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Friday, February 23, 2007


 

South Indian Inscriptions


 

PART-I

SANSKRIT INSCRIPTIONS

                          I. Inscriptions of the Pallava Dynasty

The village of Mamallapuram[1], generally called “The Seven Pagodas,” is situated on the seacoast, thirty-two miles south of Madras, and Saluvankuppam two miles north of Mamallapuram. Both places are famous for their Pallava remains, which have been often described.[2] Their Sanskrit inscriptions, however, have not hitherto been properly deciphered. The subjoined transcripts are prepared from mechanical copies made on the spot in December 1886. 

Four different alphabets are employed in the Pallava inscriptions of Mamallapuram and Salvankuppam. The first, very archaic alphabet is found in the following inscriptions Nos.1 to 16 of the so-called Dharmaraja Ratha. The bulk of the Mamallapuram inscriptions, viz., those of the so-called Ganesa Temple, Dharmaraja Mandapa and Ramanuja Mandapa and the inscription No.17 of the Dharmaraja Ratha, are written in the second, an extremely florid character. The third alphabet occurs on the northern, and the fourth on the southern wall of the Atiranachandesvara Temple at Salvankuppam. Dr. Burnell assigns the first alphabet to about the fifth century, the second to about 700, the third to the eighth or ninth century and the fourth to the eleventh century A.D. To this I have only to add, that the second alphabet probably belongs to the sixth century, as it resembles that of Rajasimha’s and Mahedravarman’s inscriptions at Kanchipuram. 

The first sixteen inscriptions of the Dharmaraja Ratha consist of a string of words in the nominative case, which their first decipherers, Drs. Babington and Burnell, took for names of deities. From a comparison with the remaining inscriptions, where several of them recur, it follows, however, that they are birudas of a Pallava kind Narasimha (Nos. 1 and 7). Among these birudas, Atyanktakama, Srinidhi and Sribhara were also borne by the two kings mentioned in the later inscriptions of Mamallapuram and Saluvankuppam. Other birudas reappear in the inscriptions of the Pallava king Rajasimha at Kanchi, viz., Parapara, Bhuvanabhajana, Srimegha, and Sarvatobhadra. 

Two of the inscriptions, which are written in the second alphabet, viz., that of the Ganesha Temple and that of the Dharmaraja Mandapa, are identical and consist of eleven verses. They record, that the two temples, at which they are found, were built by a kind Atyantakama and were called after him Atyantakama – Pallavesvara-griha. The kind bore the birudas of Ranajaya, Srinidhi and Sribhara. 

The fragmentary inscription at the Ramanuja Mandapa consists of the last verse of the two last-mentioned inscriptions. Consequently, it seems to have been a third inscription of Atyantakama. 

From the last inscription in the second alphabet (No.17 of the Dharmaraja Ratha) it appears, that Atyantakama appropriated to himself the Dharamaraja Ratha, which had been excavated by his predecessor Narasimha, and called it Atyantakama-Pallavaves-vara-griha. He also added his own biruda Ranajaya to those engraved by Narasimha. 

1.From the inscription on the northern wall of Saluvankuppam Cave is a later transcript of that on the northern wall. It adds seventh verses we learn, that the temple was built by a King Atirnachanda and was called after him Atiranachandesvar. The kind bore the biruds Atyantakama, Ranajay, Srinidhi and Sribhara, all but the third of which occur in the Kanchi inscriptions. 

4.The inscription on the southern wall of the Saluvankuppam Cave is later transcript of that on the northern wall. It adds a seventh verse and the four birudas Anugrasila, Kalakala, Samardhandhamjaya, thee three first of which are also found in the Kanchi inscriptions. Over the entrance, the name of the temple, Atiranachandra-Palla [ vesvara-griha ], is engraved in both alphabets.

The Rev. E. Loventhal of Vellore possesses a fair number of Pallava coins from Mamallapuram. All of them bear on the obverse a Nandi and various legends over it. One of the coins, with a star on the reverse,[3] reads: another, with a fish on the reverse, and a third, with a cross on the reverse. It will be remembered, that Sribhara and Srinidhi were bridas of the Pallava King Narasimha, who founded the Dharamaraja Ratha.

Translation

(Verse 1.) May (Siva) the destroyer of Love, who is the cause of production, existence and destruction, (but is himself) without cause, fulfill the boundless desires[4]

(2.) May he (Siva) be victorious, who is without illusion and possessed of manifold illusion, who is without qualities and endowed with qualities, who is existing by himself and is without superior, who is without lord and the highest lord!

(3.) Srinidhi[5] bears on his head the unborn (Siva)[6], by the weight of whose great toe Kailsa together with the ten-faced (Ravana) sank down into Patala.

(4.) May Sribhara[7] be victorious for a long time, who bears Bhava (Siva) in his mind which is filled with devotion, and bears the earth on his arm like a coquettish embellishment!

(5.) King Atyantakama, who has subdued the territories of his foes, is famed (by the name of) Ranajaya;[8] - he caused to be made this house of Sambhu (Siva).

(6.) May he be victorious, who is both fire and air, who is both terrible (Bhima) and kind (Siva), who is both the cause of prosperity (Samkara) and the destroyer of Love!

