HISTORY is not a description of the destiny of a people; each civilisation develops a character of its own. Character is destiny, said Dr Radha Krishnan. It is applicable both for individuals as well as nations. History is a portrayal of an unfolding of destiny of a people who appear on world stage as and when their time comes to reveal value based life patterns relative to their perception of god, man and nature. It is their own Weltanschauung – a world view of their own. In the sense history is an exercise in the evaluation of a society in terms of a historical teleological purpose to fulfill which a particular civilisation comes into existence and vanishes in the sands of time, like the Greek, Roman, Egyptian etc. This phenomenon has been put forward poignantly by Will Durant. “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.”
This is what happened to all civilisations except Bhartiya civilisation. This phenomenon calls for an objective analysis of their social structure, stratification and functional aspects of those extinct civilisations. Social structure sustains itself through its stratification to meet the functional needs of occupational differentiation – a kind of division of labour to meet the needs of production and distribution systems. There should exist a strong systemic relation between them for any civilisation to last long. Egyptian, Greek and Romanian civilisations are conquering civilisations.
“Man is the measure of all beings”. This is the metaphysical statement or premise on which their civilisations are based. They have been built to show their military might. To keep their people happy and prosperous their Emperors went on military expeditions with mighty armies to conquer nations and brought wealth and enriched their people, brought slaves in hoards as work force. Some feeble attempts were made by some philosopher statesmen like Marcus Auralius Caesar to make their nations republic. But all failed due to political turmoil and intrigues that prevailed at those times. Seneca was persecuted by Emperors Caligula and Nero. Socrates was poisoned and Greece succeeded in forming a mutually waring city states. Plato and Aristotle were reduced to a state of philosophers of state ignoring their metaphysical outpourings of highest order. George Santayana of Spain writes that there are only two metaphysical nations in the world, one is Bharat and the other is Greece. When the neighbouring states of Greece invented superior alloy metal to make swords and other weapons of warfare, the Greeks were decimated in all the wars. Similarly, when the Germanian Barbarians invented the powerful Cross-Bow with a longer strike range the Roman Empire collapsed within a short period leaving nothing for posterity to cherish except the ruins that mourn silently with eerie winds around. Reminding the glory mayhem that happened for ‘The Gladiators’ in a 64 day festival in Rome to celebrate their victories in the wars. The arena of the coliseum was soaked with the innocent blood of the Gladiators. In contrast the Bharatiya tradition of the concept of mother earth as a cow to be milked and not destroyed is the very basis of sustainable development epitomised in the Upanishadic saying exhorting humanity with the Upanishadic dictum.
Tena tyaktena bhunjita-Take from nature whatever is required to sustain in accordance with your need and not according to your greed. The Bharatiya tradition sets before us the spiritual goal of Sanatan Dharma and the socio-religious goal of Dharma in accordance with which our social codes (smritis) are composed. These social codes are revised time and again according to the changes in Yugas i.e. Yuga Dharma. This reflects that our Bharatiya civilisation constitutes a highly organised society with a strong social institutional basis for spiritual, religious and social goals. Taking an overall picture, we have to take into consideration the cultural-spiritual-ethical notion of dharma as the social foundation for a well ordered functional society. These dharmic values were implemented in the lives of our kings and people in our Puranas and epics. To create such a tradition it requires hundreds of years history. This history is embedded in our 18 Puranas. Purana means purapi navah-though old, yet ever new. Puranas have been edited and updated time to time hence they are ‘though old, yet ever new’. Puranas are the primary source for writing the ancient history of Bharat. VA Smith admits: “The most systematic record of Indian historical tradition is that preserved in the dynastic lists of the Puranas”, five out of the eighteen works of this class namely; Vayu, Matsya, Vishnu, Bhramanda and Bhagavata contain such lists. But Pargiter tampered the text of Puranas and advised his co-workers to rely on Bhavishya Purana. VA Smith admires FE Pargiter that he has succeeded in his work The Dynasties of Kali Age in obtaining the most-definite results which was challenged by Kota Venkatachalam. This paper intends to highlight the glaring disparity in assigning correct timing of the periods to all dynasties with reference to the historicity of emperors Vikramaditya and Salivahana. Kota Venkatachalam tells us: “The Bhavishya Mahapurana, in the form it is available is highly interpolated by the western scholars to create doubts about its authenticity. From the very early times Christian missionaries of all denominations were united in their endeavor to destroy or discredit our ancient literature as they would not tolerate the existence of our great works which contained the history of the earth and the universe for crores of years before the creation of the world they described in the Bible (Ancient Hindu History Part 1, pp 210-211).
