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Monday, August 18, 2008

Achievement Motivation : Asokan Inscription

Once upon a time there was a king who was fighting a battle with a neighboring kingdom. Sensing imminent defeat, he ran away from the battle field and took shelter in a cave. While he was resting, his eyes fell on a spider which was engaged in making a large web. The king observed that the spider was falling down again and again but finally it succeeds in creating a beautiful web after some relocation. Taking a cue from the spider the king leaves the cave, reorganizes his army and attacks his enemy from a different front and wins.

Some 84 km's. from Jabalpur towards Katni, there is a Hindu religious place ( a Shiv Linga), Roopnath near Sleemnabad. It is here that we come across a rock (sheltered in a canopy) bearing the inscriptions of Asoka the Great (3rd Century BC). Quoting his own example, he advocates vigorous efforts to be made for achieving success. He stresses that not only the rich, even people of lower means could succeed in attaining heavenly pleasures provided determined efforts are made.
Generally we have found that most of the rock inscriptions speak of the achievements of the king in a highly exaggerated manner, couched in a spicy language. But the Asokan inscription, we are discussing about is plain and simple. We provide hereunder an English version of the contents:

"Thus speaks the Beloved of the Gods, (Asoka): I have been a Buddhist layman for more than two and a half years, but I did not make much progress. Now for more than a year I have drawn closer to the Order and have become more ardent. The gods, who in India up to this time did not associate with men, now mingle with them, and this is the result of my efforts. Moreover this is not something to be obtained only by the great, but it is also open to the humble, if they are earnest and they can even reach heaven easily. This is the reason for this announcement that both humble and great should make progress and that the neighboring peoples also should know that the progress is lasting, And this investment will increase and increase abundantly, and increase to half as much again. This matter must he inscribed here and elsewhere on the hills, and wherever there is a stone pillar it is to be engraved on that pillar. You must go out with this document throughout the length and breadth of your district. This announcement has been proclaimed while on tour; 256 nights have been spent on tour."
(Scholars are not unanimous about the exact translation. Interpretations differ.)
One may observe from the above translation that the sentence beginning "The Gods, who in India ........(in italics)" looks meaningless (absurd). Some scholars are of the view that "Deva" also means "Clan". Therefore the term "Deva" occuring in the original inscription is not a reference to "God". If this view is accepted, it would mean that the Clans which followed a faith of their own, were pursuaded to accept Buddhism. An extreme view could be that the places of worship were converted into Buddhist shrines.
(For an abridged Hindi version click here)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Birth Place of Buddha - Controversy

Click Here for an interesting research paper

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

सफलता और समृद्धि (एक पुरानी लघु कथा)

एक गाँव में एक किसान परिवार रहा करता था. परिवार में अधेड़ किसान दंपति के अतिरिक्त एक पुत्र एवं पुत्रवधू भी थे. पुत्र निकट के नगर में एक सेठ का सेवक था. एक दिन की बात है. तीन वृद्ध कहीं से घूमते घामते आए और किसान की आँगन में लगे कदम के पेड़ के नीचे विश्राम करने लगे. किसान की पत्नी जब बाहर लिकली तो उसने इन्हे देखा. उसने सोचा की वे भूके होंगे. उसने उन्हे घर के अंदर आकर भोजन ग्रहण करने का अनुरोध किया. इसपर उन वृद्धों ने पूछा, क्या गृहस्वामी घर पर हैं?. किसान की पत्नी ने उत्तर दिया, नहीं, वे बाहर गये हुए हैं. वृद्धों ने कहा कि वे गृहस्वामी की अनुपस्थिति में घर के अंदर नहीं आएँगे. स्त्री अंदर चली गयी. कुछ देर बाद किसान आया. पत्नी ने सारी बातें बताईं. किसान ने तत्काल उन्हें अंदर बुलाने को कहा. स्त्री ने बाहर आकर उन्हें निमंत्रित किया. उन्हों ने कहा "हम तीनों एक साथ नहीं आएँगे, जाओ अपने पति से सलाह कर बताओ कि हममें से कौन पहले आए". वो जो दोनों हैं, एक "समृद्धि" है, और दूसरे का नाम "सफलता". मेरा नाम "प्रेम" है". पत्नी ने सारी बातें अपने पति से कही. किसान यह सब सुनकर अत्यधिक प्रसन्न हुआ. उसने कहा, यदि ऐसी बात है तो पहले "समृद्धि" को बुला लाओ. उसके आने से अपना घर धन धान्य से परिपूर्ण हो जाएगा. उसकी पत्नी इसपर सहमत नहीं थी. उसने कहा, क्यों ना "सफलता" को बुलाया जावे. उनकी पुत्रवधू एक कोने में खड़े होकर इन बातों को सुन रही थी. उसने कहा, अम्माजी आप "प्रेम" को क्यों नहीं बुलातीं. किसान ने कुछ देर सोचकर पत्नी से कहा "चलो बहू क़ी बात मान लेते हैं".
पत्नी तत्काल बाहर गयी और उन वृद्धों को संबोधित कर कहा "आप तीनों मे जो "प्रेम" हों, वे कृपया अंदर आ जावें. "प्रेम" खड़ा हुआ और चल पड़ा. बाकी दोनों, "सफलता" और "समृद्धि" भी पीछे हो लिए. यह देख महिला ने प्रश्न किया अरे ये क्या है, मैने तो केवल "प्रेम" को ही आमंत्रित किया है. दोनों ने एक साथ उत्तर दिया " यदि आपने "समृद्धि" या "सफलता" को बुलाया होता तो हम मे से दो बाहर ही रहते. परंतु आपने "प्रेम" को बुलाया इसलिए हम साथ चल रहे हैं. हम दोनो उसका साथ कभी नहीं छोड़ते.
जहाँ प्रेम है वहाँ सफलता और समृद्धि भी रहती है.
मूलतः सारथी में प्रकाशित

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

World's Earliest Inscription of Love

(For a Hindi version please Click Here)
Recently I was on a family trip to visit the Golden Triangle consisting of Bhubaneswar, Konark and Puri in Orissa. While at the Udayagiri caves near Bhubaneswar (ancient name Ekamra), on the extreme left, there was a cave chiselled to look like a lions mouth. There was a platform in front of it. The site is also datable to 2nd Century BC on the basis of an inscription of Kalingaraja Kharavela at the nearby Hathigumpha. The cave aforesaid, had a resemblance with some similar cave structure I had in my memory. That was the oldest rock cut cave theatre (Amphitheatre) in the Ramgarh hills of Sarguja District in Chhattisgarh (India). This is said to belong to the 3rd Century BC on the basis of a "first ever message of love" found inscribed on the walls of a nearby cave. The cave housing the "Natya Shala"(theatre) is known as Sitabengra. It is about 45 ft long and 15 ft wide. The stage is at a lower level while the gallery for seating the people is elavated. Caves were reportedly used as pleasure resorts in the ancient times.
The other cave nearby is Jogimarha which is 15 ft long and 12 ft wide. The roof here is higher than Sitabengra and is adorned with rock paintings. Monks could also be seen depicted in those paintings apart from other subjects. The name 'Jogimarha' itself suggests its association with Jogis or Monks. The message of love referred above could be found engraved on its walls. The script is Brahmi of the Asokan period (3rd Century BC). This is said to be the only inscription from any period preserving pure Magadhi. The reason being the pronunciation of 'Dasi' as 'Dashi'.
The original text appears in the photograph below.

