Location of the Kamboja Kingdom

Location of the Kamboja Kingdom

Kamboja was the name of an ancient country and the Indo-Iranian warrior tribe settled therein. The country is listed as one of the sixteen Mahajanapadas or great nations in ancient Buddhist texts. The Kambojas are attested to have both Indian as well as Iranian affinities. There is no unanimity on the location of ancient Kamboja. Kamboja Location has been suggested in Balkh, [Dr H. H. Wilson.] ; Afghanistan [J. W. McCrindle.] ; East Afghanistan [Dr Stein.] ; Kafiristan to Kashmir [H. C. Raychaudhury, D. R. Bhandarkar.] ; Pamir/Badakshan [Dr J. C. Vidyalankar, Dr Moti Chander, Dr Govind Chandra Pande, Abul Barkat Muhammud Habibullah, Shivenandan Misra, Raymond Allchin, Dr G. A. Grierson, Dr S. K. Chatterjee, Dr V. S. Aggarwala.] ; Pamir-Badakhshan and parts of Jammu-Kashmira [Purana Index, 1992, p 79, A. B. L. Awasthi.] ; Balkh [Dr A. H. Dani et al.] Balkh, Badakshan, Pamirs and Kafiristan [Beni Madhab Barua, Ishwar Nath Topa.] Arachosia [D. C. Sircar, J. Fillozat, E. Benveniste, Michael Witzel.] ; Mountains of Ghazni [Willford.] ; Sindh/Gujarat [Dr S. K. Aiyanger, Dr P. N. Banerjee.] ; Hindukush, Tarim basin [ National Geographer, 1977, p 60, Allahabad Geographical Society - Geography.] ; Tibet [ Foucher (Iconographie Bouddhique, p. 134), Sir Charles Eliot, Vasudeo Vishwanath Gokhale.] ; Mountains of Tibet or Hindukush [ Dr V. A. Smith.] ; etc etc with its capital at an unidentified place called Dvaraka, "a name with Maga Associations" [Benjamin Walker, Hindu World, p 520.] . Some scholars identify this Dvaraka with the modern 'Darwaz city' located in Tajikstan in Central Asia [Journal of the Asiatic Society, 1940, pp 256, 37, (India) Asiatic Society (Calcutta, Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal - Asia; Geographical and Economic Studies in the Mahābhārata: Upāyana Parva, 1945, p 38, Dr Moti Chandra - India; The Indian Historical Quarterly, 1963, p 404; India - 1963The Cultural Heritage of India, 1986, p 45, Haridas Bhattacharyya, Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture - India; Ethnology of Ancient Bhārata, 1970, p 108, Ram Chandra Jain - Ethnology India; Studies in Indian History and Civilization, 1962, p 351, Dr Buddha Prakash - India; India in the Time of Patañjali, 1968, p 68, Dr B. N. Puri - India; Cyclopædia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia, Commercial, Industrial..., 1871, pe 37, Edward Balfour - India; Asoka and His Inscriptions, 1968, p 96, Beni Madhab Barua, Ishwar Nath Topa; Cf: Ethnic Settlements in Ancient India: (a Study on the Puranic Lists of the ..., 1955, p 133, Dr Sashi Bhusan Chaudhuri - Human geography etc etc.] . In his "Studies in the Geography of Ancient and Medival India", Dr Sircar locates the Kambojas in various settlements in the wide area between Punjab and Iran to the south of Balkh [Studies in the Geography of Ancient and Medieval India, 1971, p 100, D. C. Sircar.] [Cf: Recent Trends and Concepts in Geography, 1980, p 57, R. B. Mandal, Vishwa Nath Prasad Sinha - Geography.] .

Localization of Kamboja

Linguistic evidence

The most accepted view is that the ancient Kambojas originally belonged to the 'Ghalcha' speaking area (the Iranian Pamirs and Badakshan) in Central Asia [Linguistic Survey of India, Vol X, p 455, Dr G. A. Grierson.] .

Yaska's Nirukata [II/2.8.] attests that verb 'shavati' in the sense 'to go' was used by the Kambojas and only the Kambojas, its root 'shava' is used by the Indo-Aryans [

:shavatir gatikarmaa Kamboje.sv eva bhaa.syate...vikaara enam Aaryaa bha.sante shava iti./:— "(Nirukata II/2)"

:Translation::The verb 'shavati', meaning 'to go', is used by the Kambojas only..... but its root 'shava' is used by the Indo-Aryans .] [Early Eastern Iran and Atharvaveda, 1980, 92, Dr Michael Witzel; also Nilukata, Vol I, Sarup.] . The modern Ghalcha language comprises seven main dialects viz. Wakhi, Shughni, Sarikoli, Zebaki, Sanglechi, Ishkashimi, Munjani, Yidgha and Yaghnobi. It has been pointed out that the Ghalcha dialects spoken in Pamirs and countries on the head waters of Oxus mostly still have the continuants of the ancient Kamboja 'shavati' in the sense 'to go' [Linguistic Survey of India, Vol X, p 455-56,468,474,476,500, Dr G. A. Grierson.] . Yagnobi dialect spoken in Yagnobi region at the head-waters of Zeravshan in the Doab of Oxus and Jaxartes in Tajikstan also contains, to this date, a relic from Kamboja verb 'shavati' in the sense 'to go' [Dr J. C. Vidyalankara, Proceedings and Transactions of 6th A.I.O. Conference, 1930, p 118 cf: op. cit. Vol X, pp 455-56, Dr G. A. Grierson.] . It has also been pointed out that the former language of Badakshan was a dialect of Ghalcha which has been replaced with Persian only in the last few centuries [Op cit, p 456, Dr Grierson.] .

