Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- Assyrians used the word “Iawanu”
- Persians used the word “Yauna” or “Yavanu”
- In Biblical writtings, the word was “Yavan” or “Jawan”
- In Arabic and Turkish it was “Junan”
- The Han Chinese used the term "Great Yuan" (Ta-Yuan) to designate what were probably the descendants of Alexander the Great in the region of Ferghana, centered on his city of Alexandria Eschate (Hou Han Shu, Late Han History).
In Indian sources, the usage of the words "Yona", "Yonaka" or "Yavana" appears repeatedly, and particularly in relation to the Greek kingdoms which neighboured or sometimes occupied the Indian sub-continent over a period of several centuries from the 4th century BCE to the 1st century CE, such as the Seleucid Empire, the Greco-Bactrian kingdom and the Indo-Greek kingdom.
Some of the better known examples are those of the Edicts of Ashoka (c. 250 BCE), in which the Buddhist emperor Ashoka refers to the Greek populations under his rule, and explains he sent envoys to the Greek rulers in the West as far as the Mediterranean, faultlessly naming them one by one. Another example is that of the Milinda Panha (Chap.I), where "Yavana" is used to refer to the great Indo-Greek king Menander (160 – 135 BCE), and to the guard of “500 hundred Greeks” that constantly accompanies him.
Several references to the Greeks can also be found in ancient Indian literature. In the Mahabharata, they are described as "the all-knowing Yavanas" ("Sarvajnah Yavanah", Mahabharata VIII.45.36). Another Indian text explains that "The Yavanas are barbarians yet the science of astronomy originated with them and for this they must be reverenced like Gods" (Gargi-Samhita).
The terms "Yona", "Yonaka" or "Yavana" later took on a wider meaning to include all westerners visiting India.
- “The shape of ancient thought. Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian philosophies”, by Thomas Mc Evilly (Allworth Press, New York 2002) ISBN 1581152035
"Yona" is also also a Hebrew word for Jonah
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