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AN INSCRIBED STONE SLAB FROM PAHARIA (BANARAS) 

rom the Journal of the Asiatic Society. Letters. Vol.XXI, No. 1, 1955.

By 

PRIYATOSH BANERJEE

(Communicated by Dr. J. N. Banerjea)


INTRODUCTION

 

The slab in question belongs to the collection of the Archaeological Section, Indian Museum, Calcutta. It was found on a mound at Paharia new Banaras, U.P., and was acquired for the Archaeological Section, Indian Museum, during the year 1927.28. Though the acquisition of the slab has been noted in the Annual Report, Archaeological Survey of India, no descriptions of the figures and the inscription engrwed on the slab have been published as yet. My attention was first drawn to it by Dr. J. N. Banerjea, Professor and Head of the Department, Ancient Indian History and Culture, University of Calcutta, and I write on it at his kind instance.

The slab contains on its upper portion repreaentrations of three figures, two male and one female. The figures am all seated. The male ones hold each in their right hands a club and are shown with matted headdress. The female figure sits with her hands joined in adoration. Below these figures there is an inscription consisting of fine lines. It is written in northern script of the 9th century A.D.

Though the inscription has been engraved in bold letters it is very difficult to understand its full implications as considerable part of the inscribed portion has peeled off; in fact the last letters of all the lines have disappeared. Further, the last half of the 4th line excepting one letter, namely, ¸ya, and the whole of the last line except three letters (towards its end) have oompletely gone. The inscription reads as follows:-

 

TEXT[1]

1.  om[2] namaÅ / ár¢-B¡illa-M¡dhava-bha¶¶¡rakasya / Ih = aivav (?) [¡s¢?-]

2 . Se¶oka-B¡¸aka-D¡modaraiÅ k¤p-¡bhidh¡na-kshetram?] [/]

3 . Esh¡m Br¡hma¸¡n¡mm = madhye putra-pautr¡¸¡m = bimbam .......[3]

         ..................................................................vya (?) [ra-?

4.  chy = atr=eti / Bh¡¶¶a-Bh¡illa-M¡dhava............................................[4]

    ............................................ .............¸ya........................................[5]

5. ...........................................................................................jye / utk- 

    [¢r¸¸am] [/]

As the inscription is damaged, nothing definite can be said about its object nor about the figures. Dr. J. N. Banerjea, who has also axamined the slab, feels that the figures in question are not of divinities but are secular in character. As parallels mention may be made here of the representations of M¡ndh¡t¡ R¡jacakravart¢ (Amar¡vat¢) and sage ÎÀya¿¤´ga (Mathur¡). Further, the statues of Vima Kadphises and Kanishka, two important rulers of the Kush¡¸a empire, found in Ma¶ near Mathur¡ are too well- known to be mentioned. That the practice of erecting memorial statues during the Kush¡¸a period was very popular is known also Tom several other instances. A fragmentary stone inscription found in Mathur¡, which belongs to the early Kush¡¸a period, contains the expression ToÀ¡ye pratim¡, i.e. 'the image of ToÀ¡'. Ltiders suggests that the lady in question

was the same as her namesake who erected a stone shrine in honour of the holy Paµcav¢ras1 (SamkarÀa¸a, V¡sudeva, Pradyumna, S¡mba and Aniruddha). L£ders suggests that this image of ToÀ¡ was erected by wxne of her descendants at her shrine referred to above aa an act of posthumous honour.2 Further, another inscription of the Kush¡¸a period, incised on the pedestal of an image from Ganeshra, refers to the image of the great general Ul¡na (Mah¡da¸·an¡yasya ....... Ul¡nasya pratima). Thus, the present slab might be one of a memorial character. Though it is not possible to interpret the inscription occurring on the slab satisfactorily on account of its damaged condition, it seems that there were three Br¡hma¸as, namely, Se¶oka, B¡¸aka, and D¡modara who erected a hall or enclosure symbolic of the great mercy of their favourite deity M¡dhava-bha¶¶¡raka, known locally perhaps as ár¢ Bh¡illa M¡dhava-bha¶¶¡raka.  It also appears from line 3 of the inscription that the images (bimbam) of home of their male and female offsprings mentioned as putra

and pautra were made by their relatives, and thase figures on the slab were perhaps set up in the hall constructed in honour of the deity M¡dhava-bha¶¶¡raka. In other words, the present slab with the images in question was constructed in honour of some beloved departed ones.

