Kambojas

Kambojas

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The Kambojas were a kshatriya
Kshatriya
*For the Bollywood film of the same name see Kshatriya Kshatriya or Kashtriya, meaning warrior, is one of the four varnas in Hinduism...

 tribe of Iron Age India
Iron Age India
Iron Age India, the Iron Age in the Indian subcontinent, succeeds the Late Harappan culture, also known as the last phase of the Indus Valley Tradition...

, frequently mentioned in Sanskrit
Sanskrit literature
Literature in Sanskrit begins with the Vedas, and continues with the Sanskrit Epics of Iron Age India; the golden age of Classical Sanskrit literature dates to late Antiquity . Literary production saw a late bloom in the 11th century before declining after 1100 AD...

 and Pali literature
Pali literature
Pali literature is concerned mainly with Theravada Buddhism, of which Pali is the traditional language.- India :Main article: Pali CanonThe earliest and most important Pali literature constitutes the Pali Canon, the scriptures of Theravada...

.

They were an Indo-Iranian
Indo-Iranian
Indo-Iranian can refer to:* Indo-Iranian languages* Prehistoric Indo-Iranians * Indo-European languages* Proto-Indo-Iranian religion* Proto-Indo-Iranian language...

 tribe situated at the boundary of the Indo-Aryans
Indo-Aryans
Indo-Aryan is an ethno-linguistic term referring to the wide collection of peoples united as native speakers of the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Iranian family of Indo-European languages...

 and the Iranians
Ancient Iranian peoples
Iranian peoples first appear in Assyrian records in the 9th century BCE. In Classical Antiquity they were found primarily in Scythia and Persia...

, and appear to have moved from the Iranian into the Indo-Aryan sphere over time.

The Kambojas migrated into India during the Indo-Scythian invasion from the 2nd century BCE to 5th century CE. Their descendants controlled various principalities in Medieval India
Middle kingdoms of India
Middle kingdoms of India refers to the political entities in India from the 3rd century BC after the decline of the Maurya Empire, and the corresponding rise of the Satavahana dynasty, beginning with Simuka, from 230 BC...

.


Ethnicity and language


The Kambojas were an Indo-Iranian tribe.

However, the ancient Kambojas are sometimes described as Indo-Aryans or as having both Indian and Iranian affinities. However, most scholars now agree that the Kambojas were Iranians, cognate with the Indo-Scythians
Indo-Scythians
Indo-Scythians is a term used to refer to Sakas , who migrated into Bactria, Sogdiana, Arachosia, Gandhara, Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, from the middle of the 2nd century BCE to the 4th century CE....

. The Kambojas are also described as a royal clan of the Sakas. This seems to be confirmed by the Mathura lion capital inscriptions
Mathura lion capital
The Mathura lion capital is an Indo-Scythian sandstone capital from Mathura in Central India, dated to the 1st century CE.The capital is covered with Prakrit inscriptions in the kharoshthi script of northwestern India...

 made by Rajuvula
Rajuvula
Rajuvula was an Indo-Scythian Great Satrap who ruled in the area of Mathura in northern India in the years around 10 CE. In central India, the Indo-Scythians conquered the area of Mathura over Indian kings around 60 BCE...

 and by one of the Edicts of Asoka.

Iranian characteristics


A number of ancient sources indicate links between the Kambojas and Iranian civilization.

To argue that the Kambojas were an Iranian group, recent historians have used:
  • References to Zoroastrian customs
  • References to Iranian linguistic forms used by Kambojas
  • References to Kamboja horsemanship
  • Bracketing with other non-Indic peoples


There are indications that the Kambojas spoke the Avestan language. Yaska
Yaska
' ) was a Sanskrit grammarian who preceded Pāṇini , assumed to have been active in the 5th or 6th century BC.He is the author of the Nirukta, a technical treatise on etymology, lexical category and the semantics of words...

 (fl. 700 BCE), in Nirukta
Nirukta
Nirukta is one of the six disciplines of Hinduism, treating etymology, particularly of obscure words, especially those occurring in the Vedas. The discipline is traditionally attributed to , an ancient Sanskrit grammarian...

, contrasts the speech of the Kambojas with that of the "Aryans" (Indo-Aryans). He says that the verb shavati, "to go", was used by the Kambojas only, although its root, shava, was used by the Indo-Aryans. There is a similar mention of Kamboja speech in Patanjali
Patañjali
Patañjali is the compiler of the Yoga Sūtras, an important collection of aphorisms on Yoga practice. According to tradition, the same Patañjali was also the author of the Mahābhāṣya, a commentary on Kātyāyana's vārttikas on Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī as well as an unspecified work of medicine .In...

's Mahaabhaasya from the 2nd c. BCE. He says that the verb zav, in the sense of "going", was used only among the Kambojas, while the same verb in the nominal form zava was used by the Aryas in the sense of "transformation". Moreover, the word shavati, in the sense "to go", is not found in ancient Sanskrit literature but is a common Iranian word. Michael Witzel, who concludes that the Kambojas were East Iranians speaking the Avestan language
Avestan language
Avestan is an East Iranian language known only from its use as the language of Zoroastrian scripture, i.e. the Avesta, from which it derives its name...

, says that the Kamboja verb shavati represents the Younger Avestan sauuaiti "to go". The same arguments are presented by other scholars.

In the Mahabharata and in Pali
Páli
- External links :* *...

 literature, Kambojas appear in the characteristic Iranian roles of horsemen and breeders of notable horses.

The Kambojas were located partly in north-eastern Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

/north-west frontiers province of Pakistan and parts of Tajikstan.

