Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Study on the Anandacandra Stone Inscription

A Study on the Anandacandra Stone Inscription 
 By Dr Saw Mra Aung

The Anandacandra Stone Inscription is named after its engraver, a powerful devoted Buddhist Rakhine king who reigned in the latter part of Vesali Period, which is believed to have been contemporary with Srikhetra, which flourished between the 4th and the 9th centuries A.D. It is now kept on the 40- foot high Mound of the Shitthaung Temple about half a mile north of the Mound of MraukU Palace. At the southern tip of the mound, there is a flight of stair-case, which is 8 feet in width and 35 feet in length, leading from the foot of the mound up to the first levelled ground about 16 feet high above the foot. The Anandacandra Stone Inscription is housed in a shed on the left side of the top of the stair-case. It contains a long list of the names of ancient Rakhine kings who had ruled in Rakhine from many years before the birth of Christ up to the 9th year after the accession of King Anandacandra who ruled at the beginning of the 8th century A.D. Two distinctions of it are that it is engraved in three types of ancient Indian scripts belonging
to three different eras and that it bears the regal years of the all the kings recorded.

The Anandacandra Stone Inscription is an elongated fine-grained sandstone monolith measuring 9 feet and 7 inches in height and 2 feet and 4 inches in width. It is said that King Minbagyi (AD.1531-1553) of MraukU Dynasty shifted it to the Mound of the Shitthaung Temple from Letkhat Hill south of the Mound of Vesali Palace about 5 miles north of MraukU. The eastern, western and northern faces of it are inscribed in Sanskrit with three different North Indian scripts belonging to three different eras which are separated from each other by a lapse of 200 years. The scripts written on the eastern face are considered the earliest. Although there are about 100 lines, most of them are damaged and consequently illegible. Very few lines are legible. Paleographically, these scripts are tentatively assigned between the 3rd and the 6th centuries A.D. There are four lines written in the scripts belonging to the A.D. 6th century in the upper part of the northern face. Under these lines are found 69 lines in scripts which are thought to belong to the 10th century A.D. Most of them are erased due to weathering. But the remnant scripts suggest that they might be the proto-Bengali scripts. On the western face are found 71 lines written in proto-Nagari script. As these scripts remain nearly intact, they are clearly legible. This face records the names of ancient Rakhine kings with their regnal years and the eulogy on King Anandacandra in 65 verses and a line in prose. (Although the engravers of the scripts on the eastern and northern faces are unknown, it is known according to the stone inscription that those on the western face were inscribed by King Anandacandra. The times of the accession of King Anandacandra and of engraving the Anandacandra Stone Inscription were estimated by modern scholars on the scrutiny of the scripts used on this face. So it is to be noted that the age of the Anandacandra Stone Inscription mentioned in this article is referred to as the time of engraving the western face).

It is found that Dr. Johnston, a professor of the Oriental Studies Department from Oxford University and Dr. Sircar, a director from the Department of Indian Archaeology, were the scholars who read this stone inscription(the scripts on the western face) most comprehensively and thoroughly. It is estimated that Dr. Johnston must have read it between 1935 and 1942. However, he did not read the original stone inscription but just the rubbings of it. When he died in 1942, the draft of his translation remained. It was edited by G.H. Luce and then contributed to the Bull. S.O.A.S. Vol. XI. With the title “Some Sanskrit Inscriptions of Arakan”. Regarding the time of inscribing the stone inscription, Dr. Johnston, having meticulously studied the scripts on the western face, remarks thus:

“…The Anandacandra Stone Inscription is in close affinity with the Yasovamadeva Stone Inscription at Nalanda in terms of the shape of the scripts and the rhyming system, which can be exactly assumed to have been inscribed at the beginning of the 8th century A.D. The most striking difference between the two inscriptions is that the letter “jha” in the Nalanda Stone Inscription is just in the process of the change but that in the Anandacandra Stone Inscription is already changed. So the latter must have been engraved a few years after the former…”.   Read More>>>>>
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