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The ill directed and limited inquiries of the first European settlers in India, were not likely to have traced the original of these Mohammedan compositions; and its existence was little adverted to, until the translation of the Ayin Acberi, by the late Mr. Gladwin, was published. The abstract then given, naturally excited curiosity, and stimulated inquiry; but the result was unsatisfactory, and a long period intervened before the original work was discovered. Sir W. Jones was unable to meet with it, although the history of India from the Sanscrit Cashmir authorities, was amongst the tasks his undaunted and indefatigable intellect had planned; and it was not until the year 1805, that Mr. Colebrooke was successful in his search. At that time he procured a copy of the work from the heirs of a brahman, who died in Calcutta; and about the same time, or shortly afterwards, another transcript of the Raja Taringiní was obtained by the late Mr. Speke from Lucknow. To these two copies I have been able to add a third, which was brought for sale in Calcutta; and I have only to add, that both in that city and at Benares, I have been hitherto unable to meet with any other transcript of this curious work.
The Ra'ja Taringiní has hitherto been regarded as one entire composition: it is however in fact a series of compositions, written by different authors, and at different periods; a circumstance that gives greater value to its contents; as, with the exceptions of the early periods of the history, the several authors may be regarded almost as the chroniclers of their own times. The first of the series is the Raja Taringiní of Calhána pandit, the son of Champaca; who states his having made use of earlier authorities, and gives an interesting enumeration of several which he had employed. The list includes the general works of Suvrata and Narendra; the history of Gonerda and his three successors, by Hela Rája, an ascetic; of Lava, and his successors to Asoca, by Padma Mihira; and of Asoca and the four next princes, by Sri Ch'havillacara. He also cites the authority of Nila Muni, meaning probably the Nila Purána, a purána known only in Cashmir; the whole forming a remarkable proof of the attention bestowed by Cashmirian writers upon the history of their native country: an attention the more extraordinary, from the contrast it affords, to the total want of historical inquiry in any other part of the extensive countries peopled by the hindus. The history of Calhana commences with the fabulous ages, and comes down to the reign of Sangrama Deva, the nephew of Didďá Ráni, in Saca 949, or a. d. 1027, approaching to what appears to have been his own date, Saca 1070, or a. D. 1148.
The next work is the Rajavali of Jona Rája, of which, I regret to state, I have not yet been able to meet with a copy. It probably begins where Calhana stops, and it closes about the time of Zein-ul-Ab-ad-din, or the year of the Hijra 815, as we know from the next of the series.
The Sri Jaina Raʼja Taringiní is the work of Sri Vara Pandita, the pupil of Jona Rája, whose work it professes to continue, so as to form with it, and the history of Calhána, a complete record of the kingdom of Cashmir. It begins with Zein-ul-Abad-din, whose name the unprepared reader would scarcely recognize, in its Nágari transfiguration of Sri Jaina Ollábbha Dina, and closses with the accession of Fatteh Shah, in the year of the Hijra 882, or A. D. 1477. The name which the author has chosen to give his work of Jaina Taringiní, has led to a very mistaken notion of its character; it has been included amongst the productions of jain literature, whilst in truth the author is an orthodox worshipper of Siva, and evidently intends the epithet he has adopted as complimentary to the memory of Zien-ul-Ab-ad-din, a prince who was a great friend to his hindu subjects, and a liberal patron of hindu letters, and literary men.
The fourth work, which completes the aggregate current under the name of Rája Taringiní, was written in the time of Acher, expressly to continue to the latest date, the productions of the author's predecessors, and to bring the history down to the time at which Cashmir became a province of Acber's empire. It begins accordingly where Sri Vara ended, or with Fatteth Shah, and closes with Nazek Shah; the historian apparently, and judiciously, avoiding to notice the fate of the kingdom during Hamayun's retreat into Persia. The work is called the Rájavali Pataca, and is the production of Punja or Prajuga Bhatta.
Of the works thus described, the manuscript of Mr. Speke, containing the compositions of Calhana and Sri Vara, came into my possession at the sale of that gentleman's effects. Of Mr. Colebrooke's manuscript, containing also the work of Punja Bhatta, I was permitted by that gentleman, with the liberality I have had on former occasions to acknowledge, to have a transcript made; and the third manuscript, containing the same three works, I have already stated I procured by accidental purchase. Neither of the three comprises the work of Jona Raja; and but one of them, the transcript of Mr. Colebrooke's manuscript, has the third tarong or section of Calhána's history. The three manuscripts are all very inaccurate; so far so, indeed, that a close translation of them, if desirable, would be impracticable. The leading points, however, may be depended upon, agreeing not only in the different copies, but with the circumstances narrated in the compendium of Abulfazl, and in the Mohammedan or Persian histories which I have been able to procure."
For the purposes of the comparative view I shall presently draw, I wish to notice pointedly here, that the earliest portion of this history comes down to A. D. 1027; that the author of it flourished about A. D. 1148; and that "the three manuscripts are all very inaccurate; so far so, indeed, that a close translation of them, if desirable, would be impracticable."
In reviewing his sketch of the Cashmirian history, the professor observes, in reference to its chronology :
"The chronology of the Rája Taringiní is not without its interest. The dates are regular, and for a long time both probable and consistent, and as they may enable us to determine the dates of persons and events, in other parts of India, as well as in Cashmir, a short review of them may not be wholly unprofitable.
The more recent the period, the more likely it is that its chronology will be correct; and it will be therefore advisable to commence with the most modern, and recede gradually to the most remote dates. The table prefixed was necessarily constructed on a different principle, and depends upon the date of Gonerda the third, which, as I have previously explained, is established according to the chronology of the text. Gonerda the third lived, according to Calhana pandit, 2330 years before the year Saca 1070, or A. D. 1148, and consequently his accession is placed B. c. 1182: the periods of each reign are then regularly deduced till the close of the history, which is thus placed in the year of Christ 1025, or about 120 years before the author's own time. That the reign of the last sovereign did terminate about the period assigned, we may naturally infer, not only from its proximity to what we may conclude was the date at which the work was written, but from the absence of any mention of Mahmud's invasions, and the introduction of a Prithivi Pa'la, who is very possibly the same with the Pitteruge Pal of Lahore, mentioned in the Mohammedan histories."
In applying the proposed test of "receding gradually to the most remote dates," the anachronism at the period of the reign of Gonerda the third is not less than 796 years: the date arrived at by this recession being B. c. 388, while the text gives B. c. 1182: and various collateral evidences are adduced by the professor to shew that the adjusted is the probably correct one*. This anachronism of course progressively increases with the recession. At the colonization of Cashmir, it amounts to 1048 years. The respective dates being, text B. c. 3714, and adjusted epoch B. c. 2666.
In Colonel Tod's superb publication, "The Annals of Rajasthan," the whole of the above data are reconsidered in reference to the hindu texts; but some trifling alterations only are made in those early dynasties. From poetical legends, the successful decyphering of inscriptions, and the discovery of a new era, (the Balábhi) a very large mass of historical information has, with incredible industry, been arranged into the narrative form of history; the chronology of which has been corrected and adjusted, as far as practicable, according to the occasional dates developed in that historical information.
At the end of these remarks will be found reprinted, portions of professor Wilson's prefaces to his translations of the historical dramas-the MUDRA RAKSHASA, and the RETNAVALI; to both which I shall have to refer, in commenting on the chapters of the Mahawanso, which embrace the periods during which the events represented on these hindu plays occurred.
I believe, I have now adverted to the principal published notices of hindu literature, in reference to continuous hindu history. And if I were called upon to answer the question, suggested by myself; upon the evidence adduced, I should say, in reply to the first part of that proposition-That there does not now exist an authentic, connected, and chronologically correct hindu history; and that the absence of that history proceeds, not from original deficiency of historical data, nor their destruction by the ravages of war, but the systematic perversion of those data, adopted to work out the monstrous scheme upon which the hindu faith is based.
⚫ I have ventured to suggest in an article in the Journal of the Asiatic Society for September 1836, that this anachronism amounts to about 1177 instead of 796 years.
In regard to the second part of the proposition, the answer can only be made inferentially and hypothetically. Judging from what has already been effected, by the collateral evidence of the history of other countries, and the decyphering of inscriptions and coins, I am sanguine enough to believe that such a number of authentic dates will in time be verified, as will leave intervals of but comparatively short duration in the ancient Indian dynasties between any two of those authentic dates; thereby rescuing hindu history in some degree from the prejudice under which it has been brought by the superstitions of the native priesthood.
One of the most important services rendered to the cause of oriental research of late years, is, perhaps, "the restoration and decyphering of the Allahabad inscription, No. 2," achieved by Doctor Mill, and published in the Asiatic Journal of June, 1834.
In reference to this historical inscription, the learned Principal observes, "Were there any regular chronological history of this part of Northern India, we could hardly fail in the circumstances of this inscription, even if it were without names, to determine the person and the age to which it belongs. We have here a prince who restores the fallen fortunes of a royal race that had been dispossessed and degraded by the kings of a hostile family-who removes this misfortune from himself and his kindred by means of an able guardian or minister, who contrives to raise armies in his cause; succeeding at last in spite of vigorous warlike opposition, including that of some haughty independent princesses, whose daughters, when vanquished, become the wives of the conqueror-who pushes his conquests on the east to Assam, as well as to Nepal and the more western countries-and performs many other magnificent and liberal exploits, constructing roads and bridges, encouraging commerce, &c. &c.—in all which, allowing fully for oriental flattery and extravagance, we could scarcely expect to find more than one sovereign, to whom the whole would apply. But the inscription gives us the names also of the prince and his immediate progenitors: and in accordance with the above mentioned account, while we find his dethroned ancestors, his grandfather and great grandfather, designated only by the honorific epithet Mahá-rája, which would characterize their royal descent and rights-the king himself (SAMUDRAGUPTA) and his father are distinguished by the title of Máha-rájá-Adhi-rája, which indicates actual sovereignty. And the last mentioned circumstance might lead some to conjecture, that the restoration of royalty in the house began with the father, named CHANDRAGUPTA, whose exploits might be supposed to be related in the first part of the inscription, to add lustre to those of the son.
Undoubtedly we should be strongly inclined, if it were possible, to identify the king thus named— (though the name is far from being an uncommon one) with a celebrated prince so called, the only one in whom the Puranic and the Greek histories meet, the CHANDRAGUPTA or SANDRACOPTUS, to whom SELEUCUS NICATOR sent the able ambassador, from whom STRABO, ARRIAN, and others derived the principal part of their information respecting India. This would fix the inscription to an age which its character (disused as it has been in India for much more than a thousand years), might seem to make sufficiently probable, viz. the third century before the christian era. And a cri ic, who chose to maintain this identity, might find abundance of plausible arguments in the inscription: he might imagine he read there the restoration of the asserted genuine line of NANDA in the person of CHANDRAGUPTA, and the destruction of the nine usurpers of his throne: and in what the inscription, line 16, tells of the guardian GIRI-KALKA'RAKA-SVAMI, he might trace the exploits of CHANDRAGUPTA's wily brahman counsellor CHA'NAKYA, so graphically described in the historical play called the Mudra-Ráxasa, in levying troops for his master, and counterplotting all the schemes of his adversaries
"able minister RA'XASA, until he recovered the throne: nay the assistance of that RA'XASA himself, who from an enemy was turned to a faithful friend, might be supposed to be given with his name in line 10 of the inscription. And the discrepancy of all the other names besides these two, viz. of CHANDRAGUPTA's son, father, grandfather, and guardian minister, to none of whom do the known Puranic histories of that prince assign the several names of the inscription, might be overcome by the expedient-usual among historical and chronological theorists in similar cases,―of supposing several different names of the same persons.
"But there is a more serious objection to this hypothesis than any arising from the discrepancy of even so many names-and one which I cannot but think fatal to it. In the two great divisions of the Xattriya Rajas of India, the CHANDRAGUPTA of the inscription is distinctly assigned to the Solar racehis son being styled child of the Sun. On the other hand, the celebrated founder of the Maurya dynasty, if reckoned at all among Xattriyas, (being, like the family of the NANDAS, of the inferior caste of Sudras, as the Greek accounts unite with the Puránas in respecting him,) would rather find his place among the high-born princes of Magadha whose throne he occupied, who were children of the moon : and so he is in fact enumerated, together with all the rest who reigned at Pataliputra or Palibothra, in the royal genealogies of the Hindus. It is not therefore among the descendants or successors of CURU, whether reigning (like those Magadha princes) at Patna, or at Dehli, that we must look for the subject of the Allahabad inscription; but if I mistake not, in a much nearer kingdom, that of Canyácubja or Canouje.” Laudable as is the caution with which Dr. Mill abandons this important identification, the annals of Páli literature appear to afford several interesting notices, well worthy of his consideration, tending both to remove some of these doubts, and to aid in elucidating this valuable inscription. It will be found in the ensuing extracts from the commentary on the Mahawanso, that the Moriyan was a branch of the Sákyan dynasty, who were the descendants of Ixkswaku, of the solar line: though the name of Chandragupta's father is not given in the particular work under consideration, to admit of its being compared with the inscription, it is specifically stated that he was the last sovereign of Móriya of that family, and lost his life with his kingdom: his queen, who was then pregnant, fled with her brothers to Pataliputta (where Chandragupta was born) to seek protection from their relations the Nandos, whose grandfather, Susunágo, was the issue of a Lichchawi rája, by a "nagarasóbhiní,”— one of the Aspasias of Rájagaha: he married the daughter of the eldest of these maternal uncles, who were of the LICпCHAWI line: the issue of that princess would hence appropriately enough be termed "maternal grandson of Lichhawi:" and he and his son, the subject of this inscription, as the supreme monarchs of India could alone be entitled, of all the rájás whose names are inscribed, to the title Mahá rájá Adhi rájá.” Dr. Mill thus translates the 26th line of the inscription.
