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Thursday, September 10 , 2014


The Indian Analyst


 

South Indian Inscriptions


 

EPIGRAPHIA INDICA

PARBATIYA PLATES OF VANAMALAVARMADEVA

(1 Plate)

P. D. CHAUDHURY, GAUHATI AND D. C. SIRCAR, OOTACAMUND

A set of three copper plates was discovered by a cultivator while tilling his field at the village of Parbatiyā which lies about three miles from the town of Tezpur in the Darrang District, Assam. It was secured by Mr. Biswadeb Sarma who was then a student of the Law College, Gauhati. Mr. Sarma handed over the plates to his teacher, Mr. S. K. Datta, Barrister-at-Law, then Principal of the Law College. Ultimately they were presented to the Assam Provincial Museum, Gauhati, where they are now deposited.

The plates measure 10″ by 6. 2″. They are held together by a ring to which a seal, similar to those found with the charters of the ancient kings of Prāgjyōtisha, is soldered. The seal is oval in shape with its diameter measuring lengthwise 4. 7″ and breadthwise 4. 3″. It has a conical projection at the top and contains, on counter-sunk surface, the emblem of an elephant facing front, below which, separated by a cross-bar, is the legend in characters similar to those employed in the inscription on the plates. The legend is written in three lines and reads :

1 Svasti [ ||* ] Śrīmān=Prāgjyōtish-ādhip-ānva- 2 yō mahārājādhirāja-śrī-Vanam[ā]- 3 lavarmmadēva[ ||*]

The first and the third plates have writing on one side only, while the second is inscribed on both the sides. There are altogether 59 lines of writing, the first plate having 15 lines, the second 16 on the obverse and 15 on the reverse, and the third only 13. The borders of the plates are raised; but the rims of the first plate are damaged and the last line of the inscription on its face is partially obliterated. The upper border of the obverse of the second plate is also slightly damaged towards the right. With the exception of certain aksharas in the last line on the first plate as well as the vowel-marks of a few aksharas in the first line of the same plate and also of line 1 on the obverse of the second plate, the inscription is in a good state of preservation. The aksharas are neatly and beautifully incised. With the exception of the third plate, all the inscribed faces of the plates have one or more aksharas in the margin opposite the ring-hole or in the space left out near about the hole. In the margin of plate I (reverse) there is the single aksharas śrī, while plate II (reverse) has similarly sa. But in the space near the ring-hole of plate II (obverse) there are the stray aksharas śrī, śrī, sa, sa and sta (?) together with two indeterminable marks, which are all fashioned here and there without any order. They, however, do not appear to have been the aksharas inadvertently omitted in the inscription on the faces of the plates in question. The akshara śrī may of course be taken as a maṅgala ;but the other aksharas can hardly be accounted for.[1] The plates together with the seal weigh 258 tolas, while the seal alone weighs 127 tolas.

The characters employed belong to the East Indian variety of the Siddhamāṭrikā or Kuṭila script of the ninth century, sometimes called Early Nāgarī or Proto-Bengali.[2] Indeed it is the Gauḍī lipi or the East Indian script as known to Al-Bīrūnī[3] and was the source from which the Bengali alphabet and the allied Assamese, Oriya and Maithili scripts gradually developed. The inscription employs several times the initial vowels a (lines 2, 5, 58), i (lines 4, 10, 19, 22, 23, 53), u (lines 41, 50) and ē (lines 15, 28, 50, 52). Initial i is of the ordinary type in all the cases,

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[1] For similar stray aksharas on the lost Tezpur plates of Vanamālavarman, see P. N. Bhattacharya, Kāmarūpa-śāsan-āvalī, p. 62 and note 2.
[2] Some of the aksharas (cf. a, kh, g, j, s, medial ē and au, etc.) closely resemble their Bengali-Assamese forms.
[3] Sachau, Alberuni’s India, Vol. I, p. 173; cf. JRASB, L, Vol., XIV, 1948, pp. 115-16; IHQ, Vol. XXVIII, pp. 130-31.

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