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Postby admin » Fri May 17, 2024 2:52 am

Indian PM Narendra Modi Runs on “Hatred and Demonization” of Muslims in World’s Largest Election
by Amy Goodman & Nermeen Shaikh
May 09, 2024 ... _extremism

GUESTS: Siddhartha Deb, award-winning Indian author and journalist, professor of literary studies at The New School in New York.

LINKS: "Twilight Prisoners: The Rise of the Hindu Right and the Fall of India"; "The Light at the End of the World"

Millions of voters in India are casting their ballots in the third of seven phases in the country’s mammoth general election. The election pits Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP party [Bharatiya Janata Party] against an alliance of more than two dozen opposition parties led by the Indian National Congress. Modi has recently come under fire from opponents for referring to Muslims in India as “infiltrators,” but our guest, the award-winning Indian author and journalist Siddhartha Deb, points out that “the Hindu right, they’ve always been extreme,” using “genocidal language” to describe those who do not fit the ethnonationalist image of their “masculine, violent, patriarchal project” and modeling the vision for a Hindu supremacist state after Israel, with its “idea that a strong, muscular, militant majority that are the only people who have the right to [the] nation.” Deb, a professor at The New School, also discusses India’s growing inequality gap, U.S. politicians’ embrace of Modi, and faculty support for pro-Palestine student protests in the U.S.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Millions of voters in India are casting their ballots in the third phase of the country’s mammoth general election. Voting began on April 19th in a seven-phase election which is taking place over a month and a half. Nearly a billion people are eligible to vote. Ballots are set to be counted on June 4th.

Among those who cast their ballots earlier this week was incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is seeking a rare third straight term in office. The election pits Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP party against an alliance of more than two dozen opposition parties led by the Indian National Congress. Modi’s opponents have accused him of using hate speech after he described Muslims in India as, quote, “infiltrators,” prompting the Congress party to file a formal complaint against Modi with election authorities.

Voter turnout in this year’s election has declined compared to the 2019 vote.

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we’re joined in our New York studio by Siddhartha Deb, award-winning Indian author and journalist, born in northeast India. His most recent novel is The Light at the End of the World. His new nonfiction book is Twilight Prisoners: The Rise of the Hindu Right and the Fall of India. He’s a professor of literary studies at The New School in New York.

We welcome you to Democracy Now! Congratulations on the release of the book. Let’s start off by talking about this mammoth election, the biggest in the world, even if it may not be as much turnout even as 2019. Can you talk about what’s at stake and whether Narendra Modi is expected to win by as huge a margin as was predicted?

SIDDHARTHA DEB: Thank you, Amy. It’s great to be back here. Thank you. Nice to see you again, Nermeen.

I think, you know, it’s hard to make these predictions, but it seems very likely that it is not — as we can see from the declining voter participation, we can also see from Narendra Modi sort of anteing up the hate speech, that there is a kind of concern within the Hindu right, within the BJP, that it’s not going to be as sweeping as 2019 or 2014. And that’s partly because, you know, the Hindu right have delivered on all the things, all the big promises they had made, which are basically based on hatred and demonization of Muslims. There’s really no agenda for actual development. There is really no agenda for, you know, public health, people’s security. Things are tremendously precarious on a day-to-day level at India for people. And we can see that beginning to trickle in even among the supporters.

Is it going to be enough to prevent him from — the Hindu right from winning the elections this time? Probably not. But, yes, I do think there is a kind of — you know, they sense that things are changing. And you can also tell because, you know, you can see people — that’s why he brought up the whole ghuspaithiye. That’s the word for infiltrators that they have used for a long time, that he’s trying to — you know, it’s the same rhetoric, but they’re just trying to increase the amount of it, basically.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, if you could explain, Siddhartha — I mean, your book is called Twilight Prisoners, and the subtitle is The Rise of the Hindu Right and the Fall of India. So, if you could explain what exactly you think has happened under successive Modi regimes? Just before, as India was getting ready for the elections, the World Inequality Lab came out with a study titled “The Rise of the Billionaire Raj,” which shows that income inequality in India is worse than it was under British colonial rule. So, as against what most people think about India shining and India rising, what’s happening in India?

-- Income and Wealth Inequality in India, 1922-2023: The Rise of the Billionaire Raj ∗ [We are grateful to Jayati Ghosh for her thoughtful comments and to Rajesh Shukla for providing us with ICE360 tabulations and relevant clarifications. We acknowledge financial support from the French National Agency for Research (ANR-17-EUR-0001), ERC Synergy DINA 856455 and WISE Horizon 101095219 research grants. Lucas Chancel acknowledges support from the Stone Program in Wealth Distribution, Inequality, and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Emails: Bharti:; Chancel:; Piketty:; Somanchi:], by Nitin Kumar Bharti1 [New York University, Abu Dhabi and World Inequality Lab], Lucas Chancel2 [Sciences Po, Harvard Kennedy School and World Inequality Lab], Thomas Piketty3 [Paris School of Economics and World Inequality Lab], and Anmol Somanchi3 [Paris School of Economics and World Inequality Lab], World Inequality Lab, March 18, 2024

SIDDHARTHA DEB: Well, Nermeen, you’re absolutely right. It is worse than under colonial rule. And that is saying something, because when the colonials, when the British left the India subcontinent, I believe the average life expectancy was 26. You know, it was that kind of inequality. And Modi, Modi’s regime has basically empowered a small set of oligarchs, basically.

But again, in terms of everyday life for people, there’s a tremendous amount of precariousness. There’s a tremendous amount of food insecurity. There’s a tremendous — we saw in the handling, for instance, of the pandemic, which the Hindu right is trying to spin, but we saw how abysmal Modi’s and the Hindu right’s handling of the pandemic was. And it was not just the poor that suffered. It was the middle class. Even the well-to-do in India were scrambling for oxygen tanks and hospital beds in some of the most expensive hospitals in India. So, that’s the kind of chaos that Modi has, you know, presided over. There’s been a tremendous upward transfer of wealth. And again, it is beginning to show through. The cracks are beginning to become visible even to his core supporters, I think.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And also at the level, Siddhartha — that’s obviously social indicators, which are very important. But also at the political level, at the level of altering India’s orientation, in particular towards Muslims, but to minorities in general, if you could speak specifically about this Partition Horrors Remembrance Day, who that’s directed towards, who experienced these horrors? And then, second, you’ve actually been to Ayodhya, where the Babri Masjid was destroyed in 1992 and where earlier this year the [Hindu temple] Ram Mandir was built. If you could speak about the significance of both these things?

SIDDHARTHA DEB: So, you know, just to connect, in some sense, you know, the Hindu right in India are trying to create an ethnonationalist state. And that’s one of the reasons — and it’s really ironic, one of the great ironies of history, that the Hindu right is modeled explicitly after the Italian Fascists and the Nazis, and now they are great allies of Israel, and for the same reasons. They admire this idea of a strong, muscular, militant majority that are the only people who have the right to this nation. And the minorities must be dominated, must be brutalized or expelled. And that is what the Hindu right’s project has been.

And the main platforms of it, for symbolic reasons, to rouse up this sort of national — to create, to concoct this Hindu identity, one of them, one of the platforms, has been to build the temple. And this goes back to the BJP’s rise as a political party and the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992. And so, yes, I was there in 2021 to report on the construction of the temple, and built — you know, there is no evidence that a Hindu temple actually had existed underneath this mosque. There is no archaeological evidence. But the thing is that, you know, Modi and the Hindu right seize on these symbolic things, as opposed to substantive things, because the substantive things are food security, public health, climate collapse. You just had the report on Bangladesh. My mother is in Calcutta. The heat in Bengal is incredible. So, there is no discussion of these substantial questions. There is just the enriching of the oligarchs. And for this quote-unquote, this notional “Hindu majority,” there are these symbolic issues. “We will give you a Ram temple to avenge the humiliation of the Muslims, because the Muslims are 'outsiders,'” again, quote-unquote, in this Hindu right mind.

But, you know, when I went to Ayodhya, yes, there is this giant million-dollar temple complex being built, you know, quite gargantuan, on a very sleepy little pilgrimage town, actually. But, you know, if you walk around, the roads are waterlogged. It’s muddy. There is — people are tremendously impoverished. There is an incredible gender disparity. You barely see any women on the streets. It is such a masculine, violent, patriarchal kind of project that they’re pushing forward. And that’s what we are seeing again and again in India.

AMY GOODMAN: India is currently the largest importer of Israeli weapons in the world.


AMY GOODMAN: Narenda Modi, banned from the United States for years after the Gujarat massacre — he was the equivalent of the governor of Gujarat at the time.

SIDDHARTHA DEB: Yes, the chief minister.

AMY GOODMAN: The significance of this, going right through to the election now? You have his opponents accusing him of using hate speech after he described Muslims in India as, quote, “infiltrators,” the opposition Congress party filing a formal complaint against him with election authorities. The significance of all this happening now? Would you say he is getting more extreme? And what about the U.S. relationship with India?

SIDDHARTHA DEB: You know, Amy, he’s not getting more extreme. He has always — and it’s not just Modi. It’s the Hindu right. They’ve always been extreme. They have been extreme — to go back to Nermeen’s question on the Partition Horrors Museum, they were extreme even in 1947, when the partition took place. And I take great offense. I am — my father was a refugee from the partition, of what became Bangladesh. Modi is just weaponizing this completely one-sided — the Hindu right participated gleefully in the massacres and the rapes that accompanied the partition. Everybody suffered — Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Dalits. People suffered on a very large scale. And they are simply weaponizing it into their sort of this — again, this notion that the Muslims are the villains and the Hindus are these perfect victims. And that’s not true.

But, you know, we see this — in terms of the U.S. relations, every U.S. administration we have seen since that initial rejection of a visa for Modi when he was the chief minister of Gujarat under 2002, once Modi won the elections in 2014, once he became the prime minister, the Obama administration, the Trump administration, the Biden administration — every single administration has embraced Modi, has embraced the Hindu right and looked the other way, in spite of these egregious violations of human rights and utter violence.

So, in that sense, he hasn’t become more extreme.
I was in Assam reporting for The New York Times Magazine. I have seen Modi’s home minister, Amit Shah, come down in a helicopter to a rally and talk about Muslims as ghuspaithiyes, or the word “infiltrators.” You know, it’s on record. They have been doing it again and again. People are compared to ants and crows. That’s what they are — this is genocidal language. And the U.S. has stood aside. And yes, India is the largest arms importer in the world, and not just a purchaser of arms from Israel, but also from the United States and from Britain and from France, all the great Western democratic powers.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Siddhartha, before we end, if you could just say how you understand Modi’s change in policy, India’s change in policy vis-à-vis Israel, because for decades after partition, India was totally pro-Palestinian?

SIDDHARTHA DEB: Well, absolutely. I mean, that’s partly also — you know, this has not been very hard for me to think about. I mean, I was for Palestinian — for Palestinian rights. That was part of my political formation growing up as a teenager in India, because, you know, India’s own experience of colonialism, which was horrific, it just made it very, very clear that we would be for Palestine, but without ever — without ever marginalizing the suffering of Jews, not just in the Shoah, but centuries of European antisemitism. These were part and parcel of our anti-colonial identity. It’s for the same reason that we were against apartheid South Africa. It was for the same reason that we were for civil rights in the United States. And now it is basically a coming together of these ethnonationalist muscular states that admire each other. And that’s what the Hindu right is. And that’s why the Israelis and the United States supports them both.

AMY GOODMAN: And we just have 10 seconds, but you’re a professor at The New School. The New School has just set up a faculty encampment — it may be the first in the country — to defend the students. The significance of this?

SIDDHARTHA DEB: I absolutely, absolutely find it amazing. I think the students have been incredibly inspiring. We would not have found out about The New School’s complicity in Israeli weapons manufacturing in the war, and the students have actually made that clear. And so, yes, it’s our duty as faculty in a place that touts social justice to stand with them.

AMY GOODMAN: Siddhartha Deb, award-winning Indian journalist, born in northeast India. His latest book is called Twilight Prisoners.
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Postby admin » Sat Jun 15, 2024 6:35 am

Stories of Asian palm-leaf manuscripts
by Adrian Plau
Wellcome Collection
August 9, 2022 ... AAAP0nyHTz

Wellcome’s Adrian Plau shares some of the stories behind the Asian palm-leaf manuscripts in our collections. He reveals how British colonialism impacted this special form of knowledge transmission and the challenges involved in unearthing each manuscript’s origins and how it came to be at Wellcome Collection.

Colour print of the talipot palm (Corypha umbraculifera) growing by a lakeside in Sri Lanka. 'The talipot palm (Corypha umbraculifera).

Palm-leaf manuscripts are one of humanity’s most ancient and widespread technologies for transmitting and preserving knowledge in written form. They are made from two types of palms: palmyra and talipot, both found in South and Southeast Asia. Palmyra palms have an enormous range of uses, from mats and thatching to hats and fans, in addition to making palm-leaf manuscripts. The talipot palm lives for around 60 years but flowers only once. Death follows soon after its lone blossoming, but the leaves of the tree are cooked and dried and take on a second life. Inscribed with a stylus and rubbed with ink, they become palm-leaf manuscripts.

Novice Buddhist monks in orange robes cutting and sorting dried palm leaves for palm leaf manuscripts, Vat Manolom, Luang Prabang. Laos

The process of turning palm leaves into manuscripts begins with the seasoning process, which helps prepare the palm leaves for long-term storage. First, branches are cut and completely dried in the sun. The dried and cut leaves are made into a roll tied with string. The rolls are boiled in water along with aloe vera pulp for about an hour to make them stronger. After being straightened and rolled to make them smooth, the leaves are cut into the proper shape and size, and a hole is made in the middle of each leaf to connect them together and make a palm-leaf volume.

A Singhalese palm leaf manuscript with a brightly coloured painted wooden binding with images of the Buddha. The manuscript is open to reveal the inscribed text on the palm leaves. A black wooden stylus lays across the leaves.

Measurement lines are drawn on the leaves as a guide to writing. The writing is done with a pen or brush stylus, by engraving or etching into the surface of the leaf. Dr Kalpana Sheth of Ahmedabad University, who has catalogued thousands of historic manuscripts for Wellcome Collection, notes that, “Writing on dried palm leaf is not easy. It needs proper pressure and technique. Once a mistake is made, it can never be corrected.” Once both sides of the leaf have been inscribed, black colouring is applied to make the incisions more visible. Dr Sheth adds, “Sometimes the palm leaf is preserved and protected from insects by also applying a mixture of turmeric powder, mustard oil, neem powder, and camphor powder.”

Detail of a palm leaf manuscript showing a brightly coloured painting of an incarnation of perfected wisdom in the form Prajnaparamita Devi with Sanskrit text on either side

Palm manuscripts displayed in Western museums for their visitors tend to be ancient and lavishly illustrated. For example, this manuscript, labelled prosaically as MS Indic Epsilon 1, is one of the rarest, most valuable items in Wellcome Collection. The manuscript is a copy of the Mahāyāna Buddhist treatise ‘Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra’ (‘A Treatise on the Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Verses’) and does indeed feature several beautiful illustrations of Bodhisattvas, deities, and episodes from the Buddha’s life. The image shows an incarnation of perfected wisdom in the form of Prajñāpāramitā Devi. The manuscript was purchased by Dr Paira Mall, a Punjab-born physician who acquired many items for Henry Wellcome in India.

Detail from a palm leaf manuscript page showing text in sanskrit/bhujimol script. Heavy black text read horizontally on yellow palm leaf background

Palm-leaf manuscripts offer intriguing clues into how knowledge was disseminated and exchanged over time and through the many languages and kingdoms of South Asia. The scribe who copied Epsilon 1 presents himself as a man named Jivadhara, based in Nalanda (in the modern-day state of Bihar in northern India), the world’s first residential university and one of the ancient world’s prime centres of learning. But the manuscript uses the Bhujimol script used in Nepal, which is not typically found in Nalanda manuscripts from the 11th century.

According to Taranatha, Asoka, the great Mauryan emperor of the third century BC, gave offerings to the chaitya of Sariputra that existed at Nalanda and erected a temple here; Ashoka must therefore be regarded as the founder of the Nalanda-vihara [university] [mahavihara].[!!!]6 The same authority adds that Nagarjuna, the famous Mahayana philosopher and alchemist of about the second century AD, began his studies at Nalanda and later on became the high priest here. It is also added that Suvishnu, a Brahmana contemporary of Nagarjuna, built one hundred and eight temples at Nalanda to prevent the decline of both the Hinayana and Mahayana schools of Buddhism.7 Taranatha also connects Aryadeva, a philosopher of the Madhyamika school of Buddhism of the early fourth century AD, with Nalanda.4

These statements of Taranatha would lead one to believe that Nalanda was a famous centre of Buddhism already at the time of Nagarjuna and continued to be so in the following centuries. But it may be clearly emphasised that the excavations have not revealed anything which suggests the occupation of the site before the Guptas, the earliest datable finds being a (forged) copper plate of Samudra-gupta and a coin of Kumaragupta.

-- Nalanda Mahavihara: Victim of a Myth regarding its Decline and Destruction, by O.P. Jaiswal

The German translation of Lama Taranatha's first book on India called The Mine of Previous Stones (Edelsteinmine) was made by Prof. Gruenwedel the reputed Orientalist and Archaeologist on Buddhist culture in Berlin. The translation came out in 1914 A.D. from Petrograd (Leningrad).

The German translator confessed his difficulty in translating the Tibetan words on matters relating to witchcraft and sorcery. So he has used the European terms from the literature of witchcraft and magic of the middle ages viz. 'Frozen' and 'Seven miles boots.'

He said that history in the modern sense could not be expected from Taranatha. The important matter with him was the reference to the traditional endorsement of certain teaching staff. Under the spiritual protection of his teacher Buddhaguptanatha, he wrote enthusiastically the biography of the predecessor of the same with all their extravagances, as well as the madness of the old Siddhas.

The book contains a rigmarole of miracles and magic….

-- Mystic Tales of Lama Taranatha: A Religio-Sociological History of Mahayana Buddhism, by Lama Taranatha

A seated Buddhist monk examines a palm leaf manuscript, as two young men, both standing, join him. One has another palm leaf manuscript in his hand. Detail of Kelaniya Temple painting.

Scholar Eva Allinger argues that Epsilon 1 dates from the 12th century and was copied in Nepal, not Nalanda. We don’t know who the Nepali scribe was or who might have commissioned and paid for what clearly was an expensive and complicated project. However, it is tempting to speculate that the owner wanted something with the splendour and prestige associated with Nalanda, yet readable Bhujimol. The world of manuscripts is nothing if not full of adaptation.

Three palm leaf manuscripts on a plain background. The one at the back is tall, stacked and bundled with string, the middle one is the longest and show open with just a couple of leaves. The one in front is the shortest in length and shown slightly splayed with a string going through it that emerges from the top and coils in front of the manuscript

While the illustrations in Epsilon 1 and similar palm-leaf manuscripts are beautiful, they are spread over 208 leaves, only six of which contain illustrations. Palm manuscripts were not intended for display; most were for more everyday use – the equivalent of paperbacks rather than coffee-table books. Like paperbacks, they come in all shapes and sizes and can be just as rare and valued.

Detail of a strip from a palm leaf manuscript showing text inscribed in Hindi and a string connecting all the leaves emerging from a hole in the strip

MS Hindi 39.01 is a case in point. It is the only palm-leaf manuscript in Wellcome Collection written in Hindi. Made in 1763, it is a copy of Ramchand’s ‘Ramvinod’(‘Ram’s Pleasures’), an early modern medical treatise that was extremely popular across north India and beyond. This copy was completed about 100 years after Ramchand’s original [1763], finished in 1663.

An old indian man (possibly a Hindu priest) sits cross-legged on the floor with a low writing desk in front of him, he reading a palm leaf manuscript in one hand and holding a pen over a paper book in the other, The room behind him had books and manuscripts on shelves and sideboards

Palm-leaf manuscripts demonstrate how knowledge was disseminated, adapted and modified through centuries of copying and translating texts such as Ramchand’s medical treatise. They also challenge imperialist notions of a timeless, unchanging South Asia where history began with European colonisation. Far from being timeless, ancient practices such as Ayurveda continued to develop through physicians such as Ramchand and Nainsukh, and the many copies of their works, such as MS Hindi 39.01, that have been made and circulated into modern times.

An open palm leaf manuscript showing two pages, one in English and one in Tamil. The leaves of the manuscript and connected by a string passing through a hole piercing all of the leaves. The end of the string is fastened to a small wooden peg. The English text says 'Arise and be baptized and wash away the sins calling out the names of the Lord. Acts 2.2:16'

A striking example of how palm-leaf manuscripts were adapted through colonialism is a Tamil manuscript, MS Tamil 3. According to its colophon, the manuscript was made by the scribe M Vethamanikam at the Nagercoil Seminary in the South Indian Kingdom of Travancore. The seminary at Nagercoil (now a city in Tamil Nadu) was established in the early 19th century by British missionaries. MS Tamil 3 contains a range of brief quotations from the Christian Bible, first in Tamil script and then in English translation on the flip side of each leaf. In this, it demonstrates both the continuing tradition of palm-leaf manuscripts, and how such local practices and traditions could be used for colonial purposes.

Detail of a page from a palm leaf manuscript with inscribed text in Sinhala. A red, white and blue string emerges from a hole in the centre of the leaf, holding the manuscript together.

MS Sinhala 91 and MS Sinhala 92 are Sri Lankan manuscripts that give further testament to the imprint of British colonialism on the palm-leaf manuscript tradition. They were created by two Buddhist monks, (signified by the thera honorific in the texts). While both manuscripts use the same eight-line astaka format of praise poetry and feature paraphrases in Sinhala, one is written in Sanskrit and the other in Pali. Both are addressed to Sir John Frederick Dickson (1835–91), who spent 25 years as a British colonial administrator in Sri Lanka. Dickson was fascinated by Buddhism and learned to read Pali. The quite generic phrases suggest that these manuscripts were commissioned by Dickson himself.

Black and white photograph in an album of Henry Wellcome and friends visiting the Gebel Moya archaeological site in Sudan, 1910-1911

The presence of the palm-leaf manuscripts in Wellcome Collection is itself a tangible imprint of British imperialism across Asia. Collectors such as Henry Wellcome had the wealth and privilege to buy more or less everything they wanted to acquire, and the global inequalities of colonial rule enabled them to do so. We are working to retrace the stories of how these items came into the collection, but this is by no means a straightforward task. For example, of the 11 Javanese manuscripts in the collection,we know that six were bought at auction in London between 1916 and 1934, but so far, we do not know how the other five came to Wellcome. And in the process of conducting an inventory of all our manuscript collections, we’ve found a 12th, uncatalogued Javanese manuscript.

A selection of bound ledgers, registers, notebooks, cataloguing cards and correspondence containing historical records of the acquisition of items for the Wellcome Medical Museum and Library

By conducting this inventory, researching the histories of the items (this is just a small sample of the historical acquisition records at Wellcome Collection), and updating our cataloguing information, we strive to make it easier to find and access the manuscripts in our collections. Where possible, we are also working to digitise and transcribe manuscripts to make them more widely accessible to audiences around the world. Revealing the stories behind objects in Wellcome Collection and how they came to be in the collections is going to be a long process, but we’ve taken the first steps.

