Monday, July 26, 2010

Evolution of Indian Geopolity in Mahabharat times prior to Pandava's exile - Part 3

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Reference map of India in Mahabharat times

Rapidly changing environmental and geopolitical equations on the eve of Rajsooya yagna.

Partition of Kuru clan - The barren region which formed rapidly dessicating Yamuna-Saraswati basin was given to Pandavas, while Ganga basin was kept for Duryodhana. This is where Vrishnis enter the politics of North India, IMO. Krishna establishes very cordial relations with Pandavas, who just like him were thrown out of their secure power-base and were forced to establish a new power-centre in apparently resourceless land which offered dwindling prospects in long term. Furthermore, bulk of this land was forest land inhabited by Naga people.While decreasing rains were making bushfire increasingly frequent in the region, the monsoon rains used to arrive timely and prevent the fires from spreading. For bushfire to occur, the grassland must be sufficiently dessicated and high temperatures and wind-velocity. All this is seen Punjab (the salt-range of Khushab) and also in northern Rajasthan. However, just when conditions reached optimum, rains arrived, thereby making the bushfire impossible. 

The Forest burns and so do people
Vrishni-Pandava alliance decided to take advantage of this phenomenon and clear off the forest of Khandava in order to create arable land and space for living and building cities. They "somehow" managed to divert the rains from that region and started a gigantic forest fire while encircling the forest region and killing off every Naga and Asura people dwelling in that forest. After a week of battle, the region was "cleansed" of Naga people and forest and was made fit for "civilization" and "urbanization". Few survivors managed to escape this carnage, under leadership of their king "Takshaka" who escaped to Upper Sindhu valley and founded the city of Takshshila (modern Islamabad). The Naga and Asura architects who surrendered helped Pandavas in their project of "Indraprastha (modern Delhi) construction". This shows higher skills of Nagas and Asuras in civil engineering. These contacts were also used by Vrishnis to develop their own city of Dwarika (the defenses of which were designed by Mayasura who was captured as PoW from Khandavaprastha).

The great game of competing political interests for supremacy of Sapta-Sindhu region

The axis of power from Dwarika to Indraprastha was forming as an "Anti-Kuru" lobby and alternative to Magadh Lobby. The "confused" Panchalas had by then decisively shifted in camp of Dwarika-Indraprastha axis permanently owing to marital relations between Pandavas and Draupadi. While Pandavas did not have any animosity towards Magadh, it was crucial for Vrishnis to settle the "problem of Magadh" once and for all. Magadh's sphere of influence had already reached Avanti (Ujjain) where the Yadava kings (Vinda and Anuvinda) were staunch allies of Jarasandha. Jarasandha was stealthily encircling Kurus, while they were busy infighting and partitioning their land. This ring of encirclement had potential of breaking off Dwarika from rest of India. Hence the urgency to finish off Magadha's influence was pressing as far as priorities of Vrishnis are concerned. Krishna had managed to establish marital relations with several yadava kings which were under Jarasandha's influence. He started with Rukmini (the princes of Vidarbha). He also married princess of Ujjain and few others. He also took wives from Vrishni clan as well to cement his position in clan and garner support from his clan members. Yet, the noose of Magadh was tightening around Kuru, Indraprastha and Dwarika.

While Pandavas were still part of Kuru dynasty, Duryodhana had given kingdom of Anga (northern Bengal) to Karna. While Pandavas were in their first exile (after Varnavat-Laakshagriha episode), there was one very important event which is usually downplayed. In Kalinga (Orissa), Karna defeated Jarasandha in duel. This had increased the prestige and influence as well as power-projection ability of Kurus in eastern India. Karna's devotion to Kurus is legendary. Karna's influence in Bengal and over Magadh directly corresponded to Kuru influence in Eastern India. 

Thus, while Kurus were rather strong and playing their own moves to encircle Magadh, there was no such strategy in think-tank of Dwarika-Indraprastha axis (DI axis) which could tackle with these two great games. It is from here, that character of Krishna starts raising above rest of people, just like Michael Corleone in Godfather-1 (sorry for this metaphor, but Michael Corleone is the closest comparison of the master game that Krishna played). The scale and intricacy of Krishna's game is million times more than the one played by Michael in Godfather Saga. But it comes very close in principle. I would urge gentle readers to remember the strategy of Michael Corleone to kill off the heads of 5 mafia families in NY in one fell swoop and then subsequent moves to consolidate the space in the power-vacuum.

The Turning point

Krishna used his personal influence over Pandavas to make them understand that the interests of Dwarika and Indraprastha coincide. That, it was equally important for them to tackle the tightening noose of Magadh and that they had no option but to strike at place where Magadh expected least. Magadh was traditionally a autocratic polity. Absolute power was consolidated in the hands of Jarasandha, and his son was not as strong-willed as his father. Elimination of Jarasandha from political scene of India was "the key" for all the problems which DI-axis was facing OR was going to face, in absence of any leverage in "backyard" of Magadh like Kurus had in form of Karna. 

The action of Krishna-Arjuna-Bheema trio is similar to escapade of Shivaji while his raid of "Lal Mahal" in Pune in the bedroom of Shaistekhan in dark night when he was least expecting. The act was more psychological operation than a military one. The gamble of challenging Jarasandha in duel paid off. Whilst Jarasandha was an extremely accomplished warrior, Bheema was younger and more agile. Furthermore, Karna had defeated him in duel few years ago. While Karna pardoned Jarasandha, Krishna had no intention of doing so. He proposed duel-until-death, which was accepted by Jarasandha and by stroke of luck in favour of DI-Axis, the result of this duel came in favour of DI-axis and in one stroke, the entire strategy of Magadha fell to shambles. Immediately after this victory, Krishna raided regions as distant as Kaamroopa (Assam) and defeated Narakasura, established his son Bhagadatta on throne. Defeated king of Pundra (central Bengal) Paundrak Vaasudeva and killed him in battle. Jarasandha's son Sahadeva was established on throne of Magadh and his sister was married off to one of the Pandavas (I think Nakula).

Aftermaths - Spoils of victory

While Harivamsha says that Eastern conquest of Krishna was while Jarasandha was alive, I think this does not make sense given the entire political setup which I have described above. As far as my understanding of Krishna as a politician goes, he would't have ventured there while Jarasandha was still alive. It was simply too risky. But, these are my views, hence take them for what they are worth.

Coming back, Krishna coaxed Pandavas to go for similar "Dikvijaya" and perform Raajsooya Yagna. There is something about Raajsooya Yagna that even Sri-Raam dared not to do it. Raam preferred Ashwamedha instead. What made Yudhishthira so confident to perform this Yagna is mystery. Four Pandavas ventured in four directions and came back victorious and wealthy. The Indraprastha, Dwarika and the DI axis was recognized by India as the legitimate power-centres and defacto leaders of "anti-Kuru" lobby. DI-axis won many friends (those kings imprisoned by Jarasandha were released by Krishna and they instantly became allies of DI-axis. The Eastern India was secured by raids of Krishna and Bhima. Except solitary "Anga", rest of the east of consolidated and befriended by and large.

In Raajsooya sacrifice, the last remaining commander of Jarasandha, Shishupaal, was finished off by Krishna, thus completing the victory of DI-Axis. Now, DI-Axis had completely encircled the Kuru dynasty. Had consolidated vast stretch of India, which Kurus and Magadh were vying for. Won friends in most unlikely of places. The victory of DI-Axis was complete. All stories should end here. Since the story did not end here, that separates Mahabharat from rest of tales.There are plenty of things to learn from this "Itihaasa" of India. Those with sufficient political acumen will understand the modern relevance of this story.

Shubham astu...

Evolution of Indian Geopolity in Mahabharat times prior to Pandava's exile - Part 2

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Reference map of India as described in Mahabharat


Two young Vrishni brothers Sankarshana Balraam and Krishna, who happen to be nephews of Kamsa (Mathura's king) led a coup and assassinated the reigning king of Mathura. Krishna sends the two wives of Kamsa (who happened to be daughters of Jarasandha of Magadh) back to Girivraja (modern Rajgir) and this open defiance of Mathura created a vacuum in North-Central India. The proxy king Ugrasena who was established by Vrishni yadava brothers took a neutral stance (rather less pro-magadh stance) as opposed to the "satellite state of Magadh" which Mathura was under Kamsa. This gave an opportunity to Magadh to intercede in the politics of Saraswati basin and directly enter into competition with Kurus. Magadh was aware of the fall-out in Panchal-Kuru tango. 

