On the Origin of the Indian Brahma Alphabet (Old and Rare Book)

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Item Code: NAV043
Author: Georg Buhler
Publisher: Chaukhambha Sanskrit Bhawan
Language: English
Edition: 1963
Pages: 214
Other Details 8.50 X 5.50 inch
Weight 250 gm
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Book Description


As the few separate copies of the Indian Studies No. III, struck off in 1895, were sold very soon and rather numerous requests for additional ones were addressed both to me and to the bookseller of the Imperial Academy, Messrs. Carl Gerold’s Sohn; I asked the Academy for permission to issue a second edition, which Mr. Karl J. Tribner had consented to publish. My petition was readily granted. In addition Messrs. von Hilder, the publishers of the Wiener Zeitschrift fir die Kunde des Morgenlandes, kindly allowed me to reprint my article on the origin of the Kharogthi, which had appeared in vol. [X of that Journal and is now given in Appendix I. To these two sections I have added, in Appendix II, a brief review of the arguments for Dr. Burnell’s hypothesis, which derives the so-called letter- numerals or numerical symbols of the Brahma alphabet from the ancient Egyptian numeral signs, together with a third comparative table, in order to include in this volume all those points, which require fuller discussion, and in order to make it a serviceable companion to the palaeography of the Grundriss. The chapters on the Brahmi and the Kharosthi have been throughout revised and the first has been changed most. A new comparative table of the Semitic and Brahma signs, the same as has been used for the Grundriss, has been given. The Additional Note at the end has been omitted, as, since the appearance of M. Sylvain Lévi’s article? on the Turkish kingdom of Northwestern India, it is no longer required, and a number of other alterations and additions has been made in accordance with the results of further researches.

Thus the list of the passages from the Jaétakas, which mention writing and written documents, has been considerably enlarged, the enlargement having become possible chiefly through references, kindly communicated to me by Professors S. von Oldenburg (p. 7ff.) and Rhys Davids (p. 120).

The extensive and intimate acquaintance of Lieut. Col. R. C. Temple with the actualities of daily Indian life has enabled me to adduce an interesting confirmation of my explanation of the term ripe which occurs in the oldest known: Indian trivism (p. 14, rote 3)

A valuable paper by Dr. von Rosthorn, based on Chinese sources, has furnished a correction of the interpretation which I formerly put on Hiucn Tsiang’s statement that in the seventh century A.D the instruction of the young Hindus began with the twelve chung (p. 30). It now appears that the twelve chang were twelve tables of simple and compound letters, of which the varnamala or matykaviveka of the period consisted. And a communication from Dr. B. Liebich (p. 120-f.) has put me in. possession of the proof that the Bengal schoolmasters until a very recent period used a set of twelve such tables, called phala or in Sanskrit phalaka, which term the Chinese expressions chang and fan probably are intended to render.

Dr. Grierson’s important researches at Mahabodhi Gaya, the results of which lately have been reprinted in the Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1896, p. 52ff., have made it necessary to rewrite the passage (p. 31f.) on the remnants of the masons’ alphabet, found there by Sir A. Cunningham, though the general conclusions to be drawn from them’ remain the same. A communication, kindly placed at my disposal by M. Sylvain Lévi, has furnished from Chinese sources a distinct tradition (p. 33), asserting that the signs for the liquid vowels really are later additions to the Brahma alphabet, as the statement of the Jaina scriptures regarding the original number of its characters and the palaeographic evidence suggested. Mr. Rapson’s discovery of syllables, both in Brahmi and Kharostht, on the Persian sigloi (pp. 51, 113) has further corroborated the conclusions regarding the early prevalence of both alpha- bets in Northwