Scientific and SocietiesTitr1

Cultural Relation`s Between Iran and India in The First Millennium B.C

The ancient land of India, with its unique geographical diversity and various ethnic groups, was the cradle of one of the most important civilizations of ancient world, which indeed played an indispensable role over international civilization and human culture. This civilization always had a close and prominent relation and linkage with its western neighbor, Iran. Undoubtedly, without having adequate knowledge about each one of these two civilizations, studying upon the history and the culture of any of them, would be incomplete.

Two ancient neighboring civilizations, India and Iran, have enjoyed close historical links through the ages. They had a common homeland and share a common linguistic and racial past. Over the several millennia, they interacted and enriched each other in the fields of language, religion, arts, culture, food and other traditions. Today the two countries enjoy warm, friendly relations and cooperate in a wide range of fields. It should be noted that the cultural effect of Iran over India was greater than the effects of Indian culture over Iran. With comparative study of both civilizations, we observe the influence of Iranian art and culture over Indian’s. 

 According to the archaeological evidences and historical documentations, we can find no such relation between any other ancient civilizations in the world. Although, the migration of Aryan tribal from Iran to India known as the first important connection between two societies, archaeological evidences have proved that the root age of this connection is much older than Aryan’s migration.

Indian subcontinent, along with historical integral relation with Iran, in geographical aspects also there was strong relation between them through both lands and sea routes, which was From west Hindukosh mountain to shipping lines between Persian gulf, Oman sea and Arabian sea in south of Iran and west of India.

In other words, India and Iran for various reasons such as: artistic, cultural, political and religious reasons always had close relation. For instance, Jawahar Laal Nehru, Indian educated and cultured prime Minister, in part of his book, “Discovery of India”, mentioned: “Among several countries and different nations which were in relation to India, Iranian were the oldest and the most influential than the others.”

It is believed that before 2000-3000 BC, the inhabitants of modern Iraq and southern Iran as also the people of west and north west India came from the same region. Later, around 1500 BC Aryan tribes from north invaded and defeated these people and marched further to south Asia.

During the pre-historic times (around 3000 BC), the people of Kulli culture (North West Indian borders) excelled in making small boxes of soft stone, delicately engraved with linear patterns. At Susa (west Iran) a few pieces of painted pottery have been found which appear to be similar to the wares of the Kulli people. In the hills of Baluchistan, where the people of Nal and Zhob cultures built their little villages, the Barhuis, though ethnically now predominantly Iranian, speak a Dravidian language (spoken in South India)

After the arrival of Aryans to India and the rise of Hinduism in India and Zoroastrianism in Iran, we observed many similarities between Hinduism and ancient Iranian religious manuscripts, Vedas and Avesta. Other irrefutable evidence is the architectural pattern of Indian pillared hall during Mauryan Dynasty that indicates a high level of Achamenid influence on Mauryan architecture. Along with this, engraving royal inscriptions on natural rocks and stoned pillars were adopted from an Ancient Persian tradition, which used by Ashoka.

These cultural connections according to historical documentations included of the constant relationship between the two countries’ rulers by interchanging of the agents and ambassadors in different historical periods and those events were significant to that extend that we noticed the presence of Indian soldiers beside the Iranian in front of common enemies.

In the documents have been received from ancient Greek historians such as Herodotus and Xenphon, the unity and integration of Iran and India was frequently mentioned. During the history, we are repeatedly seeing the refuge of a prince or a king to the other country’s court for getting help to fight an enemy. Sometimes, Achamenid princes and royal family escaped to India after Alexander’s invasion and sometimes Homaun, Mughol emperor of India, refuged to Safavid court that by their supports he was able to retake his kingship.  

The other indisputable document of the great relation between the two countries is the repetition of India’s name in the ancient inscriptions of Achamenid Dynasty and presence of the group of Indian gift advice ambassadors in Perspolis’ engravings. According to Achamenid Inscriptions and Greek historical account, north part of India was one the Achamenid states. Later in the age of Parthians and Sasanid Empire, north part of India again conquered by Persian and we saw the ruling of Persian princes in this territory. The existence of coins with Pahlavik inscriptions, in huge number in the area of Perso Kushana in north part of India, also referred to this truth.

