The Gandhara Kingdom, Ancient Kingdom of India:
The Gandhara Kingdom was an ancient kingdom of India mentioned in the epic Mahabharata. According to Mahabaratha Gandara kingdom was ruled by the Suvala emperor, who was the father of Gandari, Sekuni and other one hundred children. His daughter married Dhritarashtra, father to Duryodhana. Arjuna, son of Pandu Raja, defeated Sakuni’s son during his post-war military campaign for Dharma Raja’s Aswamedha Yagna.
The famous ancient cities Taxila and Purushapura(Peshawar) were the cities in the Kingdom of Gandhara. The above area is located mainly in the valley of Peshawar and on the northern side of the Kabul River.
According to Gandara Jatakas, Gandhara Kingdom once formed a part of the Kingdom of Kashmir. It was also called another name Chandahara. The glory of Gandhara was also mentioned in Buddhist texts like Anguttara Nikaya.
Origin of Gandhara Kingdom Name:
There are two theories related to the Origin of the Gandhara name. One is Gandh which means Fragrance. Hur means Land; combine of these two words makes Fragrance Land. But historically, Peshawar valley does not have spread fragrant flowers.
Another theory is Kun means Pool water. Hur means Land. Combine of these two words means Lake. As this signifies the Kingdom flourished between Indus and Kabul rivers. Where the fertile Land with the lakes around Gandara. So second theory may be suitable for the Origin of the Gandara name.
Gandhara Kingdom Historical Evidence and Politics:
Although Gandhara is historically known since during the region of Cyrus the Great (558-528 BCE). Still, we can see the monuments and sites in various places for evidence. Alexander wanted to conquer India. So he needs to cross the Gandara Kingdom. He conquest the Achaemenid Empire during 327BCE, who are ruling the same Kingdom.
By 316 BCE, King Chandra Gupta Maurya conquered Gandhara and named Taxila a provincial capital of his newly formed Mourya Kingdom. In 184 BCE, the Greek king Demetrius invaded the city. Then the city flourished with a multi-ethnic society, where Greeks, Indians, Bactrians, Westerners and Iranians lived together.
Gandhara Kingdom Art:
Gandhara people followed the tradition of Gandhara art. They did Buddha art paintings and made sculptures, coins, and pottery. In the 1st century Kanishka, the great king, introduced cash with the art of embedding Buddha images on the coins. Buddha images are embedded in Stupas and Monasteries. We can find this in significant numbers to this day also.
Most of the Buddha’s life and Buddhism stories are carved on stones in the style of Gandhari Art. These images are made with Kanjura stone, basically fossilized rock. The stone is also easy to mould into the shape like decorative elements like Buddhist figures and other factors. The artists still sustained this art with great joy.