Aloka Parasher-Sen*

In historical time individual travellers have always had to face a complex array of social and political situations over terrains that they have had to travel through. From very early times moving beyond boundaries, travellers from and to the subcontinent met each other in locales that were alien to all of them. However, it is through them that civilizations have been cemented and, despite war and greed, human relations have been fostered within the warmth of tradition since travelling away from home, for whatever reasons, also entailed interactions at various other levels–of learning different languages and of communicating across lineage and country.

This paper is concerned with people who travelled more than a thousand years before our time and about whom we only know faintly through the names they inscribed on rock surfaces during the course of their journeys. Some of the names suggest that they may have been local travellers. Scholarly writing has not sufficiently captured the histories emanating from these fragments of information. Either, histories of invasions and political conquest or, those of trade and commerce have largely been written. For the present we do not dwell on this historical literature[2] that has quite effectively captured the sub-continental relations, primarily political, with both West Asia and Central Asia prior to the contact of Islam with Al Hind. Some of these works, especially those beginning with the early 20th century, have also been concerned with the economic and religious dimensions of these contacts.[3]

It is interesting to point out that for the period between roughly the 2nd century BC and the 4th century AD the names of foreigners coming to the subcontinent have been noted in various inscriptions of the country and we are familiar with them. The earliest and most familiar of these are the names of the Greeks going back to as early as the first century BC.[4] The subsequent era of foreign contact with the Xakas and Pahlavas was rather more consolidated causing mass migrations leading many of these communities to settle on the subcontinent and their names are too innumerable to cite here.[5] The heart of the Gabga Valley was, however, significantly affected by the inroads and invasions of the Kusanas.[6] The resultant effect of this was witnessed on the social, economic and cultural life of the people that was more deep-rooted than what had been witnessed on the subcontinent before this period.[7] Historical study based on ancient literary accounts to either, describe foreign invasions or, dwell on the nature of these contacts with different parts of the sub-continent is circumscribed by the limited nature of information.[8] There are exceptions to the general data available like that found in the Yuga Purana[9] and in the context of Jainism, the Kālakācārya Kathanaka[10] that not only give an account of conquering hordes but also the names of the some of ruling foreign elites. However, it is not so common to find the names of people hailing from the Indian sub-continent travelling out or returning home from long journeys. This is why the present material, found inscribed at various sites along the Karakorum, we propose to elaborate upon in this paper becomes so significant. It strongly questions the hitherto unsubstantiated, but popular, understanding among scholarly writing on Indian social history that due to the strict injunctions of the śāstras, travelling abroad, outside āryavarta, was looked down upon and therefore forbidden. We argue below that it was not simply the Buddhists but generally, the practical necessities of life demanded that people, especially merchants of all faiths from the sub-continent, travelled far and wide. Local communities along these routes of communication were thus also influenced by the religious and cultural aspects of life that these travellers brought with them. These details have to be captured in certain, perhaps fragmentary and minute ways in terms of the evidence available, rather than simply in terms of understanding the totality of our ideological and social systems and so on.

In the present paper we explore these kinds of interactions in an important geographical zone – the Karakorum and the upper Indus valley. This northern part of the present-day State of Pakistan is the meeting point of three major mountain ranges the Western Himalayas, the Karakorum and the Hindukush. The whole of the Karakorum zone as far as human habitation is concerned is broken up into numerous river valleys where humans have lived for centuries in relative isolation. However, this is also the well-marked pathway for the people travelling between South Asia and Central Asia or China to take as it leads up to various passes at high altitude. Not surprisingly therefore, some of the biggest and most important collection of art and inscriptions that are spread over the upper Indus valley – Gilgit, Baltistan, Ladhak – have been found in the region over the years. The most recent work has been done by the combined German and Pakistani team of archaeologists who have discovered thousands of inscriptions along with a variety of rock art.[11] Karl Jettmar was the first to make exploratory trips here to discover a whole range of material relating to archaeology, history, linguistics, anthropology and folklore of the region. We are informed that these discoveries were largely concentrated in the area east and west of the village of Chilas, under the shadow of the famous Nagna Parbat, in the Diamir District of North-Eastern Pakistan.[12] Overall, in quantitative terms, about 30 sites have been found which are located on both sides of the upper Indus basin over a stretch of about 100 kms. It is further reported that at these sites about 30,000 petroglyphs and 5,000 inscriptions in ten writing systems have been “pecked or chiseled into the dark brown varnished surface of the boulders scattered on the river banks and the terraces of the valley.”[13] A substantial part of this material is now available through publications[14] of the Heidelberg Academy that has been systematically documenting these remains. Apart from Chilas, other important places about which documentation is available are Oshibat, Shatial, Hodar and Thalpan.[15]

The magnitude of the data thus collected provides scope for a great variety of historical research that, as noted by the scholars involved in this project, “provides a remarkable source for the study of the cultural history of Central and South Asia”.[16] Cultural histories primarily focus on the artistic and religious symbols, as they must do since these are the most visible symbols inscribed for posterity. At almost all these sites it is impossible not to be struck by this kind of visual form of reverence and dedication. Our concern in the present paper, however, is to dwell on the accompanying inscriptions that are in the form of different kinds of names and dedicational phrases that tell us about either, the local people or, the travellers who passed through this area. In doing so we move into a cultural terrain that is as much concerned about its beliefs as about its identity. Since the rocks on which these names were inscribed were located at an important meeting point of Central Asian and South Asian confluences it naturally means that people from a multitude of social backgrounds flocked here, interacted with the local population, and then moved on.[17] Their religious leanings, as also their economic goals, may have coalesced but this did not in any way mean that they lost their respective individual identities. It is through a study of these names then that the complexity of this aspect of the cultural and socio-economic history of region can be grasped in a different way than has hitherto been done. Since it would be difficult to analyze the data from all the sites mentioned above small label inscriptions from the sites of Chilas and Oshibat have been primarily taken up for critical scrutiny in this paper.

Chilas, being a premier city of the upper course of the Indus, was first taken up for study by Dani and his interpretations were published in 1983. The opening to Chilas in the local language is called ‘dar’[18] (dvāra in Sanskrit) meaning an “entrance”. Though this is not the only opening, as Dani points out, it is only in the vicinity of Chilas, along the Indus river, that human living has been possible because of the opening of the area by water channels from the river. Thus, it is observed: “Chilas really lies at the cross-roads of communication and also of history”.[19] The oldest city of Chilas was around the bordering village of Soniwal Payin,[20] where stands the famous Chilas rock (No. 57) giving the old name of the city as Somanagara and recording the victory of the local ruler Xri Vaixravana Sena.[21] The Chinese pilgrims speak of the entire region as Ta-li-lo but also mention the capital of U-chang-na, which Dani suggests should be equated with the old name of Chilas, namely, Somanagara.[22] Chilas has provided inscriptional and visual data etched on rock surfaces at least eight different locations that have been identified by their respective names as also with numerical signifies like, I, II, III and so on. Each of these locations have boulders with different faces that provide immense written data ranging from the first century BC to about the 10th century AD. Certain boulders like Nos. 56, 57, 59 and others have inscriptions running into 2 to 3 lines and these provide valuable data on the political, cultural, religious and ethnic profile of the area. The names identifiable around the Chilas area are therefore, unlike at Oshibat, of a greater variety and are not merely those of travellers.

Oshibat is 20 km west of the district headquarters of Chilas, situated on the north bank of the river Indus. To its east, at a distance of 8 km south, is the site of Hodar that has also been documented by the Heidelberg Academy and to its west, at a distance of 8 kms towards the south is a place called Thor. Oshibat was the first site for which the data has been published by the Heidelberg Academy in 1994.[23] Like for most of the sites in this project, the archaeological survey and documentation was done with the help of the Government of Pakistan and under the guidance of several scholars led by the German Academy of Humanities and Sciences, Heidelberg. Azam Chaudury[24] is said to have initially discovered Oshibat and then he and Volker Thewalt did the documentation work at this site between 1984-87 whereas R. Kauper prepared the map of this area.[25] Scholars explain the meaning of the word Oshibat as follows. It is said to be derived from the term ‘Oshi’ meaning “air” and the suffix ‘Bat’ is said to mean “stone” denoting thereby, a place with stones or rocks open to the air and skies. Indeed, as will be noted below, this site was famous for rocks of a huge magnitude. To the north of Oshibat lies the vast bank of the river Indus where the water is almost silent. This thus provided a natural junction at which travellers could cross the river. The site of Oshibat is spread over an area of 1 sq. km. Rock/Stone no. 18 at this site is particularly striking, not only because of its huge size that provides shelter for the people who come to this place as travellers, but also because of a special mystical significance attached to it that reverberates among the communities living here even today.[26] It is different from other places like Shatial in that the inscriptional rocks are not situated in one place alone but are spread over both sides of the road giving a hint of the old trade route. On the whole, it can be said that most of the inscriptions and artwork is on the eastern rocks of Oshibat and invariably the inscriptions are very brief, often alluding only to names.

It is typical to find these inscribed names, in a majority of cases, set alongside the engravings of stupas, Buddha images, altars on which phallic symbols were mounted, swastika signs, human, animal and floral forms of all kinds, hunting scenes, demon-like creatures etc. The depictions from all the sites mentioned above have been broadly classified into phases from the pre-historic times to about the fourteenth to fifteenth century AD. Thus, for instance the earliest examples of animal and human figurines, hunting scenes and demon-like creatures in different styles have been dated back to the prehistoric times. A clear-cut Buddhist phase has been identified that is said to start from around the 1st century AD and to last until the 9th-10th century AD. This chronology is based on the main subjects represented in terms of the carvings of stupas, Buddha images[27] and other Buddhistic symbols. It is further suggested that “during the 9th-10th century AD, the Buddhist belief was replaced by a new socio-religious movement”[28] as gleaned from the emergence of axes, sun-symbols and the like in their depiction on the rock surface. Dani emphasizes that round about the eighth century AD “a new people appear in this region who excel in horsemanship, used a new style of Brahmi writing, engraved numerous temples, had trisula as their emblem, preferred battle-axe and wheel as their ritual objects.”[29] Finally, the most recent period is marked by the Islamization of the region after the 14th-15th century AD.

The above-suggested chronology for the inscriptions and the accompanying art, scholars admit, has not been done through a scientific method. For instance, one of the methods adopted to date the inscriptions was their color and the form and style of the art or engravings accompanying them.[30] We are informed that care has been taken to use this method only if the images and the inscriptions are on the same level, close to each other, on the same stone.[31] It is further noted that the Kharosthi inscriptions are usually the oldest and can be dated to between the 1st BC to the 2nd AD. For instance, a Kharosthi inscription at Oshibat, possibly gives a date. It is given as “sam 20+20+20+20 sam +++[“ that has been translated as “Year 80….” (18:20)[32] Fussman deciphers this to suggest that it belongs to 158 AD.[33] After this the Brahmi inscriptions are, in principle, generally dated to between the 4th century AD and the 8th AD. The few proto-Xarada that are fixed to the last phase of the Brahmi inscriptions, i.e., within the 8th century AD. With particular reference to Chilas, Dani is of the view that what scholars called proto-Xarada is actually a late Brahmi and in fact, “a development in the local Brahmi into new shapes parallel to the proto-nagari development of mid-India.”[34] Finally, the Sogdian inscriptions have been dated to between the 4th and the 8th century AD.

A large number of names that Dani has discussed at the various locations in Chilas possibly refer to names of kings and/or chiefs, heads of merchant groups and of course, to Buddhist preachers and pilgrims and the general travellers. Though a total tabulation of all inscriptions found here has not been done, as mentioned above, many of these inscriptions are of one or two lines and the context in which the names occur is often clear and, in many cases, the names of the writers is also available. On the other hand, at Oshibat names occur with the context clearly missing ─ either, lost through weathering or, not noted at all. In all about 230 fragmentary inscriptions have been found at Oshibat.[35] In comparison with the Brahmi inscriptions there are only 36 Sogdian and 9 Kharosthi inscriptions at Oshibat.[36] With reference to the Kharosthi inscriptions Fussman is of the opinion that the same group of travellers wrote them. Only in some of these inscriptions we have the writer’s names that invariably happens to the traveller who visited the place. In both cases, however, we do have names, reflecting different religious affiliations, for the entire period from the 1st century AD to the 10th century AD. These engravings and inscriptions show a unique continuity of interactions over time involving several generations. It also reveals that the continuous stream of travellers and/or conquerors/migrants that passed through this difficult terrain on their way to different countries was substantial in number. These inscriptions yield an overwhelming number of personal names. This is not unusual to find at some of the earliest and popular Buddhist sites of the subcontinent like Savchi, Bāhrut, Amarāvati or the Buddhist Cave sites along the Western Ghats. The difference, however, is that neither Chilas, nor Oshibat, were the sites of a vihāra, chaitya or a stupa containing the sacred relics of the Buddha. On the contrary, they were located in close proximity to an ancient trade route and thus, apart from the Buddhists, other travellers, merchants and their accompanying support staff and guides visited the place. Some of the latter must have been the local population of the region as a whole and, as Dani suggests, the names of the local elite too have been engraved on the rock surfaces in and around Chilas. Given this rather cosmopolitan nature of the place, the personal names inscribed on these rock surfaces were of a considerable variety; people coming from different parts of the subcontinent and also from regions to the north and west of it.

We now turn to examine details of some examples of personal names thus inscribed beginning with those found in Kharosthi since they are usually the earliest ones. At various locations at Chilas we find names as Magulaputra [Minagarh near Chilas] Gopadāsa Akshaputra, Gopadāsa Bālaputra, Gopadāsa [Chilas II], Veghala Onaka [Chilas V], Vehavarana [Chilas VI] and Vegaha Ashagrea [Chilas IV].[37] The last two, we are informed, were individuals who had established a stupa and made the auspicious footprints in the monastery respectively and therefore, appear to have been monks. The others have ‘putra’ and ‘dāsa’ ending names, the former indicating a patronymic and the latter a subservient position. It is interesting that at Chilas II the name of Gopadāsa Bālaputra occurs beside the figure of a fat-bellied person, seemingly captured, and soldiers in Scythian dress are seen dragging him. Whereas all these inscriptions are clearly dated to the Kusana period, a few have been written in what Dani called Kharosthi in Scythian style. Some of the latter that are found at Chilas (Group A Recess No. 1 and 3, Inscriptions 71, 79 and 80) give such names as Bhada (Bhadra in Sanskrit) Aleka, Muila Ranaka, Baladebo, Vasudebo, Samudra (Sena), Ghoshamitra, Rahula, Bodhisattva and Budharakshita.[38] Dani considers the second of these names to be a partly foreign one and translates it to be “The noble Aleka (or Alexander?)”. Of the others, the last three are clearly of Buddhist affiliation and, in fact, near the name Bodhisattva a seated figure is found that appears to be a representation of Buddha. The names Baladebo and Vasudebo occur alongside perhaps, the first iconographic representations of these gods – the deities are seen holding a spear ending with a plough and a discus respectively. More explicitly, in the same type of script at Chilas II (Recess 3, western face inscription 95) above two figures, known through their headgear and symbols to be these deities, the words rama-krishnasa dhamaputra occurs which, Dani suggests could be translated as “of (Bala) rama (and) Krishna (erection) of Dharmaputra”.[39] The other names with the suffixes ‘sena’, ‘mitra’ occur quite numerously at many of the sites and are well known to be names of prominent ruling or merchant elites of the region or, of those coming to the region from different parts of the sub-continent.

There is equally a great variety of personal names that have been found inscribed in Brahmi and especially in late Brahmi of the 5th and early 6th century AD, at Chilas. On a hillside rock at Chilas IX such names are found inscribed without any other information regarding them, which makes Dani suggest that they could be the names of tribal chiefs. Some of these are Gajaraputra, Datta xrirama, Mādashvara, Chandrapāla, Śridasa, Dharmapāla, Jinaspāla, Makhārjuna, Mithārjuna, Xrikumarasena, Tharabgasena, Madhusena, Jayadāsa, Prajāpati and Nārika.[40] Apart from the ‘putra’, ‘dāsa’, ‘mitra’ suffixes that we found in the examples of the earlier period cited above and which are repeated here, there is now extensive presence of names with the ‘pāla’ and ‘sena’ suffixes. Dani’s overemphatic concern with identifying the nature of political authority in the region around Chilas has led him to suggest that these might be the names of people who were a part of the local elite. However, there seems to be nothing unique about these names, and in fact, they were common enough to be those of people traveling to the region from different parts of the sub-continent. On the other hand, certain clear references to kings in the Brahmi of the 5th and 6th centuries AD and to names of royal officials do come from Chilas and other site locations around it. At Chilas I1a, for instance, an inscription of this period reads namo Xailendra rājaya or “Salutation of King xailendra”.[41] More explicitly, Dani has elaborated on an inscription found at the Soniwal Payin, a location near Chilas, that gives rather elaborate descriptions of royal authority and the specific names of the individuals involved. We have already alluded to one of the inscriptions (No. 56) referring to the city of Vīra Somanagara and, it may be recalled, that importance of the place was due to its legendary association with gold where, even today, a community called the Soniwals wash gold from the river nearby. It is in close proximity to the above that a rather lengthy inscription (No. 57) has been written that reads as follows:

Xakra Bhattaraka Xri Diran Maharaja Vaixravanasena Xatrudamana Jayati Xri Raja
Likhitam Maya Rajadhiraja Vaixravanasenah
Sri Diran Maharajadhiraja Vaixravanasenopadhyaya Rudraxri Xilavata Vishaya Pratishthitah
[This line probably, the name of the king again repeated]

Rajamatya Naradevasena Mahasenapati Vixpamitra
And translated to mean:

“Xakra (i.e. Indra) bhattarka Xri the great king of the earth, Vaixravanasena, the destroyer of the enemies, the glorious king conquers.

Written by me, king of kings, Vaixravanasena.
The glorious, the great king of kings of earth, Vaixravanasena established the teacher Rudraxri in Xilavatavishaya (i.e. district)”.

[Name of king repeated]
“King’s minister Naradevasena. Vixpamitra, the commander-in-chief of the army”.[42]

The importance of this king in the region is undeniable and its engraving at the location of washed gold available in the near vicinity explains why the assertion of authority was so important to document. Further, on the neighboring boulder efforts were made to narrate the genealogy of this king but the inscription is largely unreadable. Some of the names discernable and written alongside the name of the Maharajadhiraja Xatrudamana Vaixravanasena on this boulder were: Xri Harishena, Xri Khadgaviryasena, Yuvaxrisena and Sambhogasena.[43] According to Dani there is a distinct possibility that this royal family gradually began to assert itself after the collapse of Hun authority in the region. A significant fact, however, to be noted is that the names of these rulers did not continue for long and therefore, this raises several questions about the nature of their authority in the region. Were they then only tribal chieftainships that had limited control and, over time, gave way to others, or, were they royalty from outside the region that had impacted this locality for sometime and then lost control over it? In fact, in Brahmi of the 7th century AD we get a totally different name of a king, namely, Maharaja Simhadeva, and who got several stupas, temples and figures of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas engraved on the rock surfaces. At Chilas V the ‘simha’ ending suffix appears on another royal name, probably a successor of Simhadeva, in an inscription palaeographically dated later as follows:

Om Nama Simha
Virabkita Rajaya Mahagajapti
Bhattarka Maharaja Maha
Rajadhiraja Amarasimha

Translated as:
“Om. Salutation to the king, marked with lion’s power, the great lord of elephants, the great king bhattaraka, the great king of kings, Amarasimha.”[44]

Still later Brahmi writing at Chilas I has several inscriptions on a boulder, almost resembling proto-nagari, of the 9th-10th century AD that give us another type of names of kings ending with the suffix ‘xura’ considered to be kings of a new dynasty of rulers with the title of Xahi. Dani suggests that these were foreign rulers but thought that some of them had Sanskritized names while others were clearly foreign sounding.[45] In one inscription (No. 63) we have such names as king Vajraxura, princes Simghaxura and Vyaghraxura and a minister, by name Gikisila. The last of these is clearly a non-Sanskrit name. On the southern side of the same boulder four other inscriptions (No. 64) carry similar names like Sru Sadhalavala, Khakha Simgha, Sru Saparichaka Kipata and Manāpurusha Samato that are, sometimes partly Sanskritized, but most certainly are names of foreign peoples. Such examples can be multiplied as found in another group of inscriptions (No. 65) in the form of names like Chatru Chāha (could be read as xatruxaha) Vajranandi, Palidapalda xura, Dilikhamangala, Thotipoutra Thahukkha, Pasthi Pilvi ximi and so on. At other locations on the same boulder the names Mrabgevaka, Vapasila, Khavala Axpi, Chhakachha, Chhayi xura, Dhi Maheka etc. have been found engraved.

An interesting feature of these names is that those who inscribed them were familiar with Sanskrit but had acquired names that were not totally Sanskritic. Some of them like Chatru Chāha, Chhakachha, Chhayi xura etc. clearly had Prakrit influence. Their hallmark is a certain hybridity. Dani’s view is that “they are new comers and do not appear to have been Buddhists because none of them is known to have engraved a stupa.” In fact, on the other hand, one Pandita Śukara Maheka ordered the engraving of the first of the inscriptions cited above (No. 63) therefore, this may “suggest that these people were followers of Hindu religion.”[46] Dani further elaborates on the historical possibilities of identifying these people. In fact, the paleographic dating of these inscriptions is noted to be around the 10th century that makes one turn to the history of the broader region to identity where the title Xahi could have emanated from. Both the Kusanas and the Huns who continued to rule over Kashmir had used this title. It is unclear what happened to these rulers but some remnants of their existence must have remained in terms of their religious affiliation. Dani’s view based on extensive work and research in the areas is worth noting here. He writes: “It is quite possible that the Huns forgot their own Hunic language and adopted the language of the people whom they conquered. Some of the names enumerated above are still preserved as nick names by the Xina people”; the latter are, even today, an important landholding class of people around the Chilas area. Further, it is also noted by scholars, based on the engravings around the Chilas areas, and indeed at various sites along the Karakorum, that from around the 8th century AD a people “who excel in horsemanship, used a new style of Brahmi writing, engraved numerous temples, had trixula as their emblem, preferred battle-axe and wheel as their ritual objects”[47] had appeared.

Apart from names of kings, princes, royal officials, priests, ministers and so on, the Chilas area also provides inscriptions that clearly give the names of Buddhist preachers and monks and also those of merchants and lay travellers of different periods. For instance, phrases like “Om Vicharati Xramanah” (“Priyamitra Vichativra” {vicharati}) (Inscription No. 59)[48] at Chilas V or, “Devadharmayam (Dharma) dasasya” (“This {is} the divine dharma {establishment} of {Dharma} dāsa”)[49] at Chilas II (southern face of rock) alluding to Shramanas and Bhikshus moving about to ostensibly preach are common enough. These phrases appear along side the firm belief in the Buddhist faith that is constantly reiterated in inscriptions like “Namo sattva-satyāya tathāgatāya namo raktamukhāya tathāgatāya. Namo Xākyamunaye tathāgatāya namo bhikshar nyāya tathāgatāya. Likhitam Priyamitrena Om Chandraxurasya, meaning: “Salutation to the true being, the Buddha. Salutation to the blood-faced, the Buddha Salutation to the sage of the Xākya, the Tathāgata Salutation to the principle of the monk, the Buddha.”[50] It is clearly indicated at the bottom of this inscription that Priyamitra wrote these words probably for a donor called Chandraxura. Such examples can be multiplied not only from Chilas but are found particularly at places like Shatial and Thalpan I and III. On the other side of the Indus at Khomar (Inscription No. 55) we have the phrase “Nama Dharmamitra” or “Salutation to Dharmamitra”[51] in Brahmi of the 5th century AD. At another locality of Chilas called Thak Das, in the same script of a similar period, the words “Jatyatu Buddhapada” (or “Victorious be Buddha’s footprint”) is engraved emphasizing on the importance of the Buddha’s symbols of worship, which are shown engraved beside the inscription. Even as late as the 7th century AD in the Brahmi script at Thalpan III (Inscription No. 112) the effort made by the Bhikshus to spread dharma continues to be emphasized in phrases like “Devadharmayam Kuvaravāhana” (“The divine dharma of Kuvaravāhana”)[52] or, as at, Thalpan II “Vicharati Devadatasabadhapati” (Devadatta, Lord of knowledge spread {or preaches}”).[53] For a similar period at Chilas I (Second Group Inscription No. 117) we have relatively move emphatic statements like “Om Devadharmoyam kritam maya Simhadeva” (“Om. This is the divine Dharma made by me, Simhadeva”) and “Jivadharmena Kritam” (“made by Jivadharma”)[54] engraved on the rock surface alongside stupa drawings.

At Shatial, in manuscript style of the 5th century AD, in the Kharosthi script, the close association of various outside groups with Buddhism gets clearly articulated. This is found in an interesting phrase “Dhamabas Jikhodarkha Dhle ra (na) Thubu bato Dhaditi”,[55] i.e., “The religiosity of devoted daughter of Jikhodarkha established this best of stupa”. It is interesting because first, this is rare instance of a woman’s donation though, at the site of Hodur (Inscription no. 143), we have the name of a wife who is a devotee of dharma as follows: “Om. devadharmayam jivadharma sadvira bharya Vrilandasya Matujitena” (“Om. This is the divine dharma of Vrilanda, the heroic wife of Jivadharma {erected} by Matujitena ”).[56] In both cases the names engraved appear to be of foreign origin. Further, if the former is seen as part of the four other inscriptions written in the same script near it, all the engravings appear to signify Central Asian or Xaka names, viz, Chachusa (Chakshu) who as beloved of Sasa or Xaka and gave a gift, Xivajakhamasa, Dajaputra Rushuje, Kadhapaasa. Their professional identity is not clear but their names do indicate that they had had enough interaction with the religious faiths of the subcontinent. The Xaka or Scythian connection with Buddhism resonates at Chilas as well and this is also indicated by the names of the people who use a Kharosthi script in Scythian style.[57] Thus, at Chilas I (Group A Recess I) an engraving “Budhavoto Lavanae prathataka” (“Lavana established the Bodhisattva”) is found.[58] The name Lavana or Lavika, Dani suggests, could that of a Scythian ruler because the latter form of the name is engraved as “Mahatasa Lavikasa” (“of the great Lavika”)[59] at Chilas III (Recess 3 on front rock surface) indicating a person of some importance. Other phrases with Scythian names found at the same location are “Prathakasa Pharoonasa” (“Establishment of Pharaona”) and “Kakasa” (“of Kaka”).[60] At the Shatial site, in Brahmi of the 5th century AD, between the steps of an engraved stupa, are found similar ‘foreign’ sounding or hybrid names like Innadila (noted as Bhadila at Khomar and Thor)[61] Durmala, Atabhimaxama, Xri Xataka or, simply Xramana.[62] As discussed above, it was not unusual to find names of individuals reflecting a composite identity of originally being from outside the subcontinent but who gradually came to be influenced by the cultural and social attributes that had strong moorings on the subcontinent. At the locality of Ziarat II near Chilas we in fact find a late inscription, probably of the 6th–7th century AD that reads “Om Devadharmoyam Priyachandraputra Dharmasimhasya” or “Om. This is the divine dharma of Dharmasimha son of Priyachandra”.[63] Here, the names are clearly of Sanskritic origin but the inscription is written alongside figures in Central Asian dress in royal style.

Travellers beginning their journeys from different parts of the subcontinent for purposes of trade and commerce also find mention in the innumerable engravings of names that have been found around the Chilas area.[64] They left behind their names in different contexts, some noting their religious leanings others, their professional affiliations and still others, their kinship associations. They seem to reflect either, the ordinary pilgrim or, the determined trader having to travel across these terrains out of the compulsions of faith or, economic necessity. In fact, most of the data on names from the location at Oshibat, in striking contrast to the particular site of Chilas, gives little information on the personal names of different kinds of royalty. On the other hand, it seems realistic to surmise that a diverse population was passing through this area, which becomes self-evident as revealed in the personal names found here. We take some examples to illustrate this proposition. Some of the engravings of names indicate the kin or kula affiliation of travellers without any other explanation. There are many names that are referred to in the context of them being the sons of a given person whose name is inscribed. Typical phrases in this regard in Brahmi are “jambhagavibhattaputradhira”, “upalavarisaputra”, ”viraputra”, “naxuputra” (11:2; 13:1; 15:6; 17:10)[65] and some in Kharosthi too like “trakaariput[r]sa” (18:17; 18:75).[66] In the case of the Sogdian inscriptions this relationship is most often given and clearly stated in almost all the cases deciphered. Thus, we have examples such as “Sopen, the son of Nafakhs” (17:32) or, “Nanai-dhrar, the (son of) Aspchuvaghanch”, also translated as “Nanai-dhrar who emerges from Aspchuvaghanch lineage” (17:34).[67] On the other hand, jāti or varna is rarely explicitly stated and is done so only in the case of the brahmanas. Pertinently, this is a feature commonly found in other inscriptions of the subcontinent as well. In the case of the brahmana we have two instances that have been reconstructed (4:2; 18:83).[68] This identity was sometimes noted along with the personal name as in the case of an interesting one known as Axokah Brahmana (18:15) or, as Parohita (Purohita) Kirtibhusana (18:45).[69] The most preferred method, common to all other communities, was simply to write one’s names that incidentally did give away ones ‘caste’ identity such as Mahāśarma (17:8), Bhattapusvami (18:33), Rahuśarma (18:89; 91)[70] or, in one case, as simply Dhīra, the son of Jambhagavibhatta (11:2)[71] Apart from recognizing the ostensible ‘caste’ identity through the names, there are examples that give away the ‘religious’ identity. Thus, for instance, we have some carrying a particularly Śaivite connotation as: Bhadrasoma (17:1), Bhadrarasa (18:14), Daksaddhottaka (18:31), Īśāna (18:60), Śrī Rudra (18:100), Paramamahēśvara, Mamāheśarah (56:1),[72] Soma (19:4) and Mahākara (18:24).[73] Similarly, there are those that are typically Vaisnavite names as Śrī Maghavisnu (17:5), Śrī Visnuraksita (18:22), Śrī Jayavisnu (18:47) and Śrī Mādhava (27:1; 112:1).[74]

