The KAMBOJAS were a tribe of
Iron Age India , frequently mentioned in
Pali literature .
Vedic period India, with the
Kamboja on the northwest border
* 1 Ethnicity and language
* 2 Origins
* 2.1 Theory of Origin - Eurasian Nomads
* 3 Kambojan States
* 3.1 The
* 3.2 Conflict with Alexander
* 4 Migrations
* 4.1 Eastern
* 5 Mauryan period
* 6 See also
* 7 References
* 8 Bibliography
* 9 External links
ETHNICITY AND LANGUAGE
Kambojas were probably of Indo-Iranian origin. They are,
however, sometimes described as Indo-Aryans and sometimes as having
both Indian and Iranian affinities. The
Kambojas are also described
as a royal clan of the
The earliest reference to the
Kambojas is in the works of
around the 5th century BCE. Other pre-
Common Era references appear in
Manusmriti (2nd century) and the
Mahabharata (1st century), both
of which described the
Kambojas as former kshatriyas (Warriors caste)
who had degraded through a failure to abide by Hindu sacred rituals.
Their territories were located beyond
Gandhara , beyond
Afghanistan laying in
Buddha statues were built in the name of king Maurya ">
The confederation of the
Kambojas may have stretched from the valley
Rajauri in the south-western part of Kashmir to the Hindu Kush
Range; in the south–west the borders extended probably as far as the
regions of Kabul, Ghazni and Kandahar, with the nucleus in the area
north-east of the present day Kabul, between the
Hindu Kush Range and
the Kunar river, including
Kapisa possibly extending from the Kabul
valleys to Kandahar.
Others locate the
Kambojas and the Parama-
Kambojas in the areas
Balkh , Badakshan, the Pamirs and
Kafiristan . D. C. Sircar
supposed them to have lived "in various settlements in the wide area
lying between Punjab, Iran, to the south of Balkh." and the
Parama-Kamboja even farther north, in the Trans-Pamirian territories
Zeravshan valley, towards the Farghana region, in the
Scythia of the classical writers. The mountainous region between
Jaxartes is also suggested as the location of the ancient
The name Kamboja may derive from (Kam + bhuj), referring to the
people of a country known as "Kum" or "Kam". The mountainous highlands
Jaxartes and its confluents arise are called the highlands
Komedes by Ptolemy.
Ammianus Marcellinus also names these
mountains as Komedas. The Kiu-mi-to in the writings of Xuanzang
have also been identified with the Komudha-dvipa of the Puranic
literature and the Iranian Kambojas.
The two Kamboja settlements on either side of the
Hindu Kush are also
substantiated from Ptolemy's
Geography , which refers to the Tambyzoi
located north of the
Hindu Kush on the river
Bactria , and the
Ambautai people on the southern side of Hindukush in the
Paropamisadae. Scholars have identified both the Ptolemian Tambyzoi
and Ambautai with Sanskrit Kamboja.
THEORY OF ORIGIN - EURASIAN NOMADS
Some scholars believe that the Trans-Caucasian hydronyms and toponyms
viz. Cyrus, Cambyses and Cambysene were due to tribal extension of the
Iranian ethnics — the Kurus and
Kambojas of the Indian texts, who
according to them, had moved to the north of the Medes in Armenian
Districts in remote antiquity.
The capital of Kamboja was probably Rajapura (modern
Rajauri ). The
Mahajanapada of Buddhist traditions refers to this branch.
Ashoka 's Edict No. XIII attest that
Kambojas followed a republican constitution. Pāṇini's Sutras
tend to convey that the Kamboja of
Pāṇini was a "Kshatriya
monarchy", but "the special rule and the exceptional form of
derivative" he gives to denote the ruler of the
Kambojas implies that
the king of Kamboja was a titular head (king consul) only. One king
of Kamboja was
King Srindra Varmana Kamboj .
Kambojas were famous in ancient times for their excellent breed
of horses and as remarkable horsemen located in the Uttarapatha or
north-west. They were constituted into military sanghas and
corporations to manage their political and military affairs. The
Kamboja cavalry offered their military services to other nations as
well. There are numerous references to Kamboja having been
requisitioned as cavalry troopers in ancient wars by outside nations.
It was on account of their supreme position in horse (Ashva) culture
that the ancient
Kambojas were also popularly known as Ashvakas , i.e.
horsemen. Their clans in the Kunar and Swat valleys have been referred
to as Assakenoi and Aspasioi in classical writings, and Ashvakayanas
and Ashvayanas in Pāṇini's Ashtadhyayi.