The English transliteration (Indian Epigraphy - Richard Salomon) is as follows:
Sutanuka nama
Sutanuka nama I devadashikyi I
tam kamayitha bal(a)naseye I
devadine nama I lupadakhe I
Although scholars are not unanimous about the exact translation, conversely we may put it as:
"Devidin a Sculptor from Varanasi fell in love with Sutanuka, a Devadasi"
Some doubts do arise in my mind when I look at the message. Devidin, apparently a person skilled in carving, as the adjective 'lupadakhe' suggests, has failed to do justice with the inscription. Geometrical proportion in lettering has been totally ignored. We may compare the Brahmi Characters with that appearing in the Asokan edicts for the purpose. Here is an example of his
Girnar Inscriptions.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

सामाजिक उत्तरदायित्व

शांतिनगर के हमारे मुहल्ले में सेवानिवृत्त बुजुर्गों की एक जमात है. रोज शाम शौपिंग काम्प्लेक्स के कोने में बनी दवाई की दुकान के सामने सब इकट्ठे होते हैं. कुछ दूसरे मोहल्ले से भी ऐसे ही लोग, अनुकूल वातावरण देख कर शामिल हो जाते हैं. जगह की कमी के कारण बैठक दो पारियों में होती है. एक का नाम विधान सभा और दूसरे का नाम लोक सभा रख दिया गया है. तीसरा समूह एक समाज विशेष का भी है जो चलायमान रहता है. यदा कदा इसमे से कुछ छिटक कर हमारे विधान सभा या लोकसभा के दर्शक दीर्घा में आ बैठते हैं. अब आप सोचेंगे की इस नामकरण के पीछे भी कोई सोच होगी. जी हाँ बिल्कुल है. विधान सभा में चर्चा का विषय अधिकतर प्रादेशिक और स्थानीय होता है जबकि लोकसभा का चिंतन राष्ट्रीय हुआ करता है. विधान सभा की बैठक ८.०० बजे या कुछ पूर्व ही समाप्त हो जाती है. लोकसभा का सत्र ९.०० रात्रि तक निश्तिक रूप से चलता है. परन्तु ९.०० बजते ही कुछ एक साथ उठ खड़े होते हैं तो कुछ ऐंठ कर कुर्सी या बेंच पर बने रहते हैं मानो उन्हें बीबी की परवाह न हो. वस्तुतः यह दिखावे के लिए होता है.

कुछ ऐसे भी लोग हैं जो दोनों सभाओं में बराबर की रूचि रखते हैं. करें भी क्या, बीबियाँ भगा जो देती हैं. भगाए जाने के पीछे भी कई कारण बताये गए. कुछ के यहाँ शामको सहेलियों का आनाजाना लगा रहता है. पत्नियाँ नहीं चाहतीं की उनके पति की सहज दृष्टि भी सहेलियों पर पड़े. कुछ पत्नियाँ ब्यूटी पार्लर घर पर ही चलाती हैं. सज संवर कर जब कन्यायें कमरे से निकलती हैं तो बैठक में बुजुर्गों का पाया जाना बाधक बन जाता है. फ़िर कहेंगी अंकलजी मैं कैसी लग रही हूँ? यह सब पत्नी को रास नहीं आता. पर पतियों को दी गई यह छूट असीमित नहीं है. रात ९.०० बजे के बाद घर आने पर हमारे कई मित्र प्रताडित भी होते हैं. ऐसा लगता है मानो लोग श्वान योनि में प्रदार्पण कर चुके हों. उनकी जरुरत हो तो घर पर ही रहो नहीं तो बाहर जाओ. ऐ ले आओ वो ले आओ. एक मित्र का पट्टा निश्चित समय पर खोल दिया जाता है. फिर वह अपने बुढापे का ख्याल किए बगैर मंडली की ओर पूरी रफ्तार से निकल पड़ता है. बेचारा करे भी क्या अन्यथा मंडली के द्वारा भी प्रताडित होना पड़ेगा.

विधान सभा में जैसा, पूर्व में ही कहा जा चुका है, चर्चा का विषय प्रादेशिक एवं स्थानीय होता है. बिजली, पानी, सड़क, पर्यावरण, चोरी चमारी, लूट खसोट और महंगाई. एक कालोनी की बिजली की समस्या पर चर्चा वर्षों से चल रही है. कोलोनायिसेर, बिजली बोर्ड एवं स्थानीय नेताओं को कोसते कोसते अभी अभी उस कालोनी में बिजली ने अपनी दस्तक दी है. अब पानी की समस्या ने विकराल रूप धारण कर लिया है. समाधान कहीं दूर दूर तक नही दीखता. एक के बाद एक बोरवेल सूखते जा रहे हैं. दूसरी ओर हमारी लोकसभा इन सब मामलों में रूचि नही रखती. राष्ट्रीय समस्याएं क्या कम हैं? आतंकवाद, तुष्टिकरण की राजनीती, परमाणु संधि, अमेरिका से रिश्ता, संभावित लोकसभा चुनाव, गठजोड़, ऐ सब भी तो हैं.

ऐसी गंभीर समस्याओं पर चर्चा के बीच कुछ मित्रों में अपनी व्यक्तिगत (घरेलु) समस्याओं को उजागर करने की प्रवृत्ति भी देखी गई है. आम तौर पर वह ज्यादा सशक्त प्रतीत होती है. कभी कभी समस्या को बयां ख़ुद बा ख़ुद सदस्य ही करता है या फिर उसे प्रेरित किया जाता है. वैसे तो हर व्यक्ति की अपनी समस्या होती है परन्तु दूसरे की सुनकर मन हल्का करने की या मजे लेने की जुगाड़ भी होती है. हाँ तो आज क्या हुआ ? - बस पूछने की जरुरत, फ़िर सुनते रहिये उनकी कहानी. एक मित्र तो आते ही कहते हैं "हमारी सुनो", जैसे सबकी सुननेकी जन्मजात विविशता हो. लोक सभा गई भाढ में.

हमारे इस क्षेत्र की आबादी काफी बढ़ गई है. नए नए अख़बार निकल गए हैं और मुफ्त में बाँट भी रहे हैं. पूर्व से स्थापित अख़बारों में अपने पाठकों को बनाये रखने की प्रतिस्पर्धा भी दिख रही है. उन्हों ने राजधानी के इस क्षेत्र विशेष के लिए अलग परिशिष्ट भी प्रकाशित करना प्रारम्भ कर दिया. कुछ ने तो अपना एक छोटा कार्यालय ही खोल दिया. अब इनके पत्रकारों को छापने के लिए मसाला भी तो चाहिये. उनकी नज़र हम मसाल्चियो पर पड़ी. प्रस्ताव आया की हम लोगों की फोटो खींची जायेगी. दो एक बातें होंगी और अख़बार में छपेगी. तब जाकर कर्तव्यबोध का ख्याल आया. हरेक ने अपने साक्षात्कार में अपने आप को किसी न किसी तरह समाज सेवा से जुटा हुआ जताया. अख़बार में फोटो सहित ख़बर भी छाप दी गई. सामाजिक उत्तरदायित्व का निर्वहन न सही, प्रचारित करने का अवसर तो मिला.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Constitution 1,000 years ago

by T.S. Subramaniam

A perfect electoral system existed, inscriptions found in Uthiramerur reveal.
Photos: S. Thanthoni