A large number of the clearly identifiable names undoubtedly show the influence of Buddhist teaching and ethos. Typical Buddhist names such as Amvatabha (11:14), Śrī Yuddhamo(?)[ksha] (18:11), Vajradhīra (18:35), Śrī Buddhadharmika (18:61), Śrī Palottaka (18:64), Śrī Jivottaka (18:65), Mitradāta (18:77), Bodhisatva (18:94), Hayapriyamitraśrī (18:98), Yaxota (18:263), Vasutara (1:4; 29:1), Dattaśrī (63:1) and so on are not hard to come by as inscribed on these rocks.[75] Another category of names is supposedly those of chiefs, leaders, heads of guilds, merchants, caravan leaders, traders and the like. It is not clear if all of them should be taken to mean that they were followers of Buddhism. As noted above in the case of the Chilas examples there are many with the suffixes of ‘pāla’, ‘sena’ ‘deva’, ‘singha’, ‘varma’, ‘gupta’ that suggest they were retainers of either political or economic power – the gahapatis and settis of early Buddhist texts. In the former category, we have such names as Rājaputra Vasota (7:1), Kumāradevaputra (11:6), Bharunaspala (11:7), Ratnasenavarma (13:3), Ratnavarma (18:37), Maghaspāla (18:40), Śrī Ajitasena (18:78), Śrī Padmaspāla (21:2), Śrī Jayatrsingha (21:16) and Kīrttivarmma (82:2).[76] In the latter, indicating their association with the merchant or vaiśya community, are such names as Mangalaguptah (16:1), Śrī Bhavagupto (18:84), Śrī Nanajestha (18:88) and Śrī Visnugupta (21:7).[77] Needless to say, however, that the categorization of personal names reflecting different affiliations has primarily been done on the basis of the meanings that each of them connote. At the same time, it is significant that names were often inscribed alongside the particular symbols of the libga or the stupa that clearly established the individual’s religious moorings. Only some of these people left behind dedicational phrases alongside their names and from the content of these phrases it is possible to have a glimpse of their intentions, which we turn to discuss next.

The above in no way exhausts the variety of names inscribed on the rocks and stones at Oshibat. Several examples exist of names that do not reveal any sense of belonging to a particular faith or social station in life and therefore, are indicative of only a part of their identities. From their meanings it is possible to glean that they indicate a virtue or moral, a quality, servitude or simply an aspect of nature and Pranota (5:7), Siddha (5:14), Vīraputra (15:6), Devarāja (15:8), Naśuputra (17:10), Jivavarna (17:14), Śrī Devīca (44:1), Vimalacitra (55:1), Srī Samgrāma (18:50), Dāsaka (18:116), Dhīra (18:117), Uttaradāsa (13:3), Jammbavīra (13:2)[78] and so on are some such names each conveying their respective inherent meanings. In some fragmentary inscriptions where the names cannot clearly be read the overall intent is conveyed through short prefixes and suffixes that have been clearly deciphered by scholars. The shortest of these examples are those giving the honorific Śrī (2:5; 18:10; 28:29) or words like soma (19:4), namo (21:12), mada (18:70), dejapa (18:19), satya (18:93), ratnaka (18:92), vicarati (15:1; 18:68); divira (19:5)[79] and so on. Many of the above terms do convey conventionally known meanings but without explaining the larger context. There are certain words and phrases that give a fuller import of what is being intended but here, they are without names. Some examples of this type may be cited. Mahāśradhopāsaka (in proto-Śāarada script) or ‘Buddhist preacher’ (4:1); vikalabhaya or ‘fear of being maimed’ (5:1); capalaprakāśa or ‘very bright light’ (10:3); sugabhūtidevīh or ‘graceful emerging goddess’, mulavandhaka or ‘venerable root’ (16:1); sagujendra or ‘asupicious Indra’ (18:13); apurvamadabhara or ‘not having existed’ (18:71); ksinanareptra or ‘thin, waned’ (18:82); Śrīrājahāsanasa or ‘king without violence’ (18:97); bhrastika or ‘fallen from, deviated’ (18:107); nāgadharmamaśa (18:110); mahabhava or ‘great feeling’ (18:174); amdhavacā or ‘blind speech’ (21:1) Śrī śabha or ‘assembly’ (21:10)[80] are some of the clearly understood phrases. Here again, since the context is not explicated we can only hypothetically deduce as to what was intended or being conveyed from the simple meanings of these terms.

Unlike at Chilas, at Oshibat there are some very rare instances, and clearly the most important of the examples, when the name can be read along with the intention of the inscriber or writer. These are usually meant to define actions such as that the traveller “came to the place”, “has left the place” and most often, “he has written”. Two examples refer specifically to the writers Samanga (18:85) and Chandra (18:112).[81] The longest phrases refer to some typical Buddhist connotations that read: “namo vuddha vasucandra divīra[s]ya”, which means “In honor of the Buddha. The inscriber or writer Vasucandra”(4:5).[82] Other examples of the same type are found on stones 6:1; 18:56; 18:76.[83] Such salutations were also made in respect of other monks and Bodhisattvas like the one that reads: “namu vajradhīra+yaxresthendra” (18:34-35)[84] Specific instances clearly articulating the Buddhist faith read as: “vicarati dharmavanaka śūra” and “vicarati dharmabhanaka pāla” (11:4)[85] conveying the meaning that Śūra and Pāla respectively traveled this way to communicate enthusiastically the teachings of dharma. An identical example in Gunasena doing the same as found inscribed on stone 15:9.[86] In one example there is the explicit mention of the Wheel of the Dharma or Law (18:44).[87] Examples of the type where the person is indicating his movements as a traveller are also there. In one case it is noted that Śrī Harimi “came together with” Giriyotu (18:3). In another case (18:120) two sons are said to “have come and gone”. Yet again, in another example, Gu¸ad¡sa is said to “have come here and gone” (21:11) or that Vīghnadeva, the son of Indraśira, “has come here and gone” (39:34).[88] Both firm beliefs as well the notion of the impermanence of life are articulated in two of the clearest inscriptions. In one that reads: “…devadharmo yamrāhovīrasya”, (93:1) it emphasizes that “these are the religious foundations”[89] of a person called Rāhovīra. Ironically, the most clear of all inscriptions is the one that reads: “martavyam smartavyam” (81:2), namely, that “Man should remember that the day of death is fixed”.[90] Azam Chaudury tells us that this is even today a popular saying in the northern regions of the Indus.[91] These examples are the most poignant as they convey to us an inner meaning of the uncertainties and tribulations that these people were experiencing while being on these journeys through difficult terrains. Far from referring to the exact purpose for which they traveled, they simply etched their names, signed in honor of the Buddha, or rather casually stated that they had passed through the place.

The above inscriptions are accompanied by an array of rock-engravings many of them affiliated to the Buddhist faith. At Oshibat this compliments the large number of Buddhist names and dedicational phrases discussed above. The depiction of the stupa is the most popular [Plates 24, 25, 26, 27][92] The variety of its form is partly due to it being made by laypersons but also indicates the changing form of it over time. Thewalt in his study of this aspect for stupa depictions primarily at Chilas, Thalpan and Thor is of the opinion that “the carvings… display a vast variety of Buddhist iconology and of the development of architectural forms and designs, …. The oldest representations of stupas very closely resemble the types in Central India (e.g., in Savchi and Bharut) and some monumental stupas in Gandhara as well.”[93] Interestingly, this evolutionary pattern of the stupa form at these sites shows a number of influences that makes these engravings different from the usual sculptural narrative art of the Buddhists both in India and abroad. In other words, it is difficult to mark out a clear-cut style or authorship that they can be characterized with. The same Plates show other symbols, not necessarily related to this faith, like flags of different shapes and sizes, trixulas, triangular shapes and kumbha shaped forms that are often found planted on the top of these stupa like engravings. These most certainly indicate additions made by later travellers who used the existing etchings for making their own presence felt and thus, transforming the original engravings.

