Apraca

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Silver coin of the Apracaraja Vijayamitra in the name of Azes II. Buddhist triratna symbol in the left field on the reverse.
Coin of the Apracaraja Aspavarma (reverse), featuring the Greek goddess Athena.

The Apracas (also known as Avacas) were an Eastern Iranic people and Scythian ruling dynasty of Western Pakistan. The Apraca capital, known as Apracapura (also Avacapura), was located in the Bajaur district of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Apraca rule of Bajaur existed from the 1st century BCE to the 1st century CE. Its rulers formed the dynasty which is referred to as the Apracaras. Apracan territory was the stronghold of the warlike Aspasioi tribe of Arrian, recorded in Vedic Sanskrit texts as Ashvakas. The Apracas are known in history for having offered a stubborn resistance to the Macedonian invader, Alexander the Great in 326 BCE. Sometime during the course of their history, the Apraca state, unlike the Parata state just south of them in Balochistan, abandoned their Iranic religious practices and embraced Buddhism. Hellenic and Zoroastrian icons however, continued to appear alongside Buddhist ones.

"Members of the Apraca family in the northwestern borderlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan made numerous Buddhist donations recorded in Kharosṭḥī inscriptions dated in the era of Azes. Although most of these inscriptions lack specific provenance, the domain of the Aparacas was probably centered in Bajaur and extended to Swat, Gandhāra, Taxila, and parts of eastern Afghanistan in the last half of the first century BCE and the early decades of the first century CE. Since the discovery of an inscribed reliquary casket from Shinkot in Bajaur donated by the Apraca king Vijayamitra (who evidently founded the dynasty), other inscriptions record donations of relics by at least four generations of kings, queens, and court officials. Apraca kings known from Kharosṭḥī inscriptions, coins, and seals included Indravasu, Visṇuvarman (perhaps identical to Viśpavarman), and Indravarman, but the dynastic genealogy remains uncertain."[1]

A recently discovered inscription in Kharoshthi on a Buddhist reliquary gives a relationship between several eras of the period and mentions several Apraca rulers:

"In the twenty-seventh year in the reign of Lord Viyeemitro, the King of the Apraca; in the seventy-third year which is called the era of Azo, in the two hundred and first - 201 - year of the Yonas (Greeks), on the eighth day of the month of Sravana; on this day was established [this] stupa by Rukhana, the wife of the King of Apraca, [and] by Viyeemitro, the king of Apraca, [and] by Iṃdravarmo (Iṃdravaso), the commander (stratega), [together] with their wives and sons."[2][3]

This inscription would date to c. 15 CE, according to the new dating for the Azes era which places its inception c. 47 BCE.[4] The rulers seem to have been related to Kharaostes,[5] which if true, would also certainly connect Apraca with Kamuia (q.v) or Kambojika (Kamboja) lineage. Kamuia (q.v) is a Kharosthised form of Kambojika (q.v) which is same as Kamboja of Sanskrit or Pali texts. The Apraca rulers seem to have adopted honorific Vedic-Buddhist titles over their own Eastern Iranian names. The last two rulres of the Apraca Dynasty, Aspa and Sasan, seem to have retained their ethnic Eastern Iranian names instead of adopting a Vedic-Buddhist title like their predecessors. Apraca vassals administrating a southerly satrapy founded the Pārata dynasty of Balochistan. Apracan is also attributed as being the word from which the word "Afghan" is derived (the later being the Persian pronunciation of Apracan).[citation needed]

Dr. Prashant Srivastava, an Indian professor from the University of Lucknow, has in a research monograph highlighted the significant role played by the Apraca Dynasty rulers, and has connected the Apraca kings of Pakistan to the Ashvaka clan of Vedic literature.[6] According to Srivastava, the Ashvaka clan was none other than a sub-branch of the greater Kamboja tribe, spread towards the Pamirs.

The Apraca kings are also mentioned in the Bajaur casket.[7]

Apraca Dynastical Rulers and their Queens[edit]

  • Vijayamitra (12 BCE - 15 CE), Queen: Rukhana
  • Iṃdravaso (c. 20 CE), Queen: Vasumitra
  • Vispavarmo, Queen: Śiśirena
  • Iṃdravarmo, Queen: Utara
  • Aspo [5] or Aspavarmo (15 - 45 CE)
  • Sasan [5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Neelis, Jason, Early Buddhist Transmission and Trade Networks: Mobility and Exchange. Brill, Leiden and Boston. 2011, pp. 117-118. ISBN 978 90 04 18159 5.
  2. ^ Bopearachchi, O. (December 31, 2005). Afghanistan, ancien carrefour en l'Est et l'Ouest (in French). p. 373. ISBN 2503516815. 
  3. ^ Senior, R.C. (2006). Indo-Scythian coins and history. IV. Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. ISBN 0-9709268-6-3. 
  4. ^ Falk; Bennett (2009). Macedonian Intercalary Months and the Era of Azes. 
  5. ^ a b c Salomon, Richard (1996). "An Inscribed Silver Buddhist Reliquary of the Time of King Kharaosta and Prince Indravarman". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 116 (3). University of Washington. p. 418. 
  6. ^ Srivastava, Prashant (2007). The Apracharajas: A History Based on Coins and Inscriptions. University of Lucknow. ISBN 978-81-7320-074-8. 
  7. ^ Loeschner, Hans."Kanishka in Context with the Historical Buddha and Kushan Chronology." In: Glory of the Kushans – Recent Discoveries and Interpretations. Edited by Professor Vidula Jayasval, Aryan Books, New Delhi, 2013, p. 142.