The peninsula of Kâṭhiâwâr in Gujarat, the Saurâshṭra of earlier times and the Anarta of the Pauranik legends, with its Kôlis, Rabâris, Ahîrs, and other non-Aryan or mixed tribes, seems to have become, at a very early date, a great stronghold of Buddhism, just as in the present century it has so largely embraced the doctrines of Nârâyan Svâmi. Its famous Mount Rêvati or Ujjayanta, now Girnâr, was, in all probability from the earliest times, looked upon as an abode of the gods—the Olympus of the pastoral inhabitants of the surrounding plains. As early as Aśoka’s time it had attracted the attention of the Buddhists, and at its foot he caused to be incised, on a mass of rock, his famous edicts in favour of Buddhism. The first opens thus:—
“This is the edict of the beloved of the gods, the Râja Priyadarsi:—The putting to death of animals is to be entirely discontinued, and no convivial meeting is to be held, for the beloved of the gods, Râja Piyadarsi, remarks many faults in such assemblies, &c.”
In the second tablet he states that, in his whole kingdom and in neighbouring countries, the kingdom of Antiochus, the Grecian, &c., a system of care for the sick, both of men and beasts, has been established. In the third, that “in the twelfth year of his inauguration in the conquered country” it was ordained to hold quinquennial expiations for the enforcement of moral obligations. In the fourth he proclaims the dharma or religious duty, including the sparing of animal life, the gentle treatment of all creatures, respect for relatives, Brahmans, monks, obedience to parents, &c. In the fifth, dated in his thirteenth year, Dharma Mahâmatra or great officers of morals are appointed. In the sixth he speaks of official inspectors of public places, &c. In the seventh, that ascetics are not to be molested. In the eighth, that himself leaves off hunting and takes delight in charity. In the ninth he decries all superstitious observances to bring luck, declaring that the performance of social duties, respectfulness, self-control, and charity, constitute true piety, and alone are meritorious. In the tenth he resigns all ambition, except the observance of moral duty; and in the eleventh he praises dharma or religious virtue and charity; but in the twelfth declares peace as more precious than beneficence, and proclaims that intrinsic worth is founded on discretion of speech, so that “no man may praise his own, or condemn another sect, or despise it on unsuitable occasions; on all manner of occasions respect is to be shown. Whatever of good a man confers on anyone of a different persuasion tends to the advantage of his own, but by acting in an opposite way he injures his own and offends the other sect also.” The thirteenth tablet is a long one, and very unfortunately the repairers of the road that leads towards Girnâr, some 60 years ago, seem to have broken off a large piece from the base of the stone, and so damaged what remains that it scarcely admits of translation; and the unsatisfactorinoss of the copies hitherto made of the Kapur-di-Giri version has rendered them insufficient to make up the loss. The remaining words, too, make us regret this; for the thirteenth says “And the Yona King besides, by whom the chattaro (four) kings, Turamayo (Ptolemaios), Antikona (Antigonos), Maga (Magas of Cyrene), and Alixasunari (Alexander II.) both here and in foreign countries, everywhere (the people) follow the doctrine of the religion of Devanampriya wheresoever it reacheth.”1
The presence of this important inscription, we may naturally suppose, was not the only indication of Buddhism here, and that it was soon followed, if not preceded, by Vihâras and other works. The remains of one stûpa is known to exist in the valley at the foot of Girnâr, and possibly careful exploration might bring others to light.
The same stone that bears the Aśoka inscription has also a long one of Rudrs Dâman, one of the Kshatrapa dynasty of kings who seem to have ruled over Malwa and Gujarat during the second, third, and fourth centuries. Previous to them, if not of their race, at Ujjain reigned a dynasty, calling themselves Kshaharâta Kshatrapas, (satraps) of which the principal king known to us was Nahapâna, variously placed from B.C. 60 to A.D. 120. The dates in his inscriptions are 40 to 42, and if these are in the Śaka era, which seems hardly doubtful, they fix his age about A.D. 118-120.
