Monday, September 1, 2014

22. Megha coins- Shastri, Mitra

Shastri, Ajay Mitra, Kausambhi Hoard of Megha Coins, P.19
Maghas and Meghas
The Dynastic text of the Puranas as reconstructed by Pargiter avers in the usual prophetic vein that there would flourish in Kasala nine wise and powerful kings well-known as Megha1. According to Pargiter, the dynasties mentioned here, of which Megha is one, flourished in the third century A.D.2. On account of the similarity of this dynastic designation with the word megha found suffixed to the names of some of the members of what is popularly known as the Magha dynasty the Meghas of the Puranas have by common consent been identified with the Meghas3. Since the manuscripts of the Puranas give variant readings of the dynastic appellation4, it is possible that the original reading was Magha and that the substitution of the medial e for a is due to the copyists. Now, according to the Puranas, the Meghas (or Maghas) ruled in Kosala. In view of its mention in association with some areas of the Deccan like Mekala and Nishadha and the Nala dynasty Kosala, in the present context, appears to refer to South Kosala which comprised the Chhattisgarh region of Madhya Pradesh and the Sambalpur District of Orissa. The find-spots of the records of the Maghas, on the other hand, lie between Bandhogarh in the south to Fatehpur in the north with Kausambi occupying an approximately central position. Bandhogarh, which, judging from the provenance of inscriptions5, formed the southernmost point of the Magha kingdom, is situated at a distance of a few hundred kilometers from the northernmost portions of the Chhattisgarh region. This discrepancy must be explained away if the Maghas of inscriptions, coins and seals are to be taken as identical with the Meghas of Puranas. Three alternative explanations may be suggested. First, possibly the dominions of some of the Magha chiefs extended as far south as Dakshina Kosalaor touched upon its borders though, it must be admitted, no record of the dynasty has been reported from anywhere within or close to this area. Secondly, northern borders of Dakshina Kosala may, at one time, have extended much further than the Chhattisgarh area so as to touch upon or cover the Bandhogarh region7. And lastly, it is possible that the Puranas have erroneously referred to Kasala instead of Vatsa or some other geographical name as the dominion of the Meghas. Such errors are not very rare in the Puranas. And if none of these alternatives is found acceptable, the Meghas of the Puranas will have to be treated as different from the Maghas of our archaeological records and a search for the archaeological records of the Meghas will have to be instituted.

1. Kosalayam tu rajano bhavishyanti mahabalah, Megha iti samakhyata buddhimanto nav-aiva tu.
Medya and Medhatithi are given as variants in place of Megha and Megha iti respectively. F. E. Pargiter, The Purana Text of the Dynasties of the Kali Age, p.51
2. Ibid., pp. 50, 73
3. This view is, however, not accepted by some scholars. See Jagannath Agrawala in Comprehensive History of India, II, p.259, note
4. Medya and Medhatithi are mentioned by Pargiter as variants in place of Megha and Megha iti respectively. See The Purana Text of Dynasties of the Kali Age, p.51, note 21.
5. According to K.D. Bajpai, some Magha coins also have been found at Bandhogarh.
6. Altekar thinks it possible that in the heyday of their glory, the Magha kings ruled over wide territories extending from Bilaspur in the south to Fatehpur in the north, vide JGJRI, I, P.159.
7. Limits of provinces are known to have changed with political vicissitudes. To cite an example, Dakshina Kosala once appears to have included a part of Vidarbha. The senkapat inscription of the time of the Panduvamsi king Maha-Sivagupta Balarjuna of South Kosala shows that the dominions of his predecessor Nannaraja reached as far as the banks of the river Varada, mod. Wardha, a tributary of the Godavari. See EI, XXXI, pp.35-36.

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