Showing posts with label Ujjain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ujjain. Show all posts

Origin of Vikram Samvat : Great Vikramaditya

Origin and Vikrama Era or Vikram Samvat at 23rd February, 57 B.C. has been most Controvesial in Indian History. Vikramaditya is said to have initiated this era after defeating sakas. But there is lot of claims on who initiated this era by modern scholars especially from West. Let us study the origins of vikrama samvat

Until 4th century AD. This era was called Krta era. Around 8th century AD. we have Vikramaditya associated with this era.
Some Schoalrs like D C Sircar says it is corruption of the term Kirta, which means purchased.  Altekar says Vikramaditya was the king who founded the era and Krta indicated some kind of leader. Bhandarkar says that the era was actually Krtayuga or Golden Age. He says it was talking about Pushyamitra reign. Bhattacharya says it starts the settlement of Malwa. Why does not the inscriptions say it is Krtayuga is not explained by these theorists.

Malwa Gana
Malwa got name from people Malavas who inhabited this place. In Sanskrit Malav indicates Lakshmi. Malwa was a Mahajanapada (Republic) from 730 BC. Ancient Malwa was called Malloi by Alexander and Greek Historians. The Malwa region with Ujjain as capital had Vikramaditya ruling with navaratnas as ministers and scholars. Now malwa gana represents these groups of eminent scholars.. So Malwa gana era indicates the era of these people. In the Inscriptions from 4th century AD to 8th century AD, it is referred to as Malava Gana, though Krta is also used sometimes. Around 6th century it is called for the fame of Malwa vamsa. We have coins malavaganasya jayah, Malavanam jayah , Jayah Malavanam indicating the victory of Malwa people apparently over Sakas. Malwa Gana Saka show that it was era of malwa people.


Around 9th century it is called vikramaditya Kala. After 11th century the era is fixed to Vikramditya and is so called vikrama Samvat or Vikrama Kala.


Aryavidya (by sudhakar) says that Mahavira attained his Nirvana 470 years before king Vikramaditya. Pattavali says that Vikramaditya was born 470 years after Mahavira Nirvana. So Mahavira Nirvana happened 527 BC. Kalpa Sutra says Mahavira lived for 72 years. So Mahavira lived between 599BC and 527BC.

There was a Jain king Vairisimha of Dhara (Dhar, MP) and Queen Surasundari, who had a son called Kalaka and daughter Sarasvati. Once when they were in Ujjain, King Gardabhilla of Ujjain was enamoured by the beauty of Sarasvati, carried her off. After futile attempts to recover her from clutches of Gardabhilla, Kalaka went westward after crossing river Sindhu reached the country where number of saka chiefs, who were sahi (Subordinates of sahanusahi) ruled. Kalaka broght them under his influence. Once their overlord became angry over Sahis, Kalaka migrated them to India. They came to Ujjain conquering along the way. Sakas defeated captured Gardabhilla alive. They established their ruler in Ujjain and divided the country among themselves. Kalaka recovered Sarasvati and avenged humiliation. After four years of saka rule, Gardabhilla son Vikramaditya drove away sakas and established his rule. Gardabhilla ruled for 13 years, Saka 4 years and Vikramaditya 60 years. This account is from Pattavali (Sanskrit) of Merutunga (14th century AD) sourced from earlier Prakrit Gathas.


D C Sarkar, says that Vikrama era is continuation of Era calculated from Parthian ruler Vonones. Vonones is the earliest parthian king of Eastern Persia is have assumed title king of Kings and flourished after the Parthian Emperor Mithradates II (125 -88BC) and ruled eastern parts of his domains and Afghanistan through Viceroys Spalirises, Azes.

Experts First deduced the parthian Reign of Vonones as between 120-70BC. Now Vonones is parthian name, but his brother and viceroy has saka name, Spalahora. Mithradates II has assumed the title king of kings during this time. So if take that into account. Vonones has to be after 91BC (Gotarzes challenged Mitradates). But considering his Viceroys starting at 90BC. He has to be before that. Is Mithradates = Vonanes. Now there are maues dated to 80-90BC. Vonones is a question for another Article. Now we can say Vonanes is not initiator of Vikrama Samavat.

