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Tuesday, August 2, 2011


 

North Indian Inscriptions


 

INSCRIPTIONS OF THE KALACHURIS OF SARAYUPARA

No. 73; PLATE LXI
KASIA STONE INSCRIPTION

THE stone slab which bears the subjoined inscription was discovered by Mr A. C. L. Carlleyle in 1875-76 at the Buddhist ruins near Kasiā (lat. 260 45' N., long. 830 55' E.), the ancient Kuśanagara, where Gautama Buddha entered the Mahāparinirvāna1 ‘The exact spot where the discovery was made was on the south side of the doorway of the brick-shrine in which the large blackstone image of the Buddha, locally known as Māthā Kũar was originally enshrined’2. The inscription was first noticed by Dr. Kielhorn, from estampages supplied to him, in his Epigraphic Notes in Nachrichten von der Königl. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften ⱬu Göttingen Phil.-historische Klasse, 1903, pp. 300-303. It was next edited from the original stone, with a lithograph and a translation, by Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni in the Epigraphia Indica, Vol. XVIII, pp. 128 ff. It is edited here from excellent estampages which I owe to the kindness of the Curator of the Lucknow Museum,where the slab has since been deposited.

The slab which is of the blue stone variety from the Gaya district measures 3' 1/2 " in breadth and 1' 51/2 " in height. The inscription is fragmentary. The extant writing covers a space 2' 101/2 " broad by 1' 21/2 " high, and contains 24 lines. Nothing is of course lost at the top. On the proper right and particularly on the left, especially in 11. 10-24, a large number of letters have been completely damaged owing to the peeling off of the surface of the stone. Besides, one or two lines have been damaged at the bottom, which is much to be regretted; for the lost portion most have contained some more historical information as well as particulars about the object of the inscription. The size of the letters varies from 3/8" to 5/8". The letters are larger and more sparsely written in the first five lines. They gradually decrease in size and are more compressed in subsequent lines.

The characters are of the Nāgarī alphabet. R.B. Sahni assigned the inscription to the 11th or 12th century A.C. In my opinion it is somewhat earlier as it shows the following palæographic characteristics:—(1) The mātrā for the medialē and one of the constituents of the medial ai, ō and au appear as small curves added to the left of the top line of the consonant. They have not yet developed into full-fledged Pŗishţhamātrās ; (2) the medial u is shown by a small serif at the bottom of the vertical; see, e.g. sudhīḥ and sphuţa-, both in 1.8; (3) the left limb of dh and kh, the tail of h and the vertical at the top of ţh have not yet been developed as in the Nāgarī alphabet of the 12th century and the loop in the right limb of kh is open in some places; see, e.g.,-nidhih 1.4, khyāta-, 1.13, śikhari- l.16, and haţhakŗit-, 1.3; (4) ph presents transitional forms; see, e.g., the archaic form in muktā-phalaih, 1.20, and the later one in sphuţa-, 1.8. In many respects the present inscription resembles the Bilhāri stone inscription of Yuvarājadēva II. On the evidence of Palæography I would, therefore, assign the record to the 10th cen. A. C The language is Sanskrit,
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1This identification is established beyond doubt by the discovery, in the stūpa, of a copper-plate inscription containing besides certain sūtras the words [Pari]nirvāṇachaityē tāmra-paṭṭaiti. . Some Mahā- parinirvāṇa clay seals have also been discovered there. For the excavations at Kasiā, see A. R. A. S. I. for 1910-11, pp. 63 ff. and for 1911-12, pp. 134 ff.
2Ep. Ind., Vol. XVIII, p. 128. Kirananda Sastri, who excavated at Kasiā, thinks that the shrine was the chapel of a monastery; see A. R. A. S. I. for 1910-11, pp. 68 ff., and for 1911-12, pp. 138 ff.

 

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