The present districts of Alwar & Bharatpur were known in ancient times as Matsva desh. In Rigveda tat on the banks of river saraswati lived a tribe which opposed sudas. The ruler of the tribe was Duativana, Mamu has also ntioned Matsya wvas part of Brahmrshidesh Many references are available in Mahabharat about Maisya and its people, First reference is about Bhim & Sahadev, the two Panday brothers who conqured this part, Their third brother Arjuna spent the non cogmzable period of his life here. Virata was the ruler of part. It was known as one of the important Janpads of India. Dronacharya killed about 500 heroes of Matsva. Kunti’s son Nama is also said to have conquered this land. The Chinese traveller Huen Tsang has mentioned this tract as PO LI YE TO LO. This has boen identified as Bairat which IS only 500 Li (i.c. 83 miles) away from Mathura. He further mentions in his travels that this place is situated 800 li (133 miles) away from Sutlej.
Bairat was famous for trade in sheep, oxen, flowers, fruits etc. The arca covered by Bairat was about 3000 li (1.e 500 miles) Such an important place attracted the attention of archealogists who carried on explorations. For the first time Shri Daya Ram Sahani supervised excavations in this region. Subsequently Shri N.R. Banerji conducted exploration in this region. According to reports of both the excavations highly developed civilisations flourished here during later Rigvodic period to Mauryan age. Then Bairat was an important centre of iron industry. The people were also familiar wvith many other articles. According to Shri B.M.S. Parmar Bairat was minting town during Mauryan age. Relics of a Monastry and a circular temple of the period of Ashoka have been unearthed at Bairat. Many Punch marked coins of greek, Indo Greek period have been discover from here This is specimen of many rock cut temples found scattered over Westerm & Eastem Indias.
In the year 1962 onwards excavations were conducted at Not in Bharatpur by Dr. RC. Agarwal & his associate Shri Vijay Kunmar Shri Vijay Kemar présented a learned research article on the culture and civiisation of Noh in the session of Rajasthan History Congress held at Jodhpar in the vear 1969, I am quoting in vertbitam from his article.
Besides explorations & excavations conducted by thc archealogy department of Rajasthan Govt, many literary testimonies have boen brought to light by serions researchers which throw flood of light on the culture of Matsya region. Pandit Harihar Sharma wrote his treatise on Natta Maukh has written that Mihir a renowned exponent of Kathak dance flourishod in Matsya during 2nd century B.C. Pt. Harihar Shama also mentions that fine arts were sufficiently in developed state in Matsya desh To qutoe version translated into English by Shri Vijay Kumar is worthwhile. ‘li is expressly mentioned in Natta Maukh that Mihir so beautifilly blended the techniques of his bodly postures with vocal & instrumental music that not only human beings gifted with sense & understanding but even utes like snakes were instantly thırilled with extreme joy & to express their not only shook their heads & coiled themschves but also constantly rolled on ground floor. It is said that beautiful panorama of Kathak style which Mihir presented before audience kept them spell bound” This style of dancing bestowed lustre to the glory of Matsya Desh and Gujrat by patronising perennial development of fine arts even during our times. One of my students at M.S.J. College, Bharatpur Sundari Sharma had been well known her dance was very much akin to one we have mentioned in above lines.
To know more about the glory that was Matsya Desh we can refer to many unpublished works in Sanksrit & Pali which have been discovered by enthusiastic rescarchers. The wide spread tract of land which covered the present districts of Alwar & Blharapur had under it adjoining areas of present Jaipur district. Right from Rigvedic times the place had been inhabitated by artisens, sculputures who throw welcome light on ancient culture & civilisation. Remnants of a factory for manufacture of palaeoliths has been discovered at Bhangarh & Dhingaria, Skelton of a prehistoric period has been discovered in the area of Bairat The discovery of painted rock shelter in Bandh Baretha in Bharatpur district has given solid proof of paintings in Matsya Desh. Figures of human beings, the Sun lion etc. are superb specimens of folk art.
A hoard of coins discovered at Nagla Ihaila, Ashoka’s stone inscription at Bairat are convincing evidences of the fact that this land was important place during the Mauran age. Many emblemns of carly art were removed from here to govt, Museums of Amber, Ajmer, Bharatpur & Alwar to save these scuptures from becing removed to foreign countries or destoryed by non lovers of history. The Yupa pillar of Barnala has perhapes as yet escaped the attention of Hon’ble Surjeet Singh Barnala, Relics of a Havan Kund of about 43 cm wide, 20 cm deep was a place for oblations during the Shunga Kushan period, A bone seal has also been discovered from the base of Havan Kund which bears two words written in Brahmi script.
The Malavas of Rajasthan
The Malavas as known from the Greck classical writers had their home in the Punjab during the fourth century BC. Because of the Greek invasions, a large section of this tribe migrated to Rajasthan, and these migrations seems to have continued down to the Seythian conquest of India. The occupation of the south-cast Rajasthan by the Malavas from the second century B.C. to the Sixth century A D, is known from both the numismatic and epigraphical evidences. The Malavas of Rajasthan were one of the important ancient tribes of India. Following their early traditions of Ayudhajivi Samgha. they adopted the profession of war, and continued their fight against the Sakas and the Kushanas from time to time for the protection of the freedom of the country. They maintained strong repbulican traditions because, on their coins and seals, we find mention of “Malavagana” but not the names of their rulers. Thcy revived the Vedic religion by erecting Yupas (sacrificial pillars) and performing different sacrifices. In 58 B C. they are known to have introduced an year which was first known as Krita, then Malava, Aulikara, Malavesa and afterwards Vikrama Samvat. In Rajasthan, the Malavas seem to have first settled round about Nagara and Rairh. This is clear from their seals and coins. One interesting lead-stamp seal with the legend ‘Malava Janapadasa’ has also been found.