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Samudragupta:  “a God whose residence is this world?”

Introduction:  The famous Allahabad pillar inscription of Samudragupta (335-375 A.D.) is the most important historical document of the classical Gupta age. Its detailed list of conquered and allied dynasties and kingdoms contains not only a unique “state of the art” or “who is who” of contemporary South Asia. It also depicts the concentric structure of the emerging Gupta empire with its dynastic core area, extended by annexed neighbouring kingdoms and surrounded by a circle of tributary “vassals” and by powerful allies at the periphery the Gupta “mandala”. The list of twelve rulers whom Samudragupta “captured and released out of favour” on his expedition to the South (daksinapatha) provides an indispensable source of our knowledge of late fourth-century eastern and southern India. The inscription is written in excellent Sanskrit and its author Harisena rightly calls it a poem (kavya). He was a princely minister of war and peace and a military commander and praised Samudragupta as a God, living on earth only for performance of rituals and conventions.
(see AHOI, ch. 2, section The Classical Age of the Guptas)

(“Allahabad Stone Pillar Inscription of Samudragupta,” quoted from Inscriptions of the Early Guptas, Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, Vol. III, rev. by D.R. Bhandarkar, ed. by B.C. Chhabra and G.S. Gai, New Delhi 1981, pp. 215-220)

HistIndia Web Chandragupta

Samudragupta: “a God whose residence is this world?”

Introduction: The famous Allahabad pillar inscription of Samudragupta (335–375 A.D.) is the most important historical document of the classical Gupta age. Its detailed list of conquered and allied dynasties and kingdoms contains not only a unique “state of the art” or “who is who” of contemporary South Asia. It also depicts the concentric structure of the emerging Gupta empire with its dynastic core area, extended by annexed neighbouring kingdoms and surrounded by a circle of tributary “vassals” and by powerful allies at the periphery the Gupta “mandala”. The list of twelve rulers whom Samudragupta “captured and released out of favour” on his expedition to the South (daksinapatha) provides an indispensable source of our knowledge of late fourth-century eastern and southern India. The inscription is written in excellent Sanskrit and its author Harisena rightly calls it a poem (kavya). He was a princely minister of war and peace and a military commander and praised Samudragupta as a God, living on earth only for performance of rituals and conventions.

(see AHOI, ch. 2, section The Classical Age of the Guptas)

