Kumaragupta Inscriptions

Written by Alok Mohan on August 14, 2022. Posted in Uncategorized

Kumaragupta had at least two sons: Skandagupta and Purugupta. The inscriptions of Skandagupta, who became the next king, do not mention the name of his mother, in a departure from the tradition. Purugupta was the son of Mahadevi (queen) Anantadevi.
(a Kadamba princess)
A Bihar stone pillar inscription of Skandagupta suggests that Kumaragupta also married the sister of one of his ministers. Ghatotkacha-gupta was probably a son or younger brother of Kumaragupta.

A Chinese traveler Xuanzang to India,  mentions Budhagupta after king Shakraditya, while naming the patrons of the Nalanda monastery.
Buddhagupta is identified as Kumaragupta by some scholars, as he was also a follower of Buddhism and had established several Buddhist shrines in his empire)
Some historians say that Budhagupta was also a son of Kumaragupta I. However, the epigraphic evidence makes it clear that Budhagupta was a son of Kumaragupta 2, and not Kumaragupta 1.
Kumaragupta had established diplomatic relations with the Liu Sung emperors of China, and may have been honored as Budhagupta, by the Chinese kings.

Chirata-datta ruled the Pundravardhana-bhukti (province) in present-day Bengal as a subordinate of Kumaragupta for a short period.
He may also have assumed independence for a short period, possibly after the death of Kumaragupta.

Epigraphic evidences indicate that many faiths like Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Buddhism, and Jainism, flourished during Kumaragupta’s reign. Kumaragupta’s silver coins describe him as a devotee of the god Vishnu (parama-bhagavata or bhagavata). His gold, silver, and copper coins feature Vishnu’s vahana Garuda. He was also a devotee of the war god Karttikeya (also known as Skanda): his coins feature Karttikeya seated on a peacock. He named his son Skandagupta after the god, and his own name “Kumara” appears to have been based on another name of the god.
According to the Buddhist writers Xuanzang (7th century) and Prajnavarman (8th century), the Buddhist mahavihara at Nalanda was established by a king called Shakraditya.
 Modern scholars identify king Shakraditya with Kumaragupta based on the following points:
“Shakra” and “Mahendra” are names of the Indian deity Indra, and Kumaragupta bore the title Mahendraditya.
Kumaragupta’s reign was not peaceful during his last few days.
This is evident from the Bhitari pillar inscription of Skandagupta, which  states that Skandagupta defeated his enemies and re-established the “ruined fortunes” of his family when his father died, and then he visited his mother whose “eyes were full of tears of joy. The enemies mentioned in the inscriptions include the Pushyamitras or the Hunas; an alternative interpretation reads “yudhyamitras” (a generic term for enemies) instead of Pushyamitras.

Inscription number 19
Karamdanoda Stone Linga Inscription of the time of Kumara-gupta 1, Gupta Year 117 (=436 A.D.).
Provenance: Bharadhi, Dih, near Karamdanda, Faizabad District. U.P
Script: Late Northern Brahmi.
Language: Sanskrit.
References: Sten Konow, Ep.Ind, X, pp.71f. Bhandarkar’s List No. 1270 (for other references) D.C. Sircar,
Sel.Inss. I,. pp-289-90.
Footnote 1,
1. From the facsimile in EP.Ind.. X, The gupta script is divided into five classes, namely, Eastern, Western, Northern. Southern and Central on minor peculiarities, which often are also detected outside the area assigned.
D.C. Sircar’s classification into Northern
and Southern only is more convenient and practicable. The present Inscription ie assigned to the eastern variety, according to the five-fold classification
Footnote 2.

1. Read जाधिराज
2. Here is another example of a hereditary minister. cf. अन्वय प्राप्त साचिव्य वीरसेन. of the Udayagiri Cave
Inscription of the year 82.