The mandapa of the Vaikuntaperumal temple.
It may be hard to believe that nearly 1,100 years ago, a village had a perfect electoral system and a written Constitution prescribing the mode of elections. It was inscribed on the walls of the village assembly (grama sabha mandapa), which was a rectangular structure made of granite slabs. “This inscription, dated around 920 A.D. in the reign of Parantaka Chola, is an outstanding document in the history of India,” says Dr. R. Nagaswamy, former Director, Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology, referring to Uthiramerur in Chingleput district.
“It is a veritable written Constitution of the village assembly that functioned 1,000 years ago,” Dr. Nagaswamy says in his book, “Uthiramerur, the Historic Village in Tamil Nadu.” The book, in both Tamil and English, has been published by the Tamil Arts Academy, Chennai.
Dr. Nagaswamy says: “It [the inscription] gives astonishing details about the constitution of wards, the qualification of candidates standing for elections, the disqualification norms, the mode of election, the constitution of committees with elected members, the functions of [those] committees, the power to remove the wrong-doer, etc…”

And that is not all. “On the walls of the mandapa are inscribed a variety of secular transactions of the village, dealing with administrative, judicial, commercial, agricultural, transportation and irrigation regulations, as administered by the then village assembly, giving a vivid picture of the efficient administration of the village society in the bygone ages.” The villagers even had the right to recall the elected representatives if they failed in their duty!
It has a 1,250-year history
Uthiramerur has a 1,250-year history. It is situated in Kanchipuram district, about 90 km from Chennai. The Pallava king Nandivarman II established it around 750 A.D. It did exist earlier as a brahmin settlement. It was ruled by the Pallavas, the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Sambuvarayars, the Vijayanagara Rayas and the Nayaks. It has three important temples, the Sundara Varadaraja Perumal temple, the Subramanya temple and the Kailasanatha temple. Plans are under way for the conservation and restoration of the Kailasanatha temple, which is in ruins.
All the three temples have numerous inscriptions — those of the great Raja Raja Chola (985-1015 A.D.), his able son, Rajendra Chola and the Vijayanagar emperor Krishnadeva Raya. Both Rajendra Chola and Krishnadeva Raya visited Uthiramerur.
Uthiramerur, built as per the canons of the agama texts, has the village assembly mandapa exactly at the centre and all the temples are oriented with reference to the mandapa.
R. Vasanthakalyani, Chief Epigraphist-cum-Instructor and R. Sivanandam, epigraphist, both belonging to the Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology, said that while village assemblies might have existed prior to the period of Parantaka Chola, it was during his period that the village administration was honed into a perfect system through elections. “About 1,100 years ago, during the period of Paranataka Chola, Uthiramerur had an elected village panchayat system, which was a step ahead of the modern day democratic system,” she said.
According to Dr. Sivanandam, there were several places in Tamil Nadu where inscriptions are available on temple walls about the prevalence of village assemblies. These villages included Manur near Tirunelveli, Tiruninravur near Chennai, Manimangalam near Tambaram, Dadasamudram near Kanchipuram, Sithamalli and Thalaignayiru near Thanjavur, Jambai near Tirukovilur and Ponnamaravathy near Pudukottai. “But it is at Uthiramerur on the walls of the village assembly (mandapa) itself, that we have the earliest inscriptions with complete information about how the elected village assembly functioned,” said Dr. Sivanandam. It is learnt that the entire village, including the infants, had to be present at the village assembly mandapa at Uthiramerur when the elections were held, pointed out Vasanthakalyani. Only the sick and those who had gone on a pilgrimage were exempt.

The Tamil inscriptions elaborate on the election procedure followed several centuries ago.

There were committees for the maintenance of irrigation tanks, roads, to provide relief during drought, testing of gold and so on. Sivanandam himself has written a book in Tamil called, “The Archaeological Handbook of Kanchipuram district,” (published by the Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology in 2008) in which he says the original sabha mandapa’s superstructure was made of timber and bricks. After the superstructure collapsed and only the base of the mandapa made of granite slabs remained, Kulotunga Chola I built a Vishnu temple on the base towards the end of the 11th century.
The village sabha mandapa, with its invaluable inscriptions, is now called Vaikuntaperumal temple. Dr. Nagaswamy says: “The village assembly of Uttaramerur drafted the Constitution for the elections. The salient features were as follows: the village was divided into 30 wards, one representative elected for each. Specific qualifications were prescribed for those who wanted to contest. The essential criteria were age limit, possession of immovable property and minimum educational qualification. Those who wanted to be elected should be above 35 years of age and below 70…”
Only those who owned land, that attracted tax, could contest. Another interesting stipulation, according to Dr. Nagaswamy, was that such owners should have possessed a house built on legally-owned site (not on public poromboke). A person serving in any of the committees could not contest again for the next three terms, each term lasting a year. Elected members, who suffered disqualification, were those who accepted bribes, misappropriated others’ property, committed incest or acted against public interest.

Courtesy: Shri Ram Varmah (varmah@yahoo.com)

Around Mangalore

Courtesy: Shridhar Shenoy
The 35 kilometer stretch of Shirady Ghat between Kappalli (Manjrabad fort) to Gundya is a nature lover's paradise. It had always been from time immemorial but the beauty could not be enjoyed due to bad roads and drivers and passengers used to be more pre-occupied with the jolts and jumps that they might get during the journey.
But with the roads now as smooth as it used to be before, people are now enjoying the 90 minutes journey, and why not? There is so much to see, the evergreen Shola forests, the huge ferns that are an endemic species to Western Ghats and the thick foliage which is a delight to watch.
But what turns Shirady into a paradise during monsoons is its numerous water falls. There are no large water falls like Jog, but there are many medium and small water falls that fills your heart and eyes. The central part of Shirady Ghat I.e, between Adda Holay and Gundya is the natural water log area. The rain water re-charges the mountainous water veins and releases through faults and folds of the mountain. But apart from the technical details of the waterfalls the beauty of water falls which is what enthrals the nature lovers. The milky surf that cascades from a great height is a sight to watch. It is stated that there are over 300 small and medium water falls.

According to Dinesh Holla an adventurer and an avid trekker the origin of the water falls in Shirady generally is located at a height of 400 to 600 feet (MSL) many of them have a circuitous course before the emerge into open and fall from a height. Many trekkers stay for considerable time at the water bodies that open into a water fall.
The ideal route to get to the water fall is the route that the Mangalore-Bangalore train takes. It is possible for the trekkers to take the railway get down at Soorikumer and pass to the other side towards Pushpagiri. There are people who have driven their motorcycles on narrow paths from Shirady village up to a certain height and walked from there.
But one cannot go into these areas as they want, they should notify the forest department about their trekking route and take their permission well in advance.
For people who just want to enjoy it on the way to their destination either ways should travel during the day time. The ideal time is to arrive at this stretch either from Bangalore or Mangalore at mid morning or late afternoon, which is when the real enjoyment of waterfalls could be felt. The immediate instinct is to stand below the cascading water, but that is where extra precautions should be taken, the rocky slopes are slippery and the water would be cold.
Various spots like Kempu holay, Yemme holay, Adda holay, Annamma holay have good waterfall sites.

Paranumismatica - Indian Token Coins

The coins appearing hereunder, relates to the Indian Token Coins of 1911 issued by Longman, presumably a British company. As is apparent from the legend, they were produced in Germany. They bear the bust of King Edward VII who died in May 1910. They are made of card board. The denominations are Half Rupee, Quarter Rupee and 1/64th of a Rupee ( 1 Paisa). Although they are not identical but imitations of the coins, having the bust of Edward VII, in circulation during that period. The tokens depict the bust facing left. While One Paisa has a copper color, the other two coins have the appearance of silver.On a reference being made to the RBI Monetary Museum and the Indian Institute of Research in Numismatic Studies, they expressed their unfamiliarity with any such tokens. Accidentally I came across an article dedicated to 'Exonumia' (Study of Tokens, Medals etc.), a term I was not familiar with, in the Coin Encyclopedia web site. The term 'Paranumismatica', however, lends more comfort. I was amused as also enthused and thought of getting my token coins published there so that they come to the knowledge of a larger number of enthusiasts in numismatics.

