(Last Updated on : 16/08/2010)
The Yonas or Yavanas, literally 'Ionians', are considered people of Greek descent. They may be traced in Indian literature and inscriptions from the third century B.C. to the second century A.D. It can be said that they were not of much importance with regard to the political history of Northern and Western India.
It has been mentioned in the Mahabharata
that the Yonas had taken part in the battle of Kurukshetra as allies of the Kurus along with other peoples of North-Western India like the Kambojas, Sakas, Madras, Kaikeyas, Sindhus and Sauviras. Indian tradition, however, regards them as aliens or outcastes. Thus the Sutras mention the Yonas or Yavanas as the most esteemed of foreigners, but all Yonas are regarded as sprung from Sudra females and Kshatriya males. The Ramayana
refers to the struggles of the Hindus with mixed hordes of Sakas and Yavanas. In the Kiskindha Kanda, Sugriva
had placed the country of the Yavanas and the cities of the Sakas between the country of the Kurus and the Madras and the Himalayas. In the Mahabharata, the Yonas or Yavanas are classed with other peoples of Uttarapatha or Northern India like the Kamboja Tribe
, Gandharas, Kiratas and Barbaras. In the Markandeya Purana
, there is a list of people where the Gabalas or Yavanas are classed with some other people of Northern or North-Western India like the Gandharas, Sindhu-Sauviras and Madrakas. The Yonas or Yavanas thus seem to be one of the ancient tribes settled in some part of India.
It has been referred in the Milinda-Panho refers to the land of the Yonas as the place fit for the attainment of Nirvana. In history the Yonas have been mentioned along with the Kambojas. It has also been said that the Yonas lived in Ashoka's empire in a territory adjoining Gandhara.
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