What Is India News Service
Mondya, July 22, 2013

The Indian Analyst


South Indian Inscriptions




The Editor of the Epigraphia Indica has been good enough to make over to me two sets of inked estampages of the inscriptions at Kârlê and at Nâsik, which he caused to be taken in the year 1899 by his Assistant, Mr. G. Venkoba Rao ; and he has kindly requested me to contribute a brief commentary on the Plates of them which he intends to issue. All these records have been commented on before by such scholars as Bhandarkar, Bhagwanlal Indraji and Bühler. Still, I cannot resist the temptation of adding my modest gloss in the wake of their learned interpretations. Nobody will expect, however, that I shall arrive at startline new results.

The difficulties with which the explanation of these precious documents has to cope are on the whole due to two causes─ (1) their imperfect state of preservation ; and (2) the employment of a certain number of obscure terms or formulas. Since the comparatively recent date to which the preceding treatments of these inscriptions belong, few important new materials have come to light. On the other hand, as regards fac-similes, the Plates now issued may at first sight appear more imperfect than those which were published by the Archæological Survey. But, having worked direct from the inked estampages, I can testify that the new Plates seem to have been executed with scrupulous care, and that the collotypes are purely mechanical reproductions of the estampages. Of course they do not show all the details of the originals,─ because this is impossible,─ but they have not been subjected to any touching up by hand. The estampages were made quite recently ; and, in the course of several years which separate them from the earlier copies, the disintegration of the rocks which bear the inscriptions will have continued, and characters which existed before may have lost in clearness. Is this enough to account for the difference between the old and the new Plates ? It seems to me that the former, or at least portions of them, were touched up by hand in details. These retouches, which were executed by competent readers who worked from the monuments, certainly have a value of their own. Nevertheless they imply certain minute alterations which are hardly compatible with the scrupulous care that is now considered indispensable in such matters. I am dwelling on this point only in order to vindicate myself for not appearing to be quite so well informed as my predecessors in the treatment of several passages, and besides, for admitting that certain apparent readings of the earlier fac-similes do not exclude a priori some slightly different hypotheses. I do not know if, in this field of enquiry and in the present state of our knowledge, it is not more dangerous to affirm too much than to be too cautious. It goes without saying that I have nowhere neglected the invaluable help which the earlier reproductions and transcriptions furnished ; if reduced to my own resources, I would have had to leave more than one lacuna in the texts. Nevertheless the readings which I propose are such as I consider to be actually warranted by the context of the estampages which I have in my hands and which are represented by the new Plates. In several cases where, though believing in a certain transcription, I do not venture to affirm that it is perfectly sure, I enclose in square brackets the letters which to my mind are more or less doubtful. I confess that even this distinction has not been a very easy matter. One need only look at some of the Plates in order to understand that in many cases, if the reading hardly admits of any doubt, the reason is that it is corroborated either by the

[1] Translated from the French by the Editor.

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