Monday, 1 October 2012

Religious study of the Audumbaras Coins

Tripti Rai

The Audumbaras had an important place amongst the all ancient Indian Tribes. They also known as the Udumbaras or Odumbaras. There are lots of literary and archaeological sources to give sufficient light of his tribe their coins had an important place to give knowledge about them which have been discoverd by archaeologist. Cunninghum1 found six of their coins at Pathankot in Gurudaspur district in north Punjab2 along with the Indo Greek and Kusan coins. A large number of conis of this tribes were discovered at Irippal in the district of kangra in north Punjab. On the basis of provenances of their coins, Allan3 has located the Audumbaras in the area formed by the valley of the Beas or perhaps the wider region between the upper Sutlej and the Ravi.
Pliny places them on the mouth of the Indus the Vinaypitak6 and the Mahamayuri7 refer to a place called Udumbara which evidently was named of the town or district in which their coin are discovered.8
If we talk about Aubumbaras origin there is a story in kalikapuran9 which establish the association of Visvamitra’s birth with the Audumbra tree indirectly connects the tribe with the fig tree the Purans also assign the tribe to Kusika Kausika gotra.10 this story is mentioned in the Mahabharat11 also. Brough12 also says that Udumbara is the name of the descendant of the sage Visvamitra who is the founder of the gotra of the Kausika group. K.P. Jaiswal13 also asserts that Visvamitra was probably there national hero.
The most important fact of this story is that the mother of Visamitra embraced an Audumbara, tree to have a child. This story contains miraculous and unbelievable things of course but the association of Visamitra’s birth with the Audumbara tree is useful in explaining the occurrence of his name and figure on the coins of the Audumbaras. The name of the tribe evidently being derived form the Visvamitra or Udumbara tree, the tree was worshiped by the tribe as a symbol of relationship.14
So for as their antiquity is Concern numismatic consideration tend to place the Audumbaras in the period extending from the 2nd century B.C to 1st century A.D. but literary references to the tribe indicate  that they flourished long before the 2nd Cen B.C.15 The earliest references of this tribe is given by Panini. Panini includes them in Rajanya groups of republics.16 Audumbaras have been referred to be in association with the people of Jalandhara in the Ganapatha Patanjali17 on Panini18 has made a mention of rever Udumbaravati which probably flowed the territory of the Audumbaras.
Thus Audumbaras had independent position about the 2nd cen B.C. to Ist cen B.C During this period they issued coins. It is just possible that they too might have submitted to Mightly Maurya like the other two tribes namely the Kunida and  the Yaudheya of course they might have raised their head after the  fall of the Mauryas.19
The Audumbaras seems to have merged with other tribes or dwindled in importance as they have left no independent coinage in the 3rd-4th A.D which can be attributed to them. Numismatic and other sources definitely establish their independent existence in the earlier periods. The absence of their name in the Allahabad pillar Inscription of Samudragupta also supports of this fact.20
So we have discussed about the origin and antiquity of Audumbaras now I would like to focus on the main aspect of my topic that is the Religion which was followed by the Audumbaras. To know about their religion we have to study of their coins because literary sources did not give much information about this, so on the basis of the symbol and legend of their coins we have to find out about their religion.
The Audumbaras coins were struck in the name of the community and the king.21 According to S.K. Chakrabortty22 their coins, date form the Ist century B.C. and have legends in both Kharosthi and Brahmi. Jaiswal asserts that the Kharosthi scripts indicates the time near about 100 B.C and they came under the influence of the starapas  like their neighbors of the Punjab and were finally absorbed.23 These coins resemble in every respect, the hemidrachms of the Greek prince Apollodotus and are found together with them. Rapson aftirms that there is a great similarity in style between Visvamitra type and those of Azilises.
The Audumbaras coins are very rare. on the basis of their metal and their shape they may be grouped into three classes.25
i.        A series of square copper pieces   ii    A few silver issues, and
iii    A group of round Copper billion coins, without the name of the tribe.
There are many important devices and symbol on their coins that help to create their religious History. These symbols and devices are:-
i.   Bearded Human Figure: - The figure on the silver coins of Dharghosha has been described by Cunningham to be the figure of Siva26 but it seems incorrect because the name of Visvamitra is inscribed on the coins. Literary sources also proved the connection of Visvamitra with Audumbaras the beard noticed on the face also highlight the saintly nature of the figure.
ii.  Elephant: - Elephant is a very common symbol on ancient Indian coin. It is found on the punchmarked, 27 indo-Greek, Tribal and satavahan coins, found by Cunningham. The animal is shown as walking to left with a tree in enclosure in front, while on others only the fore part to left with tree in enclosure in front is depicted According to D.Handa since the tree in enclosure has been identified with fig-tree which was sacred to the Audumbaras the elephant may symbolize the king going to worship the sacred tree.28
