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Full text of "The origin of the Bengali script"

THE ORIGIN OP THE BENGALI SCRIPT 



THE ORIGIN 

OF THE 

BENGALI SCRIPT 



BY 

R. D. BANERJI, M.A. 




PUBLISHED BY THE 

UNIVERSITY OF CALCUTTA 
1919 



PRINTED BY ATULCHANDRA BHATTACHARYYA 
AT THE CALCUTTA UNIVERSITY PRESS, SENATE HOUSE, CALCUTTA. 



To my Teachers 

of 

Indian Palaeography 

The Late Dr. Theodor Bloch, Ph.D., 

and 

Mahamahopadhyaya Hara Prasad Sastri, 
M.A., C.I.E. 



PREFACE 

This essay on the origin of the Bengali Script was 
originally written by me in my mother tongue at the 
suggestion of the late Acharya Ramendra Sundara Trivedl, 
Principal of the Ripon College, who to my great regret 
has not lived to see its publication. Principal Trivedi 
intended to publish this essay in the Journal of the Bangiya 
Sahitya Parisad, of which learned Society he was the 
Secretary and one of the founders. At the suggestion of 
the Hon'ble Justice Sir Asutosa Mukhopadhyaya, Sarasvati, 
Sastra-Vachaspati, it was translated into English and 
submitted with Principal Trivedi's consent for the University 
of Calcutta Jubilee Research Prize which was awarded to 
me in 1913. The publication of this work was undertaken 
by the University of Calcutta at the direction of the 
Hon'ble Justice Sir Asutosa Mukhopadhyaya, Sarasvati, 
Sastra-Vachaspati, Kt., C.S.I., M.A., D.L., Ph.D., D.Sc., 
etc., then Vice-Chancellor of the University. 

I am indebted to my teacher the venerable Pandit 
Mahamahopadhyaya Hara Prasada Sastri, M.A., C.I.E., 
formerly Principal of the Government Sanskrit College, 
Calcutta, and now President of the Asiatic Society of 
Bengal, and Dr. D. B. Spooner, B.A., Ph.D., F.A.S.B., 
formerly Superintendent, ArchsBological Survey, Eastern 
Circle, and now Officiating Director General of Archaeo- 
logy in India, for many corrections and valuable sugges- 
tions. My friend Mr. Surendranath Kumar has helped me 
greatly by translating portions of works in German and 
French for my use. My pupil Prof. Kalidas Nag, M.A., of 
the Scottish Churches College, Calcutta, has revised the 



Vlii . PREFACE 

type-written manuscript twice and has corrected many of the 
proofs. My thanks are due to Sj. Hemchandra GosvamT, 
Extra Assistant Commissioner, Gauhati, Assam, for 
pointing out the modern Bengali inscription recording the 
dedication of the image of Amratakesvara at Kamakhya 
near Gauhati in Assam. To my friend Pandit Vasanta 
Ranjana Raya Vidvadvallabha Kavirafijana, the Custodian 
of the manuscript collection of the Bariglya Sahitya Parisad, I 
owe a deep debt of gratitude. Mr. Raya has enabled me to 
complete the history of the development of the Bengali 
Script by collecting transitional and final forms from the 
manuscript of Canrjidasa's Krsna Klrttana, discovered by him 
in Bankura, a task which I could never have succeeded in 
completing without his aid. I am indebted to the Council 
of the Asiatic Society of Bengal and the Executive 
Committee of the Banglya Sahitya Parisad for permission 
to photograph and reproduce certain pages of a manuscript 
of the Bodhieharyavatara of Santideva, written in 1492 
V. E., and of the Krsna-Klrttana of Candldasa. 

POONA, ~) 

20th Auau*t, 1919. S 



CONTENTS 

PACK 
CHAPTER I. Introduction ... ... ... 1 

CHAPTER II. The Northern Indian Alphabets (B.C. 

350 A.D. 600) ... ... 7 

A. The Older Maurya Alphabet ... 7 

B. Varieties of the Older Maurya Alphabet . . 8 

C. The Younger Maurya Alphabet ... 11 

D. Kusaua Inscriptions ... ... 18 

E. The so-called Gupta Alphabet of the 4th 

and 5th Centuries A.D. 

CHAPTER III. The Eastern Alphabet, 550-1100 A.D. 
CHAPTER IV. The Final Development of the Alphabet 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

I. Fragmentary Inscription on the Image of Buddha, 
Rajgir, Patna. 

II. Fragmentary Kusana Inscription, Rajgir, Patna. 

III. Inscription of the time of Mahendrapala, Ramgaya, 

Gaya. 

IV. Dinajpur Pillar Inscription Saka 888 (?). 

V. Bodhicharyavatara (Ms. Ga 8067) Fol. 65 Obv. 
Collection of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. 

VI. Ibid, Fol. 179, Rev. 

VII. Prapitamahesvara Temple Inscription, Gaya 
V. S. 1299. 

VIII. Krishnakirttana Fol. 179, Rev. Collection of the 
Bangiya Sahitya Parisad. 

IX. The Umga Hill Inscription of Bhairavendra. 

X. Kamakhya Hill Inscription of Pramatha Sinha 
Saka 1666. 



CHAPTER I 

INTRODUCTION 

A, The arrangement. 

In an essay on the origin and development of the 
Bengali script, one must necessarily follow the steps of the 
late Hof rath Dr. Georg Biihler, the father of the science 
of Indian Palaeography. Though BurnelPs work on the 
subject was published long ago, the accuracy of the 
narrative and the scientific arrangement of Biihler's work 
have made his claim to the title indisputable. His Indische 
Palaeographie was published in 1896, as a part of the 
Grundriss der indo-arischen Philologie nnd Af tertumskunde , 
organised by that indefatigable publisher, Dr. Karl J. 
Triibner of Strassburg. The work, as a matter of 
course, was short and concise, and dealt with the develop- 
ment of Indian alphabets up to the 12th century A. D. 
The development of the alphabets, from B. C. 350 to 600 
A. D., is clearly described in this work. But after that 
period, lack of materials obliged the learned author to 
consider the development of the Northern alphabet as a 
whole, and not according to its varieties. The discoveries 
made during the last sixteen years have rendered it possible 
to take up that work now. The arrangement followed in 
these pages is mainly that of Dr. Buhler's from the dawn 
of the historical period to the 6th century A. D., but is 
different with regard to the subsequent periods. In latter 
periods, more attention has been paid to specimens 
from North-Eastern India, and the latest discoveries added 
to the list of epigraphs, have been analysed. Thus, the 
inscriptions on the railing-pillars at Bodh-Gaya have been 
placed in their proper position in the chronological order 



2 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

according to the new light thrown on them. In the Gupta 
period, the addition of a new variety of the alphabet is 
now possible, owing to the discoveries of the remains of 
ancient Indian civilisation in the deserts of Central Asia. 
Fresh discoveries have also made it possible to trace the 
gradual displacement of the Eastern variety of the 
Northern alphabet by the Western one, in the 5th and 6th 
centuries A. D., and to determine the exact epoch of the 
final displacement. Finally, new materials have facilitated 
the determination of the type specimens of each variety, in 
each particular century, with a nearer approach to 
accuracy. 

From the 7th century onward, it has been found 
impossible to follow the arrangement in Dr. Biihler's work, 
as the development of the Eastern variety from 600-1100 
A. D. has not been clearly shown there. In the following 
pages, the alphabets of the North-Eastern inscriptions of 
the 6th and 7th centuries A.D. have been separately 
analysed. In the 8th century, we find three different varieties 
of the alphabet in Northern India, or more strictly four, 
if we count the alphabet of Afghanistan, which is as yet but 
little known. The Western and Afghanistan varieties were 
developed from the old Western variety, while the Central 
and Eastern varieties were evolved out of the old Eastern. 
The Eastern variety lost ground and its Western boundary 
gradually receded eastwards. The development, of the 
Eastera alphabet only, has been followed in these pages. 
It has become possible to show, that proto-Bengali forms 
were evolved in the North-East, long before the invasion 
of Northern India, by the Nagari alphabet of the South- 
West, and that Nagarl has had very little influence upon 
the development of the Bengali script. The chronology 
of the Pala dynasty of Bengal, and specially their relations 
with the Gurjjara-Pratiharas have been settled from 



INTRODUCTION. 5 

synchronisms, and a detailed discussion of the subject 
will be found in my monograph on the Palas of Bengal l 

It is evident that Narayanapala preceded MahendrapSla 
and Magadha, specially the Western portion of it was 
included for sometime in the Empire of the Gurjjara- 
Pratiharas. The establishment of this sequence is of the 
utmost importance, as it enables us to treat the analysis 
of Pala records, which are dated in the majority of cases 
in regnal years, with more confidence. 

With the introduction of the Nagari script in the 
10th century, the Western limit of the use of the Eastern 
alphabet was still further reduced. In the llth century, 
we find that, there is very little similarity between the 
alphabet used in Benares and that used in Gaya. The 
progress of the changes has been very rapid, aud we find 
the complete proto-Bengali alphabet in the llth century 
A.D. In the 12th century, we find further changes, which 
make the formation of the modern Bengali alphabet 
almost complete. The final development of certain letters, 
such as i, ca and Tia, are not noticeable until after the 
Muhammadan conquest. The dearth of records of the 
13th and 14th centuries A.D., both manuscript and 
epigraphic, makes it impossible to follow the develop- 
ment of these letters in this period. The shock of the 
Muhammedan conquest paralysed Eastern India, from 
which it never recovered entirely. The blow stunned 
literature, prevented its growth during the first two 
centuries after the conquest, and a partial revival was 
made only in the 15th century. The revival received a 
fresh impetus from the Neo-Vaisnavism of Caitanya and 
his followers. With the paralysis of literature, the 
development of the alphabet also stopped. Very few 

1 Memoirs of.the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Vol. V, Ft. III. 



4 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

changes have, indeed, been made in the Eastern alphabet 
from the 12th century A.D. down to the nineteenth. 
Such changes, as are noticeable, were made during the 
15th and 16th centuries, and have been illustrated by the 
alphabet used in two Mss. written in Bengali : 

(1) Santideva's Bodhicaryavatara, copied in Vikrama 
Samvat 1492 (1435 A.D.), discovered by Mahamaho- 
padhyaya Haraprasada f astri, C. I. E., in Nepal and 
purchased by him for the Asiatic Society of Bengal. 
(No. G. 8067.) The complete colophon of this ms. has 
already been published by me in my monograph on 
Saptagrama. 1 

(2) Candldasa's Krsna-Ktrttana, a new work dis- 
covered by Pandit Vasantarafijana Raya, Vidvadvallabha, 
the Keeper of the ms. collection of the Vangiya-Sahitya- 
Parisad. Though the material is paper, the script makes 
it impossible to assign the ms . to any date later than the 
14th century A.D. 

The completely developed alphabet has not changed 
at all during the 17th and 18th centuries A.D. In the 
19th century, the vernacular and classical literature 
received a fresh impetus, as the result of the contact with 
the West, but the alphabet ceased to change. Its forms 
were stereotyped by the introduction of the printing press, 
and it is not likely that in future it will change its forms 
in each century. 

B. The limits of the use of the Eastern Variety. 

From the beginning of the Empire of the Mauryas 
till the downfall of the Imperial Guptas, Allahabad and 
its immediate neighbourhood formed the western 
limit of the use of the Gupta alphabet. The western 

1 J. A. S. B. (N. S.)i Vol. V, p. 263. 



PLATE I. 




Fragmentary Inscription on 

image of Budha-Rajgir- 

Patna(l. M.) 

No. N. S. 2. 



INTRODUCTION. 5 

limit is the most important one, as this was the only 
limit which changed its position. Upon the formation 
of a Western variety in the North-Eastern alphabet, 
this limit gradually receded eastwards. In the 8th 
century, Benares formed the eastern boundary of the 
Western variety, but in the beginning of the llth century, 
we find that the limit has receded further East. In the 
12th century, both varieties were being used in Magadha, 
as is shown by the Govindapur Stone Inscription of the 
$aka year 105y/ and the Bodh-Gaya Inscription of Jayac- 
candra. 2 After the Muhammadan conquest, the Western 
variety gradually spread itself over the whole of South 
Bihar or Magadha, and the use of the Eastern variety was 
confined to the western limits of Bengal proper. The 
use of the Eastern variety, however, lasted in Magadha 
till the 14th century, when we find it in votive inscriptions, 
on flag-stone? in the court-yard of the Great Temple at 
Bodh-Gaya, 3 and in a new inscription discovered by 
Mr. Lai Bihari Lai Singh, Deputy Superintendent of 
Police, Bihar. The Q&y&-Prapitamahesvara temple 
inscription of V. S. 1257 and the Umga Hill inscription of 
Bhairavendra 4 (V. S. 1496 = 1439 A.D. ) show that 
NSgarl had entirely displaced the Eastern variety in 
Magadha. 

In the north the snowy mountains formed the 
northern limit. But in the north-east the Bengali 
alphabet was adopted in Assam, where not only in the 
Kamauli grant of Vaidyadeva, but also in other 
inscriptions, Bengali characters have been exclusively 

1 Epigraphia Indica, Vol. II, p. 333. 

* Memoirs, A. S. B., Vol. V, pi. xxxv. 

s Cunningham's Archaeological Survey Reports, Vol. I, PI. II, 
Nos. 1 & 2. 

* J. A S. B. (N. S.), Vol. II, p. 29. 



6 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

used. In the Assam plates of Vallabhadeva of the 
Saka year 1107 = 1185 A.D. 1 we find archaisms, which 
lurked in the backwoods of civilisation. In the east the 
Bengali script was also being used in Sylhet, where similar 
archaisms are to be met with in the Sylhet grants of 
Kesavadeva 2 and Isanadeva. 3 In the south the 
Bengali script was used throughout Orissa. We find the 
proto-Bengali script in the Anauta Vasudeva temple 
inscription of Bhatta Bhavadeva at Bhuvanesvara, and 
the modern Bengali alphabet in the grants of the Gariga 
Kings Nrsirhhadeva II 4 and Nrsimhadeva IV. 5 
The modern cursive Odiya script was developed out of the 
Bengali after the 14th century A. D. like the modern 
Assamese. 



1 Epigraphia Indica, Vol. V, p. 183. 

* Proceedings, A. S. B., 1880, p. 148. 
3 Ibid, p. 152. 

* J. A. S. B., 1896, Pt. I, p. 235. 
5 Ibid, 1895, Pt. I, p. 136. 



CHAPTER II 

The Northern Indian Alphabets (B.C. 35O A.D. 600). 



A. The Older Maurya Alphabet. 

Leaving aside the various theories about the origin of 
the ancient Indian alphabet, we turn to examine it as 
it has been found to exist at the beginning of the historical 
period. It is sufficient for the purpose of the present 
article that Dr. Biihler recognised the antiquity of the 
Indian Alphabet in Asoka's time. " The existence of so 
many local varieties, and of so very numerous cursive forms, 
proves, in any case, that writing had had a long history 
in Asoka's time and the alphabet was then in a state of 
transition/' * The alphabet is also recognised to be " a 
script framed by learned Brahmans for writing Sanskrit." 2 
The earliest Indian inscription is the record on the 
Piprawa vase discovered in 1898. It can be proved on 
palseographical grounds that the forms of Brahmi 
letters used in incising this record are older than 
those of Asoka's inscriptions. The vases found in 
the Stupa at Piprawa contained according to one 
authority the relic (Sarira) of Buddha himself, 3 and 
according to another, those of his kinsmen of the akya 
clan. 4 It has been surmised that the stupa was raised 
over the relics of the Sakyas, who were slain by 
Virudhaka, King of Kosala, during the life-time of Buddha 



1 Biihler's Indian Palaeography (Eng. Ed.), p. 7. 

9 Ibid, p. 17. 

3 J. R. A. S., 1898, p. 388. 

* J. E. A. S., 1905, p. 680. 



8 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

himself. Consequently the date of the Piprawa inscrip- 
tion must lie either in the 5th or the 4th centuries B.C. 
Palseographical evidence fully supports this conclusion : 
the archaic forms of the I i rah mi alphabet found on the 
Persian sigloi, which went out of the general use in 
Asoka's time, are found to have been used in the inscrip- 
tion. An analysis, of the characters of this inscription, 
would be out of place here, as it does not properly belong 
to the Eastern variety of the Maurya alphabet. It 
serves to indicate the upper limit of the use of the alphabet 
of this period. The lower limit has been fixed by Biihler 
at 200 B. C. 1 The seals, found by Cunningham at 
Patna, 2 which according to Biihler belong to the period 
when Brahmi was written boushophedon (ySovo-rpo^TrSov), 
were really seal-matrices, like the Rohtasgadh Rock 
seal-matrix of the Makasamanfadhipati Sasauka. 3 

B. Varieties of the Older Maurya Alphabet. 

In 1896, Biihler admitted the existence of two 
distinct varieties of this alphabet, viz : 

(i) the Northern : to be found in the rock-edicts at 
Kalsi, the pillar-edicts at Allahabad, Radhia, Matbia, 
Nigliva, Paderia and Rampurwa, the minor rock-edicts 
at Bairat, Sahasram, the inscriptions of the Barabar 
caves and Sanci and Sarnath pillars ; 

(ii) the Southern : to be found in the-rock edicts at 
Giruar, Dhauli and Jaugada and the minor rock-edicts at 
Siddapura. 

Biihler already noticed the existence of varieties, at 
this period, in the Northern Maurya alphabet. "Even 

1 Indian Palaeography (Eng. Ed.), p. 33. 

1 Cunningham's Arch. Survey Report, Vol. XV, Pi. III. 

3 Fleet's Gupta Inscriptions, p. 383, PI. xliii B. 



THE NORTHERN INDIAN ALPHABETS. 9 

the writings in the northern versions are not quite 
homogeneous. The pillar edicts of Allahabad, Alathia, 
Nigliva, Paderia, Radhia and Unmpurwa form a very 
closel}' connected set, in which only occasionally minute 
differences can be traced, and the edicts of Bairab No. I, 
Sahasram, Barabar and Sanci, do not differ much. A 
little further off stands the Dhauli separate edicts (where 
Edict VII has been written by a different hand from 
the rest), the Delhi-Mirat edicts and the Allahabad 
Queen's edict, as these show the angular da. Very 
peculiar and altogether different is the writing of the 
rock-edict of Kalsi, with it, some letters on the coins of 
Agathocles and Pautaleon (but also some in the Jaugada 
separate edicts), agree. Perhaps, it is possible to speak 
also of a North-Western variety of the older Maurya 
alphabet/' 1 

Thus Biihler distinguishes three different sub-varieties 
in the Northern Maurya alphabet. According to their 
geographical distribution, they may be classified as 
follows : 

(a) The North-Eastern found in the Allahabad, 
Radhia, Mathia, Rampurwa, Nigliva, Paderia and the 
Sarnath pillar edicts. The Earthen seals found at 
Patna 2 (seal matrices bearing the inverted inscriptions 
Namdaya and Agapala'sa) as well as that found by 
Cunningham at Bodh-Gaya 3 (Mokhalinam} belong to this 
period . 

(b) The North-Central found in the rock-edicts at 
Bairab and Sahasram, the pillar-edicts at Safici and Delhi 
and the cave-inscriptions at Barabar. 



1 Ibid, p. 34. 

2 Cunningham's A reli-i'ological Survey Rep,, Vol. XV, PI. III. 1, 2. 
:! Cunningham's Mahaboclhi, PI. XXIV, p. 1. 



10 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

(c) The North-Western represented by the characters 
of the Kalsi rock-edicts and the letters on the coins of 
the Greek kings Agathocles and Pantaleon. 

In this paper we are concerned only with the North- 
Eastern variety, of the older Maurya-alphabet, and such 
inscriptions of the Northern Central variety as are to be 
found in North-Eastern India. A detailed description of 
the older Maurya alphabet would also be out of place here, 
as it is not yet possible to improve upon Dr. Biihler's 
admirable description of it. Consequently, one has to 
remain content, simply with the noting of the peculiarities 
of the alphabet as found in different inscriptions. Among, 
vowel signs the only letter to be noted is the initial I which 
has been found in one of the inscriptions on the railings 
around the great temple at Bodh-Gaya, where Buhler 
reads Idagimitasa for Imdagimitasa read by Cunningham. 1 
But in reality, the characters of this inscription belong to 
the younger Maurya alphabet, as shown by Bloch. Among 
the consonants the form of kha found in one of the inscrip- 
tions at Bodh-Gaya, 2 with a triangle as its base, should -be 
noted, but this inscription also, belongs to the younger 
Maurya alphabet. The only instance of na, among the 
inscriptions of this period, is to be found in the mason's 
marks on the pillars of Buddha's walk, inside the temple 
enclosure at Bodh-Gaya. Cha with two loops, one on each 
side of a vertical straight line, instead of a circle divided 
into two unequal parts, have also been found among the 
mason's marks on the pillar-bases of Buddha's walk. The 
usual form otja, is the Northern form with a loop or a dot. 
Other letters do not call for special attention but forms of 
the test letters ya, la, sa and ha may be noted. The form 
of ya is essentially the Northern one, which Buhler calls 

1 Mahabodhi, PI. X, Nos. 9 and 10. 
* Ibid, PI. X, No. 6. 



THE NORTHEEN INDIAN ALPHABETS. 11 

the " notched ya" The form of la is generally cursive. 
One important exception is to be found, in the extremely 
cursive form, used in the Jaugatja separate edicts, which is 
essentially the same to be found in the Eastern variety of 
the Early Gupta alphabet of the 4th and 5th centuries 
A.D. The position of the Jaugada edict is somewhat 
peculiar. The edicts of Dhauli and Jaugacja, though rele- 
gated to the Southern variety of the older Maurya 
alphabet, stand in an intermediate position. "The 
Southern variety is most strongly expressed in the Girnar 
and Siddapura edicts, less clearly in the Dhauli and 
Jaugada edicts by differences in the signs for n, a, I'll a, 
ja, ma, ra, sa, the medial i, and the ligatures with ra" 1 
Most probably, the cursive forms of In and la, found in the 
Jaugada separate edicts, were imported from Northern 
India, as will be seen later on. In the North-Eastern 
variety, the usual form of ha is also cursive. The extremely 
cursive form of this letter, in the Jaugada separate edicts, 
is peculiar and an importation from the North. 2 This 
statement is corroborated by the discovery of a slightly 
different cursive form in the Allahabad separate edicts, line 
1 in the word mahamata. 

C. The Younger Maurya Alphabet. 

The last eight columns, of Plate II of Biihler's tables, 
represent the younger Brahmi alphabet of Northern India. 
The letters are taken from six series of inscriptions 

(/) The Nagarjuni cave-inscriptions of Dasaratha, 
ca. 200 B.C. 

(ii) The inscriptions on the Toranas, railing-pillars 
and cross-bars of the Bharhut Stupa, ca. 150 B.C. 

1 Ind. Palroo. (Eng. Ed.), p. 34. 

2 Burgess, Stupa of AmarSvatI, p. 125. 



12 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

(m) The cave inscriptions at Pabhosa in the United 
Provinces, ci. 150 B.C. 

(iv) The oldest inscriptions from Mathura. These 
letters are principally taken from the oldest inscriptions 
discovered by Dr. A. Fiihrer during the excavations at 
Kankali Til a, but the most ancient inscription from the 
district of Mathura was discovered by Cunningham at 
Parkham. This inscription is incised on the base of 
a mutilated image of Yaksa, at present in the Archaeolo- 
gical Museum at Mathura l . Most probably its characters 
belong to the younger Maurya alphabet. 

