The Ancient Geography of India/Maheswarapura

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The Ancient Geography of India: I.
The Buddhist Period, Including the Campaigns of Alexander, and the Travels of Hwen-Thsang
Sir Alexander Cunningham
Trübner and Company, 1871 - India

32. Maheswarapura.

From Jajhoti the Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang proceeded to the north for 900 li, or 150 miles, to Mo-hi-shi-fa-lo-pu-lo, or Maheswarapura, the king of which was like-wise a Brahman. As a northern direction would conduct us to the neighbourhood of Kanoj, I conclude that there is probably a mistake in the bearing. I would, therefore, propose to read 900 li, or 150 miles, to the south, in which position stands the old town of Mandala, which was also called Maheshmatipura[1] This was the original capital of the country on the Upper Narbada, which was afterwards supplanted by Tripuri, or Tewar, 6 miles from Jabalpur. The name is old, as the ' Mahawanso ' mentions that the Thero Mahadeva was sent to Mahesa-Mandala, in the time of Asoka, 240 B.C.[2] The products of the country are

[p.489]: said to have resembled those of Ujain, which is a sufficient proof that Maheswara could not have been anywhere to the north of Jajhoti], as the light-coloured soils about Gwalior and in the Gangetic Doab are quite different from the black soil around Ujain. For these reasons, I am inclined to identify Maheshmatipura on the upper Narbada, with the Maheswarapura of Hwen Thsang. The kingdom was 3000 li, or 500 miles, in circuit. "With these dimensions, its boundaries may be fixed approximately as extending from Dumoh and Leoni (Seoni ?) on the west, to the sources of the Narbada on the east.

33. Ujjain.

Hwen Thsang describes the capital of U-she-yen-na, or Ujjayini, as 30 li, or 5 miles, in circuit, which is only a little less than its size at the present day. The kingdom was 6000 li, or 1000 miles, in circuit. To the west it was bounded by the kingdom of Malwa, with its capital of Dhara-nagar, or Dhar, within 50 miles of Ujain. The territory of Ujain could not therefore have extended westward beyond the Chambal river, but to the north it must have been bounded by the kingdoms of Mathura and Jajhoti; to the east by Maheswarapura, and to the south by the Satpura mountains running between the Narbada and the Tapti. Within these limits, that is from Ranthambhawar and Burhanpur on the west, to Dumoh and Seoni on the east, the circuit of the territory assigned to Ujain is about 900 miles.[3]

The kingdom of Ujain was under the rule of a Brahman Raja, like the two neighbouring states of

  1. Sleeman, Journ. Asiat. Soc. Bengal, 1837, p. 622.
  2. Tumour's ' Mahavanso,' p. 71.
  3. Julien's ' Hiouea Thsang,' iii. 167. See Map No. I.

[p.490]: Jajhoti and Maheswarapura ; but the king of Jajhoti was a Buddhist, while the other two kings were Brahmanists. To the west, the king of Malwa was a staunch Buddhist. But the Mo-la-po, or Malwa, of Hwen Thsang is limited to the western half of the ancient province, the eastern half forming the Brahmanical kingdom of Ujain. As the political divisions of the province thus correspond with its religious divisions, it may fairly be inferred that the rupture was caused by religious dissensions. And further, as the western or Buddhist half of the province still retained the ancient name of Malwa, I conclude that the Brahmanists were the seceders, and that the kingdom of Ujain was a recent Brahmanical offshoot from the old Buddhist kingdom of Malwa. Similarly, I believe that Maheswarapura must have been a Brahmanical offshoot from the great Buddhist kingdom of Kosala, or Berar, which will be described hereafter. In Ujain, there were several dozens of monasteries, but at the time of Hwen Thsang's visit, there were only three or four not in ruins, which gave shelter to about 300 monks. The temples of the gods were very numerous, and the king himself was well versed in the heretical books of the Brahmans.

34. Malwa.

The capital of Mo-la-po, or Malwa, is described by Hwen Thsang as situated to the south-east of the river Mo-ho, or Mahi, and at about 2000 li, or 333 miles, to north-west of Bharoch.[1] In this case both bearing and distance are erroneous, as Malwa lies to the north-east of Bharoch, from which the source of

  1. Julien's 'Hiouen Thsang,' iii. 155.

[p.491]: the river Mahi is only 150 miles distant. I would there-fore read 1000 li, or 167 miles, to the north-east, which corresponds almost exactly with the position of Dharanagara, or Dhar, one of the old capitals of Malwa.

