The Origin and Development of Indian Writing System
The history of writing in India goes back to the 3rd millennium BC as is evident from the seals and clay pottery fragments bearing short inscriptions discovered in various parts of India. These seals and various artifacts are known to belong to the ancient civilization of Indus Valley; the mature phase of this civilization is recognized as Harappan Civilization, spanning period between c.3500 and 1700 BC. Unfortunately neither the language of Indus people is known nor the relationship of the Indus script to any other ancient scripts has yet been established. Although the claims of decipherment are made, no acceptable reading of the inscriptions is yet possible. In spite of substantial efforts the writings of the Indus script remains undeciphered (1). It is believed that the construction of early hymns of Rig Veda describing the conquest of the land of the people with dark complexion and snubbed noses is contemporaneous with decay of Harappan civilization. Most surprising fact is that though the late phase of Harappan civilization overlaps with the migration of Aryans into the North-West India, the region that they called Saptasindhu, no Aryan writing belonging to this period has been discovered. It should be noted that the chronology of the Aryan migration itself is a controversial subject.
The region considered by early Aryans as their homeland was called Saptasindhu according to the Rig Vedic tradition. This region was centered around Punjab encompassing seven rivers, namely Sarsvati and Drishtavati (these two rivers changed the course and left the dry beds), Shatadru (Sutlej), Vipas (Bias), Purushni (Ravi), Asikni (Chenab), and Vitasta (Jhelum). The rivers in adjacent area in modern Afghanistan namely Gomati (Gomal), Krumu (Kurram), Khuba (Kabul) and Suvastu (Swat) are also mentioned in Rig Veda suggesting Aryan settlement in this area. The adjoining region said to have been populated by dark-skinned demons, worshipers of phallus (Shishna Deva) and later were called Dasa or Dasyu. There are references to Panis in Rig Veda who were wealthy in cattles and other treasures but very stingy and never gave donations to Yadnyas (2). Shrivastava equates them to Dasyus and interprets the relationship with Aryans as traders who were later absorbed in Aryan system of classification as Vaishyas.
 See appendix I for the chronology of major events which had considerable impact on Indian civilization
The Asura demons supposedly lived in fortified strongholds called Puras. The migrating Aryan tribes had constant conflict with these people who were ultimately conquered and their Puras were destroyed by Indra (Purandara - Destroyer of Cities). According to the legend the city of Narmini was burned by Agni (god of fire) and the great battle took place on the bank of Ravi at the city called Hariyupiya; many Indologist believe it to be Harappa. A ruined city of Mahavailastha has also been mentioned. The archaeological evidence and Rig Vedic text suggest that the last strongholds of the earlier civilization were overran in c.1750 BC. This earlier interpretation of the events has been challenged by a number of scholars and Aryan invasion theory has been rejected (3,4) by some scholars although the arguments for the rejection are not fully convincing.
The historic value of Rig Veda is considerably diminished because the stories were initially orally transmitted for long time and the factual information got mixed with the exotic and supernatural events, which got incorporated in Rig Veda. This, of course, has happened not only with Vedas but also with all ancient scriptures in other parts of the world. There is no evidence of writing in early Aryan period. The hymns of Rig Veda were transmitted orally from generation to generation by memorizing the text, syllable by syllable, and were committed to writing only in historic times.
The lack of hard evidence for continuity between Harappan civilization and Aryan civilization seems partly due to the inability of the migrating Aryan to appreciate the Harappan social organization and urban development. It is also possible that the Aryan tribes were migrating pastoral people and were not yet sophisticated enough to utilize the existing technology as is apparent from the archaeological evidence of the advent of low grade pottery coinciding with the Aryan migration (5,6). Although the Harappan had a writing system it is possible that the harappan civilization was almost extinct by the time Aryans stabilized their foothold. Deurbanization of the Harappan civilization, the causes of which are not yet clear, did not disintegrate rural traditions, which ultimately got incorporated in the new setup. The continuity of the trade and commerce through Harappan period and the Aryan establishment is evident from the similarity of weights and measures of the two civilizations. It is interesting to note that the earliest weight standards for Indian coins are exactly those of definite class of weights as Mohenjo-daro, not standards prevalent in Persia or Mesopotamia (1a, 2a, 5a). This continuity between Harappan and Aryan civilization might be the result of assimilation of traders such as Panis and Dasas in the Aryan society. The merger of the Indus culture into the Aryan society may be inferred from the continuity of certain religious ideas such as mother goddess (fertility cults), the lord of all creatures (pashupati) and phallic symbol.
Since there was some continuity, the question arises as to why the Aryans did not use Indus script? And if they came from the Persia or were in contact with that land why cuneiform or Aramaic was not used for writing for their earlier exploits? In fact there is complete absence of archaeological evidence to speculate on the Aryan way of life during early settlements. In order to understand the cause of the absence of Aryan writing in India for almost 1000 years (~1500 BC-400 BC), it is essential to fix at least approximate period of the fall of Harappan cities, the establishment of Aryans in Saptasindhu and the time of composition of earliest part of Rig Veda. It seems the stories regarding the accomplishment of Indra and the nature of the conflicts are the memories handed down to the subsequent generations. On the other hand the later military conflicts of king Sudas with various established, close-nit tribes such as Bhrugus, Bhartas, Purus etc. are of historic nature (5a). If on the basis of archaeological findings we accept the Harappan decline and early Aryan incursions in the region between 1800 and 1500 BC and on the basis of linguistic and external sources, the composition of early Rig Vedic hymns around 1000 BC, then there appears to be a gap of more than 600 years between the disappearance of a civilization having writing system and the stabilization of Aryan civilization capable of composing poetic documents and generating profound religious and philosophical ideas. Thus the time gap between the extinction of the Harappan civilization and the development of Aryan civilization to the stage when the writing became the essential part of the social and political life was long enough to lose the writing system of Harappans. However, it should be remembered that the other necessities such as trade and commerce required for stable society, and to certain extent religious ideas got integrated into the new social order as evident from the continuity of weights and measures and religious symbols.
The punch-marked coins dated ~ 500 BC bearing stamped symbols show remarkable similarity with the signs seen on the Indus Seals. This is again a clear indication of the continuity between the Harappan civilization and subsequent Aryan establishment (7). In spite of fairly close correspondence of the symbols Profs. Prossehl and Dani reject the idea that the Indus signs survived on the punch-marked coins (8). However, the evidence of weights and measures, religious symbols and signs on punch-marked coins amply support the argument that there exists certain continuity between Harappan and Aryan civilization.