(v) The Hathigumpha inscription of Kharavela of 
Kaliriga, ca. 160 B. C. 

(vi) The Nanaghat inscriptions of the Andhras, 
ca. 150 B. C. 

Among these, only the Nagarjun! cave-inscriptions 
of Dasaratha can be said to belong to the North Eastern 
variety. During subsequent years one other group 
has been added to the above list : 

(vii] The inscriptions on the railing-pillars around 
the great temple at Bodh-Gaya. The late Dr. Theodor 
Bloch drew attention to the fact that "the older part of 
the Bodh-Gaya railing was put up in the middle of the 
2nd century B. C., about 100 years after the time of 
Asoka". 2 The cave-inscriptions of DaSaratha are about 
half a century older than those on the railing pillars at 
Bodh-Gaya. The following points are worth noting on the 
alphabet of the cave inscriptions : 

(1) the form of la closely resembles, that of the 
extremely cursive one, found in the Jaugacja separate edicts 
(see ante p. 14) ; 

1 Cunningham, A. S. R., Vol. XX, p. 41, PI. VI. ; Vogel, Cat. of 
Ai-cli. Museum at Mathura, 1910, p. 83, C. I. 

* Annual Rep. Arch. Siirve yof India, 1908-9, p. 147. 






ro 
oo 



Z 



CO 

CL 



00 
'(0 

o: 


c 
o 



c 

(D 

E 

DO 
03 

LL 



THE NORTHERN INDIAN ALPHABETS. 18 

(2) Ihe form of lingual sa is peculiar and resembles 
the form found in the Kalsi edicts, probably, it was the 

precursor of the looped lingual sa found in Eastern India 
in the 4th or 5th centuries A.D. ; 

(3) the form of ha is primitive and resembles that 
of the Siddapura edicts ; 2 

(4) the form of sa shows an advance the upper hook 
has been lengthened to form a slightly slanting second 
horizontal line. 

The form of the remaining letters in Column XVII 
of Plate II of Biihler's work does not call for remarks. 
The inscriptions on the railing-pillars and cross-bars 
at Bodh-Gaya exhibit further changes, though they were 
incised only about fifty years after Dasaratha's time : 

() a shows two forms. In the word Amoghas / the 
first letter is decidedly of southern appearance 1 (e.g. PI. 
II, Col. VIII, I.); the other form is to be found in the 
various inscriptions of the noble lady Knrangi and 
resembles that used in the Hathigumpha inscriptions 
(PI. II, Col. XXI, 1); 

(b) ka has invariably the dagger-shaped form which 
was current up to the end of the 6th century A.D. and 
was formed by the elongation of the vertical line of 
the older Maurya form, cf. ka in Tabapanaka* , 
Knrangiye'^ , Sakapntrasa* , Cetika* 

(c) kha occurs once only, in Bodhirakhitasa* where 
it resembles the form used in the oldest inscription in 
Mathura (PI. II, Col. XX, 10); there is a very slight 
difference between these two forms, the Eastern variety 
form as found in the Bodh-Gaya inscription, being 
slightly longer than that of the Western variety; 

1 Buhler's Indian Palaeography, p. 36. * Ibid, PI. X, 47, 910. 

2 Cunningham's Mahabodhi, PI. X, 2. 3 Ibid, PI. X, 3. 

s Ibid, PI. X, 10. Ibid, PI. X, 9, 10. Ibid, PI. X, 3. 



14 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

(d) ga occurs several times in the name Knraiigi* 
where it has two varieties : (1) cursive as in PI. X, p. 4 
and (2) the angular as in PI. X, 6-7 ; 

(e) ff/ia also occurs only once in Amoghasa'- ; its 
appearance shows great change, though it resembles one of 
the forms used in the Kalsi edicts (PI. II, Col. 3-12); it is, 
on the whole, different from the form to be found in the 
North-Eastern variety of the early Maurya alphabet; 

(f) ca occurs twice in Cetika,* but its form does not 
show much difference from that of the older Maurya one ; 

(g) two forms of ja are to be found in these inscrip- 
tions: (?) one form resembles the ja in Biihler's PI. II, 
Col. X, 15, while (ii) the other form is the usual older 
Maurya one with a dot in place of the central loop ; 

(h} ta resembles the southern form in Biihler's PI. II, 
Col. VII, 23 and the usual form of later Brahml inscriptions; 

(') da occurs in all of the inscriptions discovered on 
the pillars, copings and cross-bars of the Bodh-Gaya railing, 
and resembles the angular form of the older Maurya 
alphabet (Biihler PI. II, Col. V-VI, 23); 

(/) dJia occurs once only in Bodhirakhitasa ; there is 
no change in the form of this letter from the 3rd century 
B.C. till the 10th or llth century A. D. ; 

() na also occurs in all of the inscriptions from Bodh- 
Gaya and its base line shows no curvature at all, 
proving that these inscriptions cannot be placed later than 
the 2nd century B. C. ; 

(/) jia shows a greater degree of change; in all cases 
of its occurrence, it shows two well-formed right angles, at 
its lower extremeties; cf. Tabapanaka&a, 4 Sakaputra&a, 
Jivaputraye, 5 Pajavatiye, Jivaputraye and Posada . 

1 Ibid, PI. X, 47, 910. * Ibid, PI. X, 3. 
2 Ibid, PI. X, 2. 5 Ibid, PI. X, 9. 

8 Ibid, PI. X, 9, 10. 6 Ibid, PI. X, 10. 



THE NORTHERN INDIAN ALPHABETS. 15 

(m) the form of ba shows no change; 

(n) two forms of ma have been found in these inscrip- 
tions : (1) ma with a circle at the lower part and a semi- 
circle over it, as in Amoghasa 1 and (2} ma with a triangle at 
the lower part and a right angle over it, as in Mitrasa 2 ; 

(0) two forms of pa also are to be found : the first 
form is the notched one, which is to be f ound on the coping 
inscriptions only, 3 and the second form, that with the 
curve below, is to be found in pillar-inscriptions 4 ; 

(p] ra is always represented by a curved line ; 

(q) va shows the formation of a triangle at its base in 
the place of the circle ; 

(?) two forms of the dental sa are to be found : 
on one of the inscribed cross-bars, we find a slight curve to 
the left, attached to the lower extremity of the lower hook, 
cf. sa in Amoghasa ; the other form is the usual older 
Maurya one, where in some cases, the elongation of the 
lower hook, marks a slight modification ; 

(*) Tia has been found only once in the inscription 
recently discovered by the late Dr. Bloch, where it occurs in 
a ligature. The form of this letter, in the word BraJimamitra 5 
is extremely cursive and shows that this hooked foim is 
peculiar to the eastern variety of the older alphabets of 
Northern India ; 

(t] The newly discovered inscription has supplied a new 
letter na which is to be found in the first word in rafto, 
and resembles the form in the Bharhut and the Pabhosa 
alphabets with a downward elongation of the left vertical 
line. 



1 Ibid, PI. X, 2. 3 Ibid, PI. X, 910. 

2 Ibid, PI. X, 910. 4 Ibid, PI. X,4 7 

8 Annual Rep. Arch. Survey of India, 190809, p. 247. 



16 OEIGIN OE THE 6ENGALI SCPIPt. 

No inscription, which can safely be assigned to the 
1st century B. C. or A. D., has been found anywhere in 
North-Eastern India, except at Sarnath. The records 
which can be assigned to the 1st century B. C. are very 
few in number : 

(') Inscription on the upper side of the lower horizontal 
bar of the stone-railing surrounding the old stupa in the 
south chapel of the main shrine *. The second half of the 
inscription only, is of earlier date, the first half belonging 
to the second century A. D. (not the 3rd or 4th as Messrs. 
Konow and Marshall imagine). The date of the second half 
also has not been correctly given. It is impossible to 
assign it to the 2nd century B. C. The shortening of the 
verticals in pa and Jia, as well as the curvature in the base 
line of na, indicates that the record must be assigned to the 1st 
century B. C. 

(it) "When clearing the south chapel, the top of a 
stone railing became visible above the floor * * 
a short votive inscription on one of the stones, places the 
erection of the railing in or before the 1st century 
B.C/' 2 Here also the second part of the inscription only 
can be referred to the first century B.C. This part 
consists of the word "Parigahetavam". 

(Hi) Inscriptions on the pillars of a railing around a 
votive stupa. 3 The first of these inscriptions (No. Ill) 
probably belongs to the 2nd century B.C. The probable 
reading is : Sihaye Salnjateyikaye thabho. The second 
inscription (No. IV) has been very badly preserved. The 
fac-simile shows : 

1. ...niya Sonade (va). 

1 Annual Report of the Archaeological Survey of India, 1906 07, 

p. 96, No. IV. 

2 Ibid, 1904-5, p. 68, PI. XXXII, No. IX. 

3 Ibid, PI. XXXII, Nos. Ill and IV, p. 102. 



THE NORTHERN INDIAN ALPHABETS. 17 



&. Thablio dana 

"The pillar-gift of Sonadeva (Svarnadeva) of ......... " 

Inscription No. II which ends with the word "Danam 
thahho undoubtedly belongs to the early Maurya period 
of the 3rd century B. C. 

(iv) Inscription on a rail stone (? cross bar) : 
Bhariniye Saham Yateyika (ye) 1 the gift of Yateyika with 
Bharini. This inscription also belongs to the 1st century 
B.C., as indicated by the form of medial i and the short- 
ening of the verticals in ya. 

(v) Inscription of the king Asvaghogia, the year 40. 
incised on the pillar of Asoka ............... "" ............... 

rparigeyhe rajfia Asvaghoshasya chatari'se Savachhare 
hematapakhe prathame clivase dasame."* Certaiu words 
following the above record, have been read by Dr. Venis 
as follows : Sutithage 4, 200, 9. 3 Drs. Fleet and Venis 
hold that this date should be referred to the Malava- 
Vikrama era and arrive at 111-151 A. D. as the date of 
Asvaghosa. If Drs. Fleet and Venis be correct, then it 

o * 

shall have to be admitted that, Kaniska, Huviska and 
Vasudeva reigned in the latter half of the second and 
third centuries A.D., because in a treatise on Palaeography, 
it is impossible to admit, that the group of Kusana 
inscriptions, came before those of A'svaghom, the Ksatrapas 
fta/iapa/ia and SodUsa, and the archaic inscriptions from 
Mathura. 

(vi) Fragmentary inscriptions of the time of 
ASvagho a : 

1. Rajiut A sv ag hot a (syd) ......... 



1 Ibid, 1906-7, p. 95, No. II, PI. XXX. 
4 Ep. Ind. Vol., VIII, P. 171. 
3 J. R. A. S., 1912, pp. 701-707. 



18 ORIGIN OE THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

2. Upnla he ma (mtapakhe ?) ! 

The principal characteristics of the above inscriptions 
from Sarnath are : 

(i) total absence of any difference from the forms of 
the characters of the 1st and 2nd centuries B. C. found in 
North-Western India ; 

(it) consequently we find the general shortening of 
vertical lines, angularisation of curved strokes, and in the 
case of medial vowel signs, cursiveness of the angular forms 
of the older Maurya Brahml. 

D. Kusana Inscriptions. 

Under the above title the inscriptions of Ihe great 
Kusana Kings, Kaniska, Huviska and Vasudeva are to be 
considered, the dates in whose inscriptions are generally 
taken to be Saka dates. 2 Ab- present two theories are 
current about the dates used in the inscriptions of the 
Kusana kings mentioned above. 

(i) That the dates in the Ku:ana incriptions should 
be referred to the Malava-Vikrama era which was estab- 
lished by Kaniska in the year 57 B. C. The expounders 
of this theory hold that the inscriptions of the Satraps 
Sodasa and Ranjuvula fall after those of Kaniska, 
Huviska and Vasudeva in the chronological order. This 
fact cannot, for a moment, be considered to be true, in a 
paper on Palaeography. 

(ii) That the dates in the Kusana inscriptions should 
be referred to the Saka era, which was founded by 
Kaniska in the year 78 A.D. In the following pages I 
have adopted this theory, which was started by Oldenberg 

1 Ep. Ind., Vol., VIII., p. 172. 

- Buhler's Indian Palaeography (Eng. Ed.), p. 40 and Ind. 
Ant., Vol. XXXVII, p. 25. 



THE NORTHERN INDIAN ALPHABETS. 19 

and Fergusson, adopted by Biihler and Rapson, defended 
by myself and finally accepted by Mr. V. A. Smith. The 
inscriptions of the Ku ana period (1st and 2nd centuries 
A.D.) are more abundant in North-Western India. On 
this point Biihler says : " The next step in the develop- 
ment of Brahmi of Northern India is illustrated by the 
inscriptions from the time of the Kusana kings Kaniska, 
Huviska and Vasuska-Vasudeva, the first among whom 
made an end of the rule of the older Sakas in the 
Eastern and Southern Punjab. The inscriptions with 
the names of these kings which run from the years 4 to 
98 (according to the usually accepted opinions, of the 
aka era of A.D. 7 7 -IS, or of the 4th century of the 
Selukid era) are very numerous in Mathura and its 
neighbourhood, and are found also in Eastern Rajputana 
and in the Central India Agency (Saiici)." 1 

In subsequent years a number of inscriptions have 
been discovered in North-Eastern India, which can 
without doubt be referred to this particular period : 

() the Bodh-Gaya Fragmentary inscription on the 
diamond throne (vajrasana) ; 2 

(ii) the Sarnath Umbrella-staff inscription of the 
3rd year of Kaniska ; 3 

(iii) the inscription on the base of the Bodhisattva 
Image dedicated in the 3rd year of Kaniska ; 4 

(iv) the inscription at the back of the Bodhisattva 
image of the 3rd year of Kaniska ; 5 



Ibid. 

Cunningham's Mahabodhi, p. 58. 
Epi. Ind., Vol. VIII, p. 17Q, 
Ibid, p. 179. 

Ibid. 



20 



ORIGIN 0V THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 



(v) inscription on the pedestal of an image of 
Bodhisattva from Sahet Mahet (the ancient !?ravasti) l 

(vi) inscription on an umbrella-staff, now in the 
Indian Museum, probably found in the ruins of Sahet 
Mahet; 2 

(vii) inscription on the pedestal of an image of 
Bodhisattva found at Sahet Mahet; 3 

(viii) fragmentary inscription on a fragment of a 
sculpture discovered at Rajagrha (Rajgir), in the Patna 
District; 4 

(ix) fragmentary inscription on the pedestal of an 
image discovered at Rajagrha; 5 

The records of the 1st century A.D. fall into two 
distinct and separate classes. 

I. The Eastern variety of the North-Indian Alphabet 
of the Kusana period, earlier variety. All the inscriptions 
enumerated above belong to this class. Six years ago, 
I stated, that inscription No. VIII belongs to the class 
of Epigraphs known as inscriptions written in the 
Northern-Ksatrapa alphabet, but now I agree with Dr. 
Vogel in calling them by the new name " Early Kusana." 
Inscription No. I. is by far the oldest inscription of the 
Kusana period, discovered up to date, in North-Eastern 
India. It was incised on the edge of a slab of stone, 
which is at present lying under the Bodhi tree, at Bodh- 
Gaya. 6 It was in a very bad state of preservation 



1 Arch. Survey, Rep., Vol. I, p. 339 f. ; J R.A.S., N.S., Vol. V, p. 192 

J. A. S. B., 1898, p. 274 and Ep. Iiicl., Vol. VIII, p. 179. 

2 Epi. Ind., Vol. IX, p. 290. 

8 Annual Rep. Arch. Survey of India, 1908-9, p. 133. 
* Ind., Ant., Vol. XXXVIII, p. 49. 

8 Annual Rep. Arch. Survey of India, 1905-6, pp. 105-6. 
Cunningham's Mahabodhi, PI. X, ii; XIII and XIV. 



LLJ 

< 

_J 

Q. 




THE NORTHERN INDIAN ALPHABETS. l 

at that time and has since suffered much from the weather. 
When I examined the stone in 1906, I found that the 
fragmentary inscription, was almost illegible. The use of 
the broad-backed sa, the shortening of the verticals in 
pa, and the ma in which the lower part is invariably 
triangular in form, show that the inscription belongs 
to the early Ku ana period. Yet, the doubtful ya in the 
opposite corner of the inscription, which is archaic in 
form, proved that the record must be referred to a period 
slightly earlier than those, in which the later, fully 
developed tripartite form of ya is found to be used. 

II. The Eastern variety of the North-Indian Alphabet 
of the Kusana period, later variety. No inscription, 
which can be safely referred to this class, has been dis- 
covered as yet in any part of North-Eastern India. 

The principal characteristics of the earlier variety 
of the North-Eastern KusSna alphabets are : 

(') the use of the broad- backed sa : dandasca and 
Savastiye (L. 2 Sravasti image-inscription, Indian 



Museum^, flandnsca (L. 7), Savastiye (L. 8) of the 
Indian Museum umbrella-staff inscription, Slvadhar- 
asya, Stavasta (L. 1), kiisala, bhuyakmalam, and Siva- 
mitrena (L. 3) of the new Bodhisattva image-inscription 
from Sahet Mahet, Sakyamuni, on the fragmentary 
sculpture from Rajgir ; Indra'siri and Parahasalika (L. 2) 
in the inscription on the newly discovered pedestal from 
Rajgir ; 

() the lingual sa, angular in form in which the 
cross-bar does not reach the left vertical line : Kaniskasya 
(L. 1), bhiksnsya, Puqya (L. 2), yasti and pratiqtASpito 
(L. 4), Vqairupena (L. 8), parisa (L. 9) of the Sarnath 
Umbrella-staff inscription, pratisthapito (L. 1), kqatra- 
pen<t, mahak^atrapena and Vanasparena in (L. 2) of the 



22 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIP r. 

inscription on the pedestal of the Sarnath Bodhisattva 
image; Kanixka (L. 1), hlnkxusya (L. 2), yasti (L. 3) 
of the inscription on the back of the Bodhisattva 

1 

from Sarnath ; Ihiksusya and Puxyn (L. ] ) 
(L. 2) in the inscription on the pedestal of the Bodhisattva 
image in the Indian Museum found at Sahet Mahet; 
ksatriyanam, velistanam (L. 1): rtcafaana (L. 2) on 
the inscription on the pedestal of the new inmge from 
Sahet Mahet. It should be noted in this connection, that 
the form of the subscript lingual w, as found in 
ksatriyanam (L. 1) and vlcaksana (L. 2), is still more 
archaic, having the cursive form of the older Maurya 
alphabet ; 

(Hi) the cursive form of ha, which seems to have been 
derived from the cursive forms of the Jaugada separate 
edicts and the Kausambi edict on the Allahabad pillar : 
this form occurs on one inscription only, viz. on the 
pedestal of the new Bodhisattva image from Sahet Mahet; 
BoJiisatva (L. I 3), 1 but in all other cases the angular 
form of ha is found to have been used ; 

(iv} in the majority of cases, the subscript ya has the 
tripartite form. The only exceptions being Pusya in 
(L. 1) of the inscription on the pedestal of the Bodhi- 
sattva imacje from oravasti, now in the Indian Museum 

O f 

and in Sakyatmmi on the fragmentary sculpture from 
Rajgir, which is also in the Indian Museum. The dearth 
of inscriptions, written in characters of the later variety 
of the Northern Kusana alphabet, in Eastern India has 
already been noticed above. Inscriptions of the 3rd and 
4th centuries A.D., are also very rare in the whole of the 
Northern India. With the exception of two inscriptions 
from Mathura, which I hold to belong to the 3rd century 

1 Annual Rep. Arch. Survey of India. 1908-09, p. 135. 



THE NORTHERN INDIAN ALPHABETS 23 

A.D. 1 and which others hold to belong to the 6th century 
A.D. 2 , no inscriptions are known which can be said to 
belong to the pre-Gupta period. 

At the beginning of the Gupta period, we are 
confronted with three distinct varieties of the alphabet, 
used in Northern India. Inscriptions belonging to 
the first-half of the 4th century A.D., are unknown 
unless the Allahabad pillar-inscription of Samudragupta 3 
be referred to that period. The second inscription 
in the chronological order, which can be safely 
referred to this period, is the Bodh-Gaya Image-inscrip- 
tion 4 of the Gupta year 64 = 383-84 A.D. Scholars are 
divided in opinion about the date of this inscription also. 
Prof. Liiders of Berlin holds Cunningham's theory and 
says that it is a Saka date 3 , inspite of Dr. Biihler's clear 
statement on the point. 6 

E. The so-called Gupta Alphabet of the 4th and 5th 
centuries A.D. 

Dr. Biihler recognises three different varieties in the 
Northern Indian alphabet of the 4th and 5th centuries 
A. D. :- 

(') the Eastern variety distinguished by the peculiar 
forms of la, ha, m and sa, 7 

(') the Western variety cursive roundhand type, 8 

1 Ind. Ant., Vol. XXXVII, p. 29. 

2 Fleet's Gupta Inscriptions, pp. 262, 273; Kielhorn's List of 
Inscriptions of Northern India, Ep. Ind., Vol. V, App. p. 63, No. 445 
and p. 65, No. 463. 

3 Fleet's Gupta Inscriptions, p. 1 . 

* Cunningham's Mahabodhi, Pi. XXV. 

5 Ind. Ant., Vol. XXXIII, p. 40. 

" Biihler's Indian Palaeography, Eng. Ed., p. 46 and note 10. 

7 Ibid, Eng. Ed., p. 46. 

8 Ibid, p. 47. 



24 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

and (m) the Western variety angular monumental 
type. 1 

In the light of later discoveries, especially the import- 
ant finds of the British and Prussian expeditions 
into Central Asia under Sir Marc Aurel Stein, Griinwedel 
and others, the Northern Indian alphabet of the 4th and 
5th centuries A. D., should be divided into the following 
varieties : 

1. The Eastern variety : specimens 

(i) the Allahabad pillar-inscription of Samudra- 
gupta, 

(ii) the Udayagiri cave-inscription of Candra- 
gupta II, 

(iii) the Gadhwa fragmentary inscriptions of the 
times of Candragupta II and Kumaragupta I, 

(?;) the Dhanaidaha grant of Kumaragupta I, 
(r) the Mankuwar inscription of Kumaragupta I, 
(vi) the Bihar pillar-inscription of Skandagupta, 
(vit) the Kosam image-inscription of Bhlmavarman, 

(viii) the Kahaum pillar-inscription of Skanda- 
gupta. 

2. The Western variety : specimens 

(1) the Mathura inscription of Candragupta II, 
(ii) the Saiici inscription of Caudragupta II, 

(Hi) the Bharadi Dih or Kai-amdanda inscription of 
Kumaragupta I, 

(iv) the Bhitari pillar-inscription of Skandagupta, 

(t?) the Indore grant of Skandagupta, 

(vi) the Eran pillar-inscription of Budhagupta. 



THE NORTHERN INDIAN ALPHABETS. 25 

3. The Southern variety : specimens - 

() the Bilsad pillar-inscription of Kumaragupta I, 

(M) the Gangdhar inscription of Visvavarman, 

(V) the Mandasor inscription of Kumaragupta I, 

and Bandhuvarman, 

(iv) the Vijayagadh inscription of the Yandheyas 
(v) the Vijayagadh pillar-inscription of Visnuvar- 

dhana, 
(vi) the Girnar (Junagad) Rock inscription of 

Skandagupta. 

