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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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This name occurs only in; , where the Persian king is described as reigning 'from India unto Ethiopia, over a hundred and seven and twenty provinces.' It is found again, however, in the Apocrypha, where India is mentioned among the countries which the Romans took from Antiochus and gave to Eumenes ().

It is evident from all ancient history, that the country known as India in ancient times extended more to the west, and did not reach so far to the east—that is, was not known so far to the east—as the India of the moderns. When we read of ancient India, we must clearly not understand the whole of Hindustan, but chiefly the northern parts of it, or the countries between the Indus and the Ganges; although it is not necessary to assert that the rest of that peninsula, particularly its western coast, was then altogether unknown. It was from this quarter that the Persians and Greeks (to whom we are indebted for the earliest accounts of India) invaded the country; and this was consequently the region which first became generally known. The countries bordering on the Ganges continued to be involved in obscurity, the great kingdom of the Prasians excepted, which, situated nearly above the modern Bengal, was dimly discernible. Besides the western and northern boundaries were not the same as at present. To the west, India was not then bounded by the river Indus, but by a chain of mountains which, under the name of Koh (whence the Grecian appellation of the Indian Caucasus), extended from Bactria to Makran, or Gedrosia, enclosing the kingdoms of Kandahar and Cabul, the modern kingdom of Eastern Persia or Afghanistan. These districts anciently formed part of India, as well as, further to the south, the less perfectly known countries of the Arabi and Haurs, bordering on Gedrosia. This western boundary continued at all times the same, and was removed to the Indus only in consequence of the victories of Nadir Shah.

Towards the north, ancient India overpassed not less its present limit. It comprehended the whole of the mountainous region above Cashmir, Badakshan, Belur Land, the western boundary mountains of Little Buchama, or Little Thibet, and even the desert of Cobi, so far as it was known. The discovery of a passage by sea to the coasts of India has contributed to withdraw from these regions the attention of Europeans, and left them in an obscurity which hitherto has been little disturbed, although the current of events seems likely before long to lead to our better knowledge.

From this it appears that the India of Scripture included no part of the present India, seeing that it was confined to the territories possessed by the Persians and the Syrian Greeks, that never extended beyond the Indus, which, since the time of Nadir Shah, has been regarded as the western boundary of India. Something of India beyond the Indus became known through the conquering march of Alexander, and still more through that of Seleucus Nicator, who penetrated to the banks of the Ganges; but the notions thus obtained are not embraced in the Scriptural notices, which, both in the canonical and the apocryphal text, are confined to Persian India.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'India'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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