Heliodorus pillar

Heliodorus pillar

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The dedication of the Heliodorus pillar was made by Heliodorus, ambassador of the Indo-Greek king Antialcidas (here depicted on one of his coins).

The Heliodorus pillar is a stone column that was erected around 110 BCE in central India in Vidisha near modern Besnagar, by Heliodorus, a Greek ambassador of the Indo-Greek king Antialcidas to the court of the Sunga king Bhagabhadra. The site is located only 5 miles from the famous Buddhist stupa of Sanchi.

The pillar was surmounted by a sculpture of Garuda and was apparently dedicated by Heliodorus to the god Vasudeva in front of the temple of Vasudeva.

[edit] Inscriptions

There are two inscriptions on the pillar.

The first inscription describes in Brahmi the situation of Heliodorus and his relationship to the Sunga and Indo-Greek kings.

Devadevasa Va [sude]vasa Garudadhvajo ayam
karito i[a] Heliodorena bhaga-
vatena Diyasa putrena Takhasilakena
Yonadatena agatena maharajasa
Amtalikitasa upa[m]ta samkasam-rano
Kasiput[r]asa [Bh]agabhadrasa tratarasa
vasena [chatu]dasena rajena vadhamanasa”


This Garuda-standard of Vasudeva (Krishna or Vishnu), the God of Gods
The first inscription of the Heliodorus pillar that was made by Heliodorus 110 BCE.
was erected here by the devotee Heliodoros,
the son of Dion, a man of Taxila,
sent by the Great Greek (Yona) King
Antialkidas, as ambassador to
King Kasiputra Bhagabhadra, the Savior
son of the princess from Benares, in the fourteenth year of his reign.”
(Archaeological Survey of India, Annual Report (1908-1909))

Although not perfectly clear, the inscription seems to be referring to Heliodoros as a Bhagavata (Sanskrit: “One Devoted to Bhagavan (Lord)”), meaning “a devotee”. In the context of Hinduism, a Bhagavat would be a member of the earliest recorded Hindu faith devoted to Vishnu.

The second inscription on the pillar describes in more detail the spiritual content of the faith supported by Heliodorus:


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