According to Srimad Bhagvat, Jarasandha raided Mathura 17 times. Vrishni brothers and other Yadavas managed to fend off these raids. However, on 18th occassion, Magadh enticed a Mlechha king from west to invade Mathura from west, while Magadh invaded from east to finish off Yadava-Influence from Mathura. Mostly this was some Persian king who was "probably" in this game to earn a quick buck. I don't think it was realistic on part of Kaal-Yavan to think that he would be able to establish a stable polity in India with Kuru and Magadh around in neighbourhood. 

The Vrishni brothers managed to trick Kaal-yavan and slyly assassinated him. Krishna is described to be the chief architect of this assassination for which he is popularly castigated as "Ranchhod das" (one who flees from raging battle). Vrishni brothers travel southwards while Magadh army pursues them. They travel through the realms of their Yadava Brethren which were spread all over Central India and Upper Deccan plateau. The Vrishni brothers manage to defeat and kill Jarasandha's ally "Shrugaal" of Kolhapur and enter the province of Gomantaka (Modern Goa and Konkan). While hiding in forests and hills of Sahyadri mountain ranges, Magadh army manages to trace them and lays siege to the hill-fort they are hiding. However, since they lack any siege weapons, Magadh army started advance towards citadel of hill-fort in order to capture OR kill the Vrishni brothers. 

The brothers managed to escape the siege somehow and started a forest fire, which engulfed the besieging Magadhan army and broke their formations. Jarasandha returns to Magadh after this fiasco. The Vrishni brothers meet Parashurama in Dakshinapatha forests and according to Harivamsha, it is here where Krishna receives "Sudarshan Chakra". All this part is missing in MBH, but present in Bhagvatam and Harivamsha.

Meanwhile, Magadh's strategy did not prove futile. While Jarasandha could not finish off the Vrishni brothers in his Deccan escapade, he managed to dislodge Yadavas from Mathura and forced them to migrate to the extreme periphery of India - Saurashtra and Dwarika situated at the mouth of Saraswati River basin. While otherwise, this would have been a prime location just like Sindh, but living at the mouth of a drying river isn't very wise thing, in long run. The clan of Vrishnis settle in Saurashtra in artificially created city of Dwarika, while maintaining a nominal presence in Mathura. 

The Shoorsena Yadavas of mathura thereafter dwindled both in numbers and significance. Perhaps, Jarasandha decided to let Shoorsena Yadavas die naturally instead of asking for curses from mango abduls living there and who were pissed off by constant raiding and warfare by Magadh. Yadavas seem to be spread across Central Indian region and Deccan plateau and western Ghats. I can't help comparing the expanse of Yadavas with expanse of Marathas. Various houses of Yadavas (like marathas) ruled western Maharashtra, Vidarbha and Madhya-Pradesh (and later Gujarat). While Magadh was friendly with all them, Jarasandha was bitter enemy of Vrishni Yadavas of Mathura. After dislodging Vrishnis from Mathura, he let Shoorsena Yadavas be. I think Magadh did not want the powers of South-Central India to enter as participants in power-struggle of Indo-Gangetic plains. The Vrishnis of Mathura were precisely trying to do that.

One thing that we need to keep in mind, is that, in Indian system of polity, there aren't any "inviolable boundaries" of "nation-states". Although all these Mahajanapadas were individual and sovereign political units who were recognized by intellectuals, traders and other peers, they weren't anything like modern "Nation-states". Hence many times conquests in form of "ashwamedha Yagna" and "Raajsooya-Yagna" did not involve the practice of finishing off the defeated dynasty and annexation of the province which was won. This system was unknown to India until advent of Nanda-Dynasty of Magadh. Even after Nandas, this practice remained relatively obscure until Islamic sultanates. Thereafter, this became a common practice. 