"Of him who is also maternal grandson of LICHCHAWI, conceived in the great goddess-like CUMARADEWI, the great king, the supreme monarch SAMUDRA GUPTA, illustrious for having filled the whole earth with the revenues arising from his universal conquest, (equal) to INDRA, chief of the gods ;"
If, under these multiplied coincidences and similarities, and this apparent removal of the Reverend Principal's objections, the identity of Chandragupta may be considered to be established, Samudragupta would be the Bindusáro of Páli history, to whom, as one of the supreme monarchs of India, the designation would not be inappropriate. And indeed, in the Mahawanso, in describing the completion of the buddhistical edifices in the reign of his son and successor, Dhammásóko, a similar epithet is applied to his empire.
Sammuddapariyantań só Jambúdipan samantató passi sabbé wiháricha náná, puja wibhúsité.
"He saw (by the power of a miracle) all the wiháros, situated in every direction through the ocean-bound Jambudipo, resplendent with offerings."
Also within a few months, another orientalist, the Rev. Mr. Stevenson of Poonah,, "through the aid afforded by the Allahabad inscription, and assistance from other sources," has been enabled to decypher some of the inscriptions at the caves of Carli; which will probably prove the key to the inscriptions in the stupendous temples at Ellora. Mr. Stevenson adds, "many important duties prevent me from allotting much time to studies of this nature, and the time I can spare for such a purpose will be better spent in endeavouring to elucidate the history of the Dakhan (Dekan) from the numerous inscriptions, in this and other ancient characters, which are to be found up and down the country; assured that the learned in Calcutta will soon reveal to us whatever mysteries the Allahabad and Delhi columns conceal." The Journal of September last, contains the translation of the inscriptions upon two sets of copper plates found "several years since" in the western part of Gujerat, which Mr. Secretary Wathen has now been enabled to translate; and by means of those two inscriptions alone, to fix the period of the reigns of no less than eighteen sovereigns of the Valabhi or Balhavi dynasty, between the years a. D. 144 and 559.
Contemporaneously with this decyphering of inscriptions, the pages of the Asiatic Journal have displayed the successful labors of Mr. Prinsep, its editor and the secretary of the society, in identifying and classifying various ancient coins, equally conducive to the supply of the grand desideratum in oriental literature,-CHRONOLOGY.
In the midst of this interesting and triumphant career of oriental research, I have undertaken the task of inviting the attention of orientalists to the Páli buddhistical literature of India, the examination of which is not within my own reach. If they are found to approximate, in any degree, to the authenticity of the Páli historical annals of Ceylon, we shall not only be able to unveil the history of India from the 6th century before Christ, to the period to which those annals may have been continued in India; but they will also serve to elucidate there, as they have done here, the intent and import of the buddhistical portion of the inscriptions now in progress of being decyphered.
To do justice, however, to the important question under consideration, I must briefly sketch the history of the Mágadhi or Páli language, and the scheme of buddhism in reference to history, as each is understood in Ceylon.
Buddhists are impressed with the conviction that their sacred and classical language, the Magadhi or Páli, is of greater antiquity than the Sanscrit; and that it had attained also a higher state of refinement than its rival tongue had acquired. In support of this belief they adduce various arguments, which, in their judgment, are quite conclusive. They observe, that the very word "Páli" signifies, original, text, regularity; and there is scarcely a buddhist Páli scholar in Ceylon, who, in the discussion of this question, will not quote, with an air of triumph, their favorite verse,—
Sá Mágadhi; múla bhásá, naráyéyádi kappiká, brahmánóchassutt álápá, Sambuddháchápi bhásaré. “There is a language which is the root (of all languages); men and bráhmans at the commencement of the creation, who never before heard nor uttered an human accent, and even the supreme Buddhos, spoke it: it is Mágadhi."
This verse is a quotation from Kachcháyano's grammar, the oldest referred to in the Páli literature of Ceylon. The original work is not extant in this island. I shall have to advert to it hereafter.
Into this disputed question, as to the relative antiquity of these two ancient languages, it is not my intention to enter. With no other acquaintance with the Sanscrit, than what is afforded by its affinity