An Imperial History Of India/Magadha And Madhyadesa; Imperial Period

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An Imperial History Of India

By K.P. Jayaswal - the Sanskrit Text, Revised by Rahul Sankrityayana

Publisher - Motilal Banarasi Dass, The Punjab Sanskrit Book Depot, Sasdmrha, Lahore
Wikified by Laxman Burdak

Part I: Magadha And Madhyadesa; Imperial Period

1. Saisunaka Dynasty

The Buddha begins his prophecy about his own Nirvana (verses 13 ff) . [Read in verse 10 sa eva instead of sa epa; in verse 14 Mallanam upavartane instead of upaparvate; correct similarly Mallanam upadartate (verse 18) into upwartane]. He relates his biography from verse 24 (p. 581).

[Correct in verse 36 Burubilvam into Urubilvam (T.).]

Capital of Magadha : Verse 118 gives the name Kusagrapuri of the Magadhas. The mountain Varaha had the Paipala Cave.

In verse 137 the Tibetan text (p. 432) reads Brahmanah instead of Sramanab before K a s y a p a.

Ajatashatru: In verse 140 the visit of A j a t a s a t r u, king of the Magadhas,who had been overtaken by grief for his father's death, is mentioned. The king describes his own miserable condition and appeals:

"I am abandoned by relatives as untrustworthy and so I stand before the nation. I am fallen, (destined to the terrible hell). Whose shelter shall I seek (read kam saranam instead of kah sa, 145)? Save me, you Great Hero "

Division of ashes of the Buddha is detailed, in verses 207 ff. The Magadha capital is called Raja (elsewhere Rajagriha) and Kusagrapura in verse 232.

"After my passing away, in the end of the period (yugante) kings will fight each other (mahapala bhavishyanti paraspara-vadhe (incorrect vdhe rata), and bhikshus will become industrialists (babukarmanta), and the people overtaken by greed; Buddhist laity will lose faith; will kill each other, will examine each other." There will be a general decline and demoralisation in Buddhism (236 -246; read pariseshaiva chaturvidhab for pariseshveva chaturvidhe, 246).

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"The country will be invaded by Devas and Tirthikas [Tirthika krdnta bhayishtha deva - (incorrect sarv3) kranta cha medni]. The people will be having faith in Brahmin caste (bhtnwbytnti tada kale dvija-varna-rata jana), At that time men will indulge in the killing of living creatures; they will have false conduct." This is the pfophecy (or description vyakrita) of Kali age (248).

From verse 250 comes the description of relic- worship, of the corporal remains of the Buddha, and, once more, that of their partition by Maha-Kasyapa (minor corrections which are many here are omitted), Ajata, 'of great army', applied for a portion of the relics (257) . [In verse 266 a (common) mistake tāpin for tāyin occurs in the printed text.] The king is called the son of Bimbisara (307) (miss pelt in S. as Bimbasara throughout, but correct in T.).

Extent of Ajatasatru's kingdom:In verse 321 he is styled as Maharaja Ajata (Ajata-satru in T.) 'the Magadhan king.' He will be king (raja) of Anga (T.) (S.,'upto Anga'), Magadha, up to Varanasi, in the N. up to Vaisali (322).

His son will be king by name U. ('Ukārākhya) (i.e., Udāyin) (324). He will be prone to the Buddha's teaching, and will have it reduced in writing. His reign will be for 20 years. He will be for 30 years with his father (326). He will die at midnight.


The kings are:



Udayin (20 years)

Udayin is stated to be the king in whose reign the words of the Buddha were committed to writing (tadetat pravachanam sastu lekha- payishyati vistaram) . This is the first mention about the Teacher's words being reduced to writing.

After the Buddha's death there was a decline in Buddhism. It may be noted that the age of decline is dated in Kali Age. Of the earlier age (the Ādi Yuga) the kings mentioned (See $ 2) are the well-known kings of Puranic history.

2. Ancient Kings, before the Buddha

In the First Yuga the kings were: Nahusha and others (332), Pārthiva and others (332), Budha, Sukra, Udaya (not in T., 333 up to 336),

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Santanu, Chitra, Suchitra, the Pandavas, the Varavatya Yatavas who came to an end (astamitd) cursed by the Rishi; Kartika, Karttavirya, Dasaratha, Daiarathi, Arjuna, the minister Asvatthaman son of Dvi (ja) Drona (335). They were worshippers of the Buddha (!) (337).

