The Gandhara Kingdom, Ancient Kingdom of India:
The Gandhara Kingdom was an ancient kingdom of India and mentioned in the epic Mahabharata. According to Mahabaratha Gandara kingdom ruled by 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. Present the above area located mainly in the valley of Peshawar and on the northern side of the Kabul River.
According to Gandara Jatakas, at one time Gandhara Kingdom formed a part of the kingdom Kashmir. It was also called another name Chandahara. The glory of Gandhara was also mentioned in the Buddhist texts like Anguttara Nikaya.
Origin of Gandhara Kingdom Name:
There are two theories related the origin of 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 to Origin of Gandara name.
Gandhara Kingdom Historical Evidence and Politics:
Although Gandhara historically known since during the region of Cyrus the great (558-528BCE). Still, we can see the monuments and sites in various places for the 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 316BCE, King Chandra Gupta Mourya conquered Gandhara and naming 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, Westerns and Iranians lived together.
Gandhara Kingdom Art:
Gandhara people followed the tradition of Gandhara art. They did Buddha art paintings, made sculptures, coins, pottery. In the 1st century Kanishka, the great king introduced the coins with the art of embedded Buddha images on the coins. Buddha images embedded in Stupas and Monasteries. We can found in great number to this day also.
Most of the Buddha life, Buddhism stories carved on the stones in the style of Gandhari Art. These images made with Kanjura stone, basically fossilized rock. The stone also easy to mold into the shape like decorative elements like Buddhist figures and other elements. This art was still sustaining by the artists with great joy.