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Wednesday, October 26, 2005


 

South Indian Inscriptions


 

TAMIL AND SANSKRIT INSCRIPTIONS CHIEFLY COLLECTED IN 1886-87

(Volume I - part I, II, III, & IV)

PREFACE

The Tamil and Sanskrit inscriptions contained in this volume, were, for the most part, coped in situ by myself, after taking up the appointment of Epigraphist to the Government of Madras on the 21st November 1886.  The Original manuscript, which was forwarded to Dr.Burgess on the 20th September 1887, contained only on the materials collected on my first tour to the Seven Pagodas (12th to 22nd December 1886) and to parts of the North Arcot District (6th January to 22nd April 1887).  As Dr. Burgess considered it desirable that this manuscript should be revised and enlarged, and as a considerable number of types had to be cut before it could be printed.  I was enabled to add the Sanskrit and Tamil inscriptions of the Kailasanatha Temple at Kanchipuram, where I stayed from the 27th September to the 19th October 1887, a few inscriptions copied during my next two tours, and some historically important copper-plate grants.  A second volume, which will contain the inscriptions of the great temple at Tanjore, is now nearly ready for the press.

The first object kept in view in the preparation of this volume, has been scrupulous accuracy in the minutest details of the transcripts.  The second aim was, not merely to give a translation each record, but to extract from it all the historical facts, to support and supplement these by a comparison of similar records, and thus to contribute some share to a future history of Southern India.

For the Tamil inscriptions I was fortunate enough to have an able and efficient helpmate in my assistant, Mr. V. Venkayya, M.A., a Tamil Brahmin, who promises to do excellent work in the field of South-Indian Epigraphy.  It is still a popular opinion that a colloquial knowledge of one of the vernaculars with a slight smattering of Sanskrit is sufficient for editing successfully the records of bygone time.  But this is an undertaking which, besides god linguistic attainments, requires careful training in the methods followed  by the European school of classical philology ;and, before al, an earnest and patient desire for truth, - the object of all science.  It is to be hoped that other young native graduates will follow on Mr.Venkayya’s lines and take up the neglected subject of South-Indian Epigraphy.  The records are so numerous, and so many intricate historical questions have still to be solved, that there is room for a large number of independent qualified workers.

In editing the Tamil inscriptions, it was necessary to deviate somewhat from the method followed by Dr.Buhler and Mr.Fleet in their publication of Sanskrit inscriptions.  The spelling of the originals is so arbitrary that, in order to correct all inaccuracies, the editor would have to give two transcripts of each inscription, an uncorrected one.  Thus, for instance, n and  r are interchangeable with n  and  r.  The letters e and o – a later invention of the celebrated Father Beschi[1], - are not distinguished from e and o. The long forms of  i and u  are rarely used.  Of the use of the Pulli  or the dot over consonants, which corresponds to the Nagari  Virama, there are only traces in two ancient inscriptions.  As, however the Tamil character without the Pulli is to the unexperienced about as unintelligible as the Semitic character without vowel marks, that sign has been everywhere added.  In some cases the correct transcription was not easy to ascertain, especially in the case of   which in Tamil inscriptions represents the modern letters a, r, and ra. Consequently, ko may be read as ko, ko, ker, kera and kera. As an instance that even Tamilians may puzzled by this deficiency of their ancient alphabet, it may be mentioned that in an inscription of  Rajendra-Chola-deva, Mr. S. M. Natesa Sastru has transcribed the word by kola (for kola ?) [2] while the correct reading is Kerala ; [3] and Rajendra-Chola-deva surname  has been sometimes transcribed as Koppakesarivarman instead of  Ko-Parakesarivarman. A further peculiarity of Tamil inscriptions is the indiscriminate use of Grantha letters.  Strictly speaking, these ought to appear exclusively in Sanskrit words.   But, throughout this volume, the reader will find numerous instances of Sanskrit words, of  which some letters are Grantha and others Tamil ; and, vise versa, Grantha letters are occasionally introduced into pure Tamil words. All these anomalies are scrupulously preserved in the transcripts.  Wherever the irregular orthography might perplex the reader, or where evident mistakes are committed by the writer or engraver, the correct forms are given in the foot-notes.  Superfluous letters are enclosed in round brackets (  )  and indistinct letters in square brackets [   ].  A small star marks letters which are supplied conjecturally [  ].