3. Kings of the time of the Buddha [Sixth century B.C.]

The kings between Dvapara and Kali will be bad kings (343). "In the present- age the kings are" (344),

  • (5) (a) Subahu,
  • (b) Sudhanu (T.) Sudhana (S.),
  • (c) Mahendra,
  • (d) Chamasa (T.), Chandrasama (S.),
  • (e) Simha, of the Lichchhavis at Vaisali ('from the Sakya family', T. )
  • (6) Udāvi (Udāyi), (Varshadhara, T.)
  • (7) Vidyota Pradyota (T.) 'Vidyota Mudyota* (S.), 'the Mahasena', at Ujjayani, also 'Chanda' (चण्ड) .
  • (8) Raja Suddhodana at the capital Kapila, entitled 'the Virat' (president of a vairajya (वैराज्य) republic), 'very powerful' (348).
These were contemporaries of Sakyasimha Buddha, all Kshatriyas, all who had come in personal contact with the Buddha and respected his teachings" (349 -352).
  • (9) Ajata (अजात) [is again mentioned after the group in verse 353 as if by a footnote.]

The group of No. 5 seems to consist of Lichchhavi rulers. They were not descendants of Ajatasatru, as wrongly supposed by Taranatha (J. B. O. R. S., I, 79). The description of No. 8 is noteworthy. Although he is the father of the Buddha he comes last. Probably they are given in order of political and constitutional importance.

Udayana (उदयन) , son of Satanika (of Kausambi) is described as being of the best Kshatriya family amongst his contemporaries (kshatriya-sreshthah) , which confirms Bhasa. The Lichchhavis are also stated as Kshatriyas, and connected with the Sakyas.

4. "100 years after the Buddha"

Revival of Buddhism

Emperor Asoka : His Stupas and Stone Pillars [Like Yuan Chwang, the author of our AMMK has fallen into a confusion between the Asoka of the time of the Second Council who

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flourished a century after the Buddha and the Asoka the Great (Maurya) . He is called variously in Northern Buddhism: 'Nanda? (Rockhill, p. 186; Schiefner, p. 61), 'Kāla-Asoka' (as distinguished from 'Dharma-Asoka', i.e., the Maurya) and Kāma-Asoka (Taranatha). This Asoka of 100 A.B. was Nanda I or Nandavardhana (J. B.O. R. S., I. 81, 84). The AMMK has transformed Asoka the Maurya into the Asoka of A. B. 100. The other Asoka is mentioned again as Viśoka. Except the date the whole datum is to be taken as on Asoka Maurya placed out of his place.]

100 years after the Buddha in a dark age there will arise at Kusuma-nagara an emperor ['Protector of the (whole) earth] famous as Asoka (353, 355; S., p. 606; T., p. 442 B). At first he will be sharp in action, with anger, unkind; having come across a selfless Bhikshu he will become considerate as to what is right and what is wrong, very rich, scrupulous and kind (356-58). He had in his boyhood by mistake and in play done homage to Śakyasimha Buddha, hence -

'Ye, king, rule over Jambudvipa along with its Forests' (361). At the instance of his guide, he out of -the old stupa over the Buddha's relics at Venuvana (वेणुवन) in the 'Raja' capital city [Rajagriha], took out the jar of relics and divided in hundreds, he beautified the whole of this Jambudvipa with stupas at one moment through Yakshas. Thousands of Stone Pillars (Sila-yashti) were set up at Chaityas and as human [Dehinam] memorials (369-70). These monuments were erected in one night by Yakskis in the service of Asoka. Then the king Dharmāsoka on his chariot undertook a journey of inspection, and decorated and honoured those monuments with gold, silver, and copper (372-377). On his death he attains divinity. For 87 years he worshipped relics and lived altogether for 100 years. He died of disease (379).


The technical name for Asoka pillars and their two classes should be noted, viz., one set to mark old Chaityas and the other as human memorials (stupas). Inscriptional monuments are not noted. They were mostly governmental. His tour is also noted.