Thus, originally, the ancient Kamboja appears to have comprised Pamirs, Badakshan and possibly parts of Tajikstan including Yagnobe region in the doab of Oxus of Central Asia. On the east it was bounded roughly by Yarkand and/or Kashgar, on west by Bahlika (Uttaramadra), on the northwest by Sogdiana, on the north by Uttarakuru, on the southeast by Darada and on the south by Gandhara.

Vamsa Brahmana and Aitareya Brahmana evidence

The Aupamanyava Kamboja of Vamsa Brahmana (1/18) is spoken of as pupil of sage Madrakara, who as his name itself indicates, belonged to the Madra tribe. Dr Zimmer as well as authors of "Vedic Index" postulate a close connection between the "Iranian Uttramadras" and the "Kambojas". Both are stated to be close neighbors in the north-western part of ancient India [Vedic Index, I, p 84-85, 138.] . Jean Przylusky shows that Bahlika (Balkh) was an Iranian settlement of the Madras who were known as "Bahlika-Uttaramadras" [The Udumbras, Journal Asiatique, 1926, p 11.] .Madra king Salya of Mahabharata war has been referred to as a "Bahlika" Pungava i.e foremost among the Bahlikas (MBH I. 67.6; I.112.3). Princess Madri from Madra Royal family has also been referred to as "Bahliki" i.e princess from Bahlika [MBH I. 124. 21.] . This shows that in remote past (Vedic age), Iranian settlement of the Madras, known as Uttaramadra was located in Bahlika (Bactria) in eastern parts of the Oxus country. These Madras have been referred to as Uttaramadras in Aitareya Brahmana and are also stated to lie across the Himalaya i.e Hindukush [Aitareya Brahmana, VIII/14.] .

The Kambojas and Bahlikas (Bactrians) have been paired together (Kambojabahlika) in several verses of Mahabharata [7.98.13; 6.75.17; 2.27.23-23 etc.] . They also find mention as a pair in Valmiki Ramayana [I.6.22.] , Kshmendra's "Ramayana-Manjari" [4/252.] as well as in "Atharvaveda-Parisia" [Atharvaveda-Parisia 57.2.5; cf Persica-9, 1980, p 106, Dr Michael Witzel.] This close association implies that the Bahlikas and the Kambojas shared borders with each other. Since Bahlikas were in Bactria, their close neighbors, the Kambojas, most likely occupied the eastern parts i.e. Badakshan/Pamirs of Oxus country.

Ptolemy's evidence

Ancient geographer Ptolemy calls the region fed by Jaxartes and its tributaries as Komdei (Sanskrit Kamudha). Ammianus Marcellinus calls it as Komadas. Ptolemy also refers to some tribal people he calls "Komoi" (=Kamoi) and "Komroi" and locates them in the mountainous regions of Sogdiana as far as Jaxartes. The "Komoi" of Ptolemy apparently represents "Kamboi" a variant of vulgo Kamboika, Kamboy, Kambo. Ashoka's Rock Edicts [V and XII .] at Shahbazgarhi and the Jaina Canon Uttradhyana-Sutra [11/16.] , both write "Kamboya" for Kamboja. "Komudha" in Indian traditions is the name of mountainous region, north of mount Meru (Pamir). In the anterior Epic Age, this was the name given to high table land of the Tartary to north of Himalaya, from where the Aryans may have pushed their way southwards into Indian Peninsula and preserved the name as a relic of old mountain worship (Thomson). Dr Buddha Parkash identifies the Ptolemian Komdei with the Komudha-dvipa of the Puranic literature and connects it with the Iranian Kambojas [India and the World, p 71, Dr Buddha Parkash; also see Central Asiatic Provinces of Maurya Empire, p 403, Dr H. C. Seth.] . This may explain as to why the Yagnobi dialect of Yagnobe region in Zeravshan valley in Tajikstan still contains the relics of ancient verb 'shavti' of the Kamboji language.

Raghuvamsa's evidence

Raghuvamsa of Kalidasa (5th c AD) informs that after reducing the countries of western- Ghats, king Raghu proceeds via land-route to conquer the Parasikas [Raghu 4.60.] . The Parasikas loose the battle [Raghu 4.65.] . Raghu's forces move in north ("kauberi") direction from Parasika (Sassanian) land and hit Vamkshu [Raghu 4.67.] . At Vamkshu, Raghu's horses take breather and shed off the Kesra ("safron") leaves from their shoulders by rolling in the sands of Vamkshu Banks [Raghu 4.67.] . Here follows the encounter with the Hunas on west Banks of Vamkshu (Oxus) [ Raghu 4.68.] . The Hunas in 5th c AD were located in west parts of Oxus country i.e in Bactria. The Huna forces meet with complete disaster. Immediately after reducing the Hunas on western bank of Oxus, Raghu faces the Kambojas [Raghu 4.69.] . This suggests that the Kambojas were in close neighborhood to Hunas and were thus located in eastern Oxus country in 5th c AD.

Following salient points are notable which further reinforce the above view point:

*There is reference to Raghu's horse shedding off Kesara (Saffron) from their shoulders on the banks of river Vamkshu ("skandhaa.nllagna.kunkumakesaraan") [ Raghu 4.67 .] . The region on either side of Oxus is still renowned for its quality saffron crops [Raghu's line of conquest along India's Northern Border, Proceedings & Transactions of the 6th A.I.O. Conference, 1930, pp 101-120.] .