3. The Gods were named after the donor, who raised the temple and installed the image. In this case,
Prithivishena himself appears to be the donor.
The first half of the donors name, followed by isvara was given to the temple and the God: Cf. Mihiresvara Siva, installed by Mihiralakshmi in the Nirmand inscription.
(C.I.I. III, pp.288)
English Translation of the inscription

Obeisance to Mahadeva. On the tenth day of the month of Karttika. in the one hundred and seventeenth year of the
Victorious reign of the Maharajadhiraja, the illustrious, Kumara-gupta, whose fame as tasted by the waters of the four oceans (and)who meditated on the feet of the Maharajadhiraja, the illustrious Chandragupta. On this day as specified above, the Minister kumaramatya of the Maharajadhiraja the illustrious Kumaragupta and subsequently (his) Mahabaladhikrita Prithivishena, son of sikharasvamin, the Minister Kumaramatya of the Maharajadhiraja, the illustrious Chandragupta who was the son of
Vishnupalitabhatta, the son of Kuramaravyabhatta, a teacher
of the Chhandoga (Samaveda) of the Asva-vajin gotra, (gave) for
the sake of obeisance to the Lord mahadeva, known as Prithivisvara, with proper and righteous offerings, at the feet of this very lord.
the Lord Sailesvarasvami-Mahadeva, to
From Ayodhya of different gotras and charanas, perfected in
penances and study, in the mantras, the sutras, the bhasyas
and pravachanas, who at the procession of the image at Bharadi.

Footnote 3

The lower part of the entire line is broken. Hence the subscript matras and conjuncts have been read conjecturally देवद्रोणी = A procession with idols. Also the property of a temple. as indicated by the passage – श्री सोम नाथ देवद्रोणी प्रतिबद्ध महायणान्त: पति
of veraval Inscription, 1.12
(ED.Ind XXXIV, pp-143-44) The word also occurs in Mallasarul Copper-plate inscription of the time of Gopachandra-year 33 (see infra,III , No. 75).The reading of भारहिदसमद is doubtful. According to Konow, it refers to the village भारडि and समद stands for समुद्र, an epithet of Siva. Sircar Sel.Inss.,I, pp.291 suggests the correction पारगो – भारहिद – समद where भारहिद is modern village Bharadhi, and समुद्र is a deity named समुर्देश्वर
Footnote 4

Or Asva, i.e. Vajin gotra which may be the same as Asvalayana gotra.
Sten Konow translates. “of the
gotras of Asva and Vajin” which is implausible. The same person cannot have two gotras.

Inscription number 20.
Damodarpur Copper-plate Inscription of the time of Kumara-gupta 1, Gupta Year 124 (= 444 A.D.)
Provenance: Damodarpur, Dinajpur district, Bangla Desh.
Script: Late Northern Brahmi..
Language: Sanskrit.
Metres: Verse 1 अनुष्टुभ (श्लोक)
References: R. G. Basak, Ep.Ind.. XV, pp.129 ff. D.C. Sircar, Select Inss, I, pp.290-92.
Footnote 1,
1. From the facsimile in Ep.Ind. XV.
2. Read फाल्गुन
The figure seems to be 3 and not 7
as read by Basak and Sircar.
3. पुण्र्डवर्दन = mod. Mahasthan in Bagra district. The bhukti comprised Bagra-rajshahi dinapur region. Later
it included parts of eastern and Southern Bengal.
Footnote 2
उपरिक =Governor.
2. Read दत्तेनानुवहमानक = Under the continuing rule of Chiratadatta.
3. = Banapura or bhananagara Devikota = Mod. Bangarh in
Dinajpur district.
4. अधिष्ठान = headquarter, Seat of Government. अधिकरण = administative authority or board. In this case it consisted of 4 members नगरश्रेष्ठिन (President of the city chamber of commerce) सात्र्थवाह
(Leader of a merchant
convoy) प्रथम कुलिक (Leader of the Artizen class). and प्रथमकायस्थ
(Leading clerk) This administrative board assisted the vishayapati. Similar boards, called Chauthia
(Chaturjataka). consisting of the patel (village headman)
and Patwari (village record keeper) presided over by the
Nagarseth, still function in western India. (See Ep.Ind, XXXI pp.6, n 2, XXXIII, pp.193, XXXIV, pp.142 ff etc).
D.C. Sircar( Sel.Inss. I, pp29, n 8) infoms us that Mitra, Datta and Pala are cognomens of Bengali kayasthas,
who as also the Vaidyas, appear to be a mixed caste, with both brahmana and non-brahmana elements.
The outcaste Vediyas and the desoendants af the vaidyas,
both of a sudra father and a vaisya mother (Mahabharata,
XIII,9) are distinct from Kayastha vaidyas.

Footnote 3.