The present town of Dhar is about three-quarters of a mile in length, by half a mile in breadth, or 2½ miles in circumference ; but as the citadel is outside the town, the whole circuit of the place cannot be less than 3½ miles. The limits of the province are estimated at 6000 li, or 1000 miles. To the westward there were two dependencies of Malwa, named Kheda, with a circuit of 3000 li, or 500 miles, and Anandapura, with a circuit of 2000 li, or 333 miles, besides an independent state, named Vadari, with a circuit of 6000 li, or 1000 miles. All these have to be squeezed into the tract of country lying between Kachh and Ujain, on the west and east, Gurjara and Bairat on the north, and Balabhi and Maharashtra on the south, of which the extreme boundaries are not more than 1350 miles in circuit. It seems probable, therefore, that the dependencies must have been included by the pilgrim within the limits of the ruling state. I would accordingly assign to Malwa and its dependencies the southern half of the tract just mentioned, and to Fadari, the northern half. The limits of Malwa would thus be defined, by Vadari (वडरी) on the north, Balabhi on the west, Ujain on the east, and Maharashtra on the south. The circuit of this tract, extending from the mouth of the Banas river, in the Ran of Kachh, to the Chambal, near Mandisor, and from the Sahyadri mountains, between Daman and Maligam, to the Tapti river, below Burhanpur, is about 850 miles measured on the map, or nearly 1000 miles by road distance.

[p.492]: According to Abu Rihan,[1] the distance of the city of Dhar from the Narbada was 7 parasangs, and thence to the boundary of Mahrat-das, 18 parasangs. This proves that the territory of Dhar must have extended as far as the Tapti, on the south.

Hwen Thsang mentions that there were two kingdoms in India that were specially esteemed for the study of the Buddhist, religion, namely, Magadha in the north-east, and Malwa in the south-west. In accordance with this fact he notes, that there were many hundreds of monasteries in Malwa, and no less than twenty thousand monks of the school of the Sammatiyas. He mentions, also, that 60 years previous to his visit, Malwa had been governed for 50 years by a powerful king, named Siladitya, who was a staunch Buddhist.

35. Kheda or Khaira.

The district of Kie-cha, or Kheda, is placed by Hwen Thsang at 300 li, or 50 miles to the north-west of Malwa.[2] As both M. Stanislas Julien and M. Vivien de Saint-Martin render Kie-cha by Khacha, which they identify in the peninsula of Kachh, I am bound to state the ground on which I venture to propose a different reading. On looking over the other names in which the peculiar symbol cha is used, I find that it occurs in the well-known names of Patali-putra and Kukkuta, where it represents the cerebral ṭ, and again in O.cha-li, which M. Julien renders by Aṭali, and M. de Saint- Martin identifies with the desert region of the Thal, or Thar. Consistently, therefore, the name of Kie-cha should be rendered Khe-ta. Now Kheda is the true

  1. Reinaud, ' Fragments Arabes et Persans,' p. 109.
  2. Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' iii. 161.

[p.493]: Sanskrit form of Kaira, a large town of Gujarat, situated between Ahmadabad and Khambay; and I would therefore identify the pilgrim's Kie-cha with Kheda. It is true that Hwen Thsang's recorded distance is only 300 li, but there are so many mistakes in the bearings and distances of this part of the pilgrim's journey, that I have no hesitation in proposing a correction of the text, by reading 1800 li, or 217 miles, which is very nearly the exact distance between Kaira and Dhar. "When we remember that the province of Malwa was bounded on the east, within 25 miles, by the independent territory of Ujain, it is difficult to perceive how there could have been any other state within 50 miles of Dhar, otherwise the territory of Malwa would have been compressed to a breadth of about 50 miles, between Ujain and Kheda. But this difficulty is entirely removed by adopting my proposed correction, by which the district of Kheda becomes the extreme western division of the kingdom of Malwa. Hwen Thsang estimates its circuit at 3000 li, or 500 miles, a size which agrees very well with the probable limits of the district of Kaira, which may be stated as extending from the bank of the Sabarmati on the west, to the great bend of the Mahi river on the north-east, and to Baroda in the south. In shape it is a rough square.

36. Anandapura.

Hwen Thsang places, or Anandapura, at 700 li, or 117 miles, to the north-west of Vallabhi[1] This town has been identified by M. Viven de Saint- Martin with Barnagar, on the authority of the Kalpa

  1. Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' iii. 164.

