No. 28.─ BETUL PLATES OF SAMKSHOBHA ;
THE GUPTA YEAR 199.
BY HIRA LAL, B.A., EXTRA ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER ; NAGPUR.
These plates were found by me in the possession of Sahib Lal Singh, Malguzar of Betul in
the district of the same name in the Central Provinces, in March 1905. Sahib Lal Singh,
though belonging to an old respectable family, is a Kurmi─ a prominent cultivating caste of
Northern India, who of course are not entitled to accept any charitable gifts. The plates
clearly do not belong to his family, and Sahib Lal Singh is unable to explain how it came
by them. His forefathers belonged to the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh and came to
Betul five generations ago. They left their native place in the Unao district in Oudh about
180 years ago and are believed to have lived in the Hoshangâbâd, Narsinghpur and Nâgpur
districts. Apparently they brought the plates with them, having obtained them somewhere in
Narsinghpur which adjoins Jabalpur.
These are two copper-plates, with a hole (5/16″ in diameter) in each for the ring or seal,
which is lost. The first plate measures 7¾″ by 51/1 5/6″ and the second 7¾″ by 6¼″, the weight of each
being 12 ozs. 6 drs. and 13 ozs. 17 grs. respectively. Both the plates are quite smooth, sufficiently thick, and in an excellent state of preservation. They are inscribed on one side only, and
some of the letters show through on the backs of them ; and but for a fault in the second plate,
which has caused a hole ¼″ in diameter in the last line, obliterating portions of the numerical
symbols of the year (which has been fortunately stated in words in the beginning), the inscription throughout is very legible. I have deciphered the text from the original plates, an impression of which was very kindly made for me by Mr. H. Cousens. At Prof. Hultzsch’s instance
Mr. H. Krishna Sastri prepared fresh impressions, which are reproduced on the accompanying
The average size of the letters is about ⅓″. The letters are smaller─ about 1/6″─ at the
beginning of each plate. They gradually grow bigger, attaining the highest size─ about ½″─
at the end.
The characters belong to the northern class of alphabets. Final forms of m occur in ll.
13, 17, 25, and of t in ll. 21 and 25. Orthographical peculiarities are the use of ṅ before śa in ll.
12 and 14, and of b for v in sambatsara (ll. 2, 3 (twice), 29) and paribrâjaka (l. 5). The letter t
is doubled in gôttra (l. 5, but not in l. 15), puttra (ll. 6, 16, 28), pauttra (l. 16) and ºpittrôr=
(l. 12). The last line contains the numerical symbols for 100, 10, 90 and 9, the two last of
which as stated before, are partially obliterated. The language is Sanskṛit prose, excepting
four benedictive and imprecatory verses quoted in ll. 21-27.
The inscription is one of the Parivrâjaka Mahârâja Saṁkshôbha and is dated in the year
199 of the Gupta era (A.D. 518-19), in the Mahâmârgaśîrsha-saṁvatsara, on the tenth tithi
of the month Kârttika, without specifying the fortnight and the week-day. Another grant of
the same king, which was found near Khôh by General Cunningham in 1879 and is dated in the
Gupta year 209 (A.D. 528-29), was republished by Dr. Fleet in his Gupta Inscriptions, p. 112 ff.
The text of both inscriptions is very similar, and both were written by the same Îśvaradâsa.
The object of the inscription is to record the grant of half of the village Prastaravâṭaka
and a quarter of Dvâravatikâ in the province of Tripurî by the Mahârâja Saṁkshôbha to the
Brâhmaṇ Bhânusvâmin of the Bhâradvâja gôtra. The value of the inscription chiefly lies in the
mention of geographical names, as, with regard to the history of the donor himself, it adds nothing
new to what is given in the Khôh plates. The genealogy of the Mahârâja Saṁkshôbha in both