Apart from the most popular Buddhist symbols, images, visual forms and symbols of other kinds have also been independently found engraved alongside the names inscribed. For instance, Plate no. 23 shows a well-etched libga (17:15) that is clearly outlined. It is made on a platform of four steps with a part of a Brahmi inscription on it. Other depictions that look like libgas with two-step platforms and fragmentary Brahmi inscriptions are also found illustrated on these rock surfaces [Plate 27]. Scholars suggest that the upper limit date that can be ascribed to these engravings is the 8th century AD as can be gleaned from looking at the color of the libgas. On the top of one of them a flag has been made at a later stage and it is suggested that it was part of an attempt to convert it into a stupa.[94] Another interesting non-Buddhist symbol related clearly to the Xaivite affiliation is found in the depiction of the trixulas. In the drawing of the arches, u-shapes and hook forms while engraving them we find a lot of variation giving rise to multiple kinds of trixulas. [Plates 22] Several swastikā shapes have also been found engraved. [Plate 27] Out of 7 of them at Oshibat, 5 revolve looking towards the left and 2 revolve looking to the right. All these have been found to the eastern side of Oshibat. The scholars who have studied them at the site have pointed out that they have been made rather carelessly. The one at 21: 25 [Plate 27] is made differently because it has a circular formation at its end that look like curved hooks. Chaudury opines that this variation in making the swastikās may have been due to the ignorance of the inscribers or, may be due to some Tantric or magical faith of the inscribers known only to them.[95] He continues to explain that four of the swastikās are with human figures whereas, two of them are shown with trixulas alongside (78:4 and 21:25). These particular engravings have been dated to the 6th AD.

Non-religious engravings or etchings have also been found and the maximum are in the form of anthropomorphous figures. Those that dwell on hunting scenes and with images of god in a ‘primitive’ form have been rightly discussed as part of the prehistoric phase at this site. However, some of these forms continue till as late as the 7th AD. It is difficult in the present context to discuss in detail their intricate symbolism. Some relevant examples can be noted. There are, for instance, nine items drawn on the rock surface that are symbols of some family or ‘tribe’ that were most probably used to brand horses, bulls and sheep and can generally be understood as some mark of identification.[96] Some of the signs that emerge later have been interpreted as royal symbols. For instance, for the Kusana period the one depicted at 28:31 [Plate 28] is common. This is a symbol that has been seen on innumerable coins of the Kusana dynasty.[97] 48 engravings [Plates 32-36 Illustration] are those of some sort of Scenes. 12 of these describe hunting 1 is of war, 3 are of human groups, 1 depicts a maithuna (?), 6 are of stupas, 2 show dance and 10 are of animals. 13 are not clear.[98] Some very general engravings have also been documented but it is difficult to clearly understand their meaning and significance. Two arches are shown with innumerable rays that have been identified probably as the sign of Sun (28:45; 39:97) [Plate 24] but their date cannot be established. Drawings of squares indicating boards, probably for a game have also been found. It is possible that to keep themselves busy while waiting for their onward or return journey these were drawn and some such games with cowries or discs were played. It is suggested by Chaudury that these could also simply have been decorations.[99] 3 Spiral drawings, that of a single star (18:250) or flower (18:278) can all be understood as depictions done to pass away time as often, weather conditions or, other expediency, may have demanded that travellers wait at Oshibat before proceeding further.

We now turn to dwell briefly on the broad historical contours of the region under discussion in order to place the above descriptions in context. Though in terms of details and the context in which names and engravings appear at the environs around Chilas and Oshibat were different, by and large, the historical forces that they were exposed to over time seem to be largely similar because of the proximity of their locations. It is well known that the area as a whole was under the sway of various political regimes since sixth century BC. The Achaemenians (559 – 330 BC) controlled parts of the region – Gandhara and Kamboja -- as the twentieth satrapy of their empire.[100] The eastern frontiers of these contacts vacillated and it was only when Alexander marched into the area that they extended clearly up to the Indus valley and the Punjab. With the break-up of the Macedonian empire, the Seleucids (302 BC) and the Mauryas (321 BC) emerged as the dominant powers in the region. Herat and Hindukush became the northern and western frontiers of India during these times.[101] Later, it was Parthia (250 BC) and Bactria (227 BC) that asserted their autonomy and become independent of the Seleucid empire and began to cast their sway over the region. The Greaco-Bactrian culture penetrated much into this area and beyond, both to the northwest and to the southeast. These early political conquests and influences had far-reaching impact. Even in Indian texts of the period that usually did not discuss foreign invasions, we have ample reference to the changing social complexion of the region in the emergence of the frequent mention of such names as Yavana, Śaka, Pahlava indicating the new significance of their presence on the north western borders of the subcontinent.[102]

However, it was not till the late centuries BC and the early centuries AD that the political control of the frontier slackened and this area became the target of the invasions by the Central Asiatic tribes. The Śaka penetration (138 BC) was followed by a set of invasions of the Yeuh Chi. Well known as the Kusanas, they first conquered Bactria (140 BC) but soon, most of northwestern India and Kashmir came under their control (78 AD).[103] Their inroads into the Gabga Valley are too well known to recount here. Interestingly, contacts with the West, Central Asia and China, known during the early period, were all consolidated during this period.[104] It was only during the fifth century AD that the Kusanas were really uprooted from parts of this region by the Huns. After this period, independent kingdoms emerged on the western frontiers of India and the Persians once again reasserted themselves in areas around the Hindukush. Small Kusanas principalities continued and therefore, restricted for some time, the penetration of the Arabs. Andre Wink writes that even around this time many conquerors and religions continued to leave their mark over this region. The Turks, he informs us, finally in alliance with the Persians overthrew the Hephthalites between 563 AD and 568 AD. Thus, he writes: “in the sixth and seventh centuries, a great upsurge occurred due to the conquest of the western parts by the Turks, …when the entire region became more closely attached to the major peripheral civilizations of Eurasia.”[105]

From our perspective this short narrative delineating the frequent political changes in the region as a whole is necessary because it had a significant impact around the Hindukush and Karakorum areas. They developed gradually, but consistently, as an important strategic frontier that marked a critical division between the Central and South Asian lands. Central Asia had been an important crossroads of trade since antiquity with arterial routes spreading westwards and southwards. Throughout this period the region of our present study thus saw a continuous stream of people of diverse origin and languages flock here through the high altitude passes and along the banks of the river Indus diverting to various destinations after that. Trade continued unabated and cultural and religious contacts thrived. Thus, though historical political boundaries kept changing with civilizational frequency and overlaid the region from time to time, the travellers by habit moved beyond the shifting boundaries, motivated both by the economic thrust of their endeavors as well as their religious urges. It is of some significance to note that even during periods of protracted warfare in Central Asia, material exchanges between various segments of the population continued between the oasis states of Central Asia and India and China. Writes Liu, “that the border markets continued to function even during the war suggests that there was a regular trade with Central Asians along the border. Even soldiers guarding the watch towers along the frontier engaged in trade.”[106] She further explains that all concerned shared a common interest – the States as well as the ordinary merchants and their guilds – to protect trade that was so essential for the region on a seasonal, and even on a monthly, basis.[107]

The Kusana period in particular reflected a flourishing urban economy[108] that was marked by a flourishing of craft production and trade guilds. Guilds or xreni are found mentioned in literature since as early as the 6th century BC. It can be stated univocally that the extension of the Mauryan Empire up to the Indus Valley by Chandragupta laid the foundation of a great Buddhist urban-based civilization. Numerous Buddhist monasteries were found in the area and Takshashila became significant as center of Buddhist learning. However, it was only during the early centuries of the Christian era that the contours of the faith in the region as a whole become clearer and the prolific donation to it by the merchants and their guilds, known to us through both literature and votive inscriptions, establishes the close link between trade and the spread of Buddhism. More than sixty occupations are mentioned in the Milindapavha and the Mahavastu.[109] It is significant to note that the leaders of these guilds called xrestipramukho naigamo and the leaders of the caravan tradesmen called sarthavahapramukho vanijagramo had not only acquired a social status but were also holders of political power at the local level. They were powers to reckon with and the law books even made stringent rules about controlling their activities.[110] It would not be an exaggeration therefore, to suggest that under the Kusanas, in the late century AD, after a period of Bactrian-Greek and Śaka rule, Buddhism flourished while, international trade and urbanization reached unprecedented levels in the Indus Valley area in general. Closer to present-day Peshawar, Pushkalavati became the center of an important vihāra where Kanishka is said to have held the Fourth Buddhist Council and Gandhara, as is well known, became the center of Greaco-Buddhist art.

On the eve of the Arab conquests of this region Buddhism had seen a period of continued expansion that went along with the intricate vagaries of the trade regimes across the regions. Wink points to the fact that “In the post-Kusana times, Buddhism continued to flourish as a great trading religion on the western silk route…[It]… persisted up to the Islamic period. In the seventh and eight centuries we become aware of the presence of Indian Buddhist traders along the southern silk route, and Buddhist contacts were maintained between some valleys of the Upper Indus (e.g. Gilgit) and the Tarim Basin”.[111] In Wink’s study of the gradual take over of the commerce by traders professing Islam as a religion, a clear argument that emerges is that Buddhism did not vanish absolutely without a trace and he goes on to suggest that the “Islamic madrasa… probably had its origin in the Central-Asian Buddhist monastery”.[112] As far as the trade is concerned his view is that in the “sixth and seventh centuries a great economic upturn[113] occurred after the conquests of the Turks in the regions beyond the Indus, especially to its West. Historians of India, writing more particularly from the perspective of the heartland of the sub-continental plains, usually present the period from the 7th to the 11th century AD as one of “endemic warfare between rival dynasties”.[114] More recently, the writings of R. S. Sharma have characterized this period as one showing clear signs of the rise of Feudal polities rooted in trade, urbanism and the flow of coined money having suffered a major setback and decline.[115] The special focus of attention in this paper, namely, the areas around present-day Gilgit, throw up evidence that even in the seventh and eighth centuries AD there was a continuous stream of travellers who were probably both traders and pilgrims. Given this empirical situation one would tend to agree with Wink’s hypothesis of defining the early medieval period that was marked by the rise of various regional kingdoms on the sub-continent ─ the rise of the Karkota power in Kashmir in the first half of the eight century AD in the far North, the Palas of Bengal in the second half of the eight century AD in the far East, the Rashtrakutas from the late eight to the tenth century AD in the western Deccan and finally, the Cholas in the later tenth and eleventh centuries AD in the far South. He thus suggests that with the “growth in power of local and regional dynasties, settlement and agrarian expansion, the intensification of regional economies, which followed the ‘Buddhist’ phase of extensive and far-flung trading networks, not to say that trade disappeared. To the contrary, the increasing density of regional economies was a function of India’s increased role in world trade.”[116]

