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Bhagabhadra – Ancient Hindu Ruler 1st Century BC

Bhagabhadra was an ancient Hindu ruler how ruled Vidisha during the 1st century BC. Bhagabhadra (124 – 26 BCE) ame to be known to historians for the first time in 1909 CE after the discovery of the Besnagar (Vidisha District, Madhya Pradesh) Garuda pillar inscription of Heliodora (Heliodorus), a resident of Taxila, who had come to his court as yona0duta (envoy) of the Greek King Antalikita (Atialkidas) and had set up the column called Garuda Dhwaja for Vasudeva, the deva-deva (God of gods).

Bhagabhadra is given the metronymic title, “Kashiputra” and is described as rajan as against the Indo-Greek monarch Atalikita who bears the regal title maharaja. Since even powerful contemporary Indian kings bore the unostentatious title rajan as against the showy title maharaja (borne by foreign rulers), it ought not to be taken as an indication of any difference in status between the two monarchs.

Moreover, the exchange of envoys shows the equality of status. It is particularly noteworthy that Heliodora had been dispatched by Antialkidas without known reciprocity, demonstrating at least that the two had an identical status. That Bhagabhadra was ruling from Vidisha need not be doubted though no such statement is made in the record.

Bhagabhadra is not known from literary or archeological sources. While attempting his identification, one has to keep in mind the fact that Antialkidas flourished during the latter half of the 2nd century BCE. It is thus evident that he belonged to the Sunga dynasty which, after Pushyamitra Sunga, the first ruler, had shifted its capital to Vidisha as would follow from Malavikagnimitra of Kalidasawhich refers to his son and successor Agnimitra, as ruling from Vidisha. But no king named Bhagabhadra is mentioned in the list of the Sunga kings in Puranas, and consequently, therefore, establishing the identity of Bhagabhadra has been difficult for historians.