Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions/Epic and Puranic Names

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Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions

Tej Ram Sharma

Concept Publishing Company Delhi, 1978

The full text of this chapter has been converted into Wiki format by Laxman Burdak

Epic and Puranic Names

Epic and Puranic Names

In our inscriptions we get references to Epic and Puranic names which are as follows :

1. Bali (बलि) (No. 14, L. 2):

The reference to Bali comes in connection with the praise of Lord Visnu.57 Literally meaning 'one who is powerful or vigorous', Bali was the son of Virochana and the grandson of Prahlada and has been the king of the Asuras.58 A famous legend about him runs thus The demon Bali, by his austeri- ties acquired the dominion over the three worlds, and caused annoyance and anxiety to the gods. Vishnu then reincarnated himself as a dwarf, appeared before Bali, and asked for as much land as he could cover with three strides. Bali assented to his request, and Visnu with two strides covered the heavens and the earth, but, in commiseration for Bali, who then humbled himself, left him the dominion over the lower regions below the earth. 59 We get a reference to this legend as early as in the Visnusukta of the Rigveda. 60

2. Buddha (बुद्ध) (No. 23, LL. 6-7) :

He has been given the epithet 'The Divine' (Bhagavan Buddha). He is mentioned in connection with a Buddhist temple. Literally the name means awakened, conscious or intelligent. For Buddhists it stands for a fully enlightened man who has achieved perfect knowledge of the truth and thereby is liberated from all existence and before his own attainment of Nirvana reveals the method of obtaining it. The principal Buddha of the present age was born at Kapilavastu in the year 566 B.C. 61 His father Suddhodana was the Raja of that district. His mother was Mayadevi, and his original name was Siddhartha. He belonged to the Kshatriya Shakya tribe, while Gautama seems to refer to the race to which his family belonged. He had left his home in quest of truth and after a concentrated

Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions 97

meditation for a few years attained the discovery of truths and was called the Buddha or the enlightened. 62

3. Krishna (कृष्ण) (No. 13, L. 13) :

It is a name based on colour, meaning black-dark, dark-blue. "Vasudeva, a descendant of Yadu and Yayati, had by his second wife Devaki, eight sons of whom the last, Krsna, was born with black skin and a peculiar mark on his breast". 65 Yasoda was Krsna's foster-mother to whom he was shifted in Gokula or Vraja immediately after his birth to escape the cruel hands of Kamsa. In our inscription Skandagupta has been compared with Lord Krishna, who after slaying his enemy Kamsa had returned to his mother Devaki. 64

4. Partha (पार्थ) (No. 17, L. 14; No. 19, L. 5) :

In No. 17, king Vishvavarman is compared with Partha in (heroic) deeds of war. In No. 19 Bhanugupta is described as a mighty king equal to Partha, exceedingly heroic. Partha is formed from Prtha and is a metronymic for Arjuna who has been mentioned in the Puranas, as the husband of Subhadra and father of Abhimanyu.65

5. Prthu (पृथु) (No. 2, LL. 7-8) :

Samudragupta is stated to have surpassed the kings like Prthu and Raghava in giving gold. Literally Prthu means broad, wide, expansive, extensive, spacious or large. 66 About nineteen Prthus have been mentioned in the Puranas, 67 the most important and famous being the Vainya. Here the : reference seems to this Prthu, the Vainya.

He is the son of Vena got out of by the churning his right arm by the sages to save him from falling into hell and is considered the ninth incarnation of Hari. He was the first king who introduced agriculture. Due to scarcity of supply when people complained of hunger, he armed his. arrow and the earth was milked. Hilly tracts were levelled and different kinds of villages, cities and towns were organised for the first time; Prthu has been panegyrised by the Gandharvas, and Siddhas playing on different musical instruments. 68

6. Raghava (राघव) (No. 2, L. 8) :

Samudragupta is mentioned to have surpassed the kings like Prthu and Raghava in giving gold. 69 , Raghava literally means a descendant of Raghu, 70 and is used as a patronymic of Aja

98 Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions

of Dasaratha and of Ramacandra. In dual number (raghavau) it refers to Rama and Laksmana. 71

7. Sagara (सगर) (No. 36, L. 12; No. 37, L. 21) :

He is mentioned in these inscriptions as a donor of lands. 72

Literally Sagara means 'containing poison or poisonous' It is the name of a king of the solar race, sovereign of Ayodhya, son of Bahu. He is said to have been called Sa-gara, as born together with a poison administered to his mother by the co-wives of her husband. He was father of Asamanjasa by Kesini and of sixty thousand sons by Sumati; the latter were turned into a heap of ashes by the sage Kapila, and their funeral ceremonies could only be performed by the waters of Ganga to be brought from heaven for the purpose of purifying their remains; this was finally accomplished by Bhagiratha. 73