Kambojas were famous for their horses and as cavalry-men
(aśva-yuddha-Kuśalah), Aśvakas, 'horsemen', was the term popularly
applied to them... The
Aśvakas inhabited Eastern Afghanistan, and
were included within the more general term Kambojas. — K.P.Jayswal
Elsewhere Kamboja is regularly mentioned as "the country of horses"
(Asvanam ayatanam), and it was perhaps this well-established
reputation that won for the horsebreeders of Bajaur and Swat the
designation Aspasioi (from the Old Pali aspa) and assakenoi (from the
Sanskrit asva "horse"). —
CONFLICT WITH ALEXANDER
Kambojas entered into conflict with
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great as he
invaded Central Asia. The Macedonian conqueror made short shrift of
the arrangements of Darius and after over-running the Achaemenid
Empire he dashed into today's eastern
Afghanistan and western
Pakistan. There he encountered incredible resistance of the Kamboja
Aspasioi and Assakenoi tribes.
The Ashvayans (Aspasioi) were also good cattle breeders and
agriculturists. This is clear from the large number of bullocks,
230,000 according to
Arrian , of a size and shape superior to what the
Macedonians had known, that Alexander captured from them and decided
to send to Macedonia for agriculture.
During the 2nd and 1st centuries BCE, clans of the
Central Asia in alliance with the Sakas,
Pahlavas and the Yavanas
Afghanistan and India, spread into Sindhu, Saurashtra,
Malwa, Rajasthan, Punjab and Surasena, and set up independent
principalities in western and south-western India. Later, a branch of
the same people took Gauda and Varendra territories from the Palas and
Kamboja-Pala Dynasty of
Bengal in Eastern India.
There are references to the hordes of the Sakas, Yavanas, Kambojas,
Pahlavas in the
Bala Kanda of the
Valmiki Ramayana . In these
verses one may see glimpses of the struggles of the Hindus with the
invading hordes from the north-west. The royal family of the
Kamuias mentioned in the
Mathura Lion Capital are believed to be
linked to the royal house of
Gandhara . In the medieval
Kambojas are known to have seized north-west
and Radha) from the Palas of
Bengal and established their own
Kamboja-Pala Dynasty . Indian texts like
Markandeya Purana , Vishnu
Dharmottari Agni Purana,
Kamboja-Pala Dynasty of
A branch of
Kambojas seems to have migrated eastwards towards Nepal
Tibet in the wake of
Kushana (1st century) or else Huna (5th
century) pressure and hence their notice in the chronicles of Tibet
("Kam-po-tsa, Kam-po-ce, Kam-po-ji") and
Nepal (Kambojadesa). The
Brahma Purana mentions the
Kambojas around Pragjyotisha
and Tamraliptika .
Kambojas of ancient India are known to have been living in
north-west, but in this period (9th century AD), they are known to
have been living in the north-east India also, and very probably, it
was meant Tibet.
Kambojas ruler of the
Kamboja-Pala Dynasty Dharmapala was
defeated by the south Indian Emperor
Rajendra Chola I of the Chola
dynasty in the 11th century.
Kambojas find prominent mention as a unit in the 3rd-century BCE
Edicts of Ashoka . Rock Edict XIII tells us that the
enjoyed autonomy under the Mauryas. The republics mentioned in Rock
Edict V are the Yonas , Kambojas, Gandharas , Nabhakas and the
Nabhapamkitas. They are designated as araja. vishaya in Rock Edict
XIII, which means that they were kingless, i.e. republican polities.
In other words, the
Kambojas formed a self-governing political unit
under the Maurya emperors.
Ashoka sent missionaries to the
Kambojas to convert them to Buddhism
, and recorded this fact in his Rock Edict V.
Kom people (Afghanistan)
Kom people (India)
* ^ Dwivedi 1977: 287 "The
Kambojas were probably the descendants
Indo-Iranians popularly known later on as the Sassanians and
Parthians who occupied parts of north-western India in the first and
second centuries of the Christian era."
* ^ A B Mishra 1987
* ^ Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, Achut Dattatrya Pusalker, A. K.
Majumdar, Dilip Kumar Ghose, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Vishvanath Govind
The History and Culture of the Indian People , 1962, p 264,
* ^ A B C "Political History of Ancient India", H. C. Raychaudhuri
, B. N. Mukerjee, University of Calcutta, 1996.
* ^ See: Vedic Index of names The Journal of Asian Studies, 1956, p
384, Association for Asian Studies, Far Eastern Association (U.S.)
* ^ India as Known to Pāṇini: A Study of the Cultural Material
in the Ashṭādhyāyī, 1953, p 49, Vasudeva Sharana Agrawala;
Afghanistan, p 58, W. K. Fraser, M. C. Gillet; Afghanistan, its
People, its Society, its Culture, Donal N. Wilber, 1962, p 80, 311
* ^ Walker and Tapp 2001
* ^ A B Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania, Barbara A.
