Yavanarajya inscription

The Yavanarajya inscription, also called the Maghera inscription, was discovered in a village near Mathura, India in 1988.[2] The Sanskrit inscription, carved on a block of red sandstone, is dated to the 1st century BCE, and is currently located at the Mathura Museum in Mathura.[2][3] The inscription notes the donation of a water well and tank to the community in 1st century BCE, built by a Brahmin.[4]

The inscription was published and analysed by French indologist Gérard Fussman in 1993.[5] The inscription is in Brahmi script, and is significant because it mentions that it was made in Year 116 of the Yavanarajya ("Kingdom of the Yavanas"). It may mean that Mathura was a part of a Yavana dominion, possibly Indo-Greek, at the time the inscription was created.[2]

The Yavanarajya inscription is in Brahmi script and describes a dedication for a well and a tank in Mathura on "The last day of year 116 of Yavana dominion (Brahmi script: 𑀬𑀯𑀦𑀭𑀚𑁆𑀬 Yavanarajya)". Although the term "Yavanas" can sometimes mean "westerners" in general, inscriptions made at this early period generally use the term Yavana to refer to the Indo-Greeks, and known inscriptions referring to the Indo-Parthians or Indo-Scythians in Mathura never use the term Yavana.[2] The date mentioned on the stone was the Hindu festival day of Holi, according to the Hindu calendar.[2][6]

The year 116 probably refers to the Yavana era (yonana vasae), thought to begin in 186-185 BCE.[7] The inscription would thus have a date of 70 or 69 BCE.[4][7] Some other authors have also suggested the date is counted in the Maues era (circa 80 BCE) or the Azes era (circa 57 BCE).[2]

The Yavanarajya inscription, states Sonya Rhie Quintanilla, mentions year 116 of the yavana hegemony (yavanarajya), attesting to the 2nd-century and 1st-century BCE Indo-Greek presence. This makes the inscription unique in that it mentions the Indo-Greeks, and it "may confirm" the numismatic and literary evidence which suggests that Mathura was under the ruler of the Indo-Greeks during the period between 185 BCE-85 BCE.[9] It is unclear whether the Indo-Greeks were still present at the time the inscription was engraved, states Quintanilla. She states that the inscription's mention of a family of "Brahmin merchants" is significant as well and the foreign rule must have had a lasting impression on them.[4]

Quintanilla states that the nearly contemporaneous coinage of Menander I (165-135 BCE) and his successors found in the Mathura region, in combination with this inscription, suggests the hypothesis that there was a tributary style relationship between the Indo-Greek suzerains and the Mitra dynasty that ruled that region at the time.[4]