ancient indian history

Talagunda Stone-Pillar Inscription

Inscription number 54. 

Talagunda Stone-Pillar Inscription of Santivarman (455-470 A.D.)

The stone pillar is located in front of a ruined Siva temple, called Pranavalingeshwara temple in Talagunda  village, shimoga, Karnataka.

 The temple is very close to the  State Highway and is located  80 kilometers northwest of Shivamogga city.

This inscription gives major information about the Kadamba dynasty especially about its founders.

This inscription was written in the mid 5th century CE The author of this inscription was Kubja, the court-poet of Santivarman. He had engraved the inscriptions himself so as to prevent any other engraver from committing mistakes. The inscription gives details of the Brahmin Kadamba dynasty.

Provenance: Talagunda, Shimoga District, Karnataka.

Script: Box-headed variety of Late Brahmi of the southern class of the first half of the fifth century A.D.

Language: Sanskrit.

Metres:   मिश्रगण – गितिका  

 vv.1-24, पुष्पिताग्रा, vv.25-26:वसन्ततिलका

: vv.27,30-31, 34 शार्दूलविक्रीडित   

V.28; मन्दाक्रान्ता : V.29, इन्द्रवज्रा, V.32; प्रचित (a variety of दण्डक) V.33.

Footnote 1.

1. Kielhorn calls it an unnamed variety of मात्रासमक. 

Matra 15+15+15 + 15.

2. Also called चण्डवेग or अर्णव according to Kielhorn.

References: Buhler, Ind.Ant, XXV, pp. 27 f, Rice, Ep.carn, VII, pp.200 ff;

 F. Kielhorn, Ep.Ind., VIII, pp.24-36,

 D.C. Sircar, Sel.Inss., I, pp.474-79.

Footnote 2.

1. From the facsimile in Ep.Ind. VIII, where Kielhorn assigns it to Kakusthavarman. Kakusthavarman was the most powerful ruler of the dynasty. According to Sastri and Moraes, under the rule of Kakusthavarma, the kingdom reached its pinnacle of success and the Talagunda record calls him the “ornament of the family”.

2. Engraved in the left margin at a level between 11.1 and 2.

3. Correctly spelt the word is   But the Kadamba records invariably use this wrong form.

4. The reference evidently is Mayurasarman whom the

Pallavas appointed as the senapati (commander in chief)

after having been worsted in border conflicts, according to 11.5-8 below.

5. Kielhorn takes it as a Bahuvrihi samasa, i.e त्रयार्ष-वत्र्म – हारीति पुत्रम् 

Footnote 2.

1. घटिका = ब्रहमपुरी  of many inscriptions = an establishment of holy and learned men, devoted to religious and learned

discourses, a college तक्र्कुक = याचक:: (See Hemachandra’s Abhidhana chintamani, v.388. Here it means a भिक्षु-छात्र: पल्लवेन्द्रपुरी = काञ्ची 

2. Sircar suspects. पल्लवाश्व – संस्था 

refers to the Asva-medha performed by Siva-skanda-varman, and hence

Mayurasarman to be a contemporary of the former. ( See also his Successors of the Satavahanas, Calcutta, 1939,  pp.184, and 248.

Footnote 3.

1. श्रीपर्वत Modern seisailam in Nallamalpur range, in Kurnool district, on the west of the Eastern Ghats.

2. The kingdom of the Banas comprised parts of the chittoor,

North arcot and Anantapur Districts. According to Kielhorn, their capital was at Tiruvallam (also called Banapuram

formerly) in the district of Perumbanappadi, i.e. the

country of the great Bana (sanskrit. बृहदबाण) in Tamil.

3. काञ्ची the Pallava capital modern city of Kanchipuram.

4. श here may be treated as a short syllable, but subscript later erased.

5. Originally engraved     संववेश   

6. originally दन्तां seems to have been engraved. Read आपदं तां 

Footnote 4.

1. He seems to have combined his feudatory status with the

supreme command of the Pallava armies.

2. Kielhorn expressed inability to identify the Prehara. Sircar suggests its identification with either the Malaprahara (or Malaprabha) or the Ghataprahara (Ghataprabha) both tributaries of the Krishna, and

seems to locate it in Kerala on the basis of its association with the river Murala and Aparanta country- in the Ayanti sundarikatha and a reference, e.g. मलप्रहरा – भीमरथी – घटप्रहराणां 

in the Bhojanakutuhala

of Raghunatha (end of the 17th century).

3. The third pada has 16 matras.

4.  अनुध्याय = having favoured, not after meditating on as Kielhorn takes it.

Footnote 5.