Adrian Plau is Manuscript Collections Information Analyst at Wellcome Collection, and a recent Headley Fellow with the Art Fund. He holds a PhD in South Asia Studies from SOAS.
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Postby admin » Sat Jun 15, 2024 9:06 am

Palm-leaf manuscript
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 6/15/24

This palm-leaf manuscript, which is one of the oldest known dated Sanskrit manuscripts from South Asia, transmits Pārameśvaratantra, a scripture of the Shaiva Siddhanta, that thought the worship of Shiva as Pārameśvara. A note in the manuscript states that it was copied in the year 252, which some scholars judge to be of the era established by the Nepalese king Amśuvaran, corresponding to 828 CE. Cambridge University Library

Palm leaf manuscripts of 16th century in Odia script

16th-century Hindu Bhagavata Purana on palm leaf manuscript

A palm leaf Hindu text manuscript (Lontara) from Bali, Indonesia, showing how the manuscripts were tied into a book

Palm-leaf manuscripts are manuscripts made out of dried palm leaves. Palm leaves were used as writing materials in the Indian subcontinent and in Southeast Asia dating back to the 5th century BCE.[1] Their use began in South Asia and spread to other regions, as texts on dried and smoke-treated palm leaves of the Palmyra or talipot palm.[2] Their use continued until the 19th century when printing presses replaced hand-written manuscripts.[2]

One of the oldest surviving palm leaf manuscripts of a complete treatise is a Sanskrit Shaivism text from the 9th century, discovered in Nepal, and now preserved at the Cambridge University Library.[3] The Spitzer Manuscript is a collection of palm leaf fragments found in Kizil Caves, China. They are dated to about the 2nd century CE and are Sanskrit's oldest known philosophical manuscript.[4][5]


A medical manuscript in Sinhala, c. 1700

The text in palm leaf manuscripts was inscribed with a knife pen on rectangular cut and cured palm leaf sheets; colourings were then applied to the surface and wiped off, leaving the ink in the incised grooves. Typically, each sheet had a hole through which a string could pass, and using these holes, the sheets were bound together like a book by tying them together with a string. Such palm leaf texts typically had a lifespan of between a few decades and roughly 600 years before they started to rot due to moisture, insect activity, mould, and fragility. Thus the document had to be copied onto new sets of dried palm leaves.[2] The oldest surviving palm leaf Indian manuscripts have been found in colder, drier climates such as in parts of Nepal, Tibet, and central Asia, the source of 1st-millennium CE manuscripts.[6]

The individual sheets of palm leaves were called Patra or Parna in Sanskrit (Pali/Prakrit: Panna), and the medium when ready to write was called Tada-patra (or Tala-patra, Tali, Tadi).[6] The famous 5th-century CE Indian manuscript called the Bower Manuscript discovered in Chinese Turkestan, was written on birch-bark sheets shaped in the form of treated palm leaves.[6]

Hindu temples often served as centers where ancient manuscripts were routinely used for learning and where the texts were copied when they wore out.[7] In South India, temples and associated mutts served custodial functions, and a large number of manuscripts on Hindu philosophy, poetry, grammar, and other subjects were written, multiplied, and preserved inside the temples.[8] Archaeological and epigraphical evidence indicates the existence of libraries called Sarasvati-bhandara, dated possibly to the early 12th century and employing librarians, attached to Hindu temples. [9] Palm-leaf manuscripts were also preserved inside Jain temples and in Buddhist monasteries.

With the spread of Indian culture to Southeast Asian countries like as Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and the Philippines, these nations also became home to large collections. Palm-leaf manuscripts called Lontar in dedicated stone libraries have been discovered by archaeologists at Hindu temples in Bali (Indonesia) and in 10th century Cambodian temples such as Angkor Wat and Banteay Srei.[10]

One of the oldest surviving Sanskrit manuscripts on palm leaves is of the Parameshvaratantra, a Shaiva Siddhanta text of Hinduism. It is from the 9th century, and dated to about 828 CE.[3] The discovered palm-leaf collection also includes a few parts of another text, the Jñānārṇavamahātantra, currently held by the University of Cambridge.[3]

With the introduction of printing in the early 19th century, the cycle of copying from palm leaves mostly came to an end. Many governments are making efforts to preserve what is left of their palm-leaf documents.[11][12][13]

Relationship with the development of writing systems

The round and cursive design of the letters of many Brahmic scripts such as Devanagari, Nandinagari, Kannada, Telugu, Lontara, Javanese, Balinese, Odia, Burmese, Tamil, Khmer, and so forth, may be an adaptation to the use of palm leaves, as angular letters could tear the leaves apart.[14]

Regional variations

A Jain palm leaf manuscript from Rajasthan


Palm-leaf manuscripts or sleuk rith as they are known in the Khmer language, can be found in Cambodia since Angkorian times as can be seen from at least one bas-relief on the walls of Angkor Wat. While they were of major importance until the 20th century, French archeologist Olivier de Bernon estimated that about 90% of all the sleuk rith were lost in the turmoil of the Cambodian Civil War while new supports such as codex books or digital media took over. Since then, conservation efforts have been made in pagodas such as at Wat Ounalom in Phnom Penh.[15]



Palm leaf manuscripts of Odisha include scriptures, pictures of Devadasi, and various mudras of the Kama Sutra. Some of the early discoveries of Odia palm leaf manuscripts include writings like Smaradipika, Ratimanjari, Pancasayaka, and Anangaranga in both Odia and Sanskrit.[16] The State Museum of Odisha at Bhubaneswar houses 40,000 palm leaf manuscripts. Most of them are written in the Odia script, though the language is Sanskrit. The oldest manuscript here belongs to the 14th century but the text can be dated to the 2nd century.[17]


Palm leaf manuscript

Palm leaf manuscript

Palm leaf manuscript

Tamil Nadu

16th-century Christian prayers in Tamil, on palm leaf manuscripts

In 1997 The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recognised the Tamil Medical Manuscript Collection as part of the Memory of the World Register. A very good example of the usage of palm leaf manuscripts to store history is a Tamil grammar book named Tolkāppiyam, written around the 3rd century BCE.[18] A global digitalization project led by the Tamil Heritage Foundation collects, preserves, digitizes, and makes ancient palm-leaf manuscript documents available to users via the internet.[19]


"Lontar manuscript" redirects here. For the manuscripts of the Bugis people, see Lontara.

In Indonesia, the palm-leaf manuscript is called lontar. The Indonesian word is the modern form of Old Javanese rontal. It is composed of two Old Javanese words, namely ron "leaf" and tal "Borassus flabellifer, palmyra palm". Due to the shape of the Palmyra palm's leaves, which are spread like a fan, these trees are also known as "fan trees". The leaves of the rontal tree have always been used for many purposes, such as for the making of plaited mats, palm sugar wrappers, water scoops, ornaments, ritual tools, and writing material. Today, the art of writing in rontal still survives in Bali, performed by Balinese Brahmin as a sacred duty to rewrite Hindu texts.

Balinese palm-leaf manuscript of Kakawin Arjunawiwāha

Many old manuscripts dated from ancient Java, Indonesia, were written on rontal palm-leaf manuscripts. Manuscripts dated from the 14th to 15th century during the Majapahit period. Some were found even earlier[?], like the Arjunawiwaha, the Smaradahana, the Nagarakretagama, and the Kakawin Sutasoma, which were discovered on the neighboring islands of Bali and Lombok. This suggested that the tradition of preserving, copying, and rewriting palm-leaf manuscripts continued for centuries. Other palm-leaf manuscripts include Sundanese language works: the Carita Parahyangan, the Sanghyang Siksakandang Karesian, and the Bujangga Manik.

Myanmar (Burma)

A 19th-century palm-leaf manuscript called kammawa from Bagan, Myanmar

In Myanmar, the palm-leaf manuscript is called pesa (ပေစာ). In the pre-colonial era, along with folding-book manuscripts, pesa was a primary medium of transcribing texts, including religious scriptures, and administrative and juridical records.[20] The use of pesa dates back to 12th century Bagan, but the majority of existent pesa date to the 1700-1800s.[20] Key historical sources, including Burmese chronicles, were first originally recorded using pesa.[20][21] The Burmese word for "literature", sape (စာပေ) is derived from the word pesa.[20]

In the 17th century, decorated palm leaf manuscripts called kammavācā or kammawasa (ကမ္မဝါစာ) emerged.[21] The earliest such manuscript dates to 1683.[21][22] These decorated manuscripts include ornamental motifs and are inscribed with ink on lacquered palm leaves gilded with gold leaf.[21] Kammavaca manuscripts are written using a tamarind-seed typeface similar to the style used in Burmese stone inscriptions.[21] Palm-leaf manuscripts continued to be produced in the country well into the 20th century.[23]

The Universities' Central Library in Yangon houses the country's largest collection of traditional manuscripts, including 15,000 pesa.[24] In February 2013, the Pali Text Society, Sendai University, and the University of Toronto, along with local partners, began an ongoing initiative to digitise and catalogue Myanmar's palm-leaf manuscripts, including collections from U Pho Thi Library in Thaton, and Bagaya Monastery in Inwa.[25][23] The digitised manuscripts are available at the open-access Myanmar Manuscript Digital Library.[26]

Preparation and preservation

The palm leaves are first cooked and dried. The writer then uses a stylus to inscribe letters. Natural colourings are applied to the surface so the ink will stick to the grooves. This process is similar to intaglio printing. Afterwards, a clean cloth is used to wipe out the excess ink and the leaf manuscript is done.[27][28]

See also

• Birch bark manuscript
• Folding-book manuscript
• Gandhāran Buddhist texts
• Ho trai, library of Thai Temple
• Pitakataik, scriptural libraries in Myanmar
• Orihon, a concertina-folded book format originating in China and popularized in Japan


1. Zhixin Shi; Srirangaraj Setlur; Venu Govindaraju. "Digital Enhancement of Palm Leaf Manuscript Images using Normalization Techniques" (PDF). Amherst, US: SUNY at Buffalo. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2010-06-16. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
2. "10. Literature", The Story of India - Photo Gallery, PBS, Explore the topic, palm-leaf manuscripts, archived from the original on 2013-11-13, retrieved 2013-11-13
3. Pārameśvaratantra (MS Add.1049.1) with images Archived 2016-03-08 at the Wayback Machine, Puṣkarapārameśvaratantra, University of Cambridge (2015)
4. Eli Franco (2003). "The Oldest Philosophical Manuscript in Sanskrit". Journal of Indian Philosophy. 31 (1/3): 21–31. doi:10.1023/A:1024690001755. JSTOR 23497034. S2CID 169685693.;
Eli Franco (2005). "Three Notes on the Spitzer Manuscript". Journal of South Asian Studies. 49: 109–111. JSTOR 24007655.
5. Noriyuki Kudo (2007). "Review: Eli FRANCO (ed.), The Spitzer Manuscript: The Oldest Philosophical Manuscript in Sanskrit, 2 vols". Nagoya Studies in Indian Culture and Buddhism: Saṃbhāṣā. 26: 169–173.
6. Amalananda Ghosh (1991), An Encyclopaedia of Indian Archaeology, BRILL Academic, ISBN 978-9004092648, pages 360-361
7. John Guy and Jorrit Britschgi (2011), Wonder of the Age: Master Painters of India, 1100-1900, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, ISBN 978-1588394309, page 19
8. Saraju Rath (2012), Aspects of Manuscript Culture in South India, Brill Academic, ISBN 978-9004219007, pages ix, 158-168, 252-259
9. Hartmut Scharfe (2002), From Temple schools to Universities, in Handbook of Oriental Studies, Brill Academic, ISBN 978-9004125568, pages 183-186
10. Wayne A. Wiegand and Donald Davis (1994), Encyclopedia of Library History, Routledge, ISBN 978-0824057879, page 350
11. "Conservation and Digitisation of Rolled Palm Leaf Manuscripts in Nepal". 2005-11-14. Archived from the original on 2013-11-13. Retrieved 2013-11-13.
12. Yeh, Shu-hwei. (2005). A Study of the Cataloging of the Palm Leaves Manuscripts (論述貝葉經整理與編目工作). 中華民國圖書館學會會報, 75, 213-235.
13. "Digital Library of Lao Manuscripts". Archived from the original on 2013-11-14. Retrieved 2013-11-13.
14. Sanford Steever, 'Tamil Writing'; Kuipers & McDermott, 'Insular Southeast Asian Scripts', in Daniels & Bright, The World's Writing Systems, 1996, p. 426, 480
15. Bernon, Olivier de; Sopheap, Kun; Kok-An, Leng (2018). Inventaire provisoire des manuscrits du Cambodge deuxième partie (in French). École française d'Extrême-Orient. pp. xiii. ISBN 978-2-85539-255-4.
16. Nāgārjuna Siddha (2002). Conjugal Love in India: Ratiśāstra and Ratiramaṇa : Text, Translation, and Notes. BRILL. pp. 3–. ISBN 978-90-04-12598-8. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
17. "Ancient palm-leaf manuscripts are in danger of crumbling away". Archived from the original on 2014-01-04.
18. Zvelebil, Kamil (1973-01-01). The Smile of Murugan: On Tamil Literature of South India. BRILL. ISBN 9004035915.
19. Interview: Digitalizing heritage for the coming generation. Archived 2011-10-17 at the Wayback Machine Bhasha India. Microsoft. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
20. Emmrich, Christoph (2021-05-26), "From Manuscript to Print in South and Southeast Asia", Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199340378.013.582, ISBN 978-0-19-934037-8, retrieved 2023-03-01
21. Goh, Geok Yian (2021-02-23), "Commercial Networks and Economic Structures of Theravada Buddhist Southeast Asia (Thailand and Myanmar)", Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Asian History, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780190277727.013.546, ISBN 978-0-19-027772-7, retrieved 2023-03-01
22. The manuscript is called ပဉ္စနိပါတ အင ္ဂုတ္တိုရ အဋ္ဌကထာ in Burmese.
23. "The Project to Digitize". Myanmar Manuscript Digital Library. Retrieved 2023-03-25.
24. "The Documentary heritage of Myanmar: selected case studies". UNESCO. 2018. Retrieved 2023-02-28.
25. "Archives". Myanmar Manuscript Digital Library. Retrieved 2023-03-25.
26. "U of T's Myanmar Digital Library of rare manuscripts and artefacts opens access to scholars worldwide". Faculty of Arts & Science. 2020-04-27. Retrieved 2023-03-25.
27. Padmakumar, P. K., Sreekumar, V. B., Rangan, V. V., & Renuuka, C. (2003). Palm Leaves as Writing Material: History and Methods of Processing in Kerala. PALMS, 47(3), 125-129.
28. Kumar, D. U., Sreekumar, G. V., Athvankar, U. A. (2009). Traditional writing system in Southern India — Palm leaf manuscripts. Design Thoughts, 7, 2-7.

Further reading

• Production of manuscripts
• "Engraving Balinese letter on a Lontar at Udayana University Bali". Published by Lontar Library of Udayana University on 22 Jan 2012.
• "How to ink up an inscribed palm leaf manuscript". Published by Mellon Sawyer Seminar Eurasian Manuscripts of University of Iowa on 22 Feb 2017.
• "How to make the Palm Leaf Manuscripts". Published by Palm Leaf Manuscript Study & Research Library of University of Kelaniya on 20 Jul 2016.
• "Ola Leaf manuscripts". Published by on 4 Dec 2013.
• Preservation of manuscripts
• "Traditional preservation method for oiling palm leaf manuscript leaves in Myanmar". Video by Hlaing Hlaing Gyi at the University of Yangon Library in Myanmar. Uploaded 20 Oct 2016.
• Jarusawat, P., & Cox, A. M. (2023). Community-driven care of Lanna palm-leaf manuscripts. IFLA Journal, 49(1), 132–142.
• "தமிழ் சுவடிகள்: உண்மையும் நமது கடமையும்". Published by Neelakandan Nagarajan Researcher Tamil Manuscripts, International Institute of Tamil Studies, Tharamani, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, On 8 July 2019
• "தமிழ் சுவடிகள்: உண்மையும் நமது கடமையும் [பாகம் 2]". Published by Neelakandan Nagarajan Researcher Tamil Manuscripts, International Institute of Tamil Studies, Tharamani, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, On 14 Juல்ய் 2020
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Naneghat Cave and Inscriptions

Naneghat geography and inscriptions

Naneghat caves shown within India

Alternative name: Nanaghat caves
Location: Maharashtra, India
Region: Western Ghats
Coordinates: 19°17′31.0″N 73°40′33.5″E
Altitude: 750 m (2,461 ft)
Type: Caves, trade route passage
Builder: Queens, Satavahana dynasty -Naganika
Material: Natural rock
Founded: 2nd-century BCE
Cultures: Hinduism [1]
Management: Archaeological Survey of India

Naneghat, also referred to as Nanaghat or Nana Ghat (IAST: Nānāghaṭ), is a mountain pass in the Western Ghats range between the Konkan coast and the ancient town of Junnar in the Deccan plateau. The pass is about 120 kilometres (75 mi) north of Pune and about 165 kilometres (103 mi) east from Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.[2] It was a part of an ancient trading route, and is famous for a major cave with Sanskrit inscriptions in Brahmi script and Middle Indo-Aryan dialect.[3] These inscriptions have been dated between the 2nd and the 1st century BCE, and attributed to the Satavahana dynasty era.[4][5][6] The inscriptions are notable for linking the Vedic and Hinduism deities, mentioning some Vedic srauta rituals and of names that provide historical information about the ancient Satavahanas.[5][7] The inscriptions present the world's oldest numeration symbols for "2, 4, 6, 7, and 9" that resemble modern era numerals, more closely those found in modern Nagari and Hindu-Arabic script.[6][8][9]


Nanaghat pass stretches over the Western Ghats, through an ancient stone laid hiking trail to the Nanaghat plateau. The pass was the fastest key passage that linked the Indian west coast seaports of Sopara, Kalyan and Thana with economic centers and human settlements in Nasik, Paithan, Ter and others, according to Archaeological Survey of India.[10] Near the top is a large, ancient manmade cave. On the cave's back wall are a series of inscriptions, some long and others short. The high point and cave is reachable by road via Highways 60 or 61. The cave archaeological site is about 120 kilometres (75 mi) north of Pune and about 165 kilometres (103 mi) east from Mumbai.[2] The Naneghat Cave is near other important ancient sites. It is, for example, about 35 kilometres (22 mi) from the Lenyadri Group of Theravada Buddhist Caves and some 200 mounds that have been excavated near Junnar, mostly from the 3rd-century BCE and 3rd-century CE period. The closest station to reach Naneghat is Kalyan station which lies on the Central Line.[10]


The Naneghat caves, likely an ancient rest stop for travellers.[11]

During the reign of the Satavahana (c. 200 BCE – 190 CE), the Naneghat pass was one of the trade routes. It connected the Konkan coast communities with Deccan high plateau through Junnar.[2] Literally, the name nane means "coin" and ghat means "pass". The name is given because this path was used as a tollbooth to collect toll from traders crossing the hills. According to Charles Allen, there is a carved stone that from a distance looks like a stupa, but is actually a two-piece carved stone container by the roadside to collect tolls.[12]

The scholarship on the Naneghat Cave inscription began after William Sykes found them while hiking during the summer of 1828.[13][14] Neither an archaeologist nor epigraphist, his training was as a statistician and he presumed that it was a Buddhist cave temple. He visited the site several times and made eye-copy (hand drawings) of the script panel he saw on the left and the right side of the wall. He then read a paper to the Bombay Literary Society in 1833 under the title, Inscriptions of the Boodh caves near Joonur,[13] later co-published with John Malcolm in 1837.[15] Sykes believed that the cave's "Boodh" (Buddhist) inscription showed signs of damage both from the weather elements as well as someone crudely incising to desecrate it.[12] He also thought that the inscription was not created by a skilled artisan, but someone who was in a hurry or not careful.[12] Sykes also noted that he saw stone seats carved along the walls all around the cave, likely because the cave was meant as a rest stop or shelter for those traveling across the Western Ghats through the Naneghat pass.[11][12][13]

William Sykes made an imperfect eye-copy of the inscription in 1833, to bring it to scholarly attention.[16]

Sykes proposed that the inscription were ancient Sanskrit because the statistical prevalence rate of some characters in it was close to the prevalence rate of same characters in then known ancient Sanskrit inscriptions.[13][17] This suggestion reached the attention of James Prinsep, whose breakthrough in deciphering Brahmi script led ultimately to the inscription's translation. Much that Sykes guessed was right, the Naneghat inscription he had found was indeed one of the oldest Sanskrit inscriptions.[12] He was incorrect in his presumption that it was a Buddhist inscription because its translation suggested it was a Hindu inscription.[1] The Naneghat inscription were a prototype of the refined Devanagari to emerge later.[12]

Georg Bühler published the first version of a complete interpolations and translation in 1883.[18] He was preceded by Bhagvanlal Indraji, who in a paper on numismatics (coins) partially translated it and remarked that the Naneghat and coin inscriptions provide insights into ancient numerals.[18][19]


Naneghat Pass Entrance

The inscriptions are attributed to a queen of the Satavahana dynasty. Her name was either Nayanika or Naganika, likely the wife of king Satakarni. The details suggest that she was likely the queen mother, who sponsored this cave after the death of her husband, as the inscription narrates many details about their life together and her son being the new king.[5]

The Naneghat cave inscriptions have been dated by scholars to the last centuries of the 1st millennium BCE. Most scholars date it to the early 1st-century BCE, some to 2nd-century BCE, a few to even earlier.[4][5][6] Sircar dated it to the second half of the 1st-century BCE.[20] Upinder Singh and Charles Higham date 1st century BCE.[21][22]

The Naneghat records have proved very important in establishing the history[???] of the region. Vedic Gods like Dharma Indra, Chandra and Surya are mentioned here. The mention of Samkarsana (Balarama) and Vasudeva (Krishna) indicate the prevalence of Bhagavata tradition of Hinduism in the Satavahana dynasty.

Nanaghat inscriptions

Two long Nanaghat inscriptions are found on the left and right wall, while the back wall has small inscriptions on top above where the eight life-sized missing statues would have been before somebody hacked them off and removed them.[12]

Left wall

Left wall inscription, Brahmi script


1. sidhaṃ ... no dhaṃmasa namo īdasa namo saṃkaṃsana-vāsudevānaṃ caṃda-sūtānaṃ mahimāvatānaṃ catuṃnaṃ caṃ lokapālānaṃ yama-varuna-kubera-vāsavānaṃ namo kumāravarasa vedisirisa raño
2. ......vīrasa sūrasa apratihatacakasa dakhināpaṭhapatino raño simukasātavāhanasa sunhāya ......
3. mā ..... bālāya mahāraṭhino aṃgiya-kulavadhanasa sagaragirivaravalayāya pathaviya pathamavīrasa vasa ... ya va alaha ......salasu ..ya mahato maha ...
4. .... sātakaṇi sirisa bhāriyā devasa putadasa varadasa kāmadasa dhanadasa vedisiri-mātu satino sirimatasa ca mātuya sīma .... pathamaya .....
5. variya ....... ānāgavaradayiniya māsopavāsiniya gahaṭāpasāya caritabrahmacariyāya dikhavratayaṃñasuṃḍāya yañāhutādhūpanasugaṃdhāya niya .......
6. rāyasa ........ yañehi yiṭhaṃ vano | agādheya-yaṃño dakhinā dinā gāvo bārasa 12 aso ca 1 anārabhaniyo yaṃño dakhinā dhenu .........
7. ...... dakhināya dinā gāvo 1700 hathī 10 .....
8. ......... as ..... sasataraya vāsalaṭhi 289 kubhiyo rupāmayiyo 17 bhi ......
9. .......... riko yaṃño dakhināyo dinā gāvo 11,000 asā 1,000 pasapako ..............
10. ............. 12 gamavaro 1 dakhinā kāhāpanā 24,400 pasapako kāhāpanā 6,000 | rājasūya-yaṃño ..... sakaṭaṃ

The missing characters do not match the number of dots; Bühlerpublished a more complete version.[18]

Left wall translation without interpolation

Samkasana ([x]) and Vāsudeva ([x]) in the Naneghat cave inscription

Dakṣiṇā or Dakshina (Sanskrit: दक्षिणा) is a Sanskrit word found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikh and Jain literature where it may mean any donation, fees or honorarium given to a cause, monastery, temple, spiritual guide or after a ritual. It may be expected, or a tradition or voluntary form of dāna. The term is found in this context in the Vedic literature. It may mean honorarium to a guru for education, training or guidance.

According to Monier Williams, the term is found in many Vedic texts, in the context of "a fee or present to the officiating priest (consisting originally of a cow, Kātyāyana Śrautasūtra 15, Lāṭyāyana Śrautasūtra 8.1.2)", a 'donation to the priest', a 'reward', an 'offering to a guru', a 'gift, donation'.

-- Daksina, by Wikipedia

Agnyādheya (अग्न्याधेय) refers to one of the seven Haviḥsaṃsthās or Haviryajñas (groups of seven sacrifices).—Hārīta says: “Let a man offer the Pākayajñas always, always also the Haviryajñas, and the Somayajñas (Soma sacrifices), according to rule, if he wishes for eternal merit”.—The object of these sacrifices [viz., Agnyādheya] is eternal happiness, and hence they have to be performed during life at certain seasons, without any special occasion (nimitta), and without any special object (kāma). According to most authorities, however, they have to be performed during thirty years only. After that the Agnihotra only has to be kept up.