The system of polity seems to be governed by "DharmaShastras" and "Arthashastras" which are ubiquitous all over India, including in the non-aryan clans like Asuras and Nagas. The people talk to each other about "dharma" as if there was some common code of conduct and polity which was accepted by all the sovereigns of India. What that common code was, is not specified, and is not personally known to me. The so called "conquests" or "Dikvijayas" undertaken by various politicians of contemporary India was either for "recognition" and/or ally hunt and/or money and not usually for land. The defeated king swore allegiance to the victorious king and promised to arrive with his resources in the victor's hour of need.

Evolution of Indian Geopolity in Mahabharata prior to Pandava Exile - Part 1

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Geopolitical scenario of Indian subcontinent prior to the initiation of Dikvijaya by Pandavas prior to Raajsooya sacrifice.

The key players of "western India" then were Yadavas, Panchals and Kurus from Modern Haryana, Punjab, Western UP, Northern Rajasthan, Northern MP region. The players in eastern India were primarily Jarasandha of Magadh. While everybody is familiar with gross picture of how Pandavas arrived at conclusion of going for Raajsooya, there were many other parallel threads which were shaping the polity of India ruled by Arya people.

Geography of India in MBH times

1. Rivalry between Magadha and Yadavas of Mathura (this is key interaction which played critical role in forthcoming events)

2. Internecine rivalry amongst house of Kurus (Kuravas and Pandavas)

3. Rivalry between Kurus and Panchalas (the episode of Drupad's defeat by disciples of Dronacharya {Drona's Guru-Dakshina} as settlement of personal score against Drupad). Although this is tertiary and rather indirect and ineffective factor to shape the destiny of India's geopolilty significantly on its own. It played a supportive role, however. Lets see the polity of India just before appearance of Krishna on the political scene of India.

1. Magadha-Mathura Rivalry: The process of Saraswati's dessication was ongoing. Population migration towards Gangetic valley (towards Magadha) happening slowly. The King of Mathura (Ugrasena and later Kamsa) smartly established marital relations with Jarasandha of Magadh. Magadh, the true powerhouse of India called shots over entire Gangetic valley. Jarasandha's daughters were married off to Kamsa of Mathura by his father. The other Yadava clans (notably of Chedi - modern Bundelkhand) too were close allies of Magadh. Magadh was building close relations with power-centres of Central India (Vidarbha King Bheem and later his elder son Rukmi) and Deccan plateau (Shrugaal, king of Karveer {modern Kolhapur in MH}). Overall, there is seen quite a lot of bonhomie seen in Magadh and central India, although according to MBH, that pax-magadha was enforced by Strength than amicably. 

2. Disarray in house of Kuru: Kurus were in bad books of kings from NWFP and Gaandhar (marriage of gandhari to blind dhritarashtra perceived as blatant treachery by Shakuni, the crown prince of Gandhaar (modern Kandahar). Kurus were in bad books of Kings from Central UP (Especially Kashi after abduction of three princesses by Bhishma). The flow of Saraswati decreasing Bulk of western Kuru falls in upper Saraswati Basin. The River Yamuna was tributary of Saraswati, so was Sutlaj. With freely flowing Saraswati, Kuru clan occupied the "prime real estate of India". The land with three major river systems - Ganga in east, Saraswati in centre and Sindhu in west. However, this is a polity which is "marked by time" for eventual decline. This is further complicated by internal squabbles of Kurus which everybody knows about. However, the liquid power and inertia of Kurus is very high (which aptly and poetically described by Vyasa maharshi), which keeps them going.

