling much I am writing this article. Since this is the date that determines the entire Indian history is based on, we have to identify correctly who was the Chandragupta at the time of Alexander who met Megasthenes. Chandragupta Maurya is Indian King who renounced his empire and became jain monk , he went to Shravanbelagola in karnataka and died as simple man.
Megasthenes story
Megasthenes was the Greek ambassador sent by Seleucus Nicator in c. 302 B.C. to the court of the Indian king whom he and the Greek called "Sandrocottus". He was stationed in "Palimbothra", the capital city of the kingdom. It is not clear how many years Megasthenes stayed in India, but he did write an account of his stay, titled Indika. The manuscript Indika is lost, and there is no copy of it available. However, during the time it was available, many other Greek writers quoted passages from it in their own works. These quotations were meticulously collected by Dr. Schwanbeck in the nineteenth century, and this compilation is also available to us in English (J.M. McCrindle: Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian). When European Indologists were groping to date Indian history during the nineteenth century (after having arbitrarily rejected the various Puranas), the Megasthenes account came in very useful.
How Chandragupta Maurya was Equated with Sandrocottus – Sheet Anchor Chronology.
Sir William Jones could not believe in the antiquity of the Bharata War according to Indian accounts because of his Christian faith which told him that Creation took place at 9-00 a. m, on 23rd October 4004 BC. He tried to search the Greek and Roman accounts. These accounts supplied some information about India of the time of the Macedonian king Alexander. It mentioned seven names of three successive Indian kings. Attributing one name each for the three kings the names are Xandrammes, Sandrocottus and Sandrocyptus. Xandrammes of the previous dynasty was murdered by Sandrokottas whose son was Sandrocyptus.

Jones picked up one of these three names, namely, Sandrokottas and found that it had a sort of phonetic similarity with the name Chandragupta of the Puranic accounts. According to the Greek accounts, Palibothra was the capital of Sandrokottas. Jones took Palibothra as a Greek pronunciation of Pataliputra, the Indian city and capital of Chandragupta. He, then, declared that Sandrokottas of the Greek accounts is Chandragupta Maurya of the Puranas. Jones died just a year after this declaration and possibly before his death, could not know that Puranas have another Chandragupta of the Gupta dynasty.

Later scholars took this identity of Sandrokottas with Chandragupta Maurya as proved and carried on further research. James Princep, an employee of the East India Company, deciphered the Brahmi script and was able to read the inscriptions of Piyadassana. Turnour, another employee of the Company in Ceylon, found in the Ceylonese chronicles that Piyadassana was used as a surname of Asoka, the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya. The inscription bearing the name of Asoka was not found till the time of Turnour. In 1838, Princep found five names of the Yona kings in Asoka's inscriptions and identified them as the five Greek kings near Greece belonging to third century BC who were contemporary to Asoka.

In the Greek accounts, Sandrokottas of Palimbothra is described as a contemporary of Alexander of Macedonia who invaded India during 327 BC to 323 BC This decides the approximate date of Chandragupta Maurya. Princep's research decides the approximate date of Asoka, the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya as in 3rd century BC Both these dates were adjusted with the reign periods of the three successive Magadha kings, Chandragupta, Bindusara and Asoka of the Maurya dynasty given in the Puranas. Thus, the date c. 320 BC was fixed as the date of coronation of Chandragupta Maurya. It is on this date that every other date of Indian history has been constructed.

Max Mueller, in 1859 AD, finalized this identity of Sandrokottas with Chandragupta Maurya and declared c. 320 BC, the date of coronation of Chandragupta Maurya as the Sheet Anchor of Indian history. M. Troyer did not agree with this conclusion and noted this fact in the introduction to his translation of Rajatarangani of Kalhana. He even communicated his views to Prof. Max Mueller in a letter but did not receive a reply from him.
Smith's Chronology:
Historian V. A. Smith took the chronological identity asserted by the predecessors in this historical hierarchy as the basis for further calculation of the exact dates of the different dynasties that ruled over Magadha after and before the Mauryas. He took the aid of numismatics in addition to epigraphy. He could not however get over, as if by compunction, to follow the Puranas in the enumeration of the kings and their dynasties. But he reduced their reign periods. The total reduction done by these British scholars, from Jones to Smith, comes to 1300 years according to some Indian chronologists.