-- Sacred Texts: The Grihya Sutras, Part 2 (SBE30)


Agnyādheya (अग्न्याधेय) refers to the ritual of “kindling the sacred fire” and represents one of the various rituals mentioned in the Vaikhānasagṛhyasūtra (viz., vaikhānasa-gṛhya-sūtra) which belongs to the Taittirīya school of the Black Yajurveda (kṛṣṇayajurveda).—The original Gṛhyasūtra of Vaikhanāsa consists of eleven chapters or “praśnas”. Each praśna is subdivided into sub-divisions called “khaṇḍa”. But only the first seven chapters deal with actual Gṛhyasūtra section. Agnyādheya is one of the seven haviryajñas.

-- Shodhganga: Vaikhanasa Grhyasutra Bhasya (Critical Edition and Study)

1. Sidham[note 1] to Dharma, adoration to Indra, adoration to Samkarshana and Vāsudeva,[note 2] the descendants of the Moon ("Chandra") endowed with majesty, and to the four guardians of the world ("Lokapalas"), Yama, Varuna, Kubera and Vāsava; praise to Vedisri, the best of royal princes (kumara)![note 3] Of the king.
2. .... of the brave hero, whose rule is unopposed, the Dekhan......
3. By ..... the daughter of the Maharathi, the increaser of the Amgiya race, the first hero of the earth that is girdled by the ocean and the best of mountains....
4. wife of . . . Sri, the lord who gives sons, boons, desires and wealth, mother of Yedisri and the mother of the illustrious Sakti.....
5. Who gave a . . . most excellent nagavaradayiniya,[note 4] who fasted during a whole month, who in her house an ascetic, who remained chaste, who is well acquainted with initiatory ceremonies, vows and offerings, sacrifices, odoriferous with incense, were offered......
6. O the king ........ sacrifices were offered. Description - An Agnyadheya sacrifice, a dakshina[note 5] was offered twelve, 12, cows and 1 horse; - an Anvarambhaniya sacrifice, the dakshina, milch-cows.....
7. ...... dakshina were given consisting of 1700 cows, 10 elephants,
8. .... 289.....17 silver waterpots.....
9. ..... a rika-sacrifice, dakshina were given 11,000 cows, 1000 horses
10. ......12 . . 1 excellent village, a dakshina 24,400 Karshapanas, the spectators and menials 6,001 Karshapanas; a Raja ........ the cart[26]

Left wall translation with interpolation

Naneghat deities

The two deities Samkarshana and Vāsudeva on the coinage of Agathocles of Bactria, circa 190-180 BCE.[27][28]

1. [Om adoration] to Dharma [the Lord of created beings], adoration to Indra, adoration to Samkarshana and Vāsudeva, the descendants of the Moon (who are) endowed with majesty, and to the four guardians of the world, Yama, Varuna, Kubera and Vasava; praise to Vedisri, the best of royal princes! Of the king.
2. .... of the brave hero, whose rule is unopposed, (of the lord of) the Dekhan......
3. By ..... the daughter of the Maharathi, the increaser of the Amgiya race, the first hero of the earth that is girdled by the ocean and the best of mountains....
4. (who is the) wife of . . . Sri, the lord who gives sons, boons, (the fulfillment of) desires and wealth, (who is the) mother of Yedisri and the mother of the illustrious Sakti.....
5. Who gave a . . . most excellent (image of) a snake (deity), who fasted during a whole month, who (even) in her house (lived like) an ascetic, who remained chaste, who is well acquainted with initiatory ceremonies, vows and offerings, sacrifices, odoriferous with incense, were offered......
6. O the king ........ sacrifices were offered. Description - An Agnyadheya sacrifice (was offered), a dakshina was offered (consisting of) twelve, 12, cows and 1 horse; - an Anvarambhaniya sacrifice (was offered), the dakshina (consisted of) , milch-cows.....
7. ...... dakshina were given consisting of 1700 cows, 10 elephants,
8. .... (289?).....17 silver waterpots.....
9. ..... a rika-sacrifice, dakshina were given (consisting of) 11,000 cows, 1000 horses
10. ......12 . . 1 excellent village, a dakshina (consisted of) 24,400 Karshapanas, (the gifts to) the spectators and menials (consisted of) 6,001 Karshapanas; a Raja [suya-sacrifice] [Purushamedha]........ the cart[26]

Right wall

Right wall inscription, Brahmi script


1. ..dhaṃñagiritaṃsapayutaṃ sapaṭo 1 aso 1 asaratho 1 gāvīnaṃ 100 asamedho bitiyo yiṭho dakhināyo dinā aso rupālaṃkāro 1 suvaṃna ..... ni 12 dakhinā dinā kāhāpanā 14,000 gāmo 1 haṭhi ........ dakhinā dinā
2. gāvo ... sakaṭaṃ dhaṃñagiritaṃsapayutaṃ ...... ovāyo yaṃño ..... 17 dhenu .... vāya +satara sa
3. ........... 17 aca .... na ya ..... pasapako dino ..... dakhinā dinā su ... pīni 12 tesa rupālaṃkāro 1 dakhinā kāhāpanā 10,000 ... 2
4. ......gāvo 20,000 bhagala-dasarato yaṃño yiṭho dakhinā dinā gāvo 10,000 | gargatirato yaño yiṭho dakhinā ..... pasapako paṭā 301 gavāmayanaṃ yaṃño yiṭhodakhinā dinā gāvo 1100 | .............. gāvo 1100 pasapako kāhāpanā +paṭā 100 atuyāmo yaṃño .....
5. ........ gavāmayanaṃ yaño dakhinā dinā gāvo 1100 | aṃgirasāmayanaṃ yaṃño yiṭho dakhinā gāvo 1,100 | ta ............. dakhinā dinā gāvo 1100 | satātirataṃ yaṃño ........ 100 ......... yaño dakhinā gāvo 110 aṃgirasatirato yaṃño yiṭho dakhinā gāvo
6. ......... gāvo 1,002 chaṃdomapavamānatirato dakhinā gāvo 100 | aṃgirasatirato yaṃño yiṭho dakhinā ....... rato yiṭho yaño dakhinā dinā ....... to yaṃño yiṭho dakhinā ......... yaṃño yiṭho dakhinā dinā gāvo 1000 | ............
7. ......... na +sayaṃ .......... dakhinā dinā gāvo .......... ta ........ aṃgirasāmayanaṃ chavasa ........ dakhinā dinā gāvo 1,000 ........... dakhinā dinā gāvo 1,001 terasa ... a
8. ........ terasarato sa ......... āge dakhinā dinā gāvo ......... dasarato ma .......... dinā gāvo 1,001 u ........... 1,001 da ...........
9. ........ yaño dakhinā dinā .........
10. .......... dakhinā dinā ..........

The missing characters do not match the number of dots; Bühler published a more complete version.[18]

Right wall translation without interpolation

1. ...used for conveying a mountain of grain, 1 excellent dress, 1 horse, 1 horse-chariot, 100 kine. A second horse-sacrifice was offered; dakshina were given 1 horse with silver trappings, 12 golden...... an(other) dakshina was given 14,000 (?) Karshapanas, 1 village . . elephant, a dakshina was given
2. ....cows, the cart used for conveying a mountain of grain..... an..... Ovaya sacrifice.......... 17 milch cows (?)....
3. ........ 17 ....... presents to the spectators were given.... a dakshina was given 12..... 1 silver ornaments for them, a dakshina was given consisting of 10,000 Karshapanas............
4. ..... 20,000(?) cows ; a Bhagala-Dasharatha sacrifice was offered, a dakshina was given 10,001 cows; a Gargatriratra sacrifice was offered ...... the presents to the spectators and menials 301 dresses; a Gavamayana was offered, a dakshina was given 1,101 cows, a .... sacrifice, the dakshina 1,100 (?) cows, the presents to the spectators and menials . . Karshapanas, 100 dresses; an Aptoryama sacrifice .....
5. ..... ;a Gavamayana sacrifice was offered, a dakshina was given 1,101 cows; an Angirasamayana sacrifice was offered, a dakshina was given 1,101 cows; was given 1,101 cows; a Satatirata sacrifice ...... 100 ......... ; ......sacrifice was offered, the dakshina 1,100 cows; an Angirasatriratra sacrifice was offered; the dakshina .... cows ....
6. ........ 1,002 cows; a Chhandomapavamanatriratra sacrifice was offered, the dakshina .... ; a ....... ratra sacrifice was offered, a dakshina was given; a ...... tra sacrifice was offered, a dakshina ... ; a ..... sacrifice was offered, a dakshina was given 1,001 cows
7. .......... ; a dakshina was given ..... cows ........; an Angirasamayana, of six years ....... , a dakshina was given, 1,000 cows ..... was given 1,001 cows, thirteen ........
8. ........... a Trayoclasaratra ......... a dakshina was given, .... cows ......... a Dasaratra .... a ...... sacrifice, a dakshina was given 1,001 cows....

9. [29]

Right wall translation with interpolation

1. Used for conveying a mountain of grain, 1 excellent dress, 1 horse, 1 horse-chariot, 100 kine. A second horse-sacrifice was offered; dakshina were given (consisting of) 1 horse with silver trappings, 12 golden...... an(other) dakshina was given (consisting of) 14,000 (?) Karshapanas, 1 village . . elephant, a dakshina was given
2. ....cows, the cart used for conveying a mountain of grain..... an..... Ovaya sacrifice.......... 17 milch cows (?)....
3. ........ 17 ....... presents to the spectators were given.... a dakshina was given (consisting of) 12..... 1 (set of) silver ornaments for them, an(other) dakshina was given consisting of 10,000 Karshapanas............
4. ..... 20,000(?) cows ; a Bhagala-Dasharatha sacrifice was offered, a dakshina was given (consisting of) 10,001 cows; a Gargatriratra sacrifice was offered ...... the presents to the spectators and menials (consisted of) 301 dresses; a Gavamayana was offered, a dakshina was given (consisting of) 1,101 cows, a .... sacrifice, the dakshina (consisted of) 1,100 (?) cows, the presents to the spectators and menials (consisted of) . . Karshapanas, 100 dresses; an Aptoryama sacrifice (was offered).....
5. ..... ;a Gavamayana sacrifice was offered, a dakshina was given (consisting of) 1,101 cows; an Angirasamayana sacrifice was offered, a dakshina was given (of) 1,101 cows; (a dakshina) was given (consisting of) 1,101 cows; a Satatirata sacrifice ...... 100 ......... ; ......sacrifice was offered, the dakshina (consisted of) 1,100 cows; an Angirasatriratra sacrifice was offered; the dakshina (consisted of) .... cows ....
6. ........ 1,002 cows; a Chhandomapavamanatriratra sacrifice was offered, the dakshina .... ; a ....... ratra sacrifice was offered, a dakshina was given; a ...... tra sacrifice was offered, a dakshina ... ; a ..... sacrifice was offered, a dakshina was given (consisting of) 1,001 cows
7. .......... ; a dakshina was given (consisting of) ..... cows ........; an Angirasamayana, of six years (duration) ....... , a dakshina was given, (consisting of) 1,000 cows ..... (a sacrificial fee) was given (consisting of) 1,001 cows, thirteen ........
8. ........... a Trayoclasaratra ......... a dakshina was given, (consisting of) .... cows ......... a Dasaratra .... a ...... sacrifice, a dakshina was given (consisting of) 1,001 cows....

9. [29]

Back wall relief and names

Regnal inscriptions

The back wall, with regnal inscriptions.

"Simuka" portion of the inscription (photograph and rubbing) in early Brahmi script:
[x]. Rāyā Simuka - Sātavāhano sirimato. "King Simuka Satavahana, the illustrious one"[30]

The back wall of the cave has a niche with eight life-size relief sculptures. These sculptures are gone, but they had Brahmi script inscriptions above them that help identify them.[21]

1. Raya Simuka - Satavahano sirimato
2. Devi-Nayanikaya rano cha
3. Siri-Satakanino
4. Kumaro Bhaya ........
5. (unclear)
6. Maharathi Tranakayiro.
7. Kumaro Hakusiri
8. Kumaro Satavahano

Reception and significance

The Nanaghat inscription has been a major finding. According to Georg Bühler, it "belongs to the oldest historical documents of Western India, are in some respects more interesting and important than all other cave inscriptions taken together".[16][24]

The inscription mentions both Balarama (Samkarshana) and Vāsudeva-Krishna, along with the Vedic deities of Indra, Surya, Chandra, Yama, Varuna and Kubera.[12] This provided the link between Vedic tradition and the Hinduism .[31][32][33] Given it is inscribed in stone and dated to 1st-century BCE, it also linked the religious thought in the post-Vedic centuries in late 1st millennium BCE with those found in the unreliable highly variant texts such as the Puranas dated to later half of the 1st millennium CE. The inscription is a reliable historical record, providing a name and floruit to the Satavahana dynasty.[12][32][11]

1911 sketch of numerals history in ancient India, with the Naneghat inscription shapes.

The Naneghat inscriptions have been important to the study of history of numerals.[9] Though damaged, the inscriptions mention numerals in at least 30 places.[34] They present the world's oldest known numeration symbols for "2, 4, 6, 7, and 9" that resemble modern era numerals, particularly the modern Nāgarī script.[6][35] The numeral values used in the Naneghat cave confirm that the point value had not developed in India by the 1st century BCE.[8][36]

The inscription is also evidence and floruit that Vedic ideas were revered in at least the northern parts of the Deccan region before the 1st-century BCE. They confirm that Vedic srauta sacrifices remained in vogue among the royal families through at least the 1st-century BCE.[31][7] The Naneghat cave is also evidence that Hindu dynasties had sponsored sculptures by the 1st-century BCE, and secular life-size murti (pratima) tradition was already in vogue by then.[11][37][note 6]

According to Susan Alcock, the Naneghat inscription is important for chronologically placing the rulers and royal lineage of the Satavahana Empire. It is considered on palaeographical grounds to be posterior to the Nasik Caves inscription of Kanha dated to 100-70 BCE. Thus, Naneghat inscription helps place Satakarni I after him, and Satavahanas as a Hindu dynasty whose royal lineage performed many Vedic sacrifices.[38]

See also:

• Hindu temple
• Kanheri Caves


1. Variously translated to "Success" or "Om adoration"".[23][24]
2. Samkarshana and Vasudeva are synonyms for Balarama and Krishna.[25]
3. Kumaravarasa translated to "royal princes" or "Kartikeya".[18][25]
4. Buhler states that its translation is uncertain, can be either "who gave a most excellent image of a snake deity" or "who gave a most excellent image of an elephant deity" or "who gave a boon of a snake or elephant deity".[23]
5. variously translated as "sacrificial fee" or "donation".[18][12]
6. The eight statues were missing when William Sykes visited the cave in 1833.


1. Theo Damsteegt 1978, p. 206.
2. Georg Bühler 1883, pp. 53–54.
3. Theo Damsteegt 1978, p. 206, Quote: "A Hinduist inscription that is written in MIA dialect is found in a Nanaghat cave. In this respect, reference may also be made to a MIA inscription on a Vaishnava image found near the village Malhar in Madhya Pradesh which dates back to about the same age as the Nanaghat inscription."; see also page 321 note 19.
4. Richard Salomon 1998, p. 144.
5. Upinder Singh 2008, pp. 381–384.
6. Development Of Modern Numerals And Numeral Systems: The Hindu-Arabic system, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Quote: "The 1, 4, and 6 are found in the Ashoka inscriptions (3rd century bce); the 2, 4, 6, 7, and 9 appear in the Nana Ghat inscriptions about a century later; and the 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9 in the Nasik caves of the 1st or 2nd century CE — all in forms that have considerable resemblance to today’s, 2 and 3 being well-recognized cursive derivations from the ancient = and ≡."
7. Carla Sinopoli 2001, pp. 168–169.
8. David E. Smith 1978, pp. 65–68.
9. Norton 2001, pp. 175–176.
10. Lenyadri Group of Caves, Junnar Archived 10 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Archaeological Survey of India
11. Vincent Lefèvre (2011). Portraiture in Early India: Between Transience and Eternity. BRILL Academic. pp. 33, 85–86. ISBN 978-9004207356.
12. Charles Allen 2017, pp. 169–170.
13. Shobhana Gokhale 2004, pp. 239–260.
14. Charles Allen 2017, p. 170.
15. John Malcolm and W. H. Sykes (1837), Inscriptions from the Boodh Caves, near Joonur, The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 4, No. 2, Cambridge University Press, pages 287-291
16. Georg Bühler 1883, p. 59.
17. Charles Allen 2017, pp. 169–172.
18. Georg Bühler 1883, pp. 59–64.
19. Bhagavanlal Indraji (1878). Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. Asiatic Society of Bombay. pp. 303–314.
20. D.C. Sircar 1965, p. 184.
21. Upinder Singh 2008, pp. 382–384
22. Charles Higham (2009). Encyclopedia of Ancient Asian Civilizations. Infobase Publishing. p. 299. ISBN 9781438109961.
23. Georg Bühler 1883, pp. 59-64 with footnotes.
24. Mirashi 1981, p. 231.
25. Mirashi 1981, pp. 232.
26. Report On The Elura Cave Temples And The Brahmanical And Jaina Caves In Western India by Burgess [1]
27. Singh, Upinder (2008). A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century. Pearson Education India. pp. 436–438. ISBN 978-81-317-1120-0.
28. Srinivasan, Doris (1979). "Early Vaiṣṇava Imagery: Caturvyūha and Variant Forms". Archives of Asian Art. 32: 50. ISSN 0066-6637. JSTOR 20111096.
29. Report On The Elura Cave Temples And The Brahmanical And Jaina Caves In Western India by Burgess [2]
30. Burgess, Jas (1883). Report on the Elura Cave temples and the Brahmanical and Jaina Caves in Western India.
31. Joanna Gottfried Williams (1981). Kalādarśana: American Studies in the Art of India. BRILL Academic. pp. 129–130. ISBN 90-04-06498-2.
32.Mirashi 1981, pp. 131–134.
33. Edwin F. Bryant (2007). Krishna: A Sourcebook. Oxford University Press. pp. 18 note 19. ISBN 978-0-19-972431-4.
34. Bhagvanlal Indraji (1876), On Ancient Nagari Numeration; from an Inscription at Naneghat, Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. 12, pages 404-406
35. Anne Rooney (2012). The History of Mathematics. The Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-1-4488-7369-2.
36. Stephen Chrisomalis (2010). Numerical Notation: A Comparative History. Cambridge University Press. pp. 189–190. ISBN 978-1-139-48533-3.
37. Vidya Dehejia (2008). The Body Adorned: Sacred and Profane in Indian Art. Columbia University Press. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-231-51266-4.
38. Empires: Perspectives from Archaeology and History by Susan E. Alcock pp. 168–169, Cambridge University Press


• Charles Allen (2017), "6", Coromandel: A Personal History of South India, Little Brown, ISBN 978-1408705391
• Georg Bühler (1883), Report on the Elura cave temples and the Brahmanical and Jaina caves in western India (Chapter: The Nanaghat Inscriptions), Archaeological Survey of India, This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
• Theo Damsteegt (1978). Epigraphical Hybrid Sanskrit. Brill Academic.
• Shobhana Gokhale (2004). "The Naneghat Inscription - A Masterpiece in Ancient Indian Records". The Adyar Library Bulletin. 68–70.
• Mirashi, Vasudev Vishnu (1981), History and Inscriptions of the Satavahanas: The Western Kshatrapas, Maharashtra State Board for Literature and Culture
• Norton, James H. K. (2001). Global Studies: India and South Asia. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-243298-5.
• Richard Salomon (1998). Indian Epigraphy: A Guide to the Study of Inscriptions in Sanskrit, Prakrit, and the other Indo-Aryan Languages. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-535666-3.
• Carla Sinopoli (2001). Susan E. Alcock (ed.). Empires: Perspectives from Archaeology and History. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-77020-0.
• Upinder Singh (2008). A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century. Pearson Education. ISBN 978-81-317-1120-0.
• D.C. Sircar (1965), Select Inscriptions, Volume 1, University of Calcutta
• David E. Smith (1978). History of Mathematics. Courier. ISBN 978-0-486-20430-7.

Further reading:

• Alice Collet (2018). "Reimagining the Sātavāhana Queen Nāgaṇṇikā". Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies. 41: 329–358. doi:10.2143/JIABS.41.0.3285746.
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Part 1 of 2

Human Sacrifice (Purushamedha) Is Sanctioned In Hinduism [It's Not Just Symbolic] [Raja Sacrifice] [Suya-Sacrifice]
by Myth Buster
May 27, 2020 ... -hinduism/

Among the Lhota Naga, one of the many savage tribes who inhabit the deep rugged labyrinthine glens which wind into the mountains from the rich valley of Brahmapootra, it used to be a common custom to chop off the heads, hands, and feet of people they met with, and then to stick up the severed extremities in their fields to ensure a good crop of grain. They bore no ill-will whatever to the persons upon whom they operated in this unceremonious fashion. Once they flayed a boy alive, carved him in pieces, and distributed the flesh among all the villagers, who put it into their corn-bins to avert bad luck and ensure plentiful crops of grain. The Gonds of India, a Dravidian race, kidnapped Brahman boys, and kept them as victims to be sacrificed on various occasions. At sowing and reaping, after a triumphal procession, one of the lads was slain by being punctured with a poisoned arrow. His blood was then sprinkled over the ploughed field or the ripe crop, and his flesh was devoured. The Oraons or Uraons of Chota Nagpur worship a goddess called Anna Kuari, who can give good crops and make a man rich, but to induce her to do so it is necessary to offer human sacrifices. In spite of the vigilance of the British Government these sacrifices are said to be still secretly perpetrated. The victims are poor waifs and strays whose disappearance attracts no notice. April and May are the months when the catchpoles are out on the prowl. At that time strangers will not go about the country alone, and parents will not let their children enter the jungle or herd the cattle. When a catchpole has found a victim, he cuts his throat and carries away the upper part of the ring finger and the nose. The goddess takes up her abode in the house of any man who has offered her a sacrifice, and from that time his fields yield a double harvest. The form she assumes in the house is that of a small child. When the householder brings in his unhusked rice, he takes the goddess and rolls her over the heap to double its size. But she soon grows restless and can only be pacified with the blood of fresh human victims.

But the best known case of human sacrifices, systematically offered to ensure good crops, is supplied by the Khonds or Kandhs, another Dravidian race in Bengal. Our knowledge of them is derived from the accounts written by British officers who, about the middle of the nineteenth century, were engaged in putting them down. The sacrifices were offered to the Earth Goddess. Tari Pennu or Bera Pennu, and were believed to ensure good crops and immunity from all disease and accidents. In particular, they were considered necessary in the cultivation of turmeric, the Khonds arguing that the turmeric could not have a deep red colour without the shedding of blood. The victim or Meriah, as he was called, was acceptable to the goddess only if he had been purchased, or had been born a victim—that is, the son of a victim father, or had been devoted as a child by his father or guardian. Khonds in distress often sold their children for victims, “considering the beatification of their souls certain, and their death, for the benefit of mankind, the most honourable possible.” A man of the Panua tribe was once seen to load a Khond with curses, and finally to spit in his face, because the Khond had sold for a victim his own child, whom the Panua had wished to marry. A party of Khonds, who saw this, immediately pressed forward to comfort the seller of his child, saying, “Your child has died that all the world may live, and the Earth Goddess herself will wipe that spittle from your face.” The victims were often kept for years before they were sacrificed. Being regarded as consecrated beings, they were treated with extreme affection, mingled with deference, and were welcomed wherever they went. A Meriah youth, on attaining maturity, was generally given a wife, who was herself usually a Meriah or victim; and with her he received a portion of land and farm-stock. Their offspring were also victims. Human sacrifices were offered to the Earth Goddess by tribes, branches of tribes, or villages, both at periodical festivals and on extraordinary occasions. The periodical sacrifices were generally so arranged by tribes and divisions of tribes that each head of a family was enabled, at least once a year, to procure a shred of flesh for his fields, generally about the time when his chief crop was laid down.

