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Subjects /Indian History / Ancient History / Post Mauryan Foreign and Indegenious Invasion

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23 Jan 2022

In this section, we will learn about the various foreign rulers that attacked India.

Many foreigners came to India during this period and settle down in India. These foreigners are:

  • Indo-Greeks
  • Sakas/Scythians
  • Parthians
  • Kushanas

In some parts of India there were indigenous kingdoms, these were:

  • Sungas
  • Kanvas
  • Satavahanas

Indo-Greek Rulers

  • They were the rulers of “Bactria”, a place in Afghanistan. Indo-Greeks were originally called Bactrian Greeks.
  • Most important Indo-Greek ruler was:
    • Menander also known as Milinda. Prior to Menander, there was another king called, Demetrius who issued gold coins.
    • He was a Buddhist king.
  • They introduced the System of Curtains in drama.
  • Old name of curtain: Yavanika.


  1. Original Homeland of Sakas: Central Asia.
  2. Reason for migration of Sakas towards India:
    • Yu-Chi” tribe in N-W China, lived between Central Asia and N-W China.
    • People of this tribe kept entering into China in search of fodder.
    • To stop the incursion of these people, Chinese king ordered to build a wall – the ‘Great wall of China’.
    • After the construction of wall, Yu-Chi tribe moved to Central Asia and displaced Sakas.
    • Sakas then crossed Hindukush mountain and entered India.
  3. Founder of Sakas/Scythians rule: Moga/Maues (First ruler).
  4. Most important of Saka kings was: Rudradaman I.

Rudradaman I

  • Rudradaman was the gradson of Chastana, the founder of Kshatrapas dynasty.
  • He was instrumental in the decline of the Satavahana empire.
  • He also conquered the Yaudheya tribes of Haryana.
  • He took the title of Maha-kshtrapa (Great Satrap).
  • The Sanskrit Junagadh Inscription dated 150 CE credits Rudradaman for supporting the cultural arts and Sanskrit literature and repairing the dam built by the Mauryans.
  • It was the first inscription in ‘Sanskrit’ language in India.
  • The script used was -> Sharda script which later developed into ‘Devnagiri’.


Their original homeland: ‘Persia’.

Most important Parthian ruler was ‘Gondophernes’

During Gondophernes time, for the first time, a new religion came to India – ‘Christianity’.

Christianity was introduced by ‘St. Thomas’

St. Thomas came to India from Palestine.

Kushanas (old name: Yu-Chi)

The Kushans were one of the five clans into which the Yu-Chi tribe was divided.

We came across 2 successive dynasties of the Kushanas.

First dynasty was founded by a House-of-Chiefs who were called ‘Khadphises, and ruled for 28 years from about 50 AD. It had 2 kings, namely:

  • Kujula Khadphises I
  • Vima Khadphises II
  • Khadphises I: Issued coins south of Hindukush. He minted the coins as imitation of Roman coins,
  • Khadphises II: he issued a large number of gold coins and spread his kingdom in east of the India.
  • House of Khadphises was succeeded by that of Kanishka.

Second Dynasty was founded by Kanishka (78 AD).

  • Kanishka became ruler in 78 A.D., to mark his coronation, he started a new calendar “Saka Era”.
  • Kanishka is known to history for two reasons:
    • He started an era in AD 78 (Saka Era) and is still used by the Government of India.
    • His whole-hearted patronage to Buddhism.

Impact of the Foreign Rule

Foreign rulers made a large impact on India, some of which are given below:

Better Cavalry

  • Sakas and Kushans introduced better cavalry and the use of the horse-riding on large scale.
  • They made common the use of – Reins and Saddles.
  • They introduced: Turban, Tunic, Trousers and Heavy-Long coat.
  • Sherwani is a successor of the long coat.
  • The Central Asian also brought in – Cap, Helmet and Boots, which were used by the warriors.


  • Development of ‘feudatory organizations’.
  • The Sakas and the Kushans strengthen the idea of ‘divine origin of Kingship’.
  • The Kushans also introduced ‘Satrap system’ of government.
  • The empire was divided into numerous Satrapies and each Satrapy was placed under the rule of a Satrap.
  • The Greeks also introduced the practice of ‘military- governorship’.