8. Vyasa (व्यास)

(No. 28, L. 21; No. 29, L. 14; No. 36, L. 15; No. 43, L. 30; No. 44, L. 21; No. 52, LL. 11-12) :

Vyasa has been mentioned as Bhagavan (venerable) Vyasa in No. 28; as Dvaipayana in No. 29 and as Vedavyasa in No. 44. In No. 43, there is a reference to his sayings in the Maha- bharata. 74 In No. 52 he is described as the compiler of the Vedas and as a son of Parasara. 75

Literally Vyasa means 'division or extension' and as the name of a person it signifies an arranger, compiler or narrator. Vyasa is said to have rearranged the Vedas into four parts, and taught each of them to four respective pupils Paila, VaiSarhpayana, Jaimini and Sumantu; he also rearranged Itihasa Puranas and composed the Bharata and the Bhaga- vata. 76 Subsequently, the name Vyasa came to be applied to any great typical compiler or author. 77 He was the son of the sage Parasara and was brought forth by his mother Satyavati on an island in the river Yamuna. Hence he is also known as Dvaipayana and Badarayana. 78 As he was called Krsna-Dvaipayana, it seems that Vyasa, Dvaipayana, and Badarayana were epithets; his original name might have been Krsna due to Ms dark complexion, 79 and he was called 'Dvaipayana for being born on an island (dvipa)'

9. Yudhishthira (युधिष्ठिर) (No. 28, L. 24; No. 29, L. 16; No. 35, L. 12;

No. 36, L. 17; No. 43, L. 33; No. 44, L. 24; No. 52, L. 14) :

Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions 99

He is mentioned in the imprecatory verses and is described as the best of kings. Literally meaning 'firm or steady in battle', it was the name of the eldest of the five sons of Pandu. He was father of Prativindhya and Sudhanu and before his death installed his grandson Parikshita on the throne (at Hastinapur) and Vajra at Mathura. 80


Note - S.No. 1 to 56 here are references for previous chapter - Names of Brahmanas ; Jainas and Bauddhas.

1. H.D. Sankalia, Pz. p. 118; Fz. p. 493, col. 3.

2. Fz. p. 80, col. 2-3.

3. Ibid., p. 801, col. 3.

4. Ibid., p. 534, col. 3.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid., p. 1248, col. 1. We find Svamin frequently used in the names of Western Ksatraps.

7. Ibid., p. 412, col. 3.

8. Ibid., p. 745, col. 1; cf. H.D. Sankalia, Pz. p. 148.

9. No. 40, L. 8; L. 9.

10. Fz. p. 492, col. 2.

11. Ibid., col. 3; Panini, V.3.83, Varttika, 4.

12. V.S. Agrawala, Jy. p. 190; Panini, V.3.78.

13. Ibid.

14. H.D. Sankalia, Pz. p. 108.

15. Fz. p. 470, col. 1.

16. Malalasekera, Dx., I, p. 1055.

17. V.S. Agrawala, "Geographical Data in Panini's Astadhyayi", VJ. 16.1.19.

18. Adi Parvan, adhyaya, 175.

19. Fz. p. 470, col. 1.

20. H.D. Sankalia, Pz. pp. 108-109.

21. Xy. p. 374:

डोड पुं (दे) ब्रह्मण, विप्र
डोडिणी स्त्री (दे) ब्रह्मणी
डोड्ड पुं (दे) एक मनुष्य जाति ब्रह्मण ।

22. Ibid., p. 222.

23. Fz. p. 1289, col. 3.

24. Ibid., p. 1290.

25. The reading is checked by me.

26. Xy. p. 222.

27. Ibid.

28. Fz. 60, col. 3.

29. Ibid., p. 745, col. 3.

30. Ibid., pp. 748-49, col. 3-1.

31. Ibid., p. 467, col. 3.

32. V.S. Agrawala, Jy. p. 192.

100 Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions

33. Fz. p. 1058, col. 2.

34. Ibid., p. 360, col. 2.

35. Gj. XX, No. 5, p. 60.

36. Fz. p. 1246, col. 2.

37. शाक्य भिक्ष्वाचार्य्य-जितसेन....।

38. (i) Vayu Purana, ch. 23, Vs. 210-13.

(ii) Linga Purana, ch. 24, Vs. 127-131 .
(iii) About Lakulin or Lakulisa (holder of a club) :QJ. XXII, 151ff; GJ. XXI, Iff. GJ. XXI, 5-7, Rz.

pp. 453-54.

