Kantha

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Author: Laxman Burdak IFS (R)

Kantha (कन्था) is a Saka word for city known to Panini.

Jat clan

Kantha (कंठा) is a gotra of Jats.[1]

Origin

Mention by Panini

Kantha (कंथा) is mentioned by Panini in Ashtadhyayi. [2]

History

Tej Ram Sharma[3] writes: The name of the capital of the Madras, Sakala, and that of the region between the Ravi and the Chenab, Sakaladvipa, are based on the word Saka and are indicative of a Saka invasion. Likewise, the name of the clan Sakya, to which Buddha belonged, enshrines a reminiscene of the word Saka.

Moreover, the place-names ending in kantha existing in the whole of the Punjab from the Bannu valley to the Kankhala region and even beyond suggest an intrusion of the Sakas long before the time of Panini, who is known to have flourished one century before the invasion of Alexander the Great.

Kantha is a Saka word for city and is akin to kadhavara or kanthavara of Kharosthi inscriptions, Kand of Persian, Kantha of Khotanese, Kandh of Sogdian, Kandai of Pushto, Kanda or Koent of the dialect of the Rsikas. It is significant that the land beyond the Oxus, the Urheimat of the Sakas, abounds in Kantha-ending place names, such as Samarkand, Khokand, Chimkand, Tashkand, Panjkand, and Yarkand.


V. S. Agrawala[4] writes that Panini mentions village name in category ending Kanthā (IV.2.142) - Panini gives the interesting information that Kantha ending was in use in Ushinara (II.4.20)


[p.68]: and Varnu (Bannu (IV.2.103). He names the following places:

Chihaṇakantha, Maḍarakantha, Vaitulakantha, Paṭatkakantha, Vaiḍalikarṇakantha, Kukkuṭakantha, Chitakaṇakakantha.

Kanthā was a Saka word for a town as in the expression kadahvara= kanthāvara occurring in a Khroshthi inscription. "Here belongs Sogdian expression kanda- "city" and Saka kantha "city" earlier attested in Markantha". H W Bellew also points out that Persian word Kand, Khotanese Kanthā, Sogdian, Buddhist Sanskrit kndh Pasto Kandai, Asica (the dielect of Rishikas or Yuchi) kandā are all akin to Sanskrit Kanthā.

It may be noted that in the time of Panini and as stated by Darius I, in his Inscriptions, the Shakas were living beyond Oxus. That region naturally still abounds in Kanthā-ending place names, such as Samarkand, Khokand, Chimkand, Tashkent, Panjkand, Yarkand, all indicating Saka influence.

The Mahabharata speaks of the Sakas as living in this region, named by it as Sakadvipa, and particularly mentions places like Chakshu (=Oxus), Kumud (=Komedai of Herodotus, a mountain in the Shaka country), Himavat (=Hemodan mountain), Sita (=Yarkand River, Kaumara (=Komarai of Herodotus), Mashaka (=Masagetai of Strabo, Rishika (=Asioi, Tushara (=Tokarai).

Panini must also have known Shakas, not in Seistan but in their original home in Central Asia.


[p.69]: How a string of kanthā-ending place names was found in Ushinara country in the heart of Punjab, is an unexplained problem. It points to an event associated with Shaka history even before Panini, possibly an intrusion which left its relics in place names before the Saka contact with India in the second century BC. Katyayana mentions Shakandhu and Karkandhu, two kinds of wells of the Shakas and Karkas (Karkians), which may be identified as the stepped well (vāpī) and the Persian wheel (arghaṭṭa) well respectively.

Lastly we owe to the Kasika the following names ending in kanthā: Saushamikantha and Āhvarakantha both in Ushinara country in Vahika (II.4.20).


V. S. Agrawala[5] writes that Panini notices kantha-ending place names as being common in Varṇu (Bannu Valley) and the Usinara country between the lower course of the Chenab and Ravi River, and also instances some particular names such as Chihaṇa-kantham and


[p.468]: Maḍura-kantham, which rather appear as loan words (ante,p.67-68). In fact Kantha was a Scythian word for ‘town’, preserved in such names as Samarkand, Khokan, Chimkent etc.

The above data point to somewhat closer contacts between India and Persia during the reigns of Achaemenian emperors Darius (522-486 BC) and Xerxes (485-465 BC) as a result of their Indian conquests. This explains the use in India of such terms as Yavana, Parsu, Vrika, Kantha. To these we may add two others, viz. Jābāla (goat-herd) and hailihila (poison) mentioned by Panini (VI.2.38) which were really Semitic loan words.

This evidence points to Panini’s date somewhere after the time of these Achaemenian emperors.

List of Kantha Ending names

In Rajatarangini

Rajatarangini[7] tells us that ....Udaya who worked hard, until he fainted, in collecting an army, heard that in the town of Shankaravarmma, Lothana had joined Alankarachakra, and he also heard that Vigraharaja of Kashmir, son of king Sussala, and Bhoja, son of Salhana,had come with Lothana. Then when their insurrection had gained strength, Udaya hurriedly marched in one day over the road which is traversed in many days. The Damara (Alankarachakra), unable to take possession of Kantha with his own party, was at a loss, and on being checked in his movements by Udaya's attack, he fled and took shelter in the fort of Shirahshila, situated on the banks of the Sindhu, where the Madhumati also flowed with its pearl like beauty. (p.223)


Rajatarangini[8] tells us that ....When Lothana and others, after escaping with difficulty from Karnata, joined Alankarachakra, the first idea which occurred was that the king would be conquered. It was in vain that with his party he [Alankarachakra] garrisoned Kantha, for the lord of Dvara who came rapidly made a vigorous attack on it. (p.227)

Jat History

Hukum Singh Panwar writes:[9] The theory, though considered "fanciful", yet. "cast a mighty magic upon several generations of scholars [10]," So much so, that when, after the annexation of Panjab, Maharaja Dalip Singh was deported to England, his friend, Col. Sleeman, a former political officer-wrote to the Maharaja that he (Dalip Singh), being a Jat, was going to live among his own people in Kent who are also Jats from Jutland12. That the people of Kent are Jats from Jutland is also asserted by Tod when he says that "The Jut brothers Hengist and Horsa, led a colony from Jutland and founded the Kingdom of Kent (Canthi 'a coaste' in Sanskrit as Kontha in Gothic and Kantha in Jatu dialects).

References

  1. डॉ पेमाराम:राजस्थान के जाटों का इतिहास, 2010, पृ.297
  2. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p. 67,68
  3. [Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions]],pp.164-165
  4. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.68-69
  5. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.467-468
  6. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p. 9
  7. Kings of Kashmira Vol 2 (Rajatarangini of Kalhana)/Book VIII (ii),p.223
  8. Kings of Kashmira Vol 2 (Rajatarangini of Kalhana)/Book VIII (ii),p.227
  9. The Jats:Their Origin, Antiquity and Migrations/The Scythic origin of the Jats,p.176
  10. Qanungo, K.R.; His of Jats, pp. 377.