The Bhishamaparava and Shantiparava in the Mahabharata indicate that the Kambojas were living in the north of India. Like other people of the Uttarapatha
Uttarapatha
Ancient Buddhist and Hindu texts use Uttarapatha as the name of the northern part of Jambudvipa, one of the "continents" in Hindu mythology.The name is derived from the Sanskrit terms uttara, for north, and patha, for road...

 region, they are called mlechchas (barbarians) or asuras, lying outside the Indo-Aryan fold. They are repeatedly listed with other north-western, non-Vedic people like the Yavanas, Sakas, Tusharas, Darunas, Parasikas, Hunas
Huna people
Huna is the name under which the Xionite tribes who invaded northern India during the first half of the 5th century were known.-History:...

 and Kiratas. Majjhima Nikaya
Majjhima Nikaya
The Majjhima Nikaya is a Buddhist scripture, the second of the five nikayas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka, which is one of the "three baskets" that compose the Pali Tipitaka of Theravada Buddhism...

 reveals that in the lands of Yavanas, Kambojas and some other frontier nations, there were only two classes of people: Aryas and Dasa
Dasa
Dasa is a term used with the primary meaning 'enemy', especially relating to tribes identified as the enemies of the Indo-Aryan tribes in the Rigveda....

s
, the masters and slaves. The Arya could become Dasa and vice versa. This social organisation was completely alien to India, where a four-class social structure was prevalent.

The Buddhist commentator and scholar Buddhaghosa
Buddhaghosa
Bhadantācariya Buddhaghoṣa(Chinese: 覺音)was a 5th-century Indian Theravadin Buddhist commentator and scholar. His best-known work is the Visuddhimagga, or Path of Purification, a comprehensive summary and analysis of the Theravada understanding of the Buddha's path to liberation...

 (2nd or 4th c. CE, expressly describes the Kambojas as having Persian affinties.

Indo-Aryan characteristics


Various ancient documents mention "Kamboja" in the context of the Indo-Aryan civilisation. Vedic
Vedic
Vedic may refer to:* the Vedas, the oldest preserved Indic texts** Vedic Sanskrit, the language of these texts** Vedic period, during which these texts were produced** Vedic pantheon of gods mentioned in Vedas/vedic period...

 sage Kamboja Aupamanyava
Kamboja Aupamanyava
In the Vamsa Brahmana of Vedic literature, Aupamanyava is listed as a Vedic teacher and sage. of the Sama Veda.The patronymic Aupamanyava establishes him as a descendant of Upamanyu, while the name Kamboja suggests an association with the Kamboja kingdom of the Mahajanapada period..Vamsa Brahmana...

 is mentioned in the Vamsa Brahmana in the Samaveda
Samaveda
The Sama veda , is second of the four Vedas, the ancient core Hindu scriptures. Its earliest parts are believed to date from 1700 BC and it ranks next in sanctity and liturgical importance to the Rigveda...

. His father or ancestor, the sage
Rishi
Rishi denotes the composers of Vedic hymns. However, according to post-Vedic tradition, the rishi is a "seer" to whom the Vedas were "originally revealed" through states of higher consciousness. The rishis were prominent when Vedic Hinduism took shape, as far back as some three thousand years...

 Upamanyu
Upamanyu
Upamanyu is the name of a Hindu rishi, the traditional author of hymn 1.102.9 of the Rig Veda.The historian B. C. Law, writing in the 1920s, supposed that Upamanyu was the father of Kamboja Aupamanyava referred to in the Vamsa Brahmana of the Sama Veda....

, is mentioned in the Rigveda
Rigveda
The Rigveda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns...

. He has been described as the composer of Rigvedic Hymn 1.102.9. These references have made various scholars argue that the Kambojas were Indo-Aryans and that in the early Vedic times they formed an important division of the Vedic Aryans.

The Drona Parva section of the Mahabharata attests that, besides being fierce warriors, the entire Kamboja soldiery which participated in the Kurukshetra war was also noted as "learned people".

In the Paraskara Grhya-sutram
Kalpa (Vedanga)
Kalpa is one of the six disciplines of Vedanga, treating ritual.Tradition does not single out any special work in this branch of the Vedanga; but sacrificial practice gave rise to a large number of systematic sutras for the several classes of priests...

(verse 2.1.2), the Kambojas, as scholarly people, are classed with the Vasishthas—the cultural heroes of ancient India—and were counted amongst the six great scholarly houses of Vedic India. The social and religious customs of the Kambojas and Vasishthas are stated to be identical.

The Khadga legend
Khadga
The Khadga Dynasty of Bengal was a family that ruled the areas of Vanga and later Samatata from the 7th to 8th Century CE. Chronoloically, they were the major power in central Bengal between the fall of the Kingdom of Gauda ruled by Shashanka and the rise of the Pala Empire established by Gopala...

 related in the Shantiparva section of the Mahabharata indicates a Vedic Aryan background for the Kambojas.

In the more ancient portions of the Mahabharata, the Kambojas appear as warriors and rulers, and are described as "scholars of the Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

".

In the Ashtadhyayi (probably 4th century BCE), Pāṇini describes the Kamboja janapada as "one of the fifteen powerful Kshatriya janapadas" of his times, "inhabited and ruled by Kamboja Kshatriyas", implying that the Kambojas were both Indo-Aryan and Kshatriya.

The Kambojas' religious customs were Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

.

Origins


The earliest mention of the name Kamboja
Kamboja (name)
Kamboja or Kambuja is the name of an ancient Indo-Iranian kingdom.They are believed to have been located originally in Pamirs and Badakshan in Central Asia.The name has a long history of attestation, both in the Iranian and the Indo-Aryan spheres....

 is in the Vamsa Brahmana (ca. 7th century BCE).

