A SYNOPTICAL VIEW OF THE KAMBOJA TRIBE
(BABANIAN KAHANIAN, POOT/SPOOT KAREN)
(STORIES OF THEIR FOREFATHERS ONLY THEIR WORTHY SONS RETELL WITH PRIDE)
PROLOGUEThe modern Kamboja people, unfortunately, do not to have the ancient radiant halo and splendrous glory they once used to have around them, when they had their own independent country or countries like Kamboja, Param Kamboja, and Kambuj Desh (i.e Kampuchea, Kambujia or Cambodia) etc where-in the Kamboja people lived and which was ruled by the Kamboja princes (These Kamboj People 1979 by K. S. Dardi) as Panini tells us in his Ashatadhyai (vide sutra 4-1-175 ..: Kamboja-ul-uk of Panini's Ashadhyai). Dr Vasudev Sharan Aggerwal comments on the term Kamboja-ul-uk appearing in ancient Pali/Sanskrit literature in these words: "The Reference Kamboja-ul-uk of Panini's Ashatadhyai (4,1,175) implies that the reference to Kamboja variably stands for Kamboja Prince, Kamboja people and Kamboja country", ref: Panini Kaleen India (Hindi), 1954, page 6 by Dr Vasudeva Sharan Aggerwal. Also ref to Ancient India by Dr. D. R. Bhandarker, Kamboja People and the Country 1979 by Dr Jia Lal Kamboj, These Kamboj People 1979, page 9 by K. S. Dardi etc). Kamboja people are a very ancient and historical people belonging to the famous Indo-Aryan or better still, to the Indo-Iranian Aryan race (Dr Keith, Dr McDonnell: in Vedic Index, Dr Donald N. Wilber: Afghanistan, its People, its Culture, its Society etc etc), now living quite numerously in the plains of East and West Panjab, Haryana and U. P parts of India, as well as around the mountains of Hindukush, northern-eastern parts of Afghanistan, including its Badakshan province, and modern Tajikstan across the Amu Darya (Oxus river) as well as in southern-eastern parts of Iran. The modern Taijk people of Tajikstan and Afghanistan are the modern descendents of the ancient Kambojas (ref: Dr Jai Chander Vidyalankar, Dr Moti Chander, Dr Suniti Kumar Chaterjee, Ph.D, D.Lit, Dr Radha Krishnan, 2nd Presdent of India etc etc). And these Tajiks of Ghur, Afghanistan, even provided the Ghurid dynasty of Delhi in the thirtienth century AD. In the fortieth century, another Tajik dynasty, the Karts, established themselves for a brief period in Herat and attained almost a virtual independence (1332-1370) from the Mongols (Ref: Afghanistan, its People, its Culture, its Society 1964, page14, 44 by Donald N. Wilber ). The Gouri as well as the Abdali tribes of Afghanistan (from this Abdali tribe sprang the famed military general Ahmad Shah Abdali alias Ahmad Shah Durani) are the modern representatives of the ancient Gouraens Kambojas of Panjkora/Konar valley and the ancient Heytali, Heftali, Zabuli or Abdali clan of the Param Kambojas of the trans-Oxian region respectively. Possibly, the modern Turana clan of the Gilzai Afghans and Turna clan of the Kambojas of east/west Panjab have a common lineage as has been specifically pointed out by K. S. Dardi (These Kamboj People 1979 page 169-174). The Turana tribe of Afghans and Turna clan of the Panjabi Kambojas are a possible offshoot from king Turman or Torman of Param Kamboja whose clan had invaded Afghanistan from across the Oxus and had settled around Gazni around 4/5th century A.D. This same region later came to be called Zabulstan or Abdal and the people were called Abdal or Abdali, Heftalis or Heytalis. These people also had raided interiror India around 5th century A.D. and their king Turman (also called Turana: ref: 'Studies in Asian History' page 38 by Dr Ahmad Ali Kohzad, Director, History Deptt, Afghanistan) and his successor king Mehrokole (from whose name possibly started the Mehroke gotra of the 52 division of the modrern Kambojas. Also ref to These Kamboj People 1979 by K. S. Dardi page 174) had established a powerful empire in northern and central India. Later, their descendents continued to rule in Zabulstan till approximately 870 AD when their rule was terminated by Yakub Bin Leh, founder of the Safard Vamsa of Iran. The Aspins of Chitral, the Mashkuns of Gilgit, the Isaps, Asaps, Pachais or Yusufzais Pashtuns living across north-west of river Sindh, aas also the turbulent Afridis of the historical Khyber pass (mentioned in classical writings of the Greek historian Arrian, Diodoros, Curtius as the Aprytae or Afrikes or Erixes: Dr Fauja Singh, Dr L. M. Joshi, Dr J. L. Kamboj, K. S. Dardi etc etc) are the modern descendents of the famous ancient Ashvaka/Asva Kambojas of Sanskrit and Pali texts or Assakenois/Aspasios Kambojas of the classical writings of the Greeks. The Asvas/Ashvakas of Sanskrit and Pali texts and Aspasios and Assakenois people of the classical writings, according to medern historians, were the (Vedic Indian) Kamboja people living in the Paropamisadea region, lying to the south/east of Hindukush (Ref: Dr E. Lammotte, Dr K. P. Jayaswal, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukherjee, Dr Buddha