West, Infobase Publishing (2009), ISBN 9781438119137 p. 359
* ^ Encyclopaedia Indica, "The Kambojas: Land and its
Identification", First Edition, 1998 New Delhi, page 528
* ^ A B Sethna, K. D. (2000) Problems of Ancient India, New Delhi:
Aditya Prakashan. ISBN 81-7742-026-7
* ^ Numerous scholars now locate the Kamboja realm on the southern
side of the
Hindu Kush ranges (in the Kabul , Swat , and Kunar
valleys) and the Parama-
Kambojas in the territories on the north side
of the Hindu Kush. See: Geographical and Economic Studies in the
Mahābhārata: Upāyana Parva, 1945, p 11-13, Moti Chandra - India;
Geographical Data in the Early Purāṇas: A Critical Study, 1972, p
165/66, M. R. Singh
* ^ Purana, Vol VI, No 1, January 1964, p 207 sqq; Inscriptions of
Asoka: Translation and Glossary, 1990, p 86, Beni Madhab Barua,
Binayendra Nath Chaudhury - Inscriptions, Prakrit).
* ^ The Peoples of Pakistan: An Ethnic History, 1971, pp 64-67,
Yuri Vladimirovich Gankovski - Ethnology.
* ^ History of the Pathans, 2002, p 11, Haroon Rashid - Pushtuns.
Michael Witzel Persica-9, p 92, fn 81.
* ^ Asoka and His Inscriptions, 1968, pp 93-96, Beni Madhab Barua,
Ishwar Nath Topa.
* ^ Sircar, D. C. (1971). Studies in the
Geography of Ancient and
Medieval India. p. 100.
* ^ See: Proceedings and Transactions of the All-India Oriental
Conference, 1930, p 118, J. C. Vidyalankara
* ^ The Deeds of Harsha: Being a Cultural Study of Bāṇa's
Harshacharita, 1969, p 199, Vasudeva Sharana Agrawala
* ^ Central Asiatic Provinces of the Mauryan Empire, p 403, H. C.
Seth; See also: Indian Historical Quarterly, Vol. XIII, 1937, No 3, p.
400; Journal of the Asiatic Society, 1940, p 37, (India) Asiatic
Society (Calcutta, Royal Asiatic Society of
Bengal - Asia; cf: History
and Archaeology of India's Contacts with Other Countries, from
Earliest Times to 300 B.C., 176, p 152, Shashi P. Asthana; Mahabharata
Myth and Reality, 1976, p 232, Swarajya Prakash Gupta, K. S.
Ramachandran. Cf also: India and Central Asia, p 25 etc, P. C. Bagchi.
* ^ Indian Historical Quarterly, 1963, p 403; Central Asiatic
provinces of the Maurya Empire, p403, H.C. Seth
* ^ History and Archaeology of India's Contacts with Other
Countries, from Earliest Times to 300 B.C., 1976, p 152, Shashi
Mahabharata Myth and Reality, 1976, p 232, Swarajya Prakash
Gupta, K. S. Ramachandran.
* ^ "The Town of Darwaz in Badakshan is still called Khum (Kum) or
Kala-i-Khum. It stands for the valley of Basht. The name Khum or Kum
conceals the relics of ancient Kamboja" (Journal of the Asiatic
Society, 1956, p 256, Buddha Prakash ).
* ^ India and the World, p 71, Buddha Prakash; also see: Central
Asiatic Provinces of Maurya Empire, p 403, H. C. Seth; India and
Central Asia, p 25, P. C. Bagchi
* ^ Journal of the Asiatic Society, 1956, p 256, Asiatic Society
(Calcutta, India), Asiatic Society of Bengal.
* ^ Talbert 2000, p. 99
* ^ For Tambyzoi=Kamboja, see refs: Pre Aryan and Pre Dravidian in
India, 1993, p 122, Sylvain Lévi, Jean Przyluski, Jules Bloch, Asian
Educational Services; Cities and Civilization, 1962, p 172, Govind
* ^ For Ambautai=Kamboja, see Witzel 1999a
* ^ Patton and Bryant 2005, p. 257
* ^ Histoire Auguste: Pt. 2. Vies des deux Valérines et des deux
Galliens, 2000, p 90, Ammn Marcellin, Jean Pierre Callu, O. Desbordes
(Les hydronymes de Transcaucasie, en question ici, auraient pu, dès
lors, aussi dériver aussi de ces ethniques, lors de l'extension des
tribus iraniennes vers le Nord de la Médie, et non pas de ces
souverains achéménides — dont la présente légende répond mieux
à l'ingéniosité «heurématique» des Grecs)
* ^ See: Problems of Ancient India, 2000, p 5-6; cf: Geographical
Data in the Early Puranas, p 168.
* ^ Hindu Polity: A Constitutional History of India in Hindu Times,
Parts I and II., 1955, p 52, Dr Kashi Prasad Jayaswal - Constitutional
history; Prācīna Kamboja, jana aura janapada =: Ancient Kamboja,
people and country, 1981, Dr Jiyālāla Kāmboja - Kamboja (Pakistan).