References to the Kambojas as a tribe or kingdom appear in the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

and in Vedanga
Vedanga
The Vedanga are six auxiliary disciplines traditionally associated with the study and understanding of the Vedas.#Shiksha : phonetics, phonology and morphophonology #Kalpa : ritual#Vyakarana : grammar...

 literature beginning in the final centuries BCE. Their Kamboja Kingdoms were located beyond Gandhara
Gandhara
Gandhāra , is the name of an ancient kingdom , located in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the Kabul River...

 in eastern or northern Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

.

Within traditional Hindu cosmography the Kambojas, with the Gandhara
Gandhara
Gandhāra , is the name of an ancient kingdom , located in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the Kabul River...

s, Yavanas (Greeks
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

), Madra
Madra
Madra, Mada or Madraka is the name of an ancient region and its inhabitants, located in the north-west division of the ancient Indian sub-continent.-Uttaramadra division:...

s, and Saka
Saka
The Saka were a Scythian tribe or group of tribes....

s are located in the Uttarapatha
Uttarapatha
Ancient Buddhist and Hindu texts use Uttarapatha as the name of the northern part of Jambudvipa, one of the "continents" in Hindu mythology.The name is derived from the Sanskrit terms uttara, for north, and patha, for road...

, the northern division of Jambudvipa
Jambudvipa
Jambudvīpa is the dvipa of the terrestrial world, as envisioned in the cosmologies of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, which is the realm where ordinary human beings live...

, the island of the terrestrial world.

Some sections of the Kambojas crossed the Hindu Kush
Hindu Kush
The Hindu Kush is an mountain range that stretches between central Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. The highest point in the Hindu Kush is Tirich Mir in the Chitral region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.It is the westernmost extension of the Pamir Mountains, the Karakoram Range, and is a...

 and planted Kamboja colonies in Paropamisadae
Paropamisadae
Paropamisadae or Paropamisus was the ancient Greek name for a region of the Hindu-Kush in eastern Afghanistan, centered on the cities of Kabul and Kapisa .-History of Paropamisadae:...

 and as far as Rajauri
Rajauri
Rajouri is a town and a notified area committee in Rajouri district in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.- Introduction :The District drives its name from Rajouri town which itself had been historically known as Rajapuri/Rajapura. Rajouri District had been part of Poonch district prior to 1967...

. The Mahabharata locates the Kambojas on the near side of the Hindu Kush as neighbors to the Daradas
Daradas
Daradas were a people who lived north and north-east to the Kashmir valley. This kingdom is identified to be the Gilgit region in Kashmir along the river Sindhu or Indus. They are often spoken along with the Kambojas...

, and the Parama-Kambojas across the Hindu Kush as neighbors to the Rishikas (or Tukharas) of the Ferghana region.

The confederation of the Kambojas may have stretched from the valley of 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
Kunar
Kunar may refer to:*Kunar Valley, Afghanistan and Pakistan*Kunar Province, Afghanistan*Kunar River, Afghanistan and Pakistan...

 river, including Kapisa possibly extending from the Kabul valleys to Kandahar.

Others locate the Kambojas and the Parama-Kambojas in the areas spanning Balkh
Balkh
Balkh , was an ancient city and centre of Zoroastrianism in what is now northern Afghanistan. Today it is a small town in the province of Balkh, about 20 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital, Mazar-e Sharif, and some south of the Amu Darya. It was one of the major cities of Khorasan...

, Badakshan, the Pamirs and Kafiristan
Kafiristan
Kāfiristān or Kāfirstān was a historic name of Nurestan , a province in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan and Pakistan, prior to 1896. This historic region lies on, and mainly comprises, basins of the rivers Alingar, Pech , Landai Sin, and Kunar, and the intervening mountain ranges...

, or in various settlements in the wide area lying between Punjab, Iran and Balkh. and the Parama-Kamboja even farther north, in the Trans-Pamirian territories comprising the Zeravshan
Zeravshan
Zeravshan River is a river in Central Asia. Its name, "sprayer of gold" in Persian, refers to the presence of gold-bearing sands in the upper reaches of the river. To the ancient Greeks it was known as the Polytimetus...

 valley, towards the Farghana region, in the Scythia
Scythia
In antiquity, Scythian or Scyths were terms used by the Greeks to refer to certain Iranian groups of horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who dwelt on the Pontic-Caspian steppe...

 of the classical writers. The mountainous region between the Oxus and Jaxartes is also suggested as the location of the ancient Kambojas.

The name Kamboja
Kamboja (name)
Kamboja or Kambuja is the name of an ancient Indo-Iranian kingdom.They are believed to have been located originally in Pamirs and Badakshan in Central Asia.The name has a long history of attestation, both in the Iranian and the Indo-Aryan spheres....

 may derive from (Kam + bhuj), referring to the people of a country known as "Kum" or "Kam". The mountainous highlands where the Jaxartes and its confluents arise are called the highlands of the Komedes
Komedes
Komedes is an ethnonym recorded by Ptolemy. Ptolemy notes that the Komedes inhabited "the entire mountainous land of the Sakas", placing them in eastern Scythia .-Kumud-dvipa:...

 by Ptolemy. Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus was a fourth-century Roman historian. He wrote the penultimate major historical account surviving from Antiquity...

 also names these mountains as Komedas. The Kiu-mi-to in the writings of Hiuen Tsang 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
Geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

, which refers to the Tambyzoi located north of the Hindu Kush on the river Oxus in Bactria
Bactria
Bactria and also appears in the Zend Avesta as Bukhdi. It is the ancient name of a historical region located between south of the Amu Darya and west of the Indus River...

, 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. Ptolemy also mentions a people called Khomaroi and Komoi in Sogdiana. The Ptolemian Komoi is a classical form of Kamboi (or Kamboika, from Pali
Páli
- External links :* *...