*There is reference to Kamboja's Walnut trees (akshotaih) being bent on account of Raghu's elephants being tied to them [ Raghu 4.69.] . Again, the region on either side of Oxus is still noted for its walnut produce [India In Kalidasa, p 61, B. S. Upadhyaya; Indian Historical Quarterly, III, p 524.] .

*It is also notable that Kalidasa's reference to immense treasure ("tunga.draviynah.rashyah") [Raghu 4.70.] presented by Kambojas to Raghu also points to the correctness of above identification of Kamboja in eastern parts of Oxus country (Badakshan-Pamirs) since even now there are mines of "silver", "emerald", "Amethyst" and "lapis lazuli" mines extant in Ghalcha speaking Anderab/Wakhan, Kokach and Munjan in Badakshan [Geographical Econom. Studies, p 46, Dr Moti Chandra; India in Kalidasa, 1968, p 61, B. S. Upadhyaya] .

Evidence from Commentator on Harsha-Carita

Bana Bhatta, the court poet of king Harsha Vardhana of Thanesara wrote "Harsha-Carita" in seventh century AD which makes reference to horses from Kambojas. The Commentator on Harsha-Carita, in his commentary, has stated "KAMBOJAH BAHLIKA DESAJAH", i.e the Kambojas belong to / originate from Bahlika-desa [Quoted by H. W. Bailey in Ancient Kamboja, Iran and Islam, 1971, p 66.] [Note: Jaina text Yasástilaka by Somadeva also affirms that Bahlika-desa was ancient Kamboja (See: Yasástilaka and Indian Culture, Or, Somadeva's Yasástilaka and Aspects of Jainism and Indian Thought and Culture in the Tenth Century, 1949, p 512, Krishna Kanta Handiqui - History.] . This ancient evidence may indicate that Bahlika (Bactria) or its eastern parts may also have formed parts of ancient Kamboja.

Hiun Tsang's evidence

Hiun Tsang (7th c AD) refers to one "Kiu-mi-to" as an independently ruled provincial unit in Pamirs (east of Khotlan) stated to form one of the seventeen political provinces in former Tukharistan region. Wu-k'ong refers to it as 'Kiomeche', while T'ang calls it 'Kumi'. Ancient Muslim writers refer to it as Kumed or Komadh. Al-Maqidisi refers to the people living in this region as "Kumiji". The scholars identify this name with Komedon, Cambothi or Kambuson of the Greek writings. Indian texts refer to it as 'Kamboj' [India and Central Asia, p 25, Dr P. C. Bagchi; cf: Central Asiatic Provinces of Maurya Empires, p 403, Dr H. C. Seth; Journal of the Asiatic Society, 1956, p 256, Asiatic Society (Calcutta, India), Asiatic Society of Bengal, Dr Buddha Prakash; India and the World, p 71, Dr Buddha Parkash.] . That the "Kumito" ("Kamboj") of Hiun Tsang existed as an independent political territory in/around Pamirs in 7/8th c is also confirmed from Kalhana's Rajatrangini which refers to Kambojas as neighbors to Tukharas located on Oxus valley.

Kalhana's evidence

According to ancient text Rajatarangini of Kalhana, a Sanskrit text from the north, king Lalitaditya Muktapida of Kashmir undertakes to reduce his neighboring countries. He launches war expedition onto the region of north from Kashmir and first he fights with the Kambojas [Rajatarangini: 4.164- 4.165.] and deprives them of their horses. Immediately after the Kambojas, he meets the Tukharas. Tukharas do not give him fight, but run away even abandoning their horses in the field [Rajatarangini 4.166.] . Then Lalitaditiya meets the Bhauttas in Baltistan in western Tibet north of Kashmir [Rajatarangini 4.168.] , then the Dardas in Karakoram/Himalaya [Rajatarangini 4.169, 4.171.] , the Valukambudhi [Rajatarangini 4.172.] and then he encounters "Strirajya" [Rajatarangini 4.173-174.] , the Uttarakurus [Rajatarangini 4.175.] and the Pragjyotisha respectively.

Based on this trail of victories of Lalitaditiya, numerous scholars have located the Kambojas in the eastern Oxus country as immediate neighbors to Tukharas who were located in "western Oxus" country including the Bahlika Bactria. Dr Sircar observes: 'Rajatarangini [Rajatarangini 4.165-166.] places the Kambojas along with the Tukharas in the upper Oxus valley including the Balkh and Badakshan' [Purana, Vol V, No 2, July 1963, The Land of Kamboja, p 252, Dr D. C. Sircar.] .

Evidence from Buddhist Text Vinaya

A Buddhist Sanskrit Text Vinaya [Ref: "Gilgit Manuscripts, III, 3, 136, Dr N. Dutt, quoted in B.S.O.A.S XIII, 404".] has the expression "Satam Kambojikanam kanayanam" i.e. a hundred maidens from Kamboja rendered in Tibetan as "Tho-gar yul-gyi bu-mo brgya" and by Mongolian as "To-gar ulus-un yagun ükin". Thus, the proper name "Kamboja" has been rendered as "Tho-gar" or "To-gar" in these languages. Further, Tho-gar/To-gar are Tibetan or Mongolian names for "Tokhar/Tukhar" [See Refs: Irano-Indica III, H. W. Bailey Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 13, No. 2, 1950 , pp. 389-409; see also: Ancient Kamboja, Iran and Islam, 1971, p 66, H. W. Bailey.] . Hence, according to this ancient evidence, the geographical boundaries of later time Tukharistan equate with that of the "ancient Kamboja", and hence this evidence locates the Kambojas in Badakhan/Pamirs and the region beyond.