1. For utilisation in the maintenance of sacred fire.
2.अपर्दा = non-transferrable. अर्पहत
not yet broken or reclaimed.
खिल = untilled land.
3. दिनार = Gupta gold coin named after the Roman Dinarius. the Roman term was used for both gold and silver coins.
Gold coin was specifically called Aurius. For कुल्पवाय see supra II, No.l6, l11,,n.2
4. = तथेति प्रतिपाद्य
5. Record keepeE..
He detemined whether the land could
and should be sold to the party.
6. Basak and sircar पश्चिम देशे
7. Read कुल्यवाप एको दत्त:
8. singular is required. since only one verse is quoted.
This line should be read before स्वदत्ता
from which the verse begins.

English Translation of the inscription

In the year 124, on the 3rd day of Phalguna, while His Supreme divinity (Param-Daivata) His Supreme Majesty
(Parema-Bhattaraka). the overlord of Great Kings (Maharajadhiraja) the illustrious Kumaragupta was the ruler of the earth and while the district (vishaya) of Kotivarsha,-
within the province (bhukti of Pundravardhana as under
the continuing rule of the Uparika Chiratadatta, the Kamaramatya,
appointed by the latter was Vetravaman who was accepted (i.e. confirmed) by His Honourable Majesty and Dhritipala, the.President of the city Chamber of commerce nagara-sreshthin)
Bandumitra, the leader of the merchant convoy (sarthavaha),
Dhritimitra the leader of the artizens guild (Prathama-kulika)
(and) samba pā la the Chief Clek (Prathama-kayastha) being in the
lead were jointly managing the Board of Administration of the
headquarters (adhishthana) (of the vishaya) 1 whereas the
Brahmana Karpatika (this) prayed *Please grant (me) according to the law of perpetual endowment (nivi-dhama)
to be used for financing my agnihotra (rites), the non-transferable
untilled fallow land, at the rate of three dinaras per kulyayupa,
to be enjoyed for ever as long as the moon, the son and the
stars last. Thus, on having been decided that the same be
granted. wherefore one kulyavapa of land was given (to him) in
the north-western region of Donga after receiving three dinaras,
on demarkation having been ascertained by the record-keeper
Rishidatta, Jayanandin and vibhudatta. There are verses pertaining
to land-gifts.
(One of the usual admonitory verses partly precedes and partly follows this last sentence).
Footnote 4
The pronoun tat refers to His Supreme Majest Kumara-gupta
And pada is used as an honorific. Note that a Kumaramatya,
Presumably serving as a minister or an advisor to the
Governor of the vishaya, was appointed by the latter and confirmed by the sovereign. Basak in his translation
hass missed the point that taipada parigrihite qualifies
Vetravamani, and not Chiratadattena.

Footnote 5

The word nivi is a synonym for paripana and mula-dhana
(i.e. the capital or the principal in the matter of sale and purchase of. Amarkosa, III.3.212 and Hemachand,
1I.534 (mula-dravya)
In inscriptions nivi and akshaya-
nivi are frequently used in the sense of fixed capital, out of the interest on which an expense is to be met.
The grantee was authorised to use only the proceeds of or the interest on the akshaya-nivi. and was not permitted
to destroy or alienate the principal,
money, though we find that in some cases the guarantee did reverse the process and transferred the gift to later
grantees. as in the Dhanaidaha grant.
(Supra, II, No 16, pp.7-12)

Inscription number 21
Damodarpur Copper-plate Inscription of the time of Kamaragupta. Gupta year 129 (447 A.D.)
Provenance: Damodarpur, Dinajpur district, Bangladesh.
Script: Eastern variety of Gupta Brahmi of the Northern Class, of the 5th, century A.D.
Language: Sanskrit
Metres: W.1-2: अनुष्टुभ ( श्लोक ).
References RG. Basak, Ep.Ind. V. 133ff. K N Dikshit, Ibid. XVII pp.193 D.C.Sircar, Select Inss. , I, pp.292-94.
Footnote 1