 Kambojika, Sanskrit Kamboja).

The Kambojas on the far side of the Hindu Kush remained essentially Iranian in culture and religion, while those on the near side came under Indian cultural influence. Later some sections of the Kambojas moved even farther, to Arachosia
Arachosia
Arachosia is the Latinized form of the Greek name of an Achaemenid and Seleucid governorate in the eastern part of their respective empires, around modern-day southern Afghanistan. The Greek term "Arachosia" corresponds to the Iranian land of Harauti which was between Kandahar in Afghanistan and...

, as attested by an inscription by Ashoka
Ashoka
Ashok Maurya or Ashoka , popularly known as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from ca. 269 BC to 232 BC. One of India's greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over most of present-day India after a number of military conquests...

 found in Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

.

Transcaucasian Theory


The Sanskrit term Bahlikas may have its counterpart in the Avestan term Pairikas to cover the swarm of Eurasian and Central Asian nomads that, in the migration period of the 8th and 7th centuries BCE, poured out of the Eurasian steppe into the Punjab and beyond. It is also believed that these Cimmerians, Scythians, Kurus and the Kambojas tribes contributed to the formation of the Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

.
The connection of the Achaemenid rulers of Persia to the Kambojas and Kurus is reflected in the royal name Kuru and Kambujiya or Kambaujiya, which several Achaemenean monarchs adopted. Close connections among the Kambojas (Parama-Kambojas), the Madras (Bahlika-Madras or Uttaramadras) and the Kurus (Uttarakurus), which tribes were all located around the Oxus in Central Asia in remote antiquity, suggests that the Kurus, the Kambojas and the Parśus were related. Kambujiya or Kambaujiya was the name of several great Persian kings of the Achaemenid line.

The names Kamboja (Cambyses) and Kuru (Cyrus
Cyrus (name)
Cyrus is the given name of a number of Persian kings. Most notably it refers to Cyrus the Great. Cyrus is also the name of Cyrus I of Anshan Cyrus is the given name of a number of Persian kings. Most notably it refers to Cyrus the Great. Cyrus is also the name of Cyrus I of Anshan Cyrus is the...

) occur as place names both in Transcaucasia, in Media Atrapatein, close to the northern Hindu Kush and south of the Hindu Kush in the Indian sub-continent. and the name Cambysene or Cambyses may transliterate into Kamboja and the name Cyrus
Cyrus (name)
Cyrus is the given name of a number of Persian kings. Most notably it refers to Cyrus the Great. Cyrus is also the name of Cyrus I of Anshan Cyrus is the given name of a number of Persian kings. Most notably it refers to Cyrus the Great. Cyrus is also the name of Cyrus I of Anshan Cyrus is the...

 into Kuru of the Sanskrit texts. These invading Aryan Central Asian nomads may have been Scythian tribes from the "Cyrus" (Kurosh) and "Cambyses" (Kambujiya) valleys, around the "Cambysene" province of Armenia Major west of the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

. The province Cambysene got its name from the river Cambyses, which in turn got its name from the Sanskrit word Kambhoja. In the Epitome of Strabo a nation of the Caspians is spoken of περι τὀν Καμβύσην ποταμόν (Kambysen). Stephen of Byzantium defines Kambysēnē as a Persian country and relates the name to the Achaemenid king Cambyses. The Greek form Kambysēnē must have been derived from an indigenous name, corresponding to Armenian Kʿambēčan, with the common ending -ēnē. In Georgian
Georgian language
Georgian is the native language of the Georgians and the official language of Georgia, a country in the Caucasus.Georgian is the primary language of about 4 million people in Georgia itself, and of another 500,000 abroad...

 it is written Kambečovani, in Arabic Qambīzān. In Sanskrit it is believed to have been transliterated as Kamboja. The region Cambysene and the rivers Cyrus and Cambyses are believed to have borne these name since remote antiquity. The territorial name Cambysene (Gk. Kambysēnē) as well as the river names Cyrus (Kurosh) and Cambyses (Kambujiya) occurring in Strabo's Geography and Pliny's Histories may be related to the ethno-geographical name Kambuja/Kamboja and Kuru of the Sanskrit texts.

The hordes who had participated in the earlier invasion of Iran along with the Yauteyas were identified as the Kambysene Scythians living around the Kambysene region, near the Caucasus Mountains in ancient Armenia. Later, they became the Kuru-Kambojas of the Sanskrit texts. These Kuru-Kamboja later mixed with the mountain-based Parsa-Xsayatia (Purush-Khattis) Iranians giving rise to the Achaemenid dynastic line of Persia.

Before leaving the Caspian region for Iran and Afghanistan in the 9th and 8th centuries BCE these people may have been living in the valleys of Cyrus and Cambyses in Armenia. After migrating southwards to the Indian sub-continent they split-up into two clans, Kurus and Kambojas first settling in the Trans-Himalayan region as Uttarakurus and Parama Kambojas before moving to regions near the Himalayas as Kurus (south-east Punjab or Kuruksetra) and Kambojas (south-west Kashmir and in the Kabul valley).

In the Kurukshetra War
Kurukshetra war
According to the Indian epic poem Mahābhārata, a dynastic succession struggle between two groups of cousins of an Indo-Aryan kingdom called Kuru, the Kauravas and Pandavas, for the throne of Hastinapura resulted in the Kurukshetra War in which a number of ancient kingdoms participated as allies of...

