Showing posts with label Kanishka. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kanishka. Show all posts

Dating Indian History - Towards a common Era

Most of disputes in history starts with dates, one claiming predating other. Let us see how difficult it is to know the exact year of existence of particular person from Inscriptions. We are restricting ourselves to Inscriptions as going to literature will open another Pandora box.
Inscriptions are dated in some many ways. Ranging from simple year date (regnal or era ) to detailed year month tithi(lunar day), week day and/or other calendrical or astronomical dates. Let us see the Era or dating used.
Regnal Year
This is practice dating records from regnal years of king , this method is used in most of the inscriptions. Beginning from Ashoka , continuing with satavahana, Ikshvaku, Vakatakas continued record in regnal years in their inscriptions, this continued in medieval period with Palas, Pallavas, Cholas, Pandyas. A typical inscription with regnal year, might say “ The great king of so-and-so with so-and-so titles with so-and-so achievements donated in the first year of of his reign “. The inscription may add the tithi or day of the week, or month in addition the regnal year. Unless additional reference date or another king or ruler or event is provided the dating of the inscription is not absolute. These inscriptions have to be dated by techniques similar to paleographic records or undated inscriptions. But sometimes due to historical synchronization we can find the year and sometimes month and date of the particular inscription, but this is not the case with most inscriptions. The successive rulers of dynasty have given inscriptions ,so we can date them successfully. But sometimes some successive rulers have same names which compounds the problem. The problem is with regnal years everything is relative and fluid, with change of date of one inscription every other inscription has to be re-dated. If Greek have not come to India , we will not be able to date Ashoka and with Ashoka the entire Indian History.  
Year of an Era
Beginning with First century BC some inscriptions dated the years in continuous era. In this practice the kings issuing the inscription dates the inscription in the regnal years of the previous kings instead of his accession. This system is seen in the Dynasties. Sometimes they are followed even when the dynasties have fallen and new one takes over. But this information is not absolute, the name of the era may be left out since it is a prevalent one and common knowledge. In addition the year may be given in numbers or words or both. Sometimes the year is given as chronogram(bhutasamkya), with digits expressed in words for items associated in particular order. The suggested numbers have to read in reverse order(according to the principle Ankanam Vamato gatih, numbers run leftward). Sometimes both common era and Regnal year can be found.
Let us see some of the Era's
Jain Nirvana Era
This date starts with Nirvana or salvation of Last Jain Tirthakarna Vardhamana Mahavir. While Vicarasreni(1310AD) in Merutunga(Prakrit) gives date as 470 Years to vikrama Era, Nemichandra(1084AD) in Mahaviracariam(prakrit) gives the date as 605 years and 5 Months to before the start of Saka Era. So the dispute will be there as the Mahavira date is not certain. The Sravanabelagola Inscription equating Vir- Nirvana year 2493, Vikrama 1888 and Saka 1752 is an example.
Buddhist nirvana Era
Cantonese records say each year after passing of Buddha was represented by a dot and so the date of Buddha is 486BC , the start of Buddhist nirvana Era. But there is no agreement in Buddhist world. So the dates are disputed.
Vikram Era
This Era starts in 50 BCE by King Vikramaditya. Vikramaditya regained his ancestral kingdom in Ujjain by expelling the Sakas from there after 9 years of their rule (66-57 BCE). In order to commemorate his victory over them, he introduced a new era called Vikram Samvat (or Malawa Samvat) in 57 BCE. This story is also disputed.

Shalivahana saka

The Inscription of Pulakeshi talks synchronises the era with Kali era and uses the term Shalivahana sake. This era is also called Saka era. This is the most consistently used era and also currently used by Govt of India as Well. Historically this marks the defeat of Saka ruler of Ujjain by Shalivahana of Paithan. This is era is used extensively in Karnataka, Maharastra and Andhra. The start of era is 78AD. However Indologists have many theories for this era. But it is generally agreed that Kanishka was the first to use Saka era , so the origin is given to him. But kushana chronology itself is debated. Saka era is labled in various ways such as saka-nrpa-Kale, saka-varsesv-atitesu, Saka-varse, Salivahana sake, sake and so on. Except the earliest years Saka era dates are labeled saka year. 

