Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions/I A Note on the King Candra of the Meharaull Iron Pillar Inscription

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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

Appendix I

A Note on the King Candra of the Meharauli Iron Pillar Inscription

This iron pillar bearing the inscription of Chandra was originally erected on a hill called Visnupada near the Beas, but was brought to Meharauli (Delhi) and was installed near the well-known Kutub Minar. 1 We also know of the transfer of the Ashokan pillars from Topra and Meerut to Delhi. 2

Though many scholars 3 have tried to identify Chandra of this inscription, it remains a baffling problem. The generally accepted view is to identify him with Chandragupta II. 4

Goyal 5 has identified Chandra with Samudragupta. His argument is that the original name of the king was not Chandra and in his support he quotes Fleet 6 and Allan. His second contention is that whereas there is no evidence to prove that Chandragupta II had any military success in Bengal, we have a positive reference in the Allahabad Pillar Inscription to Samatata, Davaka and Kamarupa as the bordering (pratyanta) states of Samudragupta's empire. Goyal further argues that Chandragupta II had suzerainty over Daivaputrasahisahanusahis who ruled in that region. He also points out that Samudragupta had advanced victoriously to the south as far as Kanchi while Chandragupta II can at best be credited with matrimonial alliances or diplomatic activities alone in the South. Following Majumdar, Mookerji and Agrawala he holds that Chandraprakasa, son of Candragupta mentioned by the rhetorician Vamana was no other than Samudragupta and thus concludes that Chandra was another name of Samudragupta.

We cannot accept Goyal's view since his arguments stand on a weak edifice. We shall refute them one by one.

Fleet 7 was mislead by the reading 'Dhavena' in line 6 which seems to be 'Bhavena' as suggested by some scholars.

310 Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions

A perusal of the passage does not leave any doubt about Chandra being the original name of the king. Allan followed by Goyal 8 describes it as a 'poetical allusion'. But that does not mean that the king had any name other than Chandra. The poet shows that his name was quite in consonance with his qualities. 9 It is no doubt a poetic way of referring to his patron's name. We have a similar instance in the Mandasor Inscription of the Malava Year 524 (A.D. 467). 10 Moreover, the reading in line 6 of the inscription is clearly 'Bhavena' and not Dhavena. 11

We know that only a part of Bengal, i.e. Samatata was conquered by Samudragupta; Davaka and Kamarupa being in Assam, their subjugation does mean the occupation of the whole of the Vangas. Gupta inscriptions are recovered from Pundravardhana, Damodarpur and Rajshahi districts of Bengal only after the reign of Chandragupta II. Moreover, it seems that the people of Samatata had revolted and were joined by other neighbouring kings 12 and king Candra suppressed the revolt with his force; eventually the whole of Vanga may have come under his suzerainty.

These considerations apart, palaeographically also the inscription was considered by Fleet to be later than Samudragupta. Prinsep placed it in the 3rd or 4th Century and Bhau Daji in the post-Gupta period. 13 But Sircar assigns the record to the 5th century on the basis of the resemblance of the marked matras or horizontal top-strokes on the letters with those used in the Bilsad Inscription of Kumaragupta I (A.D. 415-16). 14 This consideration is very important, but Goyal finds it convenient not to consider it since it goes against his theory.

Moreover, if king Candra of the Meharauli Pillar Inscription is to be identified with Samudragupta and if it is a posthumous inscription, there could be a mention of the performance of Asvamedha sacrifice by him as is evidenced from his coins.

It is further to be noted that in the Allahabad Pillar Inscription there is no reference to the conquests of the Vahlikas by Samudragupta, though the neighbouring tribes of the Daivaputras, Sahis and Sahanusahis, Sakas and Murundas are mentioned as paying homage to Samudragupta. On the contrary, king Candra is said to have conquered the Vahlikas in a warfare after crossing the seven mouths of the Sindhu. 15

Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions 311

M.R. Singh 16 and U.N. Roy, 17 however, identify the Vahlika in the Panjab and U.N. Roy goes further to identify the Vahlikas with "Daivaputrasahi-sahanusahi" i.e. the Kidara Kusanas. But this seems contrary to the statement in the inscription that king Chandra had conquered the Vahlikas in warfare, after having crossed the seven mouths of the river Indus. 18

So far as the conquests of king Candra in the South are concerned we submit that it is an eulogy (prasasti) which may be of the conventional type and may not be entirely historical. The conventional claim is repeated by some later kings. 19 In Line 5 of the Mandasor Stone Pillar Inscription we find that Yasodharman (A.D. 525-35) boasts to have conquered the whole country to the west of the Pascima-payodhi and to the north of the Mahendra (cf. Mahendracala in the Tirunelveli district). 20 We know that Chandragupta II wielded a great influence in the south. His daughter Prabhavatigupta was married to the Vakataka king Rudrasena II. There is some evidence to show that during the regency of Prabhavatigupta, Gupta officers exercised some control over the Vakataka administration. 21 Further Chandragupta II arranged a marriage between his son and the daughter of Kakutsthavarman, the most powerful ruler of the Kadamba family in the Kanarese country of the Bombay Presidency. 22

Goyal's assumption that Candra was another name of Samudragupta is incorrect. We have criticised it earlier on linguistic and palaeographic considerations. Moreover, it looks funny that the name of Chandragupta I, his son and his grandson alike should be the same. Utilising the evidence of Vamana that Vasubandhu was the minister of Candraprakasa, the son of Candragupta, Goyal quotes Majumdar '23' and takes Candragupta to be Chandragupta I and regards Candraprakasa as another name of Samudragupta. But Majumdar himself strikes a note of caution when he says that "It is not altogether impossible that Vasubandhu's patron belonged to this 24 or a similar local dynasty of Ayodhya". 25 We cannot associate Vasubandhu with the Imperial Guptas unless we find any strong evidence of a positive nature.