Vikramaditya and Salivahana Eras
The Vikramaditya and Salivahana eras begin with 57 BCE and 78 CE respectively. A controversy has been raging regarding the founder of these two eras. Contrary to our expectation VA Smith writes: The popular belief which associates the Vikrama era of 58-57 BCE with a Raja, Vikramaditya or Bikram of Ujjain at that date is erroneous. There was no such person then. It is however true that probably it was invented by the astronomers of Ujjain. The first name of it was Malwa era. The term Vikramakala used in the later times must refer to one or other of the many kings with the title of Vikramaditya or Vikrama, who was believed to have established the era. The king referred to may be presumed to be Chandragupta II. Vikramaditya who conquered Ujjain about CE 390, the Gupta and Saka eras Changed their names similarly, becoming known in after ages as Valabhi and the Salivahana eras respectively.
So it is impossible that the western scholars should be ignorant of the accounts of Vikrama and Salivahana in Bhavishya-Maha-Purana; they purposely ignored the four dynasties of Agni Vamsa which covered over a period of about 1300 years, from 101 BCE to 1193 CE i.e. from the time of Vikramaditya to the time of Prithvi Raja taking Bhojraja alone from the list of the Panwar dynasty leaving the era-founders, Vikramaditya and Salivahana in the intervening period. Even before Vikramaditya the four dynasties of Agni Vamsa covered over a period of 291 years from Kali 2710 (or 392 BCE) to Kali 3001(or 101 BCE). This intentional bungling was necessitated by the theory which makes Alexander and Chandragupta Maurya, contemporaries. The Chronology of ancient Indian History right from the time of Mahabharata War (3138 BCE) down to the beginning of Gupta dynasty (327 BCE) had to be compressed by 1207 years so as to suit the contemporaneity of Alexander and Chandragupta. Kali era begins in the year 3102.
For this very purpose Gautam Buddha who actually flourished in the 19th century BCE, is placed in the 6th century; Chandragupta Maurya who lived in 1534 BCE is brought down to 323 BCE. The Andhra Satavahana dynasty which commenced in 833 BCE is dragged down to 220 BCE and is made to last till 240 CE i.e. for a period of 460 years. Even then they had to meet with certain difficulties. They made the Sunga, the Kanwa and the Andhra dynasties, contemporaneous simply to compress the chronology. They had to drive away the two great emperors and era founders-Vikramaditya and Salivahana-out of the historical field identifying Hala-Satavahana of the 5th century BCE with the Salivahana of the Panwar dynasty of 78 CE. The Gupta Dynasty and the Gupta era was placed in 320 CE.
Vikramaditya and Salivahana were historical persons who extended their empires from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin. Our historians summarily dispensed with them as mythical persons and ascribed these eras to some nameless Saka kings. This is an extraordinary case of audacity. It is a wonder that Indigenous scholars also followed the same line and fruitlessly tried to trace out the unknown Saka kings instead of searching their Puranic literature to have the correct history of the founders of these eras.
Vikramaditya and Salivahana are historical personages and both of them belong to the Panwar dynasty of Agni Vamsa. Of this dynasty Vikrama is the 8th, Salivahana the 11th, and Bhoja the 21st king. Salivahana was the great-grandson of Vikramaditya and he should not be confounded with Hala-Satavahana who belonged to the Andhra Satavahana family and flourished in the 5th century BCE. (i.e. 500-495 BCE).
We shall now come to the evidence of the historicity of these two personages (see table 2). (To be concluded)