Kalachuri-Cedi Era
The date of origin of this era is also doubtful. The date of 248AD based on the accesion of Abhira king Isvara dutta is now not valid.
Vallabhi Era
Thisis used in Kathivad and neighbhourhood.It is synchronous with Karttikadi Vikrama year 376 (318-319AD) and Saka 242-42. Inscription in the era are available from 82 to 945. It is also said this is gupta era continued and the era corresponds to accession of Chandra gupta I. Guptas don't use the era in the earlier inscriptions. So the claim is questionable. Most historians attribute to Accession of Chandragupta I. The dates are calculated by adding years 319 to 322 years to that is found in the inscriptions.
Ganga (Gangeya Era)
Many inscriptions of Eastern Gangas and Eastern Kadambas in Karnataka , Andhra and Orissa. The Ganga Era is also disputed ,but it is generally agreed it starts in 475AD based on inscription of Kadamba feudatory Dharmakhedi.
Sri Harsa Era
Al-Biruni (11th century AD)suggests that Harsa Era was prevalent in the area of Mathura-Kannuaj starting with 457BC. But there seems to be no common such era in India before Saka and Vikram Era. In fact Al-Biruni learnt in Kashmir that Sri Harsa era started with Sri Harshavardhana in 606AD, the Mathura pandits seems to have tricked Al-Biruni to such date.
Bhatika Era
The historical origin of Bhatika era is disputed. It starts at 623 to 625AD. The dispute here is due to association the close synchronisation and association with Islamic Hirja Era 622AD in western India and close to regions of Arab Incursions. Absence of Early inscriptions is explained as the solar modification of Muslim era. Mr.Dasharatha sharma says it represents era of Bhatia rajput Clan. Several unpublished inscriptions near Jaisalmar have cited to indicate Bhatika samvat. However Mr. Mirsa and Mr.Sarcar argue some of the inscriptions are Harsa Era.
Kollam Era
This era starts at 824AD, used in Kerala and around Kerala mostly in Malayalam and Tamil sometimes in Sanskrit as well. The reason for the start of the Era is controversial as it marks the starts of the foundation of Kollam, but Kollam existed prior to it. Some scholars say it is related to Saptarsi era, but the geographical distance makes the theory untenable.
Bhauma Kara Era
This era started by Bhauma Kara kings of orissa. The era starts in 831AD probably of ruler Ksemankaradeva. Earlier the era was considered to be harsa era.
Nepali or Newari Era
This era was started by Jayadevamalla. The era starts in 871AD. The earliest Nelpali inscriptions date themselves to Saka or Vikrama or Gupta or Licchavi Era.
Chalukya-Vikrama Era
This era was started by Chalukya Vikramaditya IV upon accession to throne in 1076AD. The Inscriptions of Vikramaditya mention this era ,many times the Saka era is also mentioned.

Lakshmana Sena era
This era starts in 1117AD in Gaya region of Bihar. This era is attributed to Accession of Sena King Lakshmana sena though the dates do not match.

Bengali San
The Era is Named Bengali San(Sen) is in use in Bengal. It is solar year and runs with saka era. The Months are however Lunar. It starts at 516 Shalivahana Saka.

Vilayati Year
This is another Solar Saka year used in parts of Bengal and Chiefly in Orissa. The Months like Bengali San is Lunar. The start of the Vilayathi year is same as Bengali San 516 Shalivahana Saka. There are two differences though, First begins solar year in Kanya which is bengali sen Ashvina or Assin. Second the months begin on the day of sanskranti instead of following 2nd or 3rd day.

