No. 25─ SIRPUR INSCRIPTION OF THE TIME OF BALARJUNA
MORESHWAR G. DIKSHIT, RAIPUR
The accompanying inscription, published here for the first time, was found on the 2nd January
1955, in the course of excavations conducted by me, under the auspices of the University of Saugar,
at Sirpur in the Raipur District of Madhya Pradesh. The stone bearing the inscription was found
lying upside down on the floor in the northern verandah of the monastery at a depth of 8 feet below
the surface. The stone is a yellowish variety of soft sandstone, measuring about 14 inches broad,
8¼ inches high and about 3 inches thick. From the chisel marks at its back, it appears to have been
fixed up high on the wall near which it was found. The slab was very heavily laden with moisture
at the time of its discovery and it was with repeated hot sand-baths that it could be restored to
its original hardness.
The inscription consists of 14 lines of writing, each line containing about 32 letters of nearly
one half inch in height. The characters are early Nāgarī current in the 7th or 8th century A.D.
and are incised neatly and beautifully and also deeply, particularly in the upper part of the letters.
The writing is generally in a good state of preservation except at the upper left and lower right
corners and at the beginning of lines 11-14. A few scratches also appear on the surface evidently
resulting from its fall from the original position in the wall.
The inscription is in Sanskrit verse throughout except the concluding sentence occurring in line
14. The sign for v is invariably used for b. As regards orthography, it may be noted that s, ś
and sh are clearly distinguished. Of lexical interest are two words vyañjana (lines 8-9) and
sētikā (line 8).
The inscription opens with a stanza in praise of the lotus-feet of the Sugata (i.e. Buddha). The
next few verses record the construction of a monastery (vihāra) by a Bhikshu named Ānandaprabha
during the reign of Bālārjuna, as well as of the establishment of a sattra (feeding house) for the
monks residing in the monastery, for the upkeep of which a white-rice field was given. The field
is stated to have been purchased from the Saṁgha and given together with the supplementary crops
grown in it. The monks were to enjoy it in succession till the sun shines in the sky.
The eulogy (praśasti) was composed by the illustrious Sumaṅgala, son of Tāradatta, and the
inscription was incised by one Prabhākara.
The importance of the inscription lies in the fact that it enables us to fix the date of the Vihāra
in which it was found ; for king Bālārjuna mentioned in it could be no other than the homonymous
king Mahāśivagupta alias Bālārjuna of the Pāṇḍava dynasty, who is known from several inscriptions and whose reign-period is generally assigned to c. 590-650 A.D. or about the first quarter of
the 7th century A.D. This king, though Śaivite by religion, gave liberal patronage to Buddhism,
 The word sētikā occurs in the Anjañeri grant (A) of Pṛithivīchandra Bhōgaśakti (above, Vol. XXV, p. 232)
and in the unpublished Surang Mound (Sirpur) inscription. [The word vyañjana meaning ‘condiment’ is of common
occurrence while sētikā found in several epigraphic and literary records in the sense of a measure. See below note
 [The author has totally misunderstood the meaning of the inscription. What has been read by him as
satraṁ is clearly saktaṁ, although the reading intended may be sattraṁ. But even then the object of the inscription is not what has been understood by Dikshit. The anvaya of verses 4-5 (yugmaka) would stand as follows :
sa saṅghataḥ mūlyēna vihāra-kuṭīṁ vyañjan-āṁśēna sahitāṁ sita-taṇḍ-ilo-sētikāṁ cha krītvā tayā
[=sētikayā] yāvat Vivasvān nabhas-talalam=alaṅkurutē [tāvat] anudinaṁ samastaiḥ yatibhiḥ pratyēkam=ātma-
paripīṭi-vaśēna tad-vyañjan-āṁśa-sahitaṁ bhōjyaṁ kārayitvā sattraṁ chakrē. The stanzas mean to say that
Ānandaprabha started a free-feeding establishment for the yatis or monks of the local monastery and that, for this
purpose, he purchased from the Saṅgha a hut within the monastic establishment as well as a sētikā (equal to four
palas or two handfuls) of white rice with an adequate quantity of vyañjana (condiment) for each of the monks
per day. For sētikā, see above, Vol. XXV, p. 235, note 3; Vol. XXX, p. 177. Apparently Ānandaprabha paid a
suitable amount of money to the monks who undertook the responsibility of securing the quantity of rice and
condiments required for the purpose.─ Ed.].
 For his inscriptions at Sirpur, see Hiralal, Inscriptions in C. P. and Berar (2nd edn.), Nos. 173 and 184. For
the Lakshmaṇ temple inscription of his mother Vāsaṭā, see above, Vol. XI, pp. 184 ff.
 Bulletin of the Deccan College Research Institute, Vol. VIII, p. 55.