Longman's Indian Token Coins
We are aware of 'play money' in use in the U.S. and other countries where replicas of coins are created in plastic or metal for children to play with. They are available in any toy store. But in the Indian context, the above referred tokens do not seem to be 'play money'. During World War II there was shortage of all kinds of metal world-wide. But the World War I started only in August 1914. An important event during that year was the coronation of George V at New Delhi on the 11th December. Reasons for 'Token Coins' being introduced, through private enterprise during that period is unexplainable at the present state of our knowledge. Further more, the above tokens are not in a mint condition. They appear to have changed several hands as the wear and tear suggests.
Recently I made a reference to the British Museum as well and the response received is appended:
"Thank you for your enquiry. This is is not a token coin issued as part of the currency in colonial India, but an imitation produced either as a toy, or possibly for the collectors' market. In either case, I would guess that it was issued in, and for use in, Great Britain rather than India. While I have not been able to trace a reference to Longman's, it seems likely that they were a British company, which may well have produced other series of token coins as well. Clearly this one was intended as part of an Indian series, imitating a half-rupee of George V (1910-36).
Yours sincerely,
Gareth Williams
Duty Curator"
We welcome contributions in this regard for enrichment of knowledge about the tokens under discussion.

भारतीय टोकन मुद्राएँ

एक बार मेरे एक बड़ी मूँछ वाले मित्र ने मुझसे पूछा, "क्या तुम्हारे पास चमड़े के सिक्के हैं". मैने अपनी अनभिंग्यता व्यक्त की. फिर उसने तुगलक की कहानी सुनाई. मैने कहा हाँ पढ़ा है, देखा नहीं है. उसने फिर कहा "अंग्रेज भी कम नहीं थे". मैने पूछा क्यों. कल बताऊँगा कह मुछड़ चलता बना. दूसरे दिन वह मेरे पास आया और एक डिबिया निकाली. डिबिये के अंदर से तीन गोल सिक्के नुमा वस्तु निकाली और मेरे हाथ रख कर कहा लो यह तुम्हारे लिए है. मैने उन्हें गौर से देखा. वे कार्डबोर्ड के बने थे. हूबहू अँग्रेज़ों के जमाने के सिक्कों के जैसे ही दिख भी रहे थे. एक अठन्नी, एक चवन्नि और एक एक पैसा.
अठन्नी और चवन्नि रुपहले थे तो एक पैसा ताम्र वर्ण का. अग्र भाग पर एड्वर्ड सप्तम बाईं ओर मुहँ किए हुए दर्शाया गया था. राजा के नाम की जगह गोलाई में "लॉंगमॅन्स इंडियन टोकन काय्न्स"अंकित था. नीचे की ओर "जर्मनी में बना" का उल्लेख भी था. पृष्ट भाग पर फूलों का बेल, राजमुकुट, मुद्रा का मूल्य एवं वर्ष १९११ अंकित किया गया था.
मैने थोड़ी छानबीन की तो पता चला क़ि एड्वर्ड सप्तम तो सन १९१० में ही स्वर्ग वासी हो गये थे. अलबत्ता १९११ में जॉर्ज पंचम क़ी ताजपोशी नई दिल्ली में हुई थी. ऐसी कौन सी घटना थी जिससे प्रेरित होकर एक ब्रिटिश कंपनी के द्वारा ऐसी मुद्राएँ (टोकन) निर्मित कराई गयीं. मैने सोचा, संभव है क़ि बाज़ार में धातुओं की कमी के कारण चिलहर की किल्लत रही हो. द्वितीय विश्व युद्ध के समय ऐसी स्थिति निर्मित हुई थी. परंतु प्रथम विश्व युद्ध का प्रारंभ तो अगस्त १९१४ में जाकर ही हुआ था. मैं बड़ी दुविधा में पड़ गया और अब भी हूँ. क्या इनका निर्माण बच्चों के खेलने के लिए हुआ था. यह मानने को मन नहीं करता क्योंकि व्यापार वाले खेल में नकली नोटों का या फिर अंक लिखे बिल्लों का प्रचलन मैने देखा है. ये जो सिक्के (टोकन) जिनकी चर्चा हो रही है, पुराने हैं. कई हाथों से गुज़रे होंगे. क्षरण साफ दिखता है.
मैने भारतीय रिज़र्व बॅंक के मौद्रिक संग्रहालय एवं इंडियन इन्स्टिट्यूट ऑफ रिसर्च इन नूमिसमॅटिक स्टडीस (IIRNS) से भी संपर्क कर सहायता माँगी पर उन्हे ऐसे टोकन्स क़ी कोई जानकारी नहीं थी. अंततोगत्वा मैने ब्रिटिश म्यूज़ीयम से पूछा. उनका कहना है क़ि ए टोकन सिक्के भारतीय उपनिवेश के मुद्रा के रूप में प्रचलित नहीं किए गये थे (सरकारी तौर पर). ये बच्चों के खेलने के लिए या फिर संग्रहकर्ताओं के लिए "अनुकृति" मात्र हैं. दोनों ही स्थितियों में भारत के बजाए ग्रेट ब्रिटन में प्रयोग (प्रचलन) हेतु इन्हे जारी किया गया होगा. संभवतः लोंगमेन एक ब्रिटिश कंपनी रही होगी और उन्होने दूसरे सिरीज़ (भारत के अतिरिक्त) के टोकन सिक्के भी जारी किए होंगे. उनका यह भी कहना था क़ि इन टोकेनों में जॉर्ज पंचम वाले सिक्कों क़ी नकल क़ी गयी है (जबकि हमने उन्हे टोपी पहने ही सिक्कों पर देखा है).
बहरहाल मेरी दुविधा जस क़ी तस है. मेरी समस्या यह है क़ी मैं जान ही नहीं पा रहा हूँ कि मैं और क्या जानना चाहता हूँ. यदि पाठकों में से किसी को भी कुछ भी पता हो तो निःसंकोच अवगत करा दें. टोकनों के छाया चित्र नीचे दिए जा रहे हैं.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Kallil Bhagawathi - A Jain Retreat

By Shri P.N. Sampath Kumar from Kochi.

He is currently working with the Cochin Shipyard.After reading your post on Buddhism and Jainism in Kerala, we thought of utilising our Sunday to visit the Kallil Bhagawathi temple near Perumbavoor. We were there on the the 20th July 2008.
Kallil Bhagavathi temple is a cave temple on a hill top at a place called Methara. Though dedicated to Bhagavathi (which they claim to be swayambhoo), on the back wall a Buddha like structure in the sitting posture (about four feet high). is carved. It looks like some Tirthankar or Mahavir himself. It is not very difficult to make out that even with the dim light within the sreekovil. The Bagavathi in front of Mahavir due to its small size gives vision of the carved mahavir figure on the back side. The bhagavathi has been ornamented with metallic (brass) face and major poojas are performed only to her.
The Shrine

The Mahavir carving has also been garlanded but the main pooja is for the Devi. Within the sreekovil, on the right and left hand side of Devi, two more statues of about 1.5 feet high are also seen. Outside the sreekovil, on the left hand side of the diety, one dwarapalaka type of statue which looks very old (details like eyes, ears, nose etc are erased due to passage of time) is also seen which is also kept garlanded by the devotees.
Modern Steps leading to the ShrineThere is a mandapam (made of sand stone) about four feet square where devotees can stand and offer prayers without any high peetham (as generally seen in other temples).