39. Fz. p. 297, col. 2.

40. Ibid., p. 779, col. 1.

41. Panini, IV. 1.177.

42. Ibid., II.3.73. मद्रं तस्य तस्मै, "Joy to him."

43. Fz. p. 591, col. 1.

44. Ibid., p. 662, col. 2.

45. No. 15, L. 7 : तत्सूनु रुद्रसोम (:) पृथुल-मति-यशा व्याघ्र इत्यन्यसंज्ञी

46. स्वसंज्ञया शंकर-नाम-शब्दितो विधान-युक्तं मागर्गमास्थित:

47. Fz. p. 1054, col. 3.

48. स्वयसिद्ध-संसिद्ध-सन्सिद्ध-सनसिद्ध

49. Fz. p. 1141, co. 1.

50. महायानिक-शाक्यभिक्ष्वाचार्य्य-शान्तिदेव

51. D.C. Sircar, Hz. p. 317, f.n. 3.

52. V.S. Agrawala, Jy. pp. 191-92.

53. Fz. p. 1251, col. 2.

54. प्रथितयशसां भाससौमिल्लकविपुत्रादीनां प्रबंधानतिक्रम्य वर्तमानकवे: कालिदासस्य क्रियायां...।

55. Fz. p. 186, col. 1-2.

56. Ibid., p. 203, col. 3.

57. श्रीयमभिमतभोग्यां नैककालापनीतां

त्रिदशपति-सुखार्त्थं यो बलेराजहार ।
कमल-निलयनाया: शाश्वतं धाम लक्ष्म्या:
स जयति विजितार्तिर्विष्णुरत्यंत-जिष्णु ।।

58. V.R.R. Diksitar, Jy Vol. II, p. 469.

59. (Dx) 1 , p. 62, note I.

60. Rgveda, I. 154.

61. R.C. Majumdar, L. p. 168.

62. Ibid,, p. 169.

63. Fz. p. 306, col. 2;

Jg. Vol. I, pp. 435-450.

64. No. 13, V. 6, : विप्लुतां वङ्श-लक्ष्मीं, भुजबलविजितारिर्य्य प्रतिष्ठाप्य भूय: । जितमिति परितोषान्मातरं सास्त्रनेत्रां हतरिपुरिव कृष्णो देवकीम्भ्युपेत: ।।

"It has been suggested that his mother's name was'Devaki, but this

Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions 101

view rests merely on an analogy which the poet had drawn between his visit to his widowed mother after his victory and that of Krsna to Devaki. This analogy might have been due to similarity of circumstances rather than similarity of names." R.C. Majumdar, Pg. pp. 176-177.

65. Jg. Vol. II, p. 318.

66. Fz. p. 646, col. 2.

67. Jg. Vol. II, pp. 381-4.

68. Ibid., pp. 381-2.

69. No. 2, L. 8. सुवणर्णदाने संवारिता नृपतय: पृथुराघवाद्या:

70. Jg. Vol. III, p. 43. Raghu has been known as the son of Dirgha-bahu, and a man of everlasting glory. His son was Aja.

71. Fz. p. 872, col. 2.

72. No. 36, L. 12; No. 37, L. 21 : बहुभिवर्वसुधा दत्ता राजभिसग्गारादिभि:

73. Jg. Vol. Ill, pp. 501-2.Fz. p. 1125, col. 1-2.

74. No. 43, L. 30 : उक्तं च महाभारते भगवता व्यासेन

75. No. 52, LL. 11-12 : भगवता पराशरत्मजेन वेदव्यासेन....।

76. Jg. Vol. Ill, pp. 349-50.

77. Fz. p. 1035. col. 2; some scholars doubt the historicity of Vyasa as a person and consider him to be a mythical personage, or that it simply meant 'an arranger' (Kalyana, Year 41, No. 7, July, 1967, Gita Press, Gorakhpur, pp. 1036-38). Vyasa appears as the term for a narrator of the Epics and the Puranas. It came to refer to learned brahmanas who did this work. It appears that Vyasa was really a historical person, who rearranged the Vedas and the Puranas. He seems to have started a tradition or school of learning. After his death his name was associated with his chair or seat of learning which was maintained by his successors or disciples. Vyasa is still the gotra of many families. The literary references to Vyasa are available in the Brahmanas and the Sutra literature as well as in the Mahabharata and the later Sanskrit literature (op. cit., Kalyana, pp. 1038-41). Here we do not propose to enter into the complicated question of the date of Vyasa and connected events and characters.

But, as is well known the Period of the Brahmanas is generally supposed to extend from 1000 B.C. to 600 B.C., likewise the Sutra literature is taken to extend from sixth or seventh century before Christ to about the second century. The Mahabharata is generally supposed to have taken its present form in the long interval from the fifth century B.C. to A.D. 400. But the first compilation of the kernel of the Mahabharata story from scattered gathas may be placed much earlier. This receives some support from the tradition of three stages in the evolution of the Mahabharata text. If Vyasa is accepted as a contemporary of Krsna and of the Mahabharata war we may place Vyasa round about 1000 B.C.

78. Ibid., p. 727, col. 3 : Badara means 'water' ; one who is brought

102 Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions

forth in water may be called Badarayana.

79. Jg. Vol. I, p. 450 : See Krsna II.

80. Fz. p. 855, col. 1; Jg. Vol. Ill, pp. 32-33.

End of chapter Epic and Puranic Names

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