3. The Confused Panchala: Panchala was the "swing-state" in contemporary geopolity, IMHO. It would have gone with any of the two powers, IMO. While it was close to Panchalas (Panchalas and Kurus were related clans few generations before). However, it was sitting on the downstream of Ganges which was growing powerful, while Monsoon was declining. The significant presence of "Magadh Lobby" in Draupadi's Swayamvara hints at shifting geopolitics. Although the swayamvara rules were different those days, hence I state this idea with extreme caution. The attack of Kuru army (under Duryodhana) on Panchala as settlement of Drona's Gurudakshina pissed Drupad furthermore. The "understanding of Dharma" by Yudhishthira is seen for the first-time here. Kuru army led by Duryodhana is badly defeated by Panchal army. When it is Pandava's turn to settle the Dakshina, there is a beautiful passage of Yudhishthira where he justifies his decision of "Not fighting under Kuru Banner". I was impressed at the acumen of Politics and Justice by this young Prince. Pandavas manage to defeat Panchal's army just after it has won over Kuru army. This is another tactical brilliance on the part of Yudhishthira to instigate Duryodhana and allow him to take a first shot. Pandavas invade Panchala almost immediately after Duryodhana's defeat, and score an easy victory over Drupad, while arresting him and presenting him in front of their teacher. This invasion (under banner of Kurus by Duryodhan) perpetually pushes Panchala in Anti-Kuru stance. The obvious choice for the leadership of this "anti-Kuru" lobby is Magadh.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Northwestern Conquests of Raghu (Chandragupta-2 Vikramaditya) as described by Kalidaasa

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Excerpts from Kalidasa's Raghuvamsha dealing with northwestern conquests of Emperor Raghu.

अभ्यभूयत वाहानां चरतां गात्रशिञ्जितैः| वर्मभिः पवनोद्धूतराजतालीवनध्वनिः॥ ४-५६
When the war horses are on the move the jangle of accoutrements on their different limbs has outweighed the rustle of the groves of magnificent palm trees that are upheaved by wind. 

खर्जूरीस्कन्धनद्धानां मदोद्गारसुगन्धिषु| कटेषु करिणां पेतुः पुंनागेभ्यः शिलीमुखाः॥ ४-५७
Leaving the highly fragrant punnAga flowers honeybees swarmed on the temples, perfumed by the oozing ichor, of the elephants that are tethered to date-palm trees.

अवकाशं किलोदन्वान् रामायाभ्यर्थितो ददौ| अपरान्तमहीपालव्याजेन रघवे करम्॥ ४-५८
At one time when parashu-rAma entreated, they say, the western ocean gave a leeway to him by somewhat receding; but the same ocean now seems to have come forward when a sea of western kings have fretfully come forward to pay tribute to raghu.

मत्तेभरदनोत्कीर्णव्यक्तविक्रमलक्षणम्| त्रिकूटमेव तत्रोच्चैर्जयस्तम्भं चकार सः॥ ४-५९
Without building triumphal arches anew, raghu made Mt. trikUta alone as his lofty tower of victory since his ruttish elephants made dents on the slopes of that mountain with their tusks which, in effect, are the evident hallmarks of his valour. 

पारसीकांस्ततो जेतुं प्रतस्थे स्थलवर्त्मना| इन्द्रियाख्यानिव रिपूंस्तत्त्वज्ञानेन संयमी॥ ४-६०
raghu then proceeded by a land route to conquer the pArasIka kings just as a self-controlled yogi possessing divine knowledge proceeds to conquer his own enemies, called his own senses. 

Persian kings according to commentator Sumantivijaya are Mlechha kings living to the west of Sindhu (modern day Baluchistan).

यवनीमुखपद्मानां सेहे मधुमदं न सः| बालातपमिवाब्जानामकालजलदोदयः ॥ ४-६१
As to how an untimely cloud removes morning sunlight from the faces of just blooming lotuses, raghu has also removed the blooming flush of wine from the lotus-like faces of yavana women when he encountered their men.

सङ्ग्रामस्तुमुलस्तस्य पाश्चात्यैरश्वसाधनैः| शार्ङ्गकूजितविज्ञेयप्रतियोधे रजस्यभूत्॥ ४-६२
Then a tumultuous battle ensued between raghu and the westerners who possess cavalry as their war paraphernalia in a canopy of massive dust wherein the opposing warriors could recognise each other just by the nature of the twanging of their bows. 

The poet means to imply that the battle waged so furiously that the fighting men could hardly distinguish each other; secondly, to hint at the great superiority in archery on the part of raghu's soldiers.

भल्लापवर्जितैस्तेषां शिरोभिः श्मश्रुलैर्महीम्| तस्तार सरघाव्याप्तैः स क्षौद्रपटलैरिव॥ ४-६३
raghu covered the ground with the bearded heads of westerners that are cut off with spear-like arrows (Usage of artillery and siege engines), as if they are the sheaves of honeycombs swarming with bees. 