The mode of performing these tribal sacrifices was as follows. Ten or twelve days before the sacrifice, the victim was devoted by cutting off his hair, which, until then, had been kept unshorn. Crowds of men and women assembled to witness the sacrifice; none might be excluded, since the sacrifice was declared to be for all mankind. It was preceded by several days of wild revelry and gross debauchery. On the day before the sacrifice the victim, dressed in a new garment, was led forth from the village in solemn procession, with music and dancing, to the Meriah grove, a clump of high forest trees standing a little way from the village and untouched by the axe. There they tied him to a post, which was sometimes placed between two plants of the sankissar shrub. He was then anointed with oil, ghee, and turmeric, and adorned with flowers; and “a species of reverence, which it is not easy to distinguish from adoration,” was paid to him throughout the day. A great struggle now arose to obtain the smallest relic from his person; a particle of the turmeric paste with which he was smeared, or a drop of his spittle, was esteemed of sovereign virtue, especially by the women. The crowd danced round the post to music, and addressing the earth, said, “O God, we offer this sacrifice to you; give us good crops, seasons, and health”; then speaking to the victim they said, “We bought you with a price, and did not seize you; now we sacrifice you according to custom, and no sin rests with us.”

On the last morning the orgies, which had been scarcely interrupted during the night, were resumed, and continued till noon, when they ceased, and the assembly proceeded to consummate the sacrifice. The victim was again anointed with oil, and each person touched the anointed part, and wiped the oil on his own head. In some places they took the victim in procession round the village, from door to door, where some plucked hair from his head, and others begged for a drop of his spittle, with which they anointed their heads. As the victim might not be bound nor make any show of resistance, the bones of his arms and, if necessary, his legs were broken; but often this precaution was rendered unnecessary by stupefying him with opium. The mode of putting him to death varied in different places. One of the commonest modes seems to have been strangulation, or squeezing to death. The branch of a green tree was cleft several feet down the middle; the victim’s neck (in other places, his chest) was inserted in the cleft, which the priest, aided by his assistants, strove with all his force to close. Then he wounded the victim slightly with his axe, whereupon the crowd rushed at the wretch and hewed the flesh from the bones, leaving the head and bowels untouched. Sometimes he was cut up alive. In Chinna Kimedy he was dragged along the fields, surrounded by the crowd, who, avoiding his head and intestines, hacked the flesh from his body with their knives till he died. Another very common mode of sacrifice in the same district was to fasten the victim to the proboscis of a wooden elephant, which revolved on a stout post, and, as it whirled round, the crowd cut the flesh from the victim while life remained. In some villages Major Campbell found as many as fourteen of these wooden elephants, which had been used at sacrifices. In one district the victim was put to death slowly by fire. A low stage was formed, sloping on either side like a roof; upon it they laid the victim, his limbs wound round with cords to confine his struggles. Fires were then lighted and hot brands applied, to make him roll up and down the slopes of the stage as long as possible; for the more tears he shed the more abundant would be the supply of rain. Next day the body was cut to pieces.

The flesh cut from the victim was instantly taken home by the persons who had been deputed by each village to bring it. To secure its rapid arrival, it was sometimes forwarded by relays of men, and conveyed with postal fleetness fifty or sixty miles. In each village all who stayed at home fasted rigidly until the flesh arrived. The bearer deposited it in the place of public assembly, where it was received by the priest and the heads of families. The priest divided it into two portions, one of which he offered to the Earth Goddess by burying it in a hole in the ground with his back turned, and without looking. Then each man added a little earth to bury it, and the priest poured water on the spot from a hill gourd. The other portion of flesh he divided into as many shares as there were heads of houses present. Each head of a house rolled his shred of flesh in leaves, and buried it in his favourite field, placing it in the earth behind his back without looking. In some places each man carried his portion of flesh to the stream which watered his fields, and there hung it on a pole. For three days thereafter no house was swept; and, in one district, strict silence was observed, no fire might be given out, no wood cut, and no strangers received. The remains of the human victim (namely, the head, bowels, and bones) were watched by strong parties the night after the sacrifice; and next morning they were burned, along with a whole sheep, on a funeral pile. The ashes were scattered over the fields, laid as paste over the houses and granaries, or mixed with the new corn to preserve it from insects. Sometimes, however, the head and bones were buried, not burnt. After the suppression of the human sacrifices, inferior victims were substituted in some places; for instance, in the capital of Chinna Kimedy a goat took the place of the human victim. Others sacrifice a buffalo. They tie it to a wooden post in a sacred grove, dance wildly round it with brandished knives, then, falling on the living animal, hack it to shreds and tatters in a few minutes, fighting and struggling with each other for every particle of flesh. As soon as a man has secured a piece he makes off with it at full speed to bury it in his fields, according to ancient custom, before the sun has set, and as some of them have far to go they must run very fast. All the women throw clods of earth at the rapidly retreating figures of the men, some of them taking very good aim. Soon the sacred grove, so lately a scene of tumult, is silent and deserted except for a few people who remain to guard all that is left of the buffalo, to wit, the head, the bones, and the stomach, which are burned with ceremony at the foot of the stake.

In these Khond sacrifices the Meriahs are represented by our authorities as victims offered to propitiate the Earth Goddess. But from the treatment of the victims both before and after death it appears that the custom cannot be explained as merely a propitiatory sacrifice. A part of the flesh certainly was offered to the Earth Goddess, but the rest was buried by each householder in his fields, and the ashes of the other parts of the body were scattered over the fields, laid as paste on the granaries, or mixed with the new corn. These latter customs imply that to the body of the Meriah there was ascribed a direct or intrinsic power of making the crops to grow, quite independent of the indirect efficacy which it might have as an offering to secure the good-will of the deity. In other words, the flesh and ashes of the victim were believed to be endowed with a magical or physical power of fertilising the land. The same intrinsic power was ascribed to the blood and tears of the Meriah, his blood causing the redness of the turmeric and his tears producing rain; for it can hardly be doubted that, originally at least, the tears were supposed to bring down the rain, not merely to prognosticate it. Similarly the custom of pouring water on the buried flesh of the Meriah was no doubt a rain-charm. Again, magical power as an attribute of the Meriah appears in the sovereign virtue believed to reside in anything that came from his person, as his hair or spittle. The ascription of such power to the Meriah indicates that he was much more than a mere man sacrificed to propitiate a deity. Once more, the extreme reverence paid him points to the same conclusion. Major Campbell speaks of the Meriah as “being regarded as something more than mortal,” and Major Macpherson says, “A species of reverence, which it is not easy to distinguish from adoration, is paid to him.” In short, the Meriah seems to have been regarded as divine. As such, he may originally have represented the Earth Goddess or, perhaps, a deity of vegetation; though in later times he came to be regarded rather as a victim offered to a deity than as himself an incarnate god. This later view of the Meriah as a victim rather than a divinity may perhaps have received undue emphasis from the European writers who have described the Khond religion. Habituated to the later idea of sacrifice as an offering made to a god for the purpose of conciliating his favour, European observers are apt to interpret all religious slaughter in this sense, and to suppose that wherever such slaughter takes place, there must necessarily be a deity to whom the carnage is believed by the slayers to be acceptable. Thus their preconceived ideas may unconsciously colour and warp their descriptions of savage rites.

-- The Golden Bough: A study of magic and religion, by Sir James George Frazer

Purushamedha literally translates into Human sacrifice where Purusha means Man and Medha means Sacrifice. The word Naramedha (Nara=Man; Medha=Sacrifice) is used in scriptures other than the Vedas. Human sacrifice is not currently practiced as it was banned since the British era. Although in the present age human sacrifices are rarely made, there can be no doubt of the existence of the practice formerly. But I am not talking about the prevalence of this practice although there have been some isolated incidents, I am talking about the scriptural sanctions of this practice. Unfortunately such evil practice has origins in Hindu scriptures. And hundreds or thousands of humans have fallen victim to this evil Hindu practice. There have been some isolated incidents of human sacrifice to Hindu goddess Kali in the present age.

It was only in 2014 that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) started collecting data on human sacrifice. The statistics with the bureau reveal a disturbing picture: there were 51 cases of human sacrifice spread across 14 states between 2014 and 2016. ... -sacrifice

India child killed in ‘human sacrifice’ ritual

Four-year-old boy ‘beheaded in human sacrifice witchcraft ritual in India’ ... India.html

Indian cult kills children for goddess ... heobserver

Indian father kills his eight-month-old son with an axe to appease Hindu goddess of destruction and rebirth ... birth.html

Five-year-old boy murdered as human sacrifice ritual in Andhra Pradesh; accused thrashed ... -thrashed/

Archaeological evidence proves that human sacrifice was performed.

“‘Purushamedha Yagya’, sacrificing healthy and learned human male for political supremacy, was a tradition in the country. Concrete archaeological evidence of this kind of sacrifice has been found in Chhattisgarh’s neighbourhood.”

The report also shows that sometime a human model was symbolically sacrificed. That may have been done on the basis of Asvalayana Srauta Sutra which recommends symbolically sacrificing a human figure and tying a snake, the report shows that an iron snake was also found in the excavation. It may be a substitute for literal human slaughtering. And the archaeological findings also proves that horse were sacrificed in Ashvamedha Yajna, as remains of horse were found in the excavation,

“Pravarasena-I during his time had earlier performed Ashwamedha Yagya also. The remains were found at Mansar during manganese mining in 1935. The charred bone remains of the horse recovered were preserved in London museum.”

SOURCE: ... edha-Yagya—Evidences-show-sacrifice-of-healthy,-scholarly-human-male-for-political-supremacy.aspx

Archaeological evidence from Kausambi also proves slaughter of men in human sacrifice. Human bones and skull were found in an excavation at Kausabi,

“The references to Kausambi in early literature and epigraphical records have been collated by N. N. Ghosh (1935), B. C. Law (1939) and G. R. Sharma (1969). The earlier history and archaeology of the city have been discussed in chapters 6, 7 and 10. Periods 3-5 of the fortification wall belong to the time-span of this chapter. Period 3 was dated by Sharma to the period of the Mitra kings of Kausambi who, on grounds of palaeography and other historical considerations, have been assigned to the period from the 2nd to the 1st century BC (Sharma 1960). Again, ‘on numismatic grounds’, Sharma states, ‘rampart 5 seems to have been built by the Maghas, who made Kausambi their capita) in the second half of the 2nd century AD’ (Sharma 1960). This numismatic argument has also been supplemented by the evidence of inscribed terracotta seals, terracotta figurines and iron arrowheads. The rampart wall rises even now to an average height of 1.5 m from the level of the surrounding plain, with its towers touching the 21-23 m level (Fig. 11.4). There were eleven gateways in all, of which five, two each on the cast and north and one on the west, have been considered to be the principal ones. The road leading to each gate was flanked by two mounds, obviously watchtowers, which lay across the moat encircling the rampart (except, of course, on the river side). About a mile away from this complex, there is another ring of mounds which once might have encircled the city. The rampart (of mud and bunt-brick revetment) was extended in the third stage and an interesting discovery was that of an altar outside the eastern gate at the foot of the rampart. This altar is supposedly shaped like an eagle flying to the southeast and associated with a fireplace, animal and human bones including a human skull. Sharma (1960, chapters 8-10) has adduced a mass of literary material to suggest that certain details of its construction correspond to the fire altar prescribed for purushamedha or human sacrifice in ancient Indian ritualistic texts.”

-- The Archaeology of Early Historic South Asia: The Emergence of Cities and States, p.298, By F. R. Allchin, George Erdosy, Cambridge University Press, 07-Sep-1995

Wendy Doniger also cites this in her book “On Hinduism”, although she mentioned this in various books but reference from one book will suffice,

“There is, however, in addition to the textual references to human sacrifice, also physical evidence of its performance, such as archaeological remains of human skulls and other human bones at the site of fire-altars, together with the bones of other animals, both wild and tame (horse, tortoise, pig, elephant, bovines, goats and buffalos).
” On Hinduism, p.217, By Wendy Doniger, OUP USA, 2014

Purushamedha was performed to gain prestige, prosperity, power, atonement of sins, fulfil desires. The human victim was usually purchased from the family in lieu for a hundred or a thousand cows or horses. The man to be sacrificed was sometimes let loose before the sacrifice just like the horse in the horse sacrifice. While he was let loose, all his desires were fulfilled except for carnal desires. The human victim was tied to a pillar or pole then anointed with oil or other things and then he was either slaughtered or immolated in human sacrifice, human victim was also suffocated. As per Apastamba Srauta Sutra 20.24.2 this ceremony is to be performed only by a Brahmin or a Kshatriya. Killing of a Brahmin is called Brahmin-slaughter in Hindu scriptures and it’s the major sin but in the Purushamedha the human victim can be a Brahmin also. Sankhayana Srautasutra 16.10.2 mentions that the victim can be a Brahmin or a Kshatriya also. Hindu scriptures also describes how the physical traits of the human victim should be, the human victim should be fit, not crippled, not black in complexion etc. Taittriya Brahmana 3rd Kanda, Fourth Prapathaka, chapters 1-16 and Chapter 30 of Vajasaneyi Samhita (Yajurved) mentions the list of human victims that should be sacrificed while some scholars says that Purushamedha mentioned in Taittriyia Brahmana is symbolical (because it’s a elaboration of Yajur Veda) and the victim is set free after the symbolic sacrifice. Some of the victims includes paramour, flute blower, drum beater, maker of ointment, gatherer of wood, astrologer, fisherman etc. The Kathyayana Srautasutra 16.1.14 adds that the man is to be slain in a screened shed. What is done with the flesh of the sacrificed man is not clear, the flesh of animals sacrificed in Ashvamedha and other sacrifices is to be eaten by priests and Sacrificers but that doesn’t seem to be the case with Purushamedha as consumption of human flesh is prohibited for Hindus. Kings used to offer their rival kings in human sacrifice, there is a reference of Jarasandha going to slaughter his rival kings in Purushamedha wherein he was stopped from doing so by Krishna, but Krishna didn’t prohibit Purushamedha there. He refused that such practice exists, he clearly denied the existence of such practice, which is mentioned in Mahabharata. A Srauta Sutra commands to offer rival kings if no one comes forward to be offered as human victim. Human sacrifice may have not been performed by Vaishnavite Hindus, Human sacrifice may have been practiced mainly by the Shaivite Hindus as it’s evident from Shaivite Puranas which gives instructions on how to perform human sacrifice and most of the verses about human sacrifice are related to Shaivites.

According to Sankhayana Srautasutra 16.12.21-16.13.1-9, the man who has been chosen as the chief victim is killed (by suffocating), and ‘when he is quieted (i.e., killed), the Udgatar sings over him, standing near him, the Saman which is addressed to Yama (the god of death),’ and ‘the Hotar recites over him the Purusa-Narayana-hymn.’ Then, ‘When the man has been quieted, they cause the first consort of the Sacrificer to lie down near him,’ and ‘the Sacrificer addresses these two in the same manner (as in the horse sacrifice).’

According to Julius Eggeling the Purushamedha mentioned in Sankhayana and Vaitana is a modern adaption intended to fill the gap between sacrificial system which seemed to require a man but this doesn’t convince me. I am reproducing verses from Sankhayana and Vaitana Srauta Sutras which gives details on how Purushamedha is performed.

Sankhayana Srauta Sutra XVI, 10, 1 “Pragâpati, having offered the Asvamedha, beheld the Purushamedha: what he had not gained by the Asvamedha, all that he gained by the Purushamedha; and so does the sacrificer now, in performing the Purushamedha, gain thereby all that he had not gained by the Asvamedha. 2, 3. The whole of the Asvamedha ceremonial (is here performed); and an addition thereto. 4-8, First oblations to Agni Kama (desire), A. Dâtri (the giver), and A. Pathikrit (the path-maker). 9. Having bought a Brâhmana or a Kshatriya for a thousand (cows) and a hundred horses, he sets him free for a year to do as he pleases in everything except breaches of chastity. 10. And they guard him accordingly. 11. For a year there are (daily) oblations to Anumati (approval), Pathyâ Svasti (success on the way), and Aditi. 12. Those (three daily oblations) to Savitri in the reverse order. 13. By way of revolving legends (the Hotri recites) Nârasamsâni . . .–XVI, II, 1-33 enumerate the Nârasamsâni, together with the respective Vedic passages.–XVI, 12, 1-7. There are twenty-five stakes, each twenty-five cubits long . . .; and twenty-five Agnîshomîya victims. 8. Of the (three) Asvamedha days the first and last (are here performed). 9-11. The second (day) is a pañkavimsa-stoma one . . . 12. The Man, a Gomriga [a kind of ox], and a hornless (polled) he-goat–these are the Prâgâpatya (victims). 13. A Bos Gaurus, a Gayal, an elk (sarabha), a camel, and a Mâyu Kimpurusha (? shrieking monkey) are the anustaranâh. 14-16. And the (other) victims in groups of twenty-five for the twenty-five seasonal deities . . . 17. Having made the adorned Man smell (kiss) the chanting-ground, (he addresses him) with the eleven verses (Rig-v. X, 15, 1-11) without ‘om,’–‘Up shall rise (the Fathers worthy of Soma), the lower, the higher, and the middle ones.’ 18. The Âprî verses are ‘Agnir mrityuh‘ . . . 20. They then spread a red cloth, woven of kusa grass, for the Man to lie upon. 21. The Udgâtri approaches the suffocated Man with (the chant of) a Sâman to Yama (the god of death).–XVI, 13, 1. The Hotri with (the recitation of) the Purusha Nârâyana (litany). 2. Then the officiating priests–Hotri, Brahman, Udgâtri, Adhvaryu–approach him each with two verses of the hymn (on Yama and the Fathers) Rig-v. X, 14, ‘Revere thou with offering King Yama Vaivasvata, the gatherer of men, who hath walked over the wide distances tracing out the path for many.’ 3-6. They then heal the Sacrificer (by reciting hymns X, 137; 161; 163; 186; 59; VII, 35). 7-18. Ceremonies analogous to those of the Asvamedha (cf. XIII, 5, 2, 1 seqq.), concluding with the Brahmavadya (brahmodya).–XVI, 14, 1-20. Details about chants, &c.; the fourth (and last) day of the Purushamedha to be performed like the fifth of the Prishthya-shadaha.” Tr. Julius Eggeling

Following two passages from Sankhayana Srauta Sutra also promotes necrophilia.

Sankhayana Srauta Sutra XVI.12.6-21 “There are twenty five victims to be immolated to Agni and Soma…Purusa (man), forsooth, consists of twenty five parts (or it is the twenty fifth). Thereby he makes him thrive by his own characteristic. The victims to be immolated to Prajapati are a man, a gomriga and a hornless he goat…The human victim, which has been adorned, they make smell the spot where the out of doors land is performed and (they praise it) with the eleven (verses) not joining the pranava ‘Let the nearer ones arise.’
The apri verses are “Agni, death” The hymn ‘Do not burn him’ he should insert in the adhrign formula in the same manner as (at the asvamedha). Now they spread out for the human victim a garment of kusa grass, a (cloth) of trpa bark, a red garment of silk threads. When it is ‘quieted’ the udgatr sings over it standing near it the saman addressed to Yama.” Tr. W. Caland

Sankhayana Srauta Sutra XVI.13.1-8 “And the hotr recites over it the purusa narayana (hymn). Now the principal priests hotr, brahman, udgatr and adhvaryu address to it each two of the verses of the hymn Him who has gone hence… When the human victim has been quieted, they cause the first consort of the sacrificer (king) to lie down near it. They cover them both with the upper garment.” Tr. W. Caland

The Vaitana Srauta Sutra talks about purchasing a man for a thousand cows and if no one comes forward then he should conquer his nearest enemy and sacrifice him.

Vaitana Srauta Sutra XXXVII, 10. The Purushamedha (is performed) like the Asvamedha
. . . 12. There are offerings to Agni Kama, Dâtri, and Pathikrit. 13. He causes to be publicly proclaimed, ‘Let all that is subject to the Sacrificer assemble together!’ 14. The Sacrificer says, ‘To whom shall I give a thousand (cows) and a hundred horses to be the property of his relatives? Through whom shall I gain my object?’ 15. If a Brâhmana or a Kshatriya comes forward, they say, ‘The transaction is completed.’ 16. If no one comes forward, let him conquer his nearest enemy, and perform the sacrifice with him. 17. To that (chosen man) he shall give that (price) for his relatives. 18. Let him make it he publicly known that, if any one’s wife were to speak, he will seize that man’s whole property, and kill herself, if she be not a Brâhmana woman. 19. When, after being bathed and adorned, he (the man) is set free, he (the priest) recites the hymns A.V. XIX, 6; X, 2.-20. For a year (daily) offerings to Pathyâ Svasti, Aditi, and Anumati. 21. At the end of the year an animal offering to Indra-Pûshan. 22. The third day is a Mahâvrata. 23. When (the man) is bound to the post, he repeats the three verses, ‘Up shall rise’ . . .; and when he is unloosened, the utthâpanî-verses. 24-26. When he is taken to the slaughtering-place (the priest repeats) the harinî-verses; when he is made to lie down, the two verses, ‘Be thou soft for him, O Earth’; and when he has been suffocated, (he repeats) the Sahasrabâhu (or Purusha Nârâyana) litany, and hymns to Yama and Sarasvatî–XXXVIII, 1-9 treat of the subsequent ceremonies, including the recitation, by the Brahman, of hymns with the view of healing the Sacrificer.

Verses from Devi Bhagavatam shows that human was immolated in Purushamedha. It’s about Shunashepa,
Devi Bhagavatam 7.15.8-10. O Deva of the Devas! I will obey your order no doubt and I will perform your sacrifice according to the Vedic rites and with profuse Daksinâs (remuneration to priests, etc.) But, when in a sacrifice human beings are immolated as victims, both the husband and wife are entitled to the ceremony…” Tr. Swami Vijnananda
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Part 2 of 2

Human sacrifice in the Vedas is symbolic that talks about God sacrificing Purusha which is considered as spirit or god by Hindu scholars. But in Krishna Yajur Veda the sacrifice includes actually killing the man. Satapatha Brahmana explains human sacrifice both literally and symbolically just as it does with Ashvamedha Yajna the horse sacrifice. Human sacrifice also occurs in Puranas especially in the Kalika Purana. Human sacrifice is hardly forbidden in Hindu Puranas which we shall evaluate in this article. It seems like Human sacrifice was not as widely practiced as Ashvamedha although Hindu scriptures considers Naramedha/Purushamedha as much more beneficial than Ashvamedha. Sankhayana Srauta Sutra says that Purushamedha is performed to gain which one didn’t gained by performing the Ashvamedha Yajna. Hindu scriptures also talks about other rituals which brings you blessings and benefits equivalent to Human sacrifice.

Hindu scriptures also mentions priests’ sacrificial fees. It’s mentioned in Satapatha Brahmana,

Satapatha Brahmana 13:6:2:18-19 Now as to the sacrificial fees. What there is towards the middle of the kingdom other than the land and the property of the Brâhmana, but including the men, of that the eastern quarter belongs to the Hotri, the southern to the Brahman, the western to the Adhvaryu, and the northern to the Udgâtri; and the Hotrikas share this along with them. And if a Brâhmana performs the sacrifice, he should bestow all his property in order to obtain and secure everything, for the Brâhmana is everything, and all one’s property is everything, and the Purushamedha is everything.

The Mahabharata in one place denies the existence of Human sacrifice but in another section recommends Human sacrifice for atonement for sins.
Ved Vyasa speaks to Yudhisthira,

Mahabharata Asvamedha Parva 14, Section 3, Verses 4-8 “O Yudhishthira, those that commit sins, can always free themselves from them through penance, sacrifice and gifts. O king, O foremost of men, sinful people are purified by sacrifice, austerities and charity. The high-souled celestials and Asuras perform sacrifices for securing religious merit; and therefore sacrifice are of supreme importance. It is through sacrifices that the high-souled celestials had waxed so wondrously powerful; and having celebrated rites did they vanquish the Danavas. Do thou, O Yudhishthira, prepare for the Rajasuya, and the horse-sacrifice, as well as, O Bharata, for the Sarvamedha and the Naramedha.” Tr. K.M. Ganguli

It is also mentioned in Mahabharata,

Mahabharata Shalya Parva 9, Section 50 “He then saw him in the regions of those foremost of men that perform the horse-sacrifice and the sacrifice in which human beings are slaughtered.” Tr. K.M. Ganguli

Jain saint censuring the sacrifices of Vedas and telling its evils to king Vena,

Padma Purana II.37.32b-42 “I shall tell you another fierce act (mentioned) in the Vedas. When a guest goes (i.e. arrives) to the house, a brahmana (kills and) cooks (the flesh of) a great bull; or O king of kings, he would feed the guest (with the flesh of) a goat. (They kill) a horse in a horse-sacrifice, and a bull in a bull-sacrifice; a man in a human sacrifice and goats in a Vajapeya sacrifice…” Tr. N.A. Deshpande

Vamana Purana mentions that a righteous king performed human sacrifice for a hundreds and thousand times,

Vamana Purana 50.15 “There, wherein the eminent king Gaya had performed the horse sacrifice a hundred times completed with the payment of liberal presents, the human sacrifice a hundred times and a thousand times as also the Rajasuya sacrifice a thousand times.” Tr. Ananda Swarup Gupta

Satapatha Brahmana has details about Human Sacrifice,

Satapatha Brahmana 7:5:2:13-14 He then lifts up the human head -- he thereby exalts it -- with, ‘Giver of a thousand thou art: for a thousand thee!’ a thousand means everything: thus, ‘the giver of everything, for everything (I bestow) thee!’. He then puts them (the heads) in (the fire-pan), first (that of) the man–having taken possession of the man by strength he sets him up; -- the man in the middle; on both sides the other victims: he thus sets the man, as the eater, in the midst of cattle; whence man is the eater in the midst of cattle. [22-23] These are the victims; separately he puts them down, separately he ‘settles’ them, and separately he pronounces the Sudadohas on them; for separate from one another are those animals. He then offers on the human head, sacrifice is offering: he thus makes man the one among animals fit to sacrifice; whence man alone among animals perform sacrifice.