The Indus script is considered to be logosyllabic that is some signs represent words (ideograms) while others are purely syllabic i.e. having certain phonetic value. More than 2300 seals have been found in various regions in India, a few are discovered as far away as Mesopotamia. The total number of signs are around 14000 with average of about 6 signs per seal, a longest inscription consist about 26 signs. There are some 420 different signs in these inscriptions of which approximately 100 seems to be basic signs and the rest are the combinations. Dr. Kak suggests that with proper consideration of combination signs and taking in account number signs the primary Indus characters can be reduce to thirty-nine (9). The major difficulty in decipherment of the script is the shortness of the inscriptions and the lack of knowledge of language base of the Indus valley civilization. Furthermore there is no inscription available similar to the Rossetta stone or the Behistun stone inscription of king Darayus which are trilingual.
Dr. Possehl has critically analyzed the work of a number of scholars involved in the decipherment of the Indus script; for the details and the extensive bibliography see reference 1. Earliest attempt to link Indus writing to Brahmi script of 3rd century BC was made by Dr. Pran Nath in 1931 with the assumption that Vedic Aryans were Sumerians who somehow intermingled with Indus people. It is quite apparent now that the Indian epics and Rig Vedic text would neither support such connection nor his intuitive decipherment. He, however, made an important observation as mentioned before on the relationship between the Indus signs and the symbols on the punch-marked coins of later date.
Sir Flinders Petrie’s effort to read Indus script in the light of Egyptian Pictographic did not yield any meaningful results. De Hevesey showed the coincidental correlation between the Indus signs and Easter Island writings on wooden slats. However, the chronological considerations and geographic location makes this relationship highly unlikely. In 1940’s, Czech epigrapher Bedrich Harzony tried to tie Indus writing to Hittite culture. His work did not produce acceptable readings of Indus signs. Similarly, the decipherment offered by Swami Shankaranand by linking Indus signs to the Tantrik symbols is highly improbable. Father Heras put forward the Dravidian hypothesis in 1950. His extensive work using Dravidian languages, as a base for decipherment of the Indus inscriptions was interesting, although it did not lead to the acceptable decipherment. Since 1960 more scientific approach was followed for the decipherment of Indus writing by the Soviet and the Finnish teams, by Dr. Fairservis as well as by many Indian scholars such as Professors Mahadevan, Bankabehari Chakravarty, Subhash Kak and Dr. S.R. Rao using various language base and critical readings of ancient Indian scriptures and epics. In spite of these enormous efforts the Indus script remains undeciphered; even the language base of these inscriptions remain unknown.
Since Indus script is not yet deciphered it is not known whether any Sanskrit terms or names were in use during the Harappan phase. The influence of Aryan language in Middle East is quite evident from the inscriptional records of 2nd millennium BC. The Kassite rulers of Babylon as well as the Mittannian rulers seem to bear Indo-European sounding names (10). A treaty of Hittite king Subiluiliuma and the Mittanian Mattiwaza of c. 1380 BC mentions the names of Indra, Varuna, Mitra, the gods of the Rig Vedic Aryans. The clay tablet of Boghazkeui discovered by Hugo Winckler in 1907 contents Hittite text on horse training and chariot racing which uses a language very akin to Sanskrit (6a). The script used for the writing is Akkadian Cuneiform (wedge shape characters), which is quite different from the syllabary cuneiform of Persian inscriptions of later date. The use of Sanskrit terms in the Euphrates-Tigris region during the middle of 2nd millennium whether due to the residual colonies of eastward migrating Aryan tribes or the westward movement of some of the Aryan tribes from the established colonies in Aryan homeland of Saptasindhu is the matter of conjecture. The outward movement of Aryans has become a possibility in consideration of recently propagated views on the revised chronology of ancient India (9a).
These speculations should be viewed in the light of archaeological studies at various Indus Valley sites. The carbon-14 analyses shows that the pre-Harappan settlements at Amri and Kalibangan dates back to 3500 BC to 2500 BC while Harappan civilization encompasses the period between 2500 BC to around 1500 BC (11). The similarities of signs and the script on the seals and other artifacts gathered from Pre-Harappan and Harappan sites suggest that they were related to each other. On the other hand the archaic Sanskrit of Rig Vedic text has close relationship with ancient Persian. Harappan writing has no kin in the land west of Indus settlements. Moreover the socio-economic and the political setup of the Indus cities appear to be unique when compared with the other civilizations of the period in Egypt and Mesopotamia where elites dissociated from the masses and lived in elaborate centralized temples and palaces (3a). It is interesting to note that there is no evidence for military conflict or coercion in the Indus Valley civilization. The Indus cities evolved from the farming and pastoral settlements existing for thousands of years earlier.
It is claimed by some researchers in linguistics and anthropology that proto-Indo-European (PIE) languages did not reach either west of Black Sea or East and south east of Caucasus till the 2nd millennium BC. (12). Since Indus Civilization pre-dates this period, it is unlikely that the Indus language had any relationship with PIE and hence with Sanskrit. There are many other arguments which suggest that proto-Sanskrit might have originated outside India and introduced by wandering or conquering Aryan tribes sometimes in the middle of 2nd millennium BC.
At present no epigraphical records of Indian origin are available for the period between the end of Harappan civilization, that is about 1700 BC and the beginning of the Mauryan Empire. This does not mean that the Aryan settlers did not pursue the intellectual endeavor. The period of almost 1200 years saw the construction of Vedic literature, ritual text of Brahmanas and Arnyakas, and philosophical and metaphysical works of Upanishadas. It is inconceivable that the creators of such huge amount of literature had neither ability nor use of writing system. In all probability, writing must have been practiced, at least, by the elite in the society. It should be remembered that the works of grammarians Yaska and Panini predates Mauryan Empire at least by 200 years. It was not essential then to produce this type of work on non-perishable media such as stones or copper plates as be done in case of victory proclamations and imperial grants and donations. There are other factors such as secrecy and sanctity of the knowledge that might have kept writing at a minimal level. The priest class of Aryan society was not interested in disseminating the secret knowledge to the masses; the writing remained limited to the highly selective group. Thus the amount of textual material created was relatively small and perished in due course of time. Whatever may be the reason, we have no idea whether the early Aryans had their own writing system or used one of the existing scripts at the time for the literary work they created. Since it was common practice then and still prevalent of using the oral medium to transfer the sacerdotal knowledge and in the absence of physical evidence it is presumed that the early Aryans did not have a writing system of their own. This presumption however can be challenged on the basis of the arguments mentioned above.
