Indo-Greek contribution to Indian Social and Culture – 1

  1. Adopting new culture:

Sakas did not have their own culture for themselves, no script, no written language and no organized religion.

Adopted the components of Indian Culture and became an integral part of Indian society.  Hence contributed to the Indian society.

  • New Elements in Indian Society:

Came as conquerors and completely absorbed in Indian Society as warrior class as Kshatriyas. 

Considered as second class Kshatriyas.

In no other period such a large scale assimilated to Indian Society. 

3.  Religious Developments:

Some rulers adopted Vaishnavism and worshiped Vishnu God of protection and preservation.

Some rulers adopted Buddhism

Menander – the Greek ruler became Buddhist by Nagasena

Kushans worshipped Siva and Buddha are seen in the Kushan coins.

4.  Origin of Mahayana Buddhism:

Post Mauryan period witnessed religious change because of Central Asia contact.

Buddhism welcomed Foreigners as they were non vegetarians.

Hence certain changes occurred in Buddhism and known as Mahayana Buddhism or the Great vehicle.

Certain symbols worshipped in Buddhism were replaced by images.

The rise of Mahayana Buddhism the old puritan school of Buddhism came to be known as Hinayana Buddhism or Lesser vechile.

5.  Polity:

Central Asian conquerors adopted the little ‘king of kings’ which indicates that they collected tribute from numerous small princes. 

Shaka and Kushan strengthened the idea of “divine Origin of kingship”

Asoka’s time the term Devanampiya was famous, it means beloved to Gods

Kushans – Sons of God – it was adopted from Chinese who said: son of heaven

Manu-brahmanical lawmaker – asks people to respect king even if he is a child because God rules in the form of human being.

Shakas adopted Satrap system continued in Kushan period also empire divided into numerous Satrapies and was headed by Satrap.

Dual rule existed to rulers – father and son ruling at the same time.

Less centralization unlike the period of the Maurayas.

Greeks introduced the practice of military governorship – Governor called Strategos. 

6. Better Calavry:

They introduced better cavalry and also use of riding horse on a large scale.  Sakas and Kushans are excellent horsemen. 

Their passion for horsemanship is proved through terracotta figures of Kushan period discovered from Begram and Afghanisthan. 

Horseman fought with spears and lances. 

Sakas and Kushanas introduced turban, tunic, trousers and heavy long coat. 

Afghans and Punjabis wear turban even now

Sherwani is the successor of long coat

Central Asians brought in cap, helmet and boots used by warriors

These advantages only made them win against Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indians.  .

7. Trade and Agriculture:

Central Asian contacts was intimated with India by the arrival of Indo-Greeks

Gold received from Roman Empire

Kushans controlled the silk route which started from China passed through their empire Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran and Western Asia. 

This source gave them substantial income and build a prosperous empire on the tolls levied from traders.

Kushans were first to issue Gold coin on a large scale. 

Kushans promoted agriculture. Earliest Archaeological trace for large-scale irrigation in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Western Central Asia date back to Kushan period