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The Hunas were Iranian-speaking Xionite tribes who, via Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, entered India at the end of the 5th or early 6th century and were defeated by the Hindu Gupta Empire. In its farthest geographical extent in India, the Huna empire covered the region up to Malwa in central India.
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According to Mr. Adesh Katariya's evaluation, all sub-types of Hunas share a common ancestry and are known by varying names in different regions. According to him, Huna was a sub-tribe of an ancient central Asian Tribe Gurjar/Gujjar, alternatively known as Yuezhi by Chinese scholars. This tribe lived in the north-eastern portion of the Chinese Kingdom (in the present day Ganshu provience of China). By 350 BCE, Chinese officials knew of three powerful groups of mounted, nomadic, pastoral people north of China. 1. One of these groups, the Xiongnu (Hsiung-nu), was in the Ordos region and most of Mongolia (including Inner Mongolia), 2. To the east of the Xiongnu, in eastern Mongolia and the plains of Manchuria, there was the second group, the Donghu (Tung-hu). 3. The third group, the Yuezhi (Yueh-chi), inhabited the west of the Ordos region, in the region of Gansu (Kansu). In 175 BCE The Xiongnu defeated the Yuezhi and dominated all of what is now the modern province of Xinjiang (Sinkiang). According to legend, the leader of the Yuezhi was killed and his skull was made into a drinking cup.
According to Chinese sources, a large section of the Yuezhi tribe then fell under the domination of the Xiongnu. These may have been the ancestors of the Tocharian speakers attested to, in the 6th century CE. A very small group of Yuezhi fled south to the territory of the Proto-Tibetan Qiang and came to be known to the Chinese as the "Small Yuezhi". According to the Hanshu, they only numbered around 150 families. After 40 years Gurjars (Yuezhi) established kingdoms. (Kushana - Gurjars). The Gurjars were a very complex tribe divided into various sub-tribes such as the Kushana, Khatana and Karahana(Kara- Huna). These Huna tribes rules over lands that are now Afghanistan, Pakistan, north-western India and other central Asian nations, resulting in multiple Huna-controlled kingdoms. In India, the Huna tribes are referred to, as a "Gotr" or ancestor of the Gurjar Tribe.
The Central Asian Xionites consisted of four hordes in four cardinal directions. Northern Huna were the Black Huns, Southern Huna were the Red Huns, Eastern Huna were the Celestial Huns, and Western Huna were the White Huns or Hephthalites. This article mainly concerns the Alchon and their Indo-Hephthalite ruling-elite. They seem to have been part of the Hephthalite group, who established themselves in then Bharatvarsha and present day India by the first half of the 5th century. They sometimes call themselves "Hono" on their coins, but it seems that they are similar to the Huns who invaded the Western world.
They appeared in Northwestern India and parts of eastern Iran. During their invasion, the Hunas managed to capture the Sassanian king Peroz I, and exchanged him for a ransom. They used the coins of the ransom to counter mark and copy them, thereby initiating a coinage inspired from Sassanian designs.
The Bhishma Parva of the Mahabharata, supposed to have been edited around the 4th or 5th century, in one of its verses, mentions the Hunas with the Parasikas and other Mlechha tribes of the northwest including the Yavanas, Chinas, Kambojas, Darunas, Sukritvahas, Kulatthas etc. According to Dr V. A. Smith, the verse is reminiscent of the period when the Hunas first came into contact with the Sassanian dynasty of Persia.
Scholars believe that king Raghu, the hero of Kalidasa's Sanskrit play Raghuvamsha was in fact king Chandragupta Vikramaditya of the Gupta Dynasty. According to the epic, he had started a military expedition and after defeating and subjugating the local peoples along the way he reached the Parasikas of Sassanian Iran and defeated them after fierce fighting. Then he proceeded to north from Iran and reached river Vamkshu (or Oxus) where he battled with the Hunas. After conquering the Hunas, he crossed the Oxus and encountered the Kambojas, an ancient Iranian people who find frequent mention in South Asian texts.
Brihat Katha Manjari of Kashmiri Pandit Kshmendra (11th century AD) also claims that king Vikramaditya had slaughtered the Shakas, Barbaras, Hunas, Kambojas, Yavanas, Parasikas and the Tusharas etc. and hence unburdened the earth of these sinful Mlechhas. There is still another ancient Brahmanical text Katha-Saritsagara by Somadeva which also attests that king Vikramaditya had invaded the north-west tribes including the Kashmiras and had destroyed the Sanghas of the Mlechhas (reference to Sanghas here obviously alludes to the Sanghas of the Madrakas, Yaudheyas, Kambojas, Mallas or Malavas, Sibis, Arjunayans, Kulutas and Kunindas etc). Those who survived accepted his suzerainty and many of them joined his armed forces.
These references suggest that the Guptas indeed had encounters with the Hunas from the north-west.
Skandagupta is stated to have repelled a Huna invasion in 455, but they continued to pressure South Asia's northwest frontier (present day Pakistan), and broke through into northern India by the end of the 5th century, hastening the disintegration of the Gupta Empire.
According to Litvinsky, the initial Huna or Alxon raids on Gandhara took place in the late 5th and early 6th century AD, upon the death of the Gupta ruler, Skandagupta (455–470), presumably led by the Tegin Khingila. M. Chakravary, based on Chinese and Persian histories believes that the Hunas conquered Gandhara from the Ki-to-lo (Kidarites) in c. 475 AD. Gandhara had been occupied by various Kidarite principalities from the early 4th century AD, but it is still a subject of debate as to whether rule was transferred from the Kidarites directly to the Hephthalites. It is known that the Huns invaded Gandhara and the Punjab from the Kabul valley after vanquishing the Kidarite principalities.
