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Wednesday, March 20, 2013


The Indian Analyst


 

North Indian Inscriptions


 

INTRODUCTION

I. LÜDERS’ CRITICISM OF BARUA’S WORK ON BHĀRHUT

THE work published by Sir Alexander Cunningham on his excavations at Bhārhut” was at his time an important achievement, because the reproduction of the sculptures was done in original photographs and not in sketches as usual up to that date. Cunningham, helped by Subhūti, also began the interpretation of the sculptures, to which work in later time Andersen, Chavannes, Coomaraswamy, Foucher, Hultzsch, Minayeff, Oldenburg, Rhys Davids, Rouse, Waldschmidt, and Warren contributed with merit. The great progress which has been made in Indian Archaeology and Epigraphy and in the investigation of Buddhist literature since the publication of Cunningham’s book made the re-edition of the finds urgently desirable. The first step in this direction was undertaken by Barua and Sinha in 1926, when they published a new edition of the inscriptions at Bhārhut[2]. Later on Barua endeavoured to give in a work of three volumes an exhaustive account of all questions regarding the stūpa.[3]

   One has to admit thankfully that the material offered for investigation in Barua’s latest work is quite large and improved. The 97 plates in part III show a row of sculptures never published before, and some reproductions are more complete or appear on a bigger scale. The technical make-up of his plates is generally very good ; but in spite of this one has to refer here and there to the old photographs of Cunningham which are more clear.

   The kernel of Barua’s publication is the second Book which contains the description and the identification of sculptures and bears the title Jātaka-Scenes”. Vogel already opposed the designation of the sculptures as Jātaka-Scenes, ʄRAS. 1927, p. 593 ff., but Barua neglected this fully justified criticism. The number of real Jātakas up to then identified at Bhārhut was 32 ; according to the list given in Barhut I, p. 86 ff., Barua has enlarged it to double that number. But unfortunately this apparently great rise in identifications proves to be an illusion. Barua indeed has the merit to have explained convincingly a number of representations for the first time. He identified rightly, as I believe, the figures on pillars represented on Cunningham’s plate XIV and XV (see B 60 and B 61)[4] with the main persons of the Kaṇḍarij. (341) and of the Samuggaj. (436).[5] Besides, he succeeded in identifying the ‘fragment’ on plate XXVII with the Sammodamānaj. (33),[6] plate XXXIII, 7 with the Kapij. (250),[7] and the scene of the medallion in Barhut III, Pl. XCIII
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[1] The Stūpa of Bharhut : a Buddhist Monument ornamented with numerous sculptures illustrative of Buddhist Legend and History in the third century B.C., London 1879.
[2] Barhut Inscriptions. Edited and translated with critical notes by Benimadhab Barua and Kumar Gangananda Sinha. Published by the University of Calcutta 1926.
[3] Benimadhab Barua, Barhut. Book I Stone as a Story-Teller. Book II Jātaka-Scenes. Back III Aspects of Life and Art. Indian Research Institute Publications. Fine Arts Series Nos. 1-3. Calcutta 1934-1937.
[4] In the following text unless something is specifically mentioned the plate numbers refer to Cunningham’s publication. When the sculptures bear inscriptions reference has been made to our number and classification in this publication, e.g. B 60. Sculptures bearing no such numbers do not have inscriptions.
[5] Barh. II, p. 117 f.; 132 f.
[6] Ibid. II, p. 91 f.
[7] Ibid. II, p. 109 f. In Barua’s list we find instead Makkaṭaj. (173), although Barua himself had decided in favour of the Kapij. and denied the Makkaṭaj.

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