This article is a study of the cultural relation between India and Iran during the second half of first millennium B.C, Simultaneously the Achamenid Dynasty in 5th C.B.C in Iran and the Dynasty in 3rd C.B.C in India.

Hinduism is considered as the main religion of Indian, which the name of this country, India, also derived from it. This ancient religion brought to India along with Aryans, since; in the mythological study of Hinduism and Zoroastrianism we can observe many similarities.

Aryan conquerors after overcoming the natives and indigenous people of India, who were from Dravidian origin, imposed their culture and religion to them, and gradually both victors and failures made a community and united society together.  It was at that time when, the Cast system for the first time appeared in India. Aryan conquerors, to confirm their superiority over failures, divide the society into three main groups: Brahmins or priests, Kesatrias or warriors and Sudras or Farmers and ranchers. The first two groups belonged to Aryans and the third one was Dravidians.

Although, according to the strict religious rules, any marriage between these groups was forbidden, gradually, some of the farmers and ranchers could get rich relying on their surplus of their products and corps and began a business and a trade deal. In the first Cast system, which was rooted in the social life of Aryans,there was no place assigned to businessmen in the society. Henceforth, slowly a new group has emerged by the result of integration of rich Sudras to other casts, which was called Vaishas. The main function of this new cast was trade and business.

Such cultural influences were not unilateral that can be considered only from Iran to India, but it was a mutual relationship in which Iran’s share was more prominent than India’s. However, it is eminent to know that this research is a study of the two branches of the same culture.

Art and cultural relationship between Iran and India during pre historic age

It is believed that Indians and Iranians belonged to one single family before the beginning of the Indo-Aryan civilisation and lived together with a common language for many centuries in pasturelands of Oxus valley in Central Asia (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakstan).This common habitat was either around the upper reaches of the Tigris where the Zob meets it or in the vast doab of the rivers Vahvi-Datiya and Ranha (the Oxus and Jaxertes).

The first Aryan migration into India and Iran took place around 2000 BC. In Iran, as in India, the impact of the Aryans was to prove ineffaceable and founded a long enduring tradition.

These people brought with them their patrilinear system, their worship of sky gods, their horses and chariots.

In the second millennium B.C. there was close agreement between the language and mythology, religious traditions and social institutions of Indians and Iranians on the one hand and those of the Greeks, Romans, Celts, Germans and Slavs on the other. For a considerable period after their separation from their western kinsmen, the Indians and Iranians are believed to have lived together.

 Indus valley civilization or Harappa culture is known as the most important and the oldest civilization in ancient India. Some scholars believe that this civilization is the contemporary civilization to Shahre e Sookhteh (the burnt city) in Sistan province of Iran. There are no reliable or definite evidences for proving such relation, in that time, between the two countries yet, although, some archaeologist attempt to find this connection by study of pottery and pottery’s designs and patterns in both civilization.  Findings in Harappa culture and Indus valley civilization show the similarity and the cultural connection between them and Mesopotamia, in pre Aryan age. For example, one of the important findings in Harappa is a Makeup box, which is similar in material and design to another example, has found in Mesopotamia (ur, kish& khafaje). By the study of the images of a deer on potteries in Sialk (Iran) and Mohen Jo Daro (India) we can observe so many matches in designing. Swastika pattern is another sample, which was used in Crete(Aegean civilization), Kapadokia (minor Asia), Troy, Susha and some other parts of Iran, widely used in India.

Aryan tribal in Iran and India Mixed with local inhabitants of both countries after migration to them. In Iran they mixed with Elamite and other Iranian people of Plateau and in India also the same story was run and Aryan stayed with Dravidian and other inhabitant’s of this subcontinent.  This migration occurred around the second millennium B.C. according to the most accepted theory, the origin and home land of Aryan tribal was a vast region between Aral Lake and Black sea. For many reasons, included losing their pastures in cold climate, they migrated to southern regions for searching new sources of food for their cattle. At first, they reached to a place which today known as Iran. There, they divided into three groups, one of them migrated toward west and reached to Europe, the other migrated toward east and reached to India and the third group stayed in Iran. According to Avesta, the ancient religious manuscript of Iran, those who migrated to Iran called this new land as Aryava Aj, which means the land of Aryan’s.

