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Author: Dayanand Deswal दयानन्द देसवाल

Mlechh, (from Vedic Sanskrit म्लेच्छ meaning "non-Vedic", "barbarian"), is a term, which referred to people of foreign extraction in ancient India.


In Sanskrit, it is written as म्लेच्छ but Latin spellings may differ e.g. Mleccha, Mlechha, Mlechchha, Malechchha‏‎ or Maleccha

Mlechh - an ancient word

The term "Mleccha" was used by the ancient Indians much as the ancient Greeks used barbaros, originally to indicate the uncouth and incomprehensible speech of foreigners and then extended to their unfamiliar behaviour, and also used as a derogatory term in the sense of "impure and/or "inferior" people.[1]

In ancient India, this term was also applied by the ancient Indian kingdoms, to foreigners. The word Mleccha was commonly used for 'outer barbarians of whatever race or colour'.

This term was generally also referred to all alien cultures that were less civilized in ancient times. Among the tribes termed Mlechcha were Sakas, Huns, Yavanas, Kambojas, Pahlavas, Bahlikas and Rishikas. The Amarakosha described the Kiratas and Pulindas as the Mleccha-jatis. Indo-Greeks, Scythians, and Kushanas were also described as mlecchas in some books of literature.

The law-giver Baudhâyana defines a Mleccha as someone "who eats meat or indulges in self-contradictory statements or is devoid of righteousness and purity of conduct."

In Mahabharata

Military Campaign of Karna: Mahabharata, Book 3, Chapter 252.... And, having conquered the entire earth--east, west, north and south--that hero without any aid brought under subjection all the nations of the Mlechchhas, the mountaineers, the Bhadras, the Rohitakas, the Agneyas and the Malavas. And, having conquered the mighty charioteers, headed by the Nagnajitas, the Suta's son brought the Sasakas and the Yavanas under his sway.

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