iii.Tree in enclosure :- The tree depicted on Audumbaras coins considered  Udumbara ficus glomerata, fig-tree the depiction of the tree in an enclosure bespeaks of its sacred nature. The Udumbara was especially sacred to the Audumbaras as this patron saint was born as a result of his mother embracing the fig-tree. The depiction of this tree  in Audumbaras coins may have even been the sthala- vriksha of the area of the Audumbaras during the period of the currency of these coins.29
iv.                  Trident with battleaxe: - Trident with battleaxe (Trisula) is a sacred symbol for Hindu, Buddhist and the Jains. The trident with battleaxe attached to its shaft is definitely a Saiva weapon. On the Silver coin of Dharghosha. This symbol is shown with a fillet a sign of sanctity and importace. According to Devendra Handa the Kettle-drum has also been attached to the shaft just below the prongs of the tridents on Dharghosho’s silver coins. Kettle drum is also an attribute of Siva there. These remains absolutely little doubt to its  being a saiva Praharana (weapon) shown along side a Siva temple.30
v. Pointed roofed temple :- On the silver coins of Dharghosa and the square copper coins have an object resembling a temple. Cunningham also describes this object as a pyramidal temple of two or three storey, the lower storey is supported by 4 of 6 pillars the trident battleaxe shown on the right near the temple is a very important feature of the structure. Many scholars admits that the tridents battleaxe vouches for the temple being dedicated to siva. The name of Sivadasa and Rudradaa also corroborate the saiva inclination of the rulers. J.N. Banerjea also accepts this view and has describe, the temple on the Audumbaras coins as a Saiva shrine with double domes and multiple pillars.
vi.                  Three-arched Hill: - This symbol is generally referred to as a chaitya or hill/ mountain symbol. According to D Handa if it represent the hill or mountain, its existence on the coins of Audumbaras may signify the hilly region of Kangra occupied be the tribe but if it represents a religious structure the presence of the lion  with it on the reverse of some rare coins may be taken to interpret this symbol as the temple of Durga. It is however notable that the Siva temple exists on almost all square copper coins (except on the anonymous coin pl. vl-1 where the temple is accompanied by a svastika and a chakra- dhvaja indicating its dedication to Vishnu) The symbolic representation of the Durga temple is therefore no surprise.
vii.                Lion :- Lion is a common symbol and found on ancient According to Hindu mythology, it is the vehicle of Durga the sopuse of Siva but it is not sure that its was depicted for representation of Durga.
Besides of the above symbols there are some other symbol also depicted on Audumbaras cons like Branmi ma, Jayadhvaja, Nandipada, Sun etc.
The symbol is described as Brahmi Ma with two books below. Princep describe this symbol as a Jayadhvaja. The last two symbols is probably a solar one, the second is the well known nandipada symbol. Some of the above symbols like Brahmi ma and Jaydhvaja appear in the Panchala series and rest two symbol appears also on some coins found at Ayodhya and the latter on some Kunidas coins.
Thus on the basis of these symbols depicted on Audumbaras coins. It appears that they were follower of Savism. The obverse and reveres devices of these coins clearly indicate the saivite leaning of the Audumbara. The depication of Nandipada and the trident, and trident- battleaxe proves about that some of these coins also contain a Saiva temple The identification of the temples as that of Siva is suggested by the tridents and trident battleaxe.
The coins of Audumbaras bear identical legends that reveal the faith of shavism. Audumbaras coins have legends on both sides written in Brahmi on the obverse and Kharosthi on the reverse. Among the coin legend of the king- Sivadasa, Rudradasa and Dharghosha, the word mahadeva is found as part of the inscription the legends are of four kinds:-
i.                    Mahadevasa rana Dharghoshans Odu (m) barisa.
ii.                  Mahadevasa rana Rudradasasa Odu (m) barisa.
iii.                Mahadevasa rana Sivdasasa Odu (m) barisa.
iv.                 Mahadevasa rana Odu (m) barisa.
The word Mahadeva is also the name of Siva one may be inclined to interpret the legend in a like manner. The name of the kings like the Rudradasa, Sivadasasa also indicate that they were a devotee of god Mahadeva.
In Conclusion it can be said that the Audumbaras followed the Brahmanical sacrificial religion and they were the devotee of lord Siva. The Audumbaras coins of the later period do’nt contain any important material with regard to their religion. Some of the coins of Audumbaras kings Aryamitra Mahimitra and Mahabhutimitra, Shows a male figure standing and holding a spear in right hand. This figure may be identified with kartikeya as it is shown holding a spear. On the basis of this in later period Audumbaras were also the worshippers of Kartikeya. 
1.    CASR, XIV. P- 115-17
2.    N.S XXIII, P- 247
4.    CCIM PP- 160-161
5.    JUPHS, XV 2. PP 28-42
6.    ASR V, pp  154-55 XIV p. 116
7.    Kalikapuran (Varansi Ed). Chap. 82
8.         Mbh Santi Parva Chp- 49, 51, 6 to 30 (Gita press ed)
9.         The early Brahmammical system of Gatra and Pravara pp-147-48, 153, 157
10.      Jaiswal K.P. 1943 Hindu Polity the Bangalore Printing and Pub co. Ltd p-159
11.      Saran, M.K. 1972 Tribal coins- A study Abhinav Publication p- 217
12.      Dasgupta, K.K. 1973 A tribal History of India, Calcutta p- 40
13.      Saran M.K. op cit p 21
14.      Chakrabartty S.K.1931 A Study Of Ancient Indian Numismatics.p- 56
15.      Rapson, E.J. IC. p-11 M.K. Saron p- 235
16.      C f. A. Cunningham, Coins of Ancient India pp- 66-67
17.      Cunningham op cit p – 67
18.      Handa Devendra p-34
Tripti Rai
Research Scholar, Deptt. Of AIHC & Archaeology

B.H.U. Varanasi