5. Early Emperors before the Buddha

He [Asoka] knew the Mantra to be an Emperor (Chakravartin) which had been known to Nahusha, Sitatapatra, Sagara, Dilipa, Mandhata, (385-388). By virtue of mantras of Mahayana the following kings in the past age had attained success:

  • Kandarpa (कन्दर्प) , his son
  • Prajapati (प्रजापति) , his son
  • Nabhi (नाभि) , his son
  • Urna (उर्ण) (T.),

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The Buddha employs past tense in respect of these kings. They are implied to be ancient kings of the pre-Buddhan age by the next verse 396 where the kings of 'Benares who 'lived' in the Middle Time are described. This Middle Time is to be distinguished from the Future Middle Time mentioned later wherein the Gupta emperors (s-17) are placed. The kings of the Past Middle Age were past kings in the Buddha's time.

6. Imperial Dynasty of Benares [before 600 B.C.]

These lived in the Middle Age (396) . King Brahmadatta was at the great capital Varanasi (398). He was a successful king, known all over, very vigorous, very kind. His son was of pious deeds, wise, and of firm undertakings. The son of the latter was Harya (Hayagrīva , T.) , his was Shveta. These were successful and famous, [and their success was due, of course, to Mahayana mantras] (401-3).


The Dynasty of Varanasi is the centre of imperial history before the rise of Magadha and Kosala. Shishunaka (शिशुनाक), the founder of the Magadha dynasty on the fall of the very ancient dynasty of the Brihadrathas, was a cadet of this dynasty of Varanasi or Kashi. The dynasty of Kashi annexed Magadha c. 727 B.C. (J.B.O.R.S., I, 114) . Brahmadatta was the greatest king of the line; he conquered Kosala and made it a part of his empire according to the Vinaya (II) . This must have taken place at least three generations before Prasenajit's father Maha-Kosala, who owned Benares; and attacks by three earlier Kosala kings on Benares are known to the Buddhist Jatakas. The date 727 B.C. fits in with the great rise of Benares. It had an empire from Benares (from the frontiers of the kingdom of Kausambi) to Kosala in the N., and to the frontiers of Anga in the E. A king of the line was Dhritarashtra who was defeated by Shatanika (शतानीक) of Kausambi 4 (Satapatha, 13, 8, 4, 19) . The rivalry for imperial position was carried on by the Magadha branch of the Benares House in the period of the Buddha and finally it suppressed Kosala. The bone of contention was made Benares which was rightfully claimed by the Shaishunakas (शैशुनाक) , it being their ancestral possession. According to our history the house of Benares was imperial only for 3 generations.

4. This must have happened just before the Buddha, as Udayana son of Satanika was a contemporary of the Buddha.

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7. Magadha Kings and their Ministers, subsequent to Udayin [c.450-B.C.338 B.C.]

Vishoka (=Nanda-vardhana)- Surasenas. - Nandas : After various advices put in the mouth of the Buddha on magical practices for kings of the future, history is again taken up in verse 413 (S., p. 612; T., p. 445 B). After this Asoka-Mukhya there will be Vishoka who will worship (Buddha) relics for 76 years (416). He was a good king. He died of fever. After him was Surasena [Virasena of Taranatha]. He caused stupas to be put up to the confines of the Sea. He reigned for 17 years. After him there will be king Nanda at Pushpa-City. He will have a large army and he will be a great power (422) . He was called 'the leading vile man' (Nīchamukkya) (424). He had been a Prime Minister; by magical process he became king (424). 'In the capital of the Magadha-residents there will be Brahmin controversialists, lost in false (T.; S. 'success') pride; without doubt they will have false pride and claims; and the king will be surrounded by them* (425-26). The king, though a pious soul and just, will give them riches (427). Owing to his association with a good guide he built 24 monasteries (428).

Prime Minister Vararuchi : His minister was a Buddhist Brahmin Vararuchi who was of high soul, kind and good. The king, though true, caused alienation of feeling of the Council of Ministers at Patala City. (434-35). The king became very ill, died at 67. His great friend was a Brahmin, Panini by name. He will become a believer in me (Buddha) ; and had mantra of success from Lokeśa (T.) (439).