4. The Central Asian variety : specimens 

(') the Bower Manuscript, 

(ii) numerous other manuscripts written in the 
Central Asiatic variety of the Gupta alphabet 
discovered by the British and German expedi- 
tions. 

/. The Eastern Variety. 

Twenty-one years ago, five years before the publication 
of Dr. Biihler's work on Indian Palaeography, Dr. A. P. R. 
Hoernle recorded the following observations on the 
Indian script of the 4th and 5th centuries A. D. : " There 
existed at the time of the Gupta period two very distinct 
classes of the ancient Nagarl alphabet, North Indian and 
the South Indian. The test letter for these two great 
classes is the character for m. The Northern class of 
alphabets, however, is again divided into two great sections 
which, though their areas overlapped to a certain extent, 
may be broadly, and for practical purposes sufficiently, 
distinguished as the Western and Eastern sections. 
The test letter in this case is the cerebral sibilant 



26 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

sha (so)" 1 This classification was also adopted by the 
late Dr. Biihler, who added two more test letters : 
la and ha. " The differences between the Eastern and 
Western varieties of the so-called Gupta alphabet appear 
in the signs of la, sa and ha. In the Eastern variety, 
the left limb of la is turned sharply downwards : 
cf. the la of the Jaugada separate edicts. Further the 
base stroke of sa is made round and attached as a 
loop to the slanting central bar. Finally the base 
stroke of ha is suppressed, and its hook, attached to the 
vertical, is turned sharply to the left, exactly as in the 
Jaggayyapeta inscriptions. In the Western variety these 
three letters have the older and fuller forms." Another 
test letter, of the Eastern alphabet of this period, is the 
dental sibilant sa. In the inscriptions of the Eastern 
variety, this letter always has a loop at the end of its left 
vertical line instead of the customary curve or hook, cf. 
the form of the letter in the Allahabad pillar-inscription of 
Samudragupta. This form of sa has also been found 
in the inscriptions of the Kusana period, discovered in 
Mathura. The Kankalltila inscription of the 85th year, 
shows that, in that inscription, all oases of sa, have this 
form. 2 

The characteristics of the epigraphic alphabet of the 
4th and 5th centuries A.D. have already been discussed at 
length by Dr Biihler. 3 It will only be necessary to trace 
the history of the development of the Eastern variety in 
the following pages. In 1891, Dr. Hoernle perceived that, 
"in India proper, the North-eastern alphabet gradually 
came to be entirely displaced by the North-western 
alphabet, in comparatively very early times. This 

1 J. A. S. B., 1891, Ft. I., p. 81. 

5 Epi. Tnd., Vol. I, p. 384, No. v. 

3 Biihler'a Indian Paleography, Eng. Ed., p. 47. 



THE NORTHERN INDIAN ALPHABETS. 2 

displacement must have been in progress during the earlier 
part of the sixth century A.D. and must have been com- 
pleted about 580 A.D., for in 588 A.D., we already find 
inscriptions in Bodh-Gaya (inscription of Mahanaman, 
Fleet, p. 274), which show an exclusive North-Western 
character. There is not a single inscription known, so 
far as I am aware, about and after 600 A.D., which 
show the distinctive marks of the old North-Eastern 
alphabet." 1 This statement will have to be examined 
in the light of later discoveries made during the last 
two decades 

(i) The Dhanaidaha grant of Kumaragupta I, G.E. 
113 = 432 A.D. ? 

(tV) The Mathura Jaina image-inscription of the time 
of Kumaragupta I, G.E. 113 = 432 A.D. 3 

(iit) The Karamdanda image-inscription of Kumara- 
gupta I, G.E. 117 = 436 A.D. 4 

(t'y) The Amauna plate of the Maharaja Nandana, 
G.E. 232 = 531 A.D. 5 

(v) The Patiakella grant of the Maharaja .Sivaraja; 
G.E. 283 = 602 A.D. 6 

(vi) The Ganjam grant of the time of Maharaja- 
dnirSja Sa&nka, G.E. 300 = 619 A.D. 7 

(vii) The Mum'esvar! inscription of MahSsamanta 
Mahapratihara Maharaja Udayasena, the Har-a year 
30 = 686 A.D. 8 

1 J. A. S. B., 1891, Pt.l, p 82. 

1 J. A. S. B. (N.S.), Vol. V, p. 459. 

Epi. Tnd., Vol. II, p. 210, No. XXXIX. 

J. A. S. B. (N.S.), Vol. V, p. 457; and Ep. Ind., Vol. X, p. 70. 

Ibid, p. 49 and J. A.. S. B. Vol. V, N. S. p. 164. 

Epi. Ind., Vol. IX, p. 285. 
Epi. Ind., Vol. VI, p. 141. 
Ibid, Vol. IX, p. 289. 



28 ORIGIN OF THE Bl'.KGALl SCB1PT. 

(mY) The Pur! grant of Sainyablnta-Madhavaraja II. J 

(iff) The Parikixj grant of Madhyamaraja, t he Harsa 
year 88 = 694 A.D. 2 

The Eastern variety of the epigraphie Alphabet of 
Northern India of the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. did 
merge, as Dr. Hoernle has observed, into the Western 
variety. Inscriptions, discovered after the publication 
of Dr. Hoernle's article, show the gradual changes in the 
epigraphic alphabet of the 5th and 6th centuries A.D., 
and tend to prove that this change is already in evidence 
in the first half of the 5th century. This displacement of 
the Eastern variety of the alphabet of this period by the 
Western must have been completed before the end of the 
first half of the 6th century. 

The Allahabad pillar-inscription of Samudragupta 
shows the fully developed form of the Eastern variety 
and the test letters can be observed here to their best 
advantage. The next inscription, in the chronological 
order, in which the Eastern alphabet has been used, is the 
Udayagiri cave-inscription of Candragupta II, on which 
Dr. Buhler observes " The fact that Fleet's No. 6 is found 
far west, near Bhilsa in Malva, may be explained by its 
having been incised during an expedition of Candragupta II, 
to Malva, at the command of his minister, who calls himself 
an inhabitant of Pataliputra.^ 3 Next we come to two new 
inscriptions both of which were incised in the year 113 of 
the Gupta era = 432 A.D. 

(i) The Math ura Jaina image-inscription. 
(it) The Dhanaidaha grant. 

1 J. A. S. B., 1904, Pt. I, p. 28-i, PI. VI. 

* Bafigiya-Sahitya-Parisad-Patvika, Vol. XVI, p. 18o, also Epi. Ind., 
Vol. XI, p. 281. 

* Biihler's Indian Paleography, Eug. Ed., p, 4(>. 









jj 
I- 
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_i 
Q. 




lifW :FtV. r ^iV v - 

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&*#, 'A v. .^N'l 



./ 






'';.,..' ' 

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Hs "\ \ '' 
H / ' 

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- 



OO 
OO 

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CO 

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THE NORTHERN INDIAN ALPHABETS. 

As both of these records mention Kumaragupta I by 
name, so there cannot be any doubt as to their proper date. 
The Matbura inscription shows ilie typical forms of the 
Western variety. 1 In the Dhanaidaha grant of Kumara- 
gupta I, we find 

(i) in all cases, the looped foim of the dental 

sibilant m, has been used, 
(it) in all cases, the looped form of the lingual 

sibilant ,?a, has been used, 
(Hi) in all cases, the hooked form of ha, has been 

used, 

(iv) in the majority of cases the hooked form of la 
has been used. In one solitary instance the 
Western variety form has succeeded in re- 
placing the older one, viz: Vakkralana (?) in 
L. 8. 2 

But in a stone-inscription incised sixteen years later, we 
find Eastern variety forms of sa, sa and Jia in all cases. In 
the Mankuwar inscription of Kun-aiagupta J, we see that 
sa, sa and ha have not changed in the year 129 G. E. = 448 
A.D. The discrepancy may be explained thus. The cur- 
rent script of a country, as found on copper-plates, generally 
shows a more advanced form than that of the Epigraphic 
alphabet, found in stone-inscriptions. Copper-plates, in 
ancient India, should be taken to belong to the same class 
of records, as paper manuscripts or papyri of other countries. 
The forms of the alphabet used in them should be distin- 
guished from the forms used in epigraphs proper. Twelve 
years later than the date of this inscription, we find the 
Eastern forms of AY/, M, la and Jia still persisting in all 
cases, in the Kahami) pillar-inscription of Skandagnpta, of 

' Kpi. Ind., Vol. II, p. 210, No. XXXIX. 
3 J. A. S. B. (N. S.), Vol. PI. XX, p. 461. 



30 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

G.E. 141=460 A.D. But in an undated inscription of the 
same king, we see that the Western forms are gradually 
taking the place of Eastern ones. In the Bihar pillar- 
inscription of Skandagupta, the first half of the record 
shows uses of Eastern forms in the majority of cases : 

I. la (i} titlya, (ti] atulyali (L 1), (Hi] atulya 
(L. 3), (iv) mandalam (L. 5), (r) vyalamba 
(L. 7), (vi) lokan (L. 9), (m) kala (L. 11) 
II. ha (t) lii havya (L. 4), (ii) grham (L. 8); 

Only in one instance we find a Western variety form, 
viz : agrahare (L. 13). But in the second half of the 
record, we find that the Western variety form of Jia has 
invariably been used, in all cases. In the second half of 
this record there are two instances of la : (i) kulah (L. 28) 
and saulkika (L. 29), but as the facsimile given in Dr. Fleet's 
work is incomplete and does not contain these lines, it is not 
possible to compare the forms oi la used in the second half 
of the inscription with those of the first half. I have found 
that the Bihar pillar-inscription has suffered much from 
exposure in the weather, after the publication of Dr. Fleet's 
work, and at present it is not possible to get a clearer, and 
more complete, inked impression than the one taken 
for Dr. Fleet. On the clear evidence of the Bihar inscrip- 
tion of Skandagupta, we have the fact that Western 
forms were replacing the Eastern ones in the alphabet of 
North-Eastern India in the first half of the 5th century 
A.D. The Pali grant of Laksmana, of the Gupta year 
158 t =4?7 A. D., shows no form, in the alphabet used, 
which has any resemblance to those of the Eastern 
variety. The Pali grant should be included among North- 
Eastern inscriptions, instead of North-Western ones, as 
it was found about thirty miles from Allahabad 



1 Epi. Ind., Vol. II, p. 363. 



THE NORTHERN INDIAN ALPHABETS. 31 

It may be mentioned that the Kosam image- inscrip- 
tion of Bhimavarman, of the Gupta year 139 = 458 
A.D., shows the use of eastern forms and the findspot 
of this record is close to Pali. In this inscription, we find 
that, all the test letters, sa, sa, ha and la, have assumed 
Western forms. The evidence of the Pali grant of Laks- 
mana is further borne out by the alphabet used in the 
Amauna grant of Nandana, of the Gupta year 232 *= 551 
A.D. This inscription was discovered in the Gaya 
District of Bihar and Orissa and cannot be referred to any 
other class of inscription but the North-Eastern. In this 
inscription we find that sa, sa, ha and la are of the western 
variety. Consequently we are now in a position to 
reconsider the statement made by Dr. Hoernle twenty-one 
years ago : " This displacement mils'; have been in 
progress during the earlier part of the 6th century A.D., 
and must have been completed about 580 A.D., for in 
588 A.D., we already find inscriptions in Bodh-Gaya 
(Inscription of Mahanaman, Fleet, p. 274) which show 
an exclusive North- Western character." 2 We are now 
in a position to state definitely that the movement 
towards the adoption of Western variety forms in 
North-Eastern inscriptions was already in evidence in 
the 4th decade of the 5th century A.D. So early as the 
days of the Gupta emperor Skandagupta, the change had 
already affected the epigraphic alphabet of the time. 
The displacement was completed before the eighth 
decade of the 5th century and all traces of Eastern 
variety forms or characters had disappeared from the 
plains of Northern India, before the beginning of the 6th 
century A.D. 



I 76 id, Vol. X, p. 49. 

II J. A. S. B., 1891, pt. I, p. 82, 



32 ORIGIN OF THE BEMiAU SCHIPT : 

We should now proceed to the Palseographical ex- 
amination of a class of records, about which there is much 
difference of opinion. I refer to the four copper-plate 
inscriptions, which have been discovered at various times 
during the last three decades. The first three was published 
by Mr. F. E. Pargiter in 1910 1 and the last one was 
published by myself 2 as well as by Mr. Pargiter 3 in 191 1. 
In size, script and composition the four records indicate 
that they belonged to the same variety. These four grants 
differ from all other copper-plate inscriptions discovered in 
India on the following points : 

(i) they are not grants of lands, made by any para- 
mount sovereign, nor by any feudatory chief, with the 
sanction of his suzerain, 

(ii) they purport to be deeds of transfer of property, 
made by certain local officials, to a private person, as well 
as deeds of grants, made by those private persons to certain 
Brahmanas ; 

(Hi) they mention a number of officials by their 
proper names, and not merely by designations, as usual. 

The facts, quoted above, would alone go to prove that 
the records were spurious. But in addition to them, we 
have the palaeographical evidence, which shows that the 
alphabets of two different periods and in the case of the 
last one, of three different periods, have been used in the 
composition of these inscriptions. In these records we 
find that, (1) s, la and lia have two forms and often three ; 
and are used in conjunction with forms of the sixth or 
even of the seventh or ninth centuries A.D. In the first 
grant : the grant of Dharmaditya of the year 8, we find 

1 Ind. Ant., Vol. XXXIX, p. 193. 
8 J. A. S. B., Vol. VI, p. 435. 
3 Ibid, Vol. VII, p. 476. 



THE NORTHERN INDIAN ALPHABETS. 33 

that two different forms have been used, in the case of 
three test letters sa, la and ha. 

I. $a.< 

(') E tsteni variety. 

1. Ambansn (L.I), 2. visayapati (L. 3), 3. visaya- 
wahattara (L. 4), 4. Ghosacandra (L. 5), 5. ksettia 
(L. 7), 6. W*^ (L. 8), 7. mr^<? (L. 10), 8-9. 
ksettrani and kqettra (L. 11), 10. rfrsfo' (L. 12), 11. 
sad-bhagtih (L. 13), 12. abhilasa (L. 14), 13. salanga, 
(L. 19), 14. modanesu (L. 21). 

(M) Western variety. Strictly speaking, the forms 
of the letter, used in the following words, are much later 
in date than the North- Western Gupta alphabet. In all 
cases, the letter is found in the ligature ksa and we find 
that peculiar curvature before ka denoting the presence of 
the sa, which we see for the first time in the inscriptions 
of Adityasena and IhovSe of the Gahadavala princes of 
Kanauj 1 , in the 1 1th and 12th centuries A. D. .There are 
five instances of this later form in the first grant- 1 - 

I. ksettra (L. 16), 2. anugrahakamksina (L. 18), 
3. ksepa (L. 21), 4. daksinena (L. 23), 5. k^enl. 
(L. 25). 

II. La . 

(t) Eastern variety. 

\ . lavdha (L. 2), 2. kalasakha (L. 5-6), 3. durllabha 
(L. 6), 4. labhah (L. 18), 5. samkalpabhih (L. 14), 
6. Sllaknnda's = ca (L. 214). 

(n) Western Variety. 

1. kale and 2. varakamandale (L. 3), 3. aluka 
(L. 5), 4. kundalijjia and 5. kulasvami (L. 6) 6. 

1 Bfihler's Indian Palaeography, pi. IV, XVJII, 45 & pi. V, XII, 
XX, 44. 



34- ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCKIPT. 

mulyam (L. 8), 7. pnstajtala (L. 9), 8. kitlya and 
khandala (L. 11), 10. kalaria (L. 12), 11. abhilasa 
(L. 14), 12. nalena (L. 16), 1.3. dlirurilatya'm (L. 16), 
14. kulya (L. 16), 15. kdla (L. 18), 16. sul-aiiga 
(L. 19), 17. uparilikhita (L 20), 18. anupultnia (L.21), 
19. pratipalan~iya<m (L. 22), 20. liiigani (L. 28). 

///. ^a . 

(/) Eastern variety. 

1. vrhac-catta (L. 4), 2. iccMviy-aliath (L. 7), 
3. brahmanasya, 4. grhltva (L. 8), 5. arn<lhrlam = 
astl = ha (L. 10), 6. hasten a (L. 15), 7. puratr-=anugralin 
(L. 18), 8. hinasena (L. 23). 

(?'?') Western variety, 

1. maharajadhiraja and 2. maliaraja \ (L. 2), 3. 
mahattara (L. 4), 4. tad-arfiatha (L. 8), 5. 
pitror-amiyraha (L. i9), 6. //w/ (L. 26), 7. 
(L. 25), 8. wJa (L. 26). 

Similarly in the second grant from Faridpur we find 
that 

I. In all cases the Western variety form of ha has 
been used. 

II. The Eastern variety form of la has been used in 
one case only e.ff. in mandala (L. 4). In all other we 
find the Western variety forms 

1. lavdh'i (L. 3), 2. kale (L. 4), 3. gopala (L.5), 
4. khandalakaih (L. 9), 5. Jauhitya (L. 11), 6. 
kulya (L. 14), 7. /i/M//* (L. 15), 8. satpa/Tuii (L. 17), 
9. khandalaka (L. 17), 10. jiiixtajtufa (L. 18), 11. 
dharmma'slla and 12. naleiut (L. 19), 18. liugani 
(L. 20), 14. S/oto' (L. 24). 



THE NORTHERN INDIAN ALPHABETS. 85 

The form in the last example is very late. It is the 
9th century form, found for the first time in the Dighwa- 
Dubhauli grant of Mahendrapala 1 . 

III. In the case of the lingual sa we find eastern 
variety forms in : 

1. Nakusa (L. 1), 2. Ambarlaa (L. 2), 3. visaya 
(L. 5), 4. Jyezra (L. 7), 5. Somaghosa and 6. visayanam 
(L. 8) 7. *oAtha (L. 16) 8. vrk$a (L. 21), 9. sasttm 
and 10. Varsa, (L. 24), 11. sva-visthayath (L. 27) 
and western variety ones in : 

1. ksettra (L. 9), 2. kxet rani (L. 14), 3. akqcpta 
(L. 25); another indistinct form is to be found in hast- 
astaka. The late seventh or eleventh century form of 
ksa is found in ksettra in L. 17. 

The third plate is in a very bad state of preserva- 
tion and the facsmile published with Mr. Pargiter's 
article is very indistinct ; the reverse or the second side 
of the plate only, is capable of being analysed for palaeo- 
graphical purposes. In it, we find, that in all recognisable 
cases, the lingual sa is of the Eastern variety of the early 
Gupta alphabet. Both forms of ha have been used. Only 
one instance of the Western variety is legible : maha in 
L. 3. In all other instances where the record is legible 
we find the use of the Eastern variety : (1) mafiattarah 
(L. 8-9), (2) haslcistaka (L. 10), (3) agrahara (L. 22), 
(4) har-ta (L. 24), (5) 90 ha (L. 25). 

So also in the case of ftt we find that the Eastern variety 
form has been rarely used while the Western variety form 
is common : 

I. Eastern variety : (/) Fatsajpala (L. 5), (it) 
lingani (L. 21). 

1 Ind. Ant., Vol. XV, p. 112. 



36 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

II. Western variety: (t) mulyam (L. 14), (t'f) 
kulavaran (L. 18), (in) prakalpya (L. 18), (iv) dharmasila 
(L. 19), (v) nalena (L. 19), (vi) Vatsapala (L. 19), 
(t') kulya (L. 20), (urn) Dhruvilata (L. 22), (t>) 
Silaknnda (L. 23). 

It should be noted in this connection that in the 
majority of cases we find the bipartite form of ya. 
In the fourth grant we find, that in all cases the bipartite 
form of ya, the Western variety form of the lingual sa and 
la have been used. With the exception of three instances, 
ha also has the Western variety form. These three ins- 
tances are: (1) vrahman-opaya (L. 11), (2) vrahmana 
(L. 14), (3) sahasrani (L. 20-21). In addition to these, 
we find later forms, in the word parkkatti (L. 18) and 
watninah (L. 17). in case of ka and na respectively. In 
conclusion, we may freely say, that all four copper plates 
are forged. It may be asserted that, the plates belong to 
the transitional period, when Eastern variety forms were 
gradually being displaced by Western ones. But, the use 
of mediaeval forms, precludes such a possibility : (1) I 
have already commented on the form of the ligature ksa 
in the first plate. (2) Another, much later form, is that of 
ba, in the date of the first plate, which occurs for the first 
time in the Aphsad inscription of Adityaseua and Dighwa- 
Dubhauli grant of Mahendrapala, the Pratihara, of V. E. 
955 = 898 A.D. The form of ka in parkkatti and na in 
svdminah in the fourth grant had already been commented 
upon. Consequently we find that the four copper-plate 
inscriptions, being forgeries, are of no use in a palaeo- 
graphical discussion. 




BgKj!fc- 





CD 

CO 



-Q 

o 



o 
LL 



oo 
ro 
O 





-o 
o 

CD 



CHAPTER III 

The Eastern Alphabet 55O-11OO A.D. 

We now come to the class of alphabets, to which 
Dr. Biihler has given the name, Sifldhamatrka. From this 
point, Dr. Buhler's work ceases to be exhaustive and does not 
deal with Eastern variety forms of the Northern alphabet, 
separately. Such a treatment of North-Indian palaeo- 
graphy was, perhaps, impossible sixteen years ago, and 
consequently, the author of the Indian Paleography was 
obliged to deal with the Northern Indian alphabet of the 
6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th centuries A.D. , as a single 
whole. The differentiation was made only in the case of 
Sarada alphabet, which was already a separate unit in the 
8th century A.D. and in a much later period, in the case 
of pro to-Bengali. In these pa^es Dr. Buhler's arrange- 
ment has not been followed, on account of the following 
reasons : 

I. The discovery of a number of dated records, has 
made it impossible to accept, the alphabet used in the 
Bodh-Gaya inscription of Mahanaman, as representing type 
specimens of the North-Eastern alphabet of the 6th and 
7th centuries A.D. These new inscriptions are : 

(') the Amauna grant of Nandana 1 , G. E. 232 = 551 
A.D. 

(u) the Patiakellu grant of Maharaja Ibivaraja 2 , G. E. 
283 = 602 A.D. 

(m) the GanjSm grant of the time of Maharajadhiraja 
G. E. 300 = 619 A.D. 



1 Epi. Ind., Vol. X, p. 49. 
Ibid, Vol. IX. p. 286. 
3 Ibid, Vol. VI. p. 142. 



88 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

(t'r) The Mundesvari inscription of the MalmsSmanta 
MahBpratihBra Maharaja I'dayasena 1 , H. E. 30 = 636 
A. D. 

II. The final settlement of the chronology of the 
Gurjjara-Pratihara dynasty of Northern and Central 
India, by the researches of Mr. D. R. Bhandarkar and the 
late Mr. A. M. T. Jackson, has placed the introduction of 
the Nagari alphabet into Northern India one hundred and 
thirt-yseven years later. On this point Dr. Biihler said 
"In Northern and Central India, the Nagari appears first 
on the copper-plate of the Maharaja \inayakapala of 
Mahodaya probably of A. D. 794." 8 The real date of 
Vinayakapala's grant is V. E. 988 = 931 A. D. instead of 
H. E. 188 = 794 A. D. 3 

III. The discovery of a number of inscriptions in 
North-Eastern India, specially of the Pala kings of Bengal, 
makes it possible to distinguish two different varieties of 
the North-Eastern alphabet, as early as the- 8th century 
A. D., and shows that Nagari has had very little influence 
on the development of the Bengali alphabet. 

