When we try to find the exact dates of great historical figures, like, say the Buddha or Kalidasa, we find several ambiguities in our ancient Indian history on chronology, ?though it is hidden in the mainstream history? claims the author, who is a retired bureaucrat and is interested in the history, living tradition and culture of India.
Mallya puts forth in his monograph some of his interpretations of Asoka'sinscriptions for revising the traditional chronology of the Nanda, Maurya and Gupta dynasties. Leading historians like R.C. Majumdar, D.C. Sircar and Romila Thapar unquestioningly follow the traditional date 566-484 BC for the birth and death of the Buddha, but Mallya believes it to be 1248-1168 BC, thus implying ante-dating of Nanda, Maurya and Gupta dynasties by almost 700 years. The reasons cited by Mallya for justifying his claim are:
During the time of Alexander, Greek chroniclers do not mention the Mauryas, Nandas and Chanakya but refer to Xandramas, who could be Chandra Gupta of the Gupta dynasty. Mallya cites S. Beal and James Legge as the early translators of Chinese Buddhist books into English, saying that Maitryana Bodhisatva image was set up in 300 years of Buddha'snirvana at the time of Emperor Ping Wang of the Chou dynasty (770-719 BC).
Since A.K. Narayan'sreading of rock edict XIII is numeral 256, Mallya assumes that Asoka issued the edicts in 913 BC and by adding 256 years, the passing away of the Buddha would be 1169 BC.
Mallya raises two other points?the date 3102 BC of the Mahabharata war which he rejects and gives 1400 BC for the war. He gives a unified chronology from about 4000-3500 BC or the commencement of the Vedic age to AD 699 when Adi Sankara was born. He argues how the Indus-Saraswati civilisation was part of the larger Indic civilisation which is not only Vedic but comprises other cultures like that of the Jains, the Parsis and the Vratras, etc.
The book could be read to find out the theories propounded by Mallya and maybe take a look at our ancient history in the new light thrown by him; however, the book will interest primarily the historians and students of history. ?M.G.
(Chaitanya, 120 Grihalakshmi Colony, Second Stage, III Main, Kamalanagar, Bangalore-560079.)