Although the attempts have been made in recent times to link Mauryan Brahmi to the ancient art of writing of Indus people, partly as a reaction to the prejudicial treatment the ancient Indian history received from some western scholars and their tendency to prove the foreign influence on the development of Indian civilization, there is no reasonable archaeological evidence to establish such a link. There is no physical evidence of writing for this period. The development of urban society and organized economic set-up seems to have emerged around 5th century BC, approximate period of Shisunaga or Nanda dynasty. The earliest Brahmi script bearing artifacts belongs to 4th century BC. This conflicts with the chronology of Panini’s work (c.6th century BC), which will have to be moved forward by two to three centuries. This is unacceptable in consideration of Katyayana’s and Patanjali’s work and the time of Patanjali, who officiated Ashwamedh Yadnya for Pushamitra Sunga, is well established. Moreover, Arya Chanakya’s highly advanced treatise on state-craft (Arthashastra) was written in c.320-325 BC. Therefore, only plausible explanation, as suggested above, that the upper crust of Aryan society was familiar with writing at least since the Panini’s time although the script in use is unknown.
I have observed in the last 40 years that the North American media many times do try to suggest the foreign especially Hellenistic influence on Indian civilization in a subtle way even when it is not warranted. For example, the structures and lay out of temples is uncritically mentioned as a Greek influence on the basis of Alexander’s incursions in the North-West India in 325 BC, although his territorial conquest and cultural impact was miniscule as related to Indian subcontinent. In context of Buddhism, the media try to emphasize that Buddha was Nepalese and not Indian although Nepal did not exist as a separate entity in 500 BC. In the articles describing the ancient temples, architecture, inscriptions and religious ideas in South-East Asian countries such as Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia, the conquest and control of these lands by Pallavas of Kanchi in 5th-7th centuries is conveniently omitted. However this situation cannot be rectified by exorbitant and fantastic unsubstantiated claims of antiquity based on textual material of later date. Such claims are readily discarded as the matter of questionable credibility. What is required is the well researched scholarly argument based on known archaeological facts. It is inconsequential whether the antiquity goes back to 5000 years or 10000 years.
The immediate Indo-European group related to Aryans settled in India was in Persia. This is evident from the similarity of the names of the gods worshipped such as Indra, Mitra, varuna etc. and the speech, which was close to Vedic Sanskrit. These Persians were conversant with the Aryans in Saptasindhu as mentioned in Avesta (a Zaroastrian Scripture). Epigraphical records of Persian kings demonstrates the closeness between the vedic Sanskrit and avestic Persian. A specimen of such a record is presented below.
Following example is taken from Dr. Dinesh Chandra Sircar’s selected inscriptions (13). The original tablet with cuneiform inscription of King Darius was discovered by Henry Rawlinson in 1837. This tablet was sculptured at Behistun on the main road from Mesopotamia to Persia to commemorate the victory of King Darius (Darayavahush) the Great (c.529-486 BC). The tablet has 96 lines of text written in Cuneiform (wedge-shaped characters) script in three languages; Old Persian, Susian and Babylonian. Although the Old Persian was written in Cuneiform syllabary with few logograms (sign as a concept or word) it is altogether different from the old Cuneiform used in Sumerian and Akkadian inscriptions. The old cuneiform use entirely logographic (also called Ideographic) and phonographic (sign representing speech word) signs.
A specimen of the Old Persian Cuneiform Script with equivalent Devanagari pronunciation:
English Text :
I, Darius, the great king, the king of the kings, the king of Persia, King of the states, the son of Hystaspes, Arsames’s grandson, Akhaemenian. The ruler king Darius - my father Hystaspes, Hystaspes’s father Arsames, Arsames’s father Ariyaramana, Ariyaramana’s father Chasisvi, Chasisvi’s father Akhaemenian.
It is generally believed that Panini lived around 500 BC in Takshashila (Taxila). This period coincides with the reign of Darius (Daryavahvush) the great in Persia. Just west of Afghanistan. Panini’s treatise (Ashtadhyayi) on grammar of Sanskrit language and scientific analysis of the language phenomena demonstrate that the Sanskrit was highly developed at this time and was a vehicle for communication of scholarship. The fact that he prescribes the rules for euphonic combination of words within the sentence and verses clearly establishes that the writing was practiced during this period and probably much earlier. Panini describes in his woks the rules for reciting the Vedas and terms as Granth, Granthakaras, Lipi, Lipikaras etc. The Yavanilipi mentioned may be either Persian or Greek script. It is however more likely that it is Persian since major influence of Greek in Gandhara region occurred only around 400 BC, about 100 years after Panini’s time. A century later, Katyayana also talks about Lipi of Yavanas (14). The Brahmi has been referred to as Dharmalipi little later. The absence of written material from the end of Harappan civilization to the Mauryan times raises a question, which script was used by the scholars at the Panini’s time? Neither Cuneiform nor Kharoshti are suitable for writing elegant Sanskrit. Kharoshti script was in use around 4th century BC in eastern Afghanistan, the region then known as Gandhara. The main features of Kharoshti are similar to Brahmi although it was written earlier from right to left. It seems to be developed primarily for the Prakrit dialect of Gandhari. The birch-bark manuscripts of around 1st century AD on Buddha’s teaching in prakrit, written in Kharoshti, have been found recently. The Ashokan inscription at Shahabazgari in Gandhari prakrit is inscribed in Kharoshti, Similarly the Mauryan Brahmi seen in rock inscription is too rudimentary for Sanskrit conjunct and diction as used by scholars during Panini’s time.
