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I.--Notice qf some Ancient Inscriptions in the Characters of the Allahabad Column. By B. H. HODGSON, Esq. Resident in Nepal.
With reference to the remarks in No. 27 of the Journal on the Allahabad Column, and, more pzfrticularly, to the note at the foot of page 116, I hasten to inform you, that some 8 or 10 years ago, I sent to the Asiatic Society drawings and descriptions of a column, and inscription, which I found in the Tarai of zillah Srirun, half way between the town of Bettiah and the river Gandac, west and a little north of Bettiah, and very near to the Nepal frontier. There is a similar pillar, and similarly inscribed, close to the high road from Segonly to Patna ; and though this be, I suspect, in zillah Tirh(1t, not Saran, and though STIRLING call his Lzith, the Sdran pillar, yet I believe him to allude to the latter monument, and not to mine : because the latter is situated in afrequented country, and commonly traversed route to and from sundry familiar places ; and if not in Saran, it is, at least, close to its boundary; whereas the former stands in a desert out of the way of all ordinary routes. At all events, whether STIRLING alluded to one or the other monument, it is certain, that there are two in north Behzir ; that both bear inscriptions of an identical character with your No. 1 ; and that both columns resemble in size and shape the Allahabad one, and that of Fmoz SHAH. I possess likewise an inscription, procured from the Sérgar territories, written in the very same character. When therefore we consider the wide diifusion over all parts of India of
these alphabetical signs, we can scarcely doubt their derivation from Deva Nzigari, and the inference is equally worthy of attention that the language is Sanscrit. I use the words Deva Nag-ari and Sanscrit in the largest sense, and mean thereby, the language and literal symbols of the learned Hindus; for, you know, it is a question whether the existing Deva Négari and Sanscrit be the primitive types, or, only the last results of refinement of older forms. The learned among the Hindus, so far as I know, adhere to the former opinion, and insist that all the Bhiishas and their written characters, are derivatives from the primitive and perfect types, viz. Sanscrit and Deva Négari. And, with reference to the variety of alphabetical signs, which are daily being discovered by us, the common assertion of the Pandits of both the Brahmanical and Bauddha faiths is particularly worthy of observation. They say that there are, or were, no less than 64 Bhashas, each with its appropriate alphabet, derived from Sanscrit. Now, thopgh the round number, 64, should probably be received with a grain of reserve, yet the many new varieties (so to speak) of Deva Nzigari, which we have discovered in the last 10 years, obviously drawn from that type, tend to confirm the general truth of what the Pandits assert; and, at the same time, warrant the expectation that we shall find many more yet, as well as countenance such presumptions as that your Nos. 1 and 2 are essentially the same, and that both are essentially Indian, or (in the language of the Pandits, varieties of the Deva Nagari type.
When I forwarded the drawing of the Mathiab pillar, (for so it is called by the neighbouring peasants,) with copy of the inscription upon it, to Dr. WILSON, I noticed the resemblance of the letters to those of Tibet, as well as that of the eouchant lion* on the top of the monument to the efligies of the same animal, forming the most common sculptural ornament of a certain class of temples in Nepal. And I observed to Dr. WILSON, that those circumstances had led me to hope that some Nepalese Pandit of the Bauddha faith would have been found capable of expounding the inscription :——an expectation in which, I added, I had been disappointed. If you examine the records of your museum, you will, I hope, find the Mathiah pillar and inscription; but, if not, and I still retain (of which I am doubtful) copies of them, I will forward them to you; and also, if you desire it, the Sfigar inscription.
Kathmandu’, 24th April, 1834.
'* Lieut. Buar’s Bull, which crowned the Prayfig Léth, is or rather was, I suspect from analogy, a Lion.