Azez Era
John Marshall suggest that the Vikarma Era is actually continuation of Azez Era. The Era calculated from regnal years of Saka king who ruled Northwestern Part of the Sub continent. The Era is spelled as Aya, Aja identified as Azez I. This view is supported by B N Mukherjee who cites number of inscriptions of Maharaja Aya, Itravarman. The inscriptions refers to Atida, Varta Kala which indicate Expired Years. Now Krta refers to present time. So Atita and Vratta refers to past and this betrays the logic of saying Vikrama era is continuation of Azez Era.

John Marshall says that the era denotes the start of Azez Aya, Aja) Era which are found in coins. Now we know that there are two Azes: Azez I and Azez II. And Azes can also be dated to 90BC from various theories floating around Mithradates, Vonanes and his brother Spalirises. Indologists have also tried to make Azes II as founder of Azes Era. Azes II can be dated to 22AD as well.

There is theory that Aya, Aja cannot be equated with Azez era and there is no azez era as such other than in the minds of Indologists. Narain argued that aya refers not a king, but is appellation to month or other minor variation to some dating calender. So scholars Konow 84 BC, Narain 88 BC, Lohuizen 129 BC have proposed this to other eras.

Unlike Vikrama era which can be anchored to Kali Yuga date. There is no anchor for Azez Era. Azez Era can be anchored to Greek era with Vijayamitra inscription Azez + 128 = Greek Era. But Greek Era is itself has to be anchored. Vijayamitra of Apraca gives the 27th year of his reign as 73rd year of Azes, 201 year of Yona or greek era . So the date of Azez 128 years after Indo-Greek Era. Now Studying Demetrius I (186-187BC) and Eucratides I (171BC)gives two eras Indo-Greek and Graeco-Bactrian Eras. There is a great Secluid era(Anchor of all western Eras), which also has number of Guesses in it. There is another Bactrian Era starting at 157BC. There is Araces Era. Now which era is Vijayamitra is referring to. If we take the Indo-Greek era as the Greek Era, it gives 171-128 =43BC as the start of Azes Era. This Azes Era 43BC date does not match 57BC of Vikrama Era.

Gupta Chandragupta Vikramaditya

Most Western Scholars argue that the era came into prominence because of Gupta Emperor Chandragupta Vikramaditya. But Guptas ruled from Pataliputra and Ujjain is the capital of Vikramaditya we are talking about. Some have floated the idea of second capital , but there is absolutely no basis for the second capital. Not single Gupta Inscription is dated to this era, not even found in malwa region.

Brihat Kathamanjari, Katha Sarit sagara by Kshemendra narrate the stories of Vikarmaditya defeating Melecchas and ruling gloriously. Bana in Harshacharita sings glowing tribute to Vikramaditya partronage to Literaturers. Kalkacharya Kathanka, Pattavalis, Jyothividabharana all say that the era was founded by Vikramaditya who lived in 1st century BC. Puranas say that Gardabhilla is family name and give 7 kings(Jain 6) from this dynasty and they were followed by Sakas. Kathasaritsagara describes victorious camp of vikramaditya, joined by the king of Saktikumara of Gauda, Jayadhvaja of Karnata, Vijayavarman of Lata, Sunandana of Kashmir, Gopala of Sind, Vindyaballa of Bhills etc

Bhavishya Purana Says at the completion of 3000 years after the advent of the terrible Kaliyuga, a person descended from the abode of Guhyakas in Kailasa, at the command of Siva, for the purpose of destroying the Sakas and uplifting Arya-Dharma. He was born to the Great King Gandharvasena. The father named him ‘Vikramaditya’ and felt very much rejoiced.

Al Beruni
Arabic Traveller Scholar Alberuni says in his Kitab-ul-Hind(1030 AD), Vikrama Era starts 135 years before Saka Era. We know Saka era Starts at 78AD. So vikrama Era is 57BC

There is not much evidence to show that there was a Era named after Vonones. The Azez Era eventhough mentioned in the inscriptions, cannot be said to be era like Vikrama era. The date of Start of Azez Era is suspect. So both these era's cannot be equated with Vikrama Era. We have well known tradition of this era being used as Krta , Malwagana and Vikrama era's. Eventhough the name changes over period, the era is fairly accurate. This era as per tradition started 57BC and had origin in the court of Vikramaditya in Ujjain. The Era seems to have used only in Malwa region as Krta era or golden age. Later when rulers of Ujjain went to other parts of India. The era went outside as Malwagana saka, The era of malwa people. Around 8th century the tributes were paid to the great Vikramaditya. The era was then came to be known as vikramaditya Sake. We have literary evidence in the Jain Literature. Inscriptional evidence of vikramaditya and have coins issued to celebrate Malwa people victory over Sakas. Indology scholars have rejected all the Indian evidence and struck to equating the era to some foreign ruler from that time.