, the Kurus and Kambojas are seen as closely allied tribes. The Mahabharata attests that the Kambojas and kindred Scythian tribes like the Sakas, Tusharas and Khasas
Khasas
The Khasas / Khas or Khasiyas are an ancient people, believed to be a section of the Indo-Iranians who originally belonged to Central Asia from where they had penetrated, in remote antiquity, the Himalayas through Kashgar and Kashmir and dominated the whole hilly region...

 played a prominent role in the Kurukshetra War where they fought under the command of Sudakshina Kamboja
Sudakshina Kamboja
Sudakshina was a king of the Kambojas, mentioned in theMahābhārata as fighting on the side of the Kauravas and being slain by Arjuna....

 and had sided with the Kurus.

Others remark that the names Kuru and Kamboja are of disputed etymology
Etymology
Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during...

, but may attach to Sanskrit Kura and Kamboja, originally Aryan heroes, whose names were revived in a royal house in Persia. Kamboja is a geographical name, and often so is Kuru: hence their appearance in Iranian to-day as Kur and Kamoj.

The Kambojan State


The evidence in the Mahabharata and in Ptolemy's Geography distinctly supports two Kamboja settlements. The cis-Hindukush region from Nurestan up to Rajauri in southwest Kashmir sharing borders with the Daradas
Daradas
Daradas were a people who lived north and north-east to the Kashmir valley. This kingdom is identified to be the Gilgit region in Kashmir along the river Sindhu or Indus. They are often spoken along with the Kambojas...

 and the Gandhara
Gandhara
Gandhāra , is the name of an ancient kingdom , located in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the Kabul River...

s constituted the Kamboja country. The capital of Kamboja was probably Rajapura (modern Rajori). The Kamboja Mahajanapada of Buddhist traditions refers to this cis-Hindukush branch.

The trans-Hindukush region constituted the Parama-Kamboja country. It included the Pamirs and Badakhshan, sharing borders with Bactria in the west and Sogdiana in the north. The trans-Hindukush branch of the Kambojas remained culturally Iranian, but a large section of the Kambojas of cis-Hindukush appears to have come under Indian cultural influence.

In the Mahabharata, Kamboja is referred to as a republic or a kingless country where elected chiefs among the people ruled the country. It refers to several Ganah (or republics) of the Kambojas. Kautiliya's Arthashastra
Arthashastra
The Arthashastra is an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy which identifies its author by the names Kautilya and , who are traditionally identified with The Arthashastra (IAST: Arthaśāstra) is an ancient Indian treatise on statecraft, economic policy and...

  and Ashoka
Ashoka
Ashok Maurya or Ashoka , popularly known as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from ca. 269 BC to 232 BC. One of India's greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over most of present-day India after a number of military conquests...

's Edict No. XIII also attest that the 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. A kingless country is otherwise called Arashtra or Aratta
Aratta
Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list.-Role in Sumerian literature:Aratta is described as follows in Sumerian literature:...

. This name is sometimes collectively used to denote many other western kingdoms like Madra
Madra Kingdom
Madra Kingdom was a kingdom grouped among the western kingdoms in the epic Mahabharata. Its capital was Sagala, modern Sialkot . The Kuru king Pandu's second wife was from Madra kingdom and was called Madri. The Pandava twins, Nakula and Sahadeva, were her sons. Madri's brother Shalya was the king...

, Kekeya
Kekeya Kingdom
Kekeya is a kingdom grouped among the western kingdoms in the epic Mahabharata. The epic Ramayana also mentions Kekeya as a western kingdom. One of the wives of Dasaratha, the king of Kosala and father of Raghava Rama, was from Kekeya kingdom and was known as Kaikeyi...

 and Gandhara
Gandhara Kingdom
Gandhara is a kingdom grouped among the western kingdoms in the epic Mahabharata. The epic Ramayana also mentions it as a western kingdom. Gandhara prince Sakuni was the root of all the conspiracies of Duryodhana against the Pandavas, which finally resulted in the Kurukshetra War. Sakuni's sister...

. Another collective name denoting the western kingdoms is Bahika ( Vahika, Vahlika, Bahlika
Bahlika Kingdom
All the western Indian kingdoms were known by the general name Bahlika meaning outsider. Thus these people were considered as outsiders of the Vedic culture. However, the name Bahlika is sometimes used to denote a kingdom within the present Punjab, different from Madra, Sindhu, Kekeya, Gandhara or...

 or Vahika) meaning outsider. This is to denote that their culture was outside or different from the Vedic culture, prevailing in the Kuru
Kuru Kingdom
Kuru was the name of an ancient kingdom in Vedic India, and later a republican Mahajanapada state. The kingdom was located in the area of modern Haryana, Delhi and western Uttar Pradesh in India. They formed the first political center of the of the Vedic India, with its capital at Hastinapur. It...

, Panchala
Panchala Kingdom
This article is about the kingdom of Panchala during the epic-ages. For the historical kingdom, see Panchala.Panchala Kingdom extended from Himalayas in the north to river Charmanwati in the south during the period of Mahabharata. It had Kuru, Surasena and Matsya kingdoms to the west and the forest...

 and other kingdoms of the Gangetic plain.

A clan of tribes called Kinnaras
Kinnara Kingdom
In Indian epic literature, Kinnara Kingdom refers to the territory of a tribe called Kinnaras who were one among the exotic tribes, mentioned along with others like Devas , Asuras , Pisachas, Gandharvas, Kimpurushas, Vanaras, Suparnas, Rakshasas, Bhutas and Yakshas...

 were believed to be the Kamboja horse warriors. Kinnaras were described as "horse-headed humans". This could be an exaggeration of their extra ordinary skill in cavalry warfare. In Kali Yuga
Kali Yuga
Kali Yuga is the last of the four stages that the world goes through as part of the cycle of yugas described in the Indian scriptures. The other ages are Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga and Dvapara Yuga...

