What Is India News Service
Friday, May 18, 2012


North Indian Inscriptions



SIR John Faithfull Fleet was appointed as Epigraphist to the Government of India from 1883 to 1886 for the purpose of preparing the volume on the Inscriptions of the Early Gupta Kings and the volume prepared by him was published in 1888 as volume III of the Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum series. The question of bringing out a revised edition of this volume was first mooted in January 1928 by Dr. D. R. Bhandarkar, then Carmichael Professor of Ancient Indian History and Culture in Calcutta University and an eminent Sanskritist and epigraphist, to Sir John Marshall, the then Director General, Archaeological Survey of India, who readily approved the proposal in principle. The actual proposals for the same were, however, sent by Dr. Bhandarkar in November 1928 to Mr. Blackiston, the then Officiating Director General. After prolonged correspondence in the matter and some interruption, Mr. Blackiston informed Dr. Bhandarkar in January 1935 that the Government of India had sanctioned the proposal for the revised edition of the Gupta Inscriptions and has also decided to entrust the work to him.

        When Fleet published his volume in 1888, he wrote in his Preface that he intended to bring out a second part of the volume containing the Historical chapters but also expressed his fears that his official duties in the Revenue Department would not enable him to do so. His fears were, unfortunately, proved true and the Historical chapters were never written by him. So it was left to Dr. Bhandarkar to write these Historical chapters in his revised edition of the volume. Dr. Bhandarkar started the work in right earnest by preparing the list of inscriptions to be included in the revised edition, by collecting the required impressions of inscriptions through the Archaeological Survey of India and other sources, by studying and preparing notes, etc. After working for a few years, he had to face a number of difficulties in his work including the second world war during which period all the impressions collected by him were removed to a place of safety with the result that the work did not make much progress. After the end of the war, when he was nearing 70 years, he resumed his work actively and concentrated his attention to edit the inscriptions of the Imperial Guptas first and also to write the connected Historical chapters as part one of the revised volume. But the illness in his family as well as his own illness prevented him from devoting his entire attention to this work. However, by the end of 1949, he prepared the rough draft of the volume and he wanted to revise this draft, dress-up and prepare the press-copy by re-typing the entire matter under his personal supervision. But the advancing age and illness prevented him from doing so and, alas!, he passed away in May 1950 without completing the task which was very dear to him and on which he had worked for many years. But before his death, in March 1950, he had sent the manuscript of his draft-copy to Dr. B. Ch. Chhabra, the then Government Epigraphist for India at Ootacamund, for dressing up and preparing the press-copy of the volume. Dr. Chhabra had earlier met Dr. Bhandarkar on a few occasions and had discussed with him about the publication of this volume.

        After the death of Dr. Bhandarkar, the task of finalising and preparing the press-copy of the revised edition was entrusted to Dr. Chhabra who, however, thought of bringing the volume up-to-date by incorporating all the latest views and discussions of several scholars relating to Gupta history and also by including the later discoveries of the Gupta inscriptions in it. He worked for some time in sorting out the materials received from Dr. Bhandarkar,


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