The priestly language has tendency to stand apart from the language of masses. Krishna Chaitanya states that “ the vedic language which we find in Rig Veda is already priestly and poetic language and must have been different even from the speech of the priests themselves in ordinary life and still further removed from the upper classes, while gulf between it and the popular speech must have been very wide” (10a). Like wise it is possible that the script used by elite for the scholarly work could have been Brahmi with complex manipulations for highly sophisticated Sanskrit pronunciation. In the 6th century BC, Buddha who wanted to spread his teaching to the masses used Prakrit dialect, Ardha-Magdhi or Pali for his discourse. The archaic Brahmi script was quite suitable for spoken language and therefore was used as a vehicle for communication. The Ashoka’s Inscriptions found all over peninsular India are in Prakrit written in Brahmi script suggest that the peninsular India and probably Shri Lanka, by 300 BC, was familiar with this script and language. The Indo-Greeks and Scithio-Parthians as well as the Kushanas, on the other hand, used either Greek or Kharoshti in the northwest frontier region of India up to almost 1st century AD. The birch-bark or palm-leaves were in use for writing the manuscripts as is evident from the recently acquired birch bark scrolls dating ~ 1st cent. AD by the British library. It is believed they are part of long-lost canon of the Sarvastivadin sect that dominated the Gandhara region. These seem to be the earliest original Buddhist texts presently available and are written in Kharoshti (15). The earliest original Brahmi documents written on birch-bark (Bhurjpatra) or palm-leaves (Tadpatra) presently available dates back to 5th and 6th century AD respectively. For more information on the materials for writing and the preservation of documents consult Indian Epigraphy by Prof. Sircar (16). The absence of physical evidence of writing before the Mauryan times may be attributed to: (a) the relatively short texts such as victory proclamations and donations can be inscribed on stones or copper plates, this medium is unsuitable for the longer text such as treatise on grammar or the scriptural or religious metaphysical work. Such documents must have been written on perishable medium such as birch-bark. (b) The volume of such written material was extremely limited and was available only to the elites; a very small segment of the society. (c) The constant invasions of the northern India by barbaric and fanatic powers wiped out the education centres such as Takshashila. It is also known that invading armies of Mahammad Ghori destroyed a large number of manuscripts at Nalanda and other places in Bengal and Bihar as late as 12th century.
It is surprising that the physical evidence of writing in India is almost completely absent for the period between the disappearance of Harappan civilization and the establishment of Ashokan Empire. Another extraordinary fact is that although the Brahmi script was extensively used from the Mauryan period up to the 9th century AD albeit in somewhat modified form, by 13th century the original script was completely forgotten to the extent that the inscriptions from Mauryan to Gupta period could not be read by the Sanskrit scholars of the time. This is evident from the fact that the two Ashokan inscriptions, from Topra and Meerut, brought to Delhi by Firoz Shah Tughlaq (1351-88 AD) could not be read by a number of Sanskrit Pandits invited by the King to study these inscriptions. Similar attempts made by Mogal King Akbar (1556-1605 AD) to get these inscriptions deciphered were unsuccessful (17). The lack of knowledge of Brahmi alphabets and utter ignorance of the historic significance of the stone and the copper inscriptions from 13th century onwards till the foundation of the Asiatic Society of Bengal at the 18th century, loudly declares the progressive degeneration of scholarship in India until the infusion of fresh ideas from the west. This, however, is not surprising in view of the astute observation of Al Beruni (a well known Arabian scholar of 10th cent.) who found Indians narrow in their ways, insular and unreceptive to change. Although he admired the earlier religious and philosophical work and social habits, he was critical of their attitude. He writes:
“They are in a state of utter confusion, devoid of any logical order, and in the last instance always mixed up with silly notions of the crowd. I can compare their mathematics and astronomical knowledge to the mixture of pearls and sour dates or costly jewels and common pebbles. Both kind of things are equal in their eyes since they cannot raise themselves to the methods of strictly scientific deduction” (18).
Although Indian scholars and well-educated elite were conversant with rich Sanskrit literature and religious philosophical works all through the historic period, there was no central organization to coordinate and transfer the information among the scholars in the mediaeval times. The earliest serious scientific effort in study of India’s past literary and linguistic heritage began with the establishment of the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1784. Sir William Jone’s studies in Sanskrit literature and his famous quote on the origin of Indo-European languages gave impetus to the study of Indology in general. He said:
“The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a strong affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the form of grammar, than possibly could have been produced by an accident, so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from the some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists”(12).
The modern studies on the Indian inscriptions began with reading of the Badal Pillar inscription of Narayan Pala (854-908 AD) by Charles Wilkins in 1785 and of the three inscriptions of Chahamana king Vilasdev (1168 AD) engraved on Delhi-Topra pillar by Pandit Radha Kant Sharma. With this success the inscriptions of little earlier dates were partially deciphered by Wilkins. This led to the further attempt to decipher earlier inscriptions and by 1836 complete Gupta Brahmi was known. Dr. Miller in 1837 read the Skanda Gupta’s inscription on Bhitari Pillar. Further studies and ingenuity of James Princep led him to the decipherment of Ashokan Brahmi thus permitting us to understand ancient Brahmi inscriptions of India. Subsequent work of by many scholars such as J.F. Fleet, R.G. Bhandarkar, Bühler, Bhau Daji and Bhagwanlal Indraji gave great impetus to the interpretation of early and medieval Indian history. For more comprehensive information see Elder’s Chapters in Indian Civilization, Vol.II (19). Earlier archaeological findings have been documented by Alexander Cunningham in his ‘Archaeological Survey Reports’ in 23 volumes. It is a comprehensive catalogue of the archaeological materials including coins and their geographical distribution (20). The enthusiastic readers will find extensive information on the present status of ancient history as immerging from the archaeological studies in Dr.Khanna’s “Archaeology of India-Retrospect and Prospects (11) and in Dr.Goyals “The Coinage of Ancient India” (21).
It is generally accepted that the Brahmi alphabets evolved through the work of Sanskrit grammarians although a few letters of the Sanskrit phonology are not seen in the Ashokan Brahmi (Ashoka’s inscriptions are in Prakrit). This notion is based on the Sanskrit phonology and arrangement of the group of consonants and attachment of vowel signs in comprehensive manner. It is claimed that since the work of grammarians could be traced back to around 10th century BC, it is probable that old Brahmi writing started since that time (17a). Such claims of antiquity of the Brahmi script are highly speculative and are mainly based on the history and chronology from Puranas written centuries later. In Dr.Goyals words “ to us it appears that no use will be served by reconstructing our cultural past with the literary evidence alone, the chronology of which is highly dubious and which was revised from time to time in the historical period, and neglecting altogether the stark reality that archaeology portrays a highly under-developed conditions of our material life in pre-Nanda-Mayura period” (21a). In his opinion the art of writing was not practiced in pre-Ashokan period in India.
Mauryan Brahmi Alphabets:
Few examples of Inscriptions from 3rd century BC to 10th century AD :
Ashoka’s pillar inscription at Rumminde (Lumbini) in Nepal, c. 250 BC
Script : Mauryan Brahmi
Language : Northern Prakrit
English Text :
Devanam priya Priyadershi King, 20 years after he was anoited came here to offer worship to Shakyamuni, the Buddha, at Lummini village where the Bhagvant was born. Here a stone wall was constructed and a stone pillar erected.
