The Indian Analyst
 

North Indian Inscriptions

 

 

Contents

Introduction

Contents

Preface

List of Plates

Abbreviations

Additions and Corrections

Images

Introduction

Political History

Administration

Social History

Religious History

Literary History

Gupta Era

Krita Era

Texts and Translations

The Gupta Inscriptions

Index

Other South-Indian Inscriptions 

Volume 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

Vol. 4 - 8

Volume 9

Volume 10

Volume 11

Volume 12

Volume 13

Volume 14

Volume 15

Volume 16

Volume 17

Volume 18

Volume 19

Volume 20

Volume 22
Part 1

Volume 22
Part 2

Volume 23

Volume 24

Volume 26

Volume 27

Tiruvarur

Darasuram

Konerirajapuram

Tanjavur

Annual Reports 1935-1944

Annual Reports 1945- 1947

Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum Volume 2, Part 2

Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum Volume 7, Part 3

Kalachuri-Chedi Era Part 1

Kalachuri-Chedi Era Part 2

Epigraphica Indica

Epigraphia Indica Volume 3

Epigraphia
Indica Volume 4

Epigraphia Indica Volume 6

Epigraphia Indica Volume 7

Epigraphia Indica Volume 8

Epigraphia Indica Volume 27

Epigraphia Indica Volume 29

Epigraphia Indica Volume 30

Epigraphia Indica Volume 31

Epigraphia Indica Volume 32

Paramaras Volume 7, Part 2

Śilāhāras Volume 6, Part 2

Vākāṭakas Volume 5

Early Gupta Inscriptions

Archaeological Links

Archaeological-Survey of India

Pudukkottai

RELIGIOUS HISTORY

gupta ? Some scholars regard it as an empty boast. But the expression in our opinion is susceptible of a better interpretation which has been set forth above on pages 37-41.

       The second line of evidence adduced by R. G. Bhandarkar relates to “the gods and goddesses adopted into the Brahmanic Pantheon.” “The worship of Śiva, Vishṇu, the Sun, and Mahāsēna seems to have become popular with all classes from princes and chiefs to ordinary individuals. To this pantheon ‘there was not even an allusion in the epigraphical records of the country for more than five centuries.’ They suddenly present themselves to our view about the end of the fourth century; and appear uninterruptedly for the whole of the subsequent period of about two centuries covered by the inscriptions.” It is very doubtful whether Śiva, Vishṇu, the Sun and Mahāsēna can be considered to be Brāhmanic deities even in the Gupta period. In modern times there is hardly any important shrine of Vishṇu, Śiva or Ambikā which is not in charge of a Brāhmaṇa priest who alone has the right to show the god or goddess to the devotees on payment of money, or the making of offerings, or both, which is a source of income to the priest. But there is no inscription of the Gupta period to show that there was any temple or any shrine in the fourth, fifth or sixth century to which any Brāhmaṇa priest was attached and which was a means of his living. Nor is there any evidence to show that the deities noted above came down to the Gupta period from the Ṛigvedic times, with the Brahmanical or original character stamped upon them.

       Let us take Śiva first. Śiva, we find, is a god unknown to the Vēdas.1 His name is a word of not unfrequent occurrence in the hymns, but means simply ‘propitious.’ Not even in the Atharvan is it the epithet of a particular divinity, or distinguished by its usage from any other adjective. It is only in the Śvētāśvatara Upanishad that Śiva first occurs as another name of Rudra. Whether he was originally a divinity from the mountains of the north it is difficult to say. This much is certain that shortly before the time of Patañjali there had developed a ‘Śiva cult’, saturated with the worship of Skanda and Viśākha and possibly also Kumāra and Mahāsēna as appears from the coins of Huvishka2 and that Śiva so overshadowed Rudra that the latter himself came to be regarded as a form of the former. As regards Vishṇu, every student of the Ṛig-Vēda knows that while the hymns and verses, dedicated to the praises of Indra, Agni, Mitra, Varuṇa, etc., are extremely numerous, those in which Vishṇu is celebrated are much fewer.3 Not only is the power by which Vishṇu takes his three strides described as being derived from Indra but also Vishṇu is represented as celebrating Indra’s praises. We shall not be far from right if we say that Vishṇu occupied a subordinate place in the estimation and affections of the Ṛishis who composed the Ṛiks. It is again doubtful whether and how far Vishṇu had maintained his original character as a solar deity in the Gupta period. Why else does a divinity spring into existence called Sūrya or Bhāskara about this time? The form of the image of the Sun worshipped in this epoch has been described by Varāhamihira. The feet and legs of his icon, we are told, should be covered up to the knees and dressed in the fashion prevalent in the north and his waist should be encircled with an avyaṅga. In fact, the images of this Sun have boots reaching up to the knees and a girdle round the waist. “This last is a Persian feature” according to R. G. Bhandarkar.4 He further points out that the priests, in charge of the idols of this deity, were called Magas who also correspond to the Persian Magi. This worship of the Sun was thus a foreign importation to a large extent. How this divinity could be assigned to the Brahmanic pantheon in the Gupta period is far from clear. As regards Mahāsēna, he stands or falls together with Śiva. And as the Brahmanical
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1 Muir’s Original Sanskrit Texts, Vol. IV (1873 edn.), p. 399.
2 D. R. Bhandarkar’s Carmichael Lectures, 1921, pp. 22-23, Ind. Ant., Vol. XL, p 17.
3 Muir’s Original Sanskrit Texts, Vol. IV (1873 edn.), p. 98.
4 Vaishṇavism, Śaivism, etc., pp. 154-55.