The other groups who migrated to India were brave and adventurous people. “They crossed today’s Afghanistan and reached to Punjab and Sind which they called it Santa-Sandhog, which means the land of seven rivers. They also called themselves as Aryan”.

 This migration was not the first major migration through Iran to India. Archaeological findings corroborated: “ different groups of people who crossed Iran for Reaching to India are: black people, southern tribes, Mediterranean groups include Dravidian’s and Northern People (Aryan). Black people were first group of Indi-Iranian race, which probably in earliest days of human civilization had entered to Persian Gulf and Oman seacoast area from Africa and then migrated to India. Herodotus mentioned and describes them: “Their skin color (Indian) are same to people of Ethiopia”.

He also considered some of inhabitants of Persian Gulf and Indian coastline are the same and said they are from same origin. In Dariush the great Inscriptions also these people called Indian. However, when Herodotus classified Achamenid’s financial conditions, he called Indian province of Achamenid Empire as Parikanes, which means Ethiopians of Asia. And when he described other Indian people, he stated that they live in North part of India, which means on the time of Herodotus also, black people lived in south India and coastal line of Persian Gulf and they had their own civilization. [12]

During the Elamid Empire in Iran before coming of Aryan, we have enough evidences, which proves India and Iran were connected. For example in Elamite inscriptions India called as: Khi- Inn- Doo- Ish.

The scriptures Vedas (of the Indian Aryans) and the Avesta (of the Iranians) both agree on the cause, which led to the migration of the Aryans from their original homeland (called Airyana Vaejo in Avesta). In the Vedic account, it is a flood of water that is referred to and in the Avestan account it is a flood of snow and frost. The praleya signifying snow or frost is derived from pralaya or deluge in Sanskrit by Panini. That there was a huge flodd in pre-historic ties in some parts of the then known world is proved by Semitic sources which seem to have borrowed their account from Aryan sources. The name of the person who escaped this disaster is Noah, according to them (more correctly Nuh as in Arabic which is a contracted form of Manuh, nominative form of Manu). In both Indian and Iranian versions, he is the son of the same person – Vivasvat or Vivanghat. According to the tradition of the Vendidad, the ancestors of the Iranians lived in 15 other countries turn by turn. One of these was Haptahindu, i.e. Saptasindhu, the cradle land of Indo-Aryan civilization.

In Avesta, the holy book of Zoroastrians, has been referred to India several times, in Rig Veda also we have several referring to the Land of Iran and Persia. It indicates that these two branches of Aryan tribal even after separation, never forgot their same origin and generations and they connected together. The last migration of Aryan people to India ended around 8th C.B.C and from this era, the cultural history of Iran and India tied together more than ever before.

Old Persian language was a member of the Indic branch of the Indo-European languages. Related to it was Zend of Avestan, the language of the earliest Zoroastrian text, which was later, divided into two distinct branches – Indic and Iranic. One later developed as Sanskrit and the other as Persian.

Unfortunately, in the field of epigraphic studies in India, after Indus valley civilization, there is a huge gap for the re-presence of inscriptions. This lack of epigraphic evidence continued till the age of Ashoka in 3rd C.B.C.

Ashokan Inscriptions was written in Brahmi, Kharooshti , Pali , Prakrit and Aramic script. According to the most accepted views, Brahmi script being developed by Bramins for writing holy text.

Kharooshti script, which many of Ashoka’s inscriptions were written in that, found in all over India. According to many scholars such as Buhler, Kharooshti script derived from Persia and its origin is from Iran. The other script, which used by Ashoka was Aramic script which was official script of Achamenid’s court.

Relation between Iran and India during Median age

The most important tribes of Aryan, which were dwelling in Iran, divided into: Parthian, Medes and Persians. Rig-Veda called Iranians by Parshava and Parsica and undoubtedly can be considered these names as other pronunciations of Persian. In other part of Rig-Veda some groups of Iranian called as Parthava that refers to Parthian.