The third pada has 16 or 17 matras.ल in कुल – प्र  may however be considered as a short syllable.

Footnote 5.

1. His claim that his daughters were married to many kings including one belonging to the Gupta dynasty

is noteworthy. The year 80 of his Halsi copper-plate grant, most probably, pertains to the Gupta era of his


2. विसर्ग – लोप under खर्परे शरि वा विसर्ग – लोपो वकतव्य:  ( वा on Panini 8.3.36.)

3. The poet presumes a stop after 1st and 3rd padas and hence does not apply sandhi rules in the last letter.

This satakani is, probably. a king of the family represented by vishnukadda chutukulananda satakarni

of Kuntala, opines Sircar ( sel.Inss., I, pp 479, n.3). There was no chutu family see Ep.Ind, XXXV, pp.72.

Footnote 6.

1. This appear to refer to his patta-bandha, i.e. annointnent

as a feudatory ruler by the Pallava sovereign. It may be remembered that his ancestor, Mayurasarman was also

invested with a similar pattabandha. But his younger brother who performed an Asvamedha, and thus challenged

the authority of the Pallavas was defeated and killed by

the latter. (See Ep.Ind, XXXV, pp- 258 and 280 ff.

2. The poet Kubja is otherwise unknown. He wrote down his

poem on the rock. for the benefit of the engraver.

3.    स्थान कुन्दूर = mod Talagunda

4.  सर्व समन्तागत: अधिवास: = सर्वान्  समन्तान्  समन्तवासिन: आगत: प्राप्त:  अधिवास: देवालय: 


English Translation of the inscription.

Success Obeisance to Siva.Victorious is the eternal siva, whose one body is framed by the coalescence of all the

gods, who is adorned with a mass of matted hair lustrous because

inlaid with the rays of the moon

After him, victorious are the gods on earth ( i.e the Brahmanas) the best of the twice-born, who recite the

Sama, Rig and yajur, whose favour constantly guards the

three worlds from the fear of evil.

And next victorious is Kakutsthavarman of vast Intelligence, and of a body comparable to that of the lord of the gods, the king who is like the moon in the firmament of the great lineage of the Kadamba leaders of armies.

There was a lofty family of the twice-born, the circle

of rays of whose moon-like virtues, was expanding, known as the Hariti-putras (i.e. sons of Hariti) and traversing

along the Path of the three Vedas, who had sprung from the gotra

of Manavyas, the foremost of Rishis whose hair was wet from

being constantly sprinkled with the holy water of the purifcatory rites of manyfold sacrifices thoroughly versed in delving into the sacred lore, who kindled the sacred fire and

drank soma according to due rites, the interiors of whose houses reverberated with the sixfold subjects of study

(i.e. six Vedangas) preceded by the word om, who promoted

the increase of ample chaturmasya sacrifices, agnihotra and

animal sacrifices, new and full-moon and sraddha rites; whose

dwellings were ever resorted to by guests and who were regular in their three fruitful Soma rites and on a spot near whose house, there grew one

Kadamba tree with blooming flowers.

Therefore, because of multiplicity of their Brahmana fellow students, to distinguish them a figurative attribute

started to be used by bringing about the similarity of name based on commonness with this kadamba tree. 

In the Kadamba family, thus arisen, there was an illustrious chief of the twice-born, named Mayurasarman,

adorned with sacred knowledge, good character, purity and the like .

He went in the company of his preceptor, virasena, to

the city of the Pallava king and desirous of learning the entire sacred lore, quickly entered an institution of sacred

learning as a mendicant student.

There he was enraged by a sharp quarrel based on a Pallava horse.

Alas, in this Kali age the Brahmana

should be so much feebler than the Kshatriya. For even

after having served the families of his preceptors and having

earnestly studied his branch of the Veda, if success in the Vedic lore depends on a king, what can there be more painful than this? 

And so with the hand dexterous in grasping the Kusa grass, the sacrificial fuel and stones, the ladle, the melted

butter and the oblation vessel, he lifted the flaming weapon, eager to conquer the earth.

Having swiftly defeated in battle the frontier guards of the Pallava lords, he occupied the inaccessible forest

stretching to the gates of sriparvata.

He levied many taxes tom the circle of kings headed by the Great Bana.

So he shone, as with ornaments, by these exploits, which made the Pallava lords knitt their brows — exploits which were pleasant, because they kept him active in fulfilling his vow and

which secured his purpose- as well as by the starting of a powerful raid.

when the enemies, the kings of Kanchi, came in strength to fight him, he— in the nights when they were marching

through or resting in rough country, in places fot for assault—

surprised the ocean of their army and struck it like a hawk, full of strength So he bore that trouble, relying solely on

the swords of his arms.