English Text :
This religious law of piety has been inscribed by Priyadershi King, the beloved of Gods. Henceforth neither any animal should be slaughtered nor the gathering of the people for the feast be held. Priyadershi King sees many defects in such social gathering. The priyadershi King however recognizes that there are some good social gatherings. Formerly, in the priyadershi king’s kitchen hundred –thousand animals were slaughtered for food every day. Now since writing of this religious edict only three animals are killed, two peacocks and one deer although the deer not regularly. In future even these three animals will not be slaughtered.
English Text :
Every where in the dominion of the beloved of the gods priyadershi King in agreement with the neibhouring regions of the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Satiyaputras, the Keralputras upto the Tambraparni and also ionian king, Antiochos and the neibouring kingdoms of Antiochos, the priyadershi King established two centres for health-care, human health care and animal care. Also made available medicine or medicinal plants for men and animals wherever they are not available. King also caused to import or planted medicinal roots and fruit plants wherever they do not exist. On the roads the trees were planted and the wells were dug for the enjoyment of the animals and the men.
The short inscriptions recording the donations for various facililties in the caves for the students of religious studies are seen in most of the caves. Here are two examples (23). The script is Mauryan Brahmi and language is Prakrit.
Mathura Inscription of Havishka Kushan(106A.D.) (13a)
The language of this Brahmi inscription is Prakrit influenced by Sanskrit. The characters are well executed and are almost similar to Nasik inscription of Nahapan ( followig page). Note the use of numericals in line 1-28, line 7-3and1, line 8-3 and 5, and 500+50 in linr 12 and 13.
Text in Devnagari :
During the reign of Havishka Kushan in northern India, the Shakas (Nahapana – Rudradaman) of Western India and Satvahanas (Pulumai – Gotamiputra) of Andhra dynasty were fighting for the control of southwestern India. This hegemony for control of western India was a period of interesting events occuring in Maharashtra. The record of this period is one of the romantic saga of the use of the inscriptions, puranas’ and the external sources in the construction of early history of Maharashtra (24). The following inscription of Nahapana is from Nasik Caves. The characters are similar to those in Mathura inscription of Havishka Kushan, the language is more nearer to Sanskrit than Prakrit.
Nasik Cave Inscription of Shaka King Nahapana (119-124)
Language: Sanskrit influenced by Prakrit; Script: Brahmi
Three photographs representing part of the inscription are reproduced here. The complete text of the inscription (5 lines as exists) is from selected inscriptions vol.I (13b)
Siddham. Kshaharat Kshatrap King Nahapana’s son-in-law Ushavdatt donated three thousand cows; in order to erect the facilities on Barnasa river he donated gold and for upkeep of Gods and Brahmins donated sixteen villages. Every year hundred thousand Brahmins are given a feast.
At holy place of Prabhas (in south Kathiawad) he arranged marriages of eight wives to Brahmins. At the towns of Bharukachha (Bhadoch), Dashapur (Mandasor in Malwa), Govardhan (probably Nasik) and Shorparag (Sopara) constructed rest houses and lodges and made drinking water available by digging wells. In order to facilitate the crossing of the rivers Eba (?), Parda (near Surat), Daman (Damanganga), Tapi, Karbena (?) and Dahanuka (?) he arranged the free boat services.
In the towns of Pinditakawad (?), Govardhan, Suvarnamukh (?), Shorparag and Ramtirth, for the benefits of the followers of Charak sect, he donated the income from thirty-two thousand Narikale trees in Nanangol village (Nargole in Thana district). This religious soul (i.e. Ushavdatt) caused to create caves and cisterns in Trirashmi Mountain near Govardhan for the adherent of Charak sect. During monsoon season, in accordance with the orders from Bhattaraka, I moved to Malay (in Rajasthan) for freeing leader of Uttambhadras who was imprisoned by Malay people. My campaign created helter scelter among Malay tribesmen and were taken as prisoners by warriors of Uttambhadra. Thereafter I went to Poshkarani (Pushkar) where I took holy bath and donated a village and three thousand cows. I (i.e. Ushavdatt) bought a farm worth four thousand –4000- karshapan through a Brahmin named Varahiputra Ashvabhuti. The farm is owned by his father and is located on the northwest border of the town. The groups of the Bhikshus from four corners dwelling in my caves will be provided meals there.
There are other sets of inscriptions in the caves at Nasik, which belong to Satvahanas. One of them describes the skills of Gautamiputra Satkarni as a warrior and his conquest of territory held by Satrapa (kshatrap) king Nahapana on the west coast and destruction of the remnants of Mahakhatrapas-Khagarata power. The glorious reign of Satvahanas described in Puranas, although not consistent with the information derived from external sources such as the work of Ptolemy, there is general agreement on the extent of the rule of Pulumai-Gautamiputra, and the power and splendor of Andhrabhritya dynasty. This was however short lived and Saka King Rudradaman reestablished Kshatrapa dominance in Kathiawad–Malwa region. The Junagadh inscription of Rudradaman glorifying his achievements is one of the earliest well executed classical Sanskrit inscription.
The Andhra (Satvahana) kings between 100 A.D. and 250 A.D. were not only engaged in the military and mercantile activities but also were great patrons of liberal arts. The well known literary work Brihatkatha, of which Vetalpanchavishi is a fascinating part is traditionally ascribed to Gunadhyay, a minister in the court of Satvahana king most probably Gautamiputra Pulumai of Paithan. The is legend that the stories in Brihtkatha were offered by a vetal (ghost) to Gunadhyay were written in blood using language and script other than the one current in Maharashtra at that time. When Gunadhyay presented this work to the King due to the unfamiliarity with the language the King could not appreciate the work. Gunadhyay in a state of rage and disgust trashed the work. Subsequently only a small fragment of the original work was salvaged by Gunadhyay’s assistants and pronounced that the stories are charming. The original stories were probably written in Paishachi language with Kharosti script. Whatever the origin may be, the stories were orally propagated in various recessions till 11th century when two well-known Kashmiri writers, Somadev in Kathasaritsagar and Kshemendra in Brihatkathamangiri, included these stories in their work (25).