Xenophon in his cyropaedia mentioned the relation between Medes and Indian. He stated: “one day when Cyrus the great visit his army a messenger came to him and informed him, ambassador of Indian king, came to Astyages and he sent a fine formal dress for Cyrus and asked him to wear it and come immediately. Cyrus without changing that dress went to Astyages. When Astyagessee Cyrus with that plain dress became angry and asked him why came to me without wearing formal dress.Cyrus answered: which one was better? Wearing the dress and come late or obeying your order and come soon? Astyages pleased and asked Indian ambassador to come inside” The important point of this event was the role of India in political and military equations of that time. Xenophon also mentioned: “Indian ambassador says: king of India wants to know the reason of war between Median and Asurian.

And they said we would ask the same question from Asurian King too. And India would fight to the starter of battle and ally the other part.” Cyrus answered them: we never attacked to Asurian, if they also have the same claim; we are ready to receive Indian King as a Judge.

Connection between India and Iran during Achamenid age

On the rise of Parsian in Iran and the Achaemenian dynasty a lot of changes in political world were happened around 500 BC. A huge number of regions and countries were gathered under one flag and one ruler. Achaemenian Territory on their powerful and glorious days was extended from north India and Indus River in east to Europe border on west and to North Africa and Egypt and Ethiopia on the other ends. On those days, India was known as united nation to Persia and Cyrus the great. But, after conquering India by Darius the great, it was known as one of the states of Persia. This Relation between Iran and India can be studied by two views:

  • Based on texts and historic resources.
  • Based on Archaeological data’s and Inscription remains from Acheamenid ages.

Greece historians, whose books are the most noteworthy resources about ancient period, have mentioned the relation between Iran and India several times. Cyrus the great and India’s king had a friendly relationship and when Medians were conquered by Anatolians, Cyrus the great decided to attack them, then Indian agents came to Cyrus empire in order to solve the problem. Xenophon on his 4th chapter of second book of biography of Cyrus,”Cyropaedia”, remarked: Ambassadors of India came to Cyrus and brought money and said to Cyrus on behalf of their king: “Cyrus! I am very glad to know about your needs I want to be your host and send money to you and if you need more ask me. My ambassadors are assigned to do your will.

Cyrus replied I suggest some of your messengers to stay in their tents and watch the money and enjoy their stay. Three of them apparently go to our enemy to ask them to assign agreement between you (India’s king)and them but in fact what are our enemies are doing and saying is not clear for me till your messengers report me about their observation. If these men do their jobs correctly I will be more thankful than getting those money. Because my spies who are disguised as peasant cannot obtain more than regular news while they are among ordinary people but someone like you can find their real thought and their purpose.

Ambassadors accept it immediately and Cyrus treated them and prepared them and send them to Anatolians. Ambassadors are back and brought these results:  “Croesus king of Lydia is become commander of army and they are going to gather all kings and collect huge amount of money…” As we know Cyrus won that great and essential fighting and defeat Croesus that leads to his Empire’s strength. In this battle also as we saw before Indian played an eminent role and somehow we can say Indians were the participants of strengthening Achamenid Empire.

From this time to Darius the great we don’t have any other documents. Ultimately, Darius the great took the power and defeated a lot of rebellions and brought order and peace to Achamenid Empire. At this time, again we can see the roles of India and its relation with Iran. In additionto ancient documents by historian like Herodotus ,Darius the great in his inscriptions had mentioned Indians in several times also sculpture of Indian ambassador have been engraved on Persepolis walls.