Ramayana evidence

The Kishkindha Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana (200 BCE - 200 CE) mentions Shakas (Scythians), Kambojas, Yavanas (Greeks) and the Paradas as close neighbors in trans-Himalyan region i.e beyond Karakorum/Hindukush ranges [

:Sanskrit:::Kaamboja Yavanaan caiva Shakaan pattanaani ca
::Anvikshya Varadaan caiva Himavantam vicinvatha || 12 |
::— "(Ramayana 4.43.12)".
] . The Yavanas here refer to the Bactrian Yavanas (in western Oxus country), and the Sakas here refer to the Sakas of Sogdiana/Jaxartes and beyond. The "Vardas" are same Paradas [Hindu Polity, 1978, p 124, Dr K. P. Jayswal; Goegraphical Data in Early Purana, 1972, p 165, 55 fn, Dr M. R. Singh.] . The Paradas were located on river Sailoda in Xinjiang [MBH II.51.12; II.52.13; VI.87.7 etc.] and probably as far as upper reaches of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers [Op cit, p 159-60, Dr M. R. Singh.] . Thus, the Kamboja location in western Oxus country as neighbors to both the Yavanas and the Sakas is thus pretty much certain.

umerian evidence

The Sumerian myth of "Enmerker and the Lord of Aratta" contains an old reference to Aratta people/country of the late Vedit period. The region is stated to be located beyond Zagros, towards eastern Iran and is stated to be "the source of lapis lazuli" [Sumer and the Sumerians, 2004, p 184, Harriet E. W. Crawford .] . The Aratta people are first mentioned in "Baudhayana Shrautasutra" [Sutra 18.13; 18,44] and "Bhaudhayana Dharamasutra". [ Sutra 1.1.30.] They belong to north-west since they are bracketed with the Gandharas. Hence they are close neighbors of Gandharas. They are stated to be despised people. Scholars say that "Aratta" is a popular (prakrit) form of Vedic "A-rashtra" -- which means "without government". This compares to Avestic "A-sara" -- also meaning" without head/government"--thus the Vedic "Aratta" probably alludes to A-rashtra i.e. kingless or republican people/territory. Geographically, this Vedic Aratta is located at the source of river "Rasa" in Pamir.

The above text is based on "Early Eastern Iran and the Atharvaveda". [Persica-9, 1980, fn-3, Dr M. Witzel] .

The Sumerian Aratta refers to eastern Iran [ Sumer and the Sumerians, 2004, p 184, Harriet E. W. Crawford - Social Science.] , more plausibly, northern parts of Afghanistan (Badakshan and Balkh) [See ref: Archaeology, 1948, p 15, Archaeological Institute of America - Archaeology.] [Legend of Ram: Antiquity to Janmabhumi Debate, 2004, p 74, Sanujit Ghose] which, since remote antiquity, has been the only known source of lapis lazuli. Investigators like Col Cunningham, Dr R. K. Mookerji, Dr Buddha Parkash, Dr. Koenraad Elst etc also regard Aratta as Prakritic form of Vedic "A-rashtra" or "Arashtraka" meaning kingless or stateless. [See: The Ancient Geography of India, 1871, p 215, Alexander Cunningham - India; Evolution of Heroic Tradition in ancient Panjab, 1971, p 53, Dr Buddha Parkash; Also see: The Age of Imperial Unity, History and Culture of Indian People, p 49, Ed Dr R. C. Majumdar, Dr A. D. Pusalkar; Hindu Civilization: (from the Earliest Times Up to the Establishment of the ..., 1923, p 289, Dr Radhakumud Mookerji - Civilization, Hindu; The Generalship of Alexander the Great, 2004, p 255, J. F. C. Fuller - History; The Cambridge Ancient History, 1923, p 406, John Bagnell Bury, Stanley Arthur Cook, Frank Ezra Adcock, Martin Percival Charlesworth, Norman Hepburn Baynes, Charles Theodore Seltman etc etc.] . Badakshan, according to most noted scholarship, formed western parts of ancient Kamboja [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kambojas#Original_Home] . It lied in "trans-Himalaya" (trans-Hindukush) region, which in Aitareya Brahmana [Aitareya Brahmana VIII.14.] is stated to be the land of the republican (kingless) people like Uttara Kurus, Uttara Madras and Kambojas etc. Based on above scenario, the Sumerian/Vedic "Aratta" can fairly be taken to be a popular (prakrit) form of "Vedic A-rashtra" and therefore, it probably alludes to the kingless (republican) Kambojas (later, the Parama Kambojas) in the trans-Himalayan ("parena himvantan") region.