Parkash, Dr L. M. Joshi, Dr Fauja Singh, Dr McCrindle, Dr J. L. Kamboj, Dr R. C. Majumdar, Dr A. D. Pusalkar, K. S. Dardi, Dr Romila Thapar etc etc ). The Afrikes tribe was an offshoot of the famed Assakenois or Ashvaka tribe (Ref Dr H. C. Raychaudhry, The Political History of Ancient India, 1996 page 217). The brave Ashvak Kambojas of Kunar/Swat valleys and their valiant women, had given toughest fights to Alexandrian forces and had fought the Macedonian army tooth and nail at Massaga (modern Mashkine of N.W.F.P of Pakistan). " ..They (Assakenia Kambojas) finally met with glorious death which they preferred to lives of disgrace.", says Greek historian Diodoros Siculus (ref: Diodoros in McCrindle page 270). The modern fiercest, most intractable, warlike and most dreaded kafir tribes (modern Nuristanis) variously called as Kamoz, Kamtoz, Kaum,Kams, Kom, Caum, Camoje, Camojee tribes etc (ref: Ref: Elphinstone, An account of the kingdom of Cabol, Vol II, page 375-377; Political History of Ancient India 1996, page 133 by Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee, Sidhant Kaumdei Arathparkashika 1966, page 20-22 by Acharya Radha Raman Pandey, The Kafirs of the Hindukush 1895 by Sir George Scott Robertson etc) of Kamdesh of Bashgul, Kati or Katir (ancient Katawers) valleys of modern Nuristan province of Afganistan and N.W.F. Province of Pakistan are the undoubted descendents of the ancient Kambojas who had been living since ancient times in the so called Kapisha region which then had comprised Begram, Kaubol and the adjoining areas of Afghanistan (Ref: The Greeks in Bacteria and India 1966 p 170, 461, by Dr W. W. Tarn). A mixed version of Aryo-Mongol Kamboja people are the Khmers of the modern Cambodia or Kampuchea or Kambujia (the name Kampuchea is derived from Kambuja or Kamboja. The Persian inscriptions relating to the Achemenian Kamboja kings use the word Kambujia which is the Iranian equivalent of Sanskrit Kamboja/Kambuja/Kambujana and the Greek Cambysis/Kambysis). We can also find some traces of Kamboja blood coursing through the veins of some population of Sri Lanka (Kaboja, Kamboja per Sinhalese epigraphic inscriptions), Tibetat, Assam, Malaysia, Indonesia, south-west parts of China comprising the famous Pamirs as well as in Vietnam, where-in the ancient Kamboja people went, colonized, held sway and finally got mixed with the local population. Brama Purana also makes a mention of the presence of Kambojas in Assam and Tamralipiti regions. Per Paag-Saam-Jone-Jang a Tibetan Religious Book, the geographical region of northern-eastern India between Bengal and Brahma was also called Kampotse in early middle age. Dr Fouche is of the opinion that Tibet was the Ancient Kamboja and Tibetan Language was the ancient Kamboja language. Dr R. P. Chanda and Dr S.K Chatterjee agree with Dr Fouche. But Dr P. C. Bagchi says that Kambojas were a nomadic tribe living on the northern of Himalya in the Central Asia, from where, one of their section occupied the eastern Tibet and another one migrated to Mekong Valley of Indo-China (Cambodia). According Dr. P. C. Bagchi, the ancient Kumud Davipa (as mentioned in Sanskrit Text Vayu Purana) comprising the Sogdiana and Bukhara regions of Central Asia had been a part of the Ancient Kamboja.
The descendents of ancient Kamboja people are now scattered widely but sparsely in Indian subcontinent, Iran, Afghanistan and Indochina etc. They are found as Hindus, Moslems, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Buddhists or even Christians by religion. They are chiefly engaged in agriculture, animal husbandry, business and services for their living. But only some of their descendents living in UP, Haryana, East and West Panjab have preserved their old Kamboja name till date. Also the turbulent and warlike earstwhile Kafir tribes ..the turbulent and rebellious modern Nuristanis of Nuristan Province of Afghanistan and the N.W.F.P of Pakistan have also retained their ancient Kamboja name in the modern form as Kam or Kaam, Kom, Camojee, Camoje, Kamoz, Kamtoz etc ((Ref: Elphinstone, An account of the kingdom of Cabol, Vol II, page 375-377; Political History of Ancient India 1996, page 133 by Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee, Sidhant Kaumdei Arathparkashika 1966, page 20-22 by Acharya Radha Raman Pandey, The Kafirs of the Hindukush 1895 by Sir George Scott Robertson etc). The play of time, space and local circumstances have led rest of the Kamboja descendents to change or drop their Kamboja indentity in rest of the geographical areas they had once colonized and ruled. But still, as we will see, numerous relics or remanents of their tribal name, their culture and their language are abundantly found in the countries or places they had settled in and ruled in the olden times. " .The Kamboja people, whereever they went, gave their own name to the places or the areas they occupied