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their home in Central Asia brought writing with them either in the crude picture forms or in its second stage, the phonetic syllabery. The real alphabet was formed in India and not in Central Asia, as in the latter case, the Accadian and its derivatives the Chinese and Assyrian scripts would have, by mere contact, been in possession of an alphabet and not ended with a syllabery. The name latterly given to this alphabet, viz. Devanágrí, was due to its connexion with the writing at the home of the Aryans.
The arrival of the Aryans into India could not be put later than 4000 B.C., as the hymns of the Rig Veda composed on the banks of the Indus and in the Himalayan passes show that the vernal equinox occurred in the asterism Mrigashirá at the time, which was the case from 34th to 43rd century B.C. For a long time the new comers must have been in an unsettled state, and could not have found the calm atmosphere necessary for the development of such subjects as writing. It will not however be very much out of the mark if the formation of this alphabet is placed four or five centuries before the scientific arrangement of the letters.
In the absence of any old inscriptions or references it is impossible to say definitely what was the original process of development of the Devanagarí alphabet, but the retention of the four syllables ri, li, ai and au among the vowels of the new arrangement shows clearly that a syllabery preceded that alphabet. It is certain that this syllabery had its origin in an old picture writing, and this could have, I am sure, been shown to be the case had we been in possession of the real Devanagarí characters. As it happens, however, our present Devanagarí letters are only modified forms of the Brahmí characters, so that they have been taken, and rightly, as derived from the latter. The only letters which do not appear to have been so derived are a (F) ri (Ħ), 1 (~) and h(). 1 Now in one can easily notice the
1 We can by expert handling and stretching the letters, show that these are also derived from old Brahmí letters, but I do not believe in unwarranted stretching of letters, or additions of strokes, or supplying missing links to suit the argument.
cursive form of five horizontal lines
against a vertical one
representing a hand. The Sanskrit word for hand being "hasta", the letter "h" which is the first letter of the word, was represented by the symbol for "hand. "
The letter or rather syllable ri also appears to have a pictorial origin. Being the first letter of the word "Rik" (the hymns of the Rig Veda) it was represented by the symbol for the hymns, which was perhaps the same as for "Veda" or "Book" generally. A book (called Grantha) of these old times was surely represented by a bundle tied with a string or the symbol T so this was the symbol for the syllable "ri" also.
It appears that after Bráhmí letters were formed, the syllable "ri" in those characters (viz., or 2) was added as a determinative, thus giving the present Devanagari letter.
The letter also appears to have its origin, like the syllable, in an old form with a determinative. The sound a was probably denoted by the symbol for Agni (fire), which showing a flame. To this old Devanagarí
must have been
letter was later on added the Bráhmí symbol for a in order that the letter be not forgotten and lost. This gave the present
The above will probably be styled as merely a guesswork, but it is not an improbable guesswork, and shows sufficiently
It will probably be said that the sign for "i" is added at the top and not at the bottom. This does not appear to be universal, as we find in the Bhattiprolu inscriptions this sign attached to n in the middle, and in the present day Devanagari to at the bottom making it the syllable "li"). It is possible, however, that the sign was for u and not i and the syllable was ru, as it is still pronounced in Marathi, Uriya, Telgu, etc. As a matter of fact this vowel has neither an (i) nor an (u) after it, but at the beginning of a word it is difficult to pronounce without one of them, hence its syllabic form.
that the old script of the Indians was developed in the regular way passing through all its stages, from an original pictograph devised by the ancestors of the same people before their coming to India.
The discovery of some megalithic remains in Raigir, Nalgonda district, Hyderabad, Deccan, and close by, described1 by Mr. G. Yazdání is very important in this respect. In the cairns, which were burial mounds, has been found pottery which shows certain marks scratched on it. These undoubtedly represent some sort of pictograph or hieroglyphic writing. 131 symbols have been discovered which resemble the letters, or rather syllables, and words of the Accadian or Chaldæan pictograph (hardly Egyptian'as mentioned by Mr. Yazdání). Seven of these symbols have an appearance of Bráhmí letters (sokan or Dravidi). As the burial of the dead in clay coffins shaped like dish covers, as found in these cairns, was peculiar to the ancient Chaldæan people, it is thought, and perhaps correctly, that the people buried here were descendants of men associated with the old Chaldæans, who migrated perhaps thousands of years ago to Southern India by the way of the sea. They did not evidently come down by land, as no similar burial remains have been found in Upper India. Amongst these men were probably the Vánaras of the Rámáyana, the people who helped Ráma in recovering his wife from Rávana, the Ráksasa king of Lanká, and the cause of their joining him so readily and willingly can be easily understood now, as they were either Aryans or people allied to them. The hieroglyphic writing found in the cairns is thus the descendant of the old pictograph of the Aryans, from which the old Devanagarí alphabet was formed. The Bráhmní as we have seen was formed in a different way and the resemblance of some of its letters with the symbols found in the cairns is a mere chance.
There is also a sort of pictograph found engraved on several rocks at Rajgir (Old Rajagriha), Patna District. The old pictorial alphabet is also not altogether absent from India.
1 Journal of Hyderabad Archæological Society for 1914.
Some seals of baked earth have been found in North-Western India, Montgomery District, which exhibit clearly pictorial letters.
These writings although not yet deciphered, leave no doubt that the Indian Aryans had their own writing from times immemorial, so that even the Accadian pictograph, very ancient as it is, could hardly vie with it and if it had any connection with the Aryan pictograph, that connection must have been of a derivative or an offshoot to an original.
(To be continued.)
IV.-Asahaya, the Commentator of the
By P. V. Kane, M.A., LL.M.
Asahāya is one of those eminent and ancient commentators on the Dharmasastra whose works once famous are now not available. Dr. Jolly in his edition of Naradasmṛiti (Bibliotheca Indica series) has incorporated a portion of the Bhashya of Asahāya as revised by Kalyanabhaṭṭa. Even this revised version extends only up to the middle of the fifth adhyaya of the Naradasmriti. The exact relation of Kalyāṇabhaṭṭa's labours to the original Bhashya cannot be ascertained with precision from the words "दृष्ट्वासहायर चितं नारदभाष्यं कुलेखकैभ्रष्टम् । कल्याणेन क्रियते प्राक्तनमेतद्विशोध्य पुनः || ” (First verse) and " इति असहायनारदभाष्ये केशवभट्टप्रोत्साहित कल्याणभट्टपरिशोधित व्यवहार मातृकायां प्रथमोध्यायः । ' (at the end of the first chapter of the Introduction). It is probable that Kalyāṇabhaṭṭa took very great liberties with the text of the Bhashya of Asahāya. On page 9, verse 15 'rājā satpurushaḥ sabhyaḥ śāstram gapaka-lekhakau' the comment is शास्त्र मनुनारदविश्वरूपात्मकम्. If this Viśvarūpa be the same as the commentator of the Yajnavalkyasmṛiti (as is most likely), it is difficult to see how Asahaya could regard him as of almost equal authority with Manu and Narada. Asahāya flourished earlier than Medhätithi i.e. before 900 A. D. and was therefore either a contemporary of Viśvarupa or even earlier than the latter. Viśvarupa is another name of Sureśvaracharya, the famous pupil of the great Sankaracharya. In the Parāśara-Madhava (Vol. I, part I, page 57, Bombay Sanskrit series) we read “ इदं च वाक्य' (viz. 'मत्रे फलार्थे निमित्त ' आप०