Indo-Greek Rulers of Ancient India
We should know that during the last two centuries of BC era, Northwest and northern Indian subcontinent was ruled by more than 30 Hellenistic kings. The knowledge about these has been attained via the coins issued by them. The areas under these Hellenistic Kings were Taxila, Pakistan’s, Punjab Pushkalavati (Peshavar) & Sagala. Indo-Greek rulers have been mentioned ”Yavanas” in the Indian literature.
Some of the kings of indo-Greek dynasties are briefed here.
- Approximately in 250 BC, Diodotus, who was a governor of Bacteria, proclaimed his independence. He was one of the first such independent rulers.
- Antiochus II, who was a king of the Hellenistic Seleucid kingdom, marched towards India and defeated the India king Subhagsena is Kabul in around 206 BC.
Demetrius I of the Bactria (2000-180 BC)
- Demetrius I of Bactria was son of Euthydemus and conquered the extensive areas in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- He is created with real indo-Greek expansion in India and has also been referred in Greek Sources as “King of Indians”.
- His coins bear legends in Greek and Prakrit written in Greek and Kharoshthi script. The coins were issued in silver and one of the coins was known as “Heracles”.
- His capital was Sakala (Sialkot Pakistan) which he named Euthydemia in memory of his father.
- His coins have been found in several parts of modern Pakistan, Afghanistan and central asia.
- Apollodotus I was the indo Greek ruler who ruled around 174-165 BC in the western and southern parts of the indo-Greek Kingdoms covering the area from Taxila in Punjab to Sindh.
- Apollodotus I was the first king who ruled in India onlyand this is said to be real founder of the indo-Greek kingdom of India and known as first “Real Indo Greek”.
- He was one of the generals of the Demetrius I of Bactria.
- We come to know about apollodotus I through the bilingual Indian standard square coinsby him.
- The animals such as elephant and bull are depicted in his coins.
- Apollodotus II ruled in Punjab 80-65 BC and was an important ruler.
- He is said to have re-conquered the Taxila. He seems to be of same dynasty of which meander belonged to.
- Menander II reigned around 90-85 BC in Gandhara, north of modern Pakistan and parts of Afghanistan.
- It was Meander who has been mentioned as the mighty Yavana King of Sakala.
- His capital Sakala was located in modern Punjab and refers to Sialkot, Pakistan
- In the ”Milindapanho” dialogues between the Meander II and Nagasena have been recorded.
- He was Buddhist indo-Greek ruler and is the only indo-Greek ruler who is greatly respected in India.
- The coins of Meander have been engraved with “Dhammachakka” of Buddhism.
- He issued Gold Coins also and one of the coins are known as “Athene Promachus”.