[p.494]: Sutra of the Jains ; but tile bearing is to the east of north, and the distance is 150 miles, or 900 li. Barnagar has already been mentioned as the Sanskrit Vadapura, or Barpur. The district was 2000 li, or 333 miles, in extent, and was a dependency of Malwa. This estimate of its size will be fully met by limiting its territory to the triangular tract lying between the mouth of the Banas river on the west, and the Sabarmati river on the east.

37. Vadari, or Eder.

On leaving Malwa, Hwen Thsang travelled first to the south-west to the " confluence of two seas," and then turning to the north-west reached O-cha-li, or Vadari,[1] the whole distance being between 2400 and 2500 li, or between 400 and 417 miles. By the term " confluence of two seas," I understand the meeting of the waters of the southern and western seas in the Gulf of Khambay. The town of Surat, or the ancient Surparaka (सुर्पारक) near the mouth of the Tapti, may be considered as the entrance of the gulf ; and as it lies to the south-west of Dhar, it was probably this point that was first visited by Hwen Thsang. The distance is just 200 miles. Prom Surat to Eder the distance is the same, but the direction is to the east of north ; I would, therefore, read north-east instead of north-west, and the position of Eder will then correspond sufficiently well with that of Hwen Thsang's O-cha-li or Vadari. I am ignorant of the Sanskrit name of Eder, but it seems highly probable that the city of Badari mentioned in the Basantgarh inscription[2] is the same place. In the

  1. Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' iii. 160.
  2. Journ. Asiat. Soc. Bengal, x. 668.

[p.495]: middle of the eleventh century Vadari was the capital of a chiefship in the neighbourhood of Vadapura or Barnagar, which lies 30 miles to the westward of Eder, and on the opposite side of the Sabarmati river. The Royal family claimed descent from Raja Bhava-Gupta, "who was a great warrior and the illuminator of his line." This Bhava or Bhaba I believe to be the same as the Bav or Bappa of the Sisodiya annalists of Udaypur, whose immediate predecessors for several generations were the Rajas of Eder. As Bappa lived in the beginning of the eighth century, the date of his predecessors, the Rajas of Eder, agrees exactly with the period of Hwen Thsang's visit. For these reasons I think that there are fair grounds for the identification of Eder with the Vadari of the inscription, as well as with the Otali, or Vadari, of the Chinese pilgrim.

The size of the province is estimated at 6000 li, or 1000 miles, in circuit. This large extent shows that Atali or Vadari must have comprised the whole of the unassigned tract of country lying between Vairat on the north, Gurjjara on the west, Ujain on the east, and Malwa on the south. Its boundaries, therefore, must have been Ajmer and Ranthambhor to the north, the Loni and Chambal rivers on the east and west, and the Malwa frontier on the south, from the mouth of the Banas river in the Ran of Kachh to the Chambal near Mandisor. The circuit of these limits is about 900 miles measured on the map, or 1000 miles by road distance. ;

In Pliny's account of the different nations to the eastward of the Lower Indus I find the following passage, which would seem to apply to Eder and the surrounding districts.[1] "Next the Nareae, who are bounded

  1. Nat. Hist., vi. c. 23.

[p.496]: by Capitalia, the loftiest mountain of India, on the other side of which the people dig up much gold and silver. Beyond them are the Oraturae (or Oratae), whose king has only ten elephants, but a large force of infantry, (and) the Varetatae (or Suaratatatae), whose king has no elephants, but a strong force of horse and foot. (Then) the Odombaerae etc. The last nation has already been identified with the people of Kachh, and the high mountain of Capitalia can only be the holy Arbuda, or Mount Abu, which rises to more than 5000 feet above the sea. The Nareae must therefore , be the people of Sarui, or the " country of reeds," as I nar and sar are synonymous terms for a " reed." The country of Sarui is still famous for its reed arrows.

The Oraturae I would identify with the people of Vadapura or Barpur, which is the same name as Barnagar. By reading π instead of τ in the Greek original of Oratura, the name will become Orapura, which is the same as Barpur, or Vadapura. The last name in Pliny's list is Varetatae which I would change to Vataretae, by the transposition of two letters. This spelling is countenanced by the termination of the various reading of Suaratarata, which is found in some editions. It is quite possible however, that the Suarataratae may be intended for the Surashtras. The famous Varaha Mihira mentions the Surashtras and Badaras together, amongst the people of the south-west of India.[1] These Badaras must therefore be the people of Badari, or Vadari.