(Verse 3) Whose mind is surcharged with happiness in consequence of his association with the wise, who is thus accustomed to retain the truth and purpose of (any) science . . . . . . fixed . . . . . . upraised . . . . . . who, removing impediments to the grace of good poetry through the very injunction (ājñā) of (poetic) excellence (guṇa) clustered together (guṇita) by the experts, enjoys, in the literate world, in an attractive fashion, sovereignty, in consequence of fame for copious lucid poetry.
(Verse 4) (Exclaiming) ‘Come, oh worthy (one)’, and embracing (him) with hair standing on end and indicating (his) feeling, (his) father, perceiving (him) with the eye, overcome with affection, (and) laden with tears (of joy), (but) discerning the true state (of things) said to him ‘so protect (thou) the whole earth’, while he was being looked up with sad faces by others of equal birth, (but) while the courtiers were breathing cheerfully.
(Verse 5) Beholding whose many super-human actions, some felt the thrill of marvel and burst into horripilation, some relishing with feeling . . . . . ., some afflicted with his prowess sought (whose) protection after performing obeisance;. . . . . .
(Verse 6) (Whose enemies), whose offence was always great, being conquered by his arm in battles . . . . . . day by day . . . . . . pride . . . . . . (develop) repentance with their minds filled with delight and expanding with much and evident pleasure and affection.
(Verse 7) By whom, with the impetuosity of the prowess of (his) arm, which grew to overflowing, having singly and in a moment uprooted Achyuta and Nāgāsēna and [Gaṇapati] come together in a battle (against him) thereafter, causing, indeed, the scion of the Kōta family to be captured by (his) forces, (while) amusing himself at (the city) named Pushpa, while the sun . . . . . . the banks . . . . . .
(Verse 8) (Being) the enclosing structure of Dharma (Sacred Law), (his) multifarious sprouting fame is as bright as the rays of the moon; (his) erudition pierces down to Truth . . . . . . quiescence . . . . . ., the course of (his) wise utterances is worthy of study; (his) again is poetry which outdistances the greatness of the genius of (other) poets. What excellence is there which does not belong to him ? So has he alone become a fit subject of contemplation with the learned.?
(Lines 17–18) Of him (who) was skilful in engaging in hundreds of battles of various kinds, whose only ally was valour (parākrama) through the might of his own arm, and who (has thus) the epithet Parākrama, whose body was most charming, being covered over with the plenteous beauty of the marks of hundreds of promiscuous scars, caused by battle-axes, arrows, spikes (śaṅku), spears (śakti), barbed darts (prāsa), swords, iron clubs (tōmara), javelins for throwing (bhindipāla), barbed arrows (nārācha), span-long arrows (vaitastika) and many other weapons.
(Lines 19–20) Whose magnanimity blended with valour was caused by (his) first capturing, and thereafter showing the favour of releasing, all the kings of Dakshiṇāpatha such as Mahēndra of Kōsala Vyāghrarāja of Mahākāntāra, Maṇṭarāja of Kurāḷa, Mahēndragiri of Pishṭapura, Svāmidatta of Kōṭṭūra, Damana of Ēraṇḍapalla, Vishṇugōpa of Kāñchī, Nīlarāja of Avamukta, Hastivarman of Vēṅgī, Ugrasēna of Pālakka, Kubēra of Dēvarāshṭra, and Dhanañjaya of Kusthalapura.
(Line 21) (Who) is great through the extraordinary valour, namely, the forcible extermination of many kings of Āryāvarta such as Rudradēva, Matila, Nāgadatta, Chandravarman, Gaṇapatināga, Nāgasēna, Āchyuta-Nandin and Balavarman; who has made all the kings of the forest regions to become his servants.
(Lines 22–23) (Whose) formidable rule was propitiated with the payment of all tributes, execution of orders and visits (to his court) for obeisance by such frontier rulers as those of Samataṭa Ḍavāka, Kāmarūpa, Nēpāla, and Kartṛipura, and, by the Mālavas, Ārjunāyanas, Yaudhēyas, Mādrakas, Ābhīras, Prārjunas, Sanakānīkas, Kākas, Kharaparikas and other (tribes).
(Line 23) (Whose) fame has tired itself with a journey over the whole world caused by the restoration of many fallen kingdoms and overthrown royal families.
(Lines 23–24) The unimpeded flow (prasara) of the prowess of (whose) arm (was arrested) by an earth embankment (dharaṇi-bandha) put up by means of service through such measures as self-surrender, offering (their own) daughters in marriage and a request for the administration of their own districts and provinces through the Garuḍa badge, by the Dēvaputra-Shāhi-Shāhānushāhi and the Śaka lords and by (rulers) occupying all Island countries, such as Siṁhala and others.
(Lines 24–26) He was without an antagonist on earth; he, by the overflowing of the multitude of (his) many good qualities adorned by hundreds of good actions, has wiped off the fame of other kings with the soles of (his) feet; (he is) Purusha (Supreme Being), being the cause of the prosperity of the good and the destruction of the bad (he is) incomprehensible; (he is) one whose tender heart can be captured only by devotion and humility; (he is) possessed of compassion; (he is) the giver of many hundred-thousands of cows; (his) mind has received ceremonial initiation for the uplift of the miserable, the poor, the forlorn and the suffering; (he is) resplendent and embodied kindness to mankind; (he is) equal to (the gods) Kubēra, Varuṇa, Indra and Yama; (his) Āyukta officers are always engaged upon restoring wealth (titles, territories, etc.) to the many kings conquered by the might of his arms.
(Lines 27–28) (He) has put to shame Bṛihaspati by (his) sharp and polished intellect, as also Tumburu, Nārada and others by the graces of his musical performances; (his) title of ‘King of Poets’ has been established through (his) many compositions in poetry which were a means of subsistence to the learned  people; (his) many wonderful and noble deeds are fit to be praised for a very long time; (he is) a human being, only as far as he performs the rites and conventions of the world, (otherwise he is) God whose residence is (this) world.
(Lines 28–30) This lofty column, (is) the raised arm of the earth, proclaiming as it were, that the fame having pervaded the entire surface of the world with (its) rise caused by the conquest of the whole earth, has acquired an easy and graceful movement in that it has repaired from here (i.e. from this world) to the abode of (Indra) the lord of the gods—(the fame) of that prosperous Samudragupta the Mahārājādhirāja, son of the prosperous Chandragupta (I), the Mahārājādhirāja, born of the Mahādēvī Kumāradēvī, (and) daughter’s son of the Lichchhavi, son’s son of the prosperous Ghaṭōtkacha, the Mahārāja and the son of the son’s son of the prosperous Gupta, the Mahārāja. Whose
(Verse 9) fame, ever ascending higher and higher masses, and travelling by many paths, (namely) by liberality, prowess of arm, sobriety and utterance of scriptural texts, purifies the three worlds, like the white water of the (holy river) Gaṅgā, dashing forth rapidly when liberated from the confinement in the inner hollow of the matted hair of Paśupati, (which rises up in ever higher and higher masses and flows through many paths).
(Lines 31–32) And may this poetic compositon (kāvya) of Harishēṇa, the servant of the very same venerable Bhaṭṭāraka, whose mind has been enlightened through the favour of dwelling near (him), who is the Sāndhivigrahika, Kumārāmātya (and) Mahādaṇḍanāyaka, (and who is) a native of Khādyaṭapāka, and son of the Mahādaṇḍanāyaka Dhruvabhūti, lead to the welfare and happiness of all beings!
(Lines 33) and (it) was executed by the Mahādaṇḍanāyaka Tilabhaṭṭaka who meditates on the feet of the Paramabhaṭṭāraka.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA
CORPUS INSCRIPTIONUM INDICARUM
VOLUME III
INSCRIPTIONS
OF THE
EARLY GUPTA KINGS
REVISED BY
DEVADATTA RAMAKRISHNA BHANDARKAR
EDITED BY
BAHADURCHAND CHHABRA
&
GOVIND SWAMIRAO GAI

With 48 Plates
PUBLISHED BY THE DIRECTOR GENERAL
ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA
JANPATH, NEW DELHI 1981

(“Allahabad Stone Pillar Inscription of Samudragupta,” quoted from Inscriptions of the Early Guptas, Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, Vol. III, rev. by D.R. Bhandarkar, ed. by B.C. Chhabra and G.S. Gai, New Delhi 1981, pp. 215–220)

 

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