Religious Development

  • Some of the foreign rulers were converted to Vaishnavism.
  • The Greek ambassador ‘Heliodorus’, set up a pillar in honour of Vasudev near Vidisha, in Madhya Pradesh around the middle of 2nd century BC.
  • A few other rulers adopted Buddhism.
  • The famous Greek ruler ‘Menander’ became a Buddhist.
  • The Kushanas rulers worshipped both Shiva and the Buddha, several other were worshipper of Vishnu.
  • The origin of Mahayan Buddhism (or the great wheel) is also believed to be during the period of Kushanas rule.
  • In the old puritan Buddhism, certain things associated with the Buddha were worshipped as his symbols. These were replaced with his images, with the opening of Christian era.
  • Image/Idol worship in Buddhism seemed to have led to the practice of Idol worship in Brahamanism on a large scale.
  • With the rise of Mahayana, the old puritan school of Buddhism came to be known as the ‘Hinayana’ or the lesser wheel.
  • Gandhar and Mathura schools of art were formed.
  • The Kushana empire brought together masons and other artisans, trained in different schools and countries. This gave rise to several schools of art;
    • Central Asian
    • Gandhar
    • Mathura

Literature and Learning

  • The earliest specimen of ‘Kavya style’ is found in the- ‘Junagarh’ inscription of Rudradaman in Kathiawar, in about 150 AD.
  • Ashvagosha wrote – “Buddhacharita”.
  • The Greeks contributed to the development of the Indian theatre by introducing the use the ‘Curtain’.


Earlier, gold coin for the first time was introduced by the Indo-Greeks.

Purest gold coins were for the first time issued by the Kushanas.

These coins were called as ‘Inscribed coins as the script was appeared from Mauryan time.

Indigenous rulers


  • This dynasty was founded by ‘Pushyamitra Sunga’, he was Commander-in-Chief of the last Mauryan ruler.
  • Capital: Pataliputra.
  • Sungas were Brahmins.
  • Next ruler: Agnimitra Sunga
  • During the reign of Agnimitra Sunga, a famous person came to India from Greek kingdom, Heliodorous.
  • Heliodorous built a victory pillar (Stambha) in Vidhisha, Madhya Pradesh. This pillar was dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
  • The pillar is also known as “Garuda Stambha”.


  • For the first time, the evidence of the usage of steel in India, came from Heliodorous period.
  • Steel was made by the process of “Carbonisation”.
  • Later, in Industrial revolution the steel was made by Bessemer.


  • They were Brahmins.
  • Contemporary to Kanvas was a famous person “Manu”, he also was a Brahmin.
  • Manu wrote the most authentic legal book: ‘Manu Smriti’ – it was also called Ancient Crime Book of India.
  • There was no concept of Equality before law.
  • It was a caste based society.
  • Dalits burned Manusmriti, when their movement was started.


  • This was very powerful, indigenous kingdom.
  • Their capital was – ‘Paithan’/ Parthistan, in Maharashtra around Godawari.
  • Their rule started from Western Deccan, Maharashtra area.
  • Founder of Satavahanas dynasty = ‘Simuka’.
  • After Simuka, when Satavahans captured entire Deccan up to East Andhra, they were also referred as Andhras.
  • They were first in India, to issue two types of coins
    • Lead Coin
    • Potin coin, (Potin is an alloy of Copper, Zinc and Tin)
  • They also started for the first time a new practice in India called, “Land Grants”.
  • This practice of land grants led to Indian feudalism or Samantawad.
  • The practice of land Grant was maximum during Post Gupta time. i.e., 550 AD.

Know more about Indian Feudalism

 Indian Feudalism is a type of polity (administration).

 In this, the King started to grant the land of his kingdom to some person.

 The person who received the land was called “Donee” and the King – Donor.

 Donee collected the land revenue of his area. He also performed the    administrative and judicial rights.

 Donee also maintained their own army and gradually because of the declining king control over them, became independent.

 After becoming independent with army of their own, and the authority over administrative and judicial matters, he was called ‘Feudal lord’.

 After the death of the done, area was ruled by his sons or successors.

 Due to this practice, the polity of India became de-centralized.