[New light on the History of Mahapadma Nanda and Panini]

This is one of the most important sections of the AMMK. The history of the dynasty called the Saisunakas in the Puranas is found in the best form here as far as Northern Buddhist records go. (a) 'Viśoka' is undoubtedly the 'Kālāśoka' of Burmese Buddhism and the 'Nandin' of Vaisali of Taranatha, in whose reign the Second Council was held (JBORS.,I,73) and whom I have proposed to identify with Nandavardhana of the Puranas (Ibid., 80 ff). His successor, (b)Śurasena, the good king ('dharmachari') of the AMMK, is the Vīrasena of Taranatha, Bhadrasena of the Burmese tradition, Nanda of Rockhill and Mahananda of the Puranas (JBORS.,I,73,92). Then comes the infamous (c) Nanda, the usurper, who is Maha Nanda's successor Maha Padma Nanda of the Puranas.

The account which we get of this king in the AMMK, is most important. He was the Prime Minister (Mantrin) of Surasena, who ruled in Magadha up to the Sea, that is, was an emperor. Nanda,

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the usurper, was called the Nichamukhya, the lowest man of his age. 5 This popular estimate was heard by Alexander's companions who reached India in the time of his son. He was not an incapable man and totally devoid of virtue according to the AMMK, whose greatest complaint is that though a man of judgment Nanda patronised the Brahmin opponents of Buddhism. The AMMK notes a great intellectual activity of the orthodox type under Nanda. Vararuchi was his minister who had a high reputation, and Panini was his favourite. The greatness of these Brahmins the Buddhist chroniclers before the time of the AMMK, could not deny and consoled themselves by claiming them as Buddhists, for without being Buddhists how could men be great? A clever usurper has to pose as a great patron of intellect and letters. Mahapadma Nanda was here perfect. Yet the AMMK notes an undercurrent. The king became unpopular with the Council of Ministers (virāgayāmāsa mantrinām Nagare Pātalāhvaye, virakta-mantrivargh tu satyasandho mabābalah), though the king was Satyasandha (constitutionally correct to the Hindu Ministry) (in spite of his) great power'. About causing alienation of the ministers the text is further explicit by its virāgayāmāsa mantrinām Nagare Pātalāhvaye (434). The king fortunately died of illness and old age, and nothing untoward happened on account of this alienation of feeling.

After this king, Chandragupta is dealt with (s-8). The supplanting of Nanda Mahapadma's successor is not mentioned, hence nor his immediate successor.

It seems that here we have a true history which in the main is supported by Greek notices. We are thankful to gain some details of the constitutional situation of the reign in an Indian account.

The chronology of the AMMK is free from that confusion which we find in other Buddhist accounts for the period. The AMMK data are independent, and they support the Puranas. We have here a positive record about Panini's date. He flourished a generation before Alexander. His mention of Yavanānī must refer to the Yavanas living in Afghanistan before Alexander or the Yavanas in the Persian territories. That Panini knew the Persians well is proved by his 'Parsus';

5. The Buddhist historian found an explanation of his power in the king's having brought under his control the pishacha Pīlu.

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and Panini's home was near enough, if not at the time within, the Persian empire. His time on our this datum will be c. 366-338 B.C. (Nanda Mahapadma; JBORS., I. 116). The Kathasaritsagara story is to be modified in view of our AMMK material. The latter is historical, while the former after all is a story. The confusion of Taranatha that Nanda,the friend of Panini, was the father of Mahapadma is removed by the AMMK,

8. Maurya Dynasty

K. Chandragupta: Later than him (Nanda), Chandragupta will become king (439). He will rule without a rival. He (will be) very prosperous (Mababhogi, T.; not Mahayogi as in S.), true to his coronation oath (satyasandha) , and of moral soul (dharmatma) (440). On bad advice he killed many, on account of which he fainted with boils at his death.

K. Bindusāra: He placed on his throne his son Bindusara (T.; S. Binduvara), a minor, at midnight, with tears. Bindusara's prime minister wicked. As Bimbisara (T., Bindusara) had made a chaitya 6 he was rewarded by being born in the dynasty of Chandragupta. 'While a minor the king obtained great comfort; when of full manhood he turned out to be bold, eloquent and sweet-tongued. He ruled himself up to (the age of) 70 (448-49).

Prime Minister Chinakya: His prime minister was Chanakya, successful in wrath who, was death (Yamantaka) when angry. That bad brahmin lived a long time, he covered three reigns (455-6). He went to hell (458). [Then follows a homily (up to 478)].