Sixteen years ago, the Bodh-Gaya inscription of 
Mananaman was the only known dated inscription of the 
6th century A. D., in North-Eastern India. In it, Dr. 
Hoernle and Dr. Biihler, found, for the first time, tiiat 
the Eastern variety of the early Gupta alphabet has been 
entirely d splaced by the Western one. But, we have 
already seen, that fresh discoveries place this displacement 
more than a century earlier. The next point to be consi- 
dered is the tripartite form of ya and the downward limit 
of its use. In 1891 Dr. Hoernle fixed (500 A. D. as the 

1 ibid, Vol. ix, p. 289. 

2 Biihler's Indian Palaeography, Eng. Ed., p, 51. 
Epi. Ind., Vol. VIII, App. 1, pp. 1 & 4. 



THE EA6TEEN ALPHABET. 39 

lowest limit for the use of this form of ya in Northern 
India : 

"Any inscription in the North -Western Indian alphabet, 
which shows the more or less exclusive use of the old form 
of ya, must date from before 600 A. D., while any inscrip- 
tion showing an exclusive use of the cursive form of ya 
must date after 600 A. D." 1 

The force of Dr. Hoernle's argument has been weakened 
by the discovery of the Udaypur inscription of the Guhila 
Aparajita 2 , of V. E. 716 = 659 A.D. "The discovery of an 
inscription of the 7th century", observes Dr. Biihler, 
"with mostly tripartite ya, E. I. 4, 29, makes a modifica- 
tion of Hoerule's argument necessary but does not 
invalidate his final result". 3 It will be observed that 
no limit has been fixed for the use of the tripartite 
form of ya in a North-Eastern inscription. In the 
Bodh-Gaya inscription of Mahanaman, we find that, the 
bipartite form had, entirely, displaced the tripartite one. 
Consequently, it has been supposed that the bipartite form 
has displaced the tripartite form, in the North-Eastern in- 
scriptions, almost about the same time as in North-western 
records. Subsequent discoveries now enable us to prove 
beyond doubt that in North-eastern India, the use of the 
tripartite form of ya, lasted about half a century longer 
than the limit of North- western India. For example we 
have the form used in the Amauua grant of Nandana. 
The date of this inscription is not far removed from that 
of the Bodh-Gaya inscription, and it was found in a place 
not very far off from Bodh-Gaya, yet we find that in all 
cases the tripartite form of ya has been used. So again, 
in the case of Patiakella grant of ivaraja, we find that 



1 J.A.S.B., 1891, pt. 1, p. 90. 
* Epi. Ind., Vol. IV, p. 29. 
* Btihler's Indian Pn]zeogra)>liy, p. 48. note 8. 



40 ORIGIN or THE BENGALI SCIUPT. 

the tripartite form is being used in all cases, in the Gupta 
year 283 = 602 A.L). So also in the case of the Mundesvari 
inscription, we find that the tripartite form alone is used in 
636 A. D. Consequently, we have to admit that the use 
of the bipartite form of ya, in the Bodh-Gaya inscription 
of Mahanaman, in the Gupta year 2(51) = 588 A.D., is prema- 
ture. There are other reasons which lead us to believe 
that, though this record was found in North-Eastern India, 
the alphabet of the locality was not used in incising it, 
which on the other hand was done by a man from Western 
India. We have a similar case in the Bhitari pillar- 
inscription of Skandagupta, which, though found in 
Eastern India, shows the use of the Western variety of 
the North-Indian alphabet; and the Sanci inscription 
of the time of Candragupta II which, though found in 
Western India shows the use of the Eastern variety of 
the alphabet. The alphabet used in the Bodh-Gaya 
inscription of Mahauatnan cannot be taken to represent 
the ordinary Eastern variety of the Epigraphic alphabet 
of North-India in the 6th century A.D. for the following 
reasons : 

(1) the Amauna grant of Nandana and the Patiakella 
grant of oivaraja show the exclusive use of the tripartite 
form of ya ; consequently, we have to admit that in the 
Eastern variety of the Northern alphabet the tripartite 
form of ya was in use in the 6th century A.D. ; 

(2) the prevalence of acute angles at the lower ex- 
tremities of letters is exceptional, and, not of common 
occurrence, in these rec >rds. 

The ordinary 6th century epigraphic alphabet of North- 
Eastern India is then to be found in the following 1 

o 

inscriptions : 

(1) the Amauim grant of Nandana, 

(2) the Patiakella grant of Sivaraja, 



THE EASTERN ALPHABET. 41 

(3) the Barabar cave-inscription of Ananta-varman, 1 

(4) the Nagarjuni cave-inscription of Ananta- 

varman, 2 and 

(5) the Nagarjiml cave -inscription of Ananta- 

varman. 3 

The principal characteristics of the alphabet, which 
remained current in North-eastern India, from 550-650 
A.D. are noted below : 

(1) The use of the tripartite form of ya. The only ex- 
ception is the Gaiijam grant of the time of Sasanka, The 
difference cannot be accounted for at present, so long as 
the riddle of Sasanka-Narendra remains unsolved. 
Why asauka, probably surnamed Narendra, whose 
coinage is allied to that of the early or the Imperial Guptas, 
went to Kalinga and how he came to be acknowledged as 
a suzerain, by the Sailodbhaoa princes of the Kongoda- 
manda>la>* is still a mystery to us. The introduction of 
the North-Eastern alphabet, into the Northern Sircars, was 
also probably due to this prince. We find the ordinary 
6th century alphabet of Kalinga, in the Buguda grant 
of Madhavavarmau 5 and the Parikud plates of 
Madhyamaraja. 6 

(2) The general prevalence of right angles at the lower 
extremities of certain letters e.g. yha, pa, pfia, sa and sa. 

(3) The absence of later developments such as tails or 
verticals on the right of these signs. 

1 Fleet's Gupta Inscriptions, p. 221, pi. XXX B. 

2 Ibid, p, 224, pi. XXXI, A. 
Ibid, p. 227, pi. XXXI B. 
* Epi. Ind., Vol. VI, p. 142. 

'- Ibid, Vol. Ill, p. 43 and Vol. VII, p. 100. 

Vangiya-Sahitya-l'iiriijad-PatrikS, V ' XVI, p. 1<J7 ; Epi. Ind., Vol. 
XI, pp. 281-87. 



42 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

In other words, the North-eastern epigraphic alphabet 
of the Oth century A.D., presents the ordinary character- 
istics of the North-western variety of the early Gupta 
alphabet. 

Early in the latter-half of the 7th century A.D., we 
find a marked change in the North-Eastern alphabet. The 
Shah pur image-inscription of the Harsa year 66 = 671 A.D. 
and the undated Aphsad inscription, both of the time of 
Adityasena of Magadha, exhibit this change for the first 
time. From this time onward, the eastern variety of the 
northern alphabet, develops by itself and the western 
variety never succeeds in displacing it again. For a short 
time only, during the domination of the Gurjjara-Pratihara 
princes, a western variety, called Nagan, makes its in- 
fluence felt and divides the eastern variety into two 
different branches. Out of these sub-divisions, the 
western one is gradually absorbed in Nagan, while the 
eastern one develops separately and becomes the Bengali 
script, of the llth and 12th centuries A.D. At this 
period, it is necessary to take a more complete survey of 
the Eastern alphabet, than that done in the case of the 
Eastern variety of previous centuries. In the latter 
half of the 7th century A. D., we find the following 
characteristics of the eastern variety of the northern 
alphabet. 

I. Vowels. 

(1) The upper part of the left limb of a has become 
a slightly elongated nail-head or wedge, while the 
lower part is converted into a regular curve, with a 
knob at its top, looking more like a comma. The right 
limb together with the line joining both the limbs, can 
be drawn at one stroke of the pen and the letter resem- 
bles the Bengali one, in its present form. Cf. a in 
njunayad (in L. o'). 



THE EASTERN ALPHABET. 43 

(2) In the case of a we find the differentium in a second 
curve, also shaped like a comma, which is attached 
to the lower extremity of the right limb. Of. the form 
in asid (in L. 1). 

(3) In the case of the short i y we find the lower 
circle or dot of Gupta alphabet of the Western variety, 
which in Maukhari inscriptions becomes . a short vertical 
curved lice, developed at this period into a long curve, 
which, in two different cases, is shown to be of different 
lengths. 

(4) In the case of u, we find the horizontal line 
at the lower extremity transformed into a curve and 
elongated. This form continues without alteration till the 
end of the 10th century A. D., when the first change in 
its form is found in the Bhagalpur grant of Narayanapala. 

(5) The rare o, becomes an elongated comma laid flat 
on its back. In the absence of the earlier forms of this 
letter of the 4th and 5th centuries A. D. comments are 
impossible. The only known forms are those found in 
the inscriptions of the Maharajas of Uchakalpa and 
those of Yasodharman, which belong to the Southern 
variety of the Gupta alphabet, 

II. Consonants. 

(1) For the first time in Eastern India, the first conso- 
nant, ka always has a loop on its left. The looped form, 
it should be noticed here, has also been found in the Gafijam 
plates of the time of, Sasankaraja along with the bipar- 
tite form of ya. It continued in this form until the 
loop becomes a semi-circle, in the llth century A.D. 

(2) In kha, the triangle at the base of the letter, 
which is observable for the last time, in the cave-inscrip- 
tions of the Maukharls, becomes transformed into a straight 
line and a curve. The sides of the triangle become a 



44 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

semi-circle, while the other side becomes elongated 
and touches both extremities of the arc. This arc and 
its base line becomes the right limb, of this letter in the 
7th century A. D. The left limb is formed by an increase 
in the length of the upper hook or curve, which was an 
open square in Maukhar! inscriptions. There is a wedge, 
instead of a dot or a short straight line at the lower extre- 
mity of the left limb. 

(3) In the case of ga, we find the open square 
form of the western variety, with its long right limb, again 
transformed into a curve, with a wedge at the lower 
extremity of its left limb. 

(4) In glut, the curvature of the base line, was already 
observable in the Eastern variety of the early Gupta 
alphabet. In the sixth century, we see that in the 
inscription of Yasodharman, the base line has become a 
curve on the left side and a slanting line to the right, 
forming an acute angle with the right vertical. In the 
Aphsad inscription, we find that, this letter has become 
something like the tripartite ya of the Kusana and Gupta 
periods, the only differentia being the wedges on the 
top of its three limbs and the presence of an acute angle 
instead of a right angle, at its right lower extremity. 

(5) In na we find, the lower right angle is becoming, 
in some cases, an acute angle and the vertical straight 
line is transformed into a curve. 1 

(6) In ca, the two curves, of the Gupta period, are 
transformed into a triangle, with a wedge on its apex and 
a slight elongation of the base line or lower lino towards 
the left. 

(7) There is little or no change in the case of cJia and 
the ligature cha shows that, the older form of ca is still 
being used in certain cases. 

1 Biihler's Indian I'^l^rograpliy. pi. IV, Col. XIX, 11. 



> 



>T 

: 







CD 

< 
> 



O 

U- 



o 
oo 

cc 

o 



-a 
o 

CD 



THE EASTERN ALPHABET. 45 

(8) In ja the curvature of the lower horizontal 
line was already perceptible in the Eastern variety form 
of the early Gupta alphabet. The vertical was also percep- 
tibly curved. Here we find the central horizontal 
line also curved to the same extent as the base or lower 
line. A wedge has been added to the right extremity of 
the upper horizontal line. 

(9) There is only one instance of the occurrence 
of jJia and it has exactly the same shape which ma has 
in the Allahabad pillar-inscription of Samudragupta. 

(10) In the case of 'fi.a, it occurs in two ligatures, 
conjointly, with ca and ja ; the form nca, does not differ 
much from that found in the Allahabad pillar-inscription 
of Samudragupta, but in the ligature jnya its form is 
still more cursive. 

(11} In the case of ia, we find the Eastern variety 
differring very much from that of the Western. The 
ta in the Aphsad inscription is merely an open curve, with 
a wedge placed horizontally at the upper end of the curve; 
but in the Western variety, as in the case of the . Lakkha- 
mandala Prasasli, it is a semi-circle with a serif, which is 
attached to the curve by means of a wedge. 

(12) In the case of tfia we find the ancient Maurya 
form still being used in Northern India without any 
change. 

(13) In the case of da, we see that the letter consists 
of two small curves. In the last line of Aphsad inscrip- 
tion, in the word Gaudena, we find a more archaic form, 
resembling the one used in the Allahabad pillar-inscription 
of Samudragupta ; the only difference being a slight 
shortening of the length. It may be mentioned in this 
connection that the word Gauda is found for the first time 
in Indian epigraphy, in the Aphsad inscription, where it is 



46 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

stated that the Prasasti was composed by Su&sma-siva, a 
native of the Ganda country. ' 

(14) In the case of dha, we find the angle changed 
into a curve. Cf. the form iu the inscriptions of 
Yasodharman. 2 

(15) In the case of a na, we see that the base line 
has become slanting, thus forming an acute angle at the 
right lower extremity, and the left hook has become 
lengthened. In the case of the ligature nda, the lingual na 
has acquired a distinctly modern form, consisting simply 
of two curves. 

(16) The lower right limb of fa, which was already 
elongated in the Gupta period, becomes slightly curved 
and we find a wedge at the top of this letter. 

(17) In the cese of tha occurs only once and its form, 
there is very indistinct e.g. vimathito (L. 7), but here 
we find the upper part of the letter distinctly broadened. 
In ligatures on the other hand, we find the older 
form still prevailing e.g. in stka in kumbhastkall (L.I). 

(18) In dfia, the small arc has changed into a semi- 
circle. 

(19) In the case of na, we find that the looped form 
of the Early Gupta period has changed into one 
somewhat resembling the modern Nagari one The loop 
has become : 

(a) separated from the main body of the letter, 
(d) smaller in size, 

and (c) joined to the main body by a short horizontal 
stroke. 

1 An earlier mention is to be found in the Haraha Inscription of 
IsSnavarman of [V. E.] 611, which has since been discovered. 

2 Buhler's Indian Palaeography, pi. IV, X, 20. 



INTRODUCTION. * 

(20) A still more cursive form is apparent in pa and 
the acute angle has become more pronounced. The right 
limb shows further downward elongation. 

(21) In the Aphsad column of Dr. Buhler's plates, 
pha has been omitted but it occurs among the ligatures e.g. 
Col. XIX, 45. It occurs many times and we have it 
thrice in the 25th line of the Aphsad inscription: Sphatika, 
sphara and sphurat. 

(22) From this time onward we shall have to discard 
ba, from the alphabet, as in Northern inscriptions, va took 
the place of ba and its occurrence is occasional. 

(23) In the Western variety of the early Gupta 
alphabet, the left hook of bha has changed into a solid 
wedge, and this wedge has developed into a hollow one, 
at the same time, separating the right limb of the letter 
from the upper part. So for all practical purposes, the 
distinction between ha and bha had ceased. 

(2 4-) In ma the acute angle, observable in the western 
variety alphabet of the early Gupta period, develops still 
more strongly and causes a downward elongation of the 
right limb. 

(25) We find two varieties of ya in the Aphsad 
inscription. In the first place, we have the bipartite 
form, with a clear acute angle at its lower extremity and 
in the second place, a later form, in which the acute angle 
is less prominent, but the downward elongated of the 
right limb has already assumed a settled from. 

(26) In ra, we find for the first time, a pointed wedge 
or arrow-head, at the lower extremity, which is found 
earlier in inscriptions of the western variety e. g. the 
Lakkhamaudala Prasaftti 1 and the Bodh-Gaya inscription 

1 Ep. Ind., Vol. I, p. 12. 



48 OlSKilN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

of MabfinSraan. It is still more developed in the 
Aphsad inscriptions where it resembles a da of short 
stature. 

(27) We find two forms of la also. In the first 
case, the curve or hook in the left limb of the letter has 
been lengthened downwards with a very slight outward 
curve at its lowest extremity. In the second case, we find 
the hook on the curve of the left limb, instead of being 
prolonged downwards, has acquired an inward length, very 
much resembling the modern Nagari and Bengali forms of 
the letter. 

(28) The triangular ra of the early Gupta period 
suffers the same transformation as the triangle at the 
base of kka Two sides of the triangle are converted 
into a curve, while the third side is lengthened. A 
wedge is invariably to be found on the top of the 
letter. 

(29) In sa, the upper part of the letter was a curve 
in the early Gupta alphabet, whether Eastern or Western. 
In the later western variety it changed to a 
rectangle. But in the Aphsad inscription, we find, for 
the first time, the upper part consists of a loop, 
while the right lower limb has been elongated upwards. 

(30) We find three distinct forms of sa. 

(a) The looped form which occurs in the Aphsad 
inscription alone (cf. Biihler's tables, pi. IV, XIX, 38). 

(Ij) The form in which the loop is changed into a 
hollow wedge (cf. Buhler's tables, pi. IV, XVIII, 38). 

(c) In the third variety which is found exclusively in 
the Shahpur image-inscription of Adityasena, the apex of 
the wedge has separated and ceased to be a wedge. 
This form is found in the 6th and 9th century inscriptions 
of north-eastern India. 



THE EASTERN ALPHABET. 49 

(31) We find one form of ha, and the only changes 
noticeable are the elongation of the curve or hook in the 
right limb of the letter, and the introduction of the wedge 
at the top and the slanting of the hitherto horizontal 
base line. 

The next inscription of the Eastern variety is the 
Deo-Baranark inscription of Jivitagupta II, the great- 
grandson of Adityasena. Most probably, this record was 
incised in the earlier part of the 8th century A. D. The 
following inscriptions of Eastern India may be taken as 
type-specimens for the 8th century A. D. : 

1. The Deo-Baranark pillar-inscription of Jivita- 
gupta II. We have a certain date for Adityasena in the 
Shahpur image-inscription. Three full generations elapsed 
between him and Jivitagupta II. If these generations 
be taken to be short and to have covered fifteen years on 
the average, we arrive at the 8th century A. D. as the 
date of Jivitagupta II. Consequently it may be affirmed 
that the Deo-Baranark pillar was incised either in the first 
or the second decade of the 8th century A. D. 

'2. The Khalimpur grant of Dharmmapala, the 
year 33 J . 

3. The Bodh-Gaya image-inscription of the time of 
Dharmapala, the year 26 2 . 

It is now quite certain that the reign of Dharmmapala 
fell in the 8th century A. D., because he was a contem- 
porary of 

(i) the king Indraraja or Indiiiyudha of Kanauj who 
is stated in the Hnrivamsapiirana to have been living in 
the Saka year 705 = 783 A. D., 3 

1 J. A. 8. B., 1894, pt. I, p. 53, pi. III. 

2 Ibid, (N.S.) Vol. IV, p. 102, pi. VI. ; Annual Rep. Arch. Survey 

1908-9, pp. 148-50. 

3 Peterson's 4th Uep. on the Search for Skt. Mss. in the Bombay 

PreBy., pp. XLI and 176 ; I ml. Ant., Vol. XV, p. 141. 

7 



50 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

(ii) a king named Cakrayudha, whom he offered 
the throne of Kanauj, and who was defeated by the 
Gurjjara-Pratihara king Nagabhata II, 

(iii) the Gurjjara-Pratihara chief Nagabhata II, for 
whom we have a certain date in the Buchkala inscription 1 
of V. S. 872 = 815 A. D., 

(iv) the Rastrakufca king Govinda III 2 whose certain 
dates range from 794813 A.D. 3 

The Deo-Baranark inscription of Jlvitagnpta II is in a 
bad state of preservation and the facsimile given in 
Dr. Fleet's work has not been well reproduced. We 
find here the forms of initial vowels have not changed. 
Ka, ga, ca, ja, ta, tha, da, da, dha, na, bha, ma, ya, and 
ha also have not changed. We find changes in the 
cases of 

(1) na, in which we find the right hook or curve 
further lengthened downwards, 

(2) in the case of ta also we find a similar increase 
in the downward length with a very slight, almost imper- 
ceptible, curve at its lower extremity, 

(3) in tha, we find the top of the latter broadened, 
most probably due to " the elongation of the ends of the 
wedges and of the use of long straight strokes " 4 , 
cf. yatha in (L. 14), 

(4) we find two forms of pa : (a) the older form, in 
which the acute angle is still prevalent ; and () in which 
the acute angle, though present, is less remarkable and has 
given place to a downward elongation of the right vertical 
line e.g. in the ligature spa 

1 Epi. Ind., Vol. IX, p. 193. 

2 J. B. B. R. A. S., Vol. XXII. No. LXI, p. 128. 

3 Epi. Ind., Vol. VIII, App. II, p. 3. 

4 Btthler's Indian Palaeography, Eng. Ed., p. 53. 



THE EASTERN ALPHABET. 51 

(5) in the case of la, we find the acute angle having, 
in certain cases, become too small ?nd the right vertical 
straight line produced downwards, e.g. in kamala (L. 4), 
but in other cases, it retains the form of the Aphsad 
inscription, e.g. valavi (L. 6.), 

(6) we find two forms of sa also : (a) the earlier, 
with a curved, top as in paramamahesvara (L. 3), and (6) 
the later form, which we find for the first time, and which 
resembles the 9th century form of the Dighwa-Dubhauli 
grant, 1 

(7) in sa the lower part of the left limb is cursive 
and projects beyond the vertical level of the left side of 
the letter, 

(8) the third variety of the dental sa of the Aphsad 
inscription is used in all cases. 

The Bodh-Gaya and Khalimpur inscriptions of the 
26th and 32nd year of the reign of Dharmapala, most 
probably, were incised in the 9th and last decade of the 
8th century A.D. 

In the Bodh-Gaya inscription of Dharmapala we 
find:- 

1 three forms of sa : 

(a) the ancient form with the round top as in 
Silabkidah L. 1, Kesava L. 2 and sad-vinsati L. 7, 

(fj) the later form without the cross-bar as in Mahadeva's- 
caturmnkha and srentha (L. 2), 

(c) the transitional with the lingering cross-bar, as in 
sreyase (L. 4) ; 

2 the cross-bar of the lingual sa going to intersect the 
acute angle at the bot f om, instead of joining the right 
vertical line ; 

1 Btihler's Indian Palaeography, Eng. Ed., pi. IV, XXI, 36. 



52 



ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 



3 in ja the upper horizontal bar disappearing entirely 
and being substituted by a wedge. The middle horizontal 
bar is a curve and longer in size in one case (ma/ribJiuji 
L. 7) and shorter in another (vjjvala9ya L. 1) ; 

4 two forms of na : 

(a) the older looped form occurring in all cases except 
two, 

(b) the transitional form, between the Gupta shape 
and the Nagarl or Bengali form, which we find in a/iani 
(L. 9) and most probably also in khanitu (L. 6) ; 

5 in na, the base line almost disappearing in 
many cases, as in pitskarni and 7'tsnn (L. 5) dramwanam 
and sahasrena (L. 6), the base line finally perceptible in 
pulrena (L. 2) ; 

f> in ha, the acute angle, at the lower extremity, 
more sharply defined. The characters of the Khalimpur 
grant of Dharmmapala appear next, and in it we find some 
notable changes. 

I. Vowels. 

1. In a, we find a broad top-stroke, for the first time, 
which makes, the resemblance of the letter, to the initial 
Bengali a complete. Cf. ajani (L. 45). 