Al-Idrisi's evidence

Arabic geographer Al-Idrisi (1099-1166 CE), while writing on Badakshan, its flora, its fauna, its scenic beauty, its quality horses & ponies, its precious stones and mineral wealth etc---at the end, he states that Badakshan shared boundaries with "Kanoj". The Kanoj of Idrisi, in fact, is the Sanskrit Kamboj [ Geographical and Economic Studies in the Mahābhārata: Upāyana Parva, 1945, p 39, Dr Moti Chandra - India ] [Asoka and His Inscriptions, 1968, p 96, Beni Madhab Barua, Ishwar Nath Topa ] [ Journal of the Asiatic Society, 1940, p 37, Asiatic Society (Calcutta, Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal - Asia etc.] [Prācīna Kamboja, jana aura janapada =: Ancient Kamboja, people and country, 1981, Dr Jiyālāla Kāmboja, Dr Satyavrat Śāstrī - Kamboja (Pakistan).] [ Cf: Journal of the Oriental Institute, 1919, p 78, Oriental Institute (Vadodara, India) - Oriental studies etc etc.] . Due to misplacement of dot, the Kamboj got changed to Kanoj in Persian transcription. Al-Idrisi belonged to 11th c AD. Obviously, the boundaries of ancient Kamboj had considerably shrunken down at times of Idrisi so that he had to differentiate Badakshan from the Kamboj located in its contiguity i.e. Pamirs [ Op cit.] . Otherwise also, the Kanoj of Idrisi can't be the Kanauj of Uttar-Pradesh since Kanauj of Uttar-Pradesh does not share boundaries with Badakshan and it is also located over thousand miles away from Badakshan.

Praja Bhatta's evidence

Praja Bhatta, the author of "fouth Rajatarangini" while writing about history of Moghul dynasty in India calls emperor Babur as a Yavana king from Kambhoja [

:Sanskrit: :Kaambhoja.yavaneshen Vabhore.n vipatitah
:tadaiva hastinapuryamebhrahemo nripeshavra || 223 |
:— "(Raghu Nath Sinha, Shukarajatarangini tatha Rajatarangini Sangraha: p 110)" .
] . Since Vabur (Babur) was native of Fargana in Central Asia, which region is immediately to the north of Pamirs/Badakshan...the land of ancient Kambojas therefore, this medieval era evidence, furnishes us almost with the exact location of ancient Kamboja.

Thus evidence from Hiun Tsang, Kalidasa, Kalhana, Idrisi and Praja Bhatta etc, all seems to locate the ancient Kamboja in eastern parts of Oxus country, to the north/north-west of Kashmir i.e in Pamirs-Badakshan. There are many more references in ancient Sanskrit literature which can be cited and also seem to place the Kambojas in Badakshan/Pamirs.


The above numerous ancient evidence amply supports the Trans-Hindukush region to be the original home of ancient Kambojas. Dr Aggarwala concluded: "The Kamboja as equivalent to Pamir-Badakshan satisfies all ancient references and data " [Geographical Data in Panini's Ashtadhyayi, Journal of Uttara Pradesha Historical Society, Vol XVI, part I, p 27, Dr V. S. Aggarwala.] . This ancient Kamboja location in Pamir-Badakshan originally suggested by Dr Christian Lassen, has also been endorsed by numerous eminent scholars like Dr Jaychandra Vidyalankara, Dr Moti Chandra, Dr A. M Shastri, Dr S. K. Chatterjee, G. A. Grierson, R. R. Pandey, Dr. D. Devahuti, Dr B. S. Upadhyaya, Dr M. R. Singh, Dr J. L. Kamboj, F. Raymond Allchin and others.

Kamboja versus Parama Kamboja

Ancient literary evidence shows that like the Kuru/Uttarakuru, Madra/Uttaramadra, China/Parama-China, Yona/Parama-Yona, there were also two Kamboja settlements....one located in Pamir/Badakshan and beyond which was known as Parama-Kamboja and the second was located on south of Hindukush in Paropamisade region, as far as Rajauri in west of Kashmir, which was known as Kamboja.

Mahabharata evidence

This existence of two Kamboja settlements is powerfully substantiated from Mahabharata verses [MBH II.27.23-25.] which specifically draw our attention to Kamboja and Parama-Kamboja people [

:Sanskrit: :Grihitva tu bala.n saram phalgu chotsrijya pandavah.| :Daradansaha "Kambojai"rajayatpakashAsanih. || 23 |
:praguttara.n disha.n ye cha vasantyashritya dasyavah.
:nivasanti vane ye cha tansarvanajayatprabhuh. || 24 |
:Lohan"Parama.Kambojan"Rishikan uttarAnapi.
:sahita.nstanmaharaja vyajayatpakashasanih. || 25 |
:— "(Mahabharata II.27.23-25)" .
] .

The above scriptural text relates to Arjuna's "Digvijay" expedition against the tribes located in the north-western parts of ancient India These verses attest two Kambojas.... one located as neighbors to the Daradas in cis-Hindukush region (Kamboja) and the second as neighbor to the Lohas and Rishikas in the Trans-Hindukush/Transoxiana (Parama-Kamboja).

Thus: The historical truth is that there were two Kambojas [ Problems of Ancient India, 2000, p 1 sqq, K. D. Sethna, Purana, Vol VI, No 2, Jan 1964, pp 207-214; Geographical Text of the Puranas, A further Critical Study, Purana Vol VI, No I, February 1962, C. A. Lewis; Bhartya Itihaas ki Ruprekha; Proceedings and Transactions of the All-India Oriental Conference, 1930, Dr J. C. Vidyalnkara etc.] .

Ptolemy's evidence

The existence of two Kamboja settlements is also supported from Ptolemy's Geography which references a geographical term "Tambyzoi" on the Oxus in Badakshan and also an "Ambautai" people located on the southern side of Hindukush in the Paropanisadae region [Geography 6.18.3; See
] .