Ushavadâta, the son of Dînîka, the son-in-law of Nahapâna, is mentioned in several inscriptions, but we do not know that he ruled. Gautamîputra I., a powerful Ândhra king of the Dekhan, in an inscription at Nâsik, says he entirely destroyed these Kshaharâtas. The succeeding kings, apparently descended from Bhadramukha Svâmî Chashṭana, assume the title of Mahâkshatrapas, though often erroneously styled by antiquaries as Sâhs. The early chronology of this dynasty as gathered from inscriptions and coins stands thus:—
Dates in A.D.2
|Chashṭana, son of Ysamotika||Cir. 122|
|Svâmî Jayadâman, his son||,, 135|
|Svâmî Rudra Dâman, his son, date 723||,, 150|
|Svâmî Rudra Siñha, his son, dates 102, 117||cir. 180|
|Svâmî Rudra Sêna, his son, dates 127, 140||,, 200|
Coins carry down the series of nearly twenty kings till about 170 years later, or to 350 to 370 A.D., but until they are more carefully examined, the lists cannot command entire confidence. Rudra Dâman was probably the most powerful prince of the dynasty, and pushed his conquests both westwards and southwards. The next great dynasty whose coins are found in Kâthiâwâṛ is that of the Guptas; it is not perfectly certain as yet from what era they date, and hence their position may be considered as doubtful; but until we have better information, we may retain for the chronology of this race the epoch of A.D. 318-319, as given by Albîrûnî,4
|1. Gupta||cir. A.D. 318|
|2. Ghaṭotkachha||,, 335|
|3. Chandragupta I.||,, 355|
|4. Samudragupta||,, 380|
|5. Chandragupta II., dates 82, 93||,, 395|
|6. Kumâragupta, 90, 121, 129||,, 415|
|7. Skandagupta, 130, 136, 138, 141, 146||,, 449|
|8. Mahendragupta||,, 470|
|9. Buddhagupta, 155, 165, 182||,, 474|
|10. Bânugupta, 191||,, 510|
If this chronology be correct, it was during the reign of Chandragupta II. that the Chinese pilgrim Fa-hian travelled in India (399-413 A.D.). From the donations of this king to the stûpa at Sânchi, he appears to have been favourably disposed to the Buddhists though probably himself a Hindu—as we might infer from other inscriptions on the Allahabad and Bhitari Lâts. In 428 and 466, Ma-twan-lin records embassies from Yueï-’aï (i.e. Chandrapriya) King of Kiapi-li (Kapila) in India, who, however, can scarcely be one of these kings, but some petty prince in the north. But in 502 Kio-to (Gupta) King of India, sent presents to the Emperor Wu-ti; this was probably one of the later Gupta princes, who in his letter to the emperor calls himself a keeper of the law.5
They seem to have ruled over Central and Upper India. Kâṭhiâwâṛ is said to have been conquered by Chandragupta II., and placed under Senâpatis or lieutenants. Bhaṭârka, one of these, afterwards seized the province; his eldest son, Dharasena, however, still had only the title of Senâpati. A second son, Droṇasiñha, is said to have been crowned “by the Supreme Lord, the Lord Paramount of the wholo earth.”6 Kumâragupta's coins are found in such abundance in the province that we might suppose that he, or some of his successors, was this “Lord Paramount.”7 This was, however, probably only a title of flattery bestowed on some much later and less powerful Gupta prince, such as Bânugupta, and with this the dates of both dynasties harmonise. We have copper-plate grants of Dhruvasena, a third son of Bhaṭârka, dated 207, 210, 216: and, if these are in the Gupta era, they place him a century later than Kumâragupta. A later Valabhî king, however, is mentioned by Hiuen Thsang (cir. A.D. 635-640) as Dhruvapaṭu, and we find a grant of Sîlâditya Dhruvabhaṭa, dated 447. If these could be shown to be the same, this would place the initial date of the Valabhî era about A.D. 195, but the evidence is not sufficient to justify the acceptance of this, and we must suppose that Dharasena IV., or his father Dhruvasena II. was the king mentioned by the Chinese traveller. The dynasty then, for the present, stands thus:—
|Copper Plate dates.|
|1. Bhaṭârka, Senâpati||-||500|
|2. Dharasena I., Senâpati, son of Bhaṭârka.||-||515?|
|3. Dronasiñha Mahârâja, 2nd son of Bhaṭârka.||-||520?|
|4. Dhruvasena I., 3rd son||207-216||526|
|5. Dharapatta, 4th son||-||535?|
|6. Guhasena, son of Dharapaṭṭa||236||555|
|7. Dharasena II, son of Guhasena||252-272||570|
|8. Silâditya I, Dharmâditya, 1st son||286||598|
|9. Kharagraha I, 2nd son||-||610?|
|10. Śri Dharasena III, 1st Bon of Kharagraha.||-||618?|
|11. Dhruvasena II, Bâlâditya, 2nd son||310||627|
|12. Dharasena IV, Chakravartin, son of Dhruvasena.||322-330||640|
|13. Dhruvasena III, grandson of Sîlâditya I.||332||650|
|14. Kharagraha II, Dharmâditya, brother||335||563|
|15. Śîlâditya II, nephew||348||660|
|16. Śîlâditya III, son||372-376||685|
|17. Śîlâditya IV, son||403||710|
|18. Śîlâditya V, son||441||740|
|19. Śîlâditya VI, Dhruvabhaṭṭa, son,||447||765|
Some of these kings must have been powerful, and are said to have extended their sway over Kachh, Gujarât, and Mâlwâ, and in Hiuen Thsang's time (A.D. 640) Dhruvapaṭu or Dhruvabhaṭṭa was son-in-law to the great Harshavardhana of Kanauj.8 Several of the earlier kings in the above list patronised Buddhism and Buddhist monasteries. The dynasty probably perished through some internal revolution; tradition hints that the last Śîlâditya was arbitrary and oppressive, and provoked his subjects to call in a foreign invader.9
- 1. The date of these kings bas already been discussed at length, ante, p. 23. The inscriptions themselves have repeatedly been published. Recently in an exhaustive manner by General Cunningham, in his Corpus Inscriptionum Indiearum, Calcutta, 1877, but unfortunately without noticing Mr. Burgess’ recent most accurate impression from the rock itself, and his transcript, with the tranalations and emendations by Professor H. Kern, of Leyden, and others, as set forth in his Second Report, 1876, pp. 96 to 127.
