Thursday, October 8, 2009

4. Gupta inscriptions

Dr.Fleet,the infallible archaeologist, has given us a huge volume on the subject of inscriptions, Corpus Inscriptionem Indicarum Vol III. And a most valuable volume, in one respect, it is; it gives an excellent collection of the Early Gupta inscriptions.But Dr.Fleet's conclusions from them are quite wrong; his claim to have discovered the Gupta Era as beginning in 319-320 A.D., is based entirely, as I shall show presently, upon an egregious misinterpretation.

Now, most of the Gupta inscriptions are either not dated or else they are dated in the Gupta Era; and so they do not disclose when the Gupta Era began. Dr. Fleet knows this; and he relies entirely upon one record, no. 18; the Mandasor inscription of Kumaragupta and Viswavarman. The inscription is of a temple constructed by the weavers of Malwa when Kumaragupta was ruler of the earth and Viswavarman was governor of Malwa; the temple was repaired in the time of Bhanuvarman, son and successor of Viswavarman.

The date of the construction is given as 493 expired or 494th year of some Era; and the date of repair as 524th similariy. In the 494th year therefore Kumaragupta was king. The text of the inscription reads excellent sanskrit poetry; and it gives the year 493 expired "Malavagana Stitya" which means "according to the calculation current among the Malawas."

But the original Malavngana Stitya Dr. Fleet translates as "from the establishment of the tribal constitution of the Malawas." And he quotes a parrallel inscription (No. 35 of Yasodharman) in which the Sanskrit verse gives the date as 589 years (expired) "Malawa Gana-Stiti-Vasaat—Kaalajnaanaaya Likhitheshu" i.e. "in the years written according to the method of calculation of the Malawas for chronological (or astronomical) purpose". But here again Dr. Fleet translates the line as "from the (establishment of) the Supremacy of the Tribal Constitution of the Malawas"; adding in a foot—note that he does not quite catch the significance of Vasaat! ( Malava-Gana Sthithi Vasaat = According to the established malava Gana Saka ). But in the name of sanity, what is this fiction of the "tribal constitution of the Malawas". Dr. Fleet does not enlighten us. When was this tribal constitution established? No evidence is adduced on the point. But we are asked to believe that this was in 57 B. C. And so this Mandasor inscription, we are told, gives 494-57 or 437 A.D. as the date of Kumaragupta. This must be KumaraGupta I who lived in 127 of thc Gupta Era and so Q.E.D., the Gupta Era began in 320 A.D.! All this however, in simple English, is nothing but quibbling.

The Sanskrit words in the inscriptions are quite plain; they give the year according to the Malava Gana—Saka (725 B.C) in common use among the astronomers (Kalajnas) of Malawa. Malawa-Gana-Saka 725 B.C.-494 = 231 B.C.; or 96 Gupta Era (accordiug to the Puranas). The inscription (no.18) therefore gives the date 96 G.E. or 231 B.C. for Kumaragupta I who reigned between 94-136 of the Gupta Era, which began in 327 B.C. (or between 233-191 B.C.) The province Malawa attained its independence in 725 B.C., in commemoration of which the Malawa-Gana-Saka (or Era) was started in 725 B.C., by the people of Malawa. The western Indologists deliberately ignored this fact and wrongly identified this Era with Vikrama Era of 57 B.C., and consequently brought down all inscriptions of Malawa-Gana-Era to the fourth and fifth centuries A.D. Thus the Gupta Era which actually commenced in 327 B.C. was pushed forward to 319-320 A.D. So, a close examination of Malawa-Gana Saka is of great historical value.

1 comment:

  1. Malava-gana samvat shouldcoincide with Shudraka Shaka starting in 756 BC as per Jyotisha darpana of Yallaya. Estimate of Pandita venkatachalam is approximate which needs correction as per Shudraka era. As per Mricchhakatikam, he was a Brahmana but called Shudraka as he united 4 Agnivamshi kings at Mount Abu in yajna under Vishnu incarnation Buddha, son of Brahmana Ajina of Magadha. These kings were Paramara, Pratihara, Chahman and Chalukya. Being a ferderation of 4 kings, its start was called Krita samvata also as noted in Mandasaur inscription. Separate geneology might have started in 725 BC after death of Shudraka.