* ^ Studies in Skanda Purana, 1978, p 59, A. B. L. Awasthi.
* ^ The Indian Historical Quarterly, 1963, p 103
* ^ A B Hindu Polity, 1978, pp 121, 140, K. P. Jayswal.
* ^ War in Ancient India, 1944, p 178, V. R. Ramachandra Dikshitar
- Military art and science.
* ^ The Indian Historical Quarterly, 1963, p 103; The Achaemenids
in India, 1950, p 47, Sudhakar Chattopadhyaya; Poona Orientalist: A
Quarterly Journal Devoted to Oriental Studies, 1945, P i, (edi) Har
Dutt Sharma; The Poona Orientalist, 1936, p 13, Sanskrit philology
* ^ "Par ailleurs le Kamboja est régulièrement mentionné comme
la "patrie des chevaux" (Asvanam ayatanam), et cette reputation bien
etablie gagné peut-etre aux eleveurs de chevaux du Bajaur et du Swat
l'appellation d'Aspasioi (du v.-p. aspa) et d'assakenoi (du skt asva
"cheval")". E. Lamotte, Historie du Bouddhisme Indien, p. 110. (WP
translation. Quotation should be taken from the published English
translation: Lamotte 1988, p. 100)
* ^ Panjab Past and Present, pp 9-10; also see: History of Porus,
pp 12, 38, Buddha Parkash
* ^ Proceedings, 1965, p 39, by Punjabi University. Dept. of Punjab
Historical Studies - History.
* ^ History of Punjab, 1997, Editors: Fauja Singh, L. M. Joshi
* ^ Acharya 2001, p 91
* ^ Geographical Data in the Early Purāṇas: A Critical Study,
1972, p 168, M. R. Singh - India.
* ^ History of Ceylon, 1959, p 91, Ceylon University, University of
Ceylon, Peradeniya, Hem Chandra Ray, K. M. De Silva.
* ^ Pande (R.) 1984, p. 93
* ^ Shrava 1981, p. 12
* ^ Rishi, 1982, p. 100
* ^ See: Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, Vol II, Part I, p xxxvi;
see also p 36,
Sten Konow ; Indian Culture, 1934, p 193, Indian
Research Institute; Cf: Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great
Britain and Ireland, 1990, p 142, Royal Asiatic Society of Great
Britain and Ireland - Middle East.
* ^ Indian Historical Quarterly, 1963, p 127
* ^ Shastri and Choudhury 1982, p. 112
* ^ B. C. Sen, Some Historical Aspects of the Inscriptions of
Bengal, p. 342, fn 1
* ^ Vaidya 1986, p. 221
* ^ M. R. Singh, A Critical Study of the Geographical Data in the
Early Puranas, p. 168
* ^ Ganguly 1994, p. 72, fn 168
* ^ H. C. Ray, The Dynastic History of Northern India, I, p. 309
* ^ A. D. Pusalkar,
R. C. Majumdar et al., History and Culture of
Indian People, Imperial Kanauj, p. 323,
* ^ R. R. Diwarkar (ed.), Bihar Through the Ages, 1958, p. 312
* ^ Ancient Indian History and Civilization by Sailendra Nath Sen
* ^ The Cambridge Shorter History of India p.145
* ^ H. C. Raychaudhury, B. N. Mukerjee; Asoka and His Inscriptions,
3d Ed, 1968, p 149, Beni Madhab Barua, Ishwar Nath Topa.
* ^ Hindu Polity, A Constitutional History of India in Hindu Times,
1978, p 117-121, K. P. Jayswal; Ancient India, 2003, pp 839-40, V. D.
Mahajan; Northern India, p 42, Mehta Vasisitha Dev Mohan etc
* ^ Bimbisāra to Aśoka: With an Appendix on the Later Mauryas,
1977, p 123, Sudhakar Chattopadhyaya.
* ^ The North-west India of the Second Century B.C., 1974, p 40,
Mehta Vasishtha Dev Mohan - India; Tribes in Ancient India, 1973, p 7
* ^ Yar-Shater 1983, p. 951
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ARCHAEOLOGY AND PREHISTORY
Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC)
Indo-Aryan migration theory
* Genetics and archaeogenetics
* History of the horse
HISTORICAL PEOPLES AND CLANS
* Kamboja Kingdom
MYTHOLOGY AND LITERATURE
Indo-Scythians in Indian literature
Tribes and kingdoms mentioned in the
* Hara Huna
* Parama Kamboja
* Uttara Kuru
* Uttara Madra
Great Indian Kingdoms
(c. 600 BCE–c. 300 BCE)
* Malla (Mallarashtra)
Kambojas additional terms
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