Darius the great in 512.BC is decided to attack India. The main reason of his invasion was getting access to rich sources of gold in Indus valley and also using of fertile land of this area. Persian army captured mentioned parts so easily and Indian did low resistance. Third invasion was very significant and efficient for Indian people as Alchin in his book, “Rise of Civilization in India and Pakistan,” says: “India only after invasion of Darius the great reached into the Iron Age.” On one hand, this invasion was so important for Indian because they grounded this event as one of two historical periods in their calendar. Sir Percy Sykes in his book, “history of Iran” divided these two eras as:

  1. Preaching of Buddha   2- Invasion of Darius the great

On the other hand, this event also was very vital for Iranian because on that time Iranian had little information about Far East. Darius after capturing India sent a group for discoverers for collecting information. Herodotus in 4th volume of his history explained this discovery:  “Darius wants to find, where Sind River reached the sea. Hence he sent Skylax who was from Caryanda, with a group of soldiers and a ship to this mission. They started their journey from city of Caspatiyrus in Paktyes land. Theyhad a river voyage toward east and reached the sea .

Then they had a sea voyage toward west. By the end of the month they reached to the place where Phoenicians and other Egyptian kings used to travel around Africa. After this discovery Darius took Indian under his submission…”  It is also interesting to know that according to historical sources, in ancient time, India had population more than any other communities; thus, their taxes also were much more than other nations. Herodotus expresses in this regard:  “The population of India is more than other tribes that I know. Subsequently, they pay more taxes to Persian. Their taxes are 360 Talan gold powders. India is 20th Satrap of Achamenid.” The description of Darius about the vastness and richness of Achamenid Empire was engraved on his palace in Susa in 521.BC. In this inscription again we find India and the role of Indian people in Achamenid Empire.

In those inscriptions, the art of Indian and the usage of Indian wood in construction of Achamenid palaces:  “This is the palace that I built in Susa. The decoration of that, carried from far away…we dug the ground, sundried bricks made by Babylonian people…pine timbers carried from a mountain in Lebanon…people of Assure carried them to Babylon. From Babylon Greek people and Karyaian carried them to Susa .Yaku woods carried from Gandhara (India) and Kerman. Gold carried from Sardis…silver and Ebony carried from Egypt…The ivory of this palace is from Ethiopia …  “ During Achamenid’s age Indian also had their contribution in global business. According to historical sources Indian and Iranian merchants had a huge and close trade deals together. Late Pirnia regarding to commercial relation between Iran, other nations and India says:   “Our knowledge about goods and trade during Achamenid period is too low. As we know from historical texts, these goods were from these places:  From Azerbaijan: copper, Lead, silver and Lazuli,  From Gilan and Mazandaran: iron … From India: gold powder, spice, perfume, cotton, rhino horn, elephant, ivory, incense, sandal wood, pepper, ebony…“

Achaemenian art and architecture had a significant influence on India. Before the Ashokan period of history, there is no evidence of epigraphy in India. It has been suggested that the idea of issuing decrees by Ashoka was borrowed from the Achaemenian emperors, especially from Darius (though the tone and content of Ashoka”s edicts are different). The pillars, with their animal capitals (fine examples of Mauryan imperial art), are influenced by Achaemenian pillars.

The use of this means of propagating official messages and the individual style of the inscriptions both suggest Persian and Hellenistic influence and India under the Mauryas was certainly more continually in touch with the civilizations to the west than ever before. At Kandahar, Ashoka left instructions in both Greek and Aramaic.

In Persian Inscriptions and Avesta the name of India is Hindu and in Sanskrit it is Sindhu.  Dariush the Great has clearly mentioned India twice in his inscriptions, once in Persepolis and the other time in Naghsh – e – Rostam . 

  Occupancy of India by Dariush resulted to adding a great amount of wealth to Achaemenian Treasury for long years. Controlling the land of India by Achaemenian was based on Satrapy system and the Satrap was the deputy of the main government whose duty was gathering taxes and keeping order in his area. Beside those agents, Indian local kings also were active freely and simultaneously; they co-operated with the Satrap and prepare the tax at the proper time. These rulers had to send equipment and soldiers if needed by the request of main government. For example, in the war between Xerxes and Greeks, Indian soldiers fought for Iran under the leadership of Pharnazatres with dark cotton clothes and bow made of straw and iron arrows

]The influence of Achaemenian in India was not limited to these points or only the specific period of time. Even after passing two centuries from Persian domination and after Achaemenian’s dynasty was fallen by the Alexander we still see the architectural patterns in India similar to the Persian style. Rock and stone Inscriptions were first found in Mesopotamia and Iran but before Mauryan Dynasty in India there was no sign of such Inscriptions. The creative structures inside the caves and the huge rocks, for the first time, were appeared in the Middle age in Iran and then were followed in Achaemenian period but in India we see these types of works by Ashoka after two centuries.

