Sagartian

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Achaemenid empire at its greatest extent

Sagartians were an ancient Iranian tribe, dwelling in the Iranian plateau.

Variants of name

Location

Their exact location is unknown; they were probably neighbors of the Parthians in northeastern Iran.

Jat clans

History

According to Herodotus (1.125, 7.85) they were related to the Persians (Southwestern Iranian), but they may also have entered a political union with the Medians (Northwestern Iranian) at some point (J. van Wesendonk in ZII 9, 1933, pp. 23f.). Ptolemy (6.2.6) locates them in Media, while Stephanus of Byzantium claims that there was a peninsula in the Caspian Sea called Sagartía. They were nomadic pastoralists, their main weapon being the lasso (Herodotus 7.85).

It is unclear whether they are identical to the Zikirti mentioned by Sargon II as inhabitants of northern Zagros in the late 8th century BC. They may have been granted the district of Arbela by Median king Cyaxares as a reward for their aid in the capture of Niniveh.[1]

According to Herodotus (3.93), the Sagartians belonged to the 14th Satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire. A Sagartian delegation appears among the tribute bearers on the Apadana relief. Herodotus also mentioned in the seventh book of his histories that the Sagartians provided 8,000 horsemen for King Xerxes' massive army during the Persian king's invasion of Greece in 480 BC.

Behustun Inscription

Behustun Inscription Line (33) reads: King Darius says: A man named Tritantaechmes [Ciçataxma], a Sagartian, revolted from me, saying to his people: 'I am king in Sagartia (Asagarta), of the family of Cyaxares.' Then I sent forth a Persian and a Median army. A Mede named Takhmaspâda, my servant, I made their leader, and I said unto him: 'Go, smite that host which is in revolt, and does not acknowledge me.' Thereupon Takhmaspâda went forth with the army, and he fought a battle with Tritantaechmes. Ahuramazda brought me help; by the grace of Ahuramazda my army utterly defeated that rebel host, and they seized Tritantaechmes and brought him unto me. Afterwards I cut off both his nose and ears, and put out one eye, he was kept bound at my palace entrance, all the people saw him. Afterwards I crucified him in Arbela.

Jat History

Bhim Singh Dahiya [2] writes ...We find a significant passage in Atharva Veda, which says that Rudra is the king of a people called 'Garta' or Garta-Sada (or Sad). [3]

Here Rudra is called "Gartasadam Jananam Rajanam". S.D. Satavalekar translates this word 'Gartasadam' asadan as "one who lives inside everybody".[4] But this is manifestly incorrect; because the king of the people "who live inside everybody" does not make sense. Satavalekar is conscious of this fact, and he says that "the words" Jananam Rajana Rudram "carry special importance, all people have one king, Rudra". He is again dissatisfied and says that the word "Gartasad" requires consideration, with reference to other words, and he finally takes 'Garta' as equivalent to a cave (Guha). But 'Garta' is the same as 'Asi-garta' of Iran; Sagarta of the Greeks.

Chitra Takhma the opponent of Darius the Great, is called an Asagarta. Asi, the name of the people, means 'horse' and 'Garta' stands for Jat, so Asigarta means horse-owning Jat or Jat horse, like the later Skinners' Horse of the British Indian Army. The old name of Hunas, as per Herodotus, is Arimaspa, which means Arima = first + Asp. =Horse, i.e. the "First Horse".

It is significant that the area around Jullundur/Kangra inhabited by the Jat is named 'Tri-garta' in the Puranas. Obviously it is named after the three clans of the Jats, though in the time of Panini, the three had become six (clans). [5]

Now Aitereya Brahmana mentions a person, Shunahshepa, who is the son of Aji-garta. Here Aji-garta has to be compared with Asigarta/Asagarta. This Sunahsepa, whose name is rather Persian, was adopted as a son by Visvamitra, son of Gathi, (Gathin). Referring to this episode, R.S. Sharma, says this is "an early example of the priestly ingenuity in the invention of genealogies" of the foreigners.[6] Obviously, Ajigarta and his son were not Indian.


Bhim Singh Dahiya [7] writes ....Here the name of the prince given as Assagetes by the Greeks is again significant because it is not the personal name but the clan name of that prince. Its origin is Asagarta of Persian inscriptions and Herodotus, and it was after this clan name that the country was called Sagartia (Asagartiya of Persians) and the people were called Sagartians by the Greeks and Asagarta by the Persians. This clan name has formed from two words, viz., As or Asi + Garta meaning the Asi Jats. Their present nomenclature as Asiagh or Siag. The city of Hansi was founded by them, its original name being Asika. We have seen that Chitratakhma (Skt. Chitratakshama) was the king of the Asgartians when they revolted against Darius, the Great, for the restoration of the Jat empire in Ecbatana. Here the word Garta which was written by the Greeks as Getes is the same as the Sanskrit word Jarta or the present Jats.

References

  1. J. Markwart, Untersuchungen zur Geschichte von Eran II, Leipzig, 1905, p. 228
  2. Bhim Singh Dahiya: Jats the Ancient Rulers (A clan study)/The Antiquity of the Jats,p.310
  3. स्तुहि श्रुतं गर्तसदं जनानाम् राजानं भीममुपहत्नुमुग्रम, मुडा जरित्रे रुद्र स्तवानो अन्यमस्मत्ते नि वपन्तु सेन्यम (18.1.40)
  4. Daivata Samhita, Vol. II, pt. 7, p. 6.
  5. See also Sukumar Sen, Old Persian Inscriptions (1941).
  6. Sudras in Ancient India', p. 65.
  7. Bhim Singh Dahiya:Jats the Ancient Rulers (A clan study)/Porus and the Mauryas,p.163

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