Irvan Naveed has written a book review of “Ancient Greeks in Kashmir” by Iqbal Ahmad.
Mr. Iqbal Ahmad, 51, was born in Parigam Chek, Kulgam. He is a graduate with Diploma in Numastics, Archaeology and Heritage. He is an archaeologist, writer, and a cultural historian. Mr. Iqbal Ahmad has published 12 reference books on Kashmir archaeology and heritage.)
Except valuable information, the book contains several local sources which underline the Greekness of ancient Macedonians.
Alexander is recorded to have invaded India from its north western side defeated King Porus at battle of Hydapes in 326 BC. While invading the Indian parts he has adopted a route which historians believe comparatively laid near to the confines of Kashmir. Kashmir during the period is said to be under the rule of the chief of Abhisaras (Poonch and Nowshera). Alexander crossed the Indus near Ohind ( modern und Attock) in the spring of 326BC.
Numismatists claim to have found a coin type which depicts motif of two rajas fighting one another, one of the rajas is shown on the elephant and other on the horse back. These are identified as Raja Porus and Alexander respectively.
Abhisara the king of Poonch and Nowshehra who is believed to have held Kashmir is recorded to have surrendered to the Alexander. Porus was made the in-charge of the whole area which Alexander conquered . The area lay between the Beas and the Jhelum. King of Texila, Ambhi was given the territories west of Jhelum while Abhisaras authority was extended upto Kashmir. Abhisara’s authority over Kashmir is not testified by any other source. However , Alexander’s numismatic finds in Kashmir justify his campaign of the areas bordering the beautiful valley and the possibility of his visit of the land which since times immemorial was attractive for its visitors.
Alexander before his return allowed his certain people which mostly consisted of Greek garrisons to settle in the land he conquered. Several frontier tribes of Kashmir who live on its bordering areas of northern and western sides are believed to be the descendants of Greece. Kalhana has named them Yavanas, but according to Iqbal Ahmad those were the Greeks.
He writes that the term yavana is still in use in rural Kashmiri which means handsome or beautiful. When they have to refer a beautiful, they would say yava. For them yava is one who has got a fairly complexion and had blue eyes which is the characteristic feature of Grecian people. The famous tribes of Gupis and Brokpas of Hunza and Ladakh Brokpas are of this complexion. They are believed to be the descents from Greece.
Another invasion noted in the local records of Kashmir is of Malechas whom Iqbal Ahmad identifies with Bactrian Greeks. There is mention of two famous Greek princes, one is Demetrius and the other is Manender. Demetrius has been described as the king of the empire, which included Southern parts of Kashmir While as Menander is recorded to had held a discussions with the Buddhist monk at a place which was only 12 Yogenas from Kashmir which means that the place was only 12 yogenas from Srinager because in ancient times Srinagar was known by the name of Kashmir. Milndaphana records a discussion with Nagasena, the Buddhist saint, the place where the discussion was held can be identified as Harwan which is about 19 km from Present Srinagar. The other Greek princes whose evidences have been found here included: Appollodotus, Menandar Strato, Zoiles, Hippostrates Antialkadas, Helikels, Agathoceles, Pantaloon, Hermous and Antrinachur.
Iqbal Ahmad has attempted well and studied most of the ancient coins and artifacts which pertain to ancient Kashmir. He has also studied the terracotta tiles found at Harwan and more recently at Kotbal in the Anantnag District; the motifs of dancing girls in few of these tiles according to his perception are the motifs of Grecian dancers. In his this book he has questioned the identification of the Martand and Avantipura temples and identifies these monuments as the master work of ancient Greeks and Romans.
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