collection of hauma hamiddha's scattered posts

Posts tagged ‘pali’

bAvari in the land of the assakas

The sutta nipAta, which is the oldest of the bauddha Pali texts gives a
remarakable account of the brAhmaNa penetration
of southern India. A brAhmaNa named bAvarI lived in srAvasti in the realm of the
ikshvAkus prior to the time of the
buddha. He is said to have borne 3 marks of a great being and was a purohita of
the ikshvAkus and a teacher of the
prince. He however, lost interest in his comfortable position and sought to
become a recluse teacher. He along with his
students travelled to dakkhinApatha and entered the realm of the horse tribe,
the assakas (ashvakas). Their land lay in
the basins of the godAvarI and the mUlaka (mULa) rivers. The rAja of the
assakas was a certain andhakarAjA, who gave
the bAvarI a plot of land for a 1000 coins. bAvari and his team lived here
subsisting on roots and fruits. They encouraged
the settlement of a large village of local in their vicinity. By visiting this
village bAvarI and his students collected a large
amount of offerings from the village and conducted a great vedic sacrifice.
After that he was apparently informed by a deva
of the coming of the Buddha. Now in his previous janma bAvarI was supposed to
have been the yadu king kattavAhana
who ruled north of those regions.

Who were the assakas of the godAvari region? Being the horse tribe they were
clearly the megalithic horse men of the
vidarbha region whose archaeological sites are extensive from the 800-600BC.
They appear to have spread from here to
the entire southern penisular country. Now the deities of the of pastoralist
tribals of south India are all horse riding
deities similar to the assakas. Further the mahAbhArata alludes that the abhirAs
overtook the yadu realm after the
intercine killing and the fall of dwAraka. Now the same abhirAs and other
pastoralists of peninsular India called gollas,
yadavas, abhirAs etc associate themselves with the yadus. The name of the king
of the assakas andhakarAjA is also a
yadu name, so also is kattavAhana. It may hence be reconstructed that after the
fall of the Indo-Aryan yAdavas their
native mercenary cattle breeders gradually took on the yadu paraphernalia and
expanded southwards. By 800 BC they
appear to have formed the powerful assaka state that had alread assimilated many
elements of the Indo-Aryans, probably
including prakrit and some elements of the Aryan religion. They still
predominantly maintained their own deities, who were
now depicted in horse borne form. They may have also transfered the names of
some ancient yadu heros, like kArtavIrya,
to their deities. This may also explain certain tamil ruler claim decent from
the yadus of dvAraka. They probably were in
reality descendent of the assaka complex. However, the fact that bAvarI had
reached their land and instituted brAhminical
practices suggests that the brAhmin presence was probably carried to the Tamil
regions directly with the expansion of
these megalithic people. Hence it is no surprise that the earliest Tamil
literature already shows a brAhminical influence.

> Is assaka < azvaka or asmaka? Many history books give only the latter
> name. Since some Prakrits comtemporary to Pali confuse the palatal and
> the dental sibilants, <asmaka> could be later hyper-sanskritisation of
> assaka. What do you think?

I could come up with the following:
vismarati>vissarti (forget)
rashmi>rassi (rein, hindi: rope)
So we have a very occassional sm/shm>ss. Hence theoretically asmaka can give
rise to assaka.
However, there is some evidence to support your proposition that asmaka was
reconstructed back from Pkt by using
templates like rashmi or vismarati. There is another ashvaka tribe that lived in
the NW. They were a sub-branch of the
kambhoja, aNu lineage and are called as such in the Pauranic sources. They are
refered to as the assakenus by the
Gandharan Greeks. But the later writer asanga terms them as asmakas, suggesting
that he reconstructed it from assaka
into asmaka.

In the Hathigumfa inscription one line is said to state that khAravela sent a
large army westwards to strike terror amidst
the assakas. This confirms the position of the assakas of bAvarI. Apparently
this was an out flanking operation to prevent
the assakas from making common cause with the draviDas attacking kalinga by sea.

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