Amli Era
This era is used in Orissa. The Amli commenses from the birth of Indradyumna, raja of orissa on Bhadrapada Sukla 12th and each month commenses the moment the sun enters the sign. Amli san is used in business transactions and in the courts of Law in orisssa.

Fasali Year
This is harvest year introduced by Akbar,originally derived from Mohammadan year and bearing the same number, but beginning in july. It was in most parts of India Solar year, but different customs in different parts of india has made it divergent. There is Luni Solar and North west Fasali year.

Maharatta sur san or Shakur san

This is sometimes called Arabi san. It is extensively used in Mahratta domains. This is nine years behind Fasali of Deccan.

Magi San
This is used in Chittagong. It is similar to Benglai san. The only difference is it is 45 years behind.

Simha Samvat
This era is used in Kathiavad. THe era starts in 1036-37 Saka

Lakshmana Sena era
used in Tirhut and Mithila, but always with Saka or Vikrama era. Era starts in 1105-6 AD.

Ilaki Era
The Tarlkh-i-Illahi or Mighty Divine era was established by Akbar. It dates to his Accession 14 Feb 1556 (Friday 2nd Rabi-us-sani AH 963) . It is extensively used in Coins of Akbar and Jahangir, but Shah Jahan seems to discontinued.

Rajyabhisheka Saka
It is also called Mahratta Raja Saka Era. Saka here is era. This era was established by Shivaji on the day of accession (Jyeshta sukla Trayodasi (13th) of Saka 1596 expired or 1597, Ananda Samvatsara)
Pseudo-historical Era's
Old Saka Era
Some of the early Khartoshi and Brahmi insciptions cannot be dated to Saka or Vikrama era's. So they are classified to Old Saka Era distinguishing from Saka Era 78 AD. But there are many disagreements between scholars on which inscriptions should fall to Saka Era and Old Saka Era. Evenmore controversial is the exact origin of the said Era. And still more controversial is the exact date of the historical epochs mentioned with this Era. So this can be said to be one of the speculative Era.
Aguptaiyaka Era
The Gokak inscription dates itself to 845 th regnal year of unknown Aguptaiyaka kings. The inscriptionbelong to 6th century AD. So the era should start at 3rd or 2nd century BC. Speculation is it is connected with Chandragupta Maurya and local king Aguptaiyaka.
Other Era's
Some Inscriptions of Bengal are dated to Malla era starting at 694/695AD. Some Inscriptions of Bengal refer to Bengali Era (sana or Sala Era). Some orissa inscriptions refer to sana era as Amli era. There is also Siddha Hema Kumara Era(1142AD). Illahi Era (1556AD) instituted by Mughal Emperor Akbar. Some late inscriptions date themselves to Imgreji San or Isvi Era based on Christian era.
Phantom Era
Maurya Era
Some scholars studying the Hathigumpha Inscription of Kharvela have noted a Maurya Kala starting 324-300BC based on Chandragupta Accession. But sunsequent studies revealed that the inscription was stating Mukhya Kala (Sanskrit) not Maurya Kala. So that Era is hoax.
Kaliyuga Era
Kaliyuga era is supposed to begin with Kali aeon. Traditional associations with events Epics. Kaliyuga is creation of astronomers for chronological base for astronomical and calendrical calculations. The initial date corresponds to Friday, Feb 18 ,3102BC at the time of astronomical conjunction of Sun, Moon, Earth, and Planets at the point of naksatra mesa. Kali yuga is normally counted as expired. Earliest Kaliyuga era in inscription is Aihole inscription dated Kaliyuga 3735 and saka556 corresponding to 634 AD.
Saptarsi Era
Saptarsi Era also called Laukika,Sastra, Pahadi or Kacca is a imaginary cycle of 2700 years. The calculation is based on Saptarsi(Great Bear) which stands for 100 years in 27 nakshatras. Pahadi refers to the use in hills of Punjab and Kashmir. Lukika and Kacca refers to omission of hundreds. Since it is mainly used in Astrology it is called sastra Samvat. The puranas give different dates and confuses this era.
Grahaparivriti Cycle
This is based on Kaliyuga Era , But instead of 100 year cycle it follows 90 year cycle. It is followed in Madurai region of tamil nadu. This year is fabricated by Astrologers of that area.
Brahaspati 12 Year Cycle
Brahaspati cycle is based on twelve year cycle of sidereal revolution of Jupitor. Some Gupta Feudatories , Kadambas, Rastrakuta used this in some inscriptions.
Brahaspati 60 Year cycle
This is originally calculated by jupitor transistion from one rashi to another. Due to discrepancy of four days every year, the cycle of requires suppression of one jupitor year every eightyfive years. This sixty year cycle is usually dated in name of the years then in numbers.


