Preface to the New Edition:
The late Sir Alexander Cunningham's Ancient Geography of India is the standard treatise on the subject, and is an indispensable hand-book for those who are interested in Indian antiquities. Though it is over fifty years that it was published, and so naturally some portions have become to some extent antiquated in the light of more recent knowledge, it has not yet been superseded, and still remains indispensable. Unfortunately it has lone been out of print, and students of Ancient Indian History have thus been put to great difficulties. When therefore the Publishers, after securing the very kind permission of Lt. Col. A. J. C. Cunningham, R.E., son of the later Sir Alexander, to bring out a new edition of this work, invited me to undertake the work of revision, I accepted the offer very gladly, though I knew full well the great difficulty and responsibility of the task.
The text in the present edition is exactly the same as in the original edition. But it has not been found possible to keep the paging identical. For the convenience, however, of those who wish to localize any references to the original edition, the original paging has also been given within brackets, in the table of Contents and Notes.
I have tried, in my Introduction and Notes, to supplement Cunningham's text by the most up-to-date information available to me which could be gleaned from the latest researches on the subject. And I venture to hope that with the help of these supplementary notes, the student will be accurately posted in the subject. As the space at my disposal is very short, I have been compelled to use in these Notes a very concise style, almost reminiscent of Sutra literature and to refrain from pointing out mere slips of pen, exploded theories of Chronology (e.g. Imperial Guptas flourishing in the first or second century A.D.), etc. which could be easily detected.
As to the spelling of Classical words, I have followed M'Crindle and Schoff; and in the matter of Chinese names I have followed Watters. In the transliteration of Sanskrit and Pali words, I have to offer an apology. The use of proper diacritical marks to indicate cerebrals, palatals, etc. has had to be abandoned due to the exigencies of the Press; but I have tried to minimize this inconvenience by giving, within brackets, the words in Sanskrit letters, in my Introduction and Notes.
I have tried to indicate as a rule my sources by giving full references; and my thanks are due to all those from whom such help has been obtained. But I think I ought specially to mention my indebtedness to Mr. Pargiter for the majority of my references to Epic and Puranic literature.
I feel I shall be failing in my duty if I do not close this short preface on a more personal note. To the inspiration of two men I owe all the work that I have been able to do in the domain of Ancient Indian History Mahamahopadhyaya Haraprasad Sastri and the late Sir Ashutosh Mukhopadhyaya. Mahamahopadhyaya Sastri is my Guru in the field of Indology ; and it was the patronage and encouragement of the late Sir Ashutosh which enabled me to carry on the research-work the results of which are embodied here. My most heart-felt thanks are due to them both. And I am only sorry that Sir Ashutosh has not lived to see the completion of this work.
My own, and also the Publisher's thanks are due to Lt. Col. A. J. C. Cunningham R.E., the worthy son of our author, for his kind permission to the Publishers to bring out an up-to-date and revised edition of this standard treatise of his illustrious father.
1. Pioneers in this field of research.
1. Mr. Francis Wilford Engineer. "A learned and laborious, but injudicious writer" (Wilson's Hindu Theatre, 1.9). His essayson Egypt and the Nile from the Ancient Books of the Hindus; the Sacred Islands in the West ; etc. (Asiatic Researches III, IX, XIV); the Comparative Geography of India (published posthumously in 1851). His great merit was to point out the existence of Sanskrit sources of geography. His account of the Nile from Sanskrit sources enabled Lieut. J. H. Speke to discover its source. (Speke's Discovery of the Source of the Nile, chaps. I. V, X).
2. H. H. Wilson.In 1824 he contributed to the Oriental Magazine (Vol. II, p. 180) an article in which he described a Skr. Ms. Professing to be a section of the Bhabishya Purana which elucidates the local geography of Bengal. In his translation of the Vishnu Purana he commented on the Puranic geography. His Notes on the Indica of Ctesias was published in 1836 (Oxford). The geographical portion of his Ariana Antiqua (London, 1841)an account of the coins and antiquities discovered by Mr. Masson during his travels in Afghanistanis full and valuable.
3. Christian Lassenthe encyclopedic Indologist.(a) His Pentapotamia Indica (1827) gives an account of the Punjab from the "classical" sources and form the Mahabharata, the Koshas and other Skr. Sources. (b) In the geographical section of his Indische Alterthumskunde (Born, 1843)the very learned and exhaustive work on the antiquities of Indiahe described the physical features of India and gave (especially in the footnotes) whatever information he could collect from classical and Skr. sources. Though "his system of identification is based on a wrong principle" (M' Crindle's Ptolemy, Preface, p. vii) and hence many of his identifications are wrong (Pargiter in J.A.S.B., p. 250), these works of erudition are 'precious mines of materials' utilized by later scholars.
4. Vivien de Saint-Martin, the father of the geography of Ancient India.(a) His Etude sur la geographie et les populations primitives du Nord-ouest de I'Inde d'apres les Hymnes Vediques (Paris, 1860) is the sole work on Vedic geography. Its treatment is masterly in the extreme. But as he relied solely on M. Langlois's French translation of the Rigveda- "a version which does not seem altogether to have commended itself to later interpreters" (E. Thomas in J. R. A. S., 1883, p. 358)and as much Vedic research has been done since that time, it is necessary to revise this Etude.
In his (b) Etude sur la geographie Grecque et Latine de I'Inde, et en particulier sur I'Inde de Ptolemie and (c) Memoire Analytique sur la carte de I'Asie centrale et de I'Inde (appended to Vol. III of M. Julien's translation of Hwen Thsang, 1858), he critically examined the classical and the Chinese sources. "His identifications have been made with so much care and success that few places have escaped his research and most of these have escaped only because the imperfection or want of fullness in the maps of India rendered actual identifications quite impossible" (Cunningham's A.S.R., II, Preface, p. 85).