Indian View Chandragupta Maurya did not meet Megasthenes
  1. Megasthenes has nowhere mentioned the word Maurya
  2. He makes absolutely no mention of a person called either Chanakya or Kautilya.
  3. Indian historians have recorded two Chandr aguptas, one of the Maurya dynasty and another of the Gupta dynasty. Both of them had a grandson called Ashoka. While the Mauryan Chandragupta' s son was called Bimbasara (sometimes Bindusara), The Gupta Chandragupta had a son called Samudragupta. Interestingly Megasthenese has written that Sandrakuttos had a son called Samdrakyptos, which is phonetically nearer to Samudragupta and not Bindusara.
  4. The king lists given by the Puranas say that 1500 years elapsed from the time of the Kurukshetra war to the beginning of the Nanda dynasty's rule. If one assumes the Nandas' period to be 5th century BCE, this would put the Bharatha war around 1900 BCE whereas the traditional view has always been 3100 BCE. This gives a difference of 1200 years which go unaccounted.
  5. Megasthanese himself says 137 generations of kings have come and gone between Krishna and Sandrakuttos, whereas the puranas give around 83 generations only between Jarasandha's son (Krishna's contemporary) to the Nandas of the Magadha kingdom.. Assuming an average of 20 to 25 years per generation, the difference of 54 generations would account for the gap of the 1200 years till the time of Alexander.
  1. The Chinese have always maintained that Buddhism came to China from India around 1100 -1200 BCE, whereas the western historians tend to put Buddha at 500 BCE
  2. According to the Greek accounts, Xandrammes was deposed by Sandrokottas and Sandrocyptus was the son of Sandrokottas. In the case of Chandragupta Maurya, he had opposed Dhanananda of the Nanda dynasty and the name of his son was Bindusara. Both these names, Dhanananda and Bindusara, have no phonetic similarity with the names Xandrammes and Sandrocyptus of the Greek accounts.
  1. Asoka's empire was bigger than that of Chandragupta Maurya and he had sent missionaries to the so-called Yavana countries. But both of them are not mentioned. Colebrook has pointed out that the Greek writers did not say anything about the Buddhist Bhikkus though that was the flourishing religion of that time with the royal patronage of Asoka. Roychaudhari also wonders why the Greek accounts are silent on Buddhism.
  1. The empire of Chandragupta was known as Magadha empire. It had a long history even at the time of Chandragupta Maurya. In Indian literature, this powerful empire is amply described by this name but it is absent in the Greek accounts. It is difficult to understand as to why Megasthanese did not use this name and instead used the word Prassi which has no equivalent or counterpart in Indian accounts.
  1. To decide as to whether Pataliputra was the capital of the Mauryas, Puranas is the only source. Puranas inform us that all the eight dynasties that ruled Magadha after the Mahabharata War had Girivraja as their capital. Mauryas are listed as one of the eight dynasties. The name Pataliputra is not even hinted at, anywhere in the Puranas.
No Concrete Proofs:
The Western scholars and their followers in India have been all along insisting on concrete evidence for ancient Indian chronology but they themselves have not been able as yet, to furnish any such evidence for the sheet anchor.
All the evidence supplied so far is conjectural. No numismatic or inscriptional proof is available for the date. Same was the condition at the time of V. A. Smith. He had written, "Unfortunately, no monuments have been discovered which can be referred with certainty to tile period of Chandragupta Maurya and the archaeologist is unable to bring any tangible evidence afforded by excavations."
Pandit Bhagavaddatta seems to have studied the fragments of Megasthenes in more detail than those who decided the identity. On the basis of Megasthenes's statements, he has arrived at the following conclusions. "Yamuna was flowing through Palibotha i.e., Paribhadra, the capital of the Prassi kingdom. Palibothra was 200 miles from Prayaga on way to Mathura. The kshatriyas there were known as Prabhadrakas or Paribhadrakas. Their king was Chandraketu. The capital Paribhadra was near to Sindhu-Pulinda which is in Madhya Desha and is today termed as Kali-Sindha. The Karusha Sarovara was between Sindhu-Pulinda and Prayaga." He further states, "Pataliputra cannot be written as Palibothra in Greek because 'P', in Patali is written in Greek as English 'P', only ; then why 'P', in Putra is changed to 'B', in Greek? There is no instance where Sanskrit 'P', is changed to Greek 'B'." Putra cannot be Bothra.