Eminent indologist Dr S. Levi and many other noted scholars [Indian Antiquary, 1923, p 54; Pre Aryan and Pre Dravidian in India, 1993, p 122, Dr Sylvain Lévi, Dr Jean Przyluski, Jules Bloch, Asian Educational Services; Cities and Civilization, 1962, p 172, Govind Sadashiv Ghurye; Problems of Ancient India, 2000, p 1, K. D. Sethna; Asiatic Society, Calcutta, Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1956, p 37; Purana, Vol VI, No 2, Jan 1964, pp 207-208; Journal of the Asiatic Society , 1956, p 88, Asiatic Society (Calcutta, Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal); Geographical Data in the Early Purāṇas: A Critical Study, 1972, p 165, Dr M. R. Singh; Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World, 2000, p 99, edited by Richard J.A. Talbert - History; Neuro-ophthalmology, 2005, p 99 Leonard A. Levin, Anthony C. Arnold; Purana-vimar'sucika -: Bibliography of Articles on Puranas, 1985, p 133, P. G. Lalye.] have identified the Ptolemian term 'Tambyzoi' with Sanskrit Kamboja. Similarly, mainstream Indologist Dr Michael Witzel of Harvard [Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies, Vol. 5,1999, issue 1 (September).] and several other scholars [Indo-Aryan Controversy: Evidence and Inference in Indian History, 2005, p 257, Laurie L. Patton, Edwin Bryant; The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia: : Language, Material Culture and Ethnicity, 1995, p 326, George Erdosy; Linguistic Aspects of the Aryan non-invasion theory, Part I, Dr. Koenraad Elst, See Link: [http://koenraadelst.bharatvani.org/articles/aid/keaitlin1.html] ; The official pro-invasionist argument at last, A review of the Aryan invasion arguments in J. Bronkhorst and M.M. Deshpande: Aryan and Non-Aryan in South Asia, Dr. Koenraad Elst, See link: [http://koenraadelst.bharatvani.org/reviews/hock.html] .] accept Ambautai identity with the Sanskrit Kamboja.

Evidence from Dasam-Granth

While referring to the invasion of Alexander of Macedon, "Dasasam Granth", a seventeenth century text of Panjab mentions Kambuj (Kabuj) as neighbors to the Kabulis and then the Kaamboj as neighbors to the "Kilmaka" and China ("Cheen ke") people. Kilmakas probably refers to the Mongol "Kalmucks" who lived in Central Asian Steppes. After the Kilmaks, the text makes reference to China (Cheen ke). Then it refers to Macheen (Manchuria) [Dasam Granth, 2024, Triya Chritra 217, verse 14, Trans. Narain Singh, Dr Ajit Singh Aulakh.] .

"Thus, the Dasam-Granth authors also seem to be aware of the existence of two ancient Kamboja settlements."

Ghalcha evidence

The Ghalcha dialect, a descendent of ancient Kamboji, is pre-dominantly spoken on north side of the Hindukush including the Pamirs. However, Yidga, a sub-dialect of Ghalcha Munjani, is found in Ludkoh on the southern side of Hindukush [Lingustic Survey of India, p 455, Dr G. A. Grierson.] . This shows that a section of Kambojas had moved to the southern sides of the Hindukush as well, thus attesting two settlements of the Kambojas [Ancient Kamboja People and the Country, p 154, Dr Kamboj.] .

Parama Kamboja

The Kambojas whom we see often associated with the Bahlikas in ancient Sanskrit literature are, in fact, the Trans-Hindukush branch of the Kambojas, known as Parama-Kambojas. These Kambojas are associated with the Lohas and Rishikas of the trans-Oxian region [

:"Lohan Parama.Kambojan-Rishikan"uttaranapi. :— "(MBH 2.27.25)".] .

The Rishikas have been identified with the Tukharas/Kushanas [Dr V. S. Aggarwal, Dr Jaychandra Vidyalanakar, Prof Stein, Dr P. C. Bagchi etc.] . Obviously the Parama-Kambojas lived in what today comprises the Ghalcha speaking region of Central Asia. These Kambojas were allied with the Lohas and the Rishikas against Arjuna's troops.

The Greek evidence designates the vast territory lying on the north of "Hemodos" as Skythia, and to its south as India [Qv: Indika, Fragment 1, Diodorus II.35; Also: Annals and Antiquities, I, p 49, fn 6, James Todd.] . Hemodos was the name for Himalaya [Nonnos Dionysiaca 40.260.] . Hemodos is also known as "Himaos" or "Paropamisos", but the Greeks generally called it "Kaukasos" i.e Caucasus which was Greek designation for Hindukush [Qv: Fragment IV, Strabo XV.i.II, p 689.] . Himalaya of the ancient texts and traditions extended from eastern ocean to western occean and, thus included Hindukush and Karakoram ranges as well [Ref: Sumangavilasini,I.1; Geographical Data in Early Puranas, 1972, p 65.] . The Scythia of the classical writings was the "Sakadvipa" of the Sanskrit texts. This shows that the Parama Kambojas were located in Scythic cultural belt and hence obviously followed the Scythian culture. Thus, allied tribes of the Paramaa Kambojas, Lohas and Rishikas (Tukharas/Kushanas) were located in the Scythia or the Sakadvipa of Hindu texts [ See: India as Known to Pāṇini: A Study of the Cultural Material in the Ashṭādhyāyī, 1953, p 68, Dr V. S. Aggarwala.] .


