In the theatre of the world. The people are actors all. One doth the sovereign monarch play; And him the rest okay.
When such brilliant national character combines with such happy social organization of the people as to excite the admiration of all who study it, one can easily conceive what noble achievements of peace and war the ancient Hindus must have accomplished. It is true, ‘peace hath her victories no less renowned than war’; still a peculiar halo of glory attaches to military achievements. The achievements of the Hindus in philosophy, poetry, sciences and art prove their peaceful victories. But their military achievements were equally great, as will appear from their mastery of the science of war.
Their civilizing missions covered the globe, and Hindu civilization still flows like an undercurrent in the countless social institutions of the world.
In the Aitereya Brahmana, Emperor Sudas is stated to have completely conquered the whole world, with its different countries.
That the Hindus were quite capable of accomplishing this feat, is clear from the remarkable article that appeared in the Contemporary Review from the pen of Mr Townsend. He says: ‘If the Prussian conscription were applied in India, we should, without counting reserves or landwehr or any force not summoned in time of peace, have twoand- a-half millions of soldiers actually in barracks, with 800,000 recruits coming up every year—a force with which not only Asia but the world might be subdued. ‘
General Sir Ian Hamilton, in his scrap book on the first part of the Russo–Japanese War, says: ‘Why there is material in the North of
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India and in Nepaul sufficient and fit, under good leadership, to shake the artificial society of Europe to its foundations. ‘
The territorial strength of India in ancient and even in mediaeval times, was greater than it has ever been during the last thousand years. Pururawa is said to have possessed thirteen islands of the ocean. See Mahabharata Adiparva, 3143, ‘Trisdasa samudra ya dwipa asnan Pururawah’, etc.
That the Hindus were a great naval power in ancient times is clear from the fact that one of the ancestors of Rama was ‘Sagara, emphatically called the Sea-king, whose sixty thousand sons were so many mariners. ‘
Pliny, indeed, states that ‘some consider the four satrapies of Gedeosia, Arachosia, Aria and Paropamisus to belong to India. ‘ ‘This would include,’ says Mr Elphinstone, ‘about two thirds of Persia. ‘
Strabo mentions a large part of Persia to have been abandoned to the Hindus by the Macedonians.
Colonel Tod says: ‘The annals of the Yadus of Jaisalmer state that long anterior to Vicrama, they held dominion from Ghazni to Samarkand, that they established themselves in those regions after the Mahabharata, and were again impelled on the rise of Islamism within the Indus. ‘ He adds: ‘A multiplicity of scattered facts and geographical distinctions fully warrants our assent to the general truth of these records, which prove that the Yadu race had dominion in Central Asia. ‘ He also says: ‘One thing is now proved that princes of the Hindu faith ruled over all these regions in the first ages of Islamism, and made frequent attempts for centuries after to reconquer them. Of these, Babur gives us a most striking instance in his description of Ghazni; or, as he writes, Ghazni, when he relates how the Rai of Hind besieged Subakhtagin in Ghazni, Subakhtagin ordered flesh of kine to be thrown into the fountain, which made the Hindus retire. ‘ The celebrated Balabhi was reduced by the same stratagem.
‘Bappa, the ancestor of the Ranas of Mewar, abandoned Central India after establishing his line in Chitor, and retired to Khorasan. All this proves that Hinduism prevailed in those distant regions, and that the intercourse was unrestricted between Central Asia and India. ‘
‘The Bhatti Chronicle calls the Langas in one page Pathan and in another Rajput, which are perfectly reconcilable, and by no means indicative that the Pathan or Afghan of that early period or even in the
time of Rai Sehra was Mohamedan. The title of Rai is a sufficient proof that they were even then Hindus. ‘ Colonel Tod adds: ‘Khan is by no means indicative of the Mohamedan faith. ‘
Eminent Greek writers—eye-witnesses of the splendour of India— bear testimony to the prosperity of the country, which, even in her decline, was sufficiently great to dazzle their imagination. The Indian court was the happy seat to which Greek politicians repaired as ambassadors, and they all speak of it in glowing terms.
Mr Weber says: ‘Thus Megasthenes was sent by Seleucus to Chandergupta, Deimachus again by Antiochus and Dionysius, and most probably Basilis by Ptolemy II to Amritaghata, son of Chandergupta. ‘
Antiochus the Great concluded an alliance with Sobhagsen about 210 BC, but was eventually defeated and slain by him. Colonel Tod says: ‘The obscure legends of the encounters of the Yadus with the allied Syrian and Bactrian kings would have seemed altogether illusory did not evidence exist that Antiochus the Great was slain in these very regions by the Hindu king Sobhagsen. ‘
The Greek king, Seleucus, even gave Chandergupta his daughter to wife. Professor Weber says: ‘In the retinue of this Greek princess there of course came to Patliputra, Greek damsels as her waiting-maids, and these must have found particular favour in the eyes of the Indians, especially of their princes. For not only are . . . mentioned as articles of traffic for India, but in Indian inscriptions also, we find Yavan girls specified as tribute; while in Indian literature, and especially in Kalidasa, we are informed that Indian princes were waited upon by Yavanis (Greek damsels) . . .
The Persian Emperor, Nausherawan the Just, gave his daughter in marriage to the then Maharana of Chittor. Even Ramayana says that in Ayodhia, ambassadors from different countries resided. According to Justin, the monarch of Ujjain (Malwa) held a correspondence with Augustus. Augustus received at Samos an embassy from India. The ambassadors brought elephants, pearls and precious stones. There was a second embassy from India sent to Emperor Claudius, of which Pliny gives an account. He received from the ambassadors, who were four in number, the information about Ceylon which he has embodied in his Natural History. Two other embassies from Hindu princes to
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Rome were sent before the third century AC [presumably ‘After Christ’— Ed. ] one to Trajan (107 AC) and another to Antonius Pius. These relations continued as late as the time of Justinian (530 AC).
Strabo mentions an ambassador from King Pandion to Augustus, who met him in Syria. It appears from Periplus and Ptolemy that Pandion was the hereditary title of the descendants of Pandya, who founded the kingdom in the fifth century BC. A brahmin followed this ambassador to Athens, where he burnt himself alive.
‘In one of Ashoka’s inscriptions, five Greek princes appear. —
(1) Antiochus of Syria, (2) Ptolemy, Philadelphos of Egypt, (3) Antigonos Gonatos of Macedon, (4) Magas of Kerene, (5) Alexander II of Epirus. ‘ ‘Great intercourse,’ says a writer, ‘formerly subsisted between the Hindus and the nations of the West. ‘ Thus, when even in those days, India was so great as to exact the homage of all who saw her, though her grand political and social institutions had lost their pristine purity and vigour, and those mighty forces which worked for her welfare and greatness were disappearing, when even in her fall she was the idol of foreign nations, how mighty must she have been when she was at the height of her power, at the zenith of her glory! Her constitution still stands like some tall ancient oak in a forest shorn of foliage, but still defying the discordant elements that rage round it, still looking down, with a majesty and dignity all its own, upon the new-sprung, prosperous young trees growing round it in happy ignorance of the storms and gusts in store.
It is curious to learn that even in her decline, India was sufficiently strong to defy the great conquerors of the old world. It was threatened by the prosperous empire of Assyria, then at the meridian of her power under the celebrated queen Semiramis. She used the entire resources of the empire in preparations to invade India, and collected a considerable army. ‘After three years spent in these extraordinary preparations, she sent forward her armies, which some writers describe as amounting to several millions of combatants, but the narrative of Ctesias estimates them at three hundred thousand foot, five hundred thousand horse, while two thousand boats and a great number of mock elephants were conveyed on the backs of camels. ‘ But what was the result? ‘The army was utterly routed and Semiramis brought back scarcely a third of her host; some authors even maintain that she herself perished in the expedition. ‘
Horrid suggestion! I thinkest thou then the gods Take care of men who came to burn their altars, Profane their rites, and trample on their laws? Will they reward the bad? It cannot be.
In later times, the Yadu king, Gaj Singh, who founded Gajni (Ghazni), single-handed ‘defeated the combined armies of Shah Secunder Roomi and Shah Mamraiz. ‘