Conclusion
Based on all these, I would say the Sandrakuttos of Megasthanese was not Chandragupta Maurya. As far as Chandragupta of Gupta Dynasty meeting Megasthenes , we will see in another Article.

Source
  • Defalsification of Indian history By Dr. Subramanian Swamy
  • Bharateeya Historiography by Sriram Sathe
Related Posts

11 comments:

  1. Indeed, Sandrokottas was not Maurya Chandragupta. Even the very Phonetic basis of identification should have been rejected at the time of Sir William Jones by a vote of 2 is to 1. Even Jones while suggesting this idea in 1793 demanded more research. But as we all know, the Satan Christian missionary Max Mueller was here on the very purpose to distort our history, nothing else could have emerged.
    Apart from the facts that you mentioned, one more very important point is-
    Guptas who are placed in the 3rd-4 th century are no where mentioned by the chinses traveller Fa Hein. Interestingly, students are still taught that he visited during the reign of Chandragupta= Devgupta= Vikrmaditya despite the fact that Fa Hein while mentioning numerous other kings, never gives a slightest hint about the emperor of India( The Guptas). Salute to Romila Thapar & NCERT!.
    One last thing for you to ponder over, Yavanas Of Arthashashtra or Puranas i.e. Yonas of Ashokan edicts are surly Not the Macedonians or Greeks.

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  2. The Other Article on Date of Buddha should be more interesting to you.

    http://controversialhistory.blogspot.com/2009/08/date-of-buddha.html

    Yavanas are not Greek, Wait for the Article

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  3. I don't know if Megasthenes mentioned Sandrakyptos as Sandrakottos's son or not, but it is for certain that Bindusara is mentioned in contemporary Greek account as Amitrochates (Greek for Amitraghaat i.e. Slayer of Enemies by which he was well known).
    Also since Megasthenes' book Indika is lost, we can never be sure whether he mentioned Chanakya or not.
    Please clear my doubt as to where Ashoka as the grandson of Chandragupta of the "Gupta" dynasty is mentioned.
    There is an interesting personality of the name Sasigupta, who is mentioned in the Greek sources as Sisicottos, who had helped Alexander but afterwards turned against him and curiously vanished from history after that. Some people have tried to equate him with Chandragupta Maurya because Chandragupta Maurya allegedly employed an army consisting mostly of Kambojas and Sasigupta was the leader of a mercenary army of a branch of Kambojas.

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  4. You cant take magasthanes words then there is no Greek history in India.

    We find nothing but sasi cuttus or sasi coptus helped alexander. What else do you have. His location is highly disputed.

    In the Greek accounts, we find the statements of the Greek and Roman writers belonging to the period from 4th century BC to 2nd century AD None of them have mentioned the names of Kautilya or Asoka. We have aramic and greek edict by ashoka , does not occur to you as strange, they did not know ashoka. Neither does Puranas mention chanakya to that date.

    Now only account on mauryas as the legend is of Gupta Period(400AD) - Mudrarakshasa gives legendary fables of Mauryas as below,it is the chief source of all the stories we hear about chandragupta.
    Chanakya, minister of the king Nanda (Dhana Nanda), allies himself with Chandragupta in the latter's plans for usurpation and is forced out by the king. Chanakya's pact with king Parvata from the Northwest ensures his victory over Nanda. Parvata and Chandragupta divide up the old possessions of Nanda. Next, Parvata dies poisoned by a youth and his son Malayaketu succeeds him. Malayaketu, together with Rakshasa, the last minister of Nanda, demands the inheritance of all the old territories of the Nanda. The drama begins when Malayaketu and his allies (the kings of Persia, Sind and Kashmir) are poised to attack Pataliputra (present day Patna), the capital of Chandragupta. The outcome arrives when Chanakya, by the use of guile, manages to attract Rakshasa to the Maurya side, thus undoing the coalition of Malayaketu.

    The historical authenticity of the Mudrarakshasa is somewhat supported by the description of this period of history in Classical Hellenistic sources: the violent rule of the Nanda, the usurpation of Chandragupta, the formation of the Maurya Empire, and the various battles with the kingdoms of the Northwest resulting from the conquests of Alexander the Great. But why should a writer sitting in Vakataka(south India) describe the events and people occurring 600 years before him in a distant northwest? In fact R.K pruthi says Mudrarakshasa read Gupta experiences into Mauryas context.