or colonized. Their descendents are found in the modern Kambohs of the Northern India .. ". (Ref: The Cultural Heritage of India Vol II, p 512 by Dr. C. P. Ramaswami Aiyer Vice Chancelor, Banars Hindu University, UP, India). Surprisingly, and by twists of times and history, these once an extremely famous and powerful warlike and scholarly class of royal and proud Indo-Iranian Aryan people of ancient India and Iran, by all accounts and reckonings, are now living as a little known people these times! And it is extremely painful to see them in their present state of degeneration and degradation. These famous Vedic and Avestan Aryan people of the bygone era once ruled supreme in southwest Asea. They dictated terms for sure, and talked and acted from positions of strengths as is amply and repeatedly evidenced from numerous and copious ancient literatures and epigraphic inscriptions of India, Persia, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, China and classical writings Sanskrit and of Greek historians etc. According to authentic and dedicated researches of Dr J. Lal Kamboj of Delhi University, "undoubtedly, every inch of the Afghanistan soil stands trampled under the hooves of the world famous Kamboja horses of the war expert Kamboja cavalry". Furthermore, these Kamboja people have also been known in history as Ashav-Yudh_Kushlah (expert cavalary soldiers) in ancient Sanskrit and Pali religious literature. (Ref: Hindu Polity, A Constitutional History of India, Vol I & II by Dr K. P. Jayaswal). Their sub-clans were found as Asvakas/Asvakan, and Asvas/Asvayan of the Sanskrit and Pali texts and Assakenois and Aspasios of the classical Greek writings. "The people whom the Kamboja people helped and supported in their warfares used to be extremely proud of their friendship with these war-loving Kamboja people".(Also Ref to: These Kamboj People 1979 by K. S. Dardi page 9. Also vide Mahabharata 7 parava,). These warlike people (whom Dr Govind Krishan Pilley has rightly styled as the war loving Kambojas, vide his Traditional History of India, page 300; also refer to Mahabharta 7/119/13-15) had helped in establishing and maintaining some of the famous empires in ancient world history. They were once a royal and scholarly class of people ruling in Kamboja, Param Kamboja, and later in Iran, Tibet, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka etc etc at different times in history, besides ruling in eastern and northern Afghanistan as Kamboja Mahajanapadans and later as numerous Kamboja hyparchs/kinglets/republicans in a dozen small territories in southern-eastern parts of the Hindukush mountain range such as Qandhar, Gazni, Kabol, Kapisa, Alishang valley, Kunar valley, Panjkora valley, Swat & Buner valleys, Ora, Bazira, Hazara, Punch, Abhisar/Rajaori, Srinagar etc. Numerous times, they have subjugated and ruled over various interior parts of India like Mathura, Ayudhya, Gujrat, Bengal/Bihar/Orisa, (Gaur Desha) etc as is witnessed by ancient and medieval Indian Sanskrit and Pali literature, Nepalese and Tibetean religious chronicles as well as various epigraphic inscriptions in Khroshti, Aramaic and Sanskrit language.(Also please ref to Kambojas in Bengal by Dr Jia Lal: Vishal Kamboj, June 1999). They have left their indelible traces and footprints in the Kamaon hills of the Himalyan foothill spurs, where they once held their own and undoubtedly gave their own name to it. Over the centuries, the standard Sanskrit name Kamboja has, as expected, changed to its present Prikritized form (Kamaon), like the same Kamboja changed to modern Kamboh, Kambo, Kabo, Kammo, Kamo etc in the plains of India like Panjab, Haryana & UP; and to modern Kaam, Kammah, Caumoh, Camojee/Camoj/Camoz/Kamoz etc in eastern parts of Afghanistan. Famous historian Dr Benjamin Walker, while referring to the Kamboja people's rule in Bengal and Bihar (Gauddesha), states that the ancient Kambojas who were the neighbors of Gandharahs had migrated to Bengal from north-western India along the foothills of Himalayan, and accordingly, according this historian, we can find their mention in the Tibetan and Nepalese religious and political chronicles. He further says that Kambojas' descendents are still found in modern Bengal (Ref: Hindu World Vol I, P 510 by Dr. Benjamin Walker). In this case please also ref to 'Some Kashatrya Tribes of ancient India' by Dr B. C. Law, who quotes Dr R. P. Chandra and arrives at the same conclusions and information about the Kambojas of Bengal. Also please ref to Early History of India by Dr V. A. Smith. Several Epigraphic inscriptions relating to Kamboja people have also been located as far as Sri Lanka which is strong indication that these people had also reached as far as Sri Lanka and had established their kingdom in this island (for full details please refere to Kamboja People and the Country 1979 by Dr J. Lal Kamboj of Delhi University)..