From the facsimile in Ep.Ind XV, facing pp.133. The five Damodarpur plates are decipherable only in the original edition. The reprint edition plates are illegible.
2. भुक्ति and भोग both are derived from the भुज to enjoy.
The words are used in the inscriptions in the technical administrative sense of ‘fief’ an ‘jurisdiction’ or ‘administration’ of the same or simply in the sense of a fiefdom.
3. Sandhi, being optional in Sanskrit prose. is not observed in many inscriptions.
4. The name of the purchaser is lost here.
5. अनुवृत्त = customary or according to the general rule or practice.
Footnote 3

1. अवधारणा = ascertainment. determination.
2.उत्पन्ने = having been ascertained or decided.
3. For कुल्पवाय
See supra II, No. 16, L, II, n.2.
4. Normally 8 dronavapas = 1 Kulyavapa. But here 2/3 of a Kulyavapa
are equated with 5 donas.
According to it, 1 kulyavapa will come to 7 dronavapas, instead of 8.
Possibly the measure varied from place to place according to the length of the measuring rod used, as it is today in
Bengal the dron. still in use, varies with locality. In some places it is equal to 7acres.
Please See Sircar, op.cit. pp 293, n10.
Add भूखण्डा after द्रोणात्मका :
5. हट्ट = sjops or market place. पानक = आ पान = sheds for watering cattle or water-sheds (plause) for men.
6. Read सहिता इति
7. संव्यवहारिक = administering agent.
8. अनुमन्तव्य=should be approved.
English Translation of the inscription
In the Year 129. on the 13th day of visakha, while Paramadaivata, Parama-bhattaraka. Maharajadairaja
Sri Kumaragupta was the ruler of earth, while the Kotivarsha
district (Vishaya) within the Pundravardham province (bhukti)
was being administered under the jurisdiction (bhogana Lit.
enjoyment) of Uparika Chiratadatta, accepted by His Honour
(the King) his (Chiratadatta’s) appointee Kanarmatya (advisor) was vetravarman and while the Nagara-Sreshthin
Dhritipala, sarthavaha Bandhumitra, the chief artisan Dhritimitra and Sambapala, the chief Scribe being in the lead. were jointly managing the Board of administration of the
headquarters (of the Vishaya) (whereas the Brahmana Prayed, “Please grant me acoording to the law of perpetual
endowments, the customarily non-transferable (anuvrittaramprada)
(land) for conducting my five great (daily) sacrifices. On
receiving this petition. and on the decision having been taken
that the same be given after due ascertainment by the record-
keepers. Risidatta and Jayanandin and Vishnudatta, land measuring
five dronas. together with attached) shops and water-sheds
(For cattle or men in the Aravatago state in the western direction after receiving two dinaras from him at the
customary rate of three dinaras per kulyavapa. Therefore.
in the following times (ie. future) the administering authorities should considering the commands of dharma
(religious duty) approve it And further there are two verses pertaining to land gifts.

Inscription number 22. Mankuwar Buddhist Stone Image Inscription of the time of
Kumaragupta 1 – Gupta Year 129 (=448 A. D.)
Provenance: Mankuwar, 14 kms. S.W. of Arail, karchhana Tehsil,
Prayagraj district, U. P
Script: Late Northern Brahmi (usually classified as Eastern Gupta.
Language: Sanskrit influenced by Prakrit.
References: Cunningham’s, AS.I. X pp.7, Bhagwan L. Indraji. J.B.BR.A.S, XVI,
pp.354 J.F. Fleet. C.l.I..III, No. 11,
pp.45 f, Bhandarkar’s List no 1273 (for
other references) Sircar, Sel.Inss. I,
pp. 294-95.

English Translation of the inscription
Om ! Reverence to the Buddhas. This image of the Lord. who thoroughly attained perfect knowledge (and) who was consistent with (lit., never acted.
against his own teachings, has been installed by the monk buddhamitra (in) the year 129, in the reign of
Maharaja Shri Kumara-gupta, in the month of Jyeshtha on
the 10th day. with the object of driving off all unhappiness.

Foot note 1
1. From the facsimile in C.I.I. III, Pl vi A, opp. pp.46
2. symbol for ओम बुधानं
is a Prakritisation for बुधेभ्य
3. Meaning consistent with his own teachings’.
4. Abbreviation of संवत्सर
5. It is an unofficial record, Hence the lapse in recording complete formal royal titles.
6. The salutation is for all the Bodhisattvas. Similar plural with Buddha is used elsewhere also, e.g.
Ind.Ant. IV, pp.105.

Alok Mohan

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