Page images
PDF

concerned : but only with the light that it may help to throwon the history of the people for whom it was written.

Were there any regular chronological history of ‘this part of Northern India, we could hardly fail in the circumstances of this inscription, even if it were without names, to determine the person and the age to which, it belongs. We have here a prince who restores the fallen. fortunes of a, royal race that had been. dispossessed and degraded by the kings Of a, hostile fam.ily—-who removes this mis£ortune~from,himself and his kindred by means of an able guardian or minister, who contrives to raise armies in his cause; succeeding at last in spite of vigorous warlike op-. position, including that of some haughty independent princesses, whose daughters, when vanquished, become the wives of ‘ the conqueror—who pushes his conquests on the east to Assam, as well as to Nepal and the more western countries—and performs many other magnificent and liberal exploits, constructing roads and bridges, encouraging commerce, &c. &c.—in all which, allowing fully for oriental flattery and extravagance, we could scarcely expect to find more than one sovereign, to whom the whole would-apply. But the inscriptiongives usthe names also of the prince and his immediate progenitors: and in accordance with theabove-mentioned account, whilewe find his dethronedances-tors, his grandfather and great-grandfather, designated only by the honorific epithet Mah¢i~ra'ja, which would characterize their royal descent and rights-—the king himself (SAMUDRAGUPTA) and his father are distinguished by the titleof M dha-rdja Adhirafja, which indicates actual sovereignty. And the last-mentioned circumstance might lead some to conjecture, that the restoration of royalty in the house began with the father, named CHANDRAGUPTA, whose exploits -m-ight.besupposedto-A bare-_ lated in the first part of the inscription to add lustre to those ofi theson.

Undoubtedly we should be strongly inclined, if it were-possible, to identify the king thus named—(though the name is far from being an uncommon one) with a celebrated prince so called, the only one in whom the Puranic and the Greek* histories meet, the CHANDBAGUPTA or SANnnacorrus, to whom Snnnucus Nrcnon sent the able ambassador, from

whom STRABO, ARRIAN and others derived the principal part of their information respecting India. This would fix the inscription to an age which its character (disused as it has been in India for much more than a

“ This identity, which after the researches of Scanncnn (Indische Bibliothek), and WILSON (preface to the Mudrti Rawasa in the 3rd volume of the HinduThentre) , maybeconsideredas established, hasheen questioned on very insufiicientgronnds by Professor Hanan: in the last volume of his admirable Researches into the Politics, Intercourse, and Trade of the Principal Nations of Antiquity. The Indian accounto_ vary as much from each other concerning Cnrnvnaaonrra as they» do. from the-, classical accounts of Saunnncorrus.

thousandyears), might seem to make sufiiciently probable,—viz. the third century before the Christian era. And a critic, who chose to maintain this identity, might find abundance of plausible arguments in the insc'rip# tion : he might imagine he read there the restoration of the asserted genuine line of NANDA in the person of Cnnunanoorrn, andthe destruction of the nine usurpers of his throne: and in what the inscription, line 16, tells of the guardian GIRI-KAHLKRAKA-Svimi, he might trace the exploits of Canunnsourrfis wily Brahman counsellor CHXNAKYA, so graphically described in the historical play called the Mudra-Ra'.z"asa, in levying troops for his master, and counterplotting all the schemes of his adversaries’ able minister Rixnss-, until he recovered the throne : nay the assistance of that Rixnsa himself, who from an enemy was turned to a faithful friend, might be supposed to be given with his name in line 10 of the inscription. And the discrepancy of all the other names besidé these two, viz. of CHANDRAGUPTXS son, father, grandfather, and gears dian minister, to none of whom do the known Puranic histories of that prince assign the several names of the inscription-—might be overflome by the expedient usual among historical and chronological theorists in similar cases,-of supposing several different names of the same persons.