The routes that these travellers took during this entire period from about the late centuries BC to roughly about the 8th century AD did not remain unchanging. In fact, the choice of what routes to take was significantly determined by the vagaries of the political, particularly, military activities of different periods. That these happenings posed risks for the traders is self-evident. For the early period one usually talks about the efficacy and solidity of the Silk Route between the Roman World on the one hand, and China on the other. Everything else in Central India and North West India can be seen as offshoots of this route. Though the distance between India and Central Asia was short compared to that between Rome and India, there were many physical obstacles and hazards. This trade had to pass through diverse geographical terrains inhabited by linguistically and culturally different peoples. In one sense it is important to emphasize that the centrality of the Rome-China Silk route was dependant on these offshoots, which really determined how successfully the goods could be transacted. For the early phase of these transactions Wheeler[117] had suggested that Bactria was the node for this international trade. From this city a route ran through Kapisi and the Kabul Valley to the most important cities of the Kusana Empire, namely, Pushkalavati and Taxila and thence, into the Gabga plains using the well laid out Mauryan highway. Another route from Kashgar in Central Asia that also led to the core region of the Kusana Empire was the one that passed through Gilgit in Kashmir. This route along the Indus was then used to proceed further south and thence, into the heartland of India. It is the latter that was used by the travellers we have been discussing in this paper. Whereas the former route was important for the early centuries AD, the latter became increasingly important for the later period. A.K. Narain had pointed out to the significance of this short-cut route from Central Asia through Kashmir as early as 1957[118] but it is only after the archaeological discoveries discussed by us above that scholars now fully recognize that this was a crucial artery of communication for centuries. Other archaeological studies across Central Asia, China and Afghanistan have also indicated that many of the earlier flourishing sites were depopulated from the fourth to fifth century AD so that when the Chinese Buddhist monk Fa-hsien traveled to South Asia in the 5th century AD he took this short-cut route through the Pamir Plateau to the Gandhara region. The change was also probably prompted by the Bactria region having been inflicted due to the pressure of the Sassanians and the subsequent damage caused by the Hephthalites or White Huns.[119]

The Kashgar to Gilgit route was shorter and had to be resorted to on occasions when there were severe political disturbances and the like. But it is well known that it was also more treacherous. More recent travellers during the early twentieth century give graphic descriptions of its treacherous nature and of the difficulty of traveling through it.[120] Writes Huntington: “Almost without exception, the caravans which cross the “ridge-pole of the earth,” as the Karakorum plateau is sometimes called, suffer disasters from famine, storm, or mountain sickness. It is by no means rare for a caravan to lose a quarter or half of its animals. Yet in spite of its difficulties, the same baleful route has been followed century after century by panting, famished caravans. Nothing illustrates more forcibly the strength of the distinctively human passions for novelty and gain, or whatever leads to trade and the pursuit of wealth.”[121] As in recent times, so also in ancient times, the demands of the two very diverse and different physical conditions, namely, tropical India (with its vegetable products, herbs, spices, and textiles) and temperate Central Asia (with its fine wool, felt, skins) created the objective conditions for commodities to be exchanged and consumed in large quantities on both sides. The travellers in fact, had to inculcate the spirit of accommodation journeying as they were over different cultural and social landscapes. It is important to drive home the fact that given these precarious conditions, travellers had to be co-operative and be bound together in humanity, despite the fact that in the original homes of their origin they may have been competitors.

Apart from binding people in deep faith and the spirit of camaraderie, the traders and merchants, and indeed the pilgrims, had their own respective personal religions. In fact, the Kusana kings, in particular, made an attempt to have a liberal attitude so that they could foster contact and communication within the confines of the territory they ruled. Quoting the Chinese sources Xinru Liu writes: “A culture heavily influenced by West Asia, South Asia and China came to be formed in Central Asia. In addition to using commodities from surrounding regions the people of Central Asia wrote in the Kharosthi and Chinese scripts.” For a later period, Andre Wink on the basis of his study for the areas he calls “the frontier of al-Hind”, writes: “there is evidence that in the seventh and eighth centuries the peoples, or at least the ruling groups, of the countries of Gilgit, Baltistan and Ladakh spoke Indo-Iranian dialects” to make the larger point that “the zone of Indo-Iranian cultural and political dominion stretched from Kashmir into eastern Turkestan”.[122] In fact, these well developed communication and language skills were central to interaction across the regions. The early Kusanas used bilingual legends in Greek and Prakrit on their coins. Kanishka only used the Greek script on his coins but most of these kings used symbols from diverse religious cultures on their coins -- those pertaining to Buddhism, Śaivism, Persian gods, local beliefs etc. Archaeological remains of the period reflect religious diversity of the Kusana Empire but there is also no doubt that Buddhism had flourished vigorously during this period. However, all over India it had begun to decline in the post-Kusana period as is clearly reflected in the accounts of the two Chinese Buddhist monks -- Fa-hien (399-414 AD) and Hieun Tsiang (627-645 AD). For the region around Kashmir in particular, the latter writes that the Hun king Mihirkula destroyed innumerable Buddhist educational centers and residences (stupas and sanghrāmas) and his armies killed thousands of people along the banks of the Indus while looting these religious places.[123] Kalhana who wrote a history of Kashmir, the Rajatarangini, graphically reiterates the memory[124] of this destruction in the 12th century AD. It is well known that in the rest of India, Buddhism continued to flourish till the reign of Emperor Harsha (647 AD) and after this period, till the rise of the Turkish power in northern India, it became confined in the Kashmir region, in Bengal under the Senas and Palas and in some parts of western India under the Rashtrakutas up to the end of the ninth century AD. Even during the heyday of Buddhism in many parts of the subcontinent brahmanas had continued to play the role of ritual specialists. However, we find that after the 5th century AD in particular, their influence as retainers of the Vedic learning and practitioners of temple pujās within the ambit of the fast growing interest in the Puranic sectarian based bhakti religion, led to increased importance. The bhakti cults around Vixnu, Śiva and Śakti began to proliferate and this was followed by a growing importance of the Tantric forms of worship, which began to inflict even the Buddhist and the Jaina traditions between the 7th-11th century AD and after. Jainism, which had been the other major trading religion, gradually began to get confined to western India and southern India. These new and varied forms of religious expression were concomitant with the growth of local and regional structures of power, which, as mentioned above, were the hallmark of what has been now conveniently understood as the early medieval period. In his discussion of this period Andre Wink pertinently points out that it was Islam that superseded many areas where Buddhism had earlier flourished and, at the same time, in other areas “’brahmanical restoration’”[125] was taking place.

An eclectic spirit and a catholicity of religious belief systems had definitely seeped into the cultural ethos of the people in the northwestern border areas of the subcontinent and this is clearly evident in the data presented above. Dani has pointed to the fact that, like elsewhere, at a certain period Buddhism was on the decline[126] in the vicinity of the ancient Karakorum route but also points out that figures of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of a later period continue to be found in the carvings at Chilas.[127] In his overall assessment of the religious landscape he further notes: “Brahmins did not mind integrating the older Buddhist practice into their new religious style”. This conclusion is based on his empirical study of the temple type engraving, which he writes is “subtly developed from the stupa form” and “sometimes it is difficult to distinguish the two.”[128] There were other major symbols engraved on the rocks around the Chilas area that had a significant number of trixulas (tridents), often in “local artistic expression”, the libga (phallus) and the xabkha (conch-shell). The first two, as is well known, were associated with the god Śiva and the last with Vixnu. The proliferation of these symbols, according to Dani, suggests that these religious belief systems had exerted great influence on the local people and yet, he writes: “Brahmanic influence did not wipe out local belief completely.”[129] The overall thrust of Dani’s argument is that the Buddhist forms of worship and those of the various Hindu sects came from outside the area but were “integrated into local beliefs and practices.”[130] It is, however, pertinent also to point out that many of the travellers who had engraved religious symbols passed through the area at different periods of time and, given the casual nature of these engravings, it would be difficult to state that a conscious missionary kind of agenda existed that was meant to convert the localities to any particular faith. In fact, while studying the carvings in detail Thewalt writes: “Many of these elaborate rock carvings must be attributed to highly skilled craftsmen who received their artistic training in the great monasteries of Gandhara, while others are crude imitations, executed by traveling laymen or the inhabitants of the neighboring villages, wishing to gather some spiritual merit by reproducing these sacred monuments.”[131]

Scholars who have closely studied and documented the material at Oshibat discussed by us above have also emphasized that the depictions of religious symbols belong to different ages. Given these conditions the particular significance of Stone/Rock No. 18 at Oshibat has been highlighted, which according to Jettmar, must have been a local pilgrimage since the beginning of time. This hypothesis gets substantiated from the existence of two very big pictures of the prehistoric period on this stone that are now not clear because of the innumerable Brahmi writings and inscriptions on them. Citing this as an important indicator that the stone was holy for the local people in some sort of way even before the writers of the Brahmi inscriptions came along, it is argued by him that it must have remained so even for the coming generations. Without knowing the reason for its earlier true significance and irrespective of the religion the later inhabitants had followed, it today remains an important place of worship. The general concept articulated in the contemporary milieu is that the souls living in such old pilgrimage sites and holy places should be kept happy and not be harmed. In turn, in venerating such a place there would be no harm to the people involved. The Brahmi and Sogdian writers can be thus understood as those people who too did not want to affront the local gods or ghosts during their journey that, in any case, was full of danger. These inscriptions on Rock No 18 are up to that period when the local population was attracted towards Buddhism so it can be assumed that this place was holy even before the 6th and 8th century AD.[132] Having stressed on the religious significance of Oshibat, Jettmar, however also points out that the Sogdians, who were not Buddhists, did not have the permission to come to Shatial and sell their goods. On the other hand, the traders of the Buddhist affiliation coming from other parts, especially the subcontinent, had no such restrictions. This therefore explains that competing ideological leanings had an impact on the way local trade networks developed. A majority of Sogdian writings were found on the north bank of the river Indus and they must have used certain trading points open to them under the guidance of local people to sell their products without paying toll or taxes.[133] Travellers like merchants and pilgrims from Central Asia, China and India undoubtedly executed many of the carvings and inscriptions but some could also be attributed to the inhabitants of the region who must have assisted the travellers in various ways. This is then what describes the multi-religious and multi-cultural ethos of the many sites on the ancient pathway along the Karakorum.