It is evident from a number of inscriptions regarding the victory proclamations and donations by various kings and the meritorious gifts by rich individuals seen in various caves such as Nasik, Junnar, Kuda, Mahad, Karle, Bhaja, Kanheri in Maharashtra that southern class of Brahmi script and Prakrit language was the medium of communication during this period (0-3rd cent. AD) although Sanskrit mixed with prakrit was used in some of the royal announcements. Since we have neither any idea of the social structure at the time nor the literacy rate it is difficult to speculate how big the elite group (involved in religious or literary work) was which could speak or understand Sanskrit. Later history suggests it must be extremely small.
Inscription from Kanheri caves ( cave no. 3)
Characters: Southern Brahmi of 2nd-3rd century A.D.
Language: Prakrit, Subject: Religious donation
This inscription has been critically read and interpreted by Prof. Shobhana Gokhale (26). The text of the inscription have been suggested to indicate
L2 Certain additions were made to Kanheri chaitya
L3 This may be a perpetual endowment
L4-5 3 Cells were added to Sorparaka Vihar
L5-6 To Ambalika Vihar at Kalyan a chaitya – a reception hall and a cell for monks was built
L6-8 At Paithan a chaitya and 13 cells were built with perpetual endowment (Akhaynivika)
L8-10 At Rajatilak in Paithan district a Kuti (meditation room) and Kodhi (residential room) was built at Sevaju Vihar
L10-11 A monastery (Sagharamo) was built and perpetual endowment set-up
These are meritorious gifts made by donor for his own benefits (Punyath)
It is apparent from the various inscriptions between 3rd century B.C. and 2nd century A.D. that the Brahmi characters underwent minor but distinct modifications. There was no substantial differentiation between northern and southern characters. With the establishment of Gupta dynasty there appears to be profusion of stone, pillar and copper plate inscriptions. Many characters assumed considerable changes. In order to illustrate this point the Kahaum stone pillar inscription of Skandagupta has been reproduced here (27). It is clear and well executed and therefore easily readable. The language of the inscription is Sanskrit and is in verse form.
At the end of 5th century there appears to be another development in Brahmi script. The original characters assumed square form with a box attached to the top of each letter. An example of this style of writing known as Box-headed Brahmi will be seen in the following copper-plate inscription. Only first two lines have been reproduced here. For complete inscription and reading please refer to Sircar’s selected inscriptions (28).
Rajim Copper-Plate Inscription of Tivardeva (c. 580-95 A.D.)
Rajim (Sirpur), Raipur District, Madhya Pradesh; Box-headed Brahmi
This stylized writing continued to be used in 6th and 7th century not only in north but also in southern India.
The common writing style between 5th and 8th century was however Gupta-Brahmi and its modification. It is interesting to note that as late as 775 A.D. late Brahmi script was in use in the Hindu kingdom on Malayan peninsula as is evident from the Ligor stone inscription (28a). In Maharashtra late Gupta Brahmi seems to be in vogue. The example of 7th century will be seen in following inscription from Vadner, Nasik District. A first line in the copper-plate inscription of Buddharaja of Kalchuri dynasty (608 A.D.) has been reproduced here. For further information see selected inscriptions (28b).
Substantial changes in Brahmi character was taking place in central India during the 7th century. Harshavardhana’s inscriptions (606 –647 A.D.) are in Siddhamatrika script, which is more akin to early Nagari than late Brahmi. Vardhanas of Thanesar were successful in eradicating the Huns who had penetrated in Madhya Pradesh by 6th century. Their inscriptions ( Toramana’s Eran Boar inscription and Mihirkula’s Gwalior Inscription) are in Sanakrit written in Gupta-Brahmi. The territorial conquest of Rajyavardhan and later success of Harshavardhan against the Saurashtra and Malwa kings in west and Shashank in east and with matrimonial connection with Maukhari’s of Kanouj ( Harsha’s sister Rajyashri married to Maukhari king) a large land mass of northern and central India came under his control. Now the capital was moved from Thanesar to Kanauj, which became administration as well as cultural center of Harsha’s Empire. The script in the empire was predominantly Siddhamatrika, although the south of Vindhya late Brahmi was in vogue. After the death of Harshsvardhan his empire disintegrated into many smaller kingdoms and Kanouj was repossessed by Maukharis. Here an example of Siddhamatrika is illustrated by first couplet from Nalanda stone inscription of Yashovarman. For complete inscription see Sircar’s selected inscriptions (28C.)
Nalanda Stone Inscription of Yashovarman (c. 725–53 A.D.)
Language: Sanskrit; Script: Siddhamatrika
With the rise of various regional powers and changes in local languages the Brahmi script underwent dramatic changes between 7th and 8th century. By the end of 7th century the Telugu-Kannada script started appearing in Telangana as will be seen from the copper-plate insription of a Pallava king Parameshvara Varman I. This Sanskrit document of donation of a village (687AD) was found at Nallore in Andra Pradesh is in early Telugu-Kannada script, however, has still recognizable late Brahmi characters (28d). The subsequent developments culminated in distinct scripts of south India such as Grantha –Tamil – Malyalam and Sinhalese (29). Similar changes were occurring in the eastern India. Here no further attempt is made to trace the subsequent development of regional scripts in other parts of India except in Maharashtra.
The defeat of Chalukyas of Badami, a major power in Maharashtra, by Rashtrakuta (Dantidurga defeated Kirtivarman II in 755 A.D.) changed the language of the administration in Maharashtra. Chalukyas now in Karnatak adopted the regional language. Although Sanskrit remained as an official court language with the establishment of the regional authorities the local languages became more predominant. There are large number of shasnas (royal decrees) on copperplates issued by the regional dynasties sprang all over. The usefulness of these documents as historical records of the period is undeniable, however the genealogical information there in and the facts of the actual events taking place around that period are highly debatable.
The shasnas have a standard pattern. They would start with invocation of God and a prayer, the royal donor is mentioned with long and compound titles and their lineage to the mythological great personality. This is followed by the exploits of the donor and panegyric on his forebears. Then the actual details of the grant, the recipient with his genealogy and the occasion for the grant are noted. The inscription would end with imprecatory verses to indicate the penalties for the transgressor of the grant. In later inscriptions the last part was inscribed in local language with abusive curse.
By the tenth century the early Nagari script started appearing in the stone and copperplate inscriptions, generally in Sanskrit. Following copperplate inscription of Ratnadev II ( Haihaya ) found at Sarkhon in Bilaspur district, Madhya Pradesh is a good example of the nature of the shasnas of the period. First of the two plates has been reproduced here with the reading of first two lines. For full inscription and the comments see Mirashi (28e).