Dariush the great ordered to build Bisoton, one of his famous Inscriptions, at 518 BC while the Ashoka s Inscription, which is an imitation of Bisoton, belongs to 250 BC. We also can easily find the effect of Persian Achaemenian style on the Pillars and abacus in Mauryan’s palaces. Todays, Indian Flag has the orb of Ashoka as a national symbol on itself and it is based on the Saranatha pillar. Even the famous scholar of Indian history, Sir John Marshal writes like this about it:  “Saranatha pillar is beautiful and magnificent with excellent rock cut and it is unique in India. In my opinion it is Also Unique in the whole ancient world. This pillar with three(four) head of animal and the bell shape (hanged lotus) is from Persepolis rank and it is an excellent example of the influence of Iranian art In India.

In the past decades in Rajgir in India an ancient city with stonewalls and fortifications has found that belongs to 6th century BC. Inside the city, and in some layers and parts of it has found some jewelries and decorative objects belong to 4th century BC that coincided with the invasion of Alexander to Iran. The art and the techniques have been used in those founding are the same as the techniques was common in Achaemenian’s period. The existence of these antiques can be explained by any of the following four possibilities:

  1. These antiquities belong to Indian Artists and they have copied Iranian Artists and Sculptor s.
  2. They belong to Iranian or Indian merchants that have been taken from Iran to India.
  3. They belong to the Iranian people who has escaped from Alexander attack and immigrated to India.
  4. They belong to the Persian Soldiers who has come to India with the Alexander’s Army.

Dr. Hermann Gortz, who is a famous German orientalist and he is the one who worked for many years in the museums in India, had many Studies over ancient Indian Inscriptions. He says:

“The second wave of Aryans imagination to India was concurrent with establishment of Mauryan Dynasty, which has being inspired by many Achaemenian and Greek Kingdoms. Mauryan Artists were in debt to Iranian art without any doubt. And the other strong possibility is that Iranian architects and Artists, whoe scaped from Greeks Attack and refuged to Patali Putra’s court, were the founder of the new style of art in India after the Achaemenian’s fall. In that period of time, stone monuments and carvings was entirely a new thing and these Artistes were hired to do these jobs. In spite of all that, the Achaemenian architecture structures has not absolutely followed…”

The borders of Iranian’s artistic expansion can also be found in Balambat and Timmaragah excavations, which were a part of Gandaza State at the time of Achaemenian Empire. In 1966, in Baambat, 220 km distant from Peshawar, the archaeological excavation was done by the head of Peshawar Archaeology Center, Professor Ahmad Hasan Daani, where a Achaemenian’s settlements, belong to 4th to 6th Centuries BC has been found. By comparing the similarities between the remaining of Achaemenian’s documentations of art in Iran and the Mauryan art in India, indeed, we can inference that Indians have inherited the art of Achaemenian Dynasty.

Most of the remaining Mauryan works belong to their capital city, Patali Putra. The first people who did the excavation in those areas were Clonel Wadell and then Dr. Spooner and after them two Indian Archaeologists named Altekar and Mishra started another set of excavations within 1950 to 1955. Clonel wadell was the first one who found an Ashokan abacus.

After this discovery he analyzed different aspects of the applied art in it and got to the following conclusion:  “This abacus has a complete Persepolis art style. There is also some sign of Greek art, but it is incomparable to the Greek-Indian statues has been found in Punjab. This abacus, which has been found in the Ashoka’s palace in Pataliputra, certainly had being craved by the hands of Iranian Artists under the direct order of Ashoka himself.”