Thus we see that the arguments raised by Goyal do not support his view that Samudragupta is to be identified with Candra. In the absence of any other ; 'positive evidence, to the contrary, the theory of Gandra's identification with : Chandragupta II holds good. 26


1. Sircar, Hz. p. 238, note 3.

2. Ibid., p. 53, note. 1.

3. Goyal, D. pp. 201-9.

4. Majumdar, Pg. pp. 168-69; Sircar, Hz. p. 283, note 1.

5. Goyal, D. pp. 201-9.

6. (Dx) 1 , p. 142, note 2.

7. (Dx) 1 , p. 142; also see note 2.

8. Goyal, D. p. 203.

9. Sircar, Hz. p. 284 :चन्द्रह्वेन समग्र-चन्द्र-सदृशी वक्त्र-श्रियं विभ्रता ।

10. Sircar, Hz. p. 406 : गुप्तान्यय-व्योमनि-च्नद्रकल्प: श्रीचन्द्रगुप्त-प्राथिताभिधान: ।

11. I have personally visited Meharauli to check the reading. The letter 'bha' of 'Bhumipatina' is identical in form with the letter 'bha' of Bhavena .

Sircar suggests the reading 'Devena', Devagupta being another name of Chandragupta II (Hz. p. 285, note 2). But the view is not plausible. There was no need of mentioning the king's name again since it is mentioned as Candra in the preceding line and 'tena' refers to that. Moreover, 'bhavena' here represents, -devotion of the king', the translation of the whole phrase being : 'By that king Candra, having a mind full of devotion (Bhava=bhakti-bhava) to Lord Visnu, this loftystandard of Visnu, was set up on the Visnupada hill'.

12. Fleet, (Dx)1 , p. 141 : यस्योद्वर्तयत: प्रतीमुरसा शत्रून्समेत्यागतान् वन्गेष्वाहव-वर्तिनो अभिलिखिता खड्गेन कीर्तिभुजे । If we do the अन्वय it will run thus : यस्य वन्गेष्वाहव-वर्तिनो (revolting) शत्रून्समेत्यागतान् उरसा प्रतीपम् उद्वर्तयत: कीर्ति: खड्गेन भुजेअभिलिखिता ।

'Whose fame of kneading back with his breast the revolting enemies in Vanga uniting together, was inscribed by sword on his arm'. It is a poetic way of the description of the suppression of revolt. The phrase शत्रून्समेत्यागतान् वन्गेष्वाहव-वर्तिनो suggests 'the enemies in Vanga had revolted and had come to fight against king Candra uniting together with other neighbouring kings who might have been afraid by his increasing power. Any such revolt was possible after the death of Samudragupta. उद्वर्तयत: प्रतीमुरसा suggests that king Candra himself had not gone to fight against them "but he kneaded them back by the force of his' breast; the description is given here metaphorically : यस्य कीर्ति: खड्गेन भुजेअभिलिखिता....।

Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions 313

i.e., 'on whose arm fame was inscribed by the sword'. It is also a poetic way of describing the victory meaning thereby 'who had won the battle by the force of sword in his hand'. Or it may even suggest that he had won in the battle but his arm was injured which is as if it was a fame inscribed on his arm by the sword. It was considered a matter of pride for the commanders and kings to have scars of wounds in battle on the parts of their bodies.

13. Sircar, Hz. p. 283, note 2.

14. Ibid.

15. Fleet, (Dx) 1 , p. 141

'तीर्त्वा सप्तमुखानि येन समरे सिन्धोर्ज्जिता वाह्लिका'

Fleet seems to have wrongly translated this line as 'he, by whom having crossed in warfare the seven mouths of the (river) Sindhu, the Vahlikas were conquered'. If we do the अन्वय it will be like this: येन सिन्धो: सप्तमुखानि तीर्त्वा वाह्लिका समरे जिता: । i.e., 'by whom after crossing the seven mouths of the river Indus, the Vahlikas were conquered in warefare'. The king had not to fight for crossing the seven mouths of the Indus since the inhabitants of this place were already conquered by Samudragupta and were ruling in obeisance to the Guptas.

16. M.R. Singh, MX. pp, 126-27.

17. U.N. Roy, Lz. pp. 21-22.

18. See note 15.

19. Sircar, Hz. p. 284, f.n.l.

20. Sircar, Hz. p. 419, see also f.n. :

आ लौहित्योपकन्ठात्तलवन-गहनोपत्यकादा महेन्द्रादागन्गाश्लिष्टासनोस्तुहिनशिखरिण- पश्चिमादा: पयोधे:।

21. R.C. Majumdar, Pg. p. 112, see also f.n.l.

22. Ibid., p. 170.

23. Goyal, D. p. 209.

24. A king named Baladitya has been mentioned in an inscription found at Sarnath (Dx) 1 , p. 284.

25. Majumdar, Pg. pp. 155-56, f.n. 2.

26. For various theories and identification with Candragupta II, see G.R. Sharma, J J. Vol. XXI, No. 4, December 1945, p. 202 ff,

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