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shown below, some Ābhīras attained royal position, which seems to have raised the status of their caste. Kshīrasvāmin, a commentator of the Amarkōśa, remarks that an Ābhīra belongs to the Vaiśya caste.1 This view was probably based on the fact that the Ābhīras generally followed the profession of cattle-breeding, which, from ancient times, has been regarded as the privilege of the Vaiśyas.

The Mahābhārata states that there were Ābhīra ganas dwelling in the north-west.2 Like the Mālavas and the Kshudrakas mentioned by Alexander’s historians, they also had probably a republican constitution. In the Allahabad stone pillar inscription of Samudragupta, the Ābhīras are grouped with the Mālavas, Ārjunāyanas, Yaudhēyas, Mādrakas and others who submitted and paid tribute to the great Gupta Emperor.3 These tribes are mentioned separately from the kings of Āryāvarta (i.e., North India) whom Samudra- gupta forcibly uprooted. It is well-known that the Mālavas and the Yaudhēyas had republican organisations, as coins mentioning their ganas have been discovered.4 The inference, therefore, seems justifiable that like them the Ābhīras too had a republican form of government. When the Bactrian Greeks, Sakas and Kushānas invaded the north western parts of India, the Ābhīras like the Mālavas, Yaudhēyas, Sibis and others, migrated to the south and settled in Rajputana, Sindh and Maharashtra.5 They seem to have continued to hold their own in North India down to the Gupta age. We have, however, no further information about them as no inscriptions or coins of this tribe have been found in North India.

The Ābhīras did not exclusively follow the profession of cowherds. Some took to other callings. Even now in the states of Bombay and Madhya Pradesh there are some Ābhīra Brāhmanas. In Khandesh, which is still their stronghold, they have adopted various professions such as those of goldsmiths and carpenters. On their migration to the south, some Ābhīras seem to have occupied high political position under the Kshatrapa rulers of Western India. A stone inscription 6 found at Gunda in Saurashtra mentions an Ābhīra general named Rudrabhūti, who served under the western Kshatrapa Rudrasimha. This inscription is dated Saka 102 (180 A. C.). Īśvaradatta, who seems to have ousted the Western Kshatrapas, though for a very brief period, may have been an Ābhīra as supposed by some scholars.7 Other Ābhīras may have held similar positions of Power and vantage under the Satavahanas. The Puranas say that the Ābhīras who succeeded the Andhras ( i.e., the Sātavāhanas) in the Deccan were Andhrabhrityas, i.e., servants of the Andhras.8 One of them, Īśvarasēna, seems to have usurped power after Pulumāvi, the last king of the Sātavāhana dynasty.

From the Nasik cave inscription, which is the only early recorded of the Ābhīra dynasty, we learn that this Īśvarasēna was an Ābhīra and bore the title of Rājan.9 As his father Sivadatta bears no royal title, Īśvarasēna was plainly the founder of the Ābhīra dynasty. As shown before,10 he flourished about 250 A. C. and was probably the originator

1 Cf. Vaiśya-bhēda ēv= Ābhirō gav-ādy-upajivi in Kshirasvāmin’s commentary on AK., II,6,13.
2 Śūdr- Ābhīras-ganāś=ch=aiva in Sabhāparvan, ad. 32, V. 10.
3 C.I.I., Vol. III, p.8
4 V. Smith, I.M.C., pp. 173 and 182
5 MBH. (Vanaparvan, ad. 188, vv. 35 ff.) states that the Ābhīars will rise to power in the same age as the Śakas, Yavanas and Bāhlīkas.
6 Ind. Ant., Vol. X, p. 157; Bhavnagar Inscriptions, Pl. XVII.
7 Above, pp. iv. ff.
8 D.K.A. p. 45.
9 No. I, ll. I-2.
10 Above, p. xxiv


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