Sponner in his primary researches realized the unique similarities between the pillared hall of the Mauryan Palace and the art techniques used in this period to the Achaemenian’s style. In his studies, He also found different stamps and signs similar in art to Persepolis, which illustrates either these buildings were designed by Iranian architects or has built by the help of Indian artists.19(36) Iren Gajjar, another researcher, believes that Mauryan Palaces in PataliPutra are affected by Achaemenian’s art and particularlyby Persepolis:

“Magnificence of Mauryan Palaces in PataliPutra and its thought provoking work of gold and decorations can only be compared with Achaemenian’s and Madian’s halls in Susa and Ekbatan…” [27] Stone pillars that have been used singularly or in batches in the halls can be considered as the most famous and the most significant discovery in India from Ashokan era. Ashoka wrote some Inscriptions on these stones and we have seen the same type of Inscriptions by the great Cyrus of Achaemenian dynasty centuries earlier. Besides the influence of Achaemenian’s artistic techniques we have to consider the political situation of those days. In history, we have witnessed many migrations of different ethnics from Iran towards the land of India. As we have mentioned earlier, this migration have been started before the Aryans ‘period and has happened repeatedly in other periods too.

We can claim that one of the most important immigrations of all periods was the immigration of Persian tribes to India whom the Zoroastrian communities in India, nowadays, are their descendants. They moved to India after Arabs raid to Sasanian Dynasty. The same situation happened in the time of Mongolian raid to Iran and in the next period time and again we have witnessed the same stories. Perhaps, the Milestone of those movements was the immigration of Iranian Poets and artists to India at the age of the Safavids.

Iran and India relation at the time of Seleucids

After three decisive battles with Isus, Soor and Googmel, Alexander reached the center of Achamendian Empire, Persepolis, and finally destroyed the great Empire completely. Alexander’s ambition was to rule all over the world sohis army reached to India, around 327 BC from Iran. As a matter of fact, his main reason was taking back the taxes, which Indians did not pay to the almost powerless Achamendian’s rulers, at the final years of Achamendians Dynasty. Alexander considered himself as the heir of Achamendians Dynasty, and imitated the great Dariush in his most deeds. For instance, Alexander was also interested to know where the Send river reaches the sea and because of that he send one of his Generals named Nearcos to follow this river till he reached the Persian Gulf and afterwards he reported directly to Alexander.

By the way, Alexander died a few years after conquering India. Most of the people whose lands had been conquered by him considered Greek as their enemy. On the other hand, the problem of having no heir of throne after Alexander caused internal arguments among his Generals that leaded to the disobedience of the people and the regaining their state of independence.

Chandra Gupta Maurya who belonged to Kshatrias Cast used this opportunity and defeated Greeks. He captured Patali Putra and established the new Dynasty called Mauryan Dynasty. According to Megastanes, Chandra Gupta was from Kshatrias cast but some researchers like Dr. J.J.Modi believes in another manner. He has an Article titled “Pataliputra” which has being submitted to Asian research set at 1917. In this article Dr. Modi says: ”He (Chandra Gupta) was not an Indian native and undoubtedly his non-Indian personality was not like Greek’s but was like Iranian…” Though, this theory have been supported by many western and Iranian researchers, there are not enough evidence to prove it yet. The only commonality between Iranian and Mauryan people is that both belonged to Kshatrias Cast with pure Aryan origin. Simultaneous to these events in India, one of the great Generals of Alexander named Selucus gained the control of all over Iran and established Seleucids Dynasty.

Selucus tried a lot to not loss Indian possessions, for this reason he sent his army towards India that at last, leads to bring peace to both countries. Mauryans agreed to give 500 war elephants to them for compensation and Seleucids accepted the India as a free land. This made a very good and friendly relationship between two countries. After this incident Selucus send an agent to Chandra Gupta court. This agent’s name was Megastanes and he wrote a book named “Indica” and describes all the incidents happened in his travel. This book is consider a major reference for studying of Indian history.

