The present volume, the result of the intellectual labour, covers a subject of immense value for those interested in the re-construction of ancient and mediaeval history and culture of Orissa, the major part of which is still in darkness. Based on the original documents in the form of copper plate and stone records, discovered from different parts of Orissa, it presents almost a complete picture of the history and culture of the period (c.A.D. 5th-8th century A.D.) in Orissa as part of the wider scene that obtained in the Indian sub-continent.
The volume deals with as many as sixty valuable epigraphic records that fall within the period set for the book which have been divided into five sections along with an extensive introductory analysis of the texts studied from various aspects. It presents a chronologically classified list of inscriptions which are of undoubted historical importance. In its originality of materials and the manner of presentation, the volume is sure to remain a sourcebook for the research scholars in this field of their study.
Dr. (Mrs.) Snigdha Tripathy did her M.A. in Ancient Indian History and Ph.D. in Numismatics in 1967 and 1983 respectively from the Utkal University, Bhubaneswar. She has been working for the last 25 years as Epigraphist in the Orissa State Museum, Bhubaneswar. Her book on Early and Mediaeval Coins and Currency *stem of Orissa has been a sourcebook for the Orissan scholars and students of numismatic studies. One of the volumes of the Inscriptions of Orissa (Vol.VI, on the records of the different branches of the Bhanja dynasty of Orissa), edited by her and published by the Orissa State Museum, Bhubaneswar, has been widely popular among the Orissan scholars.
Besides, she has also written books in Oriya on ancient Indian historical legends, a large number of research papers on early and mediaeval Orissan history and culture, papers on original epigraphic and numismatic materials, which have been published in re-search journals in India, such as in Epigraphia Indica, Mysore, Journal of the Numismatic Society of India,Varanasi,Jour-nal of the Epigraphical Society of India, Mysore, Journal of the Place-Names Society of India, Mysore, Orissa Historical Re-search Journal, Bhubaneswar and abroad.
She has been an active member of the Epigraphical Society of India, Mysore and the Numismatic Society of India, Varanasi. She is also one of the founder-members of the Orissa Research Society, Bhubaneswar, a leading organization in the state and is co-editor of the Journal of the Orissa Research Society. She has also prepared the volume II of the Inscriptions of Orissa series for the Indian Council of Historical Research, Delhi. She is carrying on research on the palaeography of Orissan inscriptions and also on the inscriptions of the Minor Ruling Families of Orissa.
The value of inscriptions as a source of early Indian history has been widely recognized. In fact, the epigraphic records scattered all over India, Pakistan and Bangladesh form a very important source for the reconstruction of the political and cultural history of the Indian subcontinent from the third century B.C. to about the fourteenth century A.D. But for these records composed in Sanskritic and Dravidian languages and incised on a variety of materials-primarily lithic objects and copper-plates-our knowledge of the early history of India would have remained perfunctory. The number of inscriptions noticed till date far exceeds one hundred thousand, and a large majority of them offer valuable historical information, not available from any other source. The mass of scattered epigraphically wealth noticed or published in numerous Indian or foreign, mostly occidental periodicals devoted to orient logy and other occasional publications, many of them either defunct or out of print, spread over nearly two centuries, is not easily accessible to the students of Indian history. Therefore, the necessity of bringing out properly edited and handy compilations of chronologically, dynastically, regionally or otherwise allied inscriptions had been felt for a long time. As early as 1877, a volume of Agokan edicts was brought out by the Archaeological Survey of India as the inaugural volume of its prestigious Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum series. It was followed by a couple of other volumes comprising post-Agokan Kharosthi (or Kharosti) and Gupta and allied epigraphs. In the last nearly seven decades, only four more volumes including the inscriptions of the Vakatakas, Silaharas, Paramaras, Candellas. and Kacchapaghatas and those dated in the KalacuriCedi era have been brought out. In view of the urgency of the matter for historical studies and with a view to supplementing the Corpus series, the Indian Council of Historical Research has undertaken an ambitious programme of publication of epigraphs dating from circa sixth to -fourteenth century A.D., the chronological limits being flexible in keeping with the dynastic or regional requirements. Fortunately, despite certain difficulties, the programme has recorded a steady progress and as many as five volumes, covering the epigraphic records of the Pallavas, Maukharis, later Guptas, Puspabhiitis, Y.agovarman of Kanauj, Western Gangas, Gajapatis, arabhapuriyas, Panduvarhgins and Somavarkgins, have either been published or are already in the pipeline. The volumes already published have received a welcome response.
The present volume by Dr. Snigdha Tripathy, Epigraphist, Orissa State Museum, Bhubaneswar, and a noted epigraphist with some important publications already to her credit, covers as many as sixty records of the ruling families of Orissa dating from the fifth to the eighth century A.D. The dynasties covered in the volume include the Matharas, Vasisthas, Pitrbhaktas, Nalas sailodbhavas and other miscellaneous ruling dynasties which shaped the destinies of Orissa for approximately four formative centuries of its chequered annals. I am confident that, like other volumes of the series already published, this volume will also be received well by students of early Indian history.
The first volume of the Inscriptions of Oritha covers the period beginning with the rule of various royal families in different parts of Orissa after the southern invasion of Samudragupta, the second monarch of the Gupta dynasty of northern India. It presents a classified list of inscriptions, with their texts and abstracts, which are of great historical importance. As far as possible, the inscriptions have been arranged period-wise, from the fifth to the eighth century A.D., ending with the fall of the Sailodbhavas in the south and some of the miscellaneous royal families in the northern part of Orissa, who have left their mark on the history and culture of this part of our country. This book has been broadly divided into five • sections: Section I: Inscriptions of the Matharas, the Vasisthas and the Pitrbhaktas; Section II: Inscriptions of the Miscellaneous Unknown Royal Families of South and South-Eastern Orissa; Section III: Inscriptions of the Nalas and Other Unknown Royal Families of West and South-Western Orissa; Section IV: Miscellaneous Inscriptions of Northern Orissa; and Section V: Inscriptions of the Sailodbhava Dynasty.
In order to make the work useful to scholars and for easy reference,, the provenance and age of the epigraphs along with their linguistic, palaeographic and metrical peculiarities have been indicated. Further, references to previous publications on these records have also been given in order to assist scholars. Abstracts of the contents of each inscription have been provided at the end of the text for the convenience of scholars. Various technical expressions and other points of interest occurring in an inscription have been explained where necessary. An explanatory note in the form of a general introduction on the epigraphic records of the period has been included in order to broadly define the nature and scope of the records and their historical importance. I hope the system adopted in this work will enable scholars to study the history of Orissa in its proper perspective.
This research was assigned to me by the Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi, in 1984. My work entailed editing the inscriptions of Orissa in two volumes, of which this is the first one. My thanks are due to the authorities of the Council for giving me the privilege of preparing such a stupendous work. I owe a deep debt of gratitude to Professor Ajay Mitra Shastri, Head, Department of Ancient Indian History and Archaeology, Nagpur University, who first set me on this privileged task of exploring the epigraphic data. It is no exaggeration to say that but for his keen interest and sympathy, the book would have never been prepared. I am also grateful to Dr H.C. Das, Superintendent of the Orissa State Museum.
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