2. In , we find, the length of the vowel is 
denoted, even in the case of the initial, by a full length 
vertical straight line, instead of a curve, attached to the 
lower extremity of the right limb. In the case of the 
medial, this form is to be found, in all cases, in the 
Bodh-Gaya inscription also. For the initial form, cf. 
asld in L. 5. 

3. In the case of /, we see that the usual form is a 
wedge at the top with two circular dots below. Cf. the 
form in ira (L. 4) and iti (L. 7). 



LJJ 
h- 




CO 

o 

c 
o 



ex 

E 

<D 



CO 

(/) 

CD 
-C 
CO 

E 

CO 

-il 

'o. 

CO 



O) 

^: 
h- 



THE EASTERN ALPHABVT. 53 

II. Consonants, 

1. Ka retains the looped form, but the acute angle at 
the bottom becomes more sharply defined. 

2. In kha, we find the hook at the top, having 
become elongated, is converted into a left limb, which in 
certain cases e.g. in the Bodh-Gaya inscription, is projected 
further downwards than the right limb. In this inscrip- 
tion, the acute angle in the right limb, becomes still 
more sharp, e.g. nikhila (L. 20) and khalu (L. 25). 

3. In ga, we find the left limb has been sharply 
curved to the right, the extremity of the curve being 
occupied by the usual wedge. 

4. In gha we have a broad top stroke, the left end of 
which is connected with the lower extremity of the right 
vertical line, by means of two curves. In fact, the base line 
of the 5th century gha, consisting of a curve to the left and 
a blanting straight line to the right, has been transformed 
into two distinct curves, while the acute angle at the 
bottom has become very small. 

5. fta occurs in ligatures only and has. not changed, 
cf. Sanglryamanfih (L. 22). 

6. In ca, there is no other change, save the sharpness 
of the acute angle and the consequent decrease in the 
breadth of the letter. 

7. In cha also, there is little or no change, except 
the downward elongation of the vertical line, which forms 
a short tail, attached to the point or junction of the two 
circles, cf. ahaveccha (L. 20). 

8. In /a, we find remarkable changes. The lowest 
horizontal line consists of a hook, while the middle hori- 
zontal has been forced downwards ; the place of the upper 
horizontal line being taken by a wedge. There is very 
little difference between this form and the modern 
Bengali form of this letter. 



54 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIfrT. 

9. Na is to be found in ligatures only, cf. sarlvaajfta 
(L. 1) where the reproduction is not very distinct. 

10. Another important modification is to be found in 
ta, where instead of the semi-circle, we find the letter 
consists of a top-stroke, a vertical str.iight line attached 
to the right extremity, which forms the right limb, and a 
curve, attached to the left end of the top-stroke, by means 
of another curve. 

11. Tha has changed from a circle into a semi-circle 
with a straight line attached to its both ends and slightly 
produced downwards, beyond it ; cf. kanthe (L. 23). This 
form is not to be found in the 9th and 10th century 
inscriptions. 

12. In na, we find that in all cases the older form is 
still prevalent. In no case we find the suppression of the 
base line, as we do in some cases of the Bodh-Gaya 
inscription. 

13. In ta, we find the curve on the right hand 
bavin** a distinct tendency to become a straight line. 

14. In tha, we find a more archaic form, as neither the 
top-stroke nor the broadening of the upper part of the 
letter is perceptible. 

15. In the case of da, we find further changes. The 
curve in the middle of the letter has been changed into 
a sharp acute angle and the slight curve at the bottom 
lengthened downwards. 

16. In dh, we find no change, except the sharpening 
of the acute angle and the consequent shortening of the 
breadth. 

17. Another archaic form is that of na, which in all 
cases, shows the early Gupta looped form instead of the 
modern one. 

18. In pa, we find the acute angle has almost 
disappeared and the letter consists of a top-stroke, a 



THE EASTERN ALPHABET. 55 

vertical straight line, attached to its right end a curve 
attached to the left end of the top-stroke and the lower 
part of the vertical. 

19. Pha is denoted by the absence of the top stroke. 
It resembles a, pa without the top stroke and a small curve 
attached to the upper part of the right vertical line, 
cf. pkani (L. 15). 

20. In b/ia, there is no change beyond 1he sharpening 
of the lower angle. 

21. In ma also there is no change save the decrease in 
the size of the acute angle. 

22. In ya the vertical straight line is slightly 
projected downwards beyond the point of the junction 
with the curve. 

23. In ra the arrow-head ci the wedge becomes 
distinct. 

24. Another remarkable change is to le found in la. 
The base line of this letter, which became Wanting in the 
inscriptions of the later Guptas of Magadha, has been 
entirely suppressed in the majority of cases. In this 
record the hook or curve in the left limb of this letter is 
attached to the middle of the right vertical straight line 
by another curve and the letter becomes what it is in 
modern Nagari or Bengali. It should be noticed in this 
connection that the older form is preserved in the sea 
where the base line is distinct. 

25. In va, we find a similar downward proloflgatioB 
of the right vertical straight line. 

26. In sa, we find the looped form in all cases. The 
later forms, used in the Bodh-Gaysi in?cription, are not in 
evidence. 

27. In tta, we find the older form, in which the cross- 
bar touched the right vertical straight line, instead of the 
later form to be found in the Bodh-Gaya inscription. 



56 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

28. Sa retains the form which we find in the Deo- 
Baranark inscription of Jlvita-Gupta II without any 
change. 

29. The form of the letter is entirely changed in Jia, 
where we find the upper angle changed into a curve 
and the lower angle replaced by a short vertical straight 
line. So, the letter now consists of a wedge at the top, a 
curve below and two short vertical straight lines. 

From this point we have to recognise four different 
varieties in Northern alphabets : 

( i ) the Eastern, the development of which, we have 
to follow, in order to trace the origin of the Bengali script; 

( ii ) the Central, which gradually developed into the 
modern Nagar! and the alphabet of the Southern Punjab 
and Rajputana; 

(iii) the Sarada, which according to Bu'hler, "appears 
since about A.D. 900 in Kashmir and in the North- 
Eastern Punjab (Kangra anl Chamba);" 1 

(iv) the North- Western. The alphabet has not as 
yet, obtained proper recognition. It is to be fourd on the 
coins of the Hindu kings of Kabul or Ohind 2 and in 
certain 9th or 10th century inscriptions discovered by 
Sir Harold Djane, which have not been properly dealt 
with as yet". 3 It may be termed the Trans-Indus 
alphabet of the 9th or 10th centuries A.D., which died 
away after the Muhammedan occupation of the country. 
It may be noticed, however, that it survived till the earlier 
part of the llth century A..D., when we find it on the 
little known silver coins, with Sanskrit legends, issued by 
the famous conqueror, Sultan Mali mud of Ghazni. 4 

1 Buhler's Indian Palaeography, Rag. Ed., p. 57. 

- V. A. Smith, Cat. of Coins in the Indian Mnseum, Vol. I, p. 246. 

3 J. A. S. B., 1898, pt. I, p. 6, pi. VII 55. 

4 S. L. Poole's, of Orient. Coins in the Brit. Museum, Vol. II 

pp. 149-151, pi. VI. 



THE EASTERN ALPHABET. 67 

From this point onward, we shall have to confine our- 
selves to the development of the Eastern alphabet only, and 
to compare it with that of the central. This, again, will 
be called Western, from the point of view of our observa- 
tion, for the sake of better distinction. In the earlier part 
of the 9th century A.D., the Gurjjara-Pratiharas founded an 
extensive empire in Northern India, which extended from 
Bihar in the East to the Punjab in the West and from the 
Himalayas in the North to Malwaand Gujrat in the South. 
In Bengal, Devapala succeeded Dharmapala and kept the 
Pala Empire in tact. But his successors, Vigrahapala 1 and 
Narayanapala, were not so fortunate and we find that the 
Gurjjara-Pratihara emperors wrested Northern and 
Southern Bihar from them. We know from three 
different inscriptions that Magadha or Southern Bihar 
was included in the dominions of the Emperor 
Mahendrapala : 

1. The Digh \va-Dubhauli grant of Mahendrapala, 
V.E. 955 = 898 A.D. 1 

2. The Ram-Gaya inscription of Mahendrapala, the 
year 8. 8 

'3. The Guneria image-inscription of Mahendrapala, 
the year 9. 3 

The following inscriptions of the 9th century A.D. 
may be safely referred to the Eastern variety of the 
Northern class : 

1. The M unger grant of Devapala, the year 32. 4 

2. The Ghosrawa inscription of the time of 
Devapala. 5 

1 Ind. Ant. XV, p. 112. 

'- Cunningham's A. S. E., Vol. Ill, p. 123, No. 13. pi. XXXVII 

No. 6. 
Ibid, p. 124, No. 14. 

* Asiatick Researches, Vol. I, p. 123 j Ind. Ant., Vol. XXI, p. 254. 

Ind. Ant., Vol. XVII, p. 309. 



58 ORIGIN OF THE BENGAL SCRIPT. 

8. The BadfU pillar inscription of the time of 
Narayanapala. 1 

4. The Yisuupad temple inscription of Narayana- 
pala the year 7. 2 

5. The Bhagalpur grant of Narayanapala the 
year 17. 3 

6. The Dighwa-Dubhauli grant of Mahendrapala 
V. E. 955. 4 

7. The Ramgaya inscription of Mahendrapala 
the year 8. 5 

Out of these seven inscriptions the Hunger grant of 
Devapala is of no use for Palseographical purposes, as 
its original cannot be traced, and it was published by 
the late Dr. Kielhorn from the eye copy reproduced in 
the first volume of the Asiatick Researches. The 
Ghoerawa inscription is the only record whose characters 
may be taken to represent the North Eastern alphabet 
of the earlier part of the 9th century A.D. Dr. Biihler 
was certainly wrong in placing the alphabets of the 
Dighwa-Dubhauli grant of Maheudrapala and the Asiatic 
Society's grant of Vinayakapala 6 before that of the 
Ghosrawa Inscription. 7 The approximate date of the 
Ghosrawa inscription is also wrongly given. It should 
be 800-900 A.D. instead of 850-950 A.D. Subsequent 
examination will prove that the Dighwa-Dubhauli grant 
is later in date than that of the Bhagalpur grant of 
Narayanapala. 

1 Ep. Ind., Vol. II, p 161. 

* Cunningham's A. S. R., Vol. Ill, pi. XXXVI. 

Ind. Ant., Vol. XV, p. 305 ; J. A. S. B. 1878, Pt. 1, pi. XXIV-XXV. 

* Ind. Ant., Vol. XV, p. 112. 

* Cunningham's A. 8. R., Vol. Ill, pi. XXXVII, No. 6. 

* Biihler s Indische Palaeographie Tafel IV, Cols. XXI 4 XXIII. 
Ibid, Taf. V, Col. VI. 



THE EASTERN ALPHABET. 59 

The following characteristics of the alphabet used in 
the Ghosrawa inscription may be noted : 

1. In A the top stroke has not yet fully developed. 
There are two distinct wedges on the top of each of the 
limbs. In addition to these there is a long narrow wedge 
at the lower extremity of the right limb. 

2. In the case of A also the top stroke has not yet 
fully developed. 

3. The initial short I consists of two circles or dots 
at the top, and a scroll like curve below. 

4. E has become a right angled triangle in form. 

5. Kha still shows a wedge at the bottom of the 
left limb. 

6. Ca shows an increase in the breadth. 

7. Ja shows an archaic form in which the central 
horizontal bar is slightly slanting downwards and lower 
horizontal bar shows a small curve at the end 

8. In Ta the right limb is not shown and is archaic 
in form consisting of a semi-circle with a wedge at the 
upper end. 

9. In Na the base line has entirely disappeared. 

10. Tha shows a broadening of the upper part and 
consists of a loop and a curve with an acute angle at 
the bottom formed by a side of the curve and the right 
vertical straight line. 

11. Da shows a slanting downward stroke at its 
lower extremity. 

12. Dha also shows this stroke. 

13. Na shows the transitional form between the 
looped one of the early Gupta period and the Nagari or 
Bengali one. The loop has separated from the main 
body of the letter. 



60 ORIGIN OF THE BENGAL SCRIPT. 

14. Pa is very archaic in form. There is no curva- 
ture about it and the lower part shows two right angles 
instead of an obtuse and an acute angle. 

15. In Bha we see the slanting downward stroke. 

16. In Ma the loop is still absent. 

17. In Ya the acute angle has been entirely sup- 
pressed and with the exception of the breadth of the 
lower part of the letter we have the complete Nagari or 
Bengali form. 

18. The base line of La has been entirely suppressed. 
The hook or curve on the left is joined to the right limb 
by a short straight line. 

19. In Fa the acute angle has given place to the 
elongation of the right vertical straight line. 

20. In Sa we find a wedge at the botoom of the left 
limb and the cross bar has become slanting while the right 
limb is projected upwards. 

21. In (Sf ' the base line has again become horizontal, 
and the cross bar has slanted downwards. 

22. In Ha also we find a slightly archaic form as the 
acute angle has not as yet developed into a second down- 
ward stroke. 

The archaisms found in the alphabet used in the 
Ghosrawa inscription may be explained in this manner. 
The Ghosrawa inscription represents the true epigraphic 
alphabet, in which certain letters are more archaic in form 
than those in the Khalimpur grant of Dharmapala. The 
alphabet used in the Khalimpur grant represents the 
current-hand-script of the later part of the 8th century 
A. D. and as such shows much later forms than the 
Ghosrawa inscription, which being incised on stone is an 
Epigraph proper of the 9th century. 



. -."' -\ 





o 
LL 



-o 

CO 



CO 

Q_ 

03 
>-, 



CO 
(fl 

co 
>, 

'oo 

c 



THE EASTERN ALPHABET. 61 

We pass on to the reign of Narayanapala, where we 
have two stone inscriptions and a copper plate. The Badal 
pillar inscription was found in North Bengal and the 
Visnupad temple inscription, at Gaya in South Bihar. The 
copper plate was also found at Bhagalpur in the latter 
province. In the case of Epigraphs proper we find that 
the alphabet of the Badal pillar, which is in the East is 
more archaic than that of the Gaya inscription of the 
West. The following points are worth noting in the case 
of the alphabet used in the Badal pillar inscription: 

I. Vowels : 

1. The top stroke is prominent in the case of A and 
the letter consists of a vertical straight line drawn down- 
wards from right end of the top stroke. A short straight 
line stands at right angle to the first one, at its centre, and 
supports a comma-shaped-curve at its extremity. There 
is a long thin wedge at the bottom of the vertical line. 

2. A is similar in shape, the length of the sound being 
denoted by a second vertical straight line placed on the 
right of the first and drawn parallel to it. 

3. The initial / is denoted by a wedge at the top, and 
two circles or dots below it. 

4. The initial U has not changed its form. 

5. We find two forms of E : 

(a) The first one is the triangular form in which one 
of the upper angles has gradually become a right ano-le. 
The lower part of the letter shows the slightly curved 
downward stroke. 

() In the second form we find that it has ceased to be 
a triangle. The hypotenuse has snapped leaving a curve at 
the top of the vertical side and a part of it at the lower 
end. The resemblance to the modern Bengali form is now 
complete. Cf. the form in eva (L. 13). 



62 ORIGIN OP THE BENGAL SCRIPT. 

II. Consonants : 

1 . In many cases there is no trace of an acute angle 
at the lower part of Ka. The letter consists of a top-stroke, 
a vertical straight line with curving end drawn at light 
angles to the former, and a curve attached to the left side 
of the vertical, the upper part of which projects out on the 
right side and is then turned straight downwards. 

2. The base of Kha still consists of a triangle but the 
base line is not horizontal. The upper part of the letter 
which consisted formerly of a curve with a wedge or short 
straight line at its end now consists of a curve with another 
much smaller one as its extremity. 

3. In Ga the curve has a second one attached to its 
lower extremity and there is a slight tendency of projecting 
the vertical straight line upwards, beyond the point of its 
junction with the curve. 

4. There is a distinct tendency towards shortage in the 
breadth of the upper part of Gha. The other changes are 
the introduction of the top-stroke, the raising of the left 
curve above the level of the right one, the disappearance of 
the acute angle and the presence of the slightly curved 
downward stroke at the bottom. 

5. Co. has not changed. 

6. In Ja we find a much later form. The vertical 
straight line has now become a curve while the central 
bar or horizontal line has become transformed into a 
long slanting downward stroke. The top-bar has long ago 
been converted into a wedge. 

7. Na is found in ligatures. In one case we find that 
it resembles the modern Bengali form. Cf. nca in Kindt 
(L. 28). 

8. We find two forms of Ta : 

(a) The form met with for the first time in Khalimpur 
grant in which there is a top-stroke, a right limb 



THE EASTERN ALPHABET. 63 

consisting of a vertical straight line attached to the right 
end of the top-stroke, and a left limb consisting of a 
serai-circle which is attached to the left end of the top- 
stroke by means of another slanting straight line. Cf. 
Mukutankita (L. 7). 

() The second form consists of a top-stroke and a 
semi-circle attached to the left end of it by a slanting 
straight line. The only difference between this form and 
the first one is the absence of the right limb. Cf. Vikata 
(L. 8). 

9. Tha consists of a plain circle up to this time. 

10. l}a is to be found in Udupa (L. 7) where the 
angular form is found to have given its place to the archaic 
cursive one. 

11. In Na we find that the base line is still intact 
but the left hook or curve has been transformed into a 
vertical straight line slightly curving towards the lower 
end. 

1 2. Ta has not changed but we find two different 
final forms : 

(a) Vidhivat (L. 10-11). 
(V) Kindt, (L. 34). 

13. There is a perceptible narrowing of the upper 
part of Dha. 

14. In Na we find the modern Bengali form. The 
final form has also been used in the inscription. Cf. 
Sri-man (L. 12). 

15. In Pd we find a shortening in the breadth of the 
letter which makes its resemblance to the modern Nagarl 
form complete. 

16 In Pha the left limb consists of a curve which 
joins the right one at the lower extremity. The right 
limb consists of a vertical straight line and a hook or 
curve to the right attached to its upper end. 



64 ORIGIN OF THE BENGAL SCRIPT. 

17. Bha has not changed much. 

18. For the first time we find that in Ma the base line 
is almost horizontal and there is a loop at the left end 
of the base line. The acute angle has been entirely 
suppressed. 

19. In Ya we also find a shortage in the breadth of 
the letter, which makes its resemblance to the modern 
Nagarl form, almost complete. 

20. In La we have the archaic form with the slightly 
curved base line. 

21. In Ya which does duty both for Ba and Va we 
find that the acute angle has entirely disappeared and the 
letter now consists of a top stroke, a vertical straight line 
at right angles to the above, and a semi-circle attached to 
the left side of the vertical. 

22. We find four different forms of the palatal 
sibilant : 

(a) The looped form in which the lower part of the 
left limb ends in a wedge. Cf. Sakra (L. 1). 

(b) The looped form in which we find a small triangle 
at the lower extremity of the looped form. Cf. Sarkkara 
(L. 8). 

(c) The transitional form between the looped form 
and the Bengali one in which the letter consists of a 
vertical straight line on the right, to which is attached 
a curve by means of a very small horizontal straight line. 
From the left end of this curve, another curve which 
ends in a wedge, hangs downwards. Cf. Siva (L. 10). 

(d) The modern Bengali form in which there is no top 
stroke. The letter consists of a vertical straight line on 
the right with a curved top and a curved line on the left 
the upper end of which meets the curved end of the 
right-limb and has a wedge at its base. Cf. Sandilya 
(L. 1). 



THE EASTERN ALPHABET. 



65 



23. In the lingual Sa the breadth of the lower part 
has decreased considerably. 

24. Sa has not changed at all. 

25. Ha in all cases shows the later form of the llth 
and 12th century Nagari or Bengali, in which the down- 
ward stroke which had taken the place of the lower acute 
angle becomes transformed into a curve. 

In the Gaya inscription we find that 

1. Initial / has two different forms : 

(a) Two circles at the top and a scroll at the bottom. 
Cf. Iti in L. 4. 

(b) A short horizontal straight line at the top and two 
small circles at the bottom. 

2. Kha has acquired the modern Bengali form, in 
which the letter consists of a vertical straight line on the 
right and the triangle which has now ceased to be so, as 
the apex has opened out, and the curve at the top. This 
curve at the top, and the transformed sides of the triangle 
form a new limb of the letter. The lower part of the 
curve at the top has again curved slightly inwards making 
the resemblance complete. 

3. Gha still retains the acute angle at the bottom. 
Cf. Narasiiigha (L. 2). 

4. In Ta we find that the vertical straight line on 
the right has entirely disappeared. Cf. the three instances 
in L. 2. 

5. Tka continues to preserve its ancient form. 

6. We find two forms of Pa : 

(a) The more ancient form in which the angles still 

* s O 

persist as in P raved a (L. 2). 

(b) The comparatively modern cursive form which is 
more abundant. 

7. Pha is to ba found in ligatures : 
Sphiirad-amala (L. 1-2) and Sjohuratu (L. 14). 



66 ORIGIN OF THE BENGAL SCRIPT. 

8. In the case of La we find important changes. The 
base line has disappeared and the letter consists of a 
top-stroke, a vertical straight line at right angles to it 
and two small curves joined together which touch the 
left side of the vertical line. 

9. We find two forms of the palatal sibilant Sa 
here also : 

(fl) The transitional form between the looped one and 
the more modern form. This particular transitional form 
is earlier than that to be found in the Badal pillar in- 
scription, as here the loop is still present but nestles against 
the left side of the right vertical straight line. Cf. Setv 
(L. 12). 

(b} The other form is more widely used and is same 
as variety (d) of the Badal pillar inscription. 

We now turn to the alphabet of the Bhagalpur grant 
which is the latest record of Narayanapala discovered up 
to date 1 as it was issued in the 17th year of his reign. We 
find that in the alphabet of this inscription we have the 
Proto-Beugali forms almost complete : 

I. Vowels : 

1. A is the complete Bengali one in which even the 
short line joining the comma-shaped scroll to the right 
vertical line is slanting downwards instead of being hori- 
zontal as in the Badal pillar inscription. Cf. Asir (L. 20), 
Abhitva(ra}mana (L. 35), An^am^ = ca (L. 36). The 
wedge has almost disappeared from the lower part of the 
letter. 

1 The latest inscription of this prince is a votive record incised on 
the back of a small metal image found at Binar. It records the dedi- 
cation of the image at Uddandapur in the 54th year of the reign of that 
sovereign. This image is preserved in the Luscum of the Baiiglya 
Sahitya Parishad of Calcutta. 



THE EASTERN ALPHABET. 67 

'1. A also has a similar form -the length being 
denoted by a second vertical straight line placed to the 
right of the letter as in the Badal pillar inscription. The 
A and A of the alphabet used in this inscription is almost 
the same as those used in the modern Bengali alphabet, 
the only differentia being the short vertical straight stroke 
in both letters joining the comma-shaped curve with the 
top stroke. 

3. In the case of initial / we find almost the same 
form as in the Badal pillar, i.e.. the wedge at the top and 
two circles or dots below it. The wedge however is modi- 
fied in form, having lost the upper side of the triangle. 
Cf. Iti. (L. 47 and 50). 

4. In the initial U we find a change after a long time. 
The letter now possesses a top stroke and the vertical 
straight line which had remained unaltered since the early 
Mauryya period now curves sharply to the left. Cf. Udlcln- 
aneka (L. 26). 