Indian Epigraphy by Richard Salomon.
Indian Epigraphy by D.C . Sircar.
Ancient Indian History and Civilization by Sailendra nath Sen.
The Indian Calendar, with Tables for the Conversion of Hindu and Muhammadan Into A.D. Dates, and Vice Versa Front Cover Robert Sewell, Robert Schram

Date of Kanishka Era

Kanishka is the most famous of the Kushan kings, he is preserved in Bhuddist tradition as the king responsible for calling the second great Bhuddist council. His series of coins is also magnificent. His war exploits and the strength of his kingdom are remarkable indeed, and it is felt by most historians that his reign marked the height of Kushan dominance in central Asia.

Unfortunately it has proved beyond the grasp of all those who have studied Kushan history to actually decide when Kanishka came to power, in which year did he become King of the Kushans. Dates have varied hugely, 57BC, 78AD, 115AD, 128AD, 134AD, 144AD, 230AD, and others. The reason it matters, is that inscriptions in India and Central Asia are date for a hundred years in the era that Kanishka founded. Fixing that era would provide a chronological assistance to art and political historians interested in the history of North India and Central Asia. The problem in Kushan studies is not that we lack of evidence for Kanishka's era, but that we have too many compelling pieces of evidence.

Sometime in the reign of Kanishka II, or very shortly afterwards the Kushan kings lose political control of Bactria and Central Asia. We know this because their coins cease to circulate in that region, and the assumption has always been that the region was conquered by the Sasanians.
Since this event takes place between 98 and 129 years after Kanishka it would seem a very powerful tool for dating him. However, we do not know when the Sasanian conquest took place. The earliest possible date would be in the reign of Ardashir I (the first Sasanian king, 226 - 239), whom the Arab writer Al-Tabari tells us made extensive conquests in the east and received tribute from the Kushans. The era of the Bactrian letters, 233AD might be referred to Ardashir's conquest.
The same applies to Shapur I (240-273AD) who is widely seen as the most likely candidate to have conquered the Kushan empire. However, if above statement is correct that the Kushan-Sasanians are ruling by the 4th century then the region must have fallen under Sasanian control by 300AD.
The range of possible dates is shown between a possible conquest in 233AD, and the end of the reign of Shapur. 272AD. With the most likely date considered to be the first decade of Shapur's rule, 250AD.
Kushano -Sassanian rulers.
Piruz I - Hormizd I with Kabad - Hormizd I with Meze - Hormizd II - Piruz II - Unknown King - Shapur II with Kabad - Shapur IIOf these, Piruz I is ruling in AD 242. Hormizd II proceeds 302AD. So Hormizd I with Kabad coins were circulated sometime from AD243 to 301AD, Cribb suggests c. AD276 but any time from AD250 to 280 would seem reasonable. Now it therefore follows that Vasudeva must have overstruck the coins after this period. Since there are eight coins, and no overstrikes of Hormizd I with Meze, it is reasonable to suggest that Vasudeva's overstrike was made at this time and therefore the two kings are contemporaries. But we do not see Hormizd overstriking vasudeva coins. It is intriguing to note that this tends to indicate a lower date than that indicated by examining the invasion theory.

