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Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 2, p. 273.


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VII] EARL Y 'IIISTORY OP IOR THERN INA;DIA 273
the Punjab. At the time of Alexander's invasion the Indus
was the boundary between the Persian dominions and in-
dependent India. The Indian conquests were organized as
the Twentieth Satrapy, the richest and most populous province
of the empire. It paid as tribute 360 Euboic talents of
gold dust, equivalent to nearly Ģi,ooo,ooo sterling. (Book iii,
c. 88-0o6; iv, c. 44.) The travellers' tales which were told to
Herodotus concerning the customs of the inhabitants and the
products of the country contain no information of value.
The meagreness of the information obtainable by Herodotus The isola-
is good evidence of the extraordinary isolation of India from tion of
India.
the Western world, which continued to a much later age.
Strabo, writing in the time of Augustus, complains of the
difficulties which he experienced in ascertaining facts about
India, owing to the remoteness of the country, the rarity of
European visitors, and the irreconcilable contradictions in the
few reports received. India was never really thrown open to
European knowledge until the sixteenth century. Up to that
time the world was dependent on the descriptions of the Punjab
and Sind by the companions of Alexander, and the account of
the interior by Megasthenes, which will be noticed presently.
No detailed record of the commercial and diplomatic inter-
course between India and the early Roman empire has been
preserved, although such intercourse is known to have been
considerable.
All traditions agree in assigning a prominent position from Kingdom
very early times to the kingdom of Magadha, or Bihar, on the of Ma-
Ganges. Both the Jain and Buddhist religions arose either in
that kingdom or on its borders, and Brahmanical Hinduism
from time immemorial has always possessed a stronghold in the
neighbouring city of Benares. The followers of all the leading
Indian sects were thus equally interested in Magadha and the
surrounding states. But the prominence assigned to Magadha
is not due solely to the position it occupied in the history of
religion. It was undoubtedly a powerful kingdom from a very
early date.
The most ancient dynasty in the Puranic lists which can lay 600 B.C.
claim to historic reality is that said to have been founded by The
dynasty of
Sisuniga, about the end of the seventh century. Bimbisara, Sisunaga.
the fifth monarch of this line of Magadhan kings, is famous in
Buddhist story as the friend and patron of Gautama Buddha,
the Sakya sage, the founder of the system which we call
Buddhism. This unfortunate prince was deposed, imprisoned,
and ultimately starved to death by his son and successor,
VOL. II. T



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