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Friday, May 18, 2012


 

North Indian Inscriptions


 

GUPTA ERA

that he was so helped at the bidding of Vikramāditya. It, therefore, seems that Vikramāditya, Pravarasēna and Kālidāsa were contemporaries of one another. If this position is once accepted, Vikramāditya can be no other than Chandragupta II and Pravarasēna the Vākāṭaka Pravarasēna II, son of Prabhāvatiguptā, daughter of Chandragupta II. But how could this Pravarasēna be, on the one hand, Bhōjadēva as mentioned by Rāmadāsa, and, on the other, Kuntalēśvara as styled by Kṛishṇa ? Now, Bhōjadēva as need not be taken to be identical with Bhōjadēva, who belonged to the Paramāra family ruling over Mālava,1 and was a patron of literature and artists. Bhōjadēva can also mean ‘a king of the Bhojas’ or ‘a ruler of the Bhōja country’. And it is scarcely necessary to add that the ‘Bhōja country’ denotes Vidarbha, that is, the former Berar and the Marāṭhī-speaking Districts of the Central Provinces. That the Vākāṭakas were primarily rulers of this tract of land can scarcely be doubted, because almost all their copper-plate grants have been found in that region. That at a later period they were also the rulers of Kuntala can also be scarcely doubted, for there is a fragmentary inscription of the Vākāṭakas in a cave at Ajaṇṭā2 which speaks of Kuntala as being conquered once by Pṛithvī-shēṇa, a prince of this dynasty, and, at a later time, by Harishēṇa, their minister. This Kuntala is probably co-extensive with the Kannaḍa-speaking division of South India. As in the course of time the Vākāṭakas lost their ancestral dominion, namely, the Vidarbha and adjoining country, they probably came to be known as the rulers of Kuntala;3 and this seems to be the reason why Kṛishṇa, who wrote the Bharatacharita, describes the author of the Sētubandha as Kuntal-ēśa, ‘lord of Kuntala.

       Whether there was any other Vākāṭaka prince who was a poet, at any rate, and composed verses, is not certain. Mahāmahōpādhyāya V. V. Mirashi, however, rightly says that Sarvasēna of the Vatsagulma line has been known to be the author of a kāvya called Harivijaya, as mentioned by Ānandavardhana in Dhvanyālōka.4 It seems that the work was composed in Mahārāshṭrī, but with the plot somewhat altered.

THE NOMENCLATURE OF THE GUPTA ERA

       As we shall see later on in detail, Al Bērūni, the Arab Sanskritist and historian and a protege of Mahmūd of Ghazna, furnishes us with much valuable information about five Indian eras, namely, the Vikrama, the Śaka, the Gupta or Valabhī and the two Harsha eras. And what is worthy of note here is that whereas he speaks of the t’ ārīkh of Srī-Harish, the t’ ārīkh of Balba and the t’ārīkh of Bikramādit, he speaks of the Shag-kāl and the Gubit-kāl. In other words, it seems that in his time the first three eras were known as Harsha-saṁvat, Valabhī-saṁvat and Vikramāditya-saṁvat, and the second two as Śaka-kāla and Gupta-kāla. Of these, the epoch of Valabhī-saṁvat, he says, was identical with that of Gupta-kāla. What we have to notice is that the Gupta and the Śaka eras were known up till his time as Gupta-kāla and Śaka-kāla. It is thus all but certain that in the first half of the eleventh century A.D. when Al Bērūni flourished, the Gupta era was believed to be originated by the Gupta kings just as the Śaka era was by the Śaka princes.

       An earlier reference to the Gupta era is comprised in the Mōrbī grant5 of Jāiṅka, edited
________________________

1 D. R. Bhandarkar, A List of the Inscriptions of Northern India (Appendix II), Genealogical Lists of the Various Dynasties, No. 48.
2 Ibid., No. 1712 (p. 241).
3 [For the view of Mm. V.V. Mirashi that the early Rāshṭrakūṭas of Mānapura and not the Vākāṭakas were the rulers of Kuntala, see Ep. Ind., Vol. XXXVII, pp. 15-17. However, the possibility of the Kadambas of Banavāsi being the rulers of Kuntala referred to here cannot be ruled out.—Ed.]
4 [CII., Vol. V, p. liv—Ed.]
5 Ind. Ant., Vol. II, p. 258 and pl. opp. p. 258, text line 17.


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