Jats the Ancient Rulers (A clan study)/The Mandas
First Edition 1980
Publisher: Sterling Publishers Pvt Ltd, AB/9 Safdarjang Enclave, New Delhi-110064
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Their First Historical Empire
It is they who gave the first historical empire of the Jats in the western plateau of Iran. They are named in the Puranas also. The Vishnu Purana mentions them as Mandakas. By removing the suffix 'ka' the name appears in its old and present form. A country called Mandavya is mentioned in the Agni Purana.1 Sankhyana Aranyaka, too mentions these people and so does Varahamihira, who, in his Samhita, locates them in the north, as well as the northwest of India. Mādaiya is their Persian name.
In the last quarter of the eighth century B.C., the area of Azerbaijan to the south of Lake Urumiya was inhabited, as always, by various Jat clans. The two clans whose names had come down in history are cal1ed the Mannai and the Mandas. These two clans nowadays called in India as the Manns and the Mandas. In 720 B.C. or so, the Assyrian king, Sargon II, attacked these people and the Assyrians captured their chief called Dayaukku. He was a Manda chief and perhaps nature took a hand in saving his life, because contrary to the Assyrian custom, his life was not only spared but he was sent, alongwith his fami1y to Hamath. Thus it seems that before the last decade of the eighth century B.C. they were acknowledging the suzerainty of Assyria and it is mentioned that 22 of their chiefs swore the oath of allegiance before Sargon II. The name of their chief if given as Deiokes, son of Phraortes by Herodotus and other Greek
1. IHQ, IX, p. 476
[Page 128]: writers. As per History of Persia, he was the same as the chief named by the Assyrians as Dayaukku. His name may well be Devaka because the suffix 's' or 'us' is generally added to personal names by the Greeks. It was Devaka, who established the first empire of the Manda Jats in about 700 B.C. The later Achaemenian empire was an offshoot of Manda empire, because Cyrus the Great, was son of Mandani, a daughter of the last Manda emperor, Ishtuvegu. The name the queen was Aryenis (Skt. Aryani)
The Name of his Empire and Dynasty
Up to the nineteenth century, this brilliant empire was called the "Empire of the Medes". It was so called by the Greek writers as well as in the Old Testament. The country of the Medes, called Media, was the north western neighbour of the Mandas-the actual name of the empire builders. Even Media was eventually annexed to the empire of Manda. This was perhaps the reason of the serious mistake of history where the Mandas and the Medes were confused With each other. The Medes were traders of Greek stock and were living in small principalities. They never had any empire. Confounding the brave Mandas with the effete Medes was the most unfortunate event in history. The mistake become so prevalent that even a proverb was invented in English equal to the effect that a certain thing is as unchangeable-as the laws of Medes and Persians. The mistake was detected when the monuments of Nabonodus and Cyrus were unearthed. It was then discovered that the whole history was based upon a philological mistake. It was found that the name of the empire and its people, was not Medes but Manda. In the words of Prof. Sayce, in his well known book, Ancient Empires of The East; "when in two generations which succeeded Darius Hystaspes, Cyrus, became the founder of the present empire, the Medes and the Manda were confounded, one with the other. Astyages, the suzerain of Cyrus, was transformed into a Mede and the city of Ecbatana, into the capital of a Median empire. The illusion has lasted down to our own age. There was no reason for doubting the traditional story, neither in the pages of the writers of Greece and Rome, nor in those of the old testament, nor even in the great inscriptions of Darius in Behistun, did there seem to, be anything to cause suspicion upon it. It was not until the discovery
[Page 129]: of the monuments of Nabonodus and Cyrus, when the truth at last came to light and it was found that the history we have so long believed was founded upon a philological mistake". After this mistake was detected efforts were made to correct it and the Historians' History of the World observes: "so startling and revolutionising is the knowledge obtained from the decipherments of Assyrian and Persian monuments, so wholly different is the historical aspect thus revealed, that the term Median empire is probably destined to disappear from the historian's phrageology. Indeed Prof. Sayce in his latest writing has discarded it 2."