Thus it establishes that Yavans = Persians in Raghuvamsha and Gupta times. Persians were fairly Hellenized by that time. 

अपनीतशिरस्त्राणाः शेषास्तं शरणं ययुः| प्रणिपातप्रतीकारः संरम्भो हि महात्मनाम्॥ ४-६४
And the survivors sought the protection of raghu on removing their helmets, and the anger of the generous will be readily appeased by submission, isn't it!

विनयन्ते स्म तद्योधा मधुभिर्विजयश्रमम्| आस्तीर्णाजिनरत्नासु द्राक्षावलयभूमिषु॥ ४-६५
raghu's soldiers removed their fatigue of victory by means of wine, while sitting on excellent antelope skins spread on the grounds of grape-orchards.

ततः प्रतस्थे कौबेरीं भास्वानिव रघुर्दिशम्| शरैरुस्रैरिवोदीच्यानुद्धरिष्यन् रसानिव॥ ४-६६
As to how the sun squeezes water with his sharp arrows like sunrays in northern solstice, raghu proceeded to north to squeeze the kings of north with his sharp sunrays like arrows.

विनीताध्वश्रमास्तस्य सिन्धुतीरविचेष्टनैः| दुधुवुर्वाजिनः स्कन्धाम्ल्लग्नकुङ्कुमकेसरान्॥ ४-६७
raghu's horses having refreshed themselves by rolling on the banks of River sindhu shook off the filaments of saffron stuck on their shoulders. 

The river Sindhu here is Modern Amudarya. He already crossed Indus when he fought Persians. Based on following two verses. He is entering amu darya basin from south-west Persia (today's Siestan, Kandahar region, mostly probably via Bolan pass). Based on saffron of Persia which was on the shoulders of Raghu's soldiers has been famous since ages.

तत्र हूणावरोधानां भर्तृषु व्यक्तविक्रमम्| कपोलपाटलादेशि बभूव रघुचेष्टितम्॥ ४-६८
The cheeks of huNa women glowed with embarrassment by the action of raghu in waging war with their husbands and that flush itself appeared as an index to raghu s valour.

काम्बोजाः समरे सोढुं तस्य वीर्यमनीश्वराः| गजालानपरिक्लिष्टैरक्षोटैः सार्धमानताः॥ ४-६९
Along with the walnut trees that are bending their treetops unable to withstand the pull and push of elephants tied to them with halters, the kings of kAmboja too bent their heads down before raghu in token of their submission unable to withstand his bravery in battle. 

Kapisha and Kamboja are regions adjoining modern day Kabul. There is a Kapisa province in modern Afghanistan which is adjacent to Kabul Capital district. Thus, Raghu is returning Southwards after defeating Huns on banks of Amudarya.

तेषां सदश्वभूयिष्ठास्तुङ्गा द्रविणराशयः| उपदा विविशुः शश्वन्नोत्सेकाः कोसलेश्वरम्॥ ४-७०
Large heaps of gold together with numerous thorough bred horses constantly reached the lord of kosala kingdom namely raghu, from those kAmboja kings, but pride never came near him.

ततो गौरीगुरुं शैलमारुरोहाश्वसाधनः| वर्धयन्निव तत्कूटानुद्धूतैर्धातुरेणुभिः॥ ४-७१
Then raghu ascended the Himalayan mountain, the father of gauri, or pAravati, using cavalry as main mode of operation, and in doing so the dust raised by the hooves of horses from the minerals of mountain soared high by which raghu appeared to have heightened Himalaya mountain.

There is considerable doubt here, as to which mountain Kalidasa is referring to. The word "Hindukush" was not prevalent in those days. I remember to have read somewhere that Hindukush is also known as Himalaya OR Paariyatra Parvata. Perhaps he entered India via Khyber and then moved eastwards towards Swat-Chitral-Gilgit-Kashmit-Kangda and subsequently Gangetic plains.