(7.) May Tarunankura[9] be victorious, who is a king of kings, but is not ugly (like Kuvera), who is an emperor, but does not distress people (while Vishnu is both Chakrabhrit and Janardana), who is the lord of protectors, but healthy (while the moon is the lord of stars, but is subject to eclipses)!

(8 and 9.) Just as in a large lake filled with water which is fit for bathing, and covered with various lotus-flowers, handsome Samkara (Siva) abides on the large head – sprinkled with the water of coronation and covered with bright jewels – of the illustrious Atyantakama,[10] who deprives his enemies of their pride, who is a receptacle of wealth, who possess the charm of Cupid,[11] and who assiduously worships Hara (Siva).

(10.) He, desiring to attain the glory of Samkara (Siva), caused to be made this lofty dwelling of Dhurjati (Siva), in order to procure the fulfillment of their desires to his subjects.

(11.) Six times cursed be those, in whose hearts does not dwell Rudra (Siva), the deliverer from the walking on the evil path!

The temple of Atyantakama-Pallavesvara.

TRANSLATION

(Verses 1 and 2.) Just as in a large lake filled with water which is fit for bathing, and covered with various lotus-flowers, handsome Samkara (Siva) abides on the large head-sprinkled with the water of coronation and covered with bright jewels – of the illustrious Atyantakama, who deprives his enemies of their pride, who is receptacle of wealth, who possesses the charm of Cupid, and who assiduously worships Hara (Siva).[12]

(3.) For the welfare of the earth, he who stands at the head of the lords of the earth, caused to be made this house of Sambhu (Siva), which resembles Kailasa and Madara.

(4.) May Sribhara be Victorious for a long time, who bears Bhava (Siva) in his mind which is filled with devotion, and bears the earth on his arm like a coquettish embellishment! [13]

(5.) Atiranchanda,[14] the lord of the rulers of the earth, made this (temple called) Atiranachandesvara. May Pasupati (Siva), attended by the mountain-daughter (Parvathi) and the troop of Guhas, always take delight (in residing) here!

(6.) May the eight-formed lord of beings (Siva), for a long time take up his abode in this temple (called) Atiranachandevara, which was caused to be built by him, who, together with the name of Atiranachanda, bears deep devotion to Isana (Siva), abundant prosperity, the heavy burden of the earth and unequalled liberality, and who is famed by the name of Ranajaya!

Anugrasila (the gentle-minded).[15]

(7.) Who will be able to understand the music of Kalakala,[16] if it were not Vidhatri (Brahman), Bharata, Hari, Narada, or Skanda ?[17]

Samaradhanamjaya (the conqueror of wealth in battle).[18] Samgramadhira (the firm in war).[19]


[1] Thus the name is spelt in two Chola inscriptions of the Shore Temple at Mamallapuram (Nos. 40 and 41, below) and in a Saluvankuppam inscription, which was edited by Sir Walter Elliot (see Carr’s Seven Pagodas, pp 124, 130)

[2] See Fergusson and Burgess, Cave Temples, pp.105-159. 

[3] Sir Walter Elliot’s coins of Southern India, Plate i, No.34.

[4] By the expression atyantakamaya, the panegyrist – also alludes to the name of the kind.

[5] This biruda of Atyantakama occurs also in verse 8. The same was a biruda of his predecessor Narasimha: see No.14.

[6] I.e., he is a devotee of Siva

[7] This biruda was also borne by Narasimha (No.2), by Atiranachanda (Nos. 21 and 22, verse 4) and by Rajasimha of Kanchi. 

[8] The same biruda of Atyantakama occurs in No.17. It was also borne by Atiranchanda (Nos.21 and 22, verse 6) and by Rajasimha of Kanchi.

[9] Tarunankura, “the young sprout”, seems to have been biruda of Atyantakama. The word ankura is a synonym of pallava, “sprout,” from which the Pallavas used to derive their name ( see the 8th verse of No.32, below).

[10] “Siva abides on the head of Atyantakama” means the same as “he bears Siva on his head” (verse 3), viz., “he is a devotee of Siva.”

[11] With the biruda Kamaraga, which was also borne by his successor Atiranachanda (see Nos. 21 and 22, verse 1), compare the synonyms Madanabhirama and Kamalita (Nos. 6 and 8) and Kamavilsa in the Kanchi inscriptions. The appellation Kamarajapallavesvara, which Colonel Branfill attributes to the so-called Ganesha Temple, rests on an erroneous reading in Dr. Burnell’s transcript, viz., Kamaraja for Kamaraga.

[12] Verses 1 and 2 are identical with verses 8 and 9 of Nos. 18 and 19.

[13] Identical with verse 4 of Nos. 18 and 19.

[14] This name of the kind, who built the temple, was also a biruda of Rajasimha of Kanchi

[15] This was also a biruda of Rajasimha of Kanchi.

[16] The same biruda occurs in the Kanchi inscriptions

[17] Compare of Kanchi inscriptions, where Rajasimha’s skill as a musician is alluded to by the birudas Atodyatumburu, Vadyavidyadhara and Vinanarada.

[18] The same was a biruda of Rajasimha of Kanchi.

[19] Compare the synonymous biruda Ahavadhira and Ranadhira in the Kanchi Inscriptions.

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