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The Sakas -Part 8

The Graeco-Bactrian rule, like that of its predecessor the Mauryan, did not last for more than a century. Internecine warfare and internal schisms soon weakened them. Pakistan was divided into several petty Greek Kingdoms which easily fell victim to the great wave of Scythians (Sakas) which took place in the middle of the first century B.C. This was a huge sea of nomads which, pressed in Central Asia and on China’s borders by fiercer and tougher people migrated on an extensive scale. They overthrew the Greek rulers and established their sovereignty as well as settlements all over Pakistan.

Pakistan began to receive many waves of Sakas and Parthians. In the next stage beginning from 1st century B.C. wave after wave of the people such as the Kushans, the White Huns and the Gujjars also began to settle in Pakistan. In the course of time, all of these groups constituted an overwhelmingly predominant element of its population. This composition continues to this day. These waves were so large and cataclysmic that everything was sub-merged in it or absorbed by it. The waves of Sakas were so enormous and their settlements so vast that Pakistan came to be known to Greek geographers as Scythia and in Indian literature as Saka-dipa.

The first three Saka kings of Pakistan were Maues, Azes I and Azilises. Their numerous coinages are, almost without exception, copied from those of their Yavana (Greek) predecessors. As regards language and culture, the Sakas mostly adopted those of the Pahlavas or Parthians of Iran. In fact at a later stage Saka-dipa (Pakistan) was ruled by Pahlava princes. The most well-known of them was Gondopharnes whose capital was Taxila. During his reign (20-48 A.D.) St. Thomas, according to early ecclesiastical legends, preached Christianity in his dominions.

“Of the political history of this period a great deal is still in suspense. The leaders of the Sakas in the Indus basin seem to have first acknowledged the power of the local Greek Indian rulers. It is not until a few decades later that they felt themselves strong enough to lay claim to supreme suzerainship. Ghandara became the centre of the Saka domains, and the eastern Capital city of Taxila was chosen by the Saka king Mavak (Maues or Mauakes in the ancient authors, and Moga in early Indian sources) in the middle of the first century B.C. as its residence. Mavak’s successors propagated their power over a considerable part of the Punjab.

“In the north-west in the Punjab, however, the Saka leaders’ hold was shortlived. The dynasty founded by Mavak was overthrown by the Parthians as early as the beginning of the first century of our era.

“In the Western Punjab, Upper Sind and Derajat, a number of warring rulers related to the Surens, a Parthian clan controlling the eastern areas of Iran, held sway. The Parthian Kings, who keep ousting one another, rule over this country” (The Peoples of Pakistan, By Yu.V.Gankovsky).

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