At the same time, we need to conclude that questions of identity remained intact. But in the far flung regions of isolation and uprooted away from familiar connections of village town and family, it is interesting to note that none of the travellers, but for a few Sogdian ones, particularly emphasized on their caste, guild or family affiliation. Some of the Chilas examples, however, do stress on the family and lineage ties of the ruling chiefs and kings. But, by and large, it is as individuals that these inscribers of personal names left a stamp of themselves. In the process of doing so these rock surfaces had become a meeting point of belonging, in that people of different religious and ethnic affiliations, known by their individual names, mingled with each other in the context of their larger endeavors of making a success of their travels. To get to know each other, learn each other’s languages and scripts and share experiences was for them a practical necessity to effectively communicate. Both Chilas and Oshibat thus emerged as critical meeting points, as significant routes of communication both in reality and metaphorically. Whatever the reasons for travel, crossing over the Karakorum mountains into Central Asia was a daunting task and this fear of the difficult and treacherous terrain made people pause a while in meditation and solace before they undertook the journey. The same relief must have resulted on their return, Further, mundane necessities required like porters, ponies, horses, food and other aids must have also been necessary to collect and all these facilities took time to procure and this made travellers compulsively halt on the plains of the upper Indus valley before they embarked on their journey of solitude and hope.

The writing of phrases like “Man should remember that the day of death is fixed” undoubtedly transported them to their inner deep feelings of understanding the simple notions of the impermanence of life that had been taught to them by the teachings of the Buddha. Yet, they moved on in this difficult terrain to complete their journeys to carry on with the essential practical necessities of life. Despite the difficult terrain, we conclude, that the travellers from all directions found their way to this important junction, rested for a while before they moved on and, in the process, have left behind for posterity to understand the complexity of social interactions beyond boundaries of nations, communities and faiths. These travellers were located in different historical contexts and therefore, must have undoubtedly been influenced by the dominant political or economic happenings of their times that would have either accelerated or, inhibited these processes of interactions. Nonetheless, they went beyond boundaries in more than one sense: at the ideological level, in terms of linguistic and religious exchanges and at the spatial level, in terms of conquering new terrains and establishing economic linkages. These early contacts away from home generated new ideas and further strengthened interactions that we must now remember.

We end with the 7th century AD Buddhist traveller’s accounts of the region while he was crossing into India around Kashmir. Hieun Tsiang wrote:

The Sramana coming to the western borders of the country, crossed a rapid river; whilst doing so the boat was nearly overwhelmed, … The master of the ship examined (his goods), found the tooth of Buddha. … Many miraculous circumstances occur in this mountain. Sometimes a stone barrier is split across; sometimes on the mountain-top there remain the traces of a horse; but all things of this sort are only mistaken traces of the Arhats and Sramanas, who in troops frequent this spot, and with their fingers trace these figures, as if riding on horses or going to and fro (on foot), and this has led to the difficulty in explaining these marks.[134]

The engravings at ancient sites along the Karakorum have thus struck travellers from time immemorial. Reading Hiuen Tsiang against the backdrop of the recent discoveries made by the Joint Pakistani-German team at sites like Oshibat, Chilas, Shatial and so on, only further endorses the idea of the permanence of actions that must now become essential reminders of the capacity of human interactions despite overwhelming odds.

* Professor, Department of History, University of Hyderabad, India

[1] An earlier version (based on information from Oshibat alone) was an oral presentation at the Joint Indo-Russian Seminar, ICHR, New Delhi, 6-8 November, 2001.

[2] Some of this has been mentioned by me in an earlier article and shall not be repeated here. The tendency to write about political and economic history of northwestern regions of the Indian subcontinent flourished to the first half of the twentieth century. See “The Foreigner as the ‘Other’ in Early India”, The Indian Historical Review, Vol. XVI(1-2), 1989-1990, pp. 109-113.

[3] Relatively more recent studies take into account the complex relationship of the political and economic with the larger fabric of social and religious changes taking place in the contacts between Central Asia and the subcontinent. For instance, the extremely incisive account of these relations in the context of ancient India and ancient China, bringing in the contacts with the Roman world and, most importantly, Central Asia by Xinru Liu, Ancient India and Ancient China, Trade and Religious Exchanges, AD 1-600, Oxford University Press, Delhi 1988.

[4] Cited in Sarojini Chaturvedi, Foreign Influx and Interaction with Indian Culture, 6th century BC – 1st century AD, Agam Kala Prakashan, Delhi, 1985, pp. 214-215.

[5] Debala Mitra, “Foreign Elements in Indian Population” in The Cultural Heritage of India, Vol. II, Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Calcutta, p. 621.

[6] G. Sharma & J. Negi, ‘The Saka-Kushans in the Central Ganges Valley’ in B.G. Gafurov et al. Central Asia in the Kushan Period, Vol. II, 1975, pp. 22-29 on the archaeological evidence conducted in these parts.

[7] B.N.S. Yadava, ‘Some Aspects of the Changing Order in India during the Saka Kushan Age’ in B.G. Gafurov et. al., Ibid, pp. 123-136.

[8] They were rather generally alluded to in a generalized way as mlecchas as being excluded from the society dominated by brahmanas. See Aloka Parasher, Mlecchas in Early India, New Delhi, 1990, Chapter VII.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Yadava, Op. cit, 1975, p. 127.

[11] This monumental work was initiated in 1978 under the leadership of Prof. Karl Jettmar from Heidelberg and Prof. A.H. Dani from Islamabad. A joint Pakistani-German research project started its surveys in 1979 and by 1982 enough work had been done to start a documentation cell at the Heidelberg Academy of Humanities and Sciences. Since 1989 this is headed by Prof. Harald Hauptmann with contributions from scholars different countries contributing to documenting and analyzing these interesting archaeological and historical remain – As reported by Martin Bemmann and Ditte Koenig, ‘Rock Art & Petroglyphs: Rock Carvings and Inscriptions along the Karakorum Highway’, Tracce, On Line Rock Art Bulletin– The Footsepts of Man, May 1997.

[12] A. H. Dani, Chilas The City of Nanga Parvat (Dyamar) Islamabad, 1983, p. 4 [Henceforth Chilas].

[13] Bemmann & Koenig, Op. Cit, 1997.

[14] Materialien zur Archaologie de Nordgebiete Pakistans, Vol. 1: M. Bemmann & D. Koenig (ed), Die Felsbildstation Oshibat, Mainz, 1994; Vol. 2: G. Fussman & D. Koenig (ed.), Die Felsbildstation Shatial, Mainz, 1997; Vol. 3: D. Bandini-Koenig (ed.) Die Felsbildatation Hodar, Mainz, 1999.

[15] The nature of the documentation done on these sites by various scholars in terms of the catalogues on the art-work, the editing of inscriptions and generally, on details pertaining to this project, valuable information has been posted on the Heidelberger Akademie Der Wissenschaften Web Page. An exhaustive bibliography of books and articles on subject matter relating to these sites has also been posted which was of tremendous help in the formulation of this paper.

[16] Bemmann & Koenig, op. cit., 1997.

[17] Ibid – we are informed that the majority of the inscriptions are executed in Indian scripts like Brahmi, Kharoshti and Proto-Xarda. However, a large number of Sogdian (ca. 700) inscriptions were also found along with Chinese (13) and Hebrew (1).

[18] J. Biddulph, Tribes of the Hindoo Koosh, Karachi Reprint 1977 pp. 8-9 on the use of the term ‘Dard’ or ‘Dardistan’ as a convenient term for “the valleys lying between the Western Punjab and the Hindookoosh which are inhabited by a number of tribes mostly of Aryan origin.” (p. 156). Daradas are found commonly mentioned in the Puranas, in the Rajatarabgini and also by foreign writers like Pliny, Ptolemy, Fa-hian and Hieun Tsang.

[19] Bemmann & Koenig, op. cit., 1997, p. 2.

[20] AH Dani, op. cit., 1983, pp. 52-57 discuss the legendary importance of the “gold-bearing ants” of the region and points to the fact that even today a community called Soniwals wash gold in the river here.

[21] Ibid, p. 10.

[22] Ibid, pp. 3-4.

[23] Martin Bemmann und Ditte Koenig (mit Beitragen von Gerard Fussman, Oskar von Hinuber und Nicholas Sims-Williams), Materialien Zur Archaologie Der Nordgebiete Pakistans (Materials for the Archaeology of the Northern Regions of Pakistan) Die Felsbildstation Oshibat, Band I, Mainz, 1994. [Henceforth MANP, Vol. I]. This is part of the publication under the directorship of Harald Hauptmann for the Heidelberger Akademie Der Wissenschaften.

[24] Azam Chaudury, ‘Oshibatt Mein Nakashi aur Kundhakari’ (Urdu) in MANP, Vol I, 1994, p. 1. (Translation of Martin Bemmann, ‘Inscriptions and Rock Carvings at Oshibat’)

Reading and translation of portions of this article into English has been done with the help of Professor Rehamat Ali Yousuf, Head, Department of Urdu, University of Hyderabad. Its initial reading and Hindi translation was done by Professor Noorjehan Begum, Department of Hindi, University of Hyerabad.