GuptasThe Gupta kings of Eastern India founded an era that begins in 319AD. During the reigns of the early Gupta kings they conquered large parts of Northwest India, and so like the Sasanians they provide a limit on how late we can place Kanishka.
The Gupta king Samudragupta (whose dates are uncertain but must be between 320AD and 375AD) claims on an inscription at Allahabad to have a subordinate Kushan king, named as Shaka. His successor, Chandragupta II, actually has an inscription at the city of Mathura (dated 380AD), which we know was still under Kushan control as late as king Vasishka and possibly as late as Vasudeva II. Chandragupta also mimics the coinage of Vasudeva II which further implies that his take-over of Mathura follows very late Kushan rule there.
I should be noted that the Guptas do not seize Mathura from the Kushans. They may well seize the Kushans eastern domains from Shaka, but the Puranas, and coin finds strongly indicate that a group of local kings ruled at Mathura before the arrival of the Guptas and after the later Kushan kings.
The upshot of this is to imply that there must be at least 200 years between Kanishka and the commencement of Gupta rule at Mathura, certainly at least 150 (which would require it was lost in the reign of Vasishka). Since we can also link Shaka with Samudragupta, he must have begun his rule post-320AD (certainly post 290AD). Linking Shaka to Kanishka is very difficult but it seems implausible, based on the sequence of Kushan kings that he could be more than 200 years later.

The Kushans wrested Gandhara and North west India from the dynasty of Gondophares. Unfortunately, like the Kushan-Sasanians, the Indo-Parthian dynasty has been the subject of heated debates surrounding the order and dates of its kings.
The first, theory assumes is based upon the Azes era of 57/8 AD. This is used in a series of inscriptions of the Indo-Parthians, and the date of the era is widely accepted. If we assume that the three inscriptions of an unknown Kushana (probably Kajula Kadphises) are dated to the Azes era this gives us 45 to 78AD. This cannot happen as we have no Kushan inscriptions in this region until that of Wima Kadphises, dated either 184 or 187. If this is also dated in the Azes era then Kadphises is still in power 126 or 129AD. Unfortunately, while the Azes era is the most popular candidate for these inscriptions it is not the only one, some Kharoshti inscriptions probably belong to a Greek/Yavana era and in 1960 Narian dissented from the Azes interpretation, taking the years mentioned to be in the Pahlava era. Despite these reservations we will take it to imply a date in the 130s.

The second theory is based on the numismatic evidence for the Indo-Parthian to Kushan transition. The key fixed date is Gondophares, who is dated by the Takht-i-Bahi inscription from 23 to 46AD. This date is also supported by other evidence, and is the majority view but others place Gondophares nearly 50 years earlier.
Gondophares is followed by Abdagases, Sarpadnaes, and Sases (and possibly others). Kajula Kadphises overstrikes on the coins of Gondophares, and his successor Vima Taktu follows Sases in Northern India. There is also some evidence that Kajula's coinage briefly follows Sases , which makes his rule contemporary with the period from Gondophares to Sases, the period 46AD to 78AD. If we could be confident of the period of rule from Gondophares to Sases, and the length of the rule of the two Vimas, then Kanishka's era could be confidently dated. If Vima Takpiso ruled for at least 20 years, and then if combined rule shorter than 30 years, or longer than 60 (the reign of Huvishka-Vasudeva). If this is appended to a rough date of 80AD then the period 110-119 looks most promising, but unfortunately the uncertainties allow a considerable period either side.

