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NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS.
(Referred to, vol. i. p. 9.)
Hindu Accounts of Sandrocotus, King of the Prasii, and the celebrated Capital of Palibothra.
SANDROCOTUS, sovereign of the ancient Prasii, is in the Sanscrit language termed Chandra-Gupta, which, according to Mr. Wilford, means him who was saved by the Moon. "By Athenæus he is called Sandracoptos, by other writers Saudracottos, and by some Androcottos. He was called Chandra simply; and, accordingly, Diodorus Siculus calls him Xandrames, from Chandra, or Chandram in the accusative case; for, in the western parts of India, the spoken dialects from the Sanscrit do always affect that case.'
Sir William Jones, from a poem written by Somadeva, and a tragedy called the Coronation of Chandra, or Chandra-Gupta, "discovered, that he really was the Indian king
Wilford, As. Researches, vol. v. p. 234.
mentioned by the historians of Alexander, under the name of Sandracottos. These two poems I have not been able to procure; but I have found another dramatic piece, intitled Mudra-Racshasa, or the Seal of Racshasa, which is divided into two parts: the first may be called the Coronation of Chandra-Gupta; and the second, the Reconciliation of Chandra-Gupta with Mantri-Racshasa, the prime minister of his father."*
By Hindu writers it is said, that Maha Nandi, king of Prachi or Prasii, had by a woman of the Sudra cast, a son named Nanda, who succeeded him. Nanda is described as victorious in war, and though fond of amassing wealth, just and wise in government. By his first wife, named Ratnavati, he had nine sons, and by a second, named Mura, Chandra-Gupta and others; who, to distinguish them from those of the first bed, were called, from their mother, Muryas. After the death of Nanda, ChandraGupta found means to exclude the race of Ratnavati, and usurp the crown.
"Diodorus Siculus and Curtius relate, that Chandram was of a low tribe, his father being a barber. That he, and his father Nanda too, were of a low tribe, is declared in the Vishnu-purana, and in the Bhagavat Chandram; and that he, as well as his brothers, were called Maurya, from his mother Mura; and as that word,† in Sanscrit, signifies a barber, it furnished occasion to his enemies to asperse him as the spurious offspring of one. Diodorus and Curtius are mistaken in saying, that Chan
Wilford, As. Researches, vol. v. p. 262.
+ See the Jutiviveca, where it is said, the offspring of a barber, begot by stealth, of a female of the Sudra tribe, is called Maurya: the offspring of a barber and a slave-woman is called Maurya,"
dram reigned over the Prasii at the time of Alexander's invasion; he was contemporary with Seleucus Nicator.”*
Megasthenes was a native of Persia, and appears to have enjoyed the confidence of Sybertius, governor for Seleucus of Arachosia,† the present Candahar and Ghezni. He had been sent at different times into India by Sybertius, and afterwards by Seleucus, as ambassador to the king of the Prasii.
The country of the Prasii and the site of Palibothra, have occasioned so much discussion, that we are induced to state some of the opinions in regard to them, which appear the best entitled to regard.
Major Rennell says, that the empire of the Prasii seems to have included most of the tract through which the Ganges flows, after it enters the plains of Hindustan.‡ But Mr. Wilford, using more positive language, ob
"By Prachi, (in Sauscrit,) or the East, is understood all the country from Allahabad to the easternmost limits of Hindustan it is called also Purva, an appellation of the same import, and Purob in the spoken dialects. From Prachi is obviously derived the name of Prasii, which the Greeks gave to the inhabitants of this country. It is divided into two parts: the first comprehends all the couniry from Allahabad to Raj-mehal, and the western branch of the Ganges; the second includes Bengal, the greatest
Wilford, As. Res. vol. v. p. 285.
+ See Arrian, Exp. Alex. lib. v. p. 323, edit. Amst. 1668.
+ Speaking of this river, he says, that, after quitting the mountainous tract in which it must have wandered above eight hundred miles, it receives in its course through the plains, eleven rivers, some of them as large as the Rhine, and noue smaller than the Thames, besides as many more of lesser note.
part of which is known in Sanscrit under the name of Gancara-desa, or country of Gancara, from which the Greeks made Gangaridas, or Gangaridai, in the first case. Gancara is still the name of a small district near the summit of the Delta."
"The capital city of Prachi Proper, or the western part of it, is declared to be Raj-griha, or the royal mansion. According to the Puranas, it was built by a son of king Prithu, called Haryacsha. It was afterwards taken by Bala-Rama, the brother of Crishna, who rebuilt it, and assigned it as a residence for one of his sons, who are called in general Baliputras, or the children of Bala. From this circumstance it was called Balipura, or the town of the son of Bala; but in the spoken dialects it was called Bali-putra, because a putra, or son of Bali, resided in it. From Bali-putra, the Greeks made Palipatra and Palibothra, and the inhabitants of the country, of which it was the capital, they denominated Palibothri.”
"Diodorus Siculus, speaking of Palibothra, says, that it had been built by the Indian Hercules; who, according to Megasthenes, as quoted by Arrian, was worshipped by the Suraseni. Their chief cities were Methora and Clisobora: the first is now called Mathura, the other, Mugunagur, by the Musulmans, and Calisapura, by the Hindūs. The whole country about Mathura is called Surasena, to this day, by learned Brahmins.”
"The Indian Hercules, according to Cicero, was called Belus. He is the same with Bala, the brother of Crishna, and both are conjointly worshipped at Mathura; indeed, they are considered as one Avatara, or incarnation of
* This word I am assured by persons intimately acquainted with the Sanscrit, has never been met with by them in that language.