The Kambojas whom we see aligned with the Daradas against Arjuna were the "cis-Hindukush" Kambojas [

:Daradansaha "Kambojai"rajayatpakashasanih. || 23 |
:— "(MBH 2.27.23)".
] . These are also the Kambojas whom we often find listed with the Yavanas, Gandharas and the Daradas. They also find mention in Ashoka's Edicts V and XIII [

:Yona-Kamboja-Gandharanam.....................R.E V :Yone-Kambojesu.......................................R.E. XIII.] . Like Ashoka's Rock Edict XIII, the "Shantparva" section of the Mahabharata also lists these Kambojas with the Gandharas and the Yonas (Yavanas) together [Yona-Kamboja-Gandhara....(MBH 12.207.43).] . These are the same the Kambojas who are attested to have their political headquarters at Rajapura/Abhisara ("modern Rajori-Poonch") and whom Karna had also earlier fought with and defeated, some time before the Mahabhara war [

:"Karna-Rajapuram-gatva-Kambojah-nirjitastava" || 5 |
:— "(MBH 7.4.5)" .
] . Mahabharta further attests that these cis-Hindukush Kambojas had followed republican constitution [

:Sanskrit::narayanashcha gopalah "Kambojana.n cha ye Ganah". //39.:Karnena vijitah purva.n sangrame shura sammatah. /:— "(MBH 7/91/39-40)" .

:Translation:"...........and the "several Ganas" of the Kambojas who were regarded as very brave and accomplished warriors in the battle-field ("Kambojana.n cha ye ganah.......sangrame shura sammatah") and whom Karna had earlier fought with and vanquished...."] . With passing of time, these cis-Hindukush region appear to have come under Indian cultural influence. This probably is the reason as to why the ancient Kambojas are attested to have both Indian as well as Iranian affinities.

Kambojas in Archosia

Later, some section of Kambojas had moved still further onto Arachosia, which fact is attested from "Shar-i-Kuna inscription" of Ashoka found in Kandahar in which the Aramaic version of the inscription is said to have been intended for the Kambojas. In his discussion of the Ashokan Greco-Aramaic inscription from Kandahar, Prof E. Benveniste suggests that the Armaic part of the inscription may have been addressed to the Kambojas in that region, "though no mention of either the Yonas or the Kambojas has been made in the text of the inscription".

Dr Michael Witzel holds similar views and locates his Kambojas from "Kabol valley down to Arachosia" [ Persica-9, p 92, fn 81.] .

Eastern Kamboja

A branch of Central Asian Kambojas seems also to have migrated eastwards towards Tibet in the wake of Kushana (1st century) or else Huna (5th century) pressure and hence their notice in the chronicles of Tibet (Kam-po-tsa, Kam-po-ce, Kam-po-ji) and Nepal (Kambojadesa). [ "The view that Nepali Traditions apply name Kamboja Desha to Tibet is based on the statement made by Foucher, [Iconographie bouddhique pp 134-135] on the authority of Nepali Pandit of B.H Hdgson. But it is supported by two manuscripts [No 7768 & 7777] described in the Catalogue of Sanskrit and Prakrit Mss in the library of India Office Vol II, Part II". [Abhinandana-Bhāratī: Professor Krishna Kanta Handiqui Felicitation Volume, 1982, p 112, Krishna Kanta Handiqui, Pratap Chandra Choudhury, Biswanarayan Shastri; See also: Dr R. C. Majumdar, History of Bengal, I, 191, Dist Gazeteer [Rajashahi] , 1915, p 26; Some Historical Aspects of the Inscriptions of Bengal, Dr B. C. Sen, p 342, fn 1] . For, western Tibet= Kamboja...See: Downfall of Hindu India, 1986, p 221, Chintaman Vinayak Vaidya.] Burmese chronicles refer to them as Kampuchih. Later, these Kambojas appear to have moved towards Assam from where they may have invaded Bengal during the bad days of the Palas and wrested north-west Bengal from them. R. R. Diwarkar writes: "The Kambojas of ancient India are known to have been living in north-west, but in this period (9th c AD), they are known to have been living in the north-east India also, and very probably, it was meant Tibet" [ Bihar Through the Ages, G. Ed. R. R. Diwarkar, 1958, p 312; Comprehensive History of Bihar, 1974, p 259, Bindeshwari Prasad Sinha, Syed Hasan Askari. Cf: Journal of Tamil Studies, 1985, p 86-87, International Institute of Tamil Studies - Tamil philology;International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics: IJDL., 1984, p 348, University of Kerala Dept. of Linguistics - Dravidian languages.] Benjamin Walker remarks: "A Branch of Kambojas (originally living in north-west of India) seems to have migrated eastwards along the Himalayan foothills, hence their notices in thy Tibetan and Nepalese chronicles" [Hindu World, Vol I, p 520, Benjamin Walker.] . Brahma Purana of 5th c AD mentions the Kambojas around Pragjyotisha and Tamraliptika. [Brahama Purana 53/16] [See also: The Indian Historical Quarterly, Vol.VI, No.1, 1930.03 pp. 98-99 fn-2, Dr P.C. Bagchi; A Critical Study of the Geographical Data in the Early Puranas, p 168, Dr M. R. Singh; Pala-Sena Yuger Vamsanucarita, p 70; Ancient India, History and Archaeology: History and Archaeology, 1994, p 72, fn 168,Dilip Kumar Ganguly; Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 310, 328, Dr J. L. Kamboj; New light on History of Bengal, Indian Historical Quarterly, Vol. XV-4, 1939, p. 511; The Dynastic History of Northern India, I, p 309 by Dr. H. C. Ray; History and Culture of Indian People, Imperial Kanauj, p 323, Dr A. D. Pusalkar, Dr R. C. Majumdar etc etc.] . Buddhist text "Sasanavamsa" [Sasanavamsa (Pali Text Series), pp 64-65, 83 etc] also attests the Kambojas in/around Assam. These Kambojas had made first bid to conquer Bengal during the reign of king Devapala (810 AD-850 AD) but were repulsed. A latter attempt was crowned with success when they were able to deprive the Palas of the suzerainty over North and West Bengal and set up a Kamboja dynasty in Bengal towards the middle of 10th century AD [Some Kṣatriya Tribes of Ancient India, 1924, p 252, B. C. Law - Kshatriyas.] . According to Dr P. C. Bagchi, Dr S Chattopadhya etc: "The Kambojas, a nomadic tribe, lived beyond Himalayas in Central Asia. One of their branches entered India in very early times and after a while lost its identity as distinct people by merging into the local population, but other batches of them must have entered east Tibet and the valley of Mekong from another direction. By this assumption only, we can explain why the name Kambuja was given to the kingdom founded in the middle valley of the Mekong. In eastern Tibet their name can be traced in the name of the province of Khams and it was probably from this region that the Kamboja invasion of Assam took place in later times. A branch of them migrated to North Bengal at an early period though their actual invasion came at a later date" [ Journal, 1943, p 110, Greater India Society - India; India & Central Asia, p 117, Dr P. C. Bagchi; Racial Affinities of Early North Indian Tribes, 1973, p 76, Dr Sudhakar Chattopadhyaya - Ethnology India.] [For Kamboja connection with Tibet, Bengal and Mekong/Indo-China, cf also: The Racial History of India, 1950, p 153, Chandra Chakraberty - Ethnology; Literary History of Ancient India in Relation to Its Racial and Linguistic Affiliations – 1950, pp 37, 149, 165, Chandra Chakraberty; Paradise of Gods, 1966, p 267, Qamarud Din Ahmed - Pakistan.] . "International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics( IJDL)" also observes that the Kambojas, a nomadic tribe of Central Asia and a branch of the northern Kushanas or Tukharas (the Yueh-chis) migrated from Central Asia ("Oxus/Pamirs") to the Himalayas ("Tibet"), Yunnan ("South China") and the Mekong Delta [International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics (IJDL), 1984, p 348, University of Kerala Dept. of Linguistics; See also: Journal of Tamil Studies, 1985, p 86-87, International Institute of Tamil Studies - Tamil philology; Cf: Indian and Central Asia, Calcutta, 1955, p 31-32, P. C. Bagchi.] .