Kamboja people are the only Vedic Kashatrya people amongst the numerous Kashatrya tribes participating in the great Mahabharata war who have especially been glorified in Mahabharata Epic as the Vedic scholars (Kritvidiashach), besides being applausively designated as fiercest & swiftest fighters, deadly warriors, wondrously armed braves, war-intoxcated, Death personified, dreadful as YAMA the God of Death, elephants gone wild/mad, as deadly as cobras, expert archers, expert cavaliers and expert Mal-Yudh-Kushlah (expert duelists or wrestlers) etc etc (vide Mahabharta Paravas, 7/23/42-44, 7/112/43-44, 7/112/48-52, 12/101/5 etc etc). Also please refer to 'Kamboj Veeron Ki Kahani, Mahabharat Ki Zabani' by Dr J. Lal Kamboj as appeared in a fortnightly magazine Kamboj Samachar, published in 1975-77 from New Delhi, Kamboja People and the Country 1979, by Dr. J. Lal Kamboj, Ph. D, D. Lit, Delhi University, These Kamboj People 1979 by K. S. Dardi etc etc). In the entire ancient world history, the honor of participating, fighting and then attaining supreme mass martyrdom in the active and hot battle field, and that too, against, Alexandra the Great, one of the greatest military generals the world has ever produced, goes only and only to the heroic Kamboja queen Kripya and the brave Kamboja women of the famous Assakenian Kamboja clan. They have the supreme honor of being martyred, not in a direct and straight fighting, but only through demeaning and unashamed treachery resorted to by none other than 'Alexander the Great' himself, who contemptuously threw to winds all terms of the agreement he had reached with the Assakenian Kambojas and had attacked the Kamboja soldiery from their rear, during the dead of night, when they were off-guard and unprepared and were leaving the Massaga fortress along with their families, per terms of the agreement they had reached with Alexandra. Alexandra's own historians have strongly condemned this dastardly and non-heroic act of Alexandra, stating that "by violating the peace treaty with the Assakenians (Kambojas), Alexandra has put on an indelible and infamous blot on his heroic name" (Ref: McCrindle in Plutarch, p 306). Commenting on the final and conclusive battle fought at Massaka, between the Assakenian Kambojas and the Alexandrian forces, writes thus an Alexandra's own contemporary and famous historian, Diodoros Siculus: " ..Assakenian (Assakenois) Kamboja women were pouncing upon the fighting Greek soldiers with an elemental fury, (like ferocious lionesses?), and grappling with them and snatching away their swords, spears and shields ..While the Assakenian (Kamboja) soldiers were crossing swords with the enemy, their wives were covering their fighting husbands with the shields they had snatched from the Macedonian army . And still other Kamboja women were picking up arms of those who had fallen or were wounded or cut ..and were fighting side by side with their husbands in the active field .The Assakenois (Kambojas), who had fought valiantly along with their women, could not this time, frustrate the well trained and numerous army of Alexandra and thus met with a glorious death which they preferred to lives of disgrace .". (Ref: Diodoros Siculus in Macrindle p 270). Another glorious Kamboja heroine who had earlier fought valiantly against yet another greatest and proudest general of his times, king Cyrus II, the Great, who founded the great Achaemenian Kamboja empire (and who was a Kambojian himself), was the Assakenian queen Tummeya Kamboj (Tumaris of Greek historian, Herodotus), who after having lost her son (king of Assakenois) in the battle against this Persian Kambojian king, took to arms herself, fought valiantly and had Cyrus II killed in the fiercest and hottest battle of Massaga. The queen Tummeya or Tumaris ( from whom, the Tumme clan of the modern Kambojas took its family name, per K. S. Dardi, vide These Kamboj People 1979 page 88) is then reported to have herself cut Cyrus's head from his dead body and then grabbing it from his hair, said in a wailful and heroic avengeful crying tone: "Cyrus I give you the fill of your blood!" This evidence comes to us from none other than the famous classical historian Herodotus (Ref: Classical writings of the Greek historian Herodotus; Kamboja People and the Country 1979 by Dr J. L Kamboj; These Kamboj People 1979 by K. S. Dardi etc). We, all Indians, proudly salute to the splendid glory of our valiant and martyred Kamboja mothers and sisters of the olden era, of whose, we are the proud descendents. (for complete story, please turn to 'Alexandra of Macedonia and Kamboja People' at page 38 of this article). These Kamboja Aryan people, the famous frontier highlanders of the by-gone era, had contributed greatly to the spread of Aryan culture in Ceylon, Cambodia and in ancient India & Iran. The civilizations do rise and fall. Whosoever or whatsoever is bloomimg and blossoming today is bound to wither tomorrow. Thermodynamics's Law of Entropy applies equally well to nations, civilizations and cultures as it applies to natural sciences. Everything organized has got to get disorganized under its own weight and the law of randomness and disorderliness will always prevail eventually. Every thing in bloom today has to wither and would disappear one day in the darkness of nothingness. So the flourishing and blooming ancient Kamboja people were no exception to this ruthless and inevitable law of nature. The goddess of power, fame and fortune seems to have abruptly fallen asleep centuries ago, for these once famous and powerful people and still seems to be in dormant state. A conquering and warlike Aryan race like the ancient Kambojas should have continued to progress and flourish in arts and civilization as they had progressed in warlike skills and in spiritual and intellective learning, in the ancient past in India, Iran and Cambodia (Kambuj Desha or Kambodge Desha). But unfortunately, it happened not exactly like it should have happened, for the later-time Kambojas went off the tagent and hence off the limelight for reasons still unkown to history! They rather seems to have degenerarted and de-progressed over the time, on account of certain twists and turns of history of which we know not much about for lack of written records.