I Chatted with the priest for some time. Surprisingly, there was no hesitation on his part to accept the theory of Jain temple taken over by Hindus. Further he threw some more light into the theory as below:

“This used to be jain centre (temple?) main carving on the wall is of Parshwanath” and the devi is said to be Padmavathi (a jain goddess).
When Hindus took over, we considered (sankalpam) Parshwanath as Bramha, Padmavathi as Bhagavathi and other two deities on the left and right of the devi as Ganapathi and Siva” There are a few idols kept outside which is believed to be sarpakavu or nagarajas / naga yakshis.
Interestingly, there is no sign of demolition of any structures / idols. Only some additions like pavements, Mandapam and sopanam steps and designs on both sides of sopanam seem to made so as to suit to the hindu style. That means due to some reason, the jains might have abandoned the place centuries ago and would have been occupied by the Hindus only recently. That may be why the priest is able to explain the story correctly.

There is a siva (kallil sivan – on the planes, not cave) temple nereby who is said to be the husband of Kallil Bhagavathi. By the time we finished bhagavathi, siva temple was closed. There is ample scope for survey in and around the area. The place is calm and beautiful. About half a km walk from the road towards the temple.

The approach

Buddhism and Jainism in Kerala

The Vedic people worshipped the panchatatvas (five elements) and offerings to the Fire Lord (Homa) was considered very sacred. The concept of a God with a form was something which came up later. The idols of Gods carved out of stone or wood were initially sheltered under a tree. Trees were also considered sacred as we could find them on the reverse of many of the ancient coins. The idea of providing a roof to the Lord began, with a flat roofed square structure for him to remain protected. Then there was an addition of a small Mandapa (porch) for the devotees to stand as a shelter from the Sun and the Rain. Such structures datable to around 3rd/4th Century AD are available at Tigawa near Jabalpur and Sanchi. Archaeologically they are the earliest available examples of Hindu temple architecture in India. Thereafter there started a developmental stage during which the temples grew in size and ornamentation came to its zenith during 10th and 12th centuries AD.

Many of the Hindu temples in Kerala are circular in shape. This has always been pricking me.The circular shape of Kerala temples definitely suggests some indigenous initiative or other external influence.

The great Chandra Gupta Mourya and the Jain Saint Bhadrabahu are supposed to have visited Karnataka during the 3rd Century BC. Jain missionaries are also said to have visited Tamilnadu. The great Ilango Adigal, the author of the Silpaddikaram, is believed to have been a Jain patron. It is well known that Kerala was under the suzerainty of Cheras. It was, therefore, easier for the Jains to seek immigration into Kerala.

Sravanabelagola in the state of Karnataka is one of the greatest centres of Jainism (Digambara) in South India even today. There are evidences of Jain influence penetrating to the South into Kerala. Kasargod which borders Karnataka could be cited as an example. At the nearby Manjeswaram there is a Chaturmukh (Sarvatobhadra) Jain temple. The idol (Pratima Sarvatobhadrika) has  four faces, that  of Adinath, Shantinath, Chandranath and Mahavira looking at the four directions. Another Jain structure is in Wayanad which was used by Hindus and later taken over by Tipu Sultan for housing his armory. This is known as Sultan Battery.

Coming still further down, at Irinjalakuda, the Koodalmanikyam temple is also believed to have been a Jain temple dedicated to their Saint Bharateswara. Presently it is a Hindu shrine with Bharata the brother of Lord Rama, in a standing posture inside. Strangely, there are no idols of any other gods in the periphery. Generally we come across lord Ganesha (Vinayaka) in every temple. Perhaps this is the only temple in the country dedicated to Bharata. Incidentally, we find temples of all the four brothers of the Ramayana epic around Thrissur.
Sultan Battery. The Wayanad area is still home to more than 200 Jain families. Another granite structure is at Jainimedu, Palakkad. It is 20' wide and 32' long housing Tirthankaras.

Within an hour's drive towards the South, at Methala, 13 km's from Perumbavoor, we come across the Kallil Bhagawathi temple. It is a cave temple with carvings of Parswanath, Mahavira and Padmavathi reckoned to be of the 9th Century AD!. Jain monks seem to have come to this place finding an atmosphere of peace and tranquility conducive to meditation.

Kallil Bhagawathi - Up the Hill

Here is a video of Kallil Bhagawathi Temple

Buddhists too would not have been left behind since Emperor Asoka (304-232 BC) wished his Dhammam to spread far and wide. It is well known that his own daughter Sanghamitra and son Mahamahinda led a mission to Sri Lanka. In his rock Edict No.13, he mentions Cholas and Pandyas as having been won with Dhamma (they became followers of the faith). Kerala (Chera) was not included. There is a mention of Keralaputra which he has described in his 2nd major rock Edict as falling on the frontiers of his empire. In this Edict he informs having provided for medical facilities to humans as also animals (really great!).
A large number of Buddha idols have been discovered in the coastal districts of Alapuzha and Kollam. A large statue of Buddha is also reported from Lakshadweep (Kavaratti). There still exists a Buddhist temple known as Karumadi Kuttan near Ambalapuzha (Video Link). It is also believed that Kuramba Bhagawathy temple at Kodungallur was a Buddhist shrine or Vihara. There are also claims that the Vadakunnathan Shiva temple at Thrissur too was a Buddhist enclave. Interestingly, parents of Adi Shankaracharya are said to have made offerings at this temple for getting a child. Thus there seems to be some inconsistency.

Shri Rajaram Menon from Kaviyoor in southern Kerala has informed that :
"There is a cave temple in the village dedicated to Shiva, but is believed to have been built by Budhist or Jain monks. The main temple, a km away from the cave temple - again dedicatd to Shiva- is about 1000 years old. The cave is said to be older than this. The rock is called Thri-kakudi-para. (Thri=Thiru, kakudi=kal kudi, kal=stone/rock, kudi=home or settlement, para=rock). There must have been a settlement around the caves too; there is a piece of land still known as kakudi, a few blocks away from the rock. The area behind N.S.S. School in the village is still known as 'pallippuram', obvious reference to Budhist centre of learning/vihara. No excavation has been done here. Atop a nearby hill (mathimala), a tall stone-resembling shiv linga-was found and is now kept before the main temple. This could probably be an incomplete work of Budhist monks.

From the Palliyan Copper Plate of Ay King Varaguna (885-925 AD) we learn that Buddhism continued to enjoy royal patronage even in the 10th century AD. However the Ay Kings were Hindus. There is a Copper Plate assignable to the 9th century AD which tells about the construction of a Shiva temple at Tripparappu near Kulasekharam by an Ay King Karunanandakan (Sreevallabhan). This copper plate was inscribed by one Avilandrakan. This dynasty was ruling the southern part of Kerala.
Kaviyoor, incidentally, is one of the 64 brahmin settlements linked to Parasurama.

The rock temple is in a state of disrepair, though taken over by the state government. Not much is known about the village's past.

There is another place nearby - Mallappally - which is also believed to have been a Budhist centre. This village is also about 12 km east of Vazhappally, another ancient Budhist settlement."