, Kambojas had many colonial states in central India, including the Asmaka
Asmaka Kingdom
Asmaka was a kingdom among the 16 Mahajanapadas mentioned in the Buddhist texts. All other kingdoms were in the north, from Vanga to Gandhara. Some believes that Asmaka was a colony of the Kambojas, and its earlier name was Aswaka...

 or Aswaka of Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

 state.

During the reign of Cyrus
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 (558-530 BCE) or in the first year of Darius these nations fell prey to the Achaemenids of Persia. Kamboja and Gandhara formed the twentieth and richest strapy of the Achaemenid Empire. Cyrus I is said to have destroyed the famous Kamboja city called Kapisi (modern Begram) in Paropamisade.

The Aśvakas


The 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 sangha
Sangha
Sangha is a word in Pali or Sanskrit that can be translated roughly as "association" or "assembly," "company" or "community" with common goal, vision or purpose...

s
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
Kunar Valley
Kunar Valley or Chitral Valley is a valley in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Afghanistan the length of the valley is almost entirely narrow with steep and rugged mountains on both sides. The center of the valley is occupied by the Kunar River flowing south where it joins the Kabul River...

 and Swat
Swat River
The Swat River is a river in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan. Its source is in the Hindukush Mountains, from where it flows through the Kalam Valley and Swat District...

 valleys have been referred to as Assakenoi and Aspasioi in classical writings, and Ashvakayanas and Ashvayanas in Pāṇini's Ashtadhyayi.

Alexander's Conflict with the Kambojas




The Kambojas entered into conflict with Alexander the Great as he invaded Central Asia. The Macedonian conqueror made short shrifts of the arrangements of Darius and after over-running the Achaemenid Empire he dashed into Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

. There he encountered incredible resistance of the Kamboja Aspasioi and Assakenoi tribes.

These Ashvayana and Ashvakayana clans fought the invader to a man. When worse came to worst, even the Ashvakayana Kamboj women took up arms and joined their fighting husbands. Diodorus
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

 gives a graphic account how the Ashvakayanas conducted themselves when faced with the sudden onslaught from Alexander:
The Ashvakas fielded 30,000 strong cavalry, 30 elephants and 20,000 infantry against Alexander.

The Ashvayans (Aspasioi) were also good cattle breeders and agriculturists. This is clear from the large number of bullocks, 230,000 according to Arrian
Arrian
Lucius Flavius Arrianus 'Xenophon , known in English as Arrian , and Arrian of Nicomedia, was a Roman historian, public servant, a military commander and a philosopher of the 2nd-century Roman period...

, of a size and shape superior to what the Macedonian
Ancient Macedonians
The Macedonians originated from inhabitants of the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, in the alluvial plain around the rivers Haliacmon and lower Axios...

s had known, that Alexander captured from them and decided to send to Macedonia for agriculture.

Migrations


During the 2nd and 1st centuries BCE, clans of the Kambojas from north Afghanistan in alliance the with Sakas, Pahlavas and the Yavanas entered 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
Pala Empire
The Pāla Empire was one of the major middle kingdoms of India existed from 750–1174 CE. It was ruled by a Buddhist dynasty from Bengal in the eastern region of the Indian subcontinent, all the rulers bearing names ending with the suffix Pala , which means protector. The Palas were often described...

 and established the Kamboja-Pala Dynasty of Bengal in Eastern India.

In their advance from their original home one branch of the Kamboja allied with the Sakas and Pahlavas, had proceeded to Sindhu, Sauvira and Saurashtra, while the other branch, allied with the Yavanas, appears to have moved to Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

There are references to the hordes of the Sakas, Yavanas, Kambojas, and 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 invading hordes from the north-west entered Punjab, Sindhu, Rajasthan and Gujarat in large numbers, wrested political control of northern India from the Indo-Aryans and established their respective kingdoms as independent rulers in the land of the Indo-Aryans, as also attested by the Mahabharata as well as the Kalki Purana
Kalki Purana
The Kalki Purana is a prophetic work in Sanskrit that details the life and times of Kalki, the tenth and final Dashavatara of the Hindu deity Lord Vishnu...

. There is literary as well as inscriptional evidence supporting the Yavana and Kamboja overlordship in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. The royal family of the Kamuias mentioned in the Mathura Lion Capital
Mathura lion capital
The Mathura lion capital is an Indo-Scythian sandstone capital from Mathura in Central India, dated to the 1st century CE.The capital is covered with Prakrit inscriptions in the kharoshthi script of northwestern India...

 are believed to be linked to the royal house of Taxila
Taxila
Taxila is a Tehsil in the Rawalpindi District of Punjab province of Pakistan. It is an important archaeological site.Taxila is situated about northwest of Islamabad Capital Territory and Rawalpindi in Panjab; just off the Grand Trunk Road...

 in Gandhara
Gandhara
Gandhāra , is the name of an ancient kingdom , located in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the Kabul River...

. The Maitraka Dynasty
Maitraka
The Maitraka dynasty ruled Gujarat in western India from c. 475 to 767. The founder of the dynasty, Senapati Bhatarka, was a military governor of Saurashtra peninsula under Gupta Empire, who had established himself as the independent ruler of Gujarat approximately in the last quarter of 5th century...

 of Saurashtra, in all probability, belonged to the Kambojas, who had settled down in south-western India around the beginning of the Christian era. In the medieval era, the Kambojas are known to have seized north-west Bengal (Gauda and Radha) from the Palas
Pala Empire
The Pāla Empire was one of the major middle kingdoms of India existed from 750–1174 CE. It was ruled by a Buddhist dynasty from Bengal in the eastern region of the Indian subcontinent, all the rulers bearing names ending with the suffix Pala , which means protector. The Palas were often described...

 of Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

 and established their own Kamboja-Pala Dynasty
Kamboja Dynasty of Bengal
The Kamboja-Pala Dynasty ruled parts of Bengal in the 10th to 11th centuries CE, gradually gaining independence from their former liege lords, the Palas.-Origins:...