Mit gaye is jagaha, nishaan kaise kaise
Zimeen khaah gayee, asmaan kaise kaise
Per the modern research, the ancient Kamboja and Param Kamboja countries were located on the so called Uttrapatha of the ancient Sanskrit and Pali texts. Thus the Kambojas people were the true frontier people and they were living on the remoter outer skirts of mainland India on its extreme north and even beyond the Gandhara country. This land was truly the remotest lying area so far as the Madhyadesha land its people/its writers were concerned. This is one important single reason why the post-epic Sanskrit and Pali writers of Madhyadesha have written very scantily about these remote lying ancient Kamboja people, Kamboja countries & Kamboja kings in the ancient Sanskrit and Pali literatures. The is simply because the writers themselves were living far from these Kamboja people and Kamboja lands and thus were not very much updated or familiar with these remote frontier people and their kings as well as their administration systems. Thus, we see that most of the times, whatever has been written about these Kamboja people was written as if these people were a little known people or as if they were an outsider people or a foreign tribes and further as if, they had ceased to be an active part of the main stream of the Aryan population of mainland India and were thus not to be given any detailed and respectable reckoning or account in the writings of the later Sanskrit/Pali writers. This is one glaring problem of the history of the ancient Kamboja people of the post-epic era. But if we read between the lines, all the references to Kambojas quoted in various Sanskrit and Pali scriptures, epigraphic and rock inscriptions and several foreign sources, we can draw some intelligent inferences and solid conclusions about the Kamboja people, their countries. And we can reconstruct their political, social and economic set up or system fairly accurately. The numerous learned scholars and writers on Kamboja history have done exactly the same thing and now we have started to have some believable and authentic historical material about the Kamboja country, KambojaPeople and Kamboja rulers, in the celebrated writings of some of these learned scholars. But still we have touched only the tip of the ice-berg. We have long way to go to fully know and understand the history of these famous ancient people who undoubtedly formed a very important Aryan segment of the ancient Indo-Aryan society as well as of the Iranian Aryan society as you will see as we stream through the bulk of this discourse.
To speak truth, I am not a student of history and do not claim to know much of history subject myself. I am trained in Electrical Engineering field which is very much different from history. So I will not present something unique of my own, a original stuff from my side. What I am venturing to write about these Kamboja people is, however, the result of my spare time reading research from the sketchy writings on history, scattered here and there, written mostly by foreign or non-Kamboja Indian writers, about these strange yet glorious people. Most of the books I consulted or read, were from the libraries of University of California, Davis; Sacramento State University; San Jose State University; American River College and the Public Library at San Jose, (all in USA) besides one or two books which I had got from my friends from India. And I am fully aware of the limited India-related resources available in these Universities/libraries, which I was able to have access to. The unattached and outside writers, no doubt, can write more objectively about us, but they might have very narrow objectives and motives and scopes and might only tend to write to prove or disprove or reinforce or emphasise certain points in their theses or writings and therefore, tend to miss or omit some of the more salient or finer aspects about our tribes. Many of these outside writers seem even to be very ignorant about the existence of the modern descendents of the ancient Kamboja people ..the modern Kamboja people now dwelling in north India. And their casual writings about us certainly, sometimes, partake of prejudices or ignorance. So much so, many a outside writers .Indian or foreigners, are so much ignorant about us as to be aware that we have been known in history as Kambojas since times immemorial and that the words like Kambo, Kammo, or Kabo etc are only its highly prakritized and vulgate variants having been used for our tribes by an illiterate class of people. As said above, I do not claim to be a student of history, therefore, I do not claim much originality in this discourse. Most of the time, I have simply tried to patch up together the writings of other historians (without adding any serious comments or making any serious commitments of my own on their observations about the Kamboja people), in such a way that the story should generate some interest and start making some sense to those of the people who, for some reasons, are ignorant about us. I am hopeful that some serious and dedicated researchers, soon would emerge and undertake to dig deep into the history of these once a very famous and powerful Aryan people of the gone-by past and give an objective, befitting, dedicated and authentic treatment to their forgotten but glorious past which now stands lost in the maze and mist of time and under the shroud of antiquity. That would undoubtedly add an extra glamor to our Indian history. Thus beginning I am, to narrate the sketchy story of us, the Great community of Kamboja people the undoubted heirs of a powerful and proud past, as I have learnt from my readings of the scant and scattered material, from some books on history written by some of the famous indologists of India and abroad: (And please bear with for my style of writing. I have no prior experience as a writer. What I have written about our forefathers here is through the language of my sentiments alone. Some redundancy and overpacking of information will be clearly visible as one goes through this sketchy discourse. I sincerely beg apology for the avoidable redundancy and repetition as well as for typographical errors besides some ambiguity due to run-out sentences, here and there, in this essay).