Historical events in the sub continent lend support to assume that Jains and Buddhists had a presence in Kerala even prior to the Christian Era. While Jains entered Kerala from the North, Buddhists, on the other hand, seem to have gained entry from the South. Their decline which started somewhere in the 8th Century AD is mainly attributed to influx of Brahmins from the North, advent of Shankaracharya and the revival of the Vedic Culture. Both the faiths were completely assimilated and merged with Hinduism. People were back into the Hindu fold. Their Viharas and temples were taken over and Hindu shrines built, some for Bhagawathy and some for Lord Shiva. The Buddhist shrines must have been circular in shape for their Chaityas and the Hindu temples replacing them too followed suit. This is the obvious impact the Buddhist designs had on the temple architecture of Kerala. Most of the Jain temples were of the North Indian pattern excepting for the roof. They had their cave dwellings for their monks, which also were used to place Hindu deities.
Buddha idols have been discovered in the coastal districts of Alapuzha and Kollam. A large statue of Buddha is also reported from Lakshadweep (Kavaratti). There still exists a Buddhist temple known as Karumadi Kuttan near Ambalapuzha (Video Link). It is also believed that Kuramba Bhagawathy temple at Kodungallur was a Buddhist shrine or Vihara. There are also claims that the Vadakunnathan Shiva temple at Thrissur too was a Buddhist enclave. Interestingly, parents of Adi Shankaracharya are said to have made offerings at this temple for getting a child. Thus there seems to be some inconsistency.

Once, while I was at home in Kerala, the
Bharani festival at Kodungallur was going on. I sought permission from my Dad to visit that place. He told me that I can not withstand the happenings in the temple premises. That basically the devotees come from different lower classes. They take out processions singing dirty/erotic songs making obscene gestures and throwing dirty things at the temple premises. They use filthy language and apart from that thousands of Cocks/Chicken are brutally killed by way of an offering to the deity. The entire corridor will be smeared with blood and so on. He also explained about the 'Kavu Tindal' at length. When I questioned, him why such a tradion, he told me, these celebrations are in memory of the times when the place was inhabited by Bhikshus (could have been either Buddhists or Jains) and they were driven out.

During my efforts to enrich myself, I came across a well researched article by M.J. Gentes in the Asian Folklore Studies Vol 51, titled "Scandalizing the Goddess at Kodungallur". I am reproducing a portion which has appealed to my psyche.

"A historical and sect-based theory that attempts to explain the rite of polluting of the temple holds that originally Sri Kuramba Kavu was the shrine of a Jain goddess or a Buddhist vihara for nuns (see Obeyesekere 1984, 518-20). The Chera emperors whose capital was at Vanji, probably near or at Kodungallur, protected and supported Jain and Buddhist communities. The Buddhists flourished in Kerala during the fourth to the eighth centuries C.E.( Obeyesekere 1984, 517). At the end of this period, with the migrations of groups of Brahmin settlers into Kerala, the relegious climate began to change. The caste system as defined by the southern Indian Brahminism was gradually extended over the diverse residents, altering the social,
ritual, and political positions of the different segments of the population. By the twelfth century Buddhism had virtually disappeared and the cult of the goddess Kali was in the ascendent. This growth led to the re-consecration of Jain and Buddhist sanctuaries as Bhagavati temples (Induchudan 1969, 200-201). In order to get the nuns to leave their residence at Kodungallur, low- caste devotees of Bhagawati were persuaded to throw animals and filth into the sanctuary (Induchudan 1969, 39). It was then rededicated to Bhadrakali and lost its institutional association with the Jains or Buddhists and with the Jain goddess Kannaki of the fourth century epic Shilappadikaram (The affair of the anklet). The worship of Kannaki was absorbed into the Kali cult, and the polluting of the temple during Bharani commemorates the original confrontation and transfer of liturgical control."

It would be pertinent to add here that "Cheraman Perumal" was a dynastic title enjoyed by all the rulers of the family as we could understand from various inscriptions of Cheras. The last of the Perumal was Rama Kulasekhara (1089-1122 AD). His Kollam inscription of 13th year tells us that he offered 'Prayaschittam' for having offended the Aryan of the place. This shows the brahmins had a upper hand in his kingdom.

From what has been observed above, it would be evident that Buddhism and Jainism ceased to exist in Kerala only after/around 12th Century AD.

Appearance of "OM" on Coins

In July 1996, while going through the morning new papers, I stumbled upon a news item appearing in the Times of India. The caption said “Historians stumped by “Om” Coin”. The report said that six coins were found near the Siddheshwar lake in the Khopat area of Thane (Maharashtra) and one coin had “OM” engraved on it. The report further stated that occurance of “OM” symbol (as is known today in North India) was evolved during the 2nd Century BC as confirmed by the officials of the Institute of Oriental Studies, Thane. Famous historian V.V. Mirashi is quoted to have assumed its occurance somewhere in the 9th or 10th Century AD.
I looked at the coin photographs appearing alongside the news. There was a coin with a lion standing to the right, with the tail rolled up. At the end of the tail the so called “OM” was clearly visible but the area was darker indicating that the symbol was placed deeper than the coin surface. Clearly a device was overstruck. Faintly I remembered to have had some affinity with the coin. Later in the evening I went through the Journals of the Numismatic Society of India and traced the same to the Sada Dynasty (JNSI Vol XLVIII pp14-23 : Sada Coins from Vaddamanu). Similar overstruck Sada coins with a “Triratna device were already reported. In this case the Triratna was punched over the tail of the lion. The end of the tail became a part of the symbol to resemble “OM”. Out of the six coins discovered, only three of them were shown in the photograph. One small coin had the legend “Rajasa Kurasa” (Kuru dynasty of Kolhapur area) and the other one was of “Pulamavi” of the Satavahana lineage. All the coins are datable to 2nd Century AD. How come that a site is yielding coins of different dynasties of the same period. It is, however, not clear as to how were the coins discovered. Thane was definitely a crucial centre with maritime trade. We can not rule out the possibility of a modern day collector’s coins being lost and found. The coins appear to be clean without traces of any deposits. While examining my old floppies, I came across scanned photograph of the disputed coin and thought of penning down for wider appreciation of such numismatic problems.
Incidentally, the “OM”, according to the Hindu mythology, is a cosmic sound and is there from the beginning of the Cosmos. Not only in Hinduism, “OM” is the ultimate, even in Jainism, Buddhism and among the Sikhs. The question is, how was it represented symbolically. Today we find it represented by characters of a script, expressed by a combination of letters producing an “OM” like sound. But it is not necessary that the SOUND be bound with the same characters for ever. “OM” in the various Indian scripts as known today was not the same in the past. This I could understand from the symbols appearing at the beginning of Copper plate grants/inscriptions. Usually they begin with “OM Siddham/Swasti……….” Here we find “OM” appearing differently.

Reminiscences of Cranganore (Kodungallur)

The richness in archaeology as we find in the North, particularly the ancient period, is absent in the South. All important monuments we see today are from 10th Century onwards except at Mahabalipuram and Kancheepuram where there are some standing structures datable to 6th Century AD.

When it comes to Kerala the conditions are pitiable. Hardly we come across antiquities which could be placed before the 8th Century AD. Kodungallur (also known as Cranganore) is said to be the ancient port of Muziris. It is a place where all foreigners came. Jews settled there and later many of them shifted to Kochi. Apparently it was a great trading centre with hundreds of Jews and Arabs doing roaring business at the market place. It appears to me that Arabs were mainly engaged in maritime trade with India. Arab vessels remained at the port for months together unloading goods brought and then loading whatever they wanted. In the process a small settlement of people (in a colony) got created to look after their warehouses and the trading operations with the interior parts of India.