II. Consonants : 

1. The triangle of Ka has become broader. 

2. Kka shows the cursive Bengali form found for the 
first time in the Gaya inscription. 

3. Ghi his lost its acute angle, become shortened in 
breadth at the upper part and the left curve at the base 
placed on a higher level than the right one. We have a 
very close approach to the modern Bengali form in this 
instance. 

4. Ca also shows a distinct narrowing at the upper 
part. 

o. In Ja we find that in some cases the central hori- 
zontal bar of the earlier forms, which becomes almost a 
downward stroke in the Badal pillar inscription, trans- 
formed into two straight lines, forming an obtuse angle. 
In other cases this line becomes merely a curve. 



68 ORIGIN OF THE BENGAL SCRIPT. 

6. In Ta we find that there is a short downward stroke 
from th) right end of the top stroke which may be a relic 
of the longer stroke of the form used in the Khalimpur 
grant. 

7. In Na we find the proto- Bengali form consisting 
of two short curves joined on to the left side of a vertical 
straight line. 

8. Ta has changed its form after a long time. The 
letter now consists of a top stroke and a vertical straight 
line at right angles to it and a curve attached to the left 
side of the latter. The form resembles the Nagarl one to 
some extent. 

9. In Tha the upper curve has become open showing 
the evolution of the Bengali form. 

10. In Dha also the upper part of the letter has in 
many cases opened. 

11. The Na has in the majority of cases, the archaic 
looped form but the loop seems to be drooping or bent 
downwards. 

12. In Pa the upper part of the letter has narrowed. 
18. Pha also shows the decrease in the breadth of 

the upper part of the letter. 

14. Ma in all cases has the looped form. 

15. In La we find the final suppression of the base line. 

16. The Palatal Sa is in all cases of the looped form. 

17. We find two forms of the lingual Ra : 

(a) The first is the older form in which the breadth 
of the letter is the same in the upper as well as in the 
lower parts. Cf. Samayat-asesa. 

(b) The second is that in which the breadth of the 
upper part is considerably less than that of the lower. 
Cf. Samupagat-a'sesa (L. 30). 

The Bhagalpur grant, being written in the current hand 
script, shows forms much later than the Epigraphs proper 



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fetllPiiiSiP : E 

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S_S^.v : i^frwl | w 



S r-r'^^- ; V'4^'' 

l^lf^SJ?^ 

i^irk ^ Yv:\<?fcit, i 



THE EASTEKX ALPHABET. 69 

the Badal pillar and Visnupad temple inscriptions of the 
time of Narayanapala. The examination of the characters 
of the Dighwa-Dubhauli grant of the Pratihara Emperor 
Mahendrapala have been included in this paper though it 
was issued from Mahodaya or Kanauj, because in the first 
place, the land granted was situated in the mandala and 
bhukti of ^ravasti, in the second place because it was found 
in the village Dighwa-Dubhauli in the Sub-Division of 
Gopalganj, in the district of Saran of the Tirhut Sub-divi- 
sion of Bihar, and in the third place because there are many 
Eastern variety forms in the alphabet used in it: 

1. The narrow Ca. 

2. The cursive /a. 

3. The later Ta of the Bhagalpur grant. 

4. The Proto-Bengali Tha. 

5. The looped Ma. 

6. The transitional Sa in which the loop nestles close 
to the vertical straight line. 

7. The late $a in which the cross bar slants downwards. 
The exceptional forms are those of: 

(1) A, (2) KAa, (3) Glut, (4) Ta, (5) Na, (6; Ka. 
We have to admit then that the Dighwa-Dubhauli 
grant shows the use of an alphabet which is a mixture of 
the Eastern and Western, a fact not to be wondered at the 
land was situated on a border. In the Ram-Gaya inscrip- 
tion of Mahendrapala (regnal year 8 = C. 898 A.D.) 1 we 
have a similar mixture: 

1. Sa is of the transitional form and shows a triangle 
instead of a wedge at the lower extremity of the left limb. 

2. Ja shows the downward slanting of the central bar 
and extreme cursiveness of the lower one. 

3. Pa still retains an acute angle. 



1 Memoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. 



70 ORIGIN OF THE BENGAL SCRIPT. 

4. Ma is looped in form but the lower horizontal bar 
is perfectly so. There is no slanting. 

5. La shows the horizontal straight line which joins 
the curve or hook to the right vertical straight line. 

6. Na is of the looped form. 

7. Ha still shows an acute angle but at the same time 
exhibits a downward curve projecting from the lower angle. 

Few inscriptions have been discovered in Northern 
India which can safely be referred to the 10th century 
A. D. The reason for the absence of records is not far to 
seek. The period was a very troubled one and saw the fall 
of mighty empires. The vast fabric of the Gurjjara-Pratlha- 
ra Empire, imperfectly welded together, was rapidly falling 
to pieces. Family discord, fanned into flame by neighbour- 
ing monarchs, rushed the decay of the Gurjjaras of Kanauj. 
In the far East the ancient Empire of the Palas was fast 
crumbling away. The Palas were between two fires. The 
Gurjjara-Pratiharas in the West, and Mongoloid tribes from 
the North, were doing their best to annihilate them. We 
have seen that in the latter part of the 9th century Magadha 
(South Bihar) and Tlrabhukti (North Bihar) had been wrest- 
ed from the Palas. South Bihar actually formed a part of 
the Gurjjara Empire. In the North there was a commo- 
tion among the Mongoloid tribes of the Sub-Himalayan 
regions. Perhaps it was the result of a movement among 
the Nomads of the Trans-Himalayan deserts, the last wave 
of which reached the Northern barrier of India. The 
force that was transmitted through the rocky barrier 
served to dismantle the tall fabric constructed by Dharm- 
mapala. The Mongoloid tribes, dislodged from their 
submontane pastures descended into the plains and con- 
quered North Bengal. In 966 A.D. we find a king 
of Gauda, who professed the Brahmanical faith, but 
acknowledged descent from a Non-Aryan clan (Kamboja}. 



THE EASTERN ALPHABET. 71 

There are only three short votive inscriptions and one 
copper plate grant which can safely be referred to the 1 Oth 
century A.D. : 

1. The Dinajpur pillar inscription 8. 888 + 78 = 966 
A.D. 1 

2. The Nalanda image inscription of Gopala II the 
year I. 2 

The Bodh-Gaya image inscription of Gopala II. 3 
The Bangarh (Dinajpur) grant of Mahlpala I. 4 
The last one is included in this list because : 

1. We know from the Imadpur image inscriptions 
that Mahlpala I reigned at least 48 years. 5 

2. We know from the Tirumalai inscription that the 
Northern conquest of Rajendra Cola I was completed before 
his 12th regnal year i.e. 1028-4 A.D. 6 

3. The Sarnath inscription of Mahlpala I is most 
probably a posthumous one. So is the date V. E. 1083 = 
1026 A.D. The brothers Sthirapala and Vasantapala 
probably finished the work started by Mahlpala I. 

4. There is barely room for two syllables between (he 
words "Samvat" and Iguna. The second of these must be 
read Pha, the first syllable in the name of the month 
Phalguna and so there can have been only one numeral 
to express the year. 

Consequently we find that the Bangarh (Dinajpur) 
grant of Mahlpala must be assigned 'to the latter half of the 
10th century A.D. 

In the Dinajpur pillar inscription we find that : 

1. The upper curve of Ga has given place to a straight 
line from the left end of which hangs a curved line ending 

1 J. A. S. B. (N. S.), Vol. VIII, p. 619, pi. XV. 

* Ibid, Vol. IV, p. 105, No II, pi. VII. 

3 Ibid, No. III. 4 J. A. S. B. 1892, Ft. I, p. 82. 

4 Proc. A. S. B. 1881, p. 98. a Ep. Ind., Vol. VII, p. 119-20. 



72 ORIGIN OF THE BENGAL SCRIPT. 

in a wedge and from the right end of which hangs a 
straight line at right angle to it. Cf. Giyate (L. 2). 

2. In GJta the curves at the lower part have disappeared 
entirely and the letter consists of a top stroke, a vertical 
straight line hanging down from the right end of the former, 
and a loop in the angle formed by these lines, which is joined 
to the left end of the top stroke and the lower end of the 
vertical line by two slight curves. Cf. Ghata (L. 3). 

3. In Ca the acute angle is still present but the upper 
curve has become a horizontal straight line. The letter 
has also gained in breadth. Cf. Ca (L. 1). 

4. In Ja we have almost the modern Bengali form. 
The letter consists of a wedge-shaped top stroke, a right 
limb, the upper part of which is horizontal and the lower 
part vertical and a left limb, which is as shaped curve. 
Cf. Kamvojanvayajena (L. 2). 

5. JV T ff is perceptible in the ligature fija and there is 
no difference in it from the modern Bengali form. 

6. In Ta the only remarkable feature is the remnant 
of the right vertical straight line of the form of the 
Khalimpur grant of Dharmmapala. Cf. Ghata (L. 3). 

7. 'Da is cursive in form and consists of a wedge at the 
top and a S shaped curve below which is slightly different 
from the modern Bengali form. 

8. Na is exclusively Proto-Bengali in form. It 
consists of a top stroke, a right vertical straight line and two 
semi-circular curves attached to one another, the right end 
of the right one of which touches the upper part of the left 
side of the vertical. Cf. Margganayuna (L. 2). 

9. Ta shows the later form consisting of a top stroke, a 
vertical straight line and a long slight curve attached to the 
upper part of the left side of the vertical. Cf. Giyate (L. 2). 



THE EASTERN ALPHABET. 78 

10. Tha has not changed. The upper loop has not 
become open as yet. Cf. Varuthini and Pramatkane (L. 1). 

11. In Dha we find an acute angle and an arc of a 
circle bounded by a straight line which is produced 
upwards beyond the point of its junction with the upper 
end of the curve. Cf. Vidyadharaih (L. 1). 

12. Na has the later form consisting of a top stroke, 
a right vertical line and a loop in the angle joined to the 
left side of the latter by a short horizontal line. Of. 
G-audapatina (L. 2 3). 

13. Pa has the modern Nagarl form. Of. Prasado 
(L.3). 

14. Va shows no difference except the presence of 
the acute angle. 

15. In Bha we find a change after a long time. The 
letter consists of a top stroke, a right vertical straight 
limb, and a long narrow wedge which is joined to 1 1n- 
left side of the vertical line. This wedge seems to 
have been formed by the closing in of the sides sup- 
porting the obtuse and acute angles in the older form. 
Cf. Bhubhusanah (L. 3). 

1 6. Ma shows the looped form in which the lower 
horizontal line is at right angles to the vertical. Cf. 
Niramayi (L. 3). 

17. Ya shows the diminution in the breadth of the 
lower part of the letter. Cf. Yasya, (L. 2). 

18. Ra shows a widening of the wedge. Cf. 
Durvvar-ari (L. 1). 

19. La shows a slightly archaic form in which the 
line joining the curve to the right vertical is still horizontal 
and not slanting downwards. 

20. There is no difference between Ba and Pa, 



74 ORIGIN OF THE BBNGA.I. SCRIPT. 

21. Sa does not occur. 

22. In Sa we find a diminution in the breadth of the 
lower part of the letter and a slanting cross bar. Of . 
Farsena (L. 3). 

23. In Sa the closing in of the sides has caused a 
fresh formation of the wedge. Cf. Prasado (L. 3). 

24. Ha shows a top stroke' the transformation of the 
upper angle into a curve, and the curved line below the 
lower angle. Cf. Grako (L. 2). 

The Nalanda (Baragaou in the Patna District) image 
inscription shows : 

1. That in the west the older form of Bha was still 
being used. Cf. Paramabhattaraka (L. 1), and Bhattarika 
(L. 2) and 

2. That the later form of Sa is used in all cases : 
Asvina, Sudi, Pnrame'svara, 8n (L. 1), and Sri- J agi'srarl 
(L. 2). 

The Bodh-Gaya image inscription also shows the 
exclusive^ use of : 

1. the older form of Bha 

2. the later form of Sa and 

3. the later Bengali form of Kha. Cf. Khadga (L. 1), 
Duhkha (L. 2). 

In the Bangarh inscription of Mahipala 1 we h'nd the 
latest form of the 1 Oth century alphabet of the North 
East. In this inscription we come across the pure Proto- 
Bengali alphabet for the first time which is further 
developed in another century. We find that all earlier 
forms have gone out of use. The points to be 
noted are : 

1. The initial i, still consisting of a wedge at the top, 
and two dots or circles below. Cf. iv-aiko (L. 18). 

1 Epigraphia Tndica, Vol. XIII. 



THE EASTERN ALPHABET. 75 

2. The Bengali form of Kka in which the cursive left 
limb joins the right vertical at its lower end as well as at 
the top. Cf. the instances in L. 27. 

3. The looped form of Gha. Of. the instances in L. 26. 

4. The widened form of Ca. Cf. Carana (L. 24). 

5. The Bengali form of Ja in which the lower curved 
line is extended upwards and makes the development 
complete. 

6. The older form of Ta in which the residue of the 
right vertical line still exists. 

7. Tha shows a wedge-shaped vertical line for the 
first time. Cf. Plth-opalarh, (L. 14). 

8. Na has the complete Proto-Bengali form. 

9. In Ta the left end of the curve was already 
widening in the Dinajpur pillar inscription but in this 
record it does not show the change. 

10. Tha does not show the opening of the upper loop* 
Cf. Parthivendran (L. 58). 

11. Dha shows the prolongation of the vertical 
straight line. Cf. Sandadhanah (L. 2). 

12. Na shows the slanting cross-bar between the loop 
on the left and the right vertical line. 

13. Bha yet shows the older form. 

14. Ma shows the slanting of the lower horizontal 
line which joins the loop to the right vertical. 

15. La shows the developed NagarJ or Bengali form. 

16. Sa shows the later form in all eases and we do not 
find the looped or any of the transitional forms. 

17. We fiud the later form Ha in which there is a 
curved line below the lower (now the only) angle. 

In the llth century A.D., we find a fresh development. 
In Eastern India the gulf between the alphabets used in 
the Eastern and Western parts have become wider and 



76 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

consequently we find Nagari from Benares westwards, and 
Bengali from Gaya towards the East. We have very few 
inscriptions of the western variety. The Pratlharas still 
lingered at Kanauj, a helpless prey of the Muhammadan 
invader and the proud Candella Rajput. In Bengal 
the century saw the rise of a new Empire under Mahipala 
I, the invasion of the Southern Conqueror Rajendra Cola I, 
the fight for supremacy with the Cedl kings Gangeya and 
Karnna, the final break up under Vigrahapala and Rama- 
pala's attempt to recover the lost supremacy. 

In the eleventh century A.D. we shall consider the 
alphabets of four different inscriptions : 

1. The Sarnath image inscription of Mahipala I, 

V. E. 1083 = 10:26 A. D. 1 

2. The Krishna-Dwarika temple inscription of Naya- 

pala the year 15. 2 

3. The Tetrawan image inscription of Rampala the 

year :Z. 3 

4. The Deopara inscription of Vijaysena.* 

Besides these there are a number of records which need 
not be taken into consideration at present. Of Mahipala 
I we have the Imadpur image inscription of the 43th year 
and the Bodh-Gaya image inscription of the 10th year. 5 
We have another inscription of loth year of Naya- 
pala in the temple of Narasirhha in the compound of the 
Vismipad at Gaya. 6 We have two certain inscriptions 
of the reign of Vigrahapala III : 

1 Annual Rep. Arch. Survey, 1903-4. p. 222, pi. LXIV. No. 4. 

3 Cunningham's A.S.R. Vol. III. pi. XXXVII. J.A.S.B. 19OO. pt. I. 
p. 193 ; Memoirs, A.S.B. Vol. V. p. 77, pi. XXV 

3 J.A.S.B. (N.S.) Vol. IV. p. 109 pi. VII. 

4 Ep. Ind. Vol. II. p. 307. & plate. 

5 Cunningham's A.S.R. Vol. III. p. 122 No. 9. 

6 J.A.S.B. 1900. pt. I p. 190. note 1. Mem. A.S.B., Vol. V. p. 78, pi 
XXVI. 



THE EASTERN ALPHABET. 77 

(1) The Aksayavata inscri ption of the 5th year 1 
and (2) the Amgachhi copper plate grant. 2 So also of 
the reign of Ramapala we have the Chandimau image 
inscription of the 42hd year. 3 But these inscriptions are 
useless to us as trustworthy facsimiles have not been 
published or are not easily obtainable. The impression of 
the Krishna-Dwarika temple inscription of Nayapala was 
obtained after a good deal of trouble through the kind 
services of Pandit Parameswar Dayal of Gaya. 

In the Sarnath inscription of Mahlpala I we find that 
a mixed alphabet has been used. There is not the slight- 
est chance of the entire alphabet being called Nagarl, as 
a comparison with the Benares grant of Karnnadeva, the 
Cedl ruler, would prave at once that the western variety 
of the North-eastern alphabet was something altogether 
differe nt. 

The following are the peculiarities of the alphabet used 
in the SarnSSth inscription of Mahlpala I : 

(1) A in araclhya and I in isana (L. 1) have the western 
variety form. In A the comma shaped curve in the lower 
part of the left limb of the letter has lost its knob or head 
and has acquired the form of a semi-circle. 

(2) In I we find that the letter consists of a horizontal 
straight line above the two dots below and under them a 
slight curve indicates the length of the vowel Cf. Isana 
(L. 1). 

(3) We find Eastern variety forms in Sa, Ha, La, Na. 

(4) E in etam (L. 2) has the modern Bengali form in 
which the loop has opened. So also is Ja. 

1 Cunningham's A.8.E. Vol. III. p. 132-33. Mem. A.S.B. Vol. V. 
p.81, pl.XXVII. 

2 Ind. Ant. Vol. XXI. p. 97. 

3 Cunningham's A.S.R. Vol. XI. p. 169. Aun. Sep. Arch. Survey 
India, 1911-12, p.161, pi. LXXII, fig. 8. 



8 ORIGIN OP THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

The alphabet used in the Krishna-Dwarika temple 
inscription of the 15th year of Nayapala, is the same as 
that of the Narasimha temple inscription of the time of 
the same king and the Aksayavata inscription of the fifth 
year of Vigrahapala III. 1 With some modifications, it is 
used in the Satlghat (Sitala temple) inscription at Gaya 
of the time of Yaksapala. - Mere we find that : 

(I) A has the Bengali form, but the short vertical 
straight line, joining the comma-shaped curve of the left 
limb, with the top stroke, is still present ; Cf. ajata and 
ananya (L. 5). 

('2) In A the length is denoted by a second vertical 
straight line ; Cf. akulam (L. 15). 

(3) There is no change in i, Cf. iva (L. 1). 

(4) In U the inward curvature of the vertical line has 
disappeared giving place to a vertical line slanting, towards 
the left, at the end of which is a curve which turns back 
and nearly reaches the level of the top-stroke. 

(5) The Nagar! form of A' is prevalent in which the 
triangle has not opened out as yet. Cf. eie (L. 8). 

(6) The acute angle is clear at the lower end of Ka. 

(7) We find a top stroke in Kha. Throughout this 
record the Nagar! form of kha is still prevalent. 

(8) The upper part of Ga now shows a top stroke. 

(9) The looped form of Gha is used in all cases ; Cf. 
Slagha (L. 13). 

(10) We find the same form of Co. as that used in the 
Dinifijpur pillar inscription of the Saka year 888. 

(II) In Cha there is no other change save the down- 
ward projection of the vertical line (2.cchavi-cc/uiyaih (L. 7). 

1 Facsimiles of these inscriptions have since been published in my 
memoirs on the Palas of Bengal, Mem. A.S.B. Vol. V. pp. 78-82, pis. 
XXV-XXVII. 

= Ind. Ant. Vol. XVI. p. 64. Mem. A.S.B. Vol. V. p. 96, pi. XXIX. 



THB EASTERN ALPHABET. 79 

(12) In Ja we find that the curve to the right, the 
disappearance of which make the development of the 
modern Bengali form, complete, still continues. 

(13) Na has the fully developed Bengali form and is to 
be found in ligatures only, Cf. Kin-ca (L. 3). 

(14) Ta still consists of a top stroke, a right limb 
which is a short stump of a vertical straight line hanging 
from the right end of the top stroke, and a left limb, 
which is a semi-circular curve, the upper end of which is 
attached to the left end of the top stroke by a short 
slanting straight line ; Cf. Patala (L. 3), 

(15) In Tha we find the top stroke Cf. Patha-kramad 
(L. 8). 

(16) In Dha we find that the letter consists of a top 
stroke and a scroll below ; praudha (L. 9). 

(17) Na has the proto-Bengali form, the only special 
feature being the top stroke Cf. Bhu$anah (L. 5). 

(1-8) In Tfi we find a broadening of the stroke in the 
extremity of the curve, which has once been noticed in the 
Dinajpur pillar inscription. 

(19) The upper loop or curve of Tka has not opened 
out as yet. 

(20) The angle at the back of Da has become sharper. 

(21) The upward projection of the vertical straight 
line continues without change, in Dha. 

(22) Na shows the Bengali form in which the line 
joining the loop and the right vertical straight line is not 
horizontal but is slanting downwards. 

(23) Pa has the Nagarl form, the only exception 
being the presence of the acute angle. 

(24) Pha has the Bengali form. 

(25) Bha shows the formation of the wedge due to the 
closing in of the sides. The lower extremity of the letter 
now curves inward and not outwards. 



80 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

(26) The looped form of Ma is used in all cases. The 
perfectly horizontal position of the short straight line 
which joins the loop to the right vertical Hues shows that 
the letter belongs to the western variety of the North- 
eastern alphabet. 

(27) In } a we find the formation of the angle in the 
left limb. 

(28) The wedge shaped Ra continues without change. 

(29) The Bengali form of La shows almost complete 
development. 

(30) In Va the acute angle is still to be found in the 
lower part of the letter. 

(31) Sa shows a distinct top stroke over the two 
curves in the upper part of the letter. 

(32) Sa shows an angle in the left limb. 

(33) In Sa we find that the open wedge has become 
solid. 

(34) Ha only is archaic in form. It does not show 
the curved line below the lower angle. 

The Tetrawau image inscription of the rind year of 
Ramapala is not in a good state of preservation. We find 
that in this inscription we have more instances of western 
forms than of eastern ones of the North-eastern alphabet: 

1. The initial 7 consists of a horizontal straight line 
and below it two circles or dots. 

2. Ma has the Nagari form, as in the Krishna- 
Dwanka temple inscription. 

3. The scute angle is absent in Fa. 

4. Bha shows the older form in all cases. 

5. Tha *is more advanced in form, e. g. in gatkitam 
(L. 2). 



THE EASTERN ALPHABET. 81 

We come to the Deopara inscription of Vijayasena, l 
where we find the modern Bengali alphabet, with certain 
exceptions in which the development of the form is still 
incomplete : 

1. /where we find that the two circles have become 
joined together and ellipsoid in form. 2 

2. U where the inward curvature of the vertical is 
still to be seen. 3 

3. Ka does not show the acute angle. 4 

4. Ga shows a right angle at the top formed by the 
top stroke and the right vertical straight line. 5 

5. Na shows the modern Bengali form in the 
ligature. 6 

6. Ca has the Nagarl form, the hollow triangle at the 
lower extremity is still to the left. 7 

7. Ja shows the transitional form. 

8. Ta shows the transitional form in which the top 
stroke and the straight left limb on the right, have com- 
bined to form a curve. 8 

9. Da still shows the inward curvature of the vertical 
line as in U. 

10. Na shows the absence of the top stroke that its 
development is not yet complete. 9 

11. Da shows a curve at the back and is transitional 
in form. 1 

1 Epi. Ind. Vol., I, p. 307. 

2 BQhler's Indian Palaeography, pi. V. XVIII. 3. 

3 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 5. 