The Pallava lords, having found out this strength of his, as well as his valour and lineage, said that to ruin him

would be no advantage, and so they quickly chose him even for

a friend. Then entering the king’s service, he pleased them by

his acts of bravery in battles and obtained the honour of

being crowned with a fillet, offered by the Pallavas with the sprouts of their hands. And he also received a territory, bordered by the water of the western sea, which dances with the rising and

falling of its curved waves and bounded by the Prehara

secured to him under the compact that it shall not be transferred to anyone else.

Accompanied with the mothers, whom the six-faced god Kartikeya, whose lotus-feet are polished by the crowns of the assembly of the gods, having favoured anointed as the senapati.

His son was Kangavarman,who performed lofty great

exploits in terrible wars, and whose diadem was waved high by the lifted white chowries of all the chiefs of districts who bowed down before him. 

His son was Bhagiratha, the sole lord, favoured by the bride

that is the Kadamba country. as if he were the prominent descendant of Sagara in person, secretly born in the Kadamba family as king.

Now the son of him, who was honoured by kings. was the highly prosperous widely renowned King Raghu, who having subdued the enemies by his valour, like Pritha, caused the earth to be enjoyed by his race who in fearful battles, his face bearing

the marks of enemy weapons, struck down the adversaries facing

him, who was well-versed in the ways of sacred lore, a poet, a donor, skilled in manyfold arts, and beloved of the people.

His brother was of beautiful form, with a voice deep as the clouds, clever in the pursuit of salvation and the

three objects of life, and devoted to his lineage, a lord of men with the lion’s bearing, whose fame was proclaimed on the orbit of the earth as Kakustha, as if he were the son of


Ornament of his family, the king, to whom war with the stronger compassion for the needy, proper protection of the people, relief of the distressed, honouring the leading Brahman as by the bestowal of preeminent wealth, were the ornaments over and above his wisdom. Him, the kings thought to be indeed

Kakutstha the friend of gods, descended here.

As herds of deer, oppressed by heat, when they entered a

cluster of trees, have their minds delighted by the enjoyment of

the shade and find comfort, so kinsmen along with thair relatives

or Followers, whose progress was obstructed by the seniors,

found shelter with minds relieved of anguish, when they entered

his territory. And in his house which contained manifold collections of

choice wealth, the gateways of which were perfumed with the rutting Juice of lordly elephants in rut, and which gaily

resounded with music, the lady fortune delighted to stay steadfast, for very long.

This sun-like king by casting is rays in the form of daughters, caused to bloom, revealing stamens and pastels of affection, respect, love and intimacy for himself, the lotus-lakes that are the illustrious royal families of Guptas and

others, served by many bees that are subordinate kings. (31).

Now to him, favoured by destiny, of no mean energy, endowed with the three powers, the leading lit. crest-jewels 

among princes bowed down when he was sitting still on his throne-they could not be subdued even by the other five measures of royal policy.

Here, at the home of perfection of the holy primeval god siva, which is  frequented by groups of the siddhas, the Gandharvas and the Rakshas, which is ever praised with



auspicious recitations of sacred texts by Bramana students, solely devoted to manfold vows, sacrifices and initiatory

rites and which was worshipped with faith by satakarni and other pious kings seeking salvation for themselves, that king Kakutsthavarman has caused to be made this great tank, a reservoir for the supply of abundant water.

Abiding by the excellent commands of his (Kakutstha

varman’s) own son, the wide-famed glorious king Santivarman 

whose beautiful body is made radiant by the putting on of

three fillets. kubja has written this poem of his own on the

surface of the stone.

Obeisance to the lord Mahadeva, who dwells at the Sthanakundura! May joy attend this place (i.e. temple) which has come to the lot, of all living in the

vicinity ! Blessed be the people.


Footnote 7.


1. i.e Kanchipura

2. Kielhorn translates अश्व – संस्थेन as “a horseman “

and refers analogous words in literature, e.g गजस्थ, रथस्थ, स्यन्दस्थ

as well as तुरड़न्गाधिरुढ़ and तुरड़न्ग सादिन्   


 Footnote 8

1. Viz.. mastery, good counsel and energy.

2. There is a pun on the word,   आसन By श्लेष. It signifies both, the  and one of the six gunas which according to the Manusmriti, VII.162, are:

सन्धि च विग्रहञ्चैव यानमासनमेव च !

द्वैधीभावं संश्रयं च षडगुणांशिचन्तयेत सदा !!

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