The Bharhut Yavana.
|Period/culture||c. 100 BCE|
|Present location||Mathura Museum|
The Bharhut Yavana is a high relief of a warrior which was discovered among the reliefs of the railings around the Bharhut Stupa. It is dated to circa 100 BCE, with a range from 150 BCE to 80 BCE. The relief is currently in the Indian Museum in Kolkata. The man in the relief has been described as a Greek, called "Yavanas" among the Indians.
The role of the stading warrior is that of a dvarapala, deities who were Guardians of a temple gate.
Many elements point to the depiction being that of a foreigner, and possibly an Indo-Greek, called a Yavana among the Indians of the period. Elements leading to this suggestion are the hairstyle (short curly hairstyle without an Indian turban), the hair band normally worn by Indo-Greek kings on their coins, the tunic, and boots. In his right hand he holds a grape plant, possibly emblematic of his origin. The sheath of his broadsword is decorated with a srivasta or nandipada, symbols of Buddhism.
It has been suggested that the warrior is actually the Indo-Greek king Menander who may have conquered Indian territory as far as Pataliputra and is known through the Milinda Panha to have converted to Buddhism.
The inscription at the top, classified as Inscription 55 in the Pillars of Railing of the SW Quadrant at Bharhut (The Stupa of Bharhut, Cunningham, p. 136 ), is in the Brahmi script and reads from left to right:
"Bhadanta Mahilasa thabho dânam"
"Pillar-gift of the lay brother Mahila."— Inscription of the Bharhut Yavana
Other instances of foreigners in Indian Temples
Besides this relief in Bharhut, devotees in Greek attire also appear in number at the Buddhist Stupa of Sanchi.
Some of them appear to be making a dedication to Southern Gateway of the Great Stupa. The official notice at Sanchi reads "Foreigners worshiping Stupa". The relief shows 18 of these foreigners and 4 Gandharva celestial deities in the sky above.
These have been called "Greek-looking foreigners" wearing Greek clothing complete with tunics, capes and sandals, typical of the Greek travelling costume, and using Greek and Central Asian musical instruments ( the double flute aulos, or the carnyx-like Cornu horns), possibly pointing to the Indo-Greeks. The men are depicted with short curly hair, often held together with a headband of the type commonly seen on Greek coins.
|Northwestern foreigners at Sanchi|
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