ee also

*Parama Kambojas
*Uttara Madras
*Uttara Kurus
*Language and ethnicity of Kambojas

List of references

*Raghuvamsa of Kalidasa
*Rajtrangini of Kalhana
*Rajatrangini of Prajabhatta
*Land of Kambojas, Puranas, Vol V, No 2, July 1963, Dr D C Sircar
*Kamboja, Purana, Vol VI, No 1, Jan 1964, Dr D. C. Sircar

*Kamboja Janapada,Vol VI, No 1, Jan 1964, Dr V. S. Aggarwala
*Identification of Kamboja, Purana, Vol V, No 2, July 1963, Dr V. S. Aggarwala
*Location of Kamboja, Purana, VI, No 1, Jan 1964, K. D. Sethna

*Hunas, Yavanas and Kambojas, Indian Historical Quarterly, XXVI-2, 1950, Dr S. B. Chaudhury
*Geographical Text of the Puranas, A further Critical Study, Purana Vol VI, No I, February 1962, C. A. Lewis

*The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol 4, John Boardman

*Journal Asiatique, Prof E. Benveniste

*Early Eastern Iran and Atharvaveda, Persica-9, 1980
*Problems of Ancient India, 2000, K. D. Sethna

*Geographical Data in the Early Puranas, A Critical Study, Dr M. R. Singh

*Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, Dr J. L. Kamboj
*Political History of Ancient India, 1996, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee
*Bhartya Itihaas ki Ruprekha, Dr J. C. Vidyalnkara
*Bharatya Bhumi aur uske Nivaasi, 1930, J. C. Dr Vidyalnkara
*Bhartya Itihaas ki Mimansa, Dr J. C. Vidyalnkara
*Linguistic Survey of India, Vol X, 1921, Dr G. A. Grierson
*Journal of Royal Asiatic Society
*Some Kshatrya Tribes of Ancient India, 1924, Dr B. C. Law
*India as Known to Panini, Dr V. S. Aggarwala
*Geographical and Economical Studies in the Mahabharata, Dr Moti Chandra

*Ancient India, J. W. McCrindle, Trans/edited by Dr Majumdar 1927
*Central Asiatic Provinces of Maurya Empire, Dr H. C. Seth

*The Cultural Heritage of India, Dr S. K. Chatterjee
*These Kamboj People, 1979, K. S. Dardi

Further reading

*K.D. Sethna. Problems of Ancient India, 2000 New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. ISBN 81-7742-026-7
*Geographical Data in the Early Purānas: A Critical Study, 1972, p 163-1689, Dr M. R. Singh
*Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, pp 117-157, Dr J. L. Kamboj
*The Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, pp 54-74, Kirpal Singh

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