The founder of the empire
The founder of the empire, Deiokes, hereinafter mentioned as Devaka was so famous among his fellow villagers for his sense of justice that all his fellow tribesmen would flock to hear his decisions. When the ministering of free Justice would cross the normal limit Devaka would refuse to give his opinions to settle disputes, on the plea that he too had his private affairs to look into. Thereafter an election was held and he was elected as the king. An excellent psychologist, judge of men and affairs as well as an administrator, Devaka immediately formed a powerful army. When the country was secure, he decided to build his capital for which the mighty granite range of mount Alvanda was selected and at a height of 6,000 ft.above sea level the capital of Ecbatana was built. Its present site is the eastern part of modern Hamadan. The city was built under a fixed plan. It had seven walls which were concentric and so arranged that they rose one above the other by the height of their battlements. The royal palace and treasuries were situated within the seventh wall whose battlements were gilded. The other six walls were decorated in various colours. After this preparation Devaka started expansion of his empire. The Assyrians could never have dreamt that this mountain shepherd at no distant date, would sack the greatNineveh and cause the name of Assyria to disappear from amongst the nations of the world. the adjoining areas were annexed to the Manda empire and after consolidating it for 53 years, Devaka was succeeded by his son Fravarti, the Phraortes of the Greeks, in 655 B.C. The Persians were the first to be conquered. Gaining more than self-confidence from their successes, the Mandas attacked the Assyrian empire
2. Vol. II,p.73
[p.130]: but were defeated and Fravarti himself was killed. He was succeeded by Huva Kshatra, the Cyaxares of the Greeks. He was one of those rare leaders in war and administrators in peace who, appear on the stage of the world history from time to time. Used from childhood to ride and shoot from horseback, Huva Kshatra remodeled his army on Assyrian lines. But he retained the bow for his cavalry. After thus modernizing his army he thought of taking revenge from Assyrians whom he attacked. Nineveh was sieged and the adjoining areas were devastated. The victory was so complete and the Assyrian defeat was so terrible, that the prophet Nahum, wrote in his book, " the noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and the prancing horses, and of the jumping chariots. The horseman lifted up both the bright sword and the glittering spear; and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcases, and there is none end of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses."3
Assurbanipal died in 626 B.C. and his successors were disputing the throne. Such an opportunity was not to be lost and the second attack of Nineveh began. The Assyrian emperor burnt himself in his palace and perished with his family. In the words of prophet Nahum, "the gates of the river shall be open and the palace shall be dissolved."4 Thus in 606 B.C. Nineveh fell and so utter was its ruin that the Assyrian name was forgotten and the history of their empire soon melted into fable. Babylonia itself was roped with ties of marriage and a daughter of Huva Kshatra became the Queen of Nebu-Chad-Nezzar. Armenia and Cappadocia were included in the Manda empire. Lydia was emerging as a powerful nation in the west and it was inevitable that the two powers should collide. The war began but in 585 B.C. when there was a total eclipse of the sun, it was stopped after six years of fighting, under a peace treaty. A daughter of the Lydian emperor was married to the heir apparent of Manda, and the kingdom Urartu was annexed to Manda empire. Next year, I.e. 584 B.C. this great emperor died. Thus from a beaten nation he raised the Mandas into the most powerful an virile empire of that time. It is aptly stated that the east was Semitic
3. Nahum, III, 2 and 3.
[p.131]: when he began to rule but it was Aryan when he stopped. This leader in one of the great moments in history was succeeded by Ishtuvegu, Astyages of the Greeks. He was an unworthy son of his worthy father and he deviated from the basic policy of the Mandas, i.e., to keep fit and ready for war. Luxuries of all sorts became the habit of the court. Elaborate ceremonies were prescribed for the court and the courtiers were directed to wear red and purple flying robes. Golden chains and collars were affixed and drinking vessels were made of gold. Under such influence the emperor became lethargic. He was also superstitious. He had no son and his daughter named Mandani (after the clan name) was married to a small vassal prince of Ellam, because It was forecast by the Magis that her issue will become the king of Asia and Europe. The emperor saw a vine outgrowing from Mandani which overshadowed the whole of Asia. He, therefore, feared to marry her to a noble man of his own country and thus he wanted to flout the fate. But as always happens, it was impossible to do so. The first issue of princess Mandani, was Cyrus who became the emperor, after putting in prison his maternal grandfather, Ishtuvegu through the help of General Harpagus whose son the crooked king had made into a dinner served to Harpagus himself. Three battles were fought, as per traditions preserved by the classical writers, before Ecbatana itself fell in 550 B.C. Cyrus was emperor of Persia and had inherited the empire of the Mandas which was further extended by him. But this does not mean that efforts were not made to recover the lost empire. We hear that Cyrus himself fought wars against the Jats in Balkh and the Caspian sea. At both the places he was unsuccessful. Balakh remained under the Kangs, and the small kingdom of the Massaagate ruled over by the Dahias, remained free and independent.
The king of the Massagate kingdom was Armogha and his queen was simply called Tomyri which is a Scythian word, Tomuri, meaning queen. The king had died and the queen had taken the administration in her hands when Cyrus the Great asked her to marry hm. Knowing well this marriage proposal was an excuse to finish the Jat kingdom, it was refused with disdain. According to Berossus, Cyrus was fighting a war against the Dahae when he was killed by them in 529 B.C. (See Note I at
[Page 132]: the end of this section) It is interesting to give the details of this war.
