Important Ancient Inscriptions & Edicts

Inscriptions study is called epigraphy and the study of the old writing used in inscriptions and other old records is called palaeography. Inscriptions were carved on seals, stone pillars, rocks, copper plates, temple walls and bricks or images. In the country as a whole, the earliest inscriptions were recorded on stone. But in the early centuries of the Christian era, copper plates began to be used for this purpose. Even then the practice of engraving inscriptions on stone continued in south India on a large scale.

Inscription for UPSC
Inscription for UPSC

Mandasaur Inscription

  • By Kumaragupta in 437-38 AD.
  • Mentioning construction of Sun temple.
  • Composed by Vatsbhatti.
  • In Mandsor district, M.P.

Lumbini Pillar Inscription

  • It is located in Nepal.
  • It is a royal commemorative inscription recording Ashoka’s visit to Buddha’s birth place.

Kudumiyamalai Inscription

  • Pudukottai district, Tamil Nadu.
  • Inscription written on rocks of cave temple.
  • Is a celebrated musical inscription as it gives the musical notes in seven classical ragas.
  • 7th century, most probably by Mahendra Pallava.

Uttaramerur Inscription

  • The Uttaramerur inscription, found in the village by this name in Chengalpattu (now Kanchipuram) district south of Chennai.
  • It is noted for its temple inscriptions that describe a self-governance system existing around 7th to 9th century CE.
  • It mentions the qualifications, mode of election, disqualification criteria and constitution of committee for local governance.
  • Originally existed as a Brahmin settlement.

Eran Inscription

  • Mentioned as Airakina in Gupta and Huna inscriptions.
  • Sagar district, M.P. on the bank of Bina river. • Various inscriptions mention of Budhagupyta, Saka and Huns ruler and of Samudragupta found.
  • But most important is Gopraj Sati Pillar Inscription, the earliest Sati pillar found in India.
  • Various temples from Gupta era found with characteristic of early temple architecture.
  • Famous for collossal bear, the zoomorphic incarnation of Vishnu. Punchmarked coins and coin of Ramagupta found.
  • Punch marked coins and coins of Ramagupta, the Nagas have been found.
  • A seal bearing the figure of Gaja Lakshmi of Gupta period is an interesting find.

Besnagar/ Vidisha Inscription

  • Located at the ancient site of Vidisha in present Madhya Pradesh state.
  • This pillar inscription was constructed by Heloidorus, the Greek ambassador and belongs to Sunga period (2nd century BC).
  • Written in Prakrit language (with a few Sanskritic spelling) and Brahmi script.
  • This pillar inscription is devoted to lord Vasudev.
  • Remains of large temple of the late Paramara period known as Bijamamandal found here.

Junagarh Inscription

  • Junagarh district, Gujarat. Located at the foot of Girnar hills.
  • First pure Sanskrit inscription, by king Rudraman of Saka dynasty in around 150 CE.
  • It says that Pushyagupta, the governor of Chandragupta Maurya, built a dam on Sudarshan lake.
  • Another inscription of Skandagupta mentioned that dam was repaired during his reign, almost 800 years after it was built.

Mehrauli Inscription/ Garuda pillar

  • Erected by Chandragupta Vikramaditya originally at Vishnupada (Udayagiri),M.P. but was transported to Delhi later.
  • It mentions Chandragupta II conquest over Vanga countries and Vatakas. The pillar bears a Sanskrit inscription in Brahmi script.
  • Pillar had astrological significance during Gupta age.

Allahabad Pillar inscription (Prayag Prasasti)

  • Issued by Samudragupta and composed by Harisena.
  • Written in refined Sanskrit in Champu Kavya style.
  • Mentions the conquest of Samudragupta both in North & South and described the boundaries of Gupta Empire and his diplomatic relations.
  • The title of Kaviraja was mentioned, it thus testifies Samudragupta as a patron of poetic art and a poet himself.

Nasik Inscription

  • Mentions the achievement of Gautamiputra Satkarni.
  • Composed by his mother Gautami Balasri.
  • Mentions the boundaries of his kingdom and his victory over Saka King Nahapana and thus restoring the prestige of Satavahanas.

Nanaghat Inscription

  • In Western Ghats, Pune.
  • Mentions Satakarni-I as ‘Dhakhinapatha-pathi’ thus implying control over Deccan.
  • Time – 60 to 70 BC.
  • Composed by Naganiksa wife of Satakarni-I.
  • Is a cave inscription, also carrying life size sculptures of King Satkarni and queen along with his family members.

Aihole Inscription

  • Bagalkot, Karnataka. Inscription discovered in Maguti temple.
  • Is a eulogy of Chalukya king Pulakeshin II and mentions his victory over Harshavardhan.
  • Written in Sanskrit, composed by Ravikirti, the court poet of Pulakeshin –II.

Hathigumpha Inscription

  • Udayagiri, near Bhubaneswhar, Odisha.
  • By Kharavela the ruler of Kalinga during second century BC.
  • Mentions the military expeditions carried by Kharavela and also shows his Jaina belief as the inscription starts with Jain Namokar Mantra.

Major Rock Edicts of Ashoka

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