A fair number of Marathi inscriptions have been unearthed and studied in last eighty years. An excellent account of these inscriptions has been presented by Dr.Tulpule in his work on “Marathi Koriv Lekh” (30). An example of the oldest known Marathi copperplate inscription is given here. For complete description and comments refer to book mentioned above.
Dive-Agar Copperplate Shake 982 (1060 A.D.)
Although earlier two copperplate Marathi inscriptions were claimed to be oldest by Rajwade the subsequent studies have disproved their antiquity. Rajwade was a well-known scholar of Marathi inscriptions and Maratha history. His work has added important dimension to the Maratha history, however, his habit of not presenting the original sources (30a) and sometimes addining few words for the supporting his own ideas (31) makes some of his interpretations doubtful. It is painful to see even in the early 20th century, the scholars were engaged in discussing the puerile ideas about the purity of the Aryan race and the purity of the castes on the basis of puranas, which are full of fantasies and hearsay history. In this regards it is interesting to read the comments of Majumdar on the race, caste and genetic factor (32). No attempt has been made here to discuss the chronological order of the inscriptions, their content and social order; however, it is worth mentioning the opinion of Dr.Ramesh, a language scholar and epigraphist. He remarks, “ We get clear picture of steady decay which eroded the successive generations of Indian society from the inscriptional records. Parallelism between epigraphy and social degeneration was but one aspect of a common and pervasive historical factor in the entire subcontinent” (33).
A large number of Marathi or Sanskrit-Marathi mixed inscriptions of Shilahara kings of north and south Kokan have been found. Dr.Mirashi’s work on the inscriptions of Shilaharas and the history of the region between 9th and 12th century with comments on social order suggests that the Shilaharas successfully ruled the country in peace and relative prosperity (34). A Devnagari inscription of the last Shilahara king Harpaldev is reproduced here as an example of the 12th century script in Maharashtra. The inscription has been copied from Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum Vol. VI, Plate LXIV (34a). The language of the inscription is mixture of Sanskrit and early Marathi.
Mahul (Turbhe; Trombay) Stone Inscription of Haripaldev, Shake 1075 (1153AD)
By the end of 12th century, Devnagari script as we use presently was established. The first two lines from copperplate of Kasheli Grant of Shilahara King Bhoja II (1191 A.D.) are given below as an illustration. For further information see “Inscriptions of Shilahara” No.60 (34b).
Modi script of Maharashtra :
A script, which is generally neglected to be mentioned in the discussion on the Indian scripts, is Modi. The use of Modi in official Marathi documents and administration was common in Maharashtra till the end of 19th century. The British Government of Bombay Presidency in the beginning of 20th century for the sake of convenience and uniformity with the other areas of the presidency decided that the Devnagari (Balbodh as it is called in Maharashtra) should be used as a primary writing system in administration. Thus the Devnagari became the predominant script although modi continued to be taught in schools and was used as an alternate script in Marathi writing. The script was widely used even in 1940s by the people of older generation for personal and financial documentation. With the time however the use of modi diminished and now it has become almost extinct.
Traditionally it is believed that the Modi script was developed by Hemadpant, a well-known administrator in the court of Ramdevrao, the last king of Yadav dynasty (1187-1318) at Devgiri. Hemadpant is also credited with a specific temple architecture called “Hemadpanti temples”. The general use of Modi in administration is however seems to be introduced by Balaji Avaji Chitnis, a minister in Chhatrapati Shivaji’s court. It is said that Balaji while attending Durbar (Mogul Court) at Delhi observed that for the fast transcription of Persian proceedings in Mogul court were written in Shikasta (broken) script as against Nastaliq script, a clear but slower Persian handwriting. Balaji recognized the importance of speed of writing in administrative affairs and thus introduced the Modi script in Maratha administration (35). The term Modi seems to be literal translation of Persian term Shikasta.
Strandberg in her work on the Modi documents from Tanjore in Danish collection (36) has given interesting information on Modi writing along with complete series of twelve letters of Marathi alphabets i.e. Barakhadi. The work also contains various theories regarding the origin of modi writing including some fanciful suggestions such as “Paishachi” was written in Modi. We, however, know that the legend of Gunadhyay and Kanubhuti Vetal attached to Brihtkatha belongs to 2nd century. Modi is strictly written below the line unlike any other scripts of 2nd century such as Brahmi or Kharoshti. Moreover many letters in Modi are the same as in Devnagari. On the basis of known documents it is safe to assume that the Modi was not developed before 12th century.
Modi writing of 18th century has been illustrated here with a letter from Danish Collection of Documents from Tanjore (36a). It is written by Amarsimhaji, Raja of Tanjawar (Tanjore) to Governor Peter Anker of Tranquebar on September 7,1788. There is no discernible difference in modi writing of 18th century and that of early 20th century. This is illustrated by a part of personal letter reproduced here.
A letter from Maratha King Amarsimhaji to Danish Governor Peter Anker :
Text in Devnagari:
Over last forty years in North America I had a number of casual discussions on general subject of Indian Antiquities with well-educated people of Indian origin engaged in various professions. Along with great deal of misinformation about the chronological profile of the evolution of the civilization I found it was commonly believed that the Sanskrit was always written in the Nagari script . I also realized how little I knew about the development of modern Indian scripts from the Brahmi script of 3rd century BC. I was also unaware of the fact that there exists a gap of at least of 800 years between the writing system of Harappans and the Brahmi inscriptions of Ashoka. This prompted me to search for the information on the writing in ancient India.
The pre-history, although only partially known, and history of the Indian subcontinent stretches over a period of 5 to 6 millenniums and the amount of the literature on the Indian antiquities is enormous. A great number of scholars have contributed to our present state of knowledge, however, this work is mainly available to the people who have access to the libraries of academic institutions or the individuals who are engaged in serious studies in the field. It is true that once in a while you see excellent articles in the weekend editions of newspapers or magazines, however due to the restriction on space these articles are short and generally do not provide the references to the original material.
Here an attempt has been made to the present essential history related to the origin of writing in Indian subcontinent and traced the development and evolution of Devnagari script through the ages with pertinent examples and references. The lack of physical evidence regarding the pre-Buddhist literature hampers the establishment of chronology of Vedic period and therefore active search for ancient manuscripts is essential. In this regards it is noteworthy that the British Library in 1994 acquired 60 fragments of birch-bark scrolls of Buddhist manuscript and more recently acquisition of another manuscript by University of Washington Libraries. Both the manuscripts are from Gandhara region and are in Northern Prakrit written in Kharosthi script.