But there is a more serious objection to this hypothesis than any arisi ing from the discrepancy of even so many names—and one which I cani hot but think fatal to it. In the two great divisions of the Xattriya Rajas of India, the CHANDRAGUPTA of the inscription is distinctly assigned to the Solar race——his son being styled child of the Sun. On the other hand, the celebrated founder of the Maurya dynasty, if reckohed at all among Xattriyas, (being, like the family of the NANDAS, of the inferior caste of Sudras, as the Greek accounts unite with the Puranas in re-' presenting him,) would rather find his place among the high-born princes of Magadha whose throne he occupied, who were children of the Moon: and so he is in fact enumerated, together with all the rest who reigned at Pétaliputra or Palibothra, in the royal genealogies of the Hindus. It is not therefore among the descendants or successors of Conn, whether reigning (like those Magadha pr-inces) at Patna, or at Dehli, that we must look for the subject of the Allahabad iii-' scription; but if I mistake not, in 8 much nearer kingdom, that of Canyfwubja or Canouje. This is well known to have been the seat of an extensive empire on the Ganges, founded hy‘ ‘a branch of the Solar‘ family, after the decline of Ayodhya or Oude, the ancient capital of RXMA and his ancestors. And this opinion is confirmed by the coins lately discovered at.Canouje, in which we find characters exactly corresponding to those of our inscription—and the same prefix to the king’s name on the reverse of the coin, viz. lllalui-ra:ia Adhirzija Sn’. One of these, a gold coin, communicated to me by Mr. J . Pamsni, and exhi-'

bited in the last number Pl. IX. fig. 24, had struck me, before I saw the engraving, as seeming to bear on the obverse the name of GHATOTKAcan, (not, however the father of Cnxnnaaourrn so named on the pillar,. from whom the title of Adhirdja is withholden, as I before remarked—but areigning prince of the same name and family.) But another gold coin of the same class, in Plate I. fig. 19 of the XVIIth. volume of the As. Res. seems to me an undoubted coin of our Cnnnnnxourrfi. Unfortunately, the catalogues of the children of the Sun, in the_Hari-Vansa, the Bhzigavat, and the Vansa-lata, as published by Dr. HAMILTON, are far from being so full and ample as those of the Lunar race, (to which the heroes both of the Mahabharata and the Sri Bh:igavat belong :) and neither these, nor I believe the Vishnu and Kurma Purémas, extend their lists to the princes of this particular dynasty. From the first formation of this solar royalty at Canouje to its extinction in the person of JAYA CHANDRA, A. D. 1193, I know no authenticated name but that of Ynsovaansm said in the Raffa Taranginz’ to have been the patron of the dramatist BHAVABHU'TI, and to have been expelled from his kingdom by the Cashmirian conqueror L1L1TA'nITYA, about A. D. 720 :-—till we come to the last five, viz. the Rahtore princes, whose names from CHANDRADE'VA to JAYACHANDRA, are known from inscriptions and coins, allin modern Devanagari, and posterior by several centuries to our inscription. (A. R. vols. 9,15,l7). Until further lists be obtained, therefore, the apparent absence-f of all date on this part of the column, must preclude any thing like exact determination'of the time that elapsed between its hero SAMUDRAGUPTA and YASOVARMAN. As far as it is possible to form a judgment on internal evidence con-_ cerning the age of so short a composition as this, from the enumeration of deities, or the traces of manners that may be discoverable in it, I should be inclined to think that it was written after the hero-worship, which-. the sacred epics first introduced, had begun decidedly to take place; of the simple elementary adoration visible in the ancient hymns of the Védas—-yet before it had altogether its present shape, and appar-. ently before the worship of the linga, and that of the sactis, the most im< pure parts of an impure system, had begun to attain the footing which they

* No. 13 bears the cognate name of Snswur-rs, and Nos. 5, 7,‘ 12, 17, &c_ com tain names, more or less distinct, of others of the same dynasty.—Mr. Panvsar, whose attention I called to those coins, thinks also that No. 12, which is in his

possession, bears the name of our SAMUDRAGUPTA: and indeed the resemblance is sufiiciently striking to authorize the belief. '

-f- Unless indeed the mysterious isolated words at the end, ‘T332’ “ on the Arm’; bank or shore,” should be thought to inclose a date. According to some numeral rules used amongst Hindu mathematicians, these words might denote 22 : and this applied to the era of VlCRAMA'DlTYA, the usual era in those parts, would bringus

toB. C. 34. But I need not observe how slippery such a conclusion must be.