- 2. This assumes that they dated from the Śaka era, A.D. 78.—J. B. I entirely concur in this assumption. In the first place because I can find no trace of any king Vicramâditya in the first century B.C., from whom the only other known era could be derived. His name does not occur in any inscription nor on any coin. He is not mentioned in lists in the Pauranas or elsewhere. He was avowedly a king of the Brahmans, whereas the whole country from the Bay of Bengal to the Western Ocean was, as we know from the caves, Buddhist in the first century B.C., and, lastly, the mode in which his history is narrated is so improbable as to prove its absurdity.
He is said to have established his era 56 B.C., and 135 years afterwards to have defeated the Buddhist Śaka king in the battle at Karour, so giving rise to the establishment of that era 78-79 A.D., and this last was the only era used by the defeated Buddhists afterwards during the whole of their supremacy.
My conviction is that the great Vicramaditya of Ujain did defeat the Sakas in a great battle in or about A.D. 544, and that afterwards the Brahmans in the eighth or ninth century, wishing to establish an era antecedent to that of the Buddhists, chose a date 10 cycles of 60 years each or 600 years anterior to that event, and fixed on 56 B.c.,—544 + 56,—as the one, which they afterwards employed.
I embodied my reasons for this conviction in a paper I intended to publish, in 1875, in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, but was deterred from doing so by hearing that Dr. Bühler had found Vicramâditya's name in one of the Pauranas, and I consequently thought it better to print it for private circulation, which I then did.
As nothing has come of Dr. Bühler’s discovery, and I have since seen no reason for modifying my conclusions, I now intend to publish them.—J. F.
- 3. On the Girnâr inscription. For Rudra Dâman’s inscription, see Ind. Ant. vol. vii. p. 257. ff; and for further information, Archæological Survey of Western India, Rep., vol. ii. p. 128 ff.
- 4. Reinaud, Fragments arabes et persans, pp. 142, 243; Archæol. Surv. W. Ind., vol. ii., p. 28; Tod's Rajasthan, vol. i., p. 801 (Mad. ed., p. 705); Cunningham's Bhilsa Topes, p. 140; Prinsep's Essays, vol. i., p. 268 ff. and represent the dynasty thus:—
Probable datesIt by no means follows that this era was established either to commemorate the rise or fall of the Guptas, or from any political event whatevcr. On the contrary, it seems almost certain that it only represents four cycles of 60 years each from the Śaka era—78-9+240=318, 319, and was adopted by the Guptas and the Ballabhis as more convenient than a longer one, of which they do not seem to have appreciated the advantage.
The Śaka era I believe to have been established by the Śaka king Kanishka, either at the date of his accession to the throne (Burgess' Report, 1875, p. 24), or to commemorate the third—or, as it is sometimes called—the fourth convocation held in his reign, and everything that has recently come under my notice has tended to confirm me more and more in this conviction.
While stating this so strongly, I ought perhaps in fairness to say that I have lately seen a private letter from General Cunningham, in which he states that he has recently found several double-dated Gupta inscriptions. That is, with dates in the cycle of 60 years, and with others in a cycle of months, and their differences or agreement will, he hopes, enable him to see the controversy about Gupta dates for ever at rest, and not in the manner assumed above. I need hardly add that the General calculates all the Mathurs inscriptions and others of that class, as dating from the Vicramâditya Samvat, B.C. 56 (Reports, vol. iii. pp. 30, 41). When he publishes his Gupta discoveries we shall be in a better position to judge of their value and importance. At present the materials do not exist for doing so.—J. F.
- 5. Pauthier, Examen Méthodique des faits qui concernent le Thian-Tchu, pp. 30-38; St. Julien in Jour. As., ser. iv. tom. x. pp. 99, 100.
- 6. Ind. Ant. vol. i. p. 61., vol. iv. p. 106; Second Archæol. Sur Rep., p. 80.
- 7. It also happens that Skandagupta's coins are almost exclusively found in Kachh.
- 8. For further information, see Archæol. Reports, vol. ii. pp. 80-86; vol. iii. pp. 93-97.
- 9. Were these the Arabs?-J. F.