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  5. Now the Buddhist and Purana sources are silent on this story, casting doubts on this story and it was written in 4th century AD. The Chinese traveler Fa-Hian who visited Pataliputra says it is ruined city. Ruined city? Captial of mighty guptas at that time? And Fa-Hian does not talk about Guptas.

    Chandragupta of Alexander time is ChandraGupta of Gupta Dynasty.
    Ranjith pal identified, The main stratagem of the drama in the theft of a signet-ring, which, according to him, is linked to the mysterious manner in which Perdikkas produced Alexander's signet-ring. Crashing gates, poisoning cups, poison-maidens and forged letters feature prominently in the drama, and the same devices also appear in Alexander's history. Ranjit pal identifies sasicutts with Chandragupta. Purana confirms the not so noble ways of Guptas. But western historians will differ and say , the story is a combination of Babylon and Darius story.

    Samundragupta took to Bhuddism after defeating 16 kings and took the title of Ashokaditya(first one to have no sorrorws) and was generally knowns as ashoka. He progated Buddhism. Ashoka of Mauryas (called Ashokavardhan) was king in magadha by purana sources. Much of the edicts of ashoka are attributed to Samudragupta. In the Manjushrimulakalpa, a Buddhistic work, the description of Samudra Gupta fits well with that of the conqueror Ashoka of the inscriptions.
    The Piyadassi Inscriptions are of twofold nature: the ones which belong to Ashoka Maurya and the ones which belong to Ashoka Gupta or Samudra. Bindusara does not tally with Amitrochates or alithrogates. In fact 'Amitraghata' (Slayer of enemies) and 'Ajathasetru' (Man having no enemies) tallies with Ashokaditya. Only puranas mention Ashoka not greek.

    Now coming to Chronology
    Megasthanes
    Xandremes Sandrocottus Sandrocyptus Xandremes(puranic view Maurya- Nanda, Chandragupta Maurya, Bindusara, Ashoka)(Indian view Gupta- Chandramsi, chandragupta Gupta, samudragupta).(Western view - Magesthanes mentions maurya not Gupta).
    Both Sandracottus and Amitrochates received envoys, both are now lost except few passages.
    Strabo says
    Generally speaking, the men who hitherto have written on the affairs of India, were a set of liars. Deimachus holds the first place in the list, Megasthenes comes next, while Onesicritus and Nearchus, with others of the same class, manage to stammer out a few words [of truth]. Of this we became the more convinced whilst writing the history of Alexander. No faith whatever can be placed in Deimachus and Megasthenes. They coined the fables concerning men with ears large enough to sleep in, men without any mouths, without noses, with only one eye, with spider-legs, and with fingers bent backward. They renewed Homer's fable concerning the battles of the Cranes and Pygmies, and asserted the latter to be three spans high. They told of ants digging for gold, of Pans with wedge-shaped heads, of serpents swallowing down oxen and stags, horns and all; meantime, as Eratosthenes has observed, reciprocally accusing each other of falsehood."

    Kindly see my other articles on
    Myth of Alexander Invasion
    Who is diodotus Greek myth
    Date of Buddha
    India by Indologists

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  6. Kalinga – On the basis of Megasthenes’ account, Pliny says that Kalinga was an independent province during Chandragupta’s reign. But the Purana and Buddhist text evidence for Nanda’s control of Kalinga, their subsequent overthrow by Chandragupta, and also Chandragupta’s influence further south point towards Chandragupta’s control over Kalinga also.

    When Kalinga was under control of Nanda and Chandragupta. Bindusara was not a small ruler to lose kalinga, the question of Ashoka conquering Kalinga does not arise.