Chandragupta and Chanakya

Character of Bindusara

Only these two names are given under the dynasty of Chandragupta. Asoka the Great is already misplaced above. The succession of Bindusara as a minor is noteworthy, and also his character sketch which was wanting up to this time. He was not a Buddhist. An explanation was therefore due. How could a king be successful without having been a Buddhist? He had as a child raised a toy stupa of dust. This every Indian child does even to-day. The common form of their play is to raise a mound of dust.

6. 'S. and T. disagree here. The S. text reads that Bimbisara made a chaitya through Simhadatta, hence was born in the dynasty or 'royal family' of Chandragupta; while T. reads that Bindusara in his playfulness had raised a (toy) chaitya, hence he was so born, it has in place of Simhadattt, 'in playful sports'. '

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Chandragupta was not a Buddhist. His military career was punished by his illness and poisonous boils [or carbuncle, (vishasphoṭaih)]

Chanakya has come in for a lot of abuse and deliverance into hell. In his Arthashastra he has penalised embracing monkish life without providing for one's family and without state permission. He was hard on Buddhists otherwise. The Buddhist history must have its revenge by assigning such a statesman at least to a long career in hell on paper.The historical detail about him, which is important, is that he lived in three reigns, trini rajyani. Chandragupta seems to have died comparatively young. He had a reign of 24 years, both according to the Puranas and the Buddhist records (JBORS., I, 93). He was a young man when he ascended the throne. Probably he died about 45, leaving a minor son. Bindusara reigned for 25 years according to the Puranas, for 28 according to the Mahavamsa and for 27 according to the Burmese books. The difference is probably to be explained by his minority rule, which would be adjusted in the next reign where there is a difference of about 4 years in the different data, the Puranas giving less than the Mahavamsa. Chanakya must have come down to the opening years of Asoka, to be the mantrin in three reigns. He would have thus maintained the unity of the Maurya policy for over 50 years in his person. Taranatha attributes large conquests between the Eastern and Western Seas, etc., (of the Deccan) in the reign of Bindusara to this great Minister's regime (JBORS., II, 79). Similarly Radhagupta's ministry lasted beyond Asoka. Radhagupta might have been a descendant of Vishnugupta Chanakya.

It should be marked that the system of noting historically in Buddhist records the Prime Ministers' names begins from the Nanda period, or even earlier from Bimbisara. In the period from the Saisunakas to the Mauryas, there is thus strong evidence of some real ruling power having been vested in the Prime Minister with his council. The council from the time of the master of Mahapadma Nanda up to the last days of Asoka is prominent in the Buddhist records.

Vishnugupta Chanakya is taken up again in the list of political Brahmins at the end (966-70) [See 57] where his administration is praised as being strong and just, but his anger is denounced.

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9. Buddhist Saints and Teachers

From verse 479 to verse 730, there follows a Church history.

Matricheta or Matrichina: "In that time my Bhikshus will be very learned" (479). Matrichina (T. Matricheta) will flourish in Nripa-nagara, in Khanda forest (खंड वन). A stotre (hymn of praise) will be composcd by him ( 480-490)

Nagarjuna C 144 B.C.-50 B.C. : Naga[rjuna], after 400 years of 'my Nirvana' (490-91) will be born, who will live for 106 years. He will possess Māyurī-vidyā. he will know the essence and truth of the Sastras and of nihsvabhava. He will attain Buddhahood.

Bhikshu Asanga: There will be Asaṇga (T.; S., Sanga), a learned bhikshu. He will divide and arrange the sūtra-meaning. He will be known in the world as self-possessed, and will be (?) tuchchha-sila, magnanimous. His Vidya (T.) will be called Shaladūti. His intellect will be great in making collections and the explanation of the Commandment (doctrine). He will live for 100 years (494-97).

Nanda-nandaka: Not much later will be Nanda (T. Arhan), Nanda, a well-known Tantrika (499-500) whose mantra is given in this book (AMMK) (up to 528). Nandaka will be in Chandanamāla (529).