Following verses from Satapatha Brahmana shows how the essence of sacrifice went from man to animals,

Satapatha Brahmana; Aitareya Brahmana Book 2, Para 8 “At first, namely, the gods offered up a man as the victim. When he was offered up, the sacrificial essence went out of him. It entered into the horse. They offered up the horse. When it was offered up, the sacrificial essence went out of it. It entered into the ox. They offered up the ox. When it was offered up, the sacrificial essence went out of it. It entered into the sheep. They offered up the sheep. When it was offered up, the sacrificial essence went out of it. It entered into the goat. They offered up the goat. When it was offered up, the sacrificial essence went out of it. It entered into this earth. They searched for it, by digging. They found it (in the shape of) those two (substances), the rice and barley: therefore even now they obtain those two by digging; and as much.”

Following Satapatha Brahmana verses mentions 5 Pashus which were offered in sacrifice,

Satapatha Brahmana A man (purusha) he slaughters first, for man is the first of animals; then a horse, for the horse comes after man; then a bull, for the bull (or cow) comes after the horse; then a ram, for the sheep comes after the cow; then a he-goat, for the goat comes after the sheep: thus he slaughters them according to their form, according to their excellence.

Satapatha Brahmana criticizes those who procure the heads of the five victims without sacrificing them, for such sacrificers will become mortal carcasses, like Asadhi Sausromateya, who died quickly after such heads had been put into his fire altar.

Satapatha Brahmana 6:2:1:37; 39 Now some, having in that way obtained those heads, put them on (the fire-altar), thinking, ‘Either way are they animals.’ But they (who do this) become mortal carcases, for unpropitiated are those (heads) of theirs. In this way, indeed, they did put them on for Ashâdhi Sausromateya; but quickly indeed he died after that. Some, again, make earthen ones, thinking, ‘Passed away, forsooth, are these animals, and this earth is the shelter of all that has passed away: thus whither those animals have gone, from thence we collect them.’ Let him not do so, for whoso knows not both the practice and theory of these (victims), for him let them be passed away. Let him slaughter those very five victims, as far as he may be able to do so; for it was these Pragâpati was the first to slaughter, and Syâparna Sâyakâyana the last; and in the interval also people used to slaughter them. But nowadays only these two are slaughtered, the one for Pragâpati, and the one for Vâyu. The theory of these two is now (to be) told.

So above verses from Satapatha Brahmana leaves no doubt that Purushamedha included actual slaying of humans. Following verse from Satapatha Brahmana says that Manu’s wife was sacrificed,

Satapatha Brahmana 1:1:4:15-16 These two said, ‘God-fearing, they say, is Manu: let us two then ascertain!’ They then went to him and said: ‘Manu! we will sacrifice for thee!’ He said: ‘Wherewith?’ They said: ‘With this bull!’ He said: ‘So be it!’ On his (the bull’s) being killed the voice went from him. It entered into Manâvî, the wife of Manu; and when they heard her speak, the Asuras and Rakshas were continually being crushed. Thereupon the Asuras said to one another: ‘Hereby even greater evil is inflicted on us, for the human voice speaks more!’ Kilâta and Âkuli then said: ‘God-fearing, they say, is Manu: let us then ascertain!’ They went to him and said: ‘Manu! we will sacrifice for thee!’ He said: ‘Wherewith?’ They said: ‘With this thy wife!’ He said: ‘So be it!’ And on her being killed that voice went from her.

I don’t have complete version of Kalika Purana, I have abridged version of Kalika Purana translated by Biswanaryan Shastri. Kalika Purana clearly sanctions human sacrifice,

Kalika Purana chapter 35, verses 10-17 “The middle portion of that Sarabha-body, assumed by the great Samkara, turned into Bhairava, the wearer of human skull, terrible and inaccessible. They make offerings of (human) flesh and brain, mixed with fat, into the fire after these were put on a human skull (brahmakapala) and worship gods with wine. Human flesh is their oblation in sacrifice (they offer human sacrifice), blood is their drink, and wine is the means for the completion of sacrifice (yajna); they wear human skull in a curious way. They always wear tiger skins marked by three lines with dirt, are under the vow of fulfilling the austerity, called kapalavrata (doing with the human skull), and they behave like this. Kapala Bhairava (Bhairava with a human skull) is their god for worshipping. Bhairava, who resides in the crematorium is known by the epithet Maha Bhairava. He, with eighteen hands, and red eyes resembling the rising sun in radiance, always indulges in sexual dalliance with a host of female consorts, headed by terrible Kali. Bhairava always eats the human flesh which is being burnt just at the moment, wears a garland of human hands dangling from his neck, his body is always besmeared with sandal paste, while his seat is the human corpse, his face is large, the lips are thick, the feet and the body are thick and short; he is always in an amusing mood; he beats a drum and utters loud cries.” Tr. Biswanarayan Shastri

Jan E.M. Houben, Karel Rijik van Kooik wrote in their book Violence Denied: Violence, Non-Violence and the Rationalization of violence in South Asian Cultural History, page 269,

“Blood sacrifice, even human sacrifice, is elaborately described in the Kalika Purana [Kalika Purana 67, 68-90. Edition Sastri 1972), a Northeast-Indian work dating to the 11th century (Kooij 1972:3). Rituals win which blood from of one’s throat is offered, or pieces of one’s own flesh, or even one’s own body are mentioned in this text [Kalika Purana 67, 155-168. Edition Sastri 1972]. A variant of the navakhanda-rite mentioned above is described in the chapter on ‘blood-sacrifice’. The text mentions a special oblation to Durga which is to be given on the Mahanavami, ‘the great ninth day’. This sacrifice is called the offering of the flesh and blood from eight parts of the worshipper’s own body. A man who presents an oblation like this, the text says, will obtain the destruction of enemies [Kalika Purana 67, 151-164. Edition Sastri 1972]. Self-decapitation is not part of this rite. However, head offerings are mentioned in particular in connection with the worship of Durga, and also with rituals which took place at cremation places. Several names of fearsome deities which are usually associated with Tantric Buddhism, are mentioned in this work (Kooij 1974), such as Heruka, ekajata and Ugratara. They must have been deities who were at home in Tantric Buddhism and Hinduism, and who were associated with this kind of rites. The text of Kalikapurana makes it very clear that human sacrifice is considered as an ‘exceedingly great oblation’ [Kalika Purana 55, 3-6. Edition Sastri 1972], which isn't only permitted when the country is in great danger and war is expected. The sacrifice can only be carried out with the official permission of the king [Kalika Purana 67, 116-117. Edition Sastri 1972.”

David Kinsley wrote in his book Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition, page 145,

“The Kalika-purana devotes a whole chapter to sacrifices acceptable to the Devi and includes human beings as particularly pleasing to her (71.73).
A goddess named Kesai Khati (eater of raw flesh) was worshiped in Assam, and sometimes human sacrifices were made to her. The Manimekalai, a Tamil epic, describes the temple of a goddess which has an altar surrounded by posts from which human heads are hung…The Kalika-purana says that the Devi is satisfied when her devotee offer flesh from near their hearts (71.74 ff.)…In the Devi-mahatmya two devotees of the Devi petion her to grant them boons, and as part of their spiritual exercises they offer their own blood and pieces of their flesh (13.8).”

I am quoting Human Sacrifice mentioned in Rudhir Adyaya of Kalika Purana translated into English by Mr. W. C. Blaquiere which I have taken from Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s book ‘Riddles in Hinduism’ Riddle no. 15 : How did the brahmins wed an ahimsak god to a bloodthirsty Goddess?

“By a human sacrifice attended by the forms laid down, Devi is pleased one thousand years and by sacrifice of three men, one hundred thousand years. By human flesh, Camachya, Chandica, and Bhairava who assumes my shape, are pleased one thousand years. An oblation of blood which has been rendered pure by holy texts, is equal to ambrosia; the head also afford much delight to the Goddess Chandica. Let therefore the learned when paying adoration to the Goddess, offer blood and the head, and when performing the sacrifices to fire, make oblations of flesh.”

“Let a human victim be sacrificed at a place of holy worship, or at a cemetery where dead bodies are burried. Let the oblation be performed in the part of the cemetery called Heruca, which has been already described, or at a temple of Camachya, or on a mountain.
Now attend to the mode.”

“The cemetery represents me, and is called Bhairava, it has also a part called Tantarange; the cemetery must be divided into these two division, and a third called Heruca.”

“The human victim is to be immolated in the east division which is sacred to Bhairava, the head is to be presented in the south division, which is looked upon as the place sculls sacred to Bhairavi, and the blood is to be presented in the west division, which is denominated Heruca.”

“Having immolated a human victim, with all the requisite ceremonies at a cemetery or holy place, let the sacrificer be cautious not to cast eyes upon the victim.”

“Let the head and blood of a human victim be presented on the right side of Devi, and the sacrificer address her standing in front. Let the head and blood of birds be presented on the left and the blood of a person’s own body in front. Let the ambrosia proceeding from the heads of carnivorous animals and birds be presented on the left hand. As also the blood of all aquatic animals.”

“If a human sacrifice is performed, without the consent of the prince, the performer incurs sin. In cases of imminent danger or war, sacrifices may be performed at pleasure, by princes themselves and their ministers, but by none else.”

“The day previous to a human sacrifice, let the victim be prepared by the text Manastac, and three Devi Gandha Sucthas, and the texts Wadrang; and by touching his head with the axe, and besmearing the axe with sandal[wood] &c., perfumes, and then taking some of the sandal[wood], &c., from off the axe, and besmearing the victim’s neck therewith.”

“Having secured the victim with cords, and also with (Mantras) let him strike off the head, and present it to Devi, with due care. Let him make these sacrifices in proportion to the increase or decrease of his enemies, chopping off the heads of victims for the purpose of bringing destruction on his foes, infusing, by holy texts, the soul of the enemy into the body of the victim, which will when immolated, deprive the foe of life also.” ... 0I.htm#r15

The Karpûrâdi-Stotra which is also known as Hymn to Kali says,

Karpûrâdi-Stotra verse 19 “O DARK One, wondrous and excelling in every way, becomes the accomplishment, of those worshippers who living in this world freely make offering to Thee in worship of the greatly satisfying flesh, together with hair and bone, of cats, camels, sheep, buffaloes, goats, and men.” Tr. Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe)

Hindu scriptures also gives instructions about offering Human flesh in sacrifices. The Sanskrit word Mahamasa is used which Hindu scholars has translated it as human flesh. As far as my knowledge is concerned the flesh could be obtained by killing a human or by taking the flesh of a dead human. But since Hindus practices cremation so there’s more possibility that a human being was killed to obtain the flesh for sacrifices.

Srimad Bhagavatam prohibits Human Sacrifice to Kali and Bhairava but Agni Purana gives instructions on how to perform Human Sacrifice to Kali and Bhairava. Following verse from Agni Purana gives instructions on how to perform Homa with flesh, blood and bones of human to ensure victory in battle,

Agni Purana 125.46-50 ” ‘Om obeisance to the greatest Bhairava (Maha Bhairava) the fierce jawed, yellow eyed, diabolical looking one who wields a sword and a trident in his hands, Vousat.’ The earth should be made permeated with the above Mantra, which would hold any abeyance the arms of the enemy’s forces. Now I shall speak about the fire rite (Agnikaryya) which should be performed at the commencement of a battle for ensuring victory. In the night of the votary should resort to a cremation ground, and light up a fire with the logs of wood found therein unto which he should perform hundred and eight times the Homa ceremony with poison and human flesh and blood, and broken bones of dead bodies by uttering the name of his enemy.” Tr. M.N. Dutt

List of the Chief Lamaist Festivals.

Month. / Day. / Festival.

1st. / 1st. / Carnival.

1st / 15th / Buddha's Incarnation or Conception.9 Feast of Flowers.

2nd. / 29th. / Chase and Expulsion of the "Scape-goat," Demon of Bad Luck...

A somewhat droll and almost dramatic feast is the chase of the demon of ill-luck, evidently a relic of a former demonist cult. It is called "Chongju Sewang," and is held at Lhasa on the twenty-ninth and thirtieth days of the second month, though it sometimes lasts about a week. It starts after divine service. A priest represents a Grand Lama, and one of the multitude is masqueraded as the ghost-king. For a week previously he sits in the market-place with face painted half black and half white, and a coat of skin is put on his arm and he is called "King of the Years'" (? head). He helps himself to what he wants, and goes about shaking a black yak's tail over the heads of the people, who thus transfer to him their ill-luck.

This latter person then goes towards the priest in the neighbourhood of the cloister of La-brang and ridicules him, saying: "What we perceive through the five sources (the five senses) is no illusion. All you teach is untrue," etc., etc. The acting Grand Lama contradicts this; but both dispute for some time with one another; and ultimately agree to settle the contest by dice; the Lama consents to change places with the scape-goat if the dice should so decide. The Lama has a dice with six on all six sides and throws six-up three times, while the ghost-king has a dice which throws only one.

When the dice of the priest throws six six times in succession and that of the scape-goat throws only ones, this latter individual, or "Lojon" as he is called, is terrified and flees away upon a white horse, which, with a white dog, a white bird, salt, etc., he has been provided with by government. He is pursued with screams and blank shots as far as the mountains of Chetang, where he has to remain as an outcast for several months in a narrow haunt, which, however, has been previously provided for him with provisions.

We are told that, while en route to Chetang, he is detained for seven days in the great chamber of horrors at Sam-yas monastery filled with the monstrous images of devils and skins of huge serpents and wild animals, all calculated to excite feelings of terror. During his seven days' stay he exercises despotic authority over Sam-yas, and the same during the first seven days of his stay at Chetang. Both Lama and laity give him much alms, as he is believed to sacrifice himself for the welfare of the country. It is said that in former times the man who performed this duty died at Chetang in the course of the year from terror at the awful images he was associated with; but the present scape-goat survives and returns to re-enact his part the following year. From Chetang, where he stays for seven days, he goes to Lho-ka, where he remains for several months...

Every household contributes to "ring out the old" and "ring in the new" year. On the 22nd day of the 12th month each family prepares a dough image weighing about four pounds, and on it stick pieces of cloth, woollen or silken, and coins, etc., according to the wealth of the house-owner, and the demon of ill-luck is invoked to enter into the image, which is then worshipped, and on the 29th day, or the last but one of the old year, a Lama is sent for, who carries the image out of the house and beyond the village to a place where four paths meet, and there he abandons it...

-- The Buddhism of Tibet, or Lamaism With Its Mystic Cults, Symbolism and Mythology, and in its Relation to Indian Buddhism, by Laurence Austine Waddell, M.B., F.L.S., F.R.G.S.

Following is the instructions given for performing homa to Camundi:

Garuda Purana I.38.8 “With the great flesh (human flesh) coated with the three sweet things homa shall be performed one thousand and eight times repeating each letter one thousand eight times. Or merely gingelly seeds coated with trimadhura can be used for homa.” Tr. J.L. Shastri

In another verse of Agni Purana a goddess is supplicated to relish the flesh of enemy humans,

Agni Purana 134.1-6 “Kill and kill, Oh thou goddess who dost fondly relish human flesh and blood, trample down and trample down, Om, pierce through and pierce through, Om slay and slay…” Tr. M.N. Dutt

Similar thing is also mentioned in Agni Purana 145.1-4. Another verse from Agni Purana says,

Agni Purana 311.31-33 “An image or a picture of the goddess Tvarita, should be the object of worship in the present instance, or her presence should be simply invoked on the sacred cushion, on such an occasion. The rites of Japa and Homa should be performed a hundred thousand, or a ten thousand times, in connection with each worship, or a hundred thousand libations should be poured on the fire, after having repeated the Mantra, as above indicated. The libations should contain the particles of buffalo, sheep, or human flesh, or handsful of barley, sesamum, fried paddy, or Vrihi soaked in the washings of wheat, or should consist of clarified butter containing the slices of a Bael fruit.” Tr. M.N. Dutt

Agni Purana 314.9-12 “the verse should be written with a pen of cow’s quill, and in a composition made of collyrium, the gum of a Nimva tree, poison, and the marrow and blood of a human victim.
A cremation ground, or a crossing of four roads, should be the place where the spell should be secretly practiced. The charm should be either placed underneath a pitcher, or deposited inside an anthill, or should be hung on the bough of a Vibhitaka tree. The spell, in question should be looked upon as the destroyer of one’s opponents of all denominations.” Tr. M.N. Dutt

Devas propitiating the Sakti by means of human flesh,

Brahmanda Purana Lalita Mahutmya 12.56-67 “Even if we flee, there is no place of refuge for us anywhere. Hence, we shall make a sacrificial pit one Yojana in breadth. Let it be splendid and dug perfectly well. We shall prepare the sacrificial fire in accordance with the injunction of a Mahayaga. O Suras, we shall then worship the greatest Sakti by means of Mahamamsa (great flesh i.e. human flesh). We shall become Brahman or we will be able to enjoy heaven.’ On being told thus, the Devas with Indra as their leader duly performed Homa by chopping off the flesh to the chanting of Mantras.” Tr. G.V. Tagare

Human Sacrifice is also mentioned in the Vedas. In Krishna Yajur Veda buying head of a dead man for twenty one beans is prescribed.

Krishna Yajur Veda 5.1.8 With twenty-one beans he approaches the head of the man; beans are impure, the man’s head is impure; verily by the impure he redeems its impurity and making it pure takes it. There are twenty-one; man is composed of twenty-one parts; (verily they serve) to obtain man. The man’s head is impure as bereft of the breaths; he deposits (it near) an ant-heap pierced in seven places; the breaths in the head are seven; verily he unites it with the breaths, to make it pure. Of all those [1]

Same is mentioned in Katha Samhita 19.8; 20.8

Krishna Yajur Veda if he desire of a man, ‘May he eat food that fails not’, he should put it down full; verily he eats food that fails not. The man accords a thousand of cattle, the other animals a thousand; in the middle he puts down the head of the man, to give it strength. In the pan he puts (it) down; verily he makes it attain support; the head of the man is impure as devoid of breaths; the breaths are immortality.

The most famous story about human sacrifice in Hinduism is that of Shunashepa. I am reproducing the summary of the story which I have taken from Wikipedia,

“King Harishchandra of the Ikshvaku dynasty had 100 wives, but no son. On advice of the sage Narada, he prayed to the deity Varuna for a son. Varuna granted the boon, in exchange for an assurance that Harishchandra would make a sacrifice to Varuna in the future. As a result of this boon, a son named Rohita (or Rohitaswa) was born to the king. After his birth, Varuna came to Harishchandra and demanded that the child be sacrificed to him. The king postponed the sacrifice multiple times citing various reasons, but finally agreed to it when Rohita became an adult. Rohita refused to be sacrificed and escaped to forest. An angry Varuna afflicted Harishchandra with a stomach illness. Rohita intermittently visited his father, but on advice of Indra, never agreed to the sacrifice.

In the sixth year of wandering in the forest, Rohita met a starving Brahmin named Ajigarta Sauyavasi, a descendant of Angiras. Ajigarta had three sons. Rohita offered Ajigarta a hundred cows in exchange for one of his sons to be sacrificed to Varuna in his place. Ajigarta agreed to the offer. He didn’t want his eldest son to be sacrificed, and his wife didn’t want their youngest son to be sacrificed. So, Shunahshepa — the middle son — was chosen for the sacrifice. Rohita then gave a hundred cows to Ajigarta, and took Shunahshepa and Ajigarta to the royal palace.

Varuna agreed to the replacement on the basis that a Brahmin was a worthy substitute for a Kshatriya.
King Harishchandra combined the sacrifice with his own Rajasuya ceremony. Four priests were called to conduct the sacrifice: Ayasya (the udgatr), Jamadagni (the adhvaryu), Vashistha (the brahman) and Vishvamitra (the hotar). However, all of them refused to bind Shunahshepa to the sacrificial post. Ajigarta then offered to bind his son for another hundred cows. Rohita accepted the offer, and Ajigarta bound Shunahshepa to the post. However, the priests refused to slaughter him. Ajigarta then offered to sacrifice his own son in exchange for another hundred cows. The prince agreed to his demand. As Ajigarta readied to kill his own son, Shunahshepa prayed to the Rigvedic deities. With his last hymn, which invoked Ushas (the deity of the dawn), his bonds were loosened and King Harishchandra was also cured of his illness.

Vishvamitra, one of the priests, offered to adopt Shunahshepa as his eldest son. Reviling his own father Ajigarta as a Shudra, Shunahshepa agreed. Vishvamitra gave him the name Devarata (“deity-given”). Half of Vishvamitra’s sons – the younger ones – accepted Devarata as their elder brother. However, the elder ones refused to accept the adoption. Vishvamitra then cursed their offspring to be exiled out of Aryavarta. According to the Aitareya Brahmana, the descendants of these 50 sons included the Andhras, the Mutibas, the Pulindas, the Pundras, the Shabaras, and the various Dasyu tribes.”

This story is also mentioned in Rig Veda but it doesn’t give much details, it talks about the freeing of Shunashepa from the slaughter. Human sacrifice of Shunashepa proves that human sacrifice existed in the Vedic period and Vedic god Varuna asking for a human sacrifice proves that it was very much Vedic.[/size][/b]

Rig Veda 5.2.7 Thou from the stake didst loose e’en Śunaḥśepa bound for a thousand; for he prayed with fervour. So, Agni, loose from us the bonds that bind us, when thou art seated here, O Priest who knowest.

Rig Veda 1.24.13 Bound to three pillars captured Śunaḥśepa thus to the Āditya made his supplication. Him may the Sovran Varuṇa deliver, wise, ne’er deceived, loosen the bonds that bind him.

Aitareya Brahmana Book 7, Chapter 3, Para 14 “Narada then told him, “Go and beg of Varuna the king, that he might favour you with the birth of a son (promising him at the same time) to sacrifice to him this son when born.” He went to Varuna the king, praying, “Let a son be born to me; I will sacrifice him to thee.” Then a son, Rohita by name, was born to him. Varuna said to him, “A son is born to thee, sacrifice him to me.” Harischandra said, “An animal is fit for being sacrificed, when it is more than ten days old. Let him reach this age, then I will sacrifice him to thee….Varuna then said, “he has now received the armor, sacrifice him to me.” After having thus spoken, he called his son, and told him, “Well, my dear, to him who gave thee unto me, I will sacrifice thee now.” But the son said, “No, no,” took his bow and absconded to the wilderness, where he was roaming about for a year.” Tr. Martin Haug

This story is also mentioned in Devi Bhagavatam, Aitareya Brahmana (7.13-18), Brahma Purana 9.65-68, the story is repeated in the Balakanda (1.61) of Valmiki’s Ramayana and couple of Puranas but none of the texts prohibits human sacrifice. Manu Smriti instead says that Ajigarta the father of Shunashepa made no sin in doing that,

Manu Smriti 10.105. Agigarta, who suffered hunger, approached in order to slay (his own) son, and was not tainted by sin, since he (only) sought a remedy against famishing.

Vishwamitra also didn’t prohibit this practice he instead asked his sons to be sacrificed. Vishwamitra asked his sons if any of them were willing to replace Shunahshepa in the sacrifice. His sons rejected the demand with scorn, stating that it would be equivalent to eating dog meat. Angered at their impudence, Vishvamitra cursed his sons to be reborn as outcaste dog-meat eaters for a thousand years, just like Vashistha’s sons.