. Indian texts like Markandeya Purana
Markandeya Purana
The Markandeya Purana is one of the major eighteen Mahapuranas, a genre of Hindu religious texts. It is written in the style of a dialogue between the ancient sage Markandeya and Jaimini, a disciple of Vyasa.-Contents:...

, Vishnu Dharmottari Agni Purana, Garuda Purana, Arthashastra of Barhaspatya and Brhatsamhita of Vrahamihira attest Kamboja references in south-western and southern India. The inscriptions of the medieval rulers of Vijayanagara
Vijayanagara
Vijayanagara is in Bellary District, northern Karnataka. It is the name of the now-ruined capital city "which was regarded as the second Rome" that surrounds modern-day Hampi, of the historic Vijayanagara empire which extended over the southern part of India....

 of southern India also attest a Kamboja kingdom abutting on the borders of the Vijayanagara Empire
Vijayanagara Empire
The Vijayanagara Empire , referred as the Kingdom of Bisnaga by the Portuguese, was an empire based in South Indian in the Deccan Plateau region. It was established in 1336 by Harihara I and his brother Bukka Raya I of the Yadava lineage. The empire rose to prominence as a culmination of attempts...

, which may indicate that there was a Kamboja kingdom near Gujarat. Some Buddhist inscriptions found in the Pal caves, located about a mile north-west of Mhar in Raigad district
Raigad district
Raigad District , also known as Raigarh District, is a district in the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is located in the Konkan region. The district was renamed after Raigad, the fort which was the former capital of the Maratha leader Shivaji, and is located in the interior regions of the district,...

 of Maharashtra, contain a reference to a chief of a Kamboj dynasty, Prince Vishnupalita Kambhoja
Prince Vishnupalita Kambhoja
Prince Vishnupalita Kambhoja finds reference in the Buddhist inscriptions found at Mhar or Mahad in Kolaba district of Maharashtra, in Bombay Presidency. Kanbhoja of the inscriptions is same as the Kambhoja or Kamboja of ancient Sanskrit and Pali texts and of king Asoka’s Rock Edicts...

, as ruling in Kolaba (near Bombay) probably around the 2nd century CE.

The Sakas, Yavanas, Kambojas, Paradas, Pahlavas etc. were foreign tribes from the west but were absorbed among the Kshatriyas in Indian population.

Sri Lanka



There are several ancient inscriptional references found in Rohana
Rohana
Rohana is a genus of butterflies in the family Nymphalidae.-External links:* at funit.fi...

 province, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

, belonging to the 2nd century BCE which may indicate Kamboja presence in various parts of Sri Lanka in the late centuries BCE and mention a Kamboja Sangha as well as "grand Kamboja guilds" located in the island, thus indicating that the Kambojas had also migrated to Sri Lanka before 1 CE. The Sihalavatthu, a Pali text of about the 4th century CE, also attests a group of people called Kambojas living in Rohana province in southern Sri Lanka.

Eastern Kambojas



A branch of Kambojas seems to have migrated eastwards towards Tibet in the wake of Kushana (1st century) or else Huna
Huna people
Huna is the name under which the Xionite tribes who invaded northern India during the first half of the 5th century were known.-History:...

 (5th century) pressure and hence their notice in the chronicles of Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

 ("Kam-po-tsa, Kam-po-ce, Kam-po-ji") and Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

 (Kambojadesa). The 5th century Brahma Purana
Brahma Purana
The Brahma Purana is one of the major eighteen Mahapuranas, a genre of Hindu religious texts. The extant text comprises 246 chapters. It is divided into two parts, namely the Purvabhaga and the Uttarabhaga . The first part narrates the story behind the creation of the cosmos, details the life and...

 mentions the Kambojas around Pragjyotisha and Tamraliptika.
Later these Kambojas appear to have moved towards Assam
Assam
Assam , also, rarely, Assam Valley and formerly the Assam Province , is a northeastern state of India and is one of the most culturally and geographically distinct regions of the country...

 from where they may have invaded Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

 during the Pala Empire
Pala Empire
The Pāla Empire was one of the major middle kingdoms of India existed from 750–1174 CE. It was ruled by a Buddhist dynasty from Bengal in the eastern region of the Indian subcontinent, all the rulers bearing names ending with the suffix Pala , which means protector. The Palas were often described...

 and wrested north-west Bengal from them. The Buddhist text Sasanavamsa also attests the Kambojas in or around Assam
Assam
Assam , also, rarely, Assam Valley and formerly the Assam Province , is a northeastern state of India and is one of the most culturally and geographically distinct regions of the country...

. These Kambojas had made a first bid to conquer Bengal during the reign of king Devapala
Devapala
Deva Pala , was a powerful emperor from the Pala Empire of Bengal region in the Indian Subcontinent. He was the third king in the line and had succeeded his father, emperor Dharamapala...

 (810–850) but were repulsed. A later attempt was successful when they were able to deprive the Palas of the suzerainty over northern and western Bengal and set up a Kamboja dynasty in Bengal
Kamboja Dynasty of Bengal
The Kamboja-Pala Dynasty ruled parts of Bengal in the 10th to 11th centuries CE, gradually gaining independence from their former liege lords, the Palas.-Origins:...

 towards the middle of the 10th century.

Burmese chronicles refer to them as "Kampuchih".

Mauryan period



Chandragupta Maurya
Chandragupta Maurya
Chandragupta Maurya , was the founder of the Maurya Empire. Chandragupta succeeded in conquering most of the Indian subcontinent. Chandragupta is considered the first unifier of India and its first genuine emperor...