Date of Nagarjuna

For the saint Naga, that is, Nagarjuna a definite date is given beginning of the 5th century A.B. This will place his rise in the first century B.C. This seems to be the most reliable date for him. Prof.Levi's date for him is not acceptable. He does not figure in the activities of Kanishka. He was the father of Mahayana. He must have therefore flourished before Kanishka. In the section last but one, Nagarjuna is placed before 'Asvaghosha, and Asvaghosha is placed in the reign of Buddha [y]aksha, the first king of the Yaksha Dynasty. The Yaksha dynasty represents the two Kadphises (s-11). Hence Asvaghosha's time is the beginning of the first century A.D.

10. Low Period

[Kings after the Mauryas]

K. Gomin [Pushyamitra, 188 B.C.-152 B.C.]

Destruction of Buddhism

In the Low Age (yugadheme) there will be king, the chief Gomin (Gomimukhya, S.; 'Gomin by name', T.) 'destroyer of my religion' (530). Having seized the East and the gate of Kashmir, he the fool, the wicked, will destroy monasteries with relics, and kill monks of good conduct. He will die in the North (532-33), being killed

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along with his officers (? sa-rāshtrā) and his animal relations by the fall of a mountain rock (534). He was destined to a dreadful suffering in hell ( 535-537).


In verse 535 the king is abused by the expression Gomi-shaṇḍa, 'Gomi the bull'. The name is concealed; and the real import of Gomi or Gomin is not clear. But the description shows that the hellish, the animalish king is no other than the Brahmin emperor Pushyamitra. It is definitely stated that Northern India from the Prāchī up to the Kashmir valley was under this king.

'The gate of Kashmir' which is mentioned again and again in the AMMK is probably Dvārābhisāra. In our text a point at or near Jammu seems to be meant.

11. The Yaksha Dynasty

[End of 1st Cent. B.C. to 1st Cent. A.D.]

Restoration of Buddhism

K. Buddha Yaksha: After (Gomi-shanda the Wicked) the king according to the pious tradition (shruta) will be Buddha-paksha (read Yaksha ). He, a Maha-Yaksha, very charitable, will be undoubtedly fond of Buddhism (Buddhānām śāsane ratah), in that 'low age (538-539). The king, extremely fond of Buddha's teaching will build in many places monasteries, gardens, chaityas, Buddha's images, stepped wells, wells, etc. He will die full of age (gatā-yusha, 541). T. 542 a.

Gambhīra Yaksha: His son will be king, possessed of a big army and great power the famous Gambhira Yaksha over the whole land (544). He will be self possessed. That king, the Mahādyuti, (bhupatih sa mahadyutih) , will build in many places monasteries, rest-houses, chaityas, stepped wells (545-546). He practised mantra of Manjughosha of 16 syllables and became very prosperous (546).


Who were the Yaksha dynasty of Buddhapaksha and Gambhira yaksha, father and son, who restored Buddhism in India after the Sunga period? The answer is given by the known chronology and history. After the Sunga age it was under the Early Kushans the Kadphises that Buddhism was re-established. The AMMK itself gives us data for this identification. It describes Gambhira as an emperor (pri-thivimakhiloditam, 544, p. 621 ) . It describes him by a significant term mahadyuti (bhupatih sa mahadyutih) . 'He the Mahadyuti king' and his father are called Yaksha and Mahayaksha, by which the Mongolian type is intended. See AMMK, XXII (p. 2M) - Yakshaṇāṃtu tathā vāchā uttarāṃdiśi ye narā. Taranatha says that the first of these kings had

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enlisted the sympathy of the emperor of China on his side. This was true of Kadphises I. The name Gambhira is either a translation of some title of Kadphises II or an attempt to Sanskritize an early edition of the Indian rendering of his name, for instance, Gabhi from Kaphi. Buddha-pakha (if the reading is not Buddha yakha) would mean 'the king who took up the cause of the Buddha.'

These two kings are supposed to be kings or rather emperors of Madhyadesa, as they have been given in that imperial list as the last dynasty. Their time is again indicated by (s-54) where Buddha-p aksha is the patron of Asvaghosha. It is significant that Kanishka is denoted in the AMMK as Turushka (s-14) and a ruler of the North, rather Central Asia and Kashmir. Asvaghosha is given as arising a generation or so before him.

The Madhyadesa Imperial history is left here and Provincial Himalayan history is taken up; the Madhyadesa Imperial history is resumed at s-17.

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