Vikramaditya established the rule of Malwas by driving out Sakas from Malwas and adjoinging areas. The tradition first started to celebrate this success, later went take name of the leader who made this happen, Sakari Vikramaditya of Ujjain. It came to be known as Vikrama Samvat starting from 57BC.

A Note on the Vikrama and Saka Eras by B N MUkherjee Indian Journal of Science 32(1), 1997
Vikrama Era by Ajay Mitra Shastri Indian Journal of History of Science, 31(1), 1996
A rough guide to Kushan History - The Azes Era by Roberto Bracy.
Introduction: numismatic, literary and epigraphic evidence on chronology in Gandhara by Osmund Bopearachchi
ALBEEUNI'S INDIA by Dr Edward C Sachau 


Related Topics
Old Saka Era - Varahamihira Sree Harsha Era
Kanishka Era
Dating Indian History
Date of Kalidasa - Gupta Myth
Did Megasthenes Meet Chandragupta Maurya 
Date of Buddha

Old Saka Era - Varahmihira 's Sree Harsha Era

We have consistently seen Saka era along with Vikrama Samvat are two era used in India for the last two thousand years. We have seen Pulakesin gives shalivahana saka starting at 78 AD. Vikram Samvat starts at 56BC. In Indian Literature these dates are counted from start of Kaliyuga that is 3102 BC. in Kaliyuga counting Saka era starts at 3180 and Vikram samvat starts at 3046. These dates are well established by Indian and Foreign experts. So what is the problem. Let us see.

Varahamihira Saka

Varahamihira quotes Vraddha Ganga "According to Vrddha Ganga, the Sages (Saptarsis) resided in the Magha nakshatra, when king Yudisthira ruled the earth, and the year of the reign can be obtained by adding 2526 years to the number of saka years elapsed". 

Now we have Vraddha Garga , who is an impeccable astrologer and Varahamihira even more versatile one, why will they give the dates wrong. When we see this saka era it starts at 576 BC. We know Shalivahana Sake Starts at 78AD. 

Let us analyse.
 Who is varahamihira
Vahara Mihira was Astronomer , Mathematician and Astrologer who lived in Ujjain, he was born in Avanti region (Malwa) to Astronomer Adityadasa. He was educated at Kapitthaka. He is considered as one of the Nine Jewels of Vikramaditya of Ujjian. His son Prithuyasas was also Astrologer, his work Hora Sara. 

His main Work is Panchasiddhantika (treatise of Five cannons(Astronomical)). He gives info on older Indian Astronomical works now lost namely Surya Siddhanta, Romaka Siddhanta, Paulisa Siddhanta, Vasishtha Siddhanta and Paitamaha Siddhanta. It is a monumental Work. 

Another major work is encyclopeidic Brihat Samihta. It covers wide ranging subjects of Human interest, including astrology, planetary movements, eclipses, rainfal, clouds, architecture, growth of crops, manufacture of perfume, matrimony, domestic relations, gems, pearls, rituals etc. 

His Other works in Astrology include Brihat Jataka, Laghu Jataka, Samasa Samhita (Swalpa samhita), Brihat Yogayatra, Yoga Yatra, Tikkani yatra, Brihat Vivaha Patal, Lagu Vivaha Patal, Lagna Varahi, Kutuhala Manjari, Daivajna Vallabha.

 427 - Saka
Varahamihira says 427 must be subtracted from saka era for his era. So 427 saka was the start of his era or birth of varahamihira. Amara raja gives the date of 509 Saka for varahamihira death. Indologists comes with 427 + 78 = 505AD as the birth of varahamihira. So the problem is solved. But why does the dates don't reconcile.

The Astronomical Positions mentioned in his works don't match for celestial positions of 6th century AD.