5. Sir Alexander Cunningham, the father of Indian archaeology. A son of Allan Cunningham the poet, he came to India as a "Royal Engineer." The influence of Prinsep"the decipherer of the early Indian Alphabets"made him fix his eyes on the antiquities of this country. In 1861 he applied to Lord Canning to sanction an "archaeological survey" which he justly showed in his letter to be the only means for the reconstruction of an account of Ancient India. He was appointed the Archaeological Surveyor in January 1862 ; but as after a few years the post was abolished, he went home and produced The Ancient Geography of India, Vol. I (1871). In it he gave a summary of the results of V. de St. Martin and Lassen revised and corrected in light of his own researches and discoveries due chiefly to his vast travels in this countryan advantage which the earlier writers did not possess. Thus he brought to a focus the then accumulated knowledge into a single English volume which is still the work to which every student of this subject has to refer to. But it must be borne in mind that
(a) Cunningham (following St. Martin and Julien) gave in most cases the proposed restorations of foreign sounds as the Skr. names. Though nothing more than this could have then been possible, it is clear that such restoration of a Greek, Latin or Chinese transcript of an India proper name could not always be identical with the original one. Hence one ought to search for the original names from Indian sources and there is no doubt that they would eventually be found out. Thus Panini furnishes Kapisi (IV. 2. 99), Sankala (IV. 2. 75), Varnu (IV. 2. 103; IV. 3. 93), Parvata (IV. 2. 143), etc.the Skr. forms of Kapisene, Sangala, Fa-la-na, Po-lo-fo-ta, etc. [I.A. Vol. I, p. 21]. Kasika supplies Ayomukhi (A-ye-mu-ka'). Rajatarangini mentions Udabhandapura. (Wu-to-ka-han-cha). Vinaya Texts (ii, 38) and Jataka (iv, 30) supply Kajangala (Cunningham's Kajughira). Inscription No. 14 of E.I. VI shows that the Skr. form of Kong-yu-to is Kongoda and not Konyodha as given by Cunningham.
(b) In utilizing the accounts of Fa Hian and Hwen Thsang-undoubtedly his chief sources-he took 6 li of Hwen Thsang as one mile and one yojana of Fa Hian to be 6.75 miles. But later researches have shed much light on this subject causing a scrutinization of his work.
(c) Cunningham usually says that Hwen Thsang made mistakes when his evidence is not in accord with what he (Cunningham) wishes to prove. It is very easy to say that Hwen Thsang meant East when he wrote West, or that instead of a thousand he meant a hundred. But one must not do this without any strong proof.
(d) He estimated Ptolemy's geography to be of much value (His Preface, p. vii). But it will be shown to be otherwise.
(e) Cunningham himself has, in his voluminous reports (A.S.R.) in 23 volumes (the first two only of which were written, though not published, before the publication of his Geography), embodying his researches occupying a period of more than a quarter of a century, abandoned many of the identifications stated in his Geography. And the researches of various other scholarsM'Crindle, Stein, Raverty, Foucher, Fleet, V. Smith, Watters, to name only a few of them)have shown that not only are many of his identifications doubtful but that some are positively wrong.
6. H. Yule. - His annotations on Marco Polo and his map of Ancient India from classical sources in Dr. Smith's Atlas of Ancient Geography (1875) are valuable.
7. Dr. M'Crindle, the translator of Megasthenes, Arrian, Strabo, Periplus, Ptolemy, and other classical writers on India, gave, in his geographical notes a summary of the conclusions of the above writers.
8. Mr. Pargiter. - His Geography of Rama's Exile (J.R.A.S., 1894). Eastern Indian Nations (J.A.S.B., 1895), Eng. translation of Markandeya Purana (Published by the Asiatic Society, Bengal), Nations at the time of the Great War (J.R.A.S., 1908), and Ancient Indian Historical Traditions (Oxford, 1922) have elucidated Epic and Puranic Geography.
9. Nandalal Dey's Geographical Dictionary of Ancient and Mediaeval India. (A dictionary and not a systematic treatise. Grounds of identifications and references are generally not given). A second edition of it is in course of publication as an appendix to Indian Antiquary.
10. Prof. F. Pulle's Cartography of India in the Studi Italiani di Filologia Indo-Iranica, Vols. IV & V. is a valuable contribution.
About the Book
The Ancient Geography of India by Alexander Cunningham is a standard treatise on the subject, and is an indispensable handbook for those who are interested in Indian Antiquities. First published in 1871, and so naturally some portions have become to some portions have become to some extent antiquated in the light of more recent knowledge. However it has not been superseded and still remains indispensable.
The present edition has been edited and supplemented with the new introduction and notes by Surendrnath Majumdar Sastri.
About the Author
Sir Alexander Cunningham (1814-1893) was the first Archaeological Surveyor to the Government of India (1861-1865), the department was abolished in 1865, but revived in 1870, with Cunningham as Director, he held the post until he retired in 1885.
Apart from his official reports of his annual tours and his occasional contribution to the Asiatic Society of Bengal, he wrote on Ladakh; The Bhilsa Topes; The Ancient Geography of India: The Buddhist Period; Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarm, vol. I Inscriptions of Ashoka; The Stupa of Bharhut; The Book of India Eras; Mahabodhi; Coins of Ancient India; Later Indo-Scythians; Coins of Mediaeval India; Coins of Indo-Scythian Saka and Kush; Coins of Alexander's Successors in the East.
PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION
APPENDIX I (Puranic nine divisions of Greater India)
APPENDIX II (Abbreviations used in the notes)
INDEX TO NOTES
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