The Ikshavakus: Myth Meets History in Andhra (3rd CE – 4th CE)
Ikshvaku was the founder of the Solar Dynasty. Lord Sri Rama, Bhageeratha and other great kings of the solar dynasty are well known to the Hindus. What is interesting is that we get more and more evidence to link him with the Indus Valley Civilisation.Ikshvaku was mentioned in Rik Veda. The meaning of his name is SUGARCANE.
Encyclopaedias say that the people of New Guinea were the first to cultivate sugarcane around 6000 BC. But they did not extract sugar from it. They just chewed it to get the juice out of it. But King Ikshvaku was the first one to show the people of extracting sugar from the sugarcane. That is how he got this name Mr Sugarcane.
Who was Ikshvaku?
Ikshvaku was the son of Vaivasvata Manu who is equated with the King Satyavrata of Dravidian country in whose time the first avatar of Lord Vishnu- Matsyavatara (Fish incarnation) – took place.
So all the facts lead us to the remotest period. Ikshvaku was more famous for his just rule rather than sugarcane juice.
Jains have another interesting story about the sugarcane. Their first Thirthankara Rishabadeva (Adi Nath) was the one who taught the people of extraction of sugarcane juice. So he was known as Ikshvaku. Another version is that he took sugarcane juice after a year of fasting. Both the Hindu and Jain Ikshvakus are probably one and the same.
Indus Valley civilisation has evidence to show that they knew sugarcane and sugar extraction. Crystallised sugar was used by the Indus Valley people. Hindu Gods and Goddesses such as Lalitha (Ref. Lalitha Sahasranamam), Kamakshi, Tripura Sundari and the Hindu Cupid Manmatha are depicted holding a sugarcane in one hand. The Sanskrit word Sharkara and these Hindu goddesses prove that sugarcane was very much Hindu and Indian.
Tamil King Adhiyamaan Nedumaan Anji
Another interesting fact about sugarcane is in Tamil literature. The word for sugarcane in Tamil is ‘Karumbu’.The grand old lady of Tamil literature Avvaiyar praised chieftain Adhiyamaan Nedumaan Anji of Thagadur (modern Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu) for his philanthropy in Puranaanuru verse 99. Avvaiyar lived two thousand years ago. While praising him she made a passing remark. She said that the forefathers of Adhiyamaan were the one who introduced sugarcane to the people. If we get all these facts together we get a good picture of sugarcane cultivation in India. Ikshvaku or Rishabadeva was the one who taught people how to get the juice and make sugar. But if Indus valley had it by 3000 BC then we had to push the date of Ikshvaku dynasty or Rishabadeva to 3000 BC as well. Tamils also say indirectly that Adhiyamaan was related to him. The South Indian Tamils corroborate what their North Indian counterparts said about the sugarcane. The idea that it was ‘introduced’ by some king is undeniable. The sugarcane mystery pushes back the date of Ikshvaku dynasty and the Jain Thirthankara to the remotest periods of Indian history.