    So which chandragupta are we talking about

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  7. PL. see my paper on "The Pernicious effects of the misinterpreted Greek synchronism" presented a t eh ICIH 2009 conference . It can be browsed at the scribd site under my name Kosla Vepa

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  8. Rama Gupta son of Samudra gupta is mentioned in Lost of dramas of Visakhadatta entitled Devi chandraguptam, fragments of which are preserved in Natya darpana, a work on dramaturgy by Ramachandra and Gunachandra. Ramagupta was a cowardly ruler, and it is alleged that in response to the saka king's demand he agreed to surrender even his wife Dhuruvadevi. But honour was saved owing to the intervention of her husbands brother, chandragupta, who in the guise of a woman killed the saka ruler. Chandragupta did away with Ramagupta too and ascended the throne of pataliputra. Echoes of this story also comes from Bana's Harsacarita and the commentary on it by sankararya and some other later authorities like srinagara prakasa of Bhoja, the sanjan plates of Amoghavarsha and the mujmalut tawarikh.
    source History of Ancient India by Rama Shankar Tripathi

    Now the Signet ring story is similar to this story, so the sasicottus can be Chandragupta II of Gupta Dynasty.

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  9. There is no evidence whatsoever that William Jones' skepticism of the traditional dating of the Bharata War was due to his alleged Christian faith "which told him" that history began in 4004 BC. This dating of the biblical Creation was the speculation of Bishop James Ussher (d. 1656). It is more likely due to the modernist recognition that 'foundational narratives' were conventionally archaeo-dated by premodern authors to establish their primordiality. Also, Max Muller was not a missionary as Sanjay mistakenly assumes, let alone "the Satan Christian missionary" who came just to "distort our history". Honestly!

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  10. @Author,

    It was really an impressive research. Thanks for putting many points together.

    I have few questions (I am asking out of my curiosity and not to harass you or check your knowledge)

    1. If Chanakya existed in Chandragupta's period, why is there no evidence in the form of statue/coin/palace? Because, he was the main person behind the Chandragupta's success, it is obvious Chandragupta (or his successors)must have celebrated his name in the form of some material memory. But, I never heard that there is any archeological evidence of Chanakya?

    2. Is there any manuscript available contemporary to Chandragupta's time? If yes, does it have a single word about chanakya?

    3. Even if we believe, that Megasthenses did not visit Chandragupta of mourya dynasty, how can we prove that Alexander didnt invade India during Nanda dynasty. Because, Megasthensis was contemporary to Alexander who was contemporary to Nanda. And it is generally believed that Chandragupta overthrew Nanda. So, it is very much acceptable that Chandragupta mourya who defeated Nanda and was contemporary to Alexander was actually visited by Megasthenses.

    4. I for a while believe that Chanakya didn't exist? Then who wrote Chanakya niti? Who wrote Kautilya Arthashastra? It is unlikely that one wrote such an exemplary books and gave someone else's name to it.

    5. If chanakya existed during Chandragupta mourya's time, then why is he not mentioned in any of the puran or book written after him for 5 centuries? Why Mudrarakshas who comes much later him, doesnt speak even a word about his personal life, when Jain and Buddhism (according to you) has abstract of his personal life?

    I personally respect Chanakya and want to establish his identity. So, I keep on searching for the cogent argument to put forth before my mates. Kindly help me with the above questions.

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    Replies
    1. Please read the Date of Buddha Article first and Indian Chronology page, Which will give perspective on Dates
      http://controversialhistory.blogspot.com/2009/10/origin-of-yavanas-greek-myth.html

      http://controversialhistory.blogspot.in/p/indian-chronology.html

      Chanakya existed
      Chanakya, Vishnugopa and Kautilya are not same. Kautilya is post.

      Images/Statues
      Who else is surviving as statue. Kalidasa came after Chanakya, Do we have statue of him. Read Origin of Buddha Image article, which will give perpective on Images/Statues. We dont find much for Chandragupta Maurya, You are talking about his minister.

      Now Let me ask few counter questions
      How do you saw Alexander came during period of Nandas, There is no evidence to say that.
      Xandrammes (Chandramas, Satavahanas of Magadha)was overthrown by Sandrocuttus (Gupta Chandragupta), whose son called sometimes Sandracyptus or soemtimes Amitrochates (Samudragupta).

      Now Identity of Chanakya. As I said before There is Chanakya, Vishnugopa and Kautilya. Kautilya is defintely Post name. I will come up with more information I get.

      More info in Date of Kamasutra.
      http://controversialhistory.blogspot.com/2011/04/dating-vatsyayanas-kamasutra.html

      http://controversialhistory.blogspot.com/2010/10/date-of-kalidasa-gupta-myth.html

      Delete

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