Ramayana of Valmiki, Bala Kanda 1.62.12-17 “You all have done very good pious deeds and you all abide by probity. Hence, you bestow appeasement to Fire-god on your becoming the ritual-animals of king Ambariisha in lieu of this boy Shunashepa. As a result, Shunashepa will have protectors, Vedic-ritual will be unimpeded, gods will be oblated, and my word too will be actualised.’ Thus Vishvamitra said to his sons. But on hearing the saying of the sage, oh, Rama, the best of men, Madhushyanda and the other sons of Vishvamitra said this, haughtily and disparagingly. On sacrificing your own sons how can you save another’s son, oh, lordly father, we deem this as a wrongdoing and as good as dog’s meat in a dinner.’ Thus the sons of Vishvamitra replied their father. On listening that saying of his sons that eminent sage Vishvamitra started to curse them while fury reddened his eyes. You all have not only transgressed my word, but pertly replied me in an impudent manner which is abhorrent and hair-raising, and recriminatory according to probity. You all will be whirling around the earth totally for a thousand years taking birth in the race that subsists on dog’s meat, like the sons of Vashishta.’ Thus Vishvamitra cursed his sons.” Tr. Shri Desiraju Hanumanta Rao

So human sacrifice is prohibited in none of the scriptures instead they justify human sacrifice by saying that Agigarta was not tainted by sin, Vishwamitra ordered his sons to be slaughtered in the sacrifice so that Vedic ritual will be unimpeded and gods will be pleased. The sentence “you bestow appeasement to Fire-god on your becoming the ritual-animals” shows that Shunashepa was going to be immolated in this human sacrifice, as victim was killed in various ways like suffocation, immolation or slaughtering.

Srimad Bhagavatam also mentions this story but it’s self-contradictory, in one place it says that Shunashepa was let free which is in conformity with other scriptures but in another place it says that a man was slaughtered in the human sacrifice by king Harishchandra,

Srimad Bhagavatam 9.7.21-23 “Thereafter, the famous King Hariścandra, one of the exalted persons in history, performed grand sacrifices by sacrificing a man and pleased all the demigods. In this way his dropsy created by Varuṇa was cured. In that great human sacrifice, Viśvāmitra was the chief priest to offer oblations, the perfectly self-realized Jamadagni had the responsibility for chanting the mantras from the Yajur Veda, Vasiṣṭha was the chief brahminical priest, and the sage Ayāsya was the reciter of the hymns of the Sāma Veda. King Indra, being very pleased with Hariścandra, offered him a gift of a golden chariot. Śunaḥśepha’s glories will be presented along with the description of the son of Viśvāmitra.” Tr. Swami Prabhupada

Swami Prabhupada writes on verse 20,

“It appears that in those days a man could be purchased for any purpose. Hariścandra was in need of a person to sacrifice as the animal in a yajña and thus fulfill his promise to Varuṇa, and a man was purchased from another man for this purpose. Millions of years ago, animal sacrifice and slave trade both existed. Indeed, they have existed since time immemorial.” Swami Prabhupada on Srimad Bhagavatam 9.7.20

There is similar version about Shunashepa’s human sacrifice which is mentioned in Padma Purana,

Padma Purana IV.12.6-22 “[Galava said:] O king, I shall tell you in brief the cause of a son’s birth about which you have asked me. Listen attentively. O best king, perform the sacrifice called Naramedha [Purushamedha]. Then you will have progeny endowed with all (good characteristics). The king said: O preceptor, O brahmana, tell me by bringing what kind of man I shall perform the great human sacrifice, the best among sacrifices. Galava said: If a man has a handsome body, a charming face and is proficient in all sacred texts, then he is fit for sacrifice. He who is crippled, has a black complexion, is a fool, would not be fit (for sacrifice)…” Tr. N.A. Deshpande

So instead of sage Narada, we read here that Sage Galava had recommended Human Sacrifice to King Dinanath. So Ved Vyasa, Sage Narada, Sage Galava recommends Human Sacrifice hence which is a commandment and can’t be rejected by Hindus.


Mahabharata Vana Parva 3, Section 84 Arriving next at the well of Tamraruna, that is frequented by the gods, one acquireth, O lord of men, the merit that attaches to human sacrifice.

Mahabharata Asvamedha Parva 13, Section 25: He that bathes in Analamva or in eternal Andhaka, or in Naimisha, or the tirtha called Swarga, and offers oblations of water to the Pitris, subduing his senses the while, acquires the Merit of a human sacrifice.

Narada Purana I.22.19 “O leading sage, he who performs the monthly fasts eight times, shall attain five times the benefit of sacrifice called Naramedha (Human sacrifice).” Tr. G.V. Tagare

Padma Purana I.59.187-191a “Aditya (i.e. the Sun) well-settled in the twelve mouths is always pleased with him who puts a rudraksa with twelve mouths round his neck. He quickly obtains the fruit which one gets by a cow-sacrifice or a human sacrifice, and deadly weapons are warded off.” Tr. N.A. Deshpande

So Hindu gods are nothing but blood-thirsty monsters. It’s a religion which asks for human to be slaughtered, it’s a religion of the past and cannot exist in the present age and a religion which cannot be eternal is to be rejected. By allowing the barbaric practice like human sacrifice, Hinduism proved that it’s not suitable for present age and it’s a reflection of the time it was founded. Jan N. Bremmer wrote about human sacrifice in Hinduism,

“It is clear that the central role of the human head (and the four animal heads) in the piling up of the fire-altar presupposes sacrificial slaughter of some sort. According to the Srautasutras of the Black Yajurveda, the human head should be cut off of a ksatriya or vaisya killed by an arrow or lightning [Apastamba Srauta Sutra 16.6.2-3], after which it has to be covered with clay and set aside. The tradition of the White Yajurveda is more explicit that this ritual requires a human sacrifice. The Satapathabrahmana (6.2.12) unambiguously declares that a ‘man (purusa should be sacrificed first, for man is the first of the sacrificial animals (pasu).’ The Katyayana Srautasutra (16.1.17) states that the victim, a vaisya or rajanya, should be suffocated in a special secluded place, after which his head is taken, though it allows the option that a head of gold or clay is used as a substitute (ibid. 16.1.18) The bodies of the four animal victims are thrown into the water from where the clay is taken to make the bricks.”

If Purushamedha was only symbolic then why the word Medha is used? If this practice was symbolic then it should’ve had another name, is it mere coincidence that the word Purushamedha is similar to Ashvamedha where horse is slaughtered and Gomedha where cow is slaughtered? Hindu apologists try to reinterpret Purushamedha by saying that the victim was only symbolically sacrificed and it was not an actual slaying. It’s true that fire was carried around the human victim and then the victim set free in another symbolic sacrifice but the very scripture which says this also talks about actually slaying the victim. The story of Shunashepa proves that it was very real slaying of a man in Purushamedha. Hindu texts talking about killing the human victim by cutting off his head, immolating it, suffocating him etc., also proves that Purushamedha/Naramedha did include real slaying of the human victim. Textual references as well as archaeological evidence proves that human was slaughtered in this sacrifice. Hindu apologists should be brave enough to accept the evils in Hinduism after all Hindus now claim that they are progressive.


▪️ Satapatha Brahmana translated by Julias Eggeling from the volume “The sacred books of the east”

▪️ The Strange World of Human Sacrifice, p.184, by Jan N. Bremmer, Peeters Publishers, 2007

▪️ On Hinduism, By Wendy Doniger, OUP USA, 2014

▪️ Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society Vol. 107, No. 2 (Apr. 15, 1963), pp. 177-182

▪️ The Land of the Lingam by Arthur Miles

▪️ Mahabharata translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli available at

▪️ Srimad Bhagavatam translated by Swami Prabhupada

▪️ Valmiki Ramayana available at

▪️ Rig Veda translated into English by Ralph T.H. Griffith

▪️ Various Puranas published by Motilal Banarsidass publications

▪️ Riddles in Hinduism by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
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Penguin India faces growing protests over withdrawal of Hinduism history
Authors demand their own books are taken out of circulation in India after Wendy Doniger's The Hindus was pulled last week
by Alison Flood
The Guardian
Wed 19 Feb 2014 06.51 EST

Two authors have written to Penguin demanding that their books be pulped in protest at the publisher's removal of Wendy Doniger's The Hindus from circulation in India, while two readers have served a legal notice on the publisher claiming it is in "serious breach" of their rights.

The backlash over Penguin's move last week has been huge, with major literary figures lining up to condemn the withdrawal of The Hindus from India. Penguin took the decision following a four-year legal battle with a Hindu nationalist group which claimed Doniger's well-reviewed tome violated the Indian penal code - which prevents religious insult - as it "hurt the religious feelings of millions of Hindus".

Now the Penguin authors Jyotirmaya Sharma and Siddharth Varadarajan have written to the publisher asking for their books to be withdrawn and pulped. "[We] have asked Penguin to pulp our books and revert copyright so we can deal with any would-be bullies on our own terms," said Varadarajan on Twitter.

"As an author, I no longer have the confidence that Penguin will stand by my book, Gujarat: The Making of a Tragedy – published by you in 2002 – in the event that some group or individual should decide to demand that it be withdrawn because they feel it violates 295 (Section of the Indian Penal Code)," wrote Varadarajan in an email to Penguin cited by the Times of India. "Accordingly, I would be grateful if our contract is cancelled, all remaining copies of my book with you are pulped, and copyright for the book is reverted to me so that I may freely distribute it electronically without the fear of any future, arbitrary withdrawal by Penguin in the face of pressure from the sort of intellectual bullies who have managed to have their way with Prof Doniger's book."

"In order to register my protest, I demand that my two books, published by you, be withdrawn and pulped," wrote Sharma. "If my request is overlooked or dismissed citing arguments from the contract I have signed with Penguin, I will, then, resort to legal recourse, especially since I believe that my books published by you are grave threats to Indian law as interpreted by you and to the safety of your colleagues and employees."

Meanwhile two readers, describing themselves as "avid bibliophiles", have issued a legal notice to Penguin claiming its move is "in serious breach of the rights of readers" and calling on the publisher to "immediately" recommence distribution of The Hindus, or give up copyright in the book.

"While they may both be birds, there is a world of difference between a Penguin and a chicken and the last time my clients checked, the penguin had not changed his feathers in the natural world," runs the notice, which was served by Lawrence Liang, a lawyer and writer at the Alternative Law Forum, a group of human rights lawyers based in Bangalore.

The publisher [?] [Lawrence Liang?], claims the notice, is "discriminating between different readers by conveniently choosing to acknowledge the claims and allegations of one particular class of readers who claim that their religious sentiments have been hurt by this book while ignoring the rights of many others who have found the book to be informative, enjoyable and insightful".

"My clients as readers believe that the ability to read any book, undisturbed by busybodies, is a sacred right and while others may choose to disagree with the book they are free to register their protest in any constitutional manner without disturbing my clients' right to be left alone with their books," runs the notice. "If we were to ban all books that offend our delicate sentiments, then we would be left with precious little (all comedies would certainly have to go) and you would have to seriously consider an alternative business – perhaps printing happily safe greeting anniversary cards."

Liang told the Guardian that the notice was "simultaneously serious but also performative since we were angry and troubled by their withdrawal of the book through a private agreement".

"I doubt if we will hear back from them, or that they will even relinquish their copyright over the book for India, but in terms of public pressure it is at least a starting point," he said.

Penguin India would not comment on the issue. Last week it issued a statement in response to the uproar, in which it blamed the Indian Penal Code, and in particular section 295A of that code, for the withdrawal of The Hindus.

"Penguin Books India believes, and has always believed, in every individual's right to freedom of thought and expression," said Penguin last week. "At the same time, a publishing company has the same obligation as any other organisation to respect the laws of the land in which it operates, however intolerant and restrictive those laws may be. We also have a moral responsibility to protect our employees against threats and harassment where we can."

Penguin said Indian laws would "make it increasingly difficult for any Indian publisher to uphold international standards of free expression without deliberately placing itself outside the law", describing the situation as "an issue of great significance not just for the protection of creative freedoms in India but also for the defence of fundamental human rights".

James Tennant, PEN International's literary manager, said that The Hindus "should never have been withdrawn from circulation", and that the "decision should not have been made on behalf of India's reading public, regardless of political pressure or fear of retribution."


The real reason Wendy Doniger’s book on Hindus was banned in India: It’s not boring enough
by Shoba Narayan
Published March 12, 2014

There has been much hand-wringing in India about Wendy Doniger’s book, The Hindus: An Alternative History. Scholars and intellectuals across the board are critical and worried about Penguin’s decision to withdraw the book and pulp the remaining copies. The latest twist in the tale is the notice served to Aleph Book Company, the publisher of Doniger’s previous book, On Hinduism. The notice demanded that the publisher withdraw this book too. Aleph sent an emailed response stating that the book was out of stock, “probably due to various statements made in public as well as the media coverage of your objections to the book published by Penguin.”

Like most readers (and Hindus), I began reading Doniger’s door-stopper of a book after it was withdrawn. As a practicing Hindu, I wanted to find out if Shiksha Bachao Aandolan Samiti’s (known as SBAS and translated into the “movement to save education”) objections held water.

The problem is that Wendy Doniger is maverick and brilliant. Her wit bubbles up and escapes her, almost in spite of herself. Consider this line about the representation of Shiva through a phallus, known as a linga: “The linga in this physical sense is well known throughout India, a signifier that is understood across barriers of caste and language, a linga franca, if you will.”

I think it is a clever appropriate line, but I know that my uncle Chetan, who makes yearly pilgrimages to Mount Kailash would take umbrage at it. Joking about his favorite god is blasphemy, as far as he is concerned, never mind that Doniger knows her Sanskrit and Upanishads better than he does; never mind that she understands the glories of ancient India in a way that he cannot begin to fathom; never mind that she knows that the Manu Smriti that he often quotes uses animals to define humans. But these are details, and God, as far as the uncle Chetans of the world, doesn’t exist in the details. That’s for blokes like Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, disrespectful elitist westerner pig—although as Doniger points out, in India, calling someone a dog carries more punch than saying “male chauvinist pig,” as the West does.

I have relatives who would immediately shut Doniger’s book with a loud plop and agree with SBAS founder Dinanath Batra who took the matter to court. “He brought a publisher and western author to their knees,” they would say with relish. This conclusion is understandable but wrong. Anyone who is interested in Hinduism should read Doniger’s book, preferably after a peg or two of some aged Ardbeg, because Doniger leavens her scholarship with a playful turn of phrase.

Alongside Doniger’s 683-page behemoth, I am also reading Diana Eck’s India: A Sacred Geography. The two books have Hinduism as their subject but their approach is different. Both are scholarly; both know their subject better than their Hindu readers who grew up with the religion. But their tone is different. Doniger is clever and playful; she shines the light into the dark crevasses of a religion that was formulated at a time when feminism as a concept didn’t exist. Doniger knows her Sanskrit and her Vedas, but she looks Hindu rituals and traditions from the point of view of women and minorities. You can see the logic of her doing it if you have ever studied in or spent time in an American university campus. You can also see the logic of taking umbrage at her tone if you’ve spent time at the Sanskrit college in Chennai, dominated as it was by scholars like Seshadrinathan who drew beautiful kolam-designs for the bhagavathi-sevais, a type of puja at my home, and explained the difference between the English idea of cleanliness and the Sanskrit notion of “shuddham,” to me. The priests who visited my home knew the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Sutras but they also believed that women ought not to recite them. They would not have had a knee-jerk reaction to Eck’s book.

Eck’s tone of voice in her book is scholarly, not irreverent or playful. It tells you a lot about Hinduism and India in a measured way. It makes for harder reading for that reason. But my point here is not to pit these two books against each other—it does disservice to both and although they are broadly similar in topic they are very different in detail—but to point out to Doniger, an author who I admire, that tone of voice can mask and detract from message.

It would be a shame for Doniger to water down her clever analogies and air-brush out her wit from her books, but it may be a pragmatic approach and indeed, one that will allow her books to get—and stay—distributed in India. Certainly, it will prevent readers with a chip on their shoulder to take up cudgels in the name of saving their religion.

Dinanath Batra unwittingly did a great service to Indians by getting her book revoked from the Indian market. There is nothing like old-fashioned “you will not read this book,” to get youngsters to actually start reading the book. Perhaps he should reread the book, and this time look at the “matter” as Indians say instead of focusing on how the said matter is conveyed to the masses. He might actually learn a lot from reading the book.

I haven’t finished Doniger’s book. It gets a bit chaotic towards the end with numerous ideas thrown forth in quick succession. But it attempts very hard not to bore people and for the most part succeeds. Consider this line: “Is the idea of a ‘sacred cow,’ an Irish bull (the old British chauvinist term for an ox-y-moron)?”

It is this sort of thing that makes Doniger’s prose sparkle? It is also the prose that makes her detractors’ blood boil.

For the sake of her new readers, Doniger should consider tempering her prose with a tone of voice that she would consider bland but one that will get her message across. As a reader who is at page 482 of her book, I would not welcome it; but as an admirer who would like Doniger’s book to be widely read across India, I would applaud with both hands.
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Part 1 of 2

Nasik Caves
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 6/16/24

Trirashmi Caves
Buddhaleni Caves

Nasik Caves, Cave No. 17, built circa 120 CE.

Map showing the location of Trirashmi Caves Buddhaleni CavesMap showing the location of Trirashmi Caves Buddhaleni Caves

Location: Nashik, Maharashtra, India
Coordinates: 19.9412°N 73.7486°E

The Trirashmi Caves,[1] or Nashik Caves (Trirashmi being the name of the hills in which the caves are located, Leni being a Marathi word for caves), are a group of 23 caves carved between the 1st century BCE and the 3rd century CE, though additional sculptures were added up to about the 6th century, reflecting changes in Buddhist devotional practices.[2][3] The Buddhist sculptures are a significant group of early examples of Indian rock-cut architecture initially representing the Early Buddhist schools tradition.

Most of the caves are viharas except for Cave 18 which is a chaitya of the 1st century BCE.[2] The style of some of the elaborate pillars or columns, for example in caves 3 and 10, is an important example of the development of the form.[4] The location of the caves is a holy Buddhist site and is located about 8 km south of the centre of Nashik (or Nasik), Maharashtra, India. The Pandavleni name sometimes given to the Trirashmi Caves has nothing to do with the Pandavas, characters in the Mahabharata epic. Other caves in the area are Karla Caves, Bhaja Caves, Patan Cave and Bedse Caves.


These are a group of twenty-four Hinayana Buddhist caves whose excavation was financed by the local Jain Kings. Cave No 3 is a large vihara or monastery with some interesting sculptures. Cave No 10 is also a vihara and almost identical in design to Cave No 3, but is much older and finer in detail. It is thought to be nearly as old as the Karla Cave near Lonavala. Cave No 18 is a chaitya worship hall believed to be similar in date to the Karla Caves. It is well sculptured, and its elaborate facade is particularly noteworthy. The cave houses the statues of Buddha, Jain Tirthankara Ṛṣabhadeva, and icons of the Jain yakṣas Maṇibhadra and Ambikā. The interiors of the caves were popular meeting places for the disciples, where sermons were delivered. There are water tanks that have been skilfully carved out of the solid rock.[5]

Panorama from the caves, during the monsoon season.

These caves are some of the oldest in Maharashtra. Some of them are large and contain numerous chambers - these rock-cut caves served as a viharas or monasteries for the monks to meet and hear sermons. They contain interesting sculptures. One of the vihara caves is older and finer in sculptural detail and is thought to be nearly as old as the Karla Cave near Lonavala. Another (cave No. 18) is a chaitya (type of cave used for chanting and meditation). It is similar in age to some of the Karla Caves and has a particularly elaborate facade.

The cave has images of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, sculptures representing the King, farmers, merchants and rich iconography depicting a beautiful amalgamation of Indo-Greek architecture[6][7]

The site has an excellent ancient water management system and skillfully chiseled out of solid rock are several attractive water tanks.[8]


Part of the caves (Caves No.6 to No.8) at Pandavleni.

Additional caves under the visitor's path at Pandavleni.

The caves can be traced back up to the 1st century BCE by inscriptions recording donations.[2] Out of the twenty-four caves, two caves are a major attraction - the main cave which is the Chaitya (prayer hall) has a beautiful Stupa; the second one is cave no. 10 which is complete in all structural as well inscriptions. Both the caves have pictures of Buddha over the rocks. The caves are facing eastwards. So it is recommended to visit the caves early morning as in sunlight the beauty of carvings is enhanced.

The caves were called Pundru which in Pali language means "yellow ochre color". This is because the caves were the residence of Buddhist monks who wore "the chivara or the yellow robes". Later on, the word Pundru changed to Pandu Caves (as per Ancient Monuments Act 26 May 1909). Decades later people started calling it Pandav Caves - a misnomer which is used for every cave in India.

The various inscriptions confirm that Nashik in that period was ruled by 3 dynasties – the Western Kshatrapas, the Satavahanas and the Abhiras. It seems there was always a conflict between Satavahanas and the Kshatrapas over supremacy. However, all the 3 kings fully supported Buddhism. The inscriptions also confirm that apart from the kings, local merchants, landlords too supported and donated huge sums for the development of these caves.

Layout and content

The group of 24 caves was cut in a long line on the north face of a hill called Trirasmi. The main interest of this group lies not only in its bearing on its walls a number of inscriptions of great historical significance belonging to the reign of Satavahana & Kshaharatas or Kshatrapas. But also in its representing a brilliant phase in the Rock-Cut architecture of the second century CE. There are altogether 24 excavations though many of these are small & less important. Beginning at the east end they may conveniently be numbered westward. They are almost entirely of an early date and were excavated by the Hinayana sect. Mostly, the interior of the caves are starkly plain, in contrast to the heavily ornamented exterior.

The caves and their inscriptions

Inscriptions in caves 3, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 19 and 20 are legible. Other inscriptions note the names Bhattapalika, Gautamiputra Satkarni, Vashishthiputra Pulumavi of the Satavahanas, two of the Western Satraps, Ushavadata and his wife Dakshamitra, and the Yavana (Indo-Greek) Dhammadeva.

Since the caves were inhabited by the Mahayana as well as the Hinayana sects of Buddhism, one can see a nice confluence of structural and carvings.

Caves No. 1-2

Cave No.1

Cave No.1: except the ornamental frieze over the front, no part of this cave is finished; it has been planned for a Vihara, with four columns between pilasters in front of a narrow verandah, but they are all left square masses. A cell has been begun at each end of the verandah. The front wall has been more recently partly blasted away. There are no inscriptions in this cave.[9]

Cave 1, exterior

Cave 1, front



Cave No.2

Cave No.2 is a small excavation that may have been originally a verandah, 11.5 feet by 4.25 feet, with two cells at the back; but the front wall and dividing partition have been cut away, and the walls nearly covered with sculpture, consisting of sitting and standing Buddhas with attendant chauri-bearers, in some cases unfinished. These are the additions of Mahayana Buddhists of the sixth or seventh century.[9]

The verandah has apparently had two wooden pillars, and the projecting frieze is carved with the "rail pattern", much weather worn, and apparently very old. On the remaining fragment of the back wall of the verandah, close under the roof, is a fragment of an inscription of Satavahana king Sri Pulumavi (2nd century CE):

"Success! On the ..... day of the fifth -5th- fortnight of summer
in the sixth -6th- year of king Siri-Pulumayi, son of Vasithi...."

— Cave No.2, inscription No.1[10]

Between this and the next cave are a tank with two openings above it, a large scarped out place, and two decayed recesses, one of them a tank, and all along this space are blocks of rock blasted out, or fallen down from above.[9]

Cave 2, exterior

Cave 2, front



Cave No.3, "Gautamiputra vihara" (circa 150 CE)

Cave No.3 "Gautamiputra vihara" (circa 150 CE). 3D Tour.

Cave No. 3 at Nasik is one of the most important caves, and the largest, of the Pandavleni caves complex. It was built and dedicated to the Samgha in the 2nd century CE by Queen Gotami Balasiri, mother of deceased Satavahana king Gautamiputra Satakarni, and contains numerous important inscriptions.

