Journal of Eurasian Studies - EPA

Journal of Eurasian Studies - EPA

April‐June 2010 JOURNAL OF EURASIAN STUDIES Volume II., Issue 2.


The Greek historian wrote the following about the Hephtalites: “Their territory lies immediately to the

north of Persia; indeed their city, called Gorgo, is located on the south‐eastern side of the Caspian Sea.

They are not nomads like the other Hunnic peoples but, for a long period, they have been established in a

fertile land. They are the only ones among the Huns who have white bodies and their features are not

ugly. Their manner of living is unlike that of their kinsmen; they do not live a savage life; they are ruled

by one king and, since they possess a lawful constitution, they observe right and justice in their dealings

with one another and with their neighbours. The wealthy citizens are in the habit of attracting to

themselves friends to the number of twenty or more, who have a share in all their property, enjoying

some kind of common right in this matter. Then, when the man who has gathered such a company

together dies, all these men are taken alive into the tomb with him.” 27

In his book, Procopius describes in detail the clever tricks that the Hephtalites practiced against the

Sassanian Peroz (Firoz) in their battle. “Peroz took with him all his sons, about thirty in number; he left

behind only one, Cabades (Kobad) by name, who was just past the age of boyhood. In the battle, Peroz and

all his sons were destroyed in 474 A.D. But after ten years, in 484 A.D. Cabades, as a grown up man,

avenged his father’s death upon the White Huns and defeated them.” 28 According to the Indian sources,

the name of the Hephtalite king who defeated Peroz was Khusnewaz or Khuswanaz; he kept his Kushan

origin even in his name. 29

The Hephtalites already occupied two important East‐Iranian cities: Merv and Herat, and the whole of

Bactria; they could not extend their Kingdom to the West due to the defeat by Cabades, so they prepared

for a new conquest: India.

As the noted Indian scholar, J. J. Modi, remarked: “The Huns always headed for India, whether they

were victorious or defeated; in the first case they felt their power and in the second case they wanted

grazing grounds and booty.” 30

The Indian conquest was led by an able and talented tegin – war lord – called Toramana (his original

Hun name was Turman) (485‐515 A.D.), who became the head of the seven tribes. 31 He was not only a war

lord but a viceroy too and, according to the sources, he achieved this title, rising from the position of a

common soldier. After concluding a treaty with the Sassanians, he quickly ran over the weakened Gupta

Kingdom in India. In Northern India the smaller principalities were fighting against each other and thus

they lost their strength of defence. Toramana occupied the same territories as those that formerly

belonged to the Kushans, namely: Gandhara, Kashmir, the Punjab, Rajasthan and Malwa in the centre of

India. Malwa became Toramana’s Indian headquarters, while in Bactria it was the ancient Kabul.

27 Procopius: ibid. 3.9.

28 Procopius: ibid. 3.9.‐11.

29 The Vishnu Purana, H.H. Wilson, 1840, p. 194.

30 J.J. Modi: “A hunokról, akik meghódították Indiát”, Bp. 1926, Avesta Kiadó, 42.old.

31 Aradi, Éva: “A hunok Indiában”, Bp. Hun‐Idea, 2005, p.53.


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