SANSKRIT TERM 'KAMBOJ' AND ITS VARIOUS PRAKRITIZED DERIVATIVES
The word Kamboh and its synonymous words like Kambocha (as in Ashoka's Dhauli Rock inscriptions), Kamboya (as in Ashoka's Shahbajgari rock inscriptions), Kabo, Kambo, Kammo, Kamo (Panjabi), Kambhu, Kambhi, Kambe, Kambey or Cambey and Kamboi (Gujrat), Kaam, Kam, Kamma, Kaum, Camoje/Kamoj, Camojee, Camoze/Kamoz, Kamtoz (in Pushtu, the name of Shiaposh tribes, in Kafirstan (Nuristan), south-east of Hindukush), Kambodha, Kamuda, Kumuda (Vayu Purana), Komde, Komdei, Tamboza (Ptolemy), Kieufieu, (Tathatataguhya-Sutra) Kambu/Kaofu, Kipin, Chipin (Chinese), Kampoce, Kampoch, Kapoce, Kapoch, Kampotes, Kampochih (Tibetan religious texts), Kambojka, Kamboika, Kamui, Kamoi, Kamuia (Khroshti) etc etc are the Prakritic/other malformations, variants or derivatives of the original Sanskrit standard term KAMBOJ which stands for Kamboja people as well as Kamboja country (Hindu Polity--A Constitutional History of India ( Part I & II) by Dr K. P. Jayaswal, Kamboja People and the Country by Dr. Jia Lal Kamboj D. Lit, These Kamboj People by K. S. Dardi). The entire ancient and medieval Indian literature is replete with profuse references to Kamboja or Kamboj, which represent Kamboj people, Kamboj Prince, and Kamboj country. (e.g. "The Reference Kamboja-uluk of Panin's Ashatadhyai (4,1,175) indicates that the reference Kamboj variously stands for Kamboja King, Kamboja Prince, Kamboja people and Kamboja country", ref: Panini's India, 1954, page 6 by Dr V. D. Aggerwal,. Ancient India by Dr. D. R. Bhandarker). The word Kamboj in reference to Kamboja Vamsa, Kamboja King and Kamboja country occurs again and again in India's Buddhist and Sanskrit religious literatures (Ref: Sir George Griesen) like Vedas, Puranas, Shastras, Mahabharta, Ramayana, Manusimirtis, Jatkas, Mudrarakshasa, Rajatrangini etc and other famous classics of ancient and medieval India like those of Panini, Yasaka, Kautalya, Bhaas, Kali Das etc etc., to mention only a few (Ref: Kamboja People and the Country by Dr J. L. Kamboj, These Kamboj People by K. S. Dardi). The fact that the Kautalya's Arathasastra calles the Kamboja people as Kambhoja (Ref: Kautalya'a Arathasatra 1956 translated by Dr R Shamasastry, page 407, book XI, Chapter I) obviously refers to the Persian influence (Dr N. K. Sastri, Dr D. D. Kosambi etc) on the customs and language and name of the Kamboja people of 3/4th century B.C who were living in the Pamir/Badakshan as well as Parapamisadaen area south of Hindukush mountain systems. In some shlokas of Mahabharata, the term Kambujana has also been used in reference to the Kamboja people of Epic India. Again the word Kampoj/Kamboj/Kambu/Kambuj in reference to Kamboja country, Kamboja King, & Kamboja Vamsa etc also occurs in countless ancient and medieval rock inscriptions in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia (Kamboj Desh) per Dr J. L. Kamboj of Delhi University. In Pali literature, also a variation of Kamboja occurs as KAMBOJESU. In Persian, this word occurs as Kambujia or Kambojia in the old Persian rock inscriptions refering to Achaemenian (Kainad) kings and their vamsa i.e. " ..Later, Kamboja people crossed Sindh north-westwards and expanded into Iran where their name stands preserved as Kambujia in old persian rock inscriptions relating to Achaemenian Kings." (Ref: Ancient Vedic India by Dr R. C. Majumdar, Dr A. D. Pusalkar, Vedic Index of Names & Subjects by Dr. A. A. Macdonell and Dr. A. B. Keath, Hindu World Vol I, by Benjamin Walker, Pre-Aryen et Pre-Dravidien dan d'Indi, JA (Jan-March 1926) by Sylvain Levi . Also ref to researches of Dr Hoffman, Dr Lassen, Dr Kuhn, Dr S. Sen, Dr Chattopadhya, Dr. Nariman, Dr D. R. Bhandarkar, Dr. Acharya R. Raman Pandey, K. S Dardi and other Indologists). In the rock inscriptions in Sanskrit, Pali and Khmer language in Cambodia, we find the word Kambu/Kambuj/Kampuchih/Kamboja, /Kambodscha/Kambodja, Camboja etc refering to Kambodge, Cambodge, Kambuj or Kamboj Desh (Ref: Inscriptions of Veal Kantel .Inscriptions Sanscrites de Champa et du Cambodge page 30 (e. g. Kambupuri, Kambuja etc in King Yaso Varman's rock inscriptions Angkor Thom in Cambodia), The Cultural Heritage of India Vol II, by Dr. C. P. Ramaswami Aiyer, Vice Chancelor, Banaras Hindu University, UP, India, : Les Estats Hindouises d'Indochine et d'Indonesie 1964 by Prof G. Coedes Translated as Indianized States of South-East 1964 ) which has been transliterated as Kambodge or Cambodge into French by the French writers from which the modern name Kambodia or Cambodia in English has originated. The Pali chronicles (i.e. Chamadevivamsa, Jinakalamali, Mulasasna) in Chiangmai use Kamboja, and 'Kambojaraja' for the Kamboja king of Siridhammanagara ( Ligor) in south basin of Cambodia (Ref: : Les Estats Hindouises d'Indochine et d'Indonesie 1964 by Prof G. Coedes Translated as Indianized States of South-East 1964 page 136). Thai chronicles left