domenica, Giugno 13, 2021
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India in Greece

ORIENTAL RESEARCH

“As long as the study of Indian antiquities confines itself to the illustration of Indian history, it must be confessed that it possesses little attraction for the general student, who is apt to regard the labour expended on the disentanglement of perplexing and contradictory mazes of fiction as leading only to the substitution of vague and dry probabilities, for poetical, albeit extravagant fable. But the moment any name or event turns up in the course of such speculation, offering a point of connection between the legends of India and the rational histories of Greece and Rome — a collision between an Eastern and a Western hero — forthwith a speedy and a spreading interest is excited, which cannot be satisfied until the subject is thoroughly sifted by an examination of all the ancient works. Western and Eastern, that can throw concurrent light on the matter at issue. Such was the engrossing interest which attended the identification of Sandracottus with Chandragupta in the days of Sir William Jones — such the ardour with which the Sanscrit was studied, and is still studied, by philologists at home, after it was discovered to bear an intimate relation to the classical language of ancient Europe. Such more recently has been the curiosity excited on Mr. Tumour’s throwing open the hitherto concealed page of Buddhistic historians, to the development of Indian monuments and Pauranic records.” — James Prinsep, Eaq., late Sec, As. Soc.
Thus wrote the talented and deeply-lamented scholar” wliose ardent zeal in the cause of Oriental researcli shortened an existence which was an ornament to the society in which he moved, and the cynosure of the literary world. It is not without a feeling of melancholy interest that I look back upon the honoured record of those names which have shed a ray of splendour on the annals of our Eastern empire. They have passed away without being cognisant of the inestimable value of their own labours, and of the noble harvest of renown which, through their instrumentality, is yet to be reaped by their country. The warrior-scholarship of India, too, that realisation of the most splendid theory of intellectual and physical power, has consecrated its rare endowments to the cause of historical research. Both the warrior and the peaceful student have left the scene of their mighty energies, un-conscious of that empire of intellectual wealth which they have won for Christendom at large. Often repelled in their bold enterprise of uniting and consolidating the historical empire of the East and West, of establishing for both a community of religion, policy, and origin, they returned again and again to the charge, instinctively conscious of the fact, and undeterred by derision and defeat. The names of Wilford and Tod are an honour to this class of men; and while the noble candour of the former in confessing the literary imposition of which he had been the victim, is only equalled by his daring enterprise to penetrate the mysteries of the ancient world; the steady, convictions of the latter, firmly urged and ably supported, will be found amply established by the practical geographical evidences here laid before the reader.
I am now standing at the fountain-head of civilisation, — the very source of the most ancient and the most mighty monarchies. The vision is distinct, for I hold the vantage-ground of the high table-land of Western Asia. The warlike pilgrims of the Oxus are moving towards the east, the west, and the south; they are the patriarch bands of India, Europe, and Egypt. At the mouths of the Indus, dwell a sea-faring people, active, ingenious, and enterprising, as when, ages subsequent to this great movement, they themselves, with the warlike denizens of the Punjab, were driven from their native land, to seek the far distant climes of Greece. The commercial people dwelling along the coast that stretches from the mouth of the Indus to the Coree, are embarking on that emigration whose magnificent results to civilization, and whose gigantic monuments of art, fill the mind with mingled emotions of admiration and awe. These people coast along the shores of Mekran, traverse the mouth of the Persian Gulf and again adhering to the sea-board of Oman, Hadramaut, and Yemen (the Eastern Arabia), they sail up the Red Sea; and again ascending the mighty stream that fertilizes a land of wonders, found the kingdoms of Egypt, Nubia, and Abyssinia. These are the same stock that, centuries subsequently to this colonisation, spread the blessings of civilization over Hellas and her islands. The connection, therefore, which is so constantly represented by Greek historians as subsisting between Egypt and Athens, as well as Boeotia, and other parts of Greece, is perfectly natural, and in fact is just what we should anticipate from a people, who so highly honoured and deeply venerated their parent state as to receive from its hands their sacred fire, and their ministers of religion.