The Alchon ruler Toramana established his rule over Gandhara and western Punjab, and was succeeded by his son Mihirakula in 520 whose capital was Sakala or modern day Sialkot in the Pakistani Punjab. The Guptas continued to resist the Hunas, and allied with the rulers of the neighboring Indian states.
The Hunas suffered a defeat by Yasodharman of Malwa in 528, and by 542 Mihirakula had been driven off the plains of northern India, taking refuge in Kashmir, and he is thought to have died soon after. Mihirakula is remembered in contemporary Indian and Chinese histories for his cruelty and his destruction of temples and monasteries, with particular hostility towards Buddhism.
After the end of the 6th century little is recorded in India about the Huna. They made the matrimonial alliance with Gurjars and assimilated into the dominant Gurjar community. Huna is one minor gotra among Gurjars.
Sung Yun and Hui Sheng, who visited the chief of the Hephthalite nomads at his summer residence in Badakshan and later in Gandhara, observed that they had no belief in the Buddhist law and served a large number of divinities."
|Indo-Gangetic Plain||Central India||Southern India|
|Northwestern India||Northern India||Northeastern India|
|Culture||Late Vedic Period||Pre-history|
|6th century BCE||Gandhara||Magadha||Adivasi (tribes)|
|Culture||Shramanic reforms (500-200 BCE)
Jainism - Buddhism - Ājīvika - Yoga
|5th century BCE||(Persian rule)||Shishunaga dynasty||Adivasi (tribes)|
|4th century BCE||(Greek conquests)|
|Culture||Shramanic reforms (continued)||Pre-history||Sangam period
(300 BCE – 200 CE)
|3rd century BCE||Maurya Empire||Early Cholas|
|Culture||Preclassical Hinduism[a] - "Hindu Synthesis"[b] (ca. 200 BCE-300 CE)[c][d]
Epics - Puranas - Ramayana - Mahabharata - Bhagavad Gita - Brahma Sutras - Smarta Tradition
|2nd century BCE||Indo-Greek Kingdom||Sunga Empire||Adivasi (tribes)||Early Cholas|
|1st century BCE||Yona||Maha-Meghavahana Dynasty|
|1st century CE||Kuninda Kingdom|
|2nd century||Pahlava||Varman dynasty|
|3rd century||Kushan Empire||Western Satraps||Kamarupa kingdom||Kalabhras dynasty|
|Culture||"Golden Age of Hinduism"(ca. 320-650 CE)[e]
Co-existence of Hinduism and Buddhism
|4th century||Gupta Empire||Kadamba Dynasty|
|5th century||Maitraka||Adivasi (tribes)||Vishnukundina|
|Culture||Late-Classical Hinduism (ca. 650-1100 CE)[f]
Advaita Vedanta - Tantra
Decline of Buddhism in India
|7th century||Indo-Sassanids||Vakataka dynasty, Harsha||Mlechchha dynasty||Adivasi (tribes)||Pallava|
|8th century||Kidarite Kingdom||Kalachuri|
|9th century||Indo-Hephthalites (Huna)||Gurjara-Pratihara||Chalukya|
|10th century||Pala dynasty||Rashtrakuta|
|Culture||Islamic rule and "Sects of Hinduism" (ca. 1100-1850 CE)[g] - Medieval and Late Puranic Period (500–1500 CE)[h]|
|11th century||(Islamic conquests)
- 36 royal races
- Ancient India and Central Asia
- History of India
- History of Central Asia
- Iaroslav Lebedynsky, "Les Nomades", p172.
- Kurbanov, Aydogdy (2010). "The Hephthalites: Archaeological and Historical Analysis". p. 24. Retrieved 17 January 2013. "The Hūnas controlled an area that extended from Malwa in central India to Kashmir."
- HrishIvidarbhah kantikasta~Nganah parata~Nganah. |
- uttarashchapare mlechchhA jana bharatasattama. || 63 ||
- YavanAshcha sa Kamboja Daruna mlechchha jatayah. |
- Sakahaddruhah Kuntalashcha Hunah Parasikas saha.|| 64 ||
- Tathaiva maradhAahchinastathaiva dasha malikah. |
- Kshatriyopaniveshashcha vaishyashudra kulani cha.|| 65 ||
- (Mahabharata 6.9.63–65) .
- Early History of India, p 339, Dr V. A. Smith; See also Early Empire of Central Asia (1939), W. M. McGovern.
- Raghuvamsa 4.65–71.
- Brahata Katha 10.285-86.
- Katha-Saritsagara, 18.1.76–78.
- Kurbanov, Aydogdy (2010). "The Hephthalites: Archaeological and Historical Analysis". p. 243. Retrieved 11 January 2013. "As a result of the merging of the Hephthalites and the Gujars with population from northwestern India, the Rajputs (from Sanskrit “rajputra” – “son of the rajah”) formed."
- Ancient India, 2003, p 650, Dr V. D. Mahajan; History and Culture of Indian People, The Age of Imperial Kanauj, p 50, Dr R. C. Majumdar, Dr A. D. Pusalkar.
- Tho-gar yul dań yabana dań Kambodza dań Khasa dań Huna dań Darta dań...
- Pag-Sam-Jon-Zang (1908), I.9, Sarat Chandra Das; Ancient Kamboja, 1971, p 66, H. W. Bailey.
- History of civilizations of Central Asia, Volume 3 By Boris Abramovich Litvinovskiĭ Page 173
- "The White Huns - The Hephthalites". Silkroad Foundation. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
- Hephthalite coins
- More Hephthalite coins
- Alchon Hunnic History and Coins of the Kashmir Smast Kingdom- Waleed Ziad