[25] Robert Kauper of the Munchen University did the geographical surveys for the present project, before the current discoveries, in 1982 and the Kalshruhe University further carried out the work after 1982.

[26] Choudhury, op. cit., 1994, pp. 1-2.

[27] Unlike at other sites such as Chilas and Thalpan, it may be noted that images of the Buddha have not been found drawn on the rocks at Oshibat.

[28] Bemmann & Koenig, op. cit., 1997.

[29] AH Dani. cp. cit., 1983, p. 88. He suggests that these could be the last remnants of Huns who “probably intermixed with the local Xina population”. p. 90.

[30] For all these places Thewalt has done this by closely analyzing the stūpa architectural form. See Home page Volker Thewalt Verlag.

[31] Chaudury, op. cit., 1994, pp. 3-4.

[32] Henceforth these figures in round brackets refer to the Stone numbers as documented in MANP, Vol. I and the numbers in square brackets refer to the Plates as given in MANP, Vol. I.

[33] Fussman, op. cit., 1994, p. 19.

[34] AH Dani, op. cit. p. 230.

[35] Oskar von Hinuber, ‘Zu Den Brahmi Inschriften’, MANP, Vol. I, 1994, p. 20.

[36] Gerard Fussman, ‘Zu Den Kharosthi-Inschriften’ in MANP, Vol. I, 1994, p. 19. The Sodgian inscriptions are not being discussed in this paper.

[37] A.H. Dani, op. cit., pp. 62; 64; 68; 98.

[38] Ibid, pp. 94; 102; 104; 108; 110; 122.

[39] Ibid, p.122.

[40] Ibid, p.72. On the same boulder here an Aramic inscriptions was also found carved.

[41] Ibid, p. 72.

[42] Ibid, p. 74.

[43] Ibid, p. 76.

[44] Ibid, p. 78.

[45] Ibid, p. 84.

[46] Ibid, p. 86.

[47] Ibid, p. 88.

[48] Ibid, p. 78.

[49] Ibid, p. 124.

[50] Ibid, pp. 78-80.

[51] Ibid, p. 72.

[52] Ibid, p. 150. The same phrase occurs at Chilas I, Plate 9, p. 180 and here it is inscribed at the right side of a big stupa.

[53] Ibid, p. 152. It occurs at three different places on separate rocks to the west.

[54] Ibid p. 164, p. 192.

[55] Ibid, p. 70.

[56] Ibid, p. 196, p. 204.

[57] Ibid, p. 94. This is how AH Dani describes this script but its date is not clearly stated.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Ibid, p. 110.

[60] Ibid. The latter name is also found at Chilas II, p. 64.

[61] Ibid, pp. 72, 74.

[62] Ibid, p. 70.

[63] Ibid, p. 184. The names Priyachandra, Priyasura, Priyamitra are found engraved elsewhere too at Chilas – p. 78, p. 136; p. 182.

[64] AH Dani, op. cit., 1983. Dani has discussed these exclusively in a separate chapter (Chapter VII) entitled “In the Footsteps of the Old Pilgrims”, pp. 233-243 giving the names of br¡hma¸ as, merchants or traders, Buddhist monks and even of craftsmen like the potter.

[65] These numbers refer to the Stone on which they were found as cited in MANP, Vol. I for all the inscriptions and engravings documented. These can be found on pp. 37-141 of this volume. For the specific numberings cited here see pp. 43, 46, 47, 49.

[66] Ibid, pp. 55, 61.

[67] Ibid, pp. 51-52.

[68] Ibid, pp. 39, 63.

[69] Ibid, pp. 55, 58.

[70] He is described as a Vaixnava. See MANP, Vol. I, p. 63.

[71] MANP, Vol. I, pp. 49; 56, 43.

[72] The word trisula occurs along with these names See MANP, Vol. I, p. 121.

[73] MANP, Vol. I, pp. 48, 55, 56, 60, 64, 82.

[74] Ibid, pp. 49, 55, 58, 92, 140.

[75] Ibid, pp. 45, 54, 57, 60, 62, 64, 79, 37, 96, 124.

[76] Ibid, pp. 42, 44, 46, 57, 84, 85, 130.

[77] Ibid, pp. 48, 63, 84.

[78] Ibid, pp. 40-41, 46-50, 59, 66, 121.

[79] Ibid, pp. 38, 47, 54-55, 60-61, 64, 82.

[80] Ibid, pp. 39, 40, 43, 48, 54, 61-62, 64-66, 72, 83-85.

[81] Ibid, pp. 63, 66.

[82] Ibid, p. 39.

[83] Ibid, p. 41, 59, 62.

[84] Ibid, p. 57.

[85] Ibid, p. 44.

[86] Ibid, p. 48.

[87] Ibid, p. 58.

[88] Ibid, pp. 53, 66-67, 85, 104.

[89] Ibid, p. 133.

[90] Ibid, p. 129.

[91] Chaudhury, op. cit., 1994, p. 3.

[92] These Plate numbers refer to the exhaustive documentation done for engravings found at Oshibat in MANP, Vol. I.

[93] V. Thewalt, ‘Rock carvings and Inscriptions along the Indus The Buddhist Tradition’, J. Schotsmans & M Taddei (ed.) South Asian Archaeology (Papers from the 7th International Conference of the ASAAWE held in Brussels, 1983), Naples 1985, pp. 779-800. The above quote is from the first electronic version of the paper 1997 – Home page Volker Thewalt Verlag.

[94] Chaudury, Op. Cit, 1994, p. 10.

[95] Ibid., p. 12.

[96] Ibid., p. 13.

[97] This symbol is called Soter Megas in the Symbol Chart appended in Bhaskar Chattopadhyaya, The Age of the Kushanas – A Numismatic Study, Calcutta, 1979, p. 226, line 14.

[98] Chaudury, op. cit., 1994, pp. 13-14.

[99] Ibid, p. 11.

[100] D. C. Sircar, Select Inscriptions bearing on Indian History and Civilization, Vol. I, Calcutta 1965, ‘Inscriptions of the Akhaemenians, Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 5 on Achaemenian presence as known by their inscriptions in northwestern India.

[101] E. Hultzsch, CII, Inscriptions of Asoka, Vol. I, Oxford 1925, Rock Edicts V, XIII Mansehra and Shabhazgarhi versions for the northern limits of the Mauryan territory.

[102] Parasher, op. cit., 1990, Chpater VII for details.

[103] Baldev Kumar, The Early Kusanas, Delhi, 1973, p. 213ff. for the diverse regions, peoples and tribes under the early Kusanas Empire.

[104] Bhaskar Chattopadhyaya, Kushana State and Indian Society, Calcutta, 1975, pp. 27-60 for a detailed description of the different territories within and outside the Indian subcontinent under Kusana control.

[105] Andre Wink, Al-Hind The Making of the Indo-Islamic World, Vol. I, Early Medieval and the Expansion of Islam, 7th –11th Centuries, Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 43.

[106] Xinru Liu, Op. Cit, 1988, p.16.

[107] Ibid, p. 18.

[108] Buddha Rashmi Mani, The Kushan Civilization, Delhi, 1987, pp. 16-37 on the extent and distribution of the material and socio-economic pattern of the Kushan period; the intensity of which was not uniform throughout the period of their rule for all segments of the empire.

[109] Xinru Liu, op. cit., 1988, pp. 36-42.

[110] G.L. Adhya, Early Indian Economics, Bombay, 1966, p. 86.

[111] Wink, op. cit., 1990, pp. 42-43.

[112] Ibid, p. 43.

[113] Ibid.

[114] A. L. Basham, The Wonder that was India, Clarendon Press, 1954, p. 71.

[115] A view he briefly summarized in Social Change in Early Medieval India, The Devaraja Chanana Memorial Lecture, Peoples Publishing House, New Delhi 1969.

[116] Wink, op. cit, 1990, pp. 229-230.

[117] R.E.M. Wheeler, Rome beyond the Imperial Frontiers, London, p. 156.

[118] A. K. Narain, The Indo-Greeks, OUP, London, 1957, p. 135.

[119] Xinru Liu, op. cit., 1988, p. 27.

[120] Ellsworth Huntington, Across Central Asia, A Journey in Central Asia illustrating the Geographic Basis of History, Cosmos Publications (reprint), New Delhi 1995 pp. 83-87. This book was probably written between 1916-1920. The well-known Buddhist pilgrim Hieun Tsang gives us an indication that ancient travelers too faced these difficulties as cited below.

[121] Ibid.

[122] Wink, Op. Cit, 1990, p. 234.

[123] Samuel Beal, Si-yu-ki Buddhist Records of the Western World, Translated from the Chinese of Hiuen Tsiang (AD 629), (Reprint edition), Delhi 2001, I, 171.

[124] M. A. Stein, Kalha¸as R¡jatarangini: A Chronicle of the Kings of [Ka¿mir] Kashmir, Vol. I, Books I-VII). Motilal Banarsidass Publishers New Delhi 1979, I. 289; I. 293; I.306-7.

[125] Wink, op. cit., 1990, p. 230.

[126] AH Dani, op. cit., 1983 pp. 80-83 --- the relates to the period after the death of Kanishka when the evidence at Chilas II suggests that local hunting people along with their religious belief came into prominence.

[127] Ibid, pp. 229-230.

[128] Ibid, p. 229 A marked difference between the two is that the temples have a trident filial whereas the stūpas have a crescent and circle.

[129] Ibid, p. 229.

[130] Ibid, p. 230.

[131] V. Thewalt, op. cit., 1985. The above quote is from the first electronic version of the paper 1997 – Home page Volker Thewalt Verlag.

[132] Jettmar’s views as cited in Chaudury, op. cit., 1994, p. 15.

[133] Ibid.

[134] Beal, op. cit., 2001, Vol. I, pp. 159-160.

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