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.


santu from santosh nagar said...

I find a lot of similarities between Vikramaditya and Lord Rama. Are both the same by any means...this is just a wild guess

Kal_Chiron said...

How so is Vikramaditya same as Raam?

Raam's wife was abducted while in exile. Vikramaditya (Chandragupta-2) married to his elder-brother's wife (Dhruvadevi) after killing him. There is no similarity in them.

I recommend Devi-Chandragupta play written by Vishakhadatta. It accounts for all early life and biography of Dhruvadevi and Chandragupta-2 Vikramaditya.

Raghu might be the nick-name of Chandragupta-2 (just a wild guess) since Kalidasa describes conquests of Chandragupta as Raghu. Raghu was ancestor of Raama, hence Raama is called "Raaghav" (Descendant of Raghu).

Sudharshan said...

Calling Vikramaditya as Rama is too much of imagination!! But I certainly believe there was some link or lineage associated with them.
Note these points:
1. Rama wife was abducted by a barbarian(asura) Ravana. Vikramaditya's wife was abducted by Saka king and shakas were considered barbarians.
2. Kalidasa mentions him in Raghuvamsa which actually explains the lineage of Ishvaku dynasty i.e that of Rama.
3.It was he who had discovered Ayodhya which till then was just a legendary capital of Ramrajya. His intent to find ayodhya
4. His cornationa marks on the same date as Rama.
All this are like a coincidence. He must have been a legacy of Rama probably.

Kal_Chiron said...

@sudarshan ji

Dhruvadevi was not abducted by Rudra Singh. She was wife of Ramagupta (Vikrama's elder brother) and was demanded by Rudra Singh. CG-2 dressed as woman, entered the scythian camp and killed Rudra Singh.

later, Ramagupta was killed in a public riot and CG-2 ascended the throne..

Dhruvadevi became CG-2's wife after CG-2's coronation and claiming the title of "vikramaditya".

Raama is known in earlier texts like Vishnu Purana, which was composed about 400 to 500 years before Gupta dynasty. Rama is an epitome of virtue and by trying to fit in his shoes, Vikrama much have associated many of his acts and images in image of Vishnu.

The famous Gupta gold coin where Vikrama is standing with Shiva-Dhanushya shows this inclination of associating with the "idea" that Raama stands for.