Pusyamitra Sunga

Pusyamitra Sunga

Pusyamitra Sunga (B. ???, R. 185-151 BCE, D. 151 BCE) was the founder and first King of the Sunga Dynasty in Northern India.

Pusyamitra Sunga was originally a "Senapati" (General) of the Mauryan empire. In 185 BCE he assassinated the last Mauryan Emperor (Brhadrata) during an army review, and proclaimed himself King. He then performed the Ashwamedha Yajna (horse sacrifice) and brought much of Northern India under his rule. Inscriptions of the Shungas have been found as far as the Jalandhar in the Punjab, and the Divyavadana mentions that his rule extended as far as Sagala (Sialkot).

Pusyamitra Sunga's Reign

Pushyamitra's reign was marked by warfare which was characteristic of this age in India. He and his successors fought the Indo Greeks, Kalingas, Satavahanas (Andhras), and possibly the kingdoms of Panchala and Mathura (which may not have been under his rule).

Following the assassination of Brhadrata, in 180 BCE the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom invaded Sunga lands with an army led by Demetrius I of Bactria. The Greco-Bactrians overran Arachosia, Gedrosia, the Punjab, and perhaps Mathura. Pushyamitra may have regained some of the lost territory,Fact|date=February 2007 with the Ashvamedha terminating at the Indus late in his reign (Kulke? Fact|date=February 2007).

Pusyamitra may have been attacked by King Kharavela of Kalinga (modern Orissa). Kharavela's inscriptions claim that he forced a King of Magadha named "Bahasatimita", (thought to be the Sunga King Brhaspatimitra, or Pusyamitra himself) to bow at his feet. However, this has not been confirmed as dates for Kharavela range several centuries.

Accounts of Persecution

Legendary accounts

Pusyamitra Shunga is believed in tradition to have been hostile towards Buddhists and to have persecuted the Buddhist faith.

According to the 2nd century Ashokavadana::"Then King Pusyamitra equipped a fourfold army, and intending to destroy the Buddhist religion, he went to the Kukkutarama. (...) Pusyamitra therefore destroyed the sangharama, killed the monks there, and departed.:After some time, he arrived in Sakala, and proclaimed that he would give a hundred dinara reward to whoever brought him the head of a Buddhist monk" ("Shramanas") Ashokavadana, 133, trans. John Strong.

A Buddhist tradition holds him as having taken steps to check the spread of Buddhism as "the number one enemy of the sons of the Shakya's [Gautama Buddha was held to be from the tribe of the Shakya's (Alt terms: Shaka/Shakya) and his title Shakyamuni means "sage of the Shakas".] and a most cruel persecutor of the religion".Charles (EDT) Willemen, Bart Dessein, Collett Cox, "Sarvastivada Buddhist Scholastism", 1998, Brill Academic Publishers pg.38-39] The "Divyavadana" ascribes to him the razing of "stupas" and "viharas" built by Ashoka, and describes him as one who wanted to undo the work of Ashoka. Ashok Kumar Anand, "Buddhism in India", 1996, Gyan Books, ISBN 8121205069, pg 91-93]

=Academic debate=jkSome historians have rejected Pushyamitra' s persecution of Buddhists. The traditional narratives are dated to two centuries after Pushyamitra’s death in "Asokâvadâna" and the "Divyâvadâna", Buddhist books of legend. The traditional accounts are often described as exaggerated. The Asokavadana legend is likely a Buddhist version of Pusyamitra's attack on the Mauryas, reflecting the declining influence of Buddhism in the Sunga Imperial court.

Among the detractors is Romila Thapar, who writes that archaeological evidence casts doubt on the claims of Buddhist persecution by Pushyamitra [Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas by Romila Thapar, Oxford University Press, 1960 P200] . Support of the Buddhist faith by the Sungas at some point is suggested by an epigraph on the gateway of Barhut, which mentions its erection "during the supremacy of the Sungas". [John Marshall "A guide to Sanchi", p11]

On the other hand, Sir John Marshall noted that the Sanchi stupa was vandalized during the 2nd century before it was rebuilt later on a larger scale, suggesting the possibility that the original brick stupa built by Ashoka was destroyed by Pusyamitra and then restored by his successor Agnimitra. [Sir John Marshall, "A Guide to Sanchi", Eastern Book House, 1990, ISBN-10: 8185204322, pg.38] Similarly, the Deokothar Stupas (geographically located between Sanchi and Barhut) suffered destruction during the same period, also suggesting some kind of involvement of Sunga rule. [ [http://www.archaeology.org/online/news/deorkothar/index.html Article on Deokothar Stupas possibly being targeted by Pushyamitra] ] Proponents also point to the proclamations and claim that the Manu Smriti was propagated.

uccession of the Throne

Pusyamitra Shunga was succeeded in 151 BCE by his son Agnimitra.



* John Strong, "The Legend of King Asoka, A Study and Translation of the Asokavadana," Princeton Library of Asian translations (1983) ISBN 0-691-01459-0

ee also

*History of Buddhism

External links

* [http://koenraadelst.bharatvani.org/articles/ayodhya/pushyamitra.html Koenraad Elst, Why Pushyamitra was more "secular" than Ashoka] Article on the alleged Hindu persecution of Buddhism by Pushyamitra

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