Now comes the question as to which faith they belonged. Definitely not Islam as it did not exist at that point of time. Here perhaps we can bring in Vavar or Arab who could have approached the Maharaja with a request to provide them a place where they could worship. Yes that was needed by them. The king was benevolent and the presence of Arabs was also beneficial to the State’s interests. The Raja ordered one less used Arathali temple to be handed over to the Arabs for the purpose. That way the earliest place of their worship became the oldest Mosque in our country said to have been built in 629 AD. It is known as Cheraman Perumal Mosque.

Old Cheraman Perumal Mosque
Whatever I have stated above is attributable to my own thought process. The story goes back to the second half of 1950’s. I was visiting my native place during school vacations. After lunch (it used to be a little early) I was sitting in an easy chair in the front varandah reading Indian Express.In the magazine section (Sunday) there was an article which said about the oldest Mosque where Muslims pray facing East. It also told about a very large oil lamp hanging inside. I discussed with my dad, he being a great story teller. He prompted me to visit Kodungallur and briefed me appropriately. It was at a distance of 30 kms.

Next day I took a bus to Kodungallur carrying an umbrella as the weather was cloudy. In those days I used to wear Full length pants and I was the only one in that area in that gear. My Malayalam was terribly bad but still I tried to manage. After getting down at Kodungallur I started making inquiries. I was suggested to take the Kotapuram road. The name fascinated me. Since buses were not that frequent I decided to cover the distance by foot. I reached the spot where an old house like structure stood adjoining a grave yard. Inside, it was carpeted and there was a pedestal for the Mullah to stand. Still inside, there was a room not larger than 12′ x 12′. A very large brass lamp was really hanging by a solid black beam. The chain also looked horrible. Then I was a boy of 16 and therefore it is difficult for me to estimate its circumference. I tried to talk to a bearded man, who seemed to be the care taker, in Urdu, but I could not get any confirmation with regard to the direction the Namazis faced. The mosque was facing East.

After seeing the Mosque, I thought of going to ‘Kotapuram’ as it seemed to invite me. I continued walking and found myself at a Boat Jetty. There was the Back Waters but far away, there was also an island. It was Paravur. The spot which I believed to be Kotapuram was also known as Krisnamkotta. The ruins of the Dutch Fort. I enjoyed the boat ride and returned to Kodungallur and had a fill at a wayside Restaurant. Perhaps I had the best Dosa and Chutney in my life.
People at the Restaurant were curious to know about me. I spoke in my broken Malayalam. Guessing my interests, they suggested me to go to Azhikode and catch a boat for Vypin. I thought of doing it some other day. I visited the local Bhagawathi temple and then caught a bus to my home.

Next week I again went to Kodungallur and then to Azhikode where I got a boat for Vypin Island. On the shore I made enquiries about the fort there. I was advised to take a bus. I boarded the bus and midway the conductor asked me to get down, There I saw a hexagonal tall tower. This one was the earliest European building existing on the Indian soil. I entered through a small Iron door and went up. One can watch the movement of ships in the sea. Then I reached the other end of the island catching a bus. From there people asked me to board a boat to Mattancherry. After roaming around, I took a Matcha or a round boat which took me to Ernakulam (Shanmukham Road).
Photo: Divya Diya

Agent Bushby Saheb - Coins of Rewa State

This is an English version of my Hindi article posted earlier.
Also published by Encyclopedia of Indian Coins

The Bushby Coin (Click To Enlarge)
During the course of my active service, I happened to be at Jabalpur in 1990 and there was one Mr. Soni, Dy. Manager working with me. He belonged to a goldsmith family and they had their own jewellery shop in the Sarafa area of the city. When he learnt about my numismatic leanings, he offered to help me. He told me that people from many walks of life, come to their shop to dispose off silver and gold coins, when they needed liquidity. He started bringing few coins every day for my approval. In turn, I used to identify one or two pieces, depending on their antiquity, and paid for them according to the then prevailing market rate. Ancient gold coins were also made available but I simply turned a blind eye as it was beyond my means to possess them.
In between I learnt that at Rewa, not a very distant place, a trader popularly known as Mathurawale, is disposing off his scrap consisting of old coins stored in jute bags, at Rs.100/- per kg. He, however, does not allow people to be selective. He will take out coins from the bag and put them on the scale and the matter ends there. I got interested and thought of trying it out. Within a few days I had a kilogram of those coins brought to me by a friend of mine, who was posted at Rewa.
I bought a small packet of Caustic Soda wafers and made out a solution in a mug of water. The coins were dipped and kept in the solution overnight. Next day they were cleaned. Most of the coins turned out to be of medieval period from various parts of the country. It was for the first time that I was having a feel of such heavier coins. They had inscriptions in Arabic/Persian. Some coins which were in cast copper, belonged to the Mouryan period. There were coins of the erstwhile princely state of Rewa as well.

One coin which had a lion standing to the left on the obverse, proved difficult to understand. The reverse had some thing inscribed but was proving unintelligible. I could not make any sense out of it. Reference to some publications and comparing with all conceivable scripts proved an exercise in futility. Finally I went to one Shri R.R. Bhargava, a very senior collector, for help. We were known to each other for over an year. He held the coin in his palm and instantly threw it aside declaring that it is “Bushby”. I lifted the coin and tried to make out, but in vain. Once again I requested him to read the legend. While attempting to do so, there appeared a stunning expression in his eyes and said hey! this is a ‘mirror image’. He then requested me to allow him to retain the coin. After learning that it is a ‘mirror image’, I could not have but leave his place, with the coin in my pocket.

Copper Coins of Raja Jaisingh Deo of Rewa from 1809 to 1835

Copper Coin of Viswanath Singh the next ruler from 1835-1854
During the British period, we had provinces directly administered by them and about 40% of the area was covered by Princely States who were enabled to administer their states themselves under a special treaty. There used to be a Political Agent, a representative of the Crown, stationed nearby, to keep a close watch over the activities of the Princely States and safeguard the British interests. Some such States were permitted to have their own coinage and stamps. It was quite usual for the Princely States to issue commemorative coins honouring queen Victoria. Some states issued coins inscribed “Dosti Londhon” to indicate their loyalty towards the Crown.
During the reign of Raja Raghuraj Singh (1854-1880) at Rewa, he went a step ahead, and to woo the then Political Agent “Bushby”, issued coins in his honour. This was considered ridiculous and frowned upon at London. But the coin collectors of England took a fancy and became crazy to grab them. It is for the first time that the coin honouring Agent Bushby, with a mirror image, is being published here. One can attempt to read the legend “Agent Bushby Saheb” from right to left, in three rows. We are also publishing three coins of Raja Jaisigh Deo (1809-1835) and one of Viswanath Singh (1835-1854).

एजेंट बुशबी साहेब - रीवा राज्य के सिक्के

सारथी से साभार

बुशबी का सिक्का
बात १९९० की है. उन दिनो मै जबलपुर मे पदस्थ था. मेरे दफ़्तर मे एक कनिष्ट अधिकारी श्री सोनीजी थे. उनकी सोने चाँदी की दूकान हुआ करती थी.मेरे सिक्कों के संग्रह के बारे में जान कर उन्हों ने कहा कि बहुत सारे सिक्के उनके यहाँ बिकने के लिए आते हैं. मैने उनको परखा और अपनी क्षमतानुसार चाँदी की ही कीमत पर खरीदता रहा. सोने के भी पुराने सिक्के दिखाए गये पर मैने हाथ खड़े कर दिए.फिर खबर मिली कि रीवा में कोई मथुरावाले सेठ हैं. उनके यहाँ पुराने सिक्के बोरों में भरी पड़ी है. १०० रुपये किलो की दर से बेचते हैं. छाँटने नही देते. मैने भी सोची कि क्यो ना एक बार आजमाया जावे.