The cave

The cave is a vihara type of cave, meant to provide shelter to Buddhist monks. It is, with cave No. 10, the largest Vihara cave in the Pandavleni Caves complex. The hall is 41 feet wide and 46 deep, with a bench round three sides. The cave has six pillars on the front porch, roughly similar to those of the early cave No. 10 built by the viceroy of Nahapana circa 120 CE. Inside, 18 monk cells are laid out according to a square plan, seven on the right side, six in the back, and five in the left.[9]


The central door into this vihara is rudely sculptured in a style that reminds [one of] the Sanchi gateways; the side pilasters are divided into six compartments, each filled mostly with two men and a woman, in different stages of some story which seems to end in the woman being carried off by one of the men.[9]

Over the door are the three symbols, the Bodhi tree, the dagoba, and the chakra, with worshipers, and at each side is a dvarapala, or doorkeeper, holding up a bunch of flowers. If the carving on this door be compared with any of those at Ajanta, it will be found very much ruder and less bold, but the style of headdress agrees with that on the screen walls at Karle and Kanheri, and in the paintings in Cave X at Ajanta, which probably belong to about the same age.[9]

Cave No. 3, Entrance gate details

General layout, reminding of a Sanchi gateway.[9]

Side view

Door frame


Right Dvarapala


Pillars of cave No. 3

Comparison of the pillar capitals of Nahapana's Cave 10 (left) and Gautamiputra's Cave 3 (right). The capitals of Cave No.3 are "much poorer in proportion", with a "shorter and less elegant form of the bell-shaped portion, and the corners of the frame that encloses the torus having small figures attached", pointing to a later period imitation.[9]

Cave No. 3 pillars (back view). They have no base, and "stand on a bench in the veranda, and in front of them is a carved screen".[9]

The veranda has six octagonal columns without bases between highly sculptured pilasters. The capitals of these pillars are distinguished from those in the Nahapana Cave No.10 by the shorter and less elegant form of the bell-shaped portion of them, and by the corners of the frame that encloses the torus having small figures attached; both alike have a series of five thin members, overlapping one another and supporting four animals on each capital, bullocks, elephants, horses, sphinxes, etc..., between the front and back pairs of which runs the architrave, supporting a projecting frieze, with all the details of a wooden framing copied in it. The upper part of the frieze in this case is richly carved with a string course of animals under a richly carved rail, resembling in its design and elaborateness the rails at Amravati, with which this vihara must be nearly, if not quite contemporary. The pillars stand on a bench in the veranda, and in front of them is a carved screen, supported by three dwarfs on each side the steps to the entrance.[9] The details of this cave and No. 10 are so alike that the one must be regarded as a copy of the other, but the capitals in No. 10 are so like those of the Karla Caves Chaitya, while those in the veranda of this cave are so much poorer in proportion, that one is tempted to suppose this belongs to a later period, when art had begun to decay.[9]

Comparison with other sites

The architecture of the Nahapana cave (Cave No.10) is very similar to that of the Karla Caves Great Chaitya. Conversely, the architecture of Cave No.3 is very similar to that of the Kanheri Chaitya. This suggest that the two viharas cannot be very distant in date from the two Chaityas.[9]

Cave No. 3, "Gautamiputra Vihara" (reign of Sri Pulumavi)

Cave 3, exterior

Cave 3, pillars



Chaitya relief


Interior panorama

Plan of the vihara


Cave No. 3 was completed and dedicated to the Samgha during the reign of Satavahana king Vasishthiputra Pulumavi (130–159 CE).

One long inscription (inscription No.2) in the 19th year of Satavahana king Sri Pulumavi (2nd century CE), explaining that Queen Gotami Balasiri, mother of glorious king Gotamiputra, caused this cave to be built and gave it to the Samgha.[11] There is also another long inscription (inscription No.3) by Sri Pulumavi himself, also in the 22nd year of his reign.[11] There are also inscriptions (inscriptions No. 4 and No. 5) at the entrance of the cave by Gautamiputra Satakarni (2nd century), in the 18th year of his reign, who claims a great victory.[12]

One of the most important Nasik Caves inscription was made by Gautamiputra's mother the great queen Gotami Balasiri, during the reign of her grandson Vasishthiputra Pulumavi, in order to record the gift of Cave No. 3. The full inscription consists in a long eulogy of Gautamiputra Satakarni, mentioning his valour, his military victories, and then her gift of a cave in the Nasik Caves complex.

The most important passages on this inscription related to the military victories of Gautamiputra Satakarni, in particular:

• the claim that Gautamiputra Satakarni "destroyed the Sakas, Yavanas and Palhavas", alluding respectively to the Western Satraps, the Indo-Greeks and the Indo-Parthians.

• the claim that Gautamitra Satakarni "rooted out the Khakharata race" and "restored the glory of the Satavahana family". The Khakharata refers to the Kshaharata dynasty, the family branch of Nahapana, the important Western Satraps ruler.

The full inscription, located on the back wall of the veranda above the entrance, reads:

Inscription of Queen Gotami Balasiri
Nasik Cave No. 3, inscription No. 2, 19th year of the reign of Sri Pulumavi (back wall of the veranda, above the left window of the entrance)

Full inscription of Queen Gotami Balasiri (rubbing).[13]

The defeated "Saka-Yavana-Palhava" (Brahmi script: [x]) mentioned in the Nasik cave 3 inscription of Queen Gotami Balasiri (end of line 5 of the inscription).[13]

"Success! In the nineteenth -19th- year of king Siri-Pulumayi Vasithiputra, in the second -2nd- fortnight of summer, on the thirteenth -13th- day, the great queen Gotami Balasiri, delighting in truth, charity, patience and respect for life; bent on penance, self-control, restraint and abstinence; fully working out the type of a royal Rishi's wife; the mother of the king of kings, Siri-Satakani Gotamiputa,

• who was in strength equal to mount Himavat, mount Meru, mount Mandara; king of Asika, Asaka, Mulaka, Suratha, Kukura, Aparanta, Anupa, Vidabha, Akaravanti; lord of the mountains Vindhya, Chhavata, Parichata, Sahya, Kanhagiri, Macha, Siritana, Malaya, Mahendra, Setagiri, Chakora; obeyed by the circle of all kings on earth;

• whose face was beautiful and pure like the lotas opened by the rays of the sun; whose chargers had drunk the water of three oceans; whose face was lovely and radiant like the orb of the full moon; whose gait was beautiful like the gait of a choice elephant; whose arms were as muscular and rounded, broad and long as the folds of the lord of serpents; whose fearless hand was wet by the water poured out to impart fearlessness; of unchecked obedience towards his mother; who properly devised time and place for the pursuit of the triple object (of human activity); who sympathised fully with the weal and woe of the citizens;

• who crushed down the pride and conceit of the Kshatriyas; who destroyed the Sakas, Yavanas and Palhavas; who never levied nor employed taxes but in conformity to justice; alien to hurting life even towards an offending enemy; the furtherer of the homesteads of the low as well as of the twice-born; who rooted out the Khakharata race; who restored the glory of the Satavahana family; whose feet were saluted by all provinces; who stopped the contamination of the four varnas; who conquered multitudes of enemies in many battles; whose victorious banner was unvanquished; whose capital was unassailable to his foes;

• who had inherited from a long line of ancestors the privilege of kingly music; the abode of traditional lore; the refuge of the virtuous; the asylum of Fortune; the fountain of good manners; the unique controller; the unique archer; the unique hero; the unique Brahmana; in prowess equal to Kama, Kesava, Arjuna and Bhimasena; liberal on festive days in unceasing festivities and assemblies; not inferior in lustre to Nabhaga, Nahusha, Janamejaya, Sagara, Yayati, Rama and Ambartsha; who, vanquishing his enemies in a way as constant as inexhaustible, unthinkable and marvelous; in battles fought by the Wind, Garuda, the Siddbas, the Yakshas, the Rakshasas, the Vidyadharas, the Bhutas, the Gandharvas, the Charanas, the Moon, the Son, the Asterisms and the Planets, (appeared to be himself) plunging into the sky from the shoulder of his choice elephant; (and) who (thus) raised his family to high fortune,

caused, as a pious gift, on the top of the Tiranhu mountain similar to the top of the Kailasa, (this) cave to be made quite equal to the divine mansions (there). And that cave the great queen, mother of a Maharaja and grandmother of a Maharaja, gives to the Sangha of monks in the person of the fraternity of the Bhadavaniyas; and for the sake of the embellishment of that cave, with a view to honour and please the great queen his grandmother, her grandson lord of [Dakshina]patha, making over the merit of the gift to his father, grants to this meritorious donation (vis. the cave) the village Pisajipadaka on the south-west side of mount Tiranhu. Renunciation to the enjoyments of every kind."

— Nasik Caves inscription of Queen Gotami Balasiri, Cave No.3[14]

The next inscription is located right under the inscription of the Queen, only separated by a swastika and another symbol. The inscription (inscription No.3) was made by Sri Pulumavi himself, in the 22nd year of his reign, and records the gift of a village for the welfare of the monks dwelling in the cave built by his grandmother.[11]

Inscription of Sri-Pulumavi
Nasik Cave No. 3, inscription No. 3 (reign of Sri Pulumavi)

Inscription of Sri-Pulumavi, Nasik cave No. 3.

"Success! The lord of Navanara, Siri-Pulumavi Vasithiputa, commands Sivakhandila, the officer at Govadhana: The village of Sudisana here in the Govadhana district on the Southern road, which by us, in the 19th year, on the 13th day of the 2nd fortnight of summer, , . . . . by the Samanas of Dhanamkata who [dwell] here on mount Tiranhu ......, has been given to be owned by the Bhikshus of that fraternity, the Bhadayaniyas dwelling in the Queen's Cave, to produce a perpetual rent for the care of the cave meritoriously excavated, - in exchange for this gift, -the village of Sudasana,- we give the village of Samalipada, here in the Govadhana district on the Eastern road; and this village of Samalipada, the Maha-Aryaka, you must deliver to be owned by the Bhikshus of the school of the Bhadayaniyas dwelling in the Queen's Cave, to produce a perpetual rent for the care of the cave meritoriously excavated; and to this village of Samalipada we grant the immunity belonging to monk's land, (making it) not to be entered (by royal officers), not to be touched (by any of them), not to be dug for salt, not to be interfered with by the district police, (in short) to enjoy all kinds of immunities. With all these immunities you must invest it; and this donation of the village of Samalipada and the immunities take care to have registered here at Sudasana. And by the (officers) entrusted with the abrogation of the (previous) donation of the Sudasana village it has been ordered. Written by the Mahdsendpati Medhnna ....., kept (?) by the ....... of deeds (?). The deed was delivered in the year 22, the 7th day of the . . fortnight of summer; executed by .... . (?). With a view for the well-being of the inhabitants of Govadhana, Vinhupala proclaims the praise of the Lord: Obeisance to the Being exalted in perfection and majesty, the excellent Jina, the Buddha."

— Nasik Caves inscription of Sri-Pulumavi, Cave No.3[15]

The next inscription of the cave is very important in that it seems to record the appropriation by king Gautamiputra Satakarni of a land previously owned by Nahapana's viceroy Usubhadata, builder of Cave No.10, thereby confirming the capture of territory by the Satavahanas over the Western Satraps.[16][17] Since his mother made the final dedication of the cave during the reign of his son (inscription No.2 above), Gautamiputra Satakarni may have started the cave, but not finished it.[18] The inscription is on the east wall of the veranda in Cave No. 3, under the ceiling.

Inscription of Gautamiputra Satakarni, year 18
Nasik Cave No.3, inscription No.4

Inscription of Gautamiputra Satakarni, Cave No.3, Inscription No.4.

The two inscriptions of Gautamiputra Satakarni, written one after another. Cave No. 3, Inscription No. 4.

"Success! From the camp of victory of the Vejayanti army, Siri-Sadakani Gotamiputa, lord of Benakataka of Govadhana, commands Vinhupalita, the officer at Govadhana: The Ajakalakiya field in the village of Western Kakhadi, previously enjoyed by Usabhadata, - two hundred - 200 - nivartanas, - that our field - two hundred - 200 - nivartanas - we confer on those Tekirasi ascetics; and to that field we grant immunity, (making it) not to be entered (by royal officers), not to be touched (by any of them), not to be dug for salt, not to be interfered with by the district police, and (in short) to enjoy all kinds of immunities; with those immunities invest it; and this field and these immunities take care to have registered here. Verbally ordered; written down by the officer Sivaguta; kept by the Mahasamiyas. The deed was delivered in the 18th year, on the 1st day of the 2nd fortnight of the rainy season; executed by Tapasa."

— Nasik Caves inscription of Gautamiputra Satakarni, Cave No. 3[19]

A final inscription, written as a continuation of the previous one, and only separated by a swastika, describes a correction to the previous inscription, as the donated lands and villages turned to be inappropriate. The inscription reads:

Inscription of Gautamiputra Satakarni, year 24
Nasik Cave No.3, inscription No.5

Inscription of Gautamiputra Satakarni, Cave No. 3, Inscription No. 5.

"Success! Order of the king, to be made over to Samaka, the officer at Govadhana, In the name of the king Satakani Gotamiputa and of the king's queen mother whose son is living, Samaka, the officer at Govadhana, shall be addressed with the usual civility and then shall be told thus: "We have here on mount Tiranhu formerly given to the mendicant ascetics dwelling in the cave which is a pious gift of ours, a field in the village of Kakhadi; but this field is not tilled, nor is the village inhabited. Matters being so, that royal village of ours, which is now here on the limit of the town, from that field we give to the mendicant ascetics of Tiranhu one hundred -100 - nivartanas of land, and to that field we grant immunity, (making it) not to be entered (by royal officers), not to be touched (by any of them), not to be dug for salt, not to be interfered with by the district police, and (in short) to enjoy ail kinds of immunities; invest it with those immunities, and take care that the donation of the field and the immunities are duly registered." Verbally ordered ; the deed written down by Lota, the door-keeper; (the charter) executed by Sujivin in the year 24, in the 4th fortnight of the rainy season, on the fifth -5th- day. The donation had been made in the year 24, in the 2nd fortnight of summer, on the 10th day."

— Nasik Caves inscription of Gautamiputra Satakarni, Cave No.3[19]

Caves No.4-9

Cave No.4

Cave No. 4 is much destroyed and full of water to a considerable depth. The frieze is at a very considerable height, and is carved with the "rail pattern". The veranda has had two octagonal pillars between antae, with bell-shaped capitals, surmounted by elephants with small drivers and female riders. There has also been a plain doorway and two grated windows leading into the cave, but only the heads of them remain. From the unusual height and the chisel marks in the lower part, apparently recent, it seems as if the floor of this cave had been cut away into a cistern below it. Indeed, when the cave ceased to be used as a monastery, from the breaking through of the floor into the water cistern below, the floor seems to have been quite hewn out to form a cistern. This seems to have been done in many cases here.[9]

There are no inscriptions in this cave.

Cave 4, exterior

Cave 4, pillar capital

Cave 4, pillar capital

Cave 4, view from the inside.

Cave No. 5

There are no inscriptions in this cave.

Caves No. 6-7-8

Cave No. 6 has an inscription, mentioning its dedication by a merchant to the Samgha.[20] An inscription at Cave No.7 explains it is a gift by a female ascetic named Tapasini to the Samgha.[20] Two inscriptions at Cave No.8 explain the cave is a gift by a fisherman name Mugudasa.[20]

From right to left, cave No.6, cave no.7, cave No.8, cave No.9

Cave 6, exterior

Caves 9 and 8.

Cave No. 9

There are no inscriptions in this cave.

Cave 9, exterior

Cave 9, interior

Cave 9, looking outward

Cave 9, pillars

Cave No.10 "Nahapana Vihara" (circa 120 CE). 3D tour.

The Indo-Scythian Western Satraps ruler Nahapana built Cave No.10 circa 120 CE.

The cave

Cave No. 10 is the second largest Vihara, and contains six inscriptions of the family of Nahapana. The six pillars (two of them attached) have more elegant bell-shaped capitals than those in Cave No. 3, and their bases are in the style of those in the Karla Caves Chaitya, and in that next to the Granesa Lena at Junnar; the frieze also, like those that remain on the other small caves between Nos.4 and 9, is carved with the simple rail pattern. At each end of the verandah is a cell, donated by "Dakhamitra, the daughter of King Kshaharata Kshatrapa Nahapana, and wife of Ushavadata, son of Dinika."[9]

Inside hall

The inside hall is about 43 feet wide by 45 feet deep, and is entered by three plain doors, and lighted by two windows. It has five benched cells on each side and six in the back; it wants, however, the bench round the inner sides that can be found in Cave No.3; but, as shown by the capital and ornaments still left, it has had a precisely similar dagoba in low relief on the back wall, which has been long afterwards hewn into a figure of Bhairava. Outside the veranda, too, on the left-hand side, have been two reliefs of this same god, evidently the later insertions of some Hindu devotee.[9]


Since Nahapana was a contemporary of Gautamiputra Satakarni, by whom he was finally vanquished, this cave predates by one generation Cave No. 3, completed in the 18th year of the reign of Gautamiputra's son Sri Pulumavi. Cave No.10 is probably contemporary with Cave No. 17, built by an Indo-Greek "Yavana".

Nahapana is also known for his association with the Great Chaitya in Karla Caves, the largest Chaitya building of Southern Asia.[21][22][23] Cave No. 10 and the Karla Caves Chaitya are extremely similar in style, and thought to be essentially contemporary.[9]

The Indo-Scythian Western Satraps ruler Nahapana built Cave No.10 circa 120 CE.

Cave No. 10 "Nahapana Vihara", circa 120 CE

Several inscriptions from the reign of Western Satraps ruler Nahapana, explaining his viceroy built and donated the cave (see above in the article). This cave, from the reign of Nahapana is thus dated circa 120 CE. It is earlier than the other viharas of the reign of the Satavahana ruler Sri Pulumavi, who is posterior to him by a generation.




Chaitya and Umbrellas


Plan of the vihara


See also: Nasik inscription of Ushavadata

Inscription No. 11 by Dakhamitra, wife of Ushavadata, in Cave No. 10

Karla Caves Chaitya pillars (left) compared to Pandavleni Caves Cave No. 10
pillars (right), all built by Ushavadata, son-in-law of Nahapana, circa 120 CE.

The inscriptions of cave no.10 reveal that in 105-106 CE, Western Satraps defeated the Satavahanas after which Kshatrapa Nahapana’s son-in-law and Dinika’s son- Ushavadata donated 3000 gold coins for this cave as well as for the food and clothing of the monks. The main inscription on the doorfront (inscription No.10) is the earliest known instance of the usage of Sanskrit, although a rather hybrid form, in western India.[24]

Usabhdatta’s wife (Nahapana’s daughter), Dakshmitra also donated one cave for the Buddhist monks. Cave 10 - 'Nahapana Vihara' is spacious with 16 rooms.

Over the doorway of the left cell appears the following inscription:

"Success! This cell, the gift of Dakhamitra, wife of Ushavadata, son of Dinika, and daughter of king Nahapana, the Khshaharata Kshatrapa."

— Inscription No.11, Cave 10, Nasik[25]

Two inscriptions in Cave 10 mentions the building and the gift of the whole cave to the Samgha by Ushavadata, the son-in-law and viceroy of Nahapana:

"Success! Ushavadata, son of Dinika, son-in- law of king Nahapana, the Kshaharata Kshatrapa, (...) inspired by (true) religion, in the Trirasmi hills at Govardhana, has caused this cave to be made and these cisterns."

— Part of inscription No.10 of Ushavadata, Cave No.10, Nasik[26]

"Success! In the year 42, in the month Vesakha, Ushavadata, son of Dinika, son-in- law of king Nahapana, the Kshaharata Kshatrapa, has bestowed this cave on the Samgha generally...."

— Part of inscription No.12 of Ushavadata, Cave No.10, Nasik[27]

Inscription of Ushavadata, son-in-law of Nahapana
Nasik Cave No.10, inscription No. 10

Inscription No. 10. of Ushavadata runs the length of the entrance wall, over the doors, and is here visible in parts between the pillars. The imprint was cut in 3 portions for convenience. Cave No. 10, Nasik Caves.

Full text of inscription No.10 (hybrid Sanskrit, Brahmi script):[24]

• who has given three-hundred-thousand cows, who has made .gifts of money and tirthas on the river Barnasa, who has given sixteen villages to the gods and Brahmanas, who causes one-hundred-thousand Brahmanas to be fed the (whole) year round, who has given eight wives to Brahmanas at the religious tirtha of Prabhasa, who at Bharukachha, Dedapura, Govardhana and Sorparaga has given the shelter of quadrangular rest-houses, who has made wells, tanks, and gardens, who has out of charity established free ferries by boats on the Iba, Parada, Damana, Tapi, Karabena and Dahanuka, and erected on both banks of these rivers shelters for meeting and such for gratuitous distribution of water, who has given thirty-two-thousand stems of coconut trees at the village Nanamgola to the congregation of Charakas at Pimditakvada, Govardhana, Suvarnamukha and the Ramatirtha in Sorparaga,

• inspired by (true) religion, in the Trirasmi hills at Govardhana, has caused this cave to be made and these cisterns.

• And by order of the lord I went to release the chief of the Uttamabhadras, who had been besieged for the rainy season by the Malayas, and those Malayas fled at the mere roar (of my approaching) as it were, and were all made prisoners of the Uttamabhadra warriors.

• Thence I went to the Pokshara tanks, and there I bathed and gave three-thousand cows and a village. A field has also been given by him, bought at the hands of the Brahmana Asvibhuti, son of Varahi, for the price of four-thousand - 4,000 - karshapanas, which (field) belonged to his father, on the boundary of the town towards the north-western side. From it food will be procured for all monks, without distinction, dwelling in my cave."

— Inscription of Ushavadata, Nasik Cave No.10, inscription No.10.[28]
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Part 2 of 2

Caves No.11, "Jain cave"

Cave No.11 is close to Cave No.10, but at a somewhat higher level. In the left end of the veranda is the fragment of a seat; the room inside is 11 feet 7 inches by 7 feet 10 inches, having a cell, 6 feet 8 inches square, at the left end, and another, not quite so large, at the back, with a bench at the side and back. In the front room is carved, on the back wall, in low relief, a sitting figure and attendants on a lion throne, and on the right-end wall a fat figure of Amba on a tiger with attendants, and an Indra on an elephant: all are small, clumsily carved, and evidently of late Jaina workmanship.[9]

Cave No.11 has one inscription mentioning it is the gift of the son of a writer: " the benefaction of Ramanaka, the son of Sivamitra, the writer."[29]

Cave No.11

Caves 11 (forefront with stairs) to 14, exterior

Cave 11, Jain reliefs

Cave 11, Jain reliefs

Cave 11, Relief of Ambika

Cave 11, Relief of Indra

Caves No. 12-16

Cave No. 12 has one inscription mentioning it is the gift of a merchant named Ramanaka.[29] Cave No.13 has no inscriptions.[29]

Caves No. 12-13-14

This is a group of chambers, probably the remains of three bhikshugrihas or hermitages, with one, two, and three cells respectively. The first has an inscription of a certain Hamanaka, mentioning an endowment of 100 karshapanas for "a garment to the ascetic residing in it during the rains". To the left is a tank, and then for thirty yards everything has been blasted and quarried away.[9]

There are no inscriptions in the other two caves.

Caves 12, 13 and Cave 14 (extreme left)

Caves 14, exterior

Cave 14, Buddha sitting

Cave 14, Bodhisattvas

Cave 14, Bodhisattvas

Cave 14, interior panorama

Cave No. 15

Cave No. 15 seems to be only the inner shrines of a two-storeyed cave, the whole front of which has disappeared, and the upper is only accessible by a ladder. Both have on each of their three walls a sitting Buddha with the usual standing attendants, similar to what we find in Caves No.2 and 23, and in the later Ajanta Caves. These are, apparently, Mahayana works. Beyond them, another fifty feet has been quarried away by blasting, which has been continued along the outer portion of the terrace of Cave No.17.[9]

There are no inscriptions in this cave.[9]

Interior panorama



Seated and Teaching Buddha


Cave No. 16

There are no inscriptions in this cave.

Cave No.17, "Yavana vihara" (circa 120 CE)

Cave No.17, "Yavana vihara" (circa 120 CE). 3D tour.

Cave No. 17 was built by a devotee of Greek descent, who presents his father as being a Yavana from the northern city of Demetriapolis.[30][31] The cave is dated to around 120 CE.