4 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 10. 

6 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 12 
8 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 14. 

7 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 15. 

8 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 20. 

9 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 24. 
10 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 27. 

11 



82 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

12. Dka shows the absence of the horn which charac- 
terises the modern Bengali form. 1 

13. Na shows that the short line joining the loop to 
vertical line is still horizontal. 2 

14. Pa shows the transitional form. 3 

15. La has a peculiar form, resembling La which is 
still found in some cases in modern Bengali Manuscripts 
where la is denoted by a dot placed under na. 

The development is more or less complete in the case of 
the following letters : 

1. A where the line joining the comma-shaped curve 
to the top stroke has become slanting instead of being 
perfectly vertical. 4 

2. A is absent but we can derive it by adding a verti- 
cal straight line to the right of A. 

3. In modern Bengali K shows a further elongation of 
the base line towards the left, than that in the Deopara 
prasasti. 5 

4. The development of is full and complete. 6 

5. Kha shows the modern Bengali form as found in 
the Bhagalpur grant. The only change needed to perfect 
it, is the formation of an acute angle at the bottom. 7 

6. The development of Gha also is complete, save the 
elimination of the curve to the right, above the loop and 
the junction of the upper part of the loop to the left end 
of the top-stroke. 8 

1 Hid, pi. v, XVIII, 28. 

3 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 29. 

3 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 30. 

4 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 1. 

5 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 7. 

6 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 9. 

7 Ibid. pi. V, XVIII, 11. 

8 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 13. 



THE EASTERN ALPHABET. 83 

7. Cha also is complete. The depression of the circle 1 
has given the letter modern form and the opening of the 
curve to the right at the lower end would complete the 
development. 

8. In Jha the upper part of the limb was. eliminated 
later, forming the modern shape. 2 

9. Na occurs in ligatures only 3 but it has the fully 
developed Bengali form. In fact the modern Bengali 
form, as has been already shown, developed much earlier. 

10. Dha has the same form as that to be found in the 
Krishna-Dwarika temple inscription. 4 

11. Ta shows the fully developed form. The hook 
with the extended head, having become shortened, has the 
form of a knob. The only change in subsequent centuries 
was the upward elongation of the curve at the lower 
extremity of the letter. 5 

12. In Tha we find a transitional form 6 which had 
almost acquired completion. In subsequent centuries we 
find the elimination of the wedge at the lower extremity 
of the vertical line and the formation of an acute angle. 

13. Pha has acquired the modern form about a century 
ago. 7 

14. In Bha we find the almost completely developed 
form. 8 The only change in subsequent centuries is a 
curvature of the solid wedge and an upward elongation of 
the lower extremity. 

15. Ma shows the complete development. 9 

Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 16. 

2 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 18. 

3 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 19. 

* Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 23. 
Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 25. 

6 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 26. 

7 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 31. 

8 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 38. 

Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 34. 



84 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

16. In Ya the only change needed to complete the 
development is the formation of an acute angle at the 
bottom. 1 

17. In Pa the solid wedge at the lower extremity, 2 
becomes hollow, in fact a triangle, in later years. 

18. In Fa we find a semi-circular curve, which is 
attached to the vertical line. In subsequent years this 
again becomes a triangle. 3 

19. The left limb of sa has become shortened in length. 
The only change needed is the formation of two loops at 
the end of the left limb and the suppression of one of the 
two curves in the upper part. 4 

20. In Sa also we find the form 5 almost completed. 
The only change needed is the formation of an acute 
angle at the bottom. 

21. The final development of the form of Sa is to be 
found in the Deoiparaprasasti. 6 

22. We find the transitional form of Ha in this 
record. The subsequent changes are the formation of a 
knob instead of the curve to the left, in the upper part of 
the letter, 7 and the addition of a top stroke. 

In the twelfth century we come across a number of 
historical events. The Gaharwars or Gahadavalas made 
themselves secure at Kanauj. In the East, the power of 
the Palas, declined gradually. Their dominions in Bengal 
were gradually acquired by the Senas, and in Bihar by the 
Gaharwars. In this century we find the completion of the 

1 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 35. 

2 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 36. 

3 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 38. 
* Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 39. 
5 Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 40. 
9 Ibid, pi. V, 41. 

' Ibid, pi. V, XVIII, 42. 



THE EASTERN ALPHABET. 85 

development of the modern Bengali script with exceptions 
of a few letters such as : 

(1) R, (2) Ri, (3) ca, (4) C/M, (5) ta t (6) na, (7) bha, 
(8) Sa and (9) Ha. 

the final changes in which took place after the 
Muhammadan conquest of Northern India. 

In this century, it will not be necessary to consider 
these alphabets used in the different inscriptions, as our 
narrative of the development of the Bengali alphabet is 
almost complete. We shall, simply, note the changes in 
the forms of the letters as they pass through this period. 
Again, with the extension of the Gahadavala Empire 
towards the East the eastern limit of the use of the western 
variety of the North-Eastern alphabet also extended east- 
wards in the century. In the oaka year 1059-1137 A.D. 
we find the western variety in the Govindpur (near Nawada 
in the Gaya District) stone inscription of the poet 
Gangadhara 1 which is now in the Indian Museum at 
Calcutta. Again in the 4th decade of the thirteenth 
century of the Vikrama era we find the western variety 
in the Bodh-Gaya inscription of Jayacchandra. 2 The 
alphabet of these inscriptions is altogether different 
from that used in the Deopara prasadi and other eastern 
variety inscriptions of the North-Eastern alphabet, so that 
it is unnecessary to enter into an analysis of it. The 
further development of the alphabet will be shown from 
the specimens used in the following inscriptions: 

(1) The Manda inscription of the time of Gopala III. 3 

(2) The Kamauli grant of Vaidyadeva. 4 

1 Ep. Ind., Vol. II, p. 333. 

2 Mem. A. 8. B., Vol. V, p. 109, pi. XXX. 
s Proc. A. 8. B. 1881, p. 172, pi. VIII. 

* Epi. Ind., Vol. II, p. 350. 



86 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

(3) The Torpondigbi grant of Laksmaiiasena. l 

(4) The Dacca image inscription of Laksmanasena 
the year 3. 2 

(5) The Bodh-Gaya inscription of Asokacalla the 
La-sam 51 = 1170 A.D. 3 

(6) The Gadadhara temple inscription of V. E. 1232 = 
1175 A.D. 4 

(7) The alphabets used in the Manuscripts of Panca- 
kara, Yogaratnamala and Guhyavalt-vivrtt written in the 
37th, 38th, and 39th year of the reign of Govindapala, i.e., 
1198-1200 A.D. 5 



1 Epi. Ind., Vol. XIII, p. 8. 

* J. & P. A. S. B., Vol. IX, p. 290, pi. XXIV. 

3 Cunningham's Mahabodhi, p. 78, pi. XXVIII A. 

4 Cunningham's A.S.R., Vol. Ill, p. 125, pi. XXXVIII; Mem. 

A.S.B.. Vol. V, p. 109, pi. XXVIII. 

5 Bendall's Cat. Skt. Mss. in the Univ. Liby., Cambridge, pp. 188-190, 

No. 1699, MIL 



CHAPTER IV 

The Final Development of the Alphabet. 

I. Vowels : 

(1) A :- 

(a) In the Manda inscription, the line joining the 
comma shaped curve to the top stroke, is still intact; and 
that joining it to the right vertical still horizontal. There 
is also a long narrow wedge at the bottom. Cf. Artha 
(L. 8). 

(d) In the Kamauli grant the top stroke has given 
place to a wedge, at the line joining it to the curve being 
suppressed. The wedge at the bottom has opened at the 
top. 1 

(c) In the Gadadhara temple inscription, which has 
been very slovenly executed the comma-shaped curve 
touches the right vertical but the line joining it to the 
top stroke has not yet been suppressed. Cf. Anakari 
(L. 6). 

(d} In the Cambridge Manuscripts the wedge at the 
bottom and the line joining the comma-shaped curve 
are still present. 2 

These two were not dropped until the present time. In 
a Sanskrit inscription written in Bengali characters of 
aka Ifi66 1744 A.D, found at Kamakhya in the Gauhati 
District, Assam, we find that though the wedge at the 
bottom has disappeared, the line between the curve and 
the top stroke is still present. Cf. Amratakesvarasya 
(L. H). 

1 Buhler'a Indian Paleography, pi. V, XIX, 1. 
* Hid, pi. VI, X, 1. 



88 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

2. A:- 

(a) The straight line to the right of A, which denotes 
the length of the vowel, is joined to the main body of the 
letter by a short slanting straight line in the Kamauli 
grant. 1 

(b) The wedge is present at the bottom of A in the 
Torpondighi grant, and the line joining the main letter 
to the right hand vertical is not slanting but vertical, in 
fact a prolongation of the top stroke. The line joining 
the top stroke to the curve seems to be suppressed. Cf. 
Anffirasa (L. 41). 

(c) In the Bodh-Gaya image inscription of the 51st 
year of the era of Laksmanasena, the comma has become 
a semicirlar curve and the line joining the curve to the 
top stroke is present. The vertical line denoting the 
length is joined to the main body of the letter 
by producing the top stroke towards the right. Cf. 
A-camdrarkka (L. 9). 

(<5?) In the Gadadhara temple inscription of the time 
of Govindapala (?) we find that both the wedge and the 
joining line between curve and the top stroke, are present. 
Cf. Acandrarka (L. 11) and Asvina (L. 12). 

(e) The form used in the Cambridge Manuscripts is 
exactly similar to (^). 2 

3. / : 

(a) The peculiar form of the initial short / used in 
the Kamauli grant is certainly abnormal, as Dr. Biihler has 
already remarked : " But the 7 and / of plate V, 3, 4, 
appear to be Southern forms; compare plate VIT, 3,IV-VI." 3 

(b) In the Torpondighi grant the short / consists of 
a top stroke with a wedge at its left end and a vertical 
straight line drawn downwards at right angles to it from 

1 ttid, pi. V, XIX, 2. 
> Ibid, pi. VI, X, 2. 
s Jbtd, p. 59. 



THE FINAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE ALPHABET. 89 

the right end, two circles below the wedge, and another 
curve below them. Cf. tva (L. 18) and iha (L. 55). 

(c) We find an almost similar form in the Manda 
inscription, viz., a wedge at the top, two circles below 
it, one on each side and finally a comma below them. 
Cf. iti (L. 4). 

(d) We find the modern Bengali from in the Bodh- 
Gaya inscription of Asokacalla. Cf. tii (L. 5). 

(e) In the Manuscripts from Cambridge we have the 
transitional form, which is the same as that used in the 
Deopara prasasti. 1 

The changes between the transitional form of the 

O 

Deopara praaaxti and the Cambridge Manuscripts and the 
final one of the Bodh-Gaya inscription of Asokacalla 
are not easy to trace with the materials at present at 
our disposal, but they can be guessed with a tolerable 
degree of certainty. First of ail the loop on the right 
in the transitional form became detached to the bottom 
and was produced below. Then the loop on the left 
gradually became smaller until it disappeared altogether 
or became a dot. The right limb then gradually assumed 
a vertical position. We find the fully developed form in 
the loth century in a Bengali manuscript of Krnna- 
Klrttana of Candtdasa which is certainly not later than 
the 15th century A. D. Cf. Kaile (L. 2). (See photo of 
fol. 179.) 

4. I:- 

(a) The initial form of the long I is very rare. The 
form used in the Kamauli grant of Vaidyadeva is certainly 
of southern origin. 2 



Ibid, P l. VI, X, 3. 
5 Ibid, pi. V, XIX, 4. 

12 



90 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

(6) The length of the vowel is denoted in the 
Cambridge Manuscripts by a slanting straight line placed 
below the short /. J 
5. U: 

(a) The form used in the Kamauli grant shows a hollow 
wedge instead of the top-stroke, the inward curvature of 
the vertical line, and the shortness of the terminal curve. 2 

(/>) The form of the letter in the Torpondighi grant is 
not much different. Here the top stroke is a very short 
horizontal line instead of the wedge. Cf. ubhan (L. 51). 

(c) In the Cambridge Manuscripts we find the develop- 
ment almost complete. The only change needed is the 
addition of the curve placed in the modern form above 
the top stroke. 3 

This stroke we find for the first time in a Bengali 
Manuscript of Santideva's Bodhi-caryavatara written at 
Venugrama in the Burdwan District in V.E. 1492 = 1435 
A.D. which was discovered by Mahamahopadhyaya Kara 
Prasada Sastri, C.I.E., in Nepal. We find this U in L. 1 
of the last page (66) in the word Koccha-uccha. 

6. U is of very rare occurrence and is to be found in 
the Cambridge Manuscripts only where we find that the 
length is denoted by the addition of a second curve at the 
bottom. 4 The only addition in later periods was the 
curved stroke above the base line which seems to have 
been made about the same time as that in the short one. 

7. R is, also, of very rare occurrence and we find it 
for the most part in manuscript records : 

(a) It occurs in the Kamauli grant, where it consists 
of a triangular va, with a wedge for its top stroke and a 

1 ibid, pi. VI, X, 4. 

Ibid, pi. V, XIX, 5. 

Hid, pi. VI, X, 5. 

* Ibid, X, 6. 



THE FINAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE ALPHABET. 91 

vertical straight line to the right, which is joined to the 
main body of the letter by a slanting straight line. 1 

(fj) It is of course to be found in the Cambridge 
Manuscripts where we find the wedge transformed into a 
top stroke.' 2 

In later periods the triangle, in the left limb, opens 
at the top, and finally a curve is added to the top of the 
open side. The right limb decreases in length and mounts 
upwards. 

8. Ri is very seldom found. We find it in the 
Cambridge Manuscripts, where it is formed by adding a 
short curve to the foot of the short R. 3 In later times 
the addition which denotes the length of the vowel be- 
comes angular. 

9. L is to be found in the Cambridge Manuscripts 
only where it is a reversed S. 4 

10. Li is also to be found in the Cambridge Manu- 
scripts where the length is denoted by the addition of a 
curve placed below. 5 

The very rare occurrence of L and Li makes it impos- 
sible to trace the later changes in their forms. 

11. In E the Bengali form was developed long ago 
and this was continued without change : 

(a) In the Manda inscription in eva (L. 7). 
() In the Kamauli grant. 6 

(c) In the Madanapada grant of Visvarupasena, 7 in 
etasmat (L. 4). 

1 Ibid, pi. V, XIX, 7. 

* Ibid, pi. VI, X, 7. 

3 Ibid, X, 8. 

4 Ibid, X, 9. 

5 Ibid, X, 10. 

8 Ibid, pi. V. XIX, 7. 

7 B.986 A.J. pt. p. 1.8. 1. 9, pi. I. 



$2 ORIGIN Or THE BENGALI SCRIPT*. 

(d) In the Bodh-Gaya inscription of Asokacalla in 
eva(L. 2). 1 

(e) In the Gaya inscription of the Gadadhara temple 
in eva (L. 8). 2 

(/') In the Cambridge Manuscripts. 3 

12. Ai is of very rare occurrence and is to be found 
in its initial form in the Cambridge Manuscripts only 
where we find the complete Bengali form. 4 

13. : 

(a) It occurs in the Naihat! grant of Vallalasena 5 
Cf. Ovasu (L. 17). 

(b) and as a matter of course in the Cambridge 
Manuscripts. 6 

14. The initial form of Av is, also, of very rare 
occurrence. It is to be found in the Cambridge Manu- 
scripts. 7 The only change in the later periods is the 
elimination of the lower part of the left limb. 

15. Am shows the modern Bengali form : 
(a) in the Kamauli grant ; 8 

(tji) in the Cambridge Manuscripts. 9 
In other records the anusvara is a dot or a circle 
placed on the line : 

(a) The Bodh-Gaya inscription of Asokacalla. 
(b} The Gadadhara temple inscription. 

(c) The Torpondighi grant. 

1 Epi. Ind., p. XXVIII 

* Mem. A. 8. B., Vol. V. p., 109, pi. XXVIII. 

3 Bfihler's Indian Palasography, pi. VI, X, 11. 

4 Ibid. pi. X, 12. 

5 Bangiya-Sahitya Parisad-Patrika, Vol. XVI, p. 238. 
8 Buhler's Ind. Palaeographie, pi. VI, X, 13. 

' Ibid, X, 14. 

8 Ibid, pi. V, XIX, 38. 

9 Ibid, pi. V, X, 15. 



PLATE x. 












Kamakhya Hill Inscription of Pramatha Sinha-Saka 1666. 



THE FIKAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE ALPHABET. 93 

16. Ah shows the old form even in modern Bengali. 
It has the form of 8 in the Dacca inscription, 1 pratisthite- 
tih (L. 2) and in the Cambridge Manuscripts. 2 

II. Consonant*. : 

1. Ka :- 

(a) In the Kamauli grant we find the older form 
of ka in which the acute angle at the bottom has not 
reappeared. 3 

(b) The reappearance of the acute angle is to be 
observed in : 

(i) The Manda inscription. 4 
(ii) The Torpondighi grant. 5 
(Hi) The Dacca image inscription.^ 
(iv) The Bodh-Gaya inscription of Asokacalla. 7 
(#) The Gadadhara temple inscription at Gaya. 8 
But in these records the left limb or back of the letter 
remains cursive. The angularity of this part, which 
shows that the development is final is to be found in the 
Cambridge Manuscripts. 9 

2 The development of K/ia was almost complete in 
the llth century A.D. In this century we see that in the 
majority of cases, with the appearance of the acute angle 
at the bottom the development is complete : 
(1) In the Kamauli grant. 10 

1 J. and P. A. S. B., Vol. IX, p. 290, pi. XXIV. 

2 Ibid, pi. VI, X, 51. 

3 Ibid. pi. V, XIX, 10. 

Mem. A. S. B., Vol. V, p. 102, pi. XXX. 
B Epi. Ind., Vol. XII 

8 J. & P. A. S. B., Vol. IX, p. 290, pi. XXIV. 
,'. Epi. Ind., Vol. XII, 

Mem. A. S. B., Vol. V, p. 109, pi. XXVIII. 

Ibid, pi. VI, X, 15. 
10 Ibid, pi. V, XIX, 11. 



94 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

(2) In the Torpondighi grant in Khaln (L. 22). 

(3) In the Gadadhara temple inscription in B/iik/io- 

deva (L. 11). 

(4) in the Cambridge Manuscripts. i 

The only exception is the Bodh-Gaya inscription 
of Asokacalla, in Lak/ivana (L. 12). 

3. In Ga, the only change needed, was the elimina- 
tion of the right angle, at the right end of the top stroke 
and the substitution of a curve for it, as well as the up- 
ward elongation of the vertical line : 

(a) In the Manda inscription we find in one case that 
the right angle is still present, pwabhago (L. 1) and 
in another that the transformation has taken place 
Srimadgopala (L. 3). 

(b) The transformation is complete in the case of the 
Kamauli grant. 2 

(c) The Torpondighi grant shows the retention of the 
right angle. 

(d) The letter is incomplete in Gnrava (L. 5) of the 
Bodh-Gaya inscription of Asokacalla, though the right 
angle has disappeared. 

(e) The Gadadhara temple inscription shows both 
forms. Cf. Govindapala (L. 3) and gatarajye as well as 
Gayayam (L. 4). 

(f ) The Cambridge Manuscripts show the completely 
developed form. 3 

4. GJta : 

(a) In the Kamauli grant the development is not yet 
complete. 4 

1 Ibid, pi. VI, X, 10. 

- Indiache Palaeographie, pi. V, XIX. 
3 Ibid, pi. VI, X, 17. 

* Ibid. pi. V. XIX. 13. 



THE FINAL DEVELOPMENT OP THE ALPHABET. 95 

(b) The Torpondighi grant shows an improvement, 
as the left limb is a curve to the left and not to the right 
when it touches the top stroke. Cf. Ksettr-angha 
(L. 10-11). 

(c) We find the development completed in the Bodh- 
Gaya image inscription of Asokacalla, e.g., Raghava (L. 7) 
Simghala (L. 9-10) and Saihgha (L. 10). 

(d) The development is also shown to be completed 
in the Gadadhara temple inscription at Gaya. Cf. lagh (v)i 
(L. 8), Rughavah (L. 10). 

(e) The Cambridge Manuscripts show the use of the 
transitional form, which is almost similar to the form used 
in the Kamauli grant. 1 

5. Na is very rare in use and its initial form cannot 
be found at all. 

6. Ca is one of the letters the development of which 
was completed long after the Muhammadan conquest of 
the country. 

(a) In the Manda inscription Ca consists of a wedge 
as the top stroke, a vertical straight line at right angles 
to it and a curve to the left, semi-circular in shape, the 
ends of which touch the vertical line. This is in fact a 
modification of the Ca of the Deopara praaasti. Cf. vlcl and 
viracita (L. 1). 

(b) In the Kamauli grant the letter is almost similar 
where we find an angle in the curve. 2 

(c) The form used in the Torpondighi grant is almost 
the same as that in the Diuajpur pillar inscription and the 
Deopara pra'sasti ; Cf. Cakra (L. I). 3 

((/) The form used in the Dacca inscription shows the 
next state of transition, where the letter consists of a top 

1 Ibid, pi. VI, X, 18. 
Ibid, Tafel V, XIX, 15. 
Ibid, XVIII, 15. 



96 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

stroke, the vertical line which curves to the left, and a 
second inward curve joins the lower end of the vertical to 
the point of its junction with the top stroke. Of. Candtdevi 
(L. 2).' 

(e) The same form is used in the Bodh-Gaya image 
inscription of Asokaealla. Cf. acandrar-kkaih (L. 9). 2 

(f) The Gadadhara temple inscription of Gaya shows 
the use of the same form.; Cf. caiurddasa (L. 4). 3 

(g) There is no change in the form of the letter in the 
Cambridge Manuscripts. 4 

(h) In the Bengali manuscript of the Borl hicari/avatara 
we find the next transitional form. The form used in the 
word Bodhicaryavatara (L. 2 of fol. 66) shows that the 
straight part of the vertical has become a curve, which has 
swollen out on the right side and not on the left. Conse- 
quently the left curve has almost become a vertical 
straight line. 

() In the next stage we find that the left limb is only 
slightly curved, while the former vertical line has become 
very much cursive and has swollen out to the right. Cf. 
Candtdasa (L. 1) in fol. 179 of Candidasa's Krsnaklrttana. 

The next stage is the conversion of the left limb into 
a vertical straight line, an event which happened sometime 
after the 15th century A. D. 

7. Cha is not of common use and is very often to be 
found in ligatures : 

(a) In the Kamauli grant we find the same form as 
that used in the Deo para prasasti. 5 



1 J. and P.A.8.B., Vol. IX, p. 290, pi. XXIV. 

- Epi. Ind., Vol. XII, p. 

3 Mem. A.S.B., Vol. V, p. 109, pi. XXVIII. 

* Ibid, pi. VI, X, 20. 

5 Ibid, pi. V, XIX, 16. 



THE FINAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE ALPHABET. 97 

(#) We find the same form in the Torpondighi grant. 
Cf. Dmkhacchid-atyantikl (L. 4) and Catuhsim-avacchinna 
(L. 35). 