Megastanes was not the only ambassador of Seleucids in Chandra Gupta court. After him and at the time of Antonikus Suter another man went to the court of Chandra Gupta’s son, Amitraghata, for visiting India. By the way, Megastanes was the only one who wrote all of his experience in detail and because of that Megastanes writings are very valuable and appreciated for studying Indian History. The city, Taxila, on the age of Chandra Gupta had a creditable university, which all scholars from all over India joined it for studying. There are many monuments in this city that is the same as Persian monuments of Achamendian. Megastanes, stated:

“The capital city of Chandra Gupta, Pataliputra, has nine miles length and two miles width. King’s palace has made by timber and its better than royal residences of Susa, only Persepolis palaces are better than it” In some of literary sources mentioned that after invasion of Alexander to Iran, a numbers of Persian royal family escaped to India and refuge to Mauryan court. According to these sources, they stayed in India till the age of the emergence of Guptas Dynasty in India and Sassanid Dynasty in Iran. Unfortunately, there is no evidence to prove it by inscriptions and Archaeological findings, and this theory is only based on the literary sources.

Dr. Alla e din Azari says regarding this: “Ferdowsi on his Shahnameh mentioned: when Dariush III was killed in the battle field by Alexander’s army, one of his sons, Sasan, escaped to India. He and his sons for four generation lived in India. All of them called Sasan. The last Sasan who Known as Sasan V, came back to Iran and went to the court of Papak who was the ruler of Istakhr in Pars province. When Papak found out his ancestry, suggested his daughter to him for marriage, from their marriagea son named Ardeshir was born a little later.”

Probably, Ferdowsi composed this story based on“Kār-Nāmag ī Ardašīr ī Pābagān” (“Book of the Deeds of Ardeshir, Son of Papak”is one of the few remaining texts from pre Islamic era in Pahlavik script. But unless these two sources, we do not have any other report of this event. This story also had historical inconsistency, because Ferdowsi said: Sasan, the son of Dariush III escaped to India after Alexander Invasion. It should be happened after death of Dariush III in battle field on 327 B.C.

He also said that four generation of them lived in India and the fifth one came back to Iran. Now the problem is that we know Papak lived in 200A.D, then five-generation of the people could not lived for 526 years. if we consider 25 years for each generation, five generation can only live maximum for 100 years . Although, this calculation show 426 years gap between fifth generation of Dariush III and age of Papak, after Alexander invasion we saw the strong presence of Persian art and architecture in India. By the Archaeological finding, it is proved that the art of Mauryan period was under the strong influence of Achamenid’s arts. But it is not clear that whether this presence of Persian in India during Mauryan dynasty included of Achamenidian Princes or not? Maybe Future discoveries and researches can answer this question.

Mauryan age is one of the most important periods in Indian history. In that age for the first time in India, stone was used as a constructing material and the first pillared halls and rock cut chambers appeared. During the Dynasty by the king Ashoka, for the first time we observe engraving of inscriptions on natural rocks and stone pillars. Many artistic elements appeared in Indian art for the first time like using animals images on the pillar decoration, engraving facades of rock chambers and using of lotus.  Most of these changes had happened abruptly in the time of Chandra Gupta Maurya and Ashoka.

These events coincided to the falling of Achamenid dynasty in Iran. The very significant point should be mentioned here is that all these methods of art and architecture had not any background in India, while, Achamenid Empire, two centuries earlier, skillfully used same methods and style in Persia. When North India was a part of Persian Empire in the form of 20th Satrapy, and based on Archaeological evidences we have and also logical analyzing of architectural remaining of Mauryan age we can conclude that Mauryan art and architecture is the extender and the continuant of Achamenid art and architecture.  By analyzing Iran’s political and historical situation at the time of establishment of Mauryan Dynasty in India, we reached the Greeks invasion to Iran and the fall of the great Achaemenian Empire. This can be anappropriate reason for prevalence of Achaemenian art in the Pataliputra kingdom. DariusIII defeat against the Alexander and Iran’s unstable political situation leaded to the immigration of a lot of Iranian Artists to India and the using their art in this new land to make new artworks.

Nevertheless, the delicate act of Indian artists, for using utmost artistic methods,in mixing Iranian pillar carving technique bases with the Indian elements, art essences and native culture, have to be considered.


By: 1- Mohammadhosseini, Ph.D in Ancient History &Archaeology

2- Kordi, Fatemeh– Ph.D in Ancient History &Archaeology

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