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Friday, May 18, 2012


 

North Indian Inscriptions


 

THE GUPTA INSCRIPTIONS

TEXTS AND TRANSLATIONS

No. 1 : PLATE I

ALLAHABAD STONE PILLAR INSCRIPTION OF SAMUDRAGUPTA

        This inscription1 appears to have been first brought to the notice of the public in 1834, when, in the Journal of the Bengal Asiatic Society, Vol. III, pp. 118 ff., were published a translation by Captain A. Troyer, Secretary of the Sanskrit College, and a transcript by Madhav Rao Pandit, Head Librarian of the same College, accompanied by a lithograph (ibid., Plate vi), which was reduced by James Prinsep from a copy commenced by a brother of Lieutenant T. S. Burt, of the Engineers, finished by a Munshi, and revised by Lieutenant Burt himself. In the same volume, pp. 257 ff., the Revd. W. H. Mill, Principal of Bishop’s College, who was then Vice-President of the Asiatic Society, working from the same lithograph, published a revised version of the text and translation, followed, at pp. 339 ff., by a supplementary paper containing the first genealogical tree of the dynasty. His version, however, though it was an improvement on that of Captain Troyer, still fell very far short of exhibiting the original completely or accurately: (1) in his misreading lines 11 and 21, in such a way as to introduce into the translation and genealogical tree, without any foundation whatever in the original, the independent princess Saṁhārikā, with a daughter, name unknown, who was the wife of Samudragupta, (2) other mothers-in-law of the same king, and (3) a royal issue expected at the date of the inscription, and (4) in his treatment of line 30, where, instead of āchakshāṇa iva bhuvō bāhur=ayam=uchchhritaḥ stambhaḥ, “this lofty column (is) the raised arm of the earth, proclaiming as it were, (the fame of Samudragupta),” he read rōma-charmaṇaḥ ravi-bhuvō bāhur= ayam=uchchhritaḥ stambhaḥ, and translated “of this child of the Sun, though clothed in hairy flesh, this lofty pillar is the arm,” which led him to refer Samudragupta and his dynasty to the Solar race, a mistake that sometimes seems to have been not even yet completely eradicated. In 1837, in the same Journal, Vol. VI, pp. 969 ff., James Prinsep gave a fresh and much improved lithograph of the inscription and its alphabet (ibid., Plate 1v), reduced from impressions on cloth and paper made by Captain Edward Smith, of the Engineers; and, with it, his own version of the text and translation. His rendering of the inscription still failed to represent the original with any real approach to accuracy and completeness. But it was a very great improvement on the two versions that had preceded it; especially in avoiding the leading mistake of Mill, pointed out above. In fact, it remained the best version for a long time, except that in 1872, in the Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. IX, pp. cxcvi ff., Bhau Daji notified, from a copy on cloth made by Bhagwanlal Indraji, some corrections in the historical part, in the names of the kings and countries conquered by Samudragupta. The whole of the inscription, thereafter, was systematically and almost accurately deciphered by J. F. Fleet from the original column and published in CII., Vol. III, 1888, pp. 1 ff. And to this English scholar goes the credit of first making the standard text of this epigraphic record ready for being handled for historical purposes by all scholars and antiquarians eager to understand and interpret Ancient India. Fleet’s transcript has been so well done that hardly any corrections in the reading were made by Bühler, when, two years later, he published a revised version of the same inscription in Die Indischen Inschriften und das Alter der Indischen Kun-stpoesie, pp. 39 ff. and 88 ff.2
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1 [In dealing with this and the other inscriptions edited by the late J.F. Fleet in his CII., Vol. III, 1888, the late D.R. Bhandarkar has largely followed the introductory remarks of the former scholar.—Ed.].
2 The English translation of this booklet, by Prof. V. S. Ghate, has appeared in instalments in the Ind. Ant., Vol. XLII, pp. 29 ff., 137 ff., 172 ff., 188 ff., 230 ff., and 243 ff.


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