I understand the name of Vadari to denote a district abounding in the Badari, or Ber-tree (Jujube), which is very common in southern Rajasthan. For the same

  1. Dr. Kern's ' Brihat Sanhita,' xiv. 19.

[p.497]:reason I should look to this neighbourhood for the ancient Sauvira, which I take to be the true form of the famous Sophir, or Ophir, as Sauvira is only an-other name of the Vadari, or ber-tree, as well as of its juicy fruit. Now, Sofir is the Coptic name of India at the present day ; but the name must have belonged originally to that part of the Indian coast which was frequented by the merchants of the West. There can be little doubt, I think, that this was in the Gulf of Khambay, which from time immemorial has been the chief seat of Indian trade with the West. During the whole period of Greek history this trade was almost monopolized by the famous city of Barygaza, or Bharoch, at the mouth of the Narbada river. About the fourth century some portion of it was diverted to the new capital of Balabhi, in the peninsula of Gujarat ; in the middle ages it was shared with Khambay at the head of the gulf, and in modern times with Surat, at the mouth of the Tapti.

If the name of Sauvira was derived, as I suppose, from the prevalence of the Ber-tree, it is probable that it was only another appellation for the province of Badari, or Eder, at the head of the Gulf of Khambay. This, indeed, is the very position in which we should expect to find it, according to the ancient inscription of Rudra Daman, which mentions Sindhu-Sauvira immediately after Surashtra and Bharukachha, and just before Kukura, Aparanta, and Nishada[1] According to this arrangement, Sauvira must have been to the north of Surashtra and Bharoch, and to the south of Nishada, or just where I have placed it, in the neighbourhood of Mount Abu. Much the same

  1. Journ. Asiat. Soc. Bombay, vii. 120.

[p.498]: locality is assigned to Sauvira in the Vishnu Purana : "in the extreme west are the Saurashtras, Suras, Abhiras, Arbudas ; the Karushas and Malavas dwelling along the Paripatra mountains ; the Sauviras, the Saindhavas, the Hunas, the Salwas, the people of Sakala, the Madras, etc."[1] In this enumeration we find mention of nearly every known district lying around Vadari, or Eder, on the east, west, north, and south. But there is no notice of Vadari itself, nor of Kheda, nor of Khambay, nor of Analwara, from which I infer that Sauvira most probably included the whole of these places. Vadari, or Sauvira, was therefore equivalent to southern Rajputana.

In the Septuagint translation of the Bible, the Hebrew Ophir is always rendered by Sophir. This spelling was perhaps adopted in deference to the Egyptian or Coptic name of Sofir. The earliest mention of the name is in the Book of Job, where the "gold of Ophir" is referred to as of the finest quality.[2] At a later date the ships of Huram, king of Tyre. " went with the servants of Solomon to Ophir, and took thence 450 talents of gold, and brought them to King Solomon."[3] The gold of Ophir is next referred to by Isaiah, who says, " I will make a man more precious than gold, even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir."[4] The word here translated ' wedge ' means a ' tongue, or ingot ;' and I infer that the wedge of gold of 50 shekels weight that was concealed by Achan,[5] was most probably one of the ingots of Ophir.

  1. Wilson's translation, edited by Hall, book ii. 3 ; vol. ii. p. 133.
  2. C. xxii. 24, and xxviii. 16.
  3. 2 Chron. viii. 18. In 1 Kings ix. 28, the amount is 420 talents.
  4. C. xii. 12.
  5. II Joshua vii. 21.

[p.499]: It now remains to show that the district of Vadari, or Eder, which I have suggested as the most probable representative of Ophir, has been, and still is one of the gold producing countries of the world. The evidence on this point, though meagre, is quite clear. The only ancient testimony which I can produce is that of Pliny, who describes the people dwelling on the other side of mount Capitalia (or Abu), as possessing " extensive mines of gold and silver."[1] At the present day the Aravali range is the only part of India in which silver is found in any quantity, while the beds of its torrents still produce gold, of which many fine specimens may be seen in the India museum.

But if the Gulf of Khambay was the great emporium of Indian trade with the West, it is not necessary that the gold for which it was famous should have been produced in the district itself. At the present day, Bombay, which is on the same western coast, exports the produce of two inland districts, the opium of Malwa and the cotton of Berar. Wherever the emporium of commerce may have been, to that point the gold of India would have flowed naturally, in exchange for the commodities of the West.

  1. Hist. Nat. vi. 23 " Hujus incolse, alio latere, late auri et argenti metaila fodiunt."

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