Alexander on stamps with beautiful hair

Alexander on stamps with beautiful hair


Post No. 8027

Date uploaded in London – 23 May 2020   

Contact – swami_48@yahoo.com

Pictures are taken from various sources for spreading knowledge; this is a non- commercial blog. Thanks for your great pictures.


Thanks to a wonderful book on ‘YONAS AND YAVANAS IN INDIAN LITERATURE’ by Klaus Karttunen, Finnish Oriental Society ,2015 we get some new information about the Yavanas in India. He has collected hundreds of references, may be thousands, from different sources starting from Hindu epics Mahabharata and Ramayana.

Though I use his sources I form my own opinion about the Yavanas in India and hence this article.

Foreigners, I mean Non- Indians, did FOUR big blunders and mislead the scholarly world.

1.Whenever they found a word ‘Yavana’ in Indian literature (Sanskrit, Prakrit, Pali and Tamil) they translated it as ‘Greek’.

2.Whenever they found the word ‘Yavana’, they placed all those materials as Post Alexander Invasion materials

3.Though ‘Ionian’ meant originally a small area in Turkey, they thought that it was the vast area covered by Greece (after Alexander’s Invasion of India) that influenced India in Astrology, Medicine and Astronomy.

4.Last but not the least, till this day they reject all ‘Yavana’ references in Indian literature as later additions or interpolations!!

My conclusion: –

1.All Greeks are Yavanas , but not all Yavanas are Greeks.

2.Yavana in Indian literature meant five different groups of peoples in Sanskrit and Tamil; a)an ethnic group that were  living in North Western part of India; b)Persians  c)Romans; d) original Greeks, particularly after Alexander’s invasion of India and e)Muslims also known as Yonas and Jonas

Where is the proof?

Any one in North Western India with fair colour following  Non-Vedic culture was called a Yavana.

They migrated to various parts of the world. Probably even the Ionians in Turkey and Greece were Hindu migrants. We have earlier proof of Kassites migrating from Kasi (Benares) kingdom to Babylonia, Hittites (in Sanskrit Kshatrias, now colloquially called Khatti) settling in Middle East and Hykshos (Yakshas in Sanskrit) invading Egypt. Mitanni  Civilisation of 1400 BCE in Turkey-Syria has been accepted by all scholars as Hindu civilization with full of Sanskrit names.

Now to Yavanas in India

Mahabharata has over 40 references to Yavanas spreading over 13 out of 18 Parvans (chapters). Thanks to Finnish Oriental Society and Claus Kartunnen in particular, now we have easy access to those references.

No one could interpolate in 45 plus places for nothing. Yavanas are mentioned along with ten or 15 other groups. So I take them as genuine references.

Some may reject this saying the Mahabharata script that exists today can be dated only from fourth century BCE or later. But anyone who read Mahabharata as a whole book would see it as a weak argument. Yavana forces took part even in Mahabaharta war along with Duryodana. His friend King Jeyadratha of Indus valley Kingdom was a close friend of Yavanas. Here we mean a powerful, strong group called Yavanas who have nothing to do with Greece.

Other Sources

Charaka and Susruta, authors of Medical works, mentioned Yavana. Charaka clearly says that they were meat eaters, wheat eaters, wine drinkers and of unhygienic practitioners.

Yavanas are always presented with negative connotations- men of harsh words ,eating with women, drinking liquor a lot.


Panini on Yavana Mundas (shaven heads)

Panini of Seventh Century BCE, mentioned Yavanas in Grammar works.

Sutra Literature

Even Gautama and Manu smrtis have references to Yavanas. No one would try to interpolate all these books!

2000 year old Sangam Tamil literature has at least six references to Yavana and two more with the words Mlechha, again with negative connotation only, describing them as unsweet and harsh words. All of them are references to Romans, which is corroborated by the discovery of thousands of Roman coins in Tamil Nadu covering a period of five centuries. ‘Roman Karur’ of Dr Nagasamy, famous archaeologist and Historian gives full details about Tamil references.

Earlier famous poet and playwright Kalidasa ( I agree with other great Sanskrit scholars in dating him to first or second century BCE) mentioned Persians as  Yavanas in his work Raghu vamsam.