The cave

Inside hall

Cave 17 is the third large Vihara, though smaller than Nos.3, 10, 20, and has been executed close to the upper portion of the Chaitya cave. The hall measures 22 feet 10 inches wide by 32 feet 2 inches deep, and has a back aisle screened off by two columns, of which the elephants and their riders and the thin square members of the capitals only are finished. The steps of the shrine door have also been left as a rough block, on which a Hindu has carved the shalunkha, or receptacle for a linga. The shrine has never been finished. On the wall of the back aisle is a standing figure of Buddha, 3.5 feet high; in the left side of the hall, 2 feet 3 inches from the floor, is a recess, 18.5 feet long and 4 feet 3 inches high by 2 feet deep, intended for a seat or perhaps for a row of metallic images; a cell has been attempted at each end of this, but one of them has entered the aisle of the Chaitya-cave just below, and the work has then been stopped. On the right side are four cells without benches.[32]


The veranda is somewhat peculiar, and it would seem that, at first, a much smaller cave was projected, or else by some mistake it was begun too far to the left. It is ascended by half a-dozen steps in front between the two central octagonal pillars with very short shafts, and large bases and capitals, the latter surmounted by elephants and their riders, and the frieze above carved with the plain "rail pattern". They stand on a paneled base; but the landing between the central pair is opposite the left window in the back wall of the veranda, to the right of which is the principal door, but to the left of the window is also a narrower one. The veranda has then been prolonged to the west, and another door broken out to the outside beyond the right attached pillar; at this end of the veranda also is an unfinished cell.[32]


The cave is later than the Chaitya next it, and the veranda a little later in style than the Nahapana Cave No.10. The interior with an image of the Buddha, was probably executed at a later date, around the 6th century CE.[32] Fergusson states later in his book that, from an architectural standpoint, Cave No.17 is contemporary with the Great Chatya at the Karla Caves, but is actually a bit earlier in style than Cave No.10 of Nahapana at Nasik, but at no great interval of time.[33]

Cave No.17, "Yavana Vihara", circa 120 CE


Entrance. The inscription is visible, in part, over the entrance.

Pillar capital

Standing Buddha (a later addition).[34]


Interior panorama


The "Yavana" inscription on the back wall of the veranda, over the entrance, is about 3 meters in length (photograph and rubbing). Detail of the word "Yo-ṇa-ka-sa" (adjectival form of "Yoṇaka", Brahmi [x]), with Nasik/Karla-period Brahmi script for reference.

Cave No. 17 has one inscription, mentioning the gift of the cave by Indragnidatta the son of the Yavana (i.e. Greek or Indo-Greek) Dharmadeva. It is located on the back wall of the veranda, over the main entrance, and is inscribed in large letters:

"Success! (The gift) of Indragnidatta, son of Dhammadeva, the Yavana, a northerner from Dattamittri. By him, inspired by true religion, this cave has been caused to be excavated in mount Tiranhu, and inside the cave a Chaitya and cisterns. This cave made for the sake of his father and mother has been, in order to honor all Buddhas bestowed on the universal Samgha by monks together with his son Dhammarakhita."

— Inscription No.18, in Cave No,17[29]

The city of "Dattamittri" may be the city of Demetrias in Arachosia, mentioned by Isidore of Charax.[29] This vihara is probably contemporary to the reign of Western Satrap Nahapana, circa 120 CE.

The word "Yoṇaka", which was the current Greek Hellenistic form, is used in the inscription, instead of "Yavana", which was the Indian word to designate the Indo-Greeks.[35]

The Yavanas are also known for their donations with inscriptions at the Great Chaitya at the Karla Caves, and at the Manmodi Caves in Junnar.

Cave No. 18: the Chaitya

The cave

Cave No.18, the corner of cave No.17 is visible on the right. 3D tour.

Cave No. 18 doorway.

Cave No. 18 is a chaitya design, comparable to the Karla Caves Chaitya, although earlier and much smaller and simpler in design. It is the only Chaitya cave of the group, belongs to a much earlier date; and though none of the three inscriptions on it supplies certain information on this point, yet the name of Maha Hakusiri, found in one of them, tends to push it back to some period about or before the Christian era. The carving, however, over the door and the pilasters with animal capitals on the façade on each side the great arch, and the insertion of the hooded snake, will, on comparison with the façades at Bedsa and Karla, tend to suggest an early date for this cave.[32]


Chaitya No. 18 participates to a chronology of several other Chaitya caves which were built in Western India under royal sponsorship.[36] It is thought that the chronology of these early Chaitya Caves is as follows: first Cave 9 at Kondivite Caves, then Cave 12 at the Bhaja Caves and Cave 10 of Ajanta Caves, around the 1st century BCE.[37] Then, in chronological order: Cave 3 at Pitalkhora, Cave 1 at Kondana Caves, Cave 9 at Ajanta Caves, which, with its more ornate designs, may have been built about a century later,[36] Only then appears Cave 18 at Nasik Caves, to be followed by Cave 7 at Bedse Caves, and finally by the "final perfection" of the Great Chaitya at Karla Caves (circa 120 CE).[37]


The doorway is evidently of an early date, and the ornament up the left side is almost identical with that found on the pillars of the northern gateway at Sanchi, with which it consequently is in all probability coeval (1st century CE). The carving over the doorway, which represents the wooden framework which filled all openings, of a similar class, at that age, is of a much more ornamental character than usual, or than the others shown on this facade. Animals are introduced as in the Lomas Rishi. So also are the trisulas and shield emblems, in a very ornamental form, but almost identical with those existing in the Manmodi cave at Junnar, which is probably of about the same age as this Chaitya.[32]


The interior measures 38 feet 10 inches by 21 feet 7 inches, and the nave, from the door up to the dagoba, 25 feet 4 inches by 10 feet, and 23 feet 3 inches high. The cylinder of the dagoba is 5.5 feet in diameter and 6 feet 3 inches high, surmounted by a small dome and very heavy capital. The gallery under the great arch of the window is supported by two pillars, which in all cases in the Chaitya caves are in such a form as strongly to suggest that a wooden frame was fastened between them, probably to hold a screen, which would effectually shut in the nave from observation from outside. Five octagonal pillars, with high bases of the Karle pattern but without capitals, on each side the nave, and five without bases round the dagoba, divide off the side aisles.[32]

The woodwork that once occupied the front arch, and the roof of the nave has long ago disappeared. Whether there ever were pillars in advance of the present facade as at Bedsa, or a screen as at Karle, cannot be determined with certainty, unless by excavating largely among the debris in front. There was probably something of the kind, but the Viharas, inserted so close to it on either side, must have hastened the ruin of the side walls of it.[32]

Cave No. 18, Chaitya

Exterior of cave No.18. Cave No.17 is visible on the right, cave No.20 on the left, and a corner of cave No,19 bottom left.

Entrance of cave 18


The central stupa.

Pillars with inscription No. 19

Panorama, looking towards the outside

Section and plan


The cave has several inscriptions. Inscription No.19 appears on the 5th and 6th pillars on the right aisle of the Chaitya, and explains that the cave received some perfecting by the wife of a government official, but the government in question remains unnamed:

"By Bhatapalika, the grand-daughter of Mahahakusiri and daughter of the royal officer Arahalaya from Chalisilana, wife of the royal officer Agiyatanaka, of the treasure office, mother of Kapananaka, this Chaityagriha has been caused to be perfected on this mount Tiranhu."

— Inscription No.19, Cave No. 18[38]

This inscription is slightly less ancient than the inscription on the doorway, suggesting that it was inscribed some time in the later phases of the construction of the cave.[38]

Inscription No.20 explains that the decoration above the doorway was a donation of the people of nearby Nashik ("The gift of the village of Dhambhika, of the Nasik people"). Inscription No.21 records the donation of the rail pattern.[38]

Cave No. 19 "Krishna vihara" (100-70 BCE)

Inscription of king Kanha in cave No.19 (located on the upper sill of the right window).[39] Also called the "Krishna inscription" from the King's name in the Puranas. This is the oldest known Satavahana inscription, circa 100-70 BCE.[40] Brahmi script:
Sādavāhanakule Kanhe rājini Nāsikakena
Samaṇena mahāmāteṇa leṇa kārita
"Under King Kanha of the Satavahana family this cave has been caused to be made by the officer in charge of the Sramanas at Nasik".[41]

Cave 19 is at a rather lower level even than the Chaitya cave, and some distance in advance of it, but the front and interior have been so filled up with earth as to conceal it from general view. It is a small Vihara, 14 feet 3 inches square, with six cells, two on each side; their doors are surmounted by the Chaitya-arch ornament connected by a frieze of "rail pattern" in some places wavy. In the front wall are two lattice windows, and in the veranda two slender square pillars, the middle portion of the shaft being chamfered to an octagonal shape.[42]

The cave is exceedingly plain style, and the remarkable rectangularity of all its parts, agree perfectly with what might be expected in a Vihara of the first or second century BCE. Its close family likeness to Cave No.12 at Ajanta and others at Bhaja and Kondane, all of the earliest age, suggest about the same date.[42]

The cave has one inscription of king Krishna of the Satavahanas, which is the oldest known Satavahana inscription, dated to 100-70 BCE:[43][39]

Sādavāhanakule Kanhe rājini Nāsikakena Samaṇena mahāmāteṇa leṇa kārita
"Under King Kanha of the Satavahana family, this cave has been caused to be made by the officer in charge of the Sramanas at Nasik."

— Inscription of Cave No.19[39]

Cave No. 19, "Krishna vihara", circa 100-70 BCE[44]

Cave No. 19 is located on the ground floor, to the left of the entrance of Cave No.18, and right under cave No.20. Cave No.19 has one inscription mentioning the dedication by a government officer during the rule of king Krishna of the Satavahanas. King Krishna, also called Kanha, is said to have ruled in the 1st century BCE (100-70 BCE), which makes Cave No.19 one of the earliest to be excavated.[34]

Cave No.19

Cave No.19 is located right under Cave No. 20

A halk-flower medallions design on a pillar of Cave No. 19, typical of early designs such as those of Sanchi.

Plan and inside elevation of cave No.19, "Krishna vihara" (100-70 BCE).
Cave No.20: "Sri Yajna vihara" (circa 180 CE)

Exterior. 3D tour.

Cave 20 plan.

Coin of Yajna Sri Satakarni (170-199 CE), in the 7th year of the reign of which the cave was completed. British Museum.

Cave No. 20 is another large Vihara, its hall varying in width from 37.5 feet at the front to 44 feet at the back and 61.5 feet deep. Originally it was little over 40 feet deep, but at a much later date it was altered and extended back by one "Marma, a worshipper," as recorded on the wall. It has eight cells on each side, one on the right rather a recess than a cell, two on the left with stone beds, while in the back are two cells to the left of the antechamber and one to the right, with one more on each side of the antechamber and entered from it.[45]

The hall is surrounded by a low bench as in Cave 3, and in the middle of the floor is a low platform, about 9 feet square, apparently intended for an asana or seat; but whether to place an image upon for worship, or as a "seat of the law", where the Thera or high priest might sit when teaching and discussing, is impossible to say. On the right-hand side, and nearer the front, are three small circular elevations in the floor much like ordinary millstones. They may be seats also for members of the clergy, or bases on which to set small moveable dagobas. But when the cave was altered and extended backward, the floor seems also to have been lowered a few inches to form the low dais and these bases.[45]

The antechamber is slightly raised above the level of the hall, from which it is divided by two richly carved columns between antae. On either side the shrine door is a gigantic dvarapala, 9.5 feet high, with an attendant female, but so besmeared with soot for the cave has been long occupied by Bhairagis, that minor details are scarcely recognisable. These dvarapalas, however, hold lotus stalks, have the same elaborate head-dresses, with a small dagoba in the front of one, and a figure of Buddha in the other, and have the same attendants and vidyaharas flying over head as we find in the later Buddhist caves at Aurangabad.[45]

In the shrine, too, is the colossal image of Buddha, 10 feet high, seated with his feet on a lotus flower and holding the little finger of his left hand between the thumb and forefinger of his right. He is attended by two gigantic chauri-bearer with the same distinguishing features as the dvarapala. All this points to about the 7th century CE or later, as the age of alteration of this cave.[45]

Fortunately there is an inscription of the 7th year of Yajna Sri Satakarni (170-199 CE), stating that "after having been under excavation for many years " it was then carried to completion by the wife of the commander-in-chief. It is quite clear, however, that the inner and outer parts were excavated at widely different ages.[45] This inscriptions shows, as the inscriptions of Yajna Sri Satakarni in Kanheri caves, that the Satavahanas had reclaimed the area of Kanheri and Nasik from the Western Satraps during the reign of Sri Yajna Satakarni.

The pillars of the veranda have the water-pot bases, and the bell-shaped capitals of those in Karle Chaitya. Those of the sanctuary are represented, and belong to a widely distant age. Like No.17, it has a side door near the left end of the veranda, and a cell in that end.[45]

The façade has four octagonal pillars between antae, the shafts more slender than in any of the other caves, but the bases of the same pattern disproportionately large, as if the shafts had been reduced in thickness at a later date. They stand on a paneled base, with five low steps up to it between the middle pair. A low screen wall in front is nearly quite destroyed, except at the east end, where a passage led to a large irregular and apparently unfinished apartment with two plain octagonal pillars with square bases between pilasters in front, and having a water-cistern at the entrance.[45]

Cave No. 20 "Sri Yajna vihara" (circa 180 CE)

Cave No. 20 has one large inscription, claiming that the unfinished cave was completed by the wife of a great general named Bhavagopa, during the 7th year of the rule of king Sri Yajna Satakarni, son of Gotami, after having been started by the ascetic Bopaki.[39][46] There are similar inscriptions of Sri Yajna Satakarni in cave 3 and cave 81 at Kanheri. This means probably that the cave was carved during the beginning of the end of the 2nd century CE. It also shows that the Satavahanas reclaimed the area of Nasik under Sri Yajna Satakarni.

One more inscription over one of the small cellars mentions its gift by a lay devotee named Mamma.[39]


Interior reliefs with Buddha and Bodhisattvas


Interior cells

Caves No. 21-24

Caves No. 21 and No. 22

These two small caves do not have inscriptions

Exterior of caves No. 21 and 22 (with pillars of Cave N.20 in the forefront).

Cave No. 21

Entrance of Cave No. 22

Cave No. 23

Cave No. 23 is a large, nondescript, irregular cave, about 30 feet deep, with three shrines. To judge from the holes in the floor and roof it might be supposed that the front and partitions in it had been of wood; the whole façade, however, is destroyed. In front are several cisterns; on the floor is a raised stone bench and a circular base as if for a small structural dagoba; and all the shrines as well as many compartments on the walls are filled with sculptures of the Buddha attended by Padmapani and Vajrapani such as has only been seen in the two shrines high up on the scarp at Caves No.14 and 15, but so like what is found at Aurangabad, Ellora, and Ajanta, that there can be no hesitation in ascribing it to a late age.[47]

Among the many repetitions of Buddha and attendants is a small figure on the wall that cuts off the third shrine from the larger portion of the cave, of Buddha reclining on his right side as represented entering nirvana, much as he is found in Sri Lanka temples, and of which larger representations are found at Ajanta, Kholvi, and Aurangabad. All these, and the female figures of Tara, Lochana, and Mamukhi found in the shrines, clearly show that this was a Mahayana temple. The pillars in front of the entrance to the first shrine are also of a much more modern type than in any of the other caves in Nasik.[47]

Cave No. 23 has one inscription recording the building of the cave in year 2 of the reign of Sri Pulumavi.[39]


Pillars and Bodhisattvas

Buddha inside shrine

Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Interior reliefs

Meditating Buddha

Reclining Buddha and other reliefs

Cave No. 24

Cave No. 24 is a small Bhikshu's house, the lower part of which has all been quarried away. It probably consisted of a veranda with two small chambers at the back. The frieze is still pretty entire, and whilst preserving the copies of wooden forms, it is ornamented with a string of animal figures as in that of Cave 1; the ends of the projecting beams represented as bearing it, are carved with conventionalized forms of the Buddhist trisula or symbol of dharma, the prongs in one case being changed into cats or some similar animals; seated on the lower beam under the rock at the west end is carved an owl, and at each end of the ornamented "rail pattern" is a rider on a sort of female centaur.[48]

Cave No. 24 has one inscription recording the gift of the cave by a writer named Vudhika.[39]


Sculpted ledge

Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Buddhas and Bodhisattvas


The caves are located high in the mountains of Trirashmi. Some caves are intricately connected by stone-cut ladders that join them to the other caves. Steps lead to the caves from the bottom of the hill. The peak of the Trirashmi Caves is also accessible by trekking of about 20 mins but the path is treacherous and dangerous.[49]

See also

• India portal
• Cetiya
• Ajanta Cave
• Bedse Caves
• Bhaja Caves
• Kanheri Caves
• Karla Caves
• Pitalkhora Caves
• Shivneri Caves


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45. The cave temples of India, Fergusson, James, W.H. Allen &Co p.275ff (Public domain text)
46. Burgess, Jas (1883). Archaeological Survey Of Western India. p. 114.
47. The cave temples of India, Fergusson, James, W.H. Allen &Co p.277ff (Public domain text)
48. The cave temples of India, Fergusson, James, W.H. Allen &Co p.278ff (Public domain text)
49. "Pandavleni Caves". Archived from the original on 7 January 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2008.
• Inscriptions on Cave 10, 13, 15, 16
• Maharashtratil Buddha Dhammacha Itihas
• M.S.More
• Leni Maharashtrachi
• Dawood Dalvi ... acaves.asp


• Harle, J.C., The Art and Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent, 2nd edn. 1994, Yale University Press Pelican History of Art, ISBN 0300062176
• Michell, George, The Penguin Guide to the Monuments of India, Volume 1: Buddhist, Jain, Hindu, 1989, Penguin Books, ISBN 0140081445
• Singh, Upinder (2008). A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century. Pearson Education India. ISBN 978-81-317-1120-0.
• Sudhakar Chattopadhyaya (1974). Some Early Dynasties of South India. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-2941-1.

External links

• Official (Government) website of Nashik District
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Postby admin » Wed Jun 19, 2024 7:18 am

John Marshall (archaeologist)
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 6/19/24

Sir John Marshall, CIE FBA
Born: 19 March 1876, Chester, England
Died: 17 August 1958 (aged 82), Guildford
Alma mater: King's College, Cambridge
Known for: Excavations in Harappa, Mohenjodaro, Sanchi, Sarnath, Taxila, Crete, and Knossos
Awards: CIE, Knighthood, FBA
Scientific career
Fields: History, archaeology
Institutions: Archaeological Survey of India

Sir John Hubert Marshall CIE FBA (19 March 1876, Chester, England – 17 August 1958, Guildford, England) was an English archaeologist who was Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India from 1902 to 1928.[1] He oversaw the excavations of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro, two of the main cities that comprise the Indus Valley Civilisation.

Personal history and career

Marshall was at school at Dulwich College before King's College, Cambridge,[2] where in 1898 he won the Porson Prize.[3] He then trained in archaeology at Knossos under Sir Arthur Evans, who was rediscovering the Bronze Age Minoan civilization.[4] Under the sponsorship of the British School in Athens, where he attended from 1898 to 1901, he participated in excavations.[5]

In 1902, the new viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, appointed Marshall as Director-General of Archaeology within the British Indian administration. Marshall modernised the approach to archaeology on that continent, introducing a programme of cataloguing and conservation of ancient monuments and artifacts.[6]

Marshall began the practice of allowing Indians to participate in excavations in their own country.[7] Most of his students were Indian, and so, Marshall gained a reputation for being very sympathetic to Indian nationalism. Marshall agreed with Indian civic leaders and protesters who wanted more self-government, or even independence for India. Marshall was highly admired by Indians during the time he worked in India. In 1913, he began the excavations at Taxila, which lasted for 21 years.[8] In 1918, he laid the foundation stone for the Taxila Museum, which today hosts many artifacts and one of Marshall's few portraits. He then moved on to other sites, including the Buddhist centres of Sanchi and Sarnath.

His work provided evidence of the antiquity of Indian civilisation, particularly that of the Indus Valley civilization and the Mauryan age (Ashoka's Age). In 1920, Marshall initiated at dig at Harappa with Daya Ram Sahni as director. Mohenjodaro was discovered by R. D. Banerji in 1921, and in 1922, work began there.

After his appointment, Marshall engaged in constant resource disputes with the Indian government because he felt that the Archaeological Survey of India needed to be revived and that Indian archaeology needed to be overhauled.[9] By using the big finds in 1923 to gain more funding, he avoided a large budget decrease in 1922–1923 that would have endangered excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro.

The results of these efforts, which revealed an ancient culture with its own writing system, were published in the Illustrated London News on 20 September 1924.[10] Scholars linked the artifacts with the ancient civilisation of Sumer in Mesopotamia. Subsequent excavation showed Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro to be sophisticated planned cities with plumbing and baths.[11] But Marshall ignored the stratigraphy of the site, and excavated along regular horizontal lines. This mixed up the artifacts from different stratigraphic layers, causing much valuable information about the context of his findings to be lost forever. This mistake was corrected by Mortimer (R. E. M.) Wheeler, who recognised that it was necessary to follow the stratigraphy of the mound rather than dig mechanically along uniform horizontal lines. Also a military precision was brought to archeology by Wheeler.[12]

Marshall also led excavations at the prehistoric Sohr Damb mound near Nal in Baluchistan; a small representative collection of pottery vessels from the site is now in the British Museum.[13]


Marshall retired from his post in 1934 and then departed India. He died on 17 August 1958, at his home in Guildford, Surrey, some 28 miles southwest of London.[14][15]


Marshall was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE) in June 1910[16] and knighted in January 1914.[17] He was awarded an honorary degree, Doctor of Philosophy, by Calcutta University in 1921.[18] He was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy in 1936.

Publications [19]

• Indian Archaeological Policy, 1915: Being a resolution issued by the Governor General in Council on the 22nd October 1915.
• Excavations at Taxila: The Stupas and monasteries at Jauliāãn.
• Conservation Manual: A Handbook for the Use of Archaeological Officers and Others Entrusted with the Care of Ancient Monuments.
• Mohenjo-daro and the Indus civilization: Being an official account of archæological excavations at Mohenjo-daro carried out by the government of India between the years 1922 and 1927 . London, 1931. (Volume I: Text, Chapters I—XIX and Plates I—XIV ; Volume II: Text, Chapters XX — XXXII, Appendices and Index ; Volume III: Plates XV—CLXIV)
• Taxila: An Illustrated Account of Archaeological Excavations Carried Out at Taxila Under the Orders of the Government of India between the Years 1913 and 1934. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1951.
• The Buddhist Art of Gandhara: the Story of the Early School, Its Birth, Growth and Decline.


1. "Banerji robbed of credit for Indus findings". The Times of India. 12 June 2017.
2. "Marshall, John Hubert (MRSL895JH)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
3. The India List and India Office List for 1905, London: Harrison and Sons, 1905, p. 562.
4. Possehl, Gregory A., The Indus Civilization: A Contemporary Perspective, p. 10, 2002, AltaMira Press, ISBN 9780759101722, 0759101728, google books
5. "Remembering Sir John Marshall, the legendary archeologist who excavated Harappa and Mohenjo-daro". India Today. 17 August 2017. Retrieved 23 May 2024.
6. Allen, Charles (2012) Ashoka: The Search for India's Lost Emperor, chap. 15
7. Allen, Charles (2012), Ashoka: The Search for India's Lost Emperor, chap. 15, passim
8. "Taxila in Focus: 100 years since Marshall". Retrieved 5 April 2022.
9. "John Marshall harrappa site".
10. "The First Images of the Announcement: The Illustrated London News | Harappa". Retrieved 5 April 2022.
11. Jane McIntosh, The Ancient Indus Valley: New Perspectives ; ABC-CLIO, 2008; ISBN 978-1-57607-907-2 ; pp. 29–32.
12. Themes in Indian History. NCERT.
13. British Museum Collection
14. "John Marshall | Harappa". Retrieved 5 April 2022.
15. "John Hubert Marshall 1876-1958". Retrieved 5 April 2022.
16. London Gazette, 23 June 1910
17. "Sir John Hubert Marshall | British archaeologist | Britannica". Retrieved 5 April 2022.
18. The Times, 19 December 1921.
19. "John Marshall harrappa".

External links

• J. H. Marshall, "The Date of Kanishka", Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1914, pp. 973–986.
• Sir John Marshall, A Guide to Taxila. Calcutta: Superintendent Government Printing, India, 1918,
• "Sir John Hubert Marshall",
• A collection of 5000 images from John Marshall's personal archives at Durham University's Oriental Museum
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