1. Possehl Gregory L. Indus Age: The writing System, University Pennsylvania Press,Philadelphia (1996)
1a Ibid. p.72-75
2. Srivastava Balram, Trade and Commerce in Ancient India, Chokhamba . (1968) p.18
2a Ibid. p.194
3. Kenoyer J.M., Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Civilization, Oxford University Press (1998) pp. 77,78,174,183
3a Ibid. Chapter 5
4. Shendge Malati J., The Aryas: Facts without Fancy and Fiction, Abhinav Publication, New Delhi (1996)
5. Kosambi D.D., The Culture and Civilization of Ancient India, Publishers; Routledge and Kegan Paul, London (1965) p.76-90
5a Ibid. p.80
6. Allchin Bridget and Raymond, The Birth of Indian Civilization., Penguin Publication (1968), Aryans invaders, p.153
6a Ibid. p 145
7. Pran Nath, The script of the Indus Valley seals, J.of the Royal Asiatic Soc. of Great Britain & Ireland, P.71-74 (1931)
8. Dani A.H. Indian Punch-Marked Coins – A new approach, J. of Asiatic Soc. Of Pakistan 1, 109-120 (1956)
9. Kak S.C. On the decipherment of Indus script – A preliminary study of its connection with Brahmi script, Indian J. of History of Science 22, 51-62 (1987)
9a Ibid. On the chronology of Ancient India, 22, 222-234 (1987)
10. Krishna Chaitanya, New histotry of Sanskrit Literature, Asia Publishing House (1962), Cultural background pp. 1-31
10a Ibid. section IV: Language and traditions, P.25
11. Khanna A.N. Archaeology of India – Retrospect and Prospect, 2nd Ed. Clrion Books (associated with Hind Pocket Books), New Delhi (1992)
12. Anthony D.W., Shrads of Speech, The Sciences (N.Y. Acad. Sci.) vol.36, 34-39, (1996)
13. Sircar Dinesh Chandra, Selected Inscriptions: Bearing on the Indian History and Civilization, Vol. I (6thcent.BC to 6thcent.AD.) University of Calcutta Publication (1965), p.3 (Behistun Column Inscription)
13a Ibid. p. 151
13b Ibid. p. 167
14. Agrawal V.S., India as Known to Panini, Tara Publishing Works, Kamaccha, Varanasi-1, 2nd Ed.(1963)
16. Sircar D. C. Indian Epigraphy, Chapters III & IV. Motilal Banarasidas; Publishers, Jawahar Nagar, Delhi 7 (1965)
17. Upasak C.S., The History and Paleography of Mauryan Brahmi Script , The Tara Printing Works, Varanasi (1960) p.14-15
17a Ibid. p.192
18. Khanna K.C. As they saw India; National Book Trust, New Delhi, India (1971) p.63
19. Elders J.W. (ed.) Chapters in Indian Civlization Vol.II, Kendal / Hunt publication Co., Dubuque, Iowa (1970) pp. 8-19
20. Cunningham A. C.S.I., Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, (1860-80), vol.1, Inscriptions of Ashoka; Indology Book House, CK38/16 Banasphatak, Varanasi, India (1961)
20a Ibid. Girnar Rock Edicts; Edicts No. I & II
21. Goyal S.R.; The coinage of ancient India, 1st ed., Kusumanjali Prakashan, Jodhpur, India (1995)
21a Ibid. p.63
22. Govt. of India publication, Devnagari - Development, Modification and Standerdisation. Central Hindi Directorate, Ministry of Education, Govt of India (1977)
23. Burgess Jas and Pandit Bhagwanlal Indraji, Inscriptios from The Cave Temples of Western India (1881), Araeological Survey of Westarn India, India (1976).
24. Bhandarkar R.G., Early History of Deccan, Publisher, Sunil Gupta Pvt.,Calcutta, India (1957) p.36-51
25. Chandra Rajan, Sivadasa’s Vetalpanchvinsati; Penguin Books of India Ltd., 210 Chiranjiv Towers, Nehru place, New Delhi, India (1995), Introduction
26. Gokhale Shobhana, The Kanheri Insciptions; Publisher: Prof. Misra D.N., Director, Post-Graduate Res. Institute, Pune (1991), Inscription no. 6
27. Fleet J.F., Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum Vol III, Inscriptions of the Gupta kings and their successors (revised edition), Indological Book House, CK 38-16, Banasphatak, Varanasi, India (1963), p.65
28. Sircar D.C., Selected Inscriptions vol. II, University of Calcutta Publication (1965) p.307
28a Ibid. pp.687-689
28b Ibid. p.355
28c Ibid. p.229
28d Ibid. p.305
28e Ibid. p.349
29. Chatterji Sunit Kumar, Langueges and Literature of Modern India, Development of modern Indian script from Brahmi, Publisher: Prakash Bhavan, Calcutta (1962), pp. 27-28, 49
30. Tulpule, S.G., Prachin Marathi Koriv Lekh (in Marathi), Published by Pune Vidyapith (1963) Inscription No.2, p.10
30a Ibid. Introduction p.34
31. Gupte K.T., Rajwadyachi Gagabhatti (in Marathi) Poona Oriantal Book House, Sadashiv peth, Poona, India (1919), p.42
32. Majumdar M.R., Cultural History of Gujarat,.Bombay Popular Prakashan (1965), Ch.2 Genetic Factors, pp.34-49
33. Ramesh K.V., Indian Epigraphy Vol. I, Publishers; Sandip Prakashan, Delhi (1984) p.7
34. Mirashi V.V., Inscriptions of Shilaharas, Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum Vol. VI, Archaeological Survey of India, Janapath, New Delhi (1977), Social conditions, p. Iix
34a Ibid. p.146
34b Ibid. p.26
35. Gupte B.A., The Modi Chacters I.A. 34 (1905) pp.27-30 (as quoted by Strandberg)
36. Strandberg Elizabeth, The Modi documents from Tanjore in Danish collection, Franz Steiner Verlag, Wiesbader (1983), pp.24-39
36a Ibid. p.192
37. Ranadive Naren, A spectrum of the development of Indian Civilization, Gayatri, Pub.Toronto Kalibari, Vol.XIII no.2, Oct. 1998, pp.33-37