कुछ ही दिनों में १ किलो भर सिक्के एक मित्र के मध्यम से प्राप्त हुए. मैने उन्हे कास्टिक सोडा के घोल में डुबो कर रखा. फिर उनकी सफाई की. अधिकतर सिक्के मध्ययुगीन सुल्तानों के थे वो भी अलग अलग क्षेत्रों के. कुछ मौर्य शुंग के ढलवा तांबे के सिक्के. रीवा रियासत के भी कई थे. एक सिक्के ने मुझे उलझा दिया. विभिन्न लिपियों की जानकारी रहते हुए भी मैं सिक्के पर अंकित नाम पढ़ने में असफल रहा. एक बुजुर्ग संग्रह करता श्री आर.आर. भार्गवजी के शरण में गया. देखते ही उन्हों ने सिक्के को एक ओर पटक दिया और कहा “बुशबी तो है”. मैं भौंचक्का रहा गया. मैने सिक्के को उठाया और दोबारा कोशिश की. बुशबी कहीं नहीं दिख रहा था. मैने दोबारा उनसे कहा, चलिए पढ़ कर बताइए. अब चौकने की बारी उनकी थी. उन्होने कहा अरे यह तो मिरर इमेज है. मुझे दे दो. बात समझ में आने के बाद मैं कैसे मानता.

अँग्रेज़ों के जमाने में भारत में एक तो अँग्रेज़ों के द्वारा प्रशाशित प्रांत हुआ करते थे और लगभग ४०% भाग उन देसी रियासतों के थे जिन्हों ने अँग्रेज़ों से संधि कर रखी थी. इन देसी रियासतों में प्रशासन राजा का ही हुआ करता था. परंतु उनपर अंकुश बनाए रखने के लिए अंग्रेज सरकार अपना एक पोलिटिकल एजेंट नियुक्त कर देती थी. कुछ रियासतों को अपनी खुद की मुद्रा और डाक टिकट जारी करने की छूट थी. रीवा भी एक ऐसी ही रियासत थी जिसने अपने सिक्के जारी किए थे. अँग्रेज़ों से दोस्ती निभाने के लिए या फिर अपनी स्वामी भक्ति प्रदर्शित करने हेतु विभिन्न रियासतों के द्वारा विशेष सिक्के जारी करने की परंपरा रही है. ऐसे सिक्कों को हम commemorative coins कहते हैं. रानी विक्टोरिया, या दोस्ती लंडन के नाम से ये सिक्के जारी हुए थे.

राजा रघुराज सिंग के शासनकाल में रीवा रियासत एक अकेला राज्य था जिसने पोलिटिकल एजेंट को खुश करने के लिए तत्कालीन एजेंट बुशबी के नाम पर सिक्के जारी किए. इसकी इंग्लेंड में आलोचना भी हुई. परंतु इंग्लेंड के संग्रह कर्ताओं को इस सिक्के ने क्रेज़ी कर दिया और वे अपने संग्रह में इसे शामिल करने के लिए लालायित थे.

रीवा रियासत द्वारा जारी किए गये कुछ सिक्कों की छाया प्रति नीचे दी गयी है. परंतु प्रथम बार हम एजेंट बुशबी का वो सिक्का प्रकाशित कर रहे है जिसमे बुशबी का नाम उल्टा अंकित है. वस्तुतः सिक्के की डाई ग़लत बन गयी थी. उल्टे अक्षरों में दाएँ से बाएँ agent bushby sahep पढ़ सकते हैं. प्रथम तीन सिक्के राजा जैसिंह देव (१८०९-१८३५), एक महाराजा विस्वनाथ सिंह (१८३५-१८५४) और सबसे उपर महाराजा रघुराज सिंह (१८५४-१८८०) के हैं.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Punch Marked and Gold Coins from Malhar

The first coin appearing above is in Gold but the quantity of gold seems minimal. This was worn around the neck as a pendant. Scholars opine that this is an imitation of Roman Coin.
The second one is a Silver
Punch Marked coin which has been overstruck with the Malhar device "". It bears four symbols. Sun at top left corner, a Bull facing right at the top right, an Elephant facing right at the bottom and the an unidentifiable truncated symbol. It weighs .75 gm. This is 1/4th of a Karshapana which are scarce. The third one a silver Punch Marked Coin on which the Sun is clearly seen at top right corner. Apart from that there is an incision like marking. The fourth one, also a Silver PMC seems to bear around five symbols out of which the Sun could be seen at top right corner.

Coins of Smaller Denominations

The Coins displayed above are in Copper and very small in size. They all bear some markings. However I did not attempt to clean them properly as I was sure that it is unlikely to find any legend on them

They could be placed in around 3rd Century AD. I wonder as to how people used to manage them.

Anonymous Coins from Malhar

Coins of Bhaliga

Coins of Bhaliga have been found in lead as well as copper. Most of the coins bear a tree in railing as the reverse symbol. On all my coins there is an elephant to the right on the obverse above which the legend appears as Siri Bhaligasa. One copper coin bears the full legend "Rano Siri Bhaligasa"

Coins of Sivamagha

I am not averse to placing Sivamagha in around the 1st half of 2nd Century AD as for as I could visualize from the palaeography on his coin issues. Among the Magha rulers, we find Sivamagha bringing out coins in all conceivable shapes. We come across square, oblong, round as well as octagonal coins in lead and copper. Interestingly, the penultimate (with a crack) coin appearing above, has traces of Gold. The second coin on this page is superb in the sence it has a very clear legend Rano Siva Magha Sirisa starting from 9' O Clockto 3'O Clock. His coin issues are quite different from what we have seen with earlier rulers. A peacock has invariably been depicted on the reverse of all his coins with or without a pedestral.

(The first coin is not a part of my collection)

Coins of Maghasiri - the founder of Magha Dynasty

Maghasiri was the founder of Magha Dynasty sometimes during the 1st Century AD as discussed in my earlier page on Maghas. All his coin issues are in lead. In few of them we find tree in railing as the reverse symbol. The topmost coin is not rectangular. It is broader and thinner at the top. This gives an impression that perhaps the name ‘Maghasirisa’ was impressed with some device. In that case the original coin could have belonged to some other ruler.
Maghashri is considered to have been succeeded by a ruler named Siriya Magha whose coin appears alongside. The legend has been read as “Siri Yamagha” by some scholars. This seems absurd, devoid of any meaning. I am inclined to go for “Siriya Magha” as explained by P.L. Gupa (Numismatic Digest Vol 14, pp. 10-11). In that case the issuer would be “Maghasiri” with the honorific prefix of “Siriya”. If we consider “Siriya” as part of the name, the issuer of the coin would be a different ruler. We leave it at that for further numismatic evidence to come up.

Coins of Dharmabhadra

After Achadasiri, we find a ruler named Dharmabhadra or Dhamabhada (as per the coin legend). The typography of Brahmi characters are almost similar to that of Achadasiri and he too could have belonged to 1st Century BC. There are only two coins found so far. Both of them are in copper with a tree in railing on the reverse. There is however a tiny symbol at the corner resembling a square within which a + mark is placed.

Coins of Achadasiri

After Silalusiri, the reigns appear to have been taken over by Achadasiri. The advent of Malhar symbol "" could be seen on his issues. The coins are in lead and copper (1, 2, 4 and 6). All copper issues have a Tree in railing on the reverse while on most of the lead coins the reverse is blank.