The Tamil alphabet is transcribed as follows : -

a, aa, i , iie, u, vuu, e, ai, o, ow

ik or g, ing, ich, inj, it or id , in, ith or idh, in, ip or ib, im, iy, ir, il, iv, izh, il, ir, in.

In the transliteration of Sanskrit words, the system employed in the Indian Antiquary, the Epigraphia Indica, elsewhere, has been followed.  Proper names derived from Sanskrit are given in their Sanskrit forms in the translations and introductions.[4]

The royal dynasties, to which most of the inscriptions contained in this volume belong are the Pallavas, Eastern Chalukyas, Cholas and Vijayanagara Kings.  The first few pages contain the earliest inscriptions of the Pallavas, which are found at the Seven Pagodas.  These are followed by the inscriptions of the same dynasty at Kanchipuram.  The period of some subsequent Pallava kings is settled by a copper-plate grant from Kuram (No.151).

A grant from the Sir. W.Elliot Collection (No.39) enabled me to extend the pedigree of the Eastern Chalukyan dynasty and to fix with great probability the time of three Chola kings,[5] whose names, together with those of some predecessors, were known from the large Leyden grant.[6]  The regnal years of one of  these kings can now be converted into years of the Saka era through Mr. Fleet’s calculation of lunar eclipse, which, according to an inscription at Tiruvallam, took place in the 7th year of Rajaraja.  A pedigree of the first dynasty of Vijayanagara is furnished by an inscription, which is still at their former capital (No.153).

The books, from which I have derived most help, are Bohtlingk and Roth’s great Sanskrit Dictionary, Bohtlingk’s abridged Sanskrit Dictionary, the excellent Dictionnaire Tamoul – Francais, Pondichery, 1855 and 1862, Burgess’s and Fleet’s Indian Antiquary, Fleets  Dynasties of the Kanarese Districts of the Bombay Presidency, and Sewell’s Lists of Antiquities in the Madras Presidency.  In conclusion,  I have to thank Mr. R. Hill, the Superintendent of the Madras Government Press, for the patient care he has bestowed on the sometimes intricate proof-sheets, and for the correctness and elegance with which he has carried this volume thorough the press. 

E. HULTZSCH.

CAMP, ARCOT,

27th January 1890.


[1] See the Grammaire Francaise – Tamoule, Pondicherry, 1863, p.5, note:- “Autrefois le meme caractere servait pour les e  et les o soit brefs soit longs : ce qui se voit encore dans les anciens manuscrits.  Pour les distinguer, on a mit d’abord un petit trait sur ce caractere ; mais on ne s’entendit pas bien sur le caractere long ou bref, que 1’on voulait designer par-la. Enfin le P. Beschi apprit a contourner ce caractere pour les e et les o longs ; et c’est la maniere suivie maintenant.” See also the passage quoted in Dr.Bunell’s  South Indian Palaography, 2nd edition, p.45 note 4.

[2] Madras Christian College Mangazine, Vol. V, p.41, text line 2.

[3] See No.67, text line 3, and No.68, text line 2.

[4] An exception was made in the case of the tadhava rayan and its plural rayar. On the other hand, I have used in the introductions the well-known Sanskritised from Chola instead of the original Sozhan.  The conventional forms Sanskrit and Tamil have been adopted instead of the correct, but pedantic Sanskrit and  Tamil

[5] See the introductions of Nos.39,40, 67 and 127, and the table on Page 112.

[6] Dr. Burgess’ Archaological survey of Southern India, Vol. IV, pp.204 ff.

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