War of Cyrus with Tomyris
- "Sovereign of the Persians and the Mandas, uncertain as you must be of the event, we advise you to desist from your present purpose. So be satisfied with the dominion of your own kingdom and let us alone, seeing how we govern our subject. You will not however, listen to this salutary counsel, loving anything rather than peace. If then you are really impatient to encounter the Massagate, give up your present labour of constructing a bridge. We will retire three days march, into our country and you shall pass over at your leisure; or if you have rather receive us, in your own territory, do as much for us." 5
Getting this message Cyrus deliberated on it in his camp and it was decided to take the first alternative. This was done as per advice of Craesus who stated that "nobody is always fortunate in this world" and that if Cyrus allowed the enemy to advance in his country, and, God forbid, there was a defeat, he would lose his all because that victorious Massagate would advance in his kingdom.
Knowing that good food and wine were luxury for the Jats, these two things were placed in large quantity along with other items of luxury, and a token force of Persian army was put to defend it, knowing fully well that they would be cut to pieces. The aim of Cyrus was that after the first army is defeated, the Jats would fall upon the food and wine and then Cyrus would attack with the main army. The plan succeeded and the Jat army was butchered in its drunken sleep. The crown prince was taken prisoner and he committed suicide to escape the humiliation. When the queen heard of the loss, she again sent a message to Cyrus as follows:
- "Cyrus, insatiable as you are of blood, be not too elate with your recent success. When you yourself are overcome with
- [Page 133]: wine what follies do you not commit? By entering your body it turns your language more insulting. By this poison you have conquered my son, and neither by your prudence, nor by your valour. I venture a second time to advise that it will be certainly your interest to follow. Restore my son to liberty and satisfied with the disgrace you have put upon a third part of Massagate, depart from the realms unhurt. If you will not do this, I swear by the sun, the great God of Massagate, that insatiable as you are, I will give you your fill of blood."
Even this message had no effect on Cyrus. The queen gathered her forces and the battle which followed was most ferocious. On both sides there were Jats, and they fought to the finish. Herodotus says that of all the wars of antiquity, this was the most bloody. The Jats gained complete and final victory. Cyrus himself was killed. His body was searched and recovered from the battlefield. The head of Cyrus was cut from the body and was placed in a vessel full of blood and, the Queen said, "Here, take thy fill of blood, according to my promise."
Thus we see that many Jat kingdoms in the north and east were free of the Persian empire which was an offshoot of the earlier Manda Jat empire. The defeat of Cyrus the Great and his death was a signal for the Jats under Persian empire to take up the throne of Ecbatana. This was done by the Jats under their leader Gaumata. In the meantime Darius came and this second empire lasted for only six months because Gaumata was killed in the Sokhyavati palace of Ecbatana by conspirators in the pay of Darius. Darius wrote in his inscriptions; "Ahurmazda made myself emperor. Our dynasty had lost the empire but I restored it to its original position. I re-established sacred places destroyed by the Magas."
These Magas were the Magian priests of the Jat emperors who came to India along with them, as a result of this war. They were called, in India, the 'Magas'. The Taga Brahmans on the Yamuna river are their descendants. They are the Tagazgez of Masoudi. 6
[Page 134]: But the efforts did not cease there. In 519 B.C. Phravarti, another Manda follower of the Sun god of the Magi priests, fought or the lost empire.
Darius suppressed the Jats
The Virks revolted in Hyrcania. But Darius, aptly called great, suppressed them all except lands on the frontiers of the empire. The Kangs remained free in north of Oxus river; and the Scythian Jats on the Danube were free. In fact, Darius, too, attacked these invincible people with a very large army and huge preparations of every sort. He advanced into Armenia and beyond in the northwest. The Scythians lured him on, and withdrew in the interior. In desperation, Darius sent a message to the king, "Scythian, why do you flee from me? If you think, you are equal to me, then stop and fight. If you think otherwise, even then there is no need to flee; you should offer "earth and water" and terms of surrender can be settled through negotiations. "
And the reply sent by the Scythian king, is a typical Jat reply. This is what he said, "Persian, I fear nothing but the Sun god. I do not flee and the 'earth and water', I do not give. However, you shall soon receive more suitable gifts".
The gift sent through a messenger, were a bird, a mouse, a frog and five arrows. Darius asked the significance of these 'gifts' and the messenger replied, "If the Persians are wise enough, they shall find the significance themselves." Darius thought that the mouse signified earth and the frog signified water; so the Scythians had offered earth and water, and were surrendering. But his father-in-law, an astute General, told the true meaning to Darius in these words, "Persians, unless you turn into birds and fly into the sky; or turn into mice and burrow deep into the earth; or you turn into frogs and dip into water;-none of you shall go back alive and these our arrows shall pierce your hearts."