Of the triple connection that links Egypt” Greece, and the lands of the Indus, there will remain no longer the shadow of a doubt, as the reader accompanies me in the geographical development of the colonisation of Greece, in which the ingenious people of the Abu Sin (the Abyssinians[1] of Africa) founded the mercantile and thriving community of Corinthus. This is past controversy; for the Abusin, a classical name for the Indus, is reproduced in Greece as the Cor-Indus (Corinthus), that is, the people of the Com Indus.” As I shall cautiously avoid all dependence upon mere similarity of names, or philological deductions, unless amply supported by collateral evidence, I beg the reader to observe that what I have now advanced rests upon a geographical basis, of whose solidity, when he comes to survey the breadth and the depth, he will feel ample assurance. As these evidences will be found to appeal to the practical sense of every individual, I shall offer no apology for neglecting to support them by classical or modern authorities. The remarks of Colonel Tod, however, on this point are so full of sound judgment, and so much to the purpose, that I cannot avoid introducing them in this place. “Whether Rameses found his way from the Nile to the Ganges, or whether Rameses found his Lanca on the shores of the Red Sea, we can but conjecture. The Hindoo scorns the idea that the rock of Ceylon was the abode of Ramans enemy. The distance of the Nile from the Indian shore forms no objection to the surmise: the sail that spread for Ceylon could waft for the Red Sea, which the fleets of Tyre, of Solomon, and of Hiram covered about this time. That the Hindus navigated the ocean from the earliest ages, the traces of their religion in the isles of the Archipelago sufficiently attest[2]. That the people of the country of the Indus ranked as navigators, in the most venerable antiquity, is perfectly clear, from the ancient Institutes of Menu, where “merchants who traffic beyond sea, and bring presents to the king,” are expressly mentioned.
In the Ramayuna[3],” the practise of bottomry is distinctly noticed[4].” “In fact,” as Heeren remarks[5],” “no law had ever forbidden this species of commerce; on the contrary, the Institutes of Menu contain several regulations which tacitly allow it in giving the force of law to all commercial contracts relative to dangers incurred by sea or land” These institutes of Menu, running up to the vast antiquity of B.C. 1400, give an idea of the early commercial energies of India; which all my subsequent observations will fully carry out[6].”
But to return to the primeval movements of mankind. I have glanced at the Indian settlements in Egypt, which will again be noticed; and I would now resume my observations from the lofty frontier which is the true boundary of the European and Indian races. The Parasoos, the people of Parasoo-Rama, those warriors of the Axe[7] have penetrated into and given a name to Persia; they are the people of Bharata[8]; “and to the principal stream that pours its waters into the Persian Gulf, they have given the name of Eu-Bh’rat-es (Eu- Ph”rat-es) The Bh’rat-Chief.
Near the embouchure of the “Great Bharata” or “Euphrates” are a people called the ELUMAEI; they are a powerful tribe from the Y’Elum, or “Hydaspes” of the Greeks; who, unfortunately for history, were content to give foreign names without a translation, and to write these names very incorrectly. The Elumsei were a race of Rajpoot equestrian warriors, on the “Hyd-asp-es,” i.e., “the River of the Horse-chiefs,” “who dwelt in the vicinity of the Ace-sin-es, the chiefs of the waters of the Indus[9].” As usual, we find these Kshetriyas, or warriors, in juxta-position with the Brahminical caste, who are styled Chal-Daeans[10],” that is, the tribe of Devas, or Brahmins, whose original starting-point is distinctly shown to have been “Shin-ar[11]” the country of “The people of the Indus.”
But that an emigration also took place from Indian districts still more easterly is evident; for the “Bopalan,” or “people of Bopal[12], “ built the vast city, which the Greeks strangely called “Babulon[13]” “ while it is equally clear that a settlement — I will not enter into its date, though even that I believe might he satisfactorily established — was made in the country by the people of Bhagulpoor and its neighborhood. These colonists may be seen grouped along the southern banks of the Euphrates” they are called singularly enough “Anco-bar-i-tis” that is” “Anga-poor-i-des” the country of Anga-poor. “Anga” is that district which, in classical Hindoo writings, includes Bengal proper and Bhagulpoor[14].” To the south of Anco-bar-i-tis, the reader will observe the city of Perisa-bora, a singular euphonic Greek commutation for Parasoo-poor, the city of Parasoo. Nor does that grand emporium, Benares, remain unrepresented in the land of the Parasoos; its inhabitants are distinctly seen near the banks of the Tigris, as “Cosaei”, that is the people of Casi, the classical name for Benares[15].”
The ancient map of Persia, Colchis” and Armenia is absolutely full of the most distinct and startling evidences of Indian colonisation” and” what is more astonishing, practically evinces, in the most powerful manner” the truth of several main points in the two great Indian poems” the Ramayuna and Mahabaratha. The whole map is positively nothing less than a journal of emigration on the most gigantic scale. But, alas! unhappily for history, the Greeks of antiquity, like the French of the present day, so completely made their own language the language of the civilized world, and by their graceful and insinuating manner so confirmed this advantage, that they had few or no inducements, to become philologists, not even to trace the origin of their own language or to acquire that of another nation. Perhaps the only exception to this failing is contained in the record of the Homerid of Chios, in his hymn on the festivities of Delos, in which the lonians are represented as expert linguists. The attempts of Plato in his Cratylus, those of Varro in his essay on the etymological sources of the Roman language, are replete with the most singular puerilities.
It is now proper to revert to the primitive colonisation of Hellas; and to point out the exact localities which furnished the race whence sprang her warriors and her statesmen, her poets and her religion; for until this be accomplished, that which may be the basis of individual conviction, can never be the foundation for the confidence of another. I therefore address myself with pleasure to this duty, thankful that I have been permitted to pass the gloomy barriers of the mighty past, and to bring back with me records that I doubt not will carry conviction to the minds of the dispassionate.

