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Thursday, September 10 , 2014


The Indian Analyst


 

South Indian Inscriptions


 

EPIGRAPHIA INDICA

No. 1-TWO PALA PLATES FROM BELWA

(2 Plates)

D. C. SIRCAR, OOTACAMUND

The village of Belwā lies a few miles to the west of the Hili railway station on the East Bengal Railway, in the eastern fringe of the Dinajpur District, not far from the borders of the Bogra and Rangpur Districts. Some time in 1946, a Santal inhabitant of the village, named Khārē Saotāl, discovered two inscribed copper plates while digging the compound of his house with a view to enlarging a fire-place. Mr. Manoranjan Gupta of Calcutta soon secured the plates with the help of Muḥammad Basīr Sarkār who is an official at the Zamindar’s Katchery at the village of Kaśīgārī, not far away from Belwā. Mr. Gupta studied the inscriptions and published both of them in the Vaṅgīya Sāhitya Parishat Patrikā (Bengali), Vols. LIV, B. S. 1354, pp. 41-56 ; LVI, B. S. 1356, pp. 60-65, with plates.[1] The original plates were also presented to the Museum of the Vaṅgīya Sāhitya Parishat, Calcutta. One of the records belongs to king Mahīpāla I (circa 988-1038 A. C.) of the Pāla dynasty of Bengal and Ḅihār, and the other to his grandson Vigrahapāla III (circa 1055-90 A. C.). As, however, the inscriptions appeared to me to have been neither carefully read nor correctly interpreted, I requested, several times, the authorities of the Parishat to lend me the original plates for a few weeks for examination or to supply me with a set of good impressions of each of the inscriptions. Unfortunately neither of these request was complied with.[2] At last impressions of both the plates were available to me through the kindness of Mr. T. N. Ramachandran, Superintendent, Department of Archaeology, Eastern Circle. I edit the inscriptions from those impressions.

A.─Plate of Mahīpāla I ; Regnal Year 5

The record is incised on a single copper-plate, measuring 13″X14·6″. The weight has not been recorded. The seal, which closely resembles those attached to other charters of the Pāla rulers, is, as usual, soldered to the upper part of the document. It is the celebrated dharmachakra-mudrā of the Pālas who were Buddhists. It has in the centre a circle with raised rim and beaded border which is surrounded by arabesque work and is surmounted by a chaitya symbol. The upper half of the inner circle of the seal is occupied by the Buddhist ‘Wheel of the Law’ having an umbrella above it and a deer couchant on either side. Below the central demarcation line, forming a pedestal for the above, is the legend śrī-Mahīpāladēvasya, the space beneath being covered by arabesque foliage. There are altogether 58 lines of writing on both sides of the plate, 33 lines on the obverse and 25 on the reverse. The incision is deep and clear, and the

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[1] For an English version of these papers, see Journ. As. Soc., Letters, Vol. XVII, pp. 117-35.
[2] In December 1950, when I happened to be in Calcutta, I was allowed to examine the original plates in the Parishat’s office. My thanks are due to Mr. Gupta and the authorities of the Parishat for this help.

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