's alliance with the Himalayan king Parvatka, as referred to in the Mudrarakshas play Visakhadutta and the Jain
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

 work Parisishtaparvan, gave him an army made up of Yavanas, Kambojas, Sakas, Kiratas, Parasikas (Persians) and Bahlikas (Bactrians
Bactrians
The Bactrians were the inhabitants of Bactria.Several important trade routes from India and China passed through Bactria and, as early as the Bronze Age, this had allowed the accumulation of vast amounts of wealth by the mostly nomadic population. The first proto-urban civilization in the area...

). With the help of these warlike clans from the north-west frontier, whom Justin brands as "a band of robbers", Chandragupta managed to defeat, upon Alexander's death, the Macedonian satrap
Satrap
Satrap was the name given to the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as the Sassanid Empire and the Hellenistic empires....

s of Punjab and Afghanistan and the Nanda ruler of Magadha
Magadha
Magadha formed one of the sixteen Mahājanapadas or kingdoms in ancient India. The core of the kingdom was the area of Bihar south of the Ganga; its first capital was Rajagriha then Pataliputra...

, thereby laying the foundations of a powerful Maurya Empire
Maurya Empire
The Maurya Empire was a geographically extensive Iron Age historical power in ancient India, ruled by the Mauryan dynasty from 321 to 185 BC...

 in northern and north-western India.

The Kambojas find prominent mention as a unit in the 3rd century BCE Edicts of Ashoka
Edicts of Ashoka
The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of 33 inscriptions on the Pillars of Ashoka, as well as boulders and cave walls, made by the Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty during his reign from 269 BCE to 231 BCE. These inscriptions are dispersed throughout the areas of modern-day Bangladesh, India,...

. Rock Edict XIII tells us that the Kambojas had enjoyed autonomy under the Mauryas. The republics mentioned in Rock Edict V are the Yona
Yona
"Yona" is a Pali word used in ancient India to designate Greek speakers. Its equivalent in Sanskrit, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil is the word "Yavana" and "Jobonan/Jubonan" in Bengali...

s, Kambojas, Gandhara
Gandhara
Gandhāra , is the name of an ancient kingdom , located in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the Kabul River...

s, 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
Ashoka
Ashok Maurya or Ashoka , popularly known as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from ca. 269 BC to 232 BC. One of India's greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over most of present-day India after a number of military conquests...

 sent missionaries to the Kambojas to convert them to Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, and recorded this fact in his Rock Edict V. Dipavamsa
Dipavamsa
The Dipavamsa, or "Deepavamsa", is the oldest historical record of Sri Lanka.It means Chronicle of the Island. The chronicle is believe to be compiled from Atthakatha and other sources around the 3-4th century. Together with Mahavamsa, it is the source of many accounts of ancient history of Sri...

 and Mahavamsa
Mahavamsa
The Mahavamsa is a historical poem written in the Pali language, of the kings of Sri Lanka...

 attest that Ashoka sent missionaries to Yona, Kashmir and Gandhara to preach among the Yonas, Gandharas and Kambojas. The Sasanavamsa attests that a missionary went to Yonaka country and "established Buddha's Sasana in the lands of the Kambojas and other countries" Due to the efforts of Ashoka and his envoys the Zoroastrian as well as Hindu Kambojas appear to have embraced Buddhism in large numbers.

Modern Descendants


The Kamboj
Kamboj
The Kambojs , also Kamboh, are an ethnic community of the Punjab region. They may relate to the Kambojas, an Iranian tribe known to the people of Iron Age India and mentioned in ancient Sanskrit texts and epigraphy. Kamboj is frequently used as a surname in lieu of the sub-caste or the gotra name...

 tribe of the Greater Punjab and the Kom and Kata of the Siah-Posh tribe
Siah-Posh Kafirs
Siah-Posh Kafirs was the former designation of the major and dominant group of the Hindukush Kafirs inhabiting the Bashgul valley of the Kafiristan, now called Nuristan. They were so-called because of the color of the robes they wore...

 in the Nuristan province of Afghanistan are believed by scholars to represent some of the modern descendants of the Kambojas. The modern Kamboj are estimated to number around 1.5 million, while other descendants of the Kambojas have merged with other castes of the Indian sub-continent like the Khatri
Khatri
Khatri is a caste from the northern Indian subcontinent. Khatris in India are mostly from Punjab, region but later they migrated to regions like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Jammu, Uttarkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber...

s, Rajputs, Jats, Arain
Arain
The Arain , are a Muslim agricultural caste settled mainly in the Punjab, with significant numbers also in Sindh. They are chiefly associated with farming, traditionally being landlords or zamindars.- Origin :...

 and others.

The Kambojs, by tradition, are divided into fifty-two and eighty-four clans. The fifty-two clans are said to be descendants of a cadet branch and the eighty-four from the elder branch. This division is said to have originated with the younger and elder military divisions under which the Kambojas had fought the Kurukshetra War. Numerous clan names overlap with those of other kshatriyas and the Rajput
Rajput
A Rajput is a member of one of the patrilineal clans of western, central, northern India and in some parts of Pakistan. Rajputs are descendants of one of the major ruling warrior classes in the Indian subcontinent, particularly North India...

 castes of the north-west India, suggesting that some of the kshatriya and Rajput clans of the north-west have descended from the ancient Kambojas.

Another branch of the Scythian Cambysene reached the Tibetan Plateau
Tibetan Plateau
The Tibetan Plateau , also known as the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in Central Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai, in addition to smaller portions of western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu, and northern Yunnan in Western China and Ladakh in...

where they mixed with the locals, and some Tibetans are still called Kambojas.

External links