Correctly deeming discretion to be better part of valour, Darius ordered an immediate withdrawal and returned to Persia!
Migration of the Jats
It was a result of these wars that the first migration of the Jats took place and from the Manda empire and from other parts of Central Asia they came to India. That is why Panini mentioned many cities of theirs in the heart of Punjab in the fifth century B.C. But memories die hard. Even today, we have our villages named after the cities lost in Iran. The names like Elam, Batana, Susana,
[Page 135]: Baga, Kharkhoda (Manda Kurukada), etc., are still the names of Jat villages. It is these Jats whom Buddha Prakash calls, "exotic and outlandish people",. who came to India at the time of successors Of Cyrus, 6a and whom Jean Przyluski calls the Bahlikas from Iran and Central Asia. 7
In a very interesting article, H.C. Seth has compared many Rig Veda hymns with the history of this period, as given by Herodotus and other Greek writers. He has also quoted Dino (who wrote in fourth century B.C.) to say that the Magian priest of Ishtuvegu was named Angares (Skt. Angiras a family of fire worshippers). It was Angares who forecast the future of Cyrus and Ishtuvegu, and later on became the priest of Cyrus himself.8
Further, it was Ishtuvegu who led the armies that destroyed Nineveh in 606 B.C., perhaps under his father, Huva Kshatra, and it was Alyattes, the Lydian king who gave his daughter, Aryenis in marriage to Ishtuvegu and not vice versa. Nineveh itself has been compared with Ninyanve, i.e., ninety-nine, the city of Asura Sambara, destroyed by Ishtuvegu, with the help of 'Indra'.9
His identifications of personal names are as under.
|Susravasa||Cyrus||Husravah (later, Kai Khusro)|
6a. SIH&C, p. 35.
7. JA, 1926, pp. 11-13.
8. ABORI, Vol. XXIII, p. 451.
9. Rig Veda, II, 19/6, VI, 47/2.
[Page 136]: H.C. Seth seems to be fully justified by the cross-references that he has given from various sources. It this hypothesis is correct, the age of the Rig Veda, at least of some of its hymns, comes to 600 B.C., unless there are later additions, as seems probable. But many historians doubt the truth of Seth's ideas.
In a recent article, "The Antiquity of Magas in Ancient India", V.C. Srivastava shows that the Maga priests, who were foreigners, came to India in sixth/eighth centuries B.C., and were ultimately accepted as Brahmans in India. They were the priests of the sun god, par excellence! 10 In fact, the local Indian priests were deemed to be unsuitable for sun worship methodology. Mythology takes the sun worship to Samba, son of Lord Krishna, who was cured of a serious disease by the Magians in the West and who was the first to establish a sun temple in western India. The Bhavishya and Agni Puranas give further details of these people, and for a full discussion on these people-and their offshoot the Achaemenians reference may be made to S. Chattopadhya's excellent book, The Achaemends in India and to Elements of Hindu Iconography by Gopinath Rao.
For the Mandas in later period, we find them settled in Punjab and Sindh in the six th/seventh centuries A.D. Ibn Haukal says that "the infidels who inhabitedSindh, are called Budha and Mand". "The Mandas dwell on the banks of Mihran (Sindhu) river. From the boundary of Multan to the sea... They form a large population." 11
There is some doubt about the exact name of the section or clan of the Massagetae against whom Cyrus the Great was fighting when he was killed in the battle. According to Berossus he was fighting against the Dahae while according to some other authorities he was fighting against the people called Derbices/Debices 12 We have identified the latter people with the present Jat clan, called Dabas. Linguistically or otherwise there does not seem to be anything against the identification of Debices with Dabas. This identification is further confirmed by the fact that even today, the
10. Indian History Congress, Bbagalpur, 1968, p. 86.
11. Elliot & Dowson, op. cit, Vol. I, p. 38. See also CAH, Vol. IV.
12. See Persica of Otesias, Ed. Gilmore, pp. 133·35.
[Page 137]: Dabas are treated as part of Dahiya clan. Both of them are supposed to be the descendants of a common ancestor and are treated as one; so much so that there cannot be any marriage between a Dabas and a Dahiya. Therefore, we can conclude that Cyrus was fighting against the people who may be called either Dabas or Dahiyas. According to the historians, certain Indian troops from Gandhara area were fighting on the side of the Dabas/Dahae and it was an arrow from an Indian soldier that killed Cyrus the Great. These soldiers from Gandhara belonged to the same stock, and were fighting for a common cause, viz., the 'defeat of the usurpers of their empire'.