It may be mentioned here that in ancient India there were several varieties of memorial monuments though the sati-stones became the most popular and well-known amongst them in later days. In support of this, mention may be made here of the practice of erecting memorial stones (LaÀ¶i) in honour of the departed ones as referred to in the four Andhau and Bh¢¶¡ stones inscriptions etc.  The Andhau stones inscriptions mentions the raising of a staff by Madana, son of S¢hila (Simbila) in memory of his sister, JyeÀ¶hav¢r¡, daughter of S¢hila (Simhila) in memory of his sister, JyeÀ¶av¢r¡ daughter of S¢hila. (Simhila) of the Aupa¿atika gotra. In inscriptions B and C of the same series the same Madana is credited with the erection of staves in  memory of his brother ÎÀabhadeva and of his wife Ya¿odatt¡. The fourth Andhau inscription mentions that a staff was raised in honour of ÎÀabhadeva also by his father TreÀ¶adata (Tr¢À¶adatta).3 All these inscriptions are dated in the year 52 during the joint reign of ChaÀ¶ana and his grandson Rudrad¡man, of the western KÀatrpa.  family.

In this connection a reference may be made to the Suivih¡r copperplate inscription dated in the year 11 of Mah¡r¡j¡dhir¡ja Devaputra Kanishka (Konow, Inscriptionurn. Indicarum, Vol. II, pp. 138ff.). The inscription in question refers to the erection of a staff in a vih¡ra in Damana during the year 11 of Kanishka's reign to which an enclosure was added by the mistress of the vih¡ra, the lady votary Bal¡nand¢ and her mother, the matron, the wife of Bala (or Balaj¡y¡). According to Konow the staff was erected by the friar N¡gadatta, the preacher of the law, the disciple of the teacher Damatr¡ta, the disciple's disciple of the teacher Bhava (Konow, Corpus Inscriptions Indicarum Vol. II, p.141). Mr. N. G. Majumdar,4 however, was of the opinion that the staff was raised in honour of the friar N¡gadatta. If Mr. Majumdar's interpretation is accepted, it will furnish an apposite analogy to the practice of erecting memorial stones as mentioned in the Andhau inscriptions.

A similar practice is to be found also in the inscribed stone capital of a column which has been found at Bh¢¶¡ and described by R. D. Banerjii as a L¢´ga (Annual Report, Archaeological Survey of India, 1909.10, pp. 146ff.). The inscription (of c. 1st century B.C.) on the capital refers to the 'Lago' of the Kajahuti-putras. Banerji interpreted the word ,Lago' as meaning (áiva) L¢ga which, in his opinion, was set up by the sons of Kajahuti. J. N. Banerjea has very kindly pointed out to me that here the word Lago should be taken in the sense of LaÀ¶i as used in the Andhau inscriptions. This would mean that the object in question was not the representation of a L¢´ga but a stone staff erected in memory of the de-parted sons of Kajahuti. In view of all these it is quite possible to hold that the present inscribed slab also with images of three figures was as memorial one.



[1] From impressions

[2] Expressed by a symbol

[3] Two letters have been affaced here completely.

[4] About five letters have been affaced away here.

[5]  One letter is damaged here.


1 . Journal of the Indian Sociery of Oriented Art, VOL> X, pp.65-8.

2 .  Ep. Ind., Vol. XXIV, pp.194ff.

3 Ep. Ind.  Vol. XVI, pp. 19ff.

4 Sir Ashutosh Mookerjee Silver Jubilee, Vol. III, 1922, p. 557.

 

Plate I

Inscribed Stone Slab from Paharia

 

Papers by Dr. Priyatosh Banerjee

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