had in India at the period of the\first Mahometan invasions. While the distinction of works and of spiritual science, as taught in the Upanishads, and pervading all the literature of the Hindus, is alluded to more than once in the inscription ;—-the Brahmans have that honor as spiritual superiors which we find assigned to them in the Ramayana and Mahabharata--not that excessive superiority and extravagant homage which in subsequent ages they claimed from princes: the Brahman here contributes to the honour of the king, not, as in some later inscriptions, the king to the honour of the Brahmans. But I cannot forbear from quoting at length the passage of the Mahabharata to which allusion is made in line 28—proving, that at the dateof this inscription, the sacred epic of Vvrflsa was regarded and quoted in nearly the safne

manner as in later ages. The passage is from the 118th canto of thé'

BHISHMA-parva, describing that hero's death, surrounded by the chiefs of both the rival branches of the house of Com; : and is as follows :

[ocr errors]

Hts ‘H v1t' ilsafiraar ‘G W: i

wisiwrsiu sfirrw sfiérm visa: n as n

wt-ms: sfizfi uni: was WEI {Fail I

swam ash urn srfifir Fsnsn gut ll Re 1|

iismwewwez fzgzawurer -a |

wmia-11m: uni: vitsrsr eramtsr u as H

sfisi seamed fzszwsiwtrsrfi |

a-dun fie sfiew NW? fsgsiw: u as H

fiwni uni wsgqmfi =rgurfirvr= I

-aware‘: Est: fiuwai%mqsfsw# II is ll

But Bnflsnun, 0 chief of the Bharatas, with firmness suppressing the sense of pain, while burning with the arrows that pierced him, and breathing hardly like a serpent--nor only with body inflamed, but with mind also maddened with the wounds of those sharp weapons, exclaimed only “ Water 1" when he saw the princes approaching. Then, 0 king, did those Xattriyas collect immediately from every quarter food of various kinds, and goblets of cold water: upon seeing which the son of SANTANU sadly exclaimed, “ Notnow can such ordinary human pleasures be tasted by me : for now cut off from mankind, I am stretched upon my arrowy"' bed, and lie expecting the hour when the sun and moon shall be closed to me." But having spoken thus, 0 BHARATAI chiding by his words the assembled chiefs, the son of SANTANU added, “ I would see Annma." Upon which, he of the mighty arm approaching with salutation his grand-uncle, and standing with hands joined and body bent forward, said, “ What shall I do ?" And the pious Bmsrma, with pleasure beholding the great Pandava chief standing before him, answered, “ My body burns, covered as 1 am with thy arrows, my vitals are racked, my mouth is dry: bring some water, Auuxa, to my tortured frame, for thou of the great bow art able to give me such streams as I require." The brave ARJUNA thus addressed, having mounted his car, and fitted his bow-string, bent his strong bow called. Gandiva, for the intended shot : and on hearing the twang of that bow-string, a sound as if bursting from the thunder-bolt of Imma~—-all creatures trembled, even all those chiefs themselves. Then he, the best of charioteers, having wheeled his car in a reverential circle round Bureaus‘ on his right, the prostrate son of Basmvm,best of allhurlers of weapons-—and having takena flaming arrow, and breathed a magical sentence (mantra) over it,'and fitted it to his bow-— the whole world looking on--did with that dart of thunder pierce the whole earth close on the right side of Bmsuua—and thence sprung up a pure beauteous stream of cold water, like the nectar of the immortals, of divine‘ scent and flavour: and with this cold stream did he powerfully refresh Bsusnma, prince of the Cones, of gothlike works and prowess. With this work of the prince A1uU1u},as of a mighty transforming magician, the lords of the earth were seized with extreme astonishment, beholding it as a deed equally compassionate and transcending all human power. ‘* The sara-sayyd, or arrowy bed, was assumed as a voluntary penance in imitation

of BHISHMA by a singular devotee, who was living at Benares in the year 1792, a. curious account of whose travels and adventures, together with a portrait of him stretched on his pointed bed, was given by Mr. JONATHAN Duncan in the 5th vo

lume of the Society’s Transactions. [In that account, p. 5, Bhikma Pitd-mafia, is merely the Hindui mode (Q for q) of writing “ BHISHMA the grandsire," or rather

grand-uncle of the contending chiefs of the houses of Dntluraaasnras and Pnrmu.

« PreviousContinue »