NOTES

[1] Abyssinians. The Cori is a mouth of the Indus.
[2] Tod’s Rajasthan, vol. i., p. 113.
[3] Ramayuna, iil, 237, written b. c. 1300.
[4] Menu iii., 158; viii., 157.
[5] Heeren’s Indians, p, 124.
[6] The translator of Heeren observes, “That ships belonging to Hindoos went to sea, and that a proportional interest for the hazard of the sea was to be paid on money borrowed, must be perfectly true.” He does not, however, consider this fact as necessarily proving that the seamen were Hindoos. Positions such as the mouth of the Cori or the Indus, Corinth in Greece, Portsmouth in England, or Havre in France, furnish a practical comment upon such a doubt.
[7] Parasoo, the Axe, Bharata, the name of India.
[8] Hud-asp-es (Old, water; asp, a horse; es, a chief).
[9] Aca, water; Sin, the Indus; es, a chief.
[10] Chal-Dsea (Cul, tribe, and Leva, a god or Brahmin). — See Append., Rule 6, 7.
[11] Properly Sin-war.
[12] Bhoopalan, people of Bhoopal in Malwa; Bopaul forms the exact boundary of the old Hindoo province of Malwa, lat. 23° 77′, long, 77° 30′ E., 100 miles from Ougein.
[13] “And it came to pass as they journeyed from the east that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there,” — Oen. xi. 2.
[14] Wilson, Sansc. Lex. “Anga” “Bhagulpoor” (Boglipoor) is a district of the province of Bahar, situated between the 24th and 26th degrees of north latitude, occupying the south-eastern corner of that province, together with a small section from Bengal.” Hamilton’s E. Ind. Gazette.
[15] Benares (Sansc. Varanashi, from the two streams, Vara and Nashi) stands on the convex side of the curve which the Ganges here forms, in lat. 25° 30′ N”., long. 83° 1′ E. It is one of the holy cities of India, and was anciently named Casi, or the splendid, which appellation it still retains. The country for ten miles round is considered sacred by the Hindoos. The Brahmins assert that Benares is no part of the terrestrial globe, but that it stands upon the points of Siva’s trident; as a proof of which they affirm that no earthquake is ever felt within its holy limits. This is a grand point of pilgrimage to the Hindoo population, and, as Hamilton observes, “Some learned Hindoos relax so far as to admit the possible salvation of English- men, if they become firm believers in the Ganges, or die at Juggernauth; and they even name an Englishman who went straight to heaven from Benares. But it appears that he had also left money for the construction of a temple.” — Hamilton, E. I. Gazette, vol. i., p. 170.

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