I wouldn’t deal with any other material here that comes after first few centuries of modern era.


Origin of Yavanas

Mahabharata and Ramayana are noticeably clear that Yavanas originated from the Divine Cow Kamadhenu when King Viswamitra attacked Sage Vasishtha. It is a symbolic way of saying that these groups (Yavanas and others such as Pahlavas, Sakas, Hunas, Cinas, Pundras, Dramidas etc) have come from one source.

If we take them as a group of people in North West India, it would make sense and show them they have been there from at least 3500 BCE.

By the way, lot of things attributed to Yavanas, in later literature are not found in Greece or Rome. They are only in Hindu literature. That again proved they were talking about a group in N W India.


Three Important References

People who wanted to show that Yavana meant only Greeks cramp over 1000 references of Yavanas into few centuries around 4th century BCE. No genuine scholar would accept it. Those work themselves show that they were done at different periods.


Panini in his Ashtadyayi mentioned Yavana in a few places. We must remember that it is a grammar book.

Darius I mentioned Yavana in in 516 BCE in one of his inscriptions. Even Alexander found a colony of Nysian Greeks in Kabul valley.

Another important reference to ‘Yavana Munda’ in Gana pata which is bypassed my many scholars.

Patanjali on 2-4-10

Patanjali includes Yavanas among those Suudras who are NOT considered impure .

Suudraanaam aniravasitaaanaam

Gana  128 on panini 3-1-134

Yavana explained as verbal derivation

Gana 178 on panini 2-1-72

Bald heads of the Yavanas in a list of tatpurusa compounds

Kamboja Munda, Yavana Munda etc

(For more details go to the end)

2.In the Mahabharata

In one passage of the Mahabharata 1-80-26 , also quoted in the Matsya Purana 34-30 , the Yavanas are sons of Turvasu , the son of emperor Yayati and the brother of Puru ; because of a curse put on them by their grandfather, all the sons of Turvasu were doomed to become  barbarians – Mlecha. They are treated as fallen Kshatriyas. Manu also confirmed in 10-44. He said they become Suudraas.

There is a gap of at least 15 generations between the king Yayati and Pandavas. Even if we leave 20 years for a generation it would take Yayati to 3400 BCE. Mahabharata war was fought around 3140 BCE according to Hindu calculations. If we take Indian average of 40 years per king it would make a difference of 600 years (15X40). Guptas and Chera kings were shown to have ruled for over 40 years each. (See Pathitrupathu in Sangam Tamil literature).

If some believe in the archaeological date given to Mahabharata 1500 BCE, even then Turvasu , pro genitor of Yavanas would have lived before 1800 BCE.

We must also remember Krishna’s fight with Kala Yavana (Black Yavana) and Krishna was called Yavanari (enemy of Yavanas) . It is in Bhagavatham and Hari Vamsam.

Barbarians /mlechas are called bald/munda in the Mahabharata battle 7-95-20 in which yavanas are included. But the Greeks are not bald headed. All of them, including Alexander were shown with much hair on their heads. So it is very clear they mentioned a group of people or a people of particular ethnicity had this custom of shaving their hair completely or with very short haircut.

3.Gautama Dharma Sutra

3.According to the Gautama dharma sutra 4-21 , the ofspring of the Kshatriyas  and Suudra women are Yavanas.

The tone of Indian literature is that Yavanas are sinful and brutal.


More details from Grammar works

Panini on the feminine form of Yavana 4-1-49

Indra -Varuna-Bhava- Sarva-

Rudra- mrd- ahimaaranya-Yavana-maatulaacaarya- nam-aanuk

The feminine of aforesaid words is formed with the formative ‘aanuk’

Eg. Indraani, Varunaani, Yavanaani etc


Katyayana on Yavana script

Kaatyayaayana 5-3- ad loc- yavanaal lipyam iti vaktavyam

‘Yavanaani  lipih ‘

Patanjali commentary

Yavanaani lipir iti

Anyaa tu yavanasya yavaniiti bhaavah

The feminine Yavanaani is for the script. It should be understood that another – and more regular feminine of the word – Yavana is Yavanii

Tags– Yavana munda, Origin of Yavanas, Turvasu, Kamadhenu, Panini,

Xxx subhamxxxx

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