Shalivahana Saka is famous in South and West of India and Ujjain or Malwa especially followed Vikrama Samvat. Now why does one refer to Shalivahana Saka, which is from rival powerhouse.

If Aryabhatta was in 5th century AD, Varahamihira was in 6th century AD. Pulakesin Edict is 7th century AD. While Aryabhatta and Pulakesin Edict gives 3102BC and Varahamihira 2448bc.

Working from 576BC as start of Saka era gives varahamihira date as 149 - 67 BC , which places Varhamihira in Vikramaditya court as one of the nine jewels.

There is a traditional as well as modern view that kalidasa and Varahamihira are contemproaries

Jyotividabharana, a treatise on Astrology says it was completed on month of kartika of the year 3068 of kali (34BC). It says that the framing rule for finding ayanamsa is 445 years after saka and remainder divided by 60.

If we go by Al beruni statement, Gupta reign ended 241 years after Saka era, If we take 78AD, than it comes to 319AD.

There is no scope for Vikramaditya of Ujjain reigning in 6th century AD for Varahamihira to become his navaratna.

Alberuni says that Year 400 years before Vikramaditya or 457 BC was in use before Vikaramaditya. He calls it as Sree Harsha Era. This era was available in 11 century AD.

Sree Harsha Vikramaditya
Kota Venkatachalam says, based on the authority of Bhavishya purana, that this Vikramaditya is a son of Gandharvasena , a King of Ujjain. His son Deva Bhaktha reigned after him.

T S Naryana Sastri says that Sri Harsha Vikramaditya of Kashmir defeated the sakas and in commoration of his victory founded the Harsha era, in the year 457BC. In his work Haidimba Vaidagdhya, he identifies Matrgupta of the court of king Harsa Vikramaditya of ujjain as Kalidasa I living in 6th century BC and Medharudra on the court of of vikramaditya of Malwa as Kalidasa II in first century BC.

Sakas came to prominence on the periphery of India around 800 BC. They Came into prominence in India after the collapse of Satavahanas dynasty in Magada (802BC). They were in prominence for 380 years (802 - 422 BC). They were in considerable power struggle with local Indian rulers. In 551BC Darius has collected all the scattered Saka and invaded India. Which confirms 576 BC to be date when Sakas were soundly thrashed and scattered by Sree harsha. This may start Saka era in this case old saka era.

The saka era of kalahana

Saka of Kalhana and Varahamihira are same. Kalhana also talks about Sree Harsha Vikramaditya of ujjain.

Varahamihira was one of the nine jewels of Vikramaditya court.
Varahamihira was born in 427 Saka. He died in 509 Saka.
Shalivahana saka does not fit to this dates. As there is no vikramaditya in Ujjain during at that time(6th century AD). There were no sakas also at that time. Hunas were already vanishing. So there is no probability of Vikramaditya in 6th century AD at Ujjain.

Date of old saka era is 3102-2526 = 576BC. Some people take the start 2526 from Start of Yuddhistra era and arrive around 612BC. Here 576 is calculated from end of Yuddhistra reign, which ended soon after Kali yuga started.

When Varhamihira talks about saka kala, Saka Bhupakala, Sakendra kala, Saka Nrpati Kala, it refers to rule of saka rulers in India not shalivahana saka.

All these points when we consider does indicate there was old or original saka era started by Sree Harsha in Sixth century BC. Varahamihira, Vraddha Garga and few others quote this saka era. Even alberuni seems to mention this saka era. Later on he seems to have confused himself with Harshavardhan of Kannuj. This varahamihira was in the court of vikramaditya of Ujjain in first century BC. 

Date of start of Old saka era is 576BC.

Essays on Indian Antiquities, Historic, Numismatic, and Palaeographic By James Prinsep
History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The Development of Sedentary : By A. H. Dani, UNESCO Staff, M. S. Asimov, B. A. Litvinsky, Guang-da Zhang, R. Shabani Samghabadi, C. E. Bosworth, Unesco
Kaliyuga, Saptarsi, Yudhisthira and Laukika Eras by K.D. Abhyankar and G.M Ballabh
Saka Era by Ajay Mishra Shastry
History of Classical Sanskrit Literature by By M. Srinivasachariar
Essays on historical and mythological India
Age of Bhārata War edited by Giriwar Charan Agarwala

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