शशंस तुल्यसत्त्वानां सैन्यघोषेऽप्यसंभ्रमम्| गुहाशयानां सिंहानां परिवृत्यावलोकितम्॥ ४-७२
Even if the army's noise is tumultuous, lions lying at length in caves gazed at the army from their prone position with their half-raised necks at that army which indicated the perfect indifference of reposing lions towards that army because they are equal to it in their courage. 

Lions are never found in Himalayas. Hence it is just a poetic metaphor.

भूर्जेषु मर्मरीभूताः कीचकध्वनिहेतवः| गङ्गाशीकरिणो मार्गे मरुतस्तं सिषेविरे॥ ४-७३
The soft breeze causing murmuring rustle in the leavers of birch trees and melodious sounds in bamboo trees, and surcharged with the coolness of the sprays of River ganga has adored raghu on his way.

Historicity and similarity of Raghu from Kalidasa's Raghuvamsha and Chandragupta-2 Vikramaditya

Many scholars equate "Raghu" with Chandragupta Vikramaditya, the third emperor of Gupta Dynasty.

अथ श्रीविक्रमादित्यो हेल्यनिरजीतखील:
म्लेच्छांनाम कांबोज यावनानाम निचान हुणान स बर्बरान 
तुषार:पारासिकांश्च त्यक्ताचरण विशृंखलान  
हत्या भृभंग मातृयेन: भूमिभारम वारायते.
- क्षमेंद्र कृत बृहतकथा, खंड १०, अध्याय १, श्लोक २८५-८६.

According to the "Brihat-Katha-Manjari" of the Kshmendra, king Vikramaditya had "unburdened the sacred earth of the Barbarians like the Shakas, Mlecchas, Kambojas, Yavanas, Tusharas,Parasikas, Hunas, etc. by annihilating these sinful Mlecchas completely" 

According to Kathasaritsagara 18.1.76-78 Cf:"In the story contained in Kathasarit-sagara, king Vikarmaditya is said to have destroyed all the barbarous tribes such as the Kambojas, Yavanas, Hunas, Tokharas and the Persians "

Thus, the conquests of Raghu are in fact conquests of Guptas under Chandragupta-2 aka Vikramaditya. The routes, the descriptions of flora and fauna (Lions, Saffron, walnuts, bearded men) military tactic (extensive use of archers by Guptas. Total reliance of persians and hunas on cavalry) is a very valuable insight. That too from a "mahakavi" like Kalidasa

This is one of the resource for Gupta-age military. Kalidasa describes over-reliance of Bengal kings on navy, Kalinga kings on elephants and central asian kings on horses. his own army has an extensive contingent of Indian Longbowmen. Indian longbow unlike European longbow is composite. Instead of first two fingers, we use index-finger and thumb to release the arrow. This increases the accuracy and control, but decreases the drag and range. There might be some variants of two-fingered bows for volleys, given high number of archers in the guptan army. Furthermore, the chariots and elephant archers might be efficient snipers and sharp-shooters. It also shows that persian and middle eastern armies wore head-gear in battle. Vikram did not take elephants to Central asian conquest. But he describes elephant marking their victory on the kings of Sahyadri and western India (may be MH-Konkan-Guj-Sindh region). Thereafter, he describes horses and archers only. He also describes "Spear-like arrows" which cut off the bearded heads of the persians. For releasing "spear-like" arrows we need siege-engines and ballistas. Thus, deployment of artillery is hinted in the central asian conquest.

Vikram crossed Sindhu defeated Persians then went northwards cross a great river (amu darya) where he defeated Hunas and entered through Himalayas. That gives the entry point of Vikram as modern Swat. In historical times, there is no demarcation between Himalayas, Hindukush, arakanese ranges. Himalayas is described have two arms which embraces this land stretching up to sea. The two arms of himalayas are hindukush and himalayas. There is no mention of "Pariyatra mountain" which is supposed to be the name of Hindu-kush in Indian literature.

In my opinion, vikram entered Persia through Bolan pass in baluchistan, conquered Kandahar and other regions of Persia, turned northwards towards Herat, cross Amu darya and defeated Hunas, and came southwards again via Swat valley-kashmir-Uttarakhand-UP. Entering via gilgit and northern areas is far-fetched with archers, siege-engines and cavalry.