by Thai principalities (12th century AD) of upper Menam in Indo-China mentions the people of Lova in the upper basin as 'Kambojas of Lova' (op cit page 161). Sylvain Levi identifies Tambuza or Tamboza of Ptolemy's geography, with the Sanskrit Kamboj (Pre-Aryen et Pre-Dravidien dans l'Inde, JA January-March, 1926 by Sylvain Levi) and the word Cape Camboj seems to have been used for Cambodia. (Ref: Intercourse Between India & the Western World 1971 page 133 by H. G. Rawlinson M.A. I.E.S). In the Chinese writings, the reference occurs as Kambu/Kafu/Kaofu for Kambojas of India and Chen-la for Khmer Kambojas of Cambodia. The Tuthagataguhya-Sutra of Ratnakuta Collections of the Buddhist religion uses the word Kieufieu for the Kamboja people and Kamboja country. The reference Kieufieu of Tuthagataguhya-Sutra stands translated variously as Kampoce, Kampochih, Kapoch and Kapoce and Kampotse etc in the Tibetan religious texts. According to Tibetan religious text Paag-Saam-Jone-Zang, the country between Bengal and Burma was known as Kampotse. The Kamboja country mentioned in the Braham Purana of Sanskrit literature refers to this very same Kampotse country located in the eastern parts of India, in the neighborhood of Assam, sandwiched between Burma and Bengal. The author of Vayu Purana uses Kumuda-dvipa for Kusha-dvipa. This Kusha-dvipa or Kumuda-dvipa is the Alexandrian Sugadha Strapi (Sogdiana) situated on north west frontiers of India comprising northern parts of Tajikstan and Uzbekstan and which country appears named variously in ancient writings as Kumuda, Komuda, Komdai, Komdei, Kamdei, Kamdesh or Kambojdesh etc. This Kumuda and Ptolemy's Komdei (Kamdesh or Kambojdesh) are synominous words and they both stand for Komdesh, Kamdesh or Kamboj desh i.e Kamboja country of Kamboja people of the Iranian affinities living on the borders of ancient India and ancient Iran i.e. in the Badakshan/Pamirs and surrounding regions, says Dr. Buddha Parkash (Ref: India and the World 1964 page 71 by Dr. Buddha Parkash, Kamboja People and the Country by Dr. J. Lal Kamboj. Also ref to researches of Dr H. C. Seth, Dr. P. C. Baghchi and other historians). Another modified version of Kamboj is described as Kamusa, Kamuda, Kamuia, Kamoia, Kambuja, Kambujaka and Kambojaka etc in the Mathura lion Capital Inscriptions (Kharoshti language). "The reference Kamusa, Kamuda, Kamuia, Kambojaka etc represents the name of the Kambuja (Kamboja) tribe", says famous Indian historian Dr. Nil Kanth Sastri (vide Comprehensive History of India Vol 2, page 270 by Dr N. K. Sastri. Also ref to works of Dr Buddha Parkash, Dr R. K. Mukerjee, Dr J. Lal Kamboj etc). Several Greek historians use Cambysis for Kamboj or Kambujia (O.P.) while referring to several Kamboja kings (Cambysis I, Cambysis II or Kambojia I, Kambojia II.. etc) of Achaemenian dynasty. The word Kamboj appearing in IRDA Copper Plate (i.e Kamboj-Vamsa-Tilak) and the Kamboja appearing in Dinaaj Pore Capitol Inscriptions (i.e Gaudesewara Kamboja) are used for the Kamboja Vamsa of several Kamboja Kings of Gaur Desa as well as a compellation used by one victorious Kamboja King i.e. Gaudeswara Kamboj ruling also over Gaur desh in the 9th century AD. In the Mathura Lion Capitol Inscriptions, we find this word inscribed in Khroshti as Kambojka/Kamuia (Queen Aiyasi Kambojka/Kamuia) and Kamui/Kamudha (Prince Khrosta Kamui/Kamudha etc). We can also find the term Kamboja in its Perkritized form in the Kamaon hills of the Himalyan foothill spurs, adjoining Pauri-Garhwal area, where the Kamboja once held their own and gave their own name to these hills. Some writers and historians have used word Kanauj in the same context as the word Kamboj (Idrisi) while others opine that the word Kanyakubja from which word Kanauj evolved is yet another variation of the original Sanskritic word Kamboj (H. S. Thind etc). In Kathiawar, Gujrat, we find some Indo Aryan Kasatrya caste now engaged mainly in Agriculture and are refered to as Kambhi, Kambhe etc (Ref: Historical and Cultural Dictionery of India 1976, page 141 by George Thomas Kurian) and there is also famous medieval sea port town called Kambey or Cambey, and there is said to be another geographical place called Kamboi (Ref: Hist and Culture of Indian People, Delhi Sultanate page 155, By Dr R. C. Majumdar, Dr A. D. Pusalkar)) or Kambhu, a famed historical place name, a site of war during 1392 between Zafar Khan and Farhat Mulk of Gujrat (vide ref: Chronology of Indian History, Vol II, 1972 by C. Mabel Duff). These words are undoubtedly the Prakritic variants of the original Sanskritic word 'Kamboja' and are reminiscent of the Western Rajayapalas (Kashatrapas) who, after the death of Kamboja emperor Mause or Moga of Taxilla (20BC -22AD), had become independent and later ruled over Malwa/Kathiawar from the start of Christian era until the end of 3rd century AD. These Western Rajayapalas have been identified as Kamboja people by historians (Ref: Ancient India Vol III, page 94, 125 by Dr. T. L. Shah). We can find numerous Kamboja subcastes like Gandhi, Chandi, Chandna, Dhote, Vinayak, Patnayak, Torna/Taruna, Sarang (One Gujrati guy we met at the Royal Oak post office U.S.A. on April 24 1999 was of Sarang subcaste and he informed us that he belonged the coastal area of Gujrat Kathiawar, from which part, Mahatama Gandhi alias.Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi also hailed), Nagpaul, Soni, Asoi, Kaura, Juj etc still intact in Gujrat. Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji, while refering to the invasion of Alexandra of Macedonia, uses the reference Kamboj for the frontier people or Uttarpatha people, living on north-west frontiers of India ('Kamboj, Kilmak kathin pal me kat dare': vide Triya Chritra 217 page 1125 of Sri Dasam Granth Sahib 2024 published by Bhai Jawahar Singh, Bhai Kirpal Singh Amritsar). The word Kamboj referring to Kamboja People appears also in Ashoka's Girnar, Kalsi and Mansehra rock inscriptions, though we also find Kambocha in Ashoka's Dhauli Rock inscriptions and Kamboya in Shahbajgarhi rock inscriptions, in reference to the same people. "The name Kambo (Kamboj) of numerous Hindu caste found in Panjab is derived from this Kamboya of Ashoka's Shahbajgarhi rock inscription" says celebrated Dr. K. P. Jayaswal. (Ref: Hindu Polity --A constitutional History of India (Part 1 & 2) by Dr K. P. Jayaswal). "The Kambo or Kamboh caste found in upper India are the descendents of the Ancient Kamboja people of Pamir and Badakshan" (Ref: Cultural Heritage of India Vol II, by Dr. C. P. Ramaswami Aiyer, Vice Chancellor Hindu Banaras University). "Ancient Kamboja tribe was a famous Iranian tribe whose descendents we find in the Kambos of today's Punjab" says Dr. Buddha Parkas in his Social and poltical movements in Ancient Punjab 1964 page 242-243. "The Kambohs, a farming community of Panjab are the modern descendents of the ancient Kambojas of Pamir/Badakshan" says Dr Acharya R. R. Pandey (Ref: Sidhant Kaumdi 1966 p20-22 by Dr Acharya Radha Raman Pandey. In this context please also ref to works of Dr H. C. Rai Chaudhary, Dr J. C. Vidyalankar, K. S. Dardi, Dr J. Lal Kamboj etc etc). According to Bhai Kahn Singh from Nabha, "Scholars are of the opinion that the Kambo community of Panjab is related to ancient Kamboja country which was located in the Hindukush mountain system and its adjoining geographical areas, and which land was noted in ancient literature for its finest breed of horses" (refer to entries Kambo and Kamboj: Gurbani Ratnakar, Panjabi Shabad Kosh page 257 by Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha). Some writers have used the word Kamboz for Kamboja people (vide Jat Tribes of Zira 1992, by Mr H. S. Shergil M.A. L.L.B.), which is historically and grammatically incorrect. There has never been any word like Kamboz in ancient Sanskritic/Prakrit/Persian or Khmer literature or in any ancient rock or epigraphic inscriptions. One tribal section of Shiaposh Kafir Kambojas of the Hindukush does call itself as Kamoz, but that is only a dialectical variation confined to a restricted and isolated region only. The standard and literary word which has been in use from times immemorial is unmistakeably and undoubtedly the 'Kamboj' and not the Kamboz.
ETYMOLOGY OF THE SANSKRIT WORD 'KAMBOJ'
Yaska (500 BC?) in his famous Nirukuta (2/2) defines Kambojas as Kamnyabhojas (Epicureans, the people with fine tastes, or enjoyers of excellent foods) and Kambhalbhojas (the people fond of wearing woolen blankets). Ancient Kamboja country was mostly a hilly and cold land comprising Hindukush mountain range, Badakshan and parts of Tajikstan & Uzbekstan land north of Oxus river where fine varieties of grapes, pistachio, walnuts, almonds, kesera etc were abundantly grown and are still grown and which formed an important constituent of Kamboja People's diet. These foods were counted amongst the most precious food stuff in India in ancient times and still are the most expensive delicacies from Indians' point of view. Further, Kamboja country being a very cold country, the Kambojas people habitually wore woolen blankets as a fashion as well as out of necessity (Ref: K. S. Dardi.). These blankets or Kambbals and furs were emroidered with fine threads of gold, which again was a luxury stuff. In Rig Veda (V. 1. 126 .7), Gandharah is shown as famous for its good wool. "Quite in keeping with Kambojas's association with Gandharah, is the love of Kambojas for blankets (kambhals) to which Yasaka (11. 2/2) bears testimoney" says Dr H. C. Raychaudhury in his classical book Political History of Ancient India 1923/1996. Again, in continuation to the above premise," Kamboja people were not only famous for their furs and skins embroiderd with threads of gold, their woolen blankets (Kambhals), their wonderful horses, and their beautiful women, .. but by the Epic period, they became especially renowned as Vedic scholars and their homeland as a seat of Brahmanical learning." (Ref Hindu World Vol I, by Benjamin Walker, Kamboja People and the Country 1978 by Dr. J. Lal Kamboj). This quotation from another famous indologist again speaks of Kambojas' love for Kambhalas or blankets. Furthermore, the Kamboja people were epicurean and aristocratic class of people, besides being excellent warriors and Vedic scholars (Kritvidyashach) during Yaskian and Epic periods. Mahavanihija Jataka especially makes a mention of blankets or Kambhals of Oddiyana or Udyana of Suvastu city of Swat valley (Suatsos of the Greeks) which region was undoubtedly, a part of the famous ancient Kamboja Mahajanapada or country, and was inhabited by Assakenois (Asavaks) and Gaurean (Gore) Kambojas, as modern historians have conclusively proved (for details, please refere to Alexandra of Greece and the Kamboja People, page 38). Mahabharta also speaks high of the expensive blankets/shawls and precious food stuff of the Kamboja country. (vide Mahabharta, Sabha Parav, Ch 7). Thus Yasaka has only been realistic and true in describing and defining the Kamboja people as Kambalbhoja as well as Kamnyabhoja. (Ref: Nirukuta 2/2 by Yasaka, Kamboja People and the Country by Dr J. L. Kamboj D. Lit, These Kamboj People by K. S. Dardi).
(To be continued)