The first source is from the city of Khotan. This was the subject of Kushan political domination during the period 107AD to 127AD. In particular the Hou Han Shu states that they imposed a new ruler on the city in AD115 . But we do not know which king did this. Buddhist chronicle that names Kanishka, and Cribb fits the Kushan coins, all of Kanishka, into this period. If both are correct then Kanishka must have come to power between 105 and 116AD.
We know Ban Chao activity up to the last decade of the first century, talks about only two Kushan probably Kajula and Vima Takpiso. This excludes Kanishka before 96AD, and implies that Vima Takpiso must have come to power after 96AD, so unless his and Vima Kadphises rule exceeds 50 years, very unlikely, Kanishka must have come to power before 146AD. Buddhist records are unreliable, coins can move around for trade for many reasons and we do not know who the two kings mentioned in the Hou Han Shu are. A report of an embassy from the Kushans (Ta Yu-Chi) in the third century. The San-Kuo Chih reports "On the day Kuei-mao (26 Jan 230AD) the king of the Great Yueh-chih, Po-t'iao, sent an envoy with tribute. (Po-)t'iao was made "King of the Great Yueh-Chih Affectionate Towards the Wei". The problem is identifying the king in question from this chinese writing.

Roman coins
let us examine two finds of Roman coins from the Kushan region. The first is at Manikyala, inside a Tope, one Kajula, two Vima Kadphises, and seven Kanishka coins (all copper) were found. Along with four Kanishka gold quarter dinars, and seven Roman Republican Silver Dinars. We know that Roman coins like this were in circulation for a long period of time, well into the third century. We also know that they were exported to India after 64 AD. The reason being that in 64 AD the emperor Nero reforms the coinage, reducing the amount of gold and silver in the coin. This creates a discrepancy, inside the Roman Empire all coins are worth the same (enforced by the central authority) but outside the empire coins are simply pieces of gold and silver. So it became profitable to export pre-reform pieces.
The second find is at Jalalabad, where seventeen dinars were found, ten of Vima Kadphises, six of Kanishka, one of Huvishka. Also present were three Roman aurei, Domitian, Trajan, Hadrian (in the name of his wife Sabina). The last of these coins can be dated between AD 128 and AD 137.
These coins cannot have been buried prior to AD65, and whenever they were buried Kanishka is likely to have been ruling. In the second case they cannot have been buried prior to AD 129 and this seems likely to represent the early reign of Huvishka. Our most likely period is prior to AD 138 (if the coins had been exported later, we would expect a later coin present).
The Western Ksatraps ruled India in the regions of Madhya Pradesh, Gujurat, and perhaps the southern Indus. They dated both their inscriptions and their coins according to an era beginning in 78AD and usually known as the Saka era.
Considering that they shared a border they do not provide more evidence. There are in fact only two sites which are helpful, Sui Vihar where the Sutlej River joins the Indus, and Eastern Malwa, the region that contains Vidisa and Sanchi.
There are two contradictions. First, Rudraman claims in his inscription of 150AD to have control of the southern Indus valley and to have conquered peoples as far north as the Sutlej River. Yet there is an inscription of Kanishka dated to year 11 from Sui Vihar Secondly, the later inscription of Sridharavarman in year 200 (278AD) is inscribed at Sanchi, but we have two inscriptions of Vasishka of years 22 and 28 from Sanchi, and Rudraman claims Eastern Malwa within his domains. It is possible that Rudraman is simply not telling the truth about the extent of his domains, or that border towns changed hands often and quickly, or that the Kanishka inscription is an inscription of Kanishka II. Due to the uncertainty in the Kushan sequence of kings the second conflict is of little use. But if we assume that Kanishka's rule could not have coincided with the Rudraman's conquest (on the assumption it must have taken place in Wima Kadphises or Huvishka's reign) that rules out the period from 127AD to 150AD.
let us arrive some probable dates, But this is also highly disputed.
King Length of Reign Dates of Inscriptions
Kajula Kadphises min.23 years 103-136
Vima Takpiso min.20 years 279-299
Vima Kadphises 184(7)
Kanishka 23-27 years 1-23
Huvishka 32-40 years 28-60
Vasudeva 34-40 years 64-98
Kanishka II aprox.19 years
Vasishka 8 - 20 years 20-28
Kanishka III unknown 41
Vasudeva II unknown 170 (disputed)
Shaka unknown
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