(c) There is no change in the form to be found in the 
Cambridge Manuscripts. 2 

(d) The modern Bengali form is to be found in the 
Bengali manuscripts of the Bodhicaryavatara written in 
V. S. 1492 in the word Koccha-uccha (L. 1) of fol. 66. 

8. Ja : 

(a) The form of Ja used in the Manda inscription is 
transitional. Cf. rmma'fijarl-piihjarisu (L. 3.) 3 

(b) The Kamauli grant shows the fully developed 
western variety form, with a wedge for its top stroke. 4 

(c) In the Torpondighi grant we find another transi- 
tional form in which the vertical has not as yet become 
perfectly straight. Cf. Maharajadhiraja (L. 23) but the 
fully developed Bengali form is also to be found, Cf. 
Srimaj-Jayaskandhavarat (L. 23). 5 

(d) We find the transitional form in the Bodh-Gaya 
inscription of Asokacalla. Cf. Maharaja (L. 3) and Raja- 
nam (L. 6). 6 

(e) The same form is to be found in the Gaya inscrip- 
tion of the Gadadhara temple. Cf. Kaja (L. 15). 7 

(/) The form used in the Cambridge Manuscripts 
shows the shortening of the right limb. 8 



1 Epi. Ind., Vol. XII, p. 8, pi. 

s Ibid, pi. VI, X, 21. 

3 Mem. A.S.B., Vol. V, p. 102, pi. XXX. 

* Ibid, pi. V, XIX, 17. 

5 Bpi. Ind., Vol. XII, p. 9. 

8 Ibid, p. 29. 

7 Mem. A.S.B., Vol. V, p. 109, pi, XXVIII. 

8 Indische Palseographie, Tafel VI, Vol. XI, 22. 

13 



98 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCHIPT. 

(g] In the Bengali manuscript of the Bodkicaryavalaru 
we find the Bengali form, the only difference being the 
shortness of the right limb. Cf. Kuje (L. 3) of fol. 66. 

The full development of this letter also was completed 
after the 15th century A. D. 

(h) The completely developed form is to be found in 
the Kamakhya minor temple inscription of the Saka 
1666 = 1744 A. D. in L. 4 ; in the word Kajjala. 

9. Jha is to be found very seldom. 

(a) In the Kamauli grant its form is very peculiar. 1 

(b) The letter does not occur in the Cambridge 
Manuscripts. 

10. Na : 

(a) In the Manda inscription this letter is used in 
ligatures where it has the peculiar form of initial fi f the 
loops on the right being absent. Cf. Krtajna (L. 6). 

($) In the Kamauli grant we have the finished 



Bengali form in the ligature 

(c) The complete form is also to be found in the Bodh- 
Gaya inscription of Asokacalla in jUana (L. 4). 

(d) In the Gadadhara temple inscription at Gaya, the 
form of the ligature 'flea is the same as that used in the 
modern Bengali alphabet. Of. mula'fuca (L. 8) and 
pcffwakam (L. 14). 

(e) In the Cambridge Manuscripts the form is entirely 
different, which may be due to western influence. 

11. Ta : 

(ft) In the Manda inscription of this letter consists 
of a wedge as the top stroke and scythe-shaped curve 
below it. Cf. Kotlra (L. 2). 

(V) In the Kamauli grant Ta " seems to have been 
produced by an abnormally strong development of a 

1 Ibid, pi. V, XIX, 18. 
'- rind, pi. V, XIX, 19. 



THE FINAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE ALPHABET. 99 

' Nepalese hook ' with a serif at the end, placed above the 
ancient round ta which is represented by the second lower 
curve on the left." 1 But the form seems to have been 
developed independently from that used in the Khalimpur 
grant of Dharmmapala. 

(c) In the Torpondighi grant we find a transitional 
form, consisting of a curve joined to the top stroke by 
a second one on the left side, and another joined to the 
right side of the top stroke. Cf. Mahaksapatalika (L. 27). 

(d) The form used in the Bodh-Gaya inscription is 
peculiar and is formed from the western variety. Cf. 
bhatta (L. 7). 

(e) The development is complete in the 15th century 
when we find the modern form kutumbika (L. 1) of fol. 
66, of the Bengali manuscript of Bodhicaryavatara. 

(12) Tha : 

(a) In the Kamauli grant the development is not clear 
as the letter is found in the ligature ntAa.* 

(Ij) The form in the Torpondighi grant is not clear for 
the same reason. Cf. anusthayine (L. 42). 

(c) The archaic form of the Mauryya period is used in 
the Gadadhara temple inscription of Gaya. Cf. Gadabhr^i- 
mathe (L. 7). 

(d) The modern form is to be found in the Cambridge 
Manuscripts in the ligature qt/ia 3 but the older form 
continued to be used till at least the 15th century as we 
find it in the Bengali manuscript of the Bodliicary avatar a. 
Cf. Thakura (L. 2) of fol. 66. 



1 16 id, p. 59. 
- Ibid, pi. V, XIX, 21. 
Ibid, pi. VI, X, 26. 



100 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

13. Da : 

(a) The Manda inscription shows the transitional 
form in which the curve at the end has not fully deve- 
loped. Cf. Aidadeva (L. 6) and Kridati (L. 7). 

(b) The Kamauli grant shows the use of the older 
form in which the vertical line has got a curve to the 
left in its middle. l 

(c) We find a similar form in the Torpondighi grant 
in nicadahara (L. 33). 

((F) The Dacca inscription shows the finally developed 
Bengali form in the ligature ndi in Candt (L. 2). 

(<?) In the Bodh-Gaya inscription of the time of 
Asokacalla we find the modern form of the ligature nda 
in Pandita (L. 5). 

(/) W G frd by the partly complete form of this 
letter in the Gadadhara temple inscription of Gaya in 
Dallano (L. 6) ; and Sodas-aiva (L. 8). 

The only change needed to complete the development 
is the lengthening of the curve at the foot of the vertical 
straight line. 

14. J)ha is also rarely met with : 

(a) In the Kamauli grant it has the form of a Ta of 
the Manda inscription. 2 

(b) In the Torpondighi grant we find the letter two 
or three times ; uttaradJta-vapa (L. 36) llinmy-adha (L. 33) 
and in these cases we have the same form as that in the 
Kamauli grant. 

The extreme rarity of this letter makes it difficult for 
us to trace the changes in it. The only change needed is 
the straightening of the curve to the left. 



Ibid, pi. V, XTX. 22. 
id, XIX,?23. 



THE FINAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE ALPHABET. 101 

1 5. Na is one of those letters in which the develop- 
ment was not complete till the 15th century A.D. In 
most of the inscriptions we find the Proto- Bengali forms 
which resembles the modern Bengali letter la minus the 
top stroke : 

(a) In the Manda inscription where the letter is a 
curve with a straight line on the right and a small 
vertical line bisecting the curve. This form is the precur- 
sor of the modern Bengali form. 

(b) In the Torpondighi grant. 

(c) In the Kamauli grant where the vertical line is 
projected slightly beyond the point of its junction with 
the left limb. 

(^) In the Dacca image inscription. 
(<?) In the Bodh-Gaya inscription of Asokacalla. 
(/) In the Gadadhara temple inscription of Gaya. 
( ff) In the Cambridge Manuscripts. 
(h) In the Bengali manuscript of the Bodhicaryavatara 
written in 1435 A.D. 

The final development is very clearly shown in the 
Bengali manuscript of Candidasa's Krsnaklrttana where 
on (ol. 179 we find both the transitional and final forms. 
The transitional form between the Proto-Bengali one and 
the final Bengali form is the one in gane and sunaha in 
L. 1 where the bisecting vertical line in the curve of the 
Manda inscription, seems to have become a horizontal cross 
bar. The final form shows the elimination of this cross 
bar in Suna/ia, L. 3. 

] 6. Ta : 

(a) In the Manda inscription we find the transitional 
form in which the left limb is curved and the broadening 

O 

of the top is changed into a knob. The only difference 
between this form and the Proto-Bengali one is the 



102 ORIGIN OP THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

curvature of the right limb, which in this one turns to the 
right and not to the left. 

(6) In the Kamauli grant the Proto-Bengali form is 
used but the knob is absent. 1 

(c) Torpondighi grant shows a further development, 
viz., : the lengthening of the right curve. 

(d) The same form is used in the Dacca image inscrip- 
tion. 

(<?) The Bodh-Gaya inscription of ASokacalla shows 
the transitional form of the Kamauli grant. 

o 

(/) This is also the case of the Gadadhara temple 
inscription of Gaya. 

((f) The final development is to be found in the 
Cambridge Manuscripts. 2 

17. Tha : 

() The Manda inscription shows the use of the 
archaic form in which the upper loop has not as yet opened 
out. Cf. pratkita (L. 4). 

(1} The Kamauli grant shows the use of the modern 
Bengali form. 3 

(c) In the Torpondighi grant we find the transitional 
form. Cf. itkam (L. 36). 

(d) The fully developed modern Bengali form is to 
be found in the Bodh-Gaya inscription of Asokacalla. 
Cf. Tatlta (L. 1). 

(<?) The Cambridge Manuscripts also show the modern 
form.* 



1 Ibid, pi. V, XIX, 26. 
8 Ibid, pi. VI, X, 30. 
3 Ibid, pi. V, XIX, 26. 
* Ibid, pi. VI, X, 31. 









THE FINAL DEVELOPMENT Of THE ALPHABET. 103 

18. Da : 

(a) In the Manda inscription the older form with the 
curved back. 

() In the Kamauli grant we find the same form. 1 

(c) The same form is to be found in the Dacca 
Image inscription along with the completely developed 
modern form. For the older form see deva (L. 2) and for 
the modern one see Damodra (L. 1). 

(d) The Torpondighi grant shows the use of the 
older form. 

(<?) We find the modern Bengali form in all cases in 
the Bodh-Gaya inscription of Asokacalla. But in the 
Bodh-Gaya inscription of ASokacalla's brother, Dasaratha, 
incised in La-sam 7 4 = 1] 98 A.D. we find the older form 
in all cases. 2 

(/} This is also the case with the Gadadhara temple 
inscription of Gaya ; Cf. Govindapala (L. 3) and Dvivedah 
(L. 5), but the older form persists in ligatures, e.g., nda 
in Govinda (L. 3) and rdda in caturddasa (L. 4). 

(^7) The Cambridge Manuscripts show the use of the 
older form. 3 

19. Dha : 

(a) In the Manda inscription we find the use of the 
older form in which the slanting straight line has not 
as yet been added to the top ; Padadhuli (L. 4). 

(b) In the Kamauli grant we find that this addition 
has already been made. 4 

1 Ibid, pi. V, XIX, 27. 

1 Bangiya Sahitya Pariad Patrika, Vol. XVII, p. 216. 

s Btihler's Ind. Palaoographie, pi. VI, X, 32. 

* Ibtd, pi. V, XIX, 28. 



104 ORIGIN OP THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

(<?) In the Torpondighi grant we find the fully de- 
veloped form. Cf. Indrayudham (L. 1). 

(d) This is the case in the Dacca image inscription. 
Cf. Adkikrta (L. 1). 

(e) The Bodh-Gaya inscription of Asokacalla shows 
the use of the older form the only exception being that in 
Dharmma (L. 1). 

(f) In the Gadadhara temple inscription of Gaya 
the modern form is used in all cases. 

(g) The Cambridge Manuscripts show the use of the 
older form. 1 

20. Na : 

(a) The Manda inscription shows the modern form 
with a wedge for its top stroke. 

(b) The peculiar form of the Kamauli grant is due 
to a defect in the facsimile the line joining the knob 
to the right vertical, being faint, has not come out 
well. 2 

(c) The modern form is to be found in all cases in the 
Torpondighi grant. 

(d) This is also the case with the Dacca image 
inscription. 

(e) The same form is used in the Bodh-Gaya inscrip- 
tion of Asokacalla. 

(/) This is also the case in the Gadadhara temple 
inscription of Gaya. 

(g) The Cambridge Manuscripts clearly exhibit the 
use of the modern form. 3 



1 ibid, P l. VI, X, 33. 

a Ibid, pi. V, XIX, 29. 
3 Ibid, pi. VI, X, 34. 



THE FINAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE ALPHABET. J 05 

21. Pa: 

(a) We find a transitional form in the Manda in- 
scription in ivhich the acute angle has reappeared and in 
which the curve in the left limb has a short inward 
curve. Cf. Srtmacl-Gopala (L. 3). 

(b) This inward curve in the outwardly curving left 
limb is still more pronounced in the Kamauli grant. 1 

(c) The same form is used in the Torpondighi 
grant. 

(d) The Dacca image inscription shows the use 
of the modern Bengali form for the first time in 1122 
A.D. (i.e., year 3 of the Laksmanasamvatsara). Cf. 
Pratistkitetih (L. 2). 

(e) The modern form is used in all cases in the Bodh- 
Qaya image inscription of Asokacalla. 

(/} The Gadadhara temple inscription of Gaya shows 
the use of the older form. The influence of the western 
variety may also be looked for in this case. 

(g) The Cambridge Manuscripts show the use of the 
transitional form of the Torpondighi grant. 1 

22. Pha : 

(a) The Kamauli grant shows a peculiar form which 
has nothing in common with the modern Bengali one, 
which latter is angular and was fully developed in the 
llth century A. D. 2 

(b) The transitional cursive form is used in the 
Torpondighi grant. Cf. pkani (Lt. J). 

(c) The form used in the Bodh-Gaya inscription of 
Asokacalla is very slovenly incised, but it is the modern 
Bengali form. Cf. pkala (L. 5). 

1 Ibid, pi. VI, X, 35. 
1 Ibid, pi. V. XIX. 31. 

14 



ORIGIN OF THE BEN6ALI SCRIPT. 

(d) The modern form is used in the Gadadhara temple 
inscription of Gaya. Cf.. phalam (L. 13). 

23. Ba need not be discussed separately as its form 
is the same as that of Fa. 

24. Bha . 

(a) The archaic form is used in the Manda inscription. 
Cf. parabhago (L. 1). 

(6) This is also the case of the Kamauli grant. 1 

(c) The same form is used in the Torpondighi grant. 

(d) This is the form to be found in the Dacca image 
inscription. Cf. tabhradakana (L. 2). 

(e) The modern form is met with again in the Bodh- 
Gaya inscription of Asokacalla. 

(/') The same form (modern) is used in all cases in 
the Gadadhara temple inscription of Gaya. 

(g) The Cambridge Manuscripts show the further 
development of the modern form. 2 

(h) The completed development is shown in the Bengali 
manuscript of the Bodhicary avatar a, Sobhabhir-wniandayantu 
(L. 1) of Photo A. 

25. Ma : 

(a) The Manda inscription shows the use of the modern 
form. Cf. mnsaratah (L. 3). 

(t>) The Kamauli grant shows the use of the Nagarl 
or the western variety form. 3 

(c) The Torpoudighi grant shows the use of the modern 
form. 

(d) This is the case also in the Dacca image inscription. 

(e) The same form is to be found in the Bodh-Gava 
inscription of Asokacalla. 



1 Ibid, XIX, 33. 

Ibid, pi. VI, X, 38. 

Ibid, pi. V, XIX, 34. 



THE FINAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE ALPHABET. 107 

(f) The Gadadhara temple inscription shows the use 
of the western variety form. 

(g) The Cambridge Manuscripts show the use of a 
slightly archaic form. 1 

26. Ya : 

(a) The modern form is used in the Manda inscription 
in svepvaya (L. 3-4). 

(b) The Kamauli grant shows the use of a cursive 
form in which the acute angle has not reappeared. 2 

(c) The modern angular form is used in the Torpon- 
dighi grant. 

(Q The modern form is also used in the Dacca image 
inscription in Sri-Narayanena. 

(e) The form in the Bodh-Gaya inscription of Asoka- 
calla is almost the same the difference being a slight 
cursiveness. 

(/) The cursive form from which the acute angle is 
absent is used in the Gadadhara temple inscription of 
Gaya. 

(g] The complete development is shown in the Cam- 
bridge Manuscripts. 3 

27. Ra . 

(a) In the Manda inscription the archaic arrow- 
headed form of lia is used. 

(/>) The modern triangular form is used in the Kamauli 
grant. 4 

(c] The same form is used in the Torpondighi grant. 

(<!} This is also the case in the Dacca image inscrip- 
tion. 



1 Ibid, pi. VI, X, 39. 

1 Ibid. pi. V, XIX, 35 

Ibid, pi. VI, X, 40. 

4 Ibid, pi. V, XIX, 36, 



108 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

(<?) The form used in the Bodh-Gaya inscription of 
Asokaealla is similar but slightly cursive. 

(f) The western variety form is used in the Gadadhara 
temple inscription of Gay a. 

(g) The modern form minus dot is to be found in the 
Cambridge Manuscripts. 1 

In later periods we find that a slanting cross bar in the 
interior of va denotes ra as in modern Assamese : 

(1) Manuscript of Candldasa's Krana-Kirttana, fol. 
179, Mallararagah (L. 1). 

(2) Niranta in L. 4 of the Kamakhya minor temple 
inscription of Saka 1666 = 1744 A.D. 

28. La : 

(a) In the Manda inscription we find two forms of La. 
(i) The modern Bengali form as in Gopala (L. 3) ; 

and, 

(ii) The archaic form in which the base line is still 
present, galavasah (L. 8). 

(b) The Kamauli grant shows the use of peculiar 
12th century form of La which is also found in the 
Deopara prasasti and the Tetrawan image inscription of 
the second year of Ramapala. The form of this letter 
is the same as the Ta of modern Nagari. 2 

(c) The modern Bengali form is used in the 
Torpondighi grant. 

(d) The peculiar fo- shaped form is to be found in the 
Dacca image inscription. 

(e) This is also the case with the Bodh-Gaya inscrip- 
tion of Asokaealla. 

(f) The same form is used in the Gadadhara temple 
inscription of Gaya. 

1 Ibid, pi. VI, X, 41. 
' Ibid, pi. V, XIX, 37. 



THE FINAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE ALPHABET. 109 

(g} The modern Bengali form is to be found in the 
Cambridge Manuscripts. l 

The Ta-shaped form of la still survives in Bengali 
where a dot is put under na to denote la. 

29. Va : 

(a) The form used in the Manda inscription shows 
that the back of the letter is still cursive and not angular. 

(1} The same form is to be found in the Kamauli 
grant. 

(c) This is also the case in the Torpondighi grant. 

(d) The same form is to be found in the Dacca image 
inscription. 

(e) The Bodh-Gaya inscription of Asokacalla also 
shows the same form. 

( f) This is also the case with the Gadadhara temple 
inscription of Gaya. 

(g) The final development is to be found in the form 
used in the Cambridge Manuscripts. 2 

30. Sa : 

(a) In the Manda inscription we have almost the same 
form of Sa as that used in the 1 Ith century records, 
the difference lying in the curvature of the left limb to 
the right as in ga. Cf. trdasa (L. 6). 

(/>) We have a similar form in the Kamauli grant, but 
here the upper part of the right vertical shows no 
curvature. 3 

*(c) The Torpondighi grant shows the use of the 1 1 th 
century form with a wedge at the lower part of the left 
limb. Cf. disi (L. 9). 

1 Ibid, Vol. VI, X, 42. 

2 Ibid, pi. VI, X, 43. 

3 Ibid, pi. V, XIX, 29. 



110 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

(d) The Dacca image inscription shows the use of llth 
century form with a short horizontal line instead of 
a wedge at the bottom of the left limb. Cf. Sri (L. 1). 

(e) The Bodh-Gaya inscription of .A&okacalla shows a 
short leftward curve at the lower part of the left limb. 

(f) The same form is to be found in the Gadadhara 
temple inscription of Gaya, where we notice a shortage 
in the height of the left limb. 

(g) We find a transitional form in the Cambridge 
Manuscripts where we find that the height of the left limb 
has diminished and we find a separate curve joined to the 
lower end of it. * 

This separate curve gradually evolves into two small 
circles of the modern Bengali. The development of this 
letter was not complete till the expiry of the 1 5th century 
as we find the Cambridge Manuscripts form in the Bengali 
manuscript of the Bodhicaryavatara. Cf. sudi and subhaih 
(L. -3) of fol. 66. The Bengali manuscript of Candidasa's 
KranaMrUana shows the completely developed form for 
the first time. Cf. solasata (L. 6 ) of fol. 179. 

31. Sa: 

(a) The modern Bengali form is used in the Manda 
inscription. Cf. mmaratah (L. 3). 

(b) The form of the Karaauli grant is a little more 
cursive. 2 

(<?) We find the Bengali form in the Torpondighi 
grant where the acute angle has not as yet reappeared. ' 

(d) The form used in the Dacca image inscription 
found in the ligature sthi of pratisthiiefih (L. 2) is similar 
to that of the Torpondighi grant. 

1 Ibid, pi. VI, X, 44. 
Ibid, pi. V, XIX, 40, 



THE FINAL DEVELOPMENT OP THE ALPHABET. Ill 

(?) The Bodh-Gaya inscription of Asokacalla shows 
the use of the western variety form. Cf. tesam (L.I). 

(/*) The same form as that of the Bodh-Gaya in- 
scription is to be found in the Gadadhara temple inscription 
of Gaya. 

(g) The complete Bengali form is used in the Cam- 
bridge Manuscripts. 1 The form used in the Bengali 
manuscript of the Krsnaklrttana shows that there was 
no change in subsequent centuries. Cf. Solasata (L. 6) of 
fol. 179. 

32. Sa : 

(a) In the MandS inscription the wedge in the left 
limb of the letter is still hollow and open. 

(6) The form used in the Kamauli grant is peculiar 
as it shows the suppression of the upper part of the left 
limb. In the lower part of the same limb we still find 
the hollow wedge. 2 

(c) The hollow open wedge is also to be found in the 
form used in the Torpondighi grant. 

(d) The same form is to be found in the Dacca image 
inscription. 

(e) The form used in the Bodh-Gaya inscription of 
Asokacalla is similar. 

(/) The same type is used in the Gadadhara temple 
inscription of Gaya. 

(ff) The Cambridge Manuscripts show the final 
development of the form of this letter with the solid 
wedge. 8 

1 Ibid, pi. VI, X, 45. 
1 Ibid, pi. V, XIX, 41. 
Ibid, pi. VI, X, 46. 



112 ORIGIN OF THE BENGALI SCRIPT. 

33. Ha : 

(a) The Manda inscription shows the transitional 
form in which it is not yet possible to write the letter at 
one stroke of the pen. Cf. tany-aham (L. 4). 

(]j] The Kamauli grant shows the use of the archaic 
9th or 10th century form. 1 

(c) A transitional form similar to that of the Manda 
inscription is to be found in the Bodh-Gaya inscription 
of Asokacalla. 

(d) The form used in the Gadadhara temple inscrip- 
tion is similar. 

(e) The form used in the Torpondighi grant is the 
llth century one, earlier than that of the Deopara 

prasasli. 

(f) The form of the Cambridge Manuscripts is ?lso 
a transitional one, similar to that of the Bodh-Gaya in- 
scription of Asokacalla and the Gadadhara temple inscrip- 
tion of Gaya. 2 

The development of this letter was not complete even 
in the middle of the 15th century A.D. as in the Bengali 
manuscript of BodMcaryavatcira written in 14-35 A.D. 
we still find this transitional form of Ha. The change 
must have been completed afterwards as the finally 
developed form is found in the Krsnakirttaua of 
Candidasa. Cf. Hatha (L. 6) in fol. 179. 

1 Ibid, pi. V, XIX, 42. 
* Ibid, pi. VI, X, 47. 



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