Academic journal article The Journal of Central Asian Studies

India and Georgia Historical Perspective

Academic journal article The Journal of Central Asian Studies

India and Georgia Historical Perspective

Article excerpt


The links between Georgia and India1 supposedly should have established immediately after the commencement of the Silk Route, connecting Europe and Asia, intermittently for more than two centuries. The way from India to Georgia should have crossed the river Amudaria and through the Caspian Sea stretching the ancient cities of Iberia and Kolkhida: Mtskheta, Fazis coming to the Black Sea coast2. According to the Georgian sources, the renowned king of Georgia, Vakhtang Gorgasali, invaded India in the 60s of the 5th century BC. His campaign was determined by the order of the Shah of Iran, to whom the King Vakhtang served as a vassal at that time.

The notes about his campaign to Iran bear some legendary characters, although we could claim that the campaign took place indeed. According to the Georgian chronicler, the Persian army, in which the Georgian military unit was also included, first came to Gurgan ("Jorjan"), and later on marching to India. It seems the chronicler did not have any concrete notes on the campaign at hand, thus he only mentions some Eastern treasure, in the form of trophy of war. The list of articles of the treasure includes musk ambergrish, as well as ruby (sapphire) and emerald, gold and silver. It should be mentioned that "India," the one mentioned in the Georgian source, should be the land around the Ganga basin and the Northern India.

The Georgian chronicler writes, the Persian and Georgian army entered "Sind." It is hard to denote the area that the chronicler implied, but the contemporary central India should be mentioned along with the southern areas of the river Sind and part of Pakistan. As for the mentioned cities: "Sindia", (Sindila), "Tophor", "Kimrai", it is also hard to identify them as well. The cities are not mentioned by the famous astronomer and geographer of the Middle Ages, Ulugbek in his Geographic Table. Only one city is mentioned by Ulugbek under the title of "Sindi" - "Mansura" (Mathura).3

It is evident that the Georgian chronicler had only the oral notes with regard to the above-mentioned military campaign, as he narrates the Eastern parable on the hawk and raven instead of the description of the real battle scenes. The chronicle informs that the King of "Sind" made his fortress as a stronghold, telling a parable to the King Vakhtang Gorgasali; according to the story, the raven that brought up the hawk became the victim of the hawk itself.4 Telling the parable the King of Sind allegorically warned the King Vakhtang over the deadly consequences of his service to Persians. In his turn, King Vakhtang somewhat vaguely responds to the King of Sind, mentioning that he accompanied to Persians, but not in sake of their service, but according to the will of God and for the glory of God.5 Finally, King Vakhtang defeated King of Sind, but petitioned him for the Shah of Persia to set the wounded king free in return of a ransom.

Still, there is a real relationship between Georgia and India behind this legendary story. The Georgian source tells us that Persians and Georgians came to Gurgan and "Abash Land" except India-Sind. In the Georgian sources, Abyssinia (Ethiopia) is meant under the ethnic word "Abash", although it is obvious that it is not the one that of Africa. As Georgian scholars presume this is the state of the "Small Khushan", created on the territory of Sistan7, or the harbor of Gurgan on the Caspian Sea - Abesknn, near Astrabad.8

The Greek and Arabic authors also mention the military campaigns of the Persian Shahs against Khushans, Huns and Ephtalits. 9 Although some notes on the military campaign of the Georgian King in India is preserved only by the Georgian sources, but the fact is determined by some objective circumstances as well. Obviously, the military campaign of the then Georgian King and his army would have had a little significance for the World History. On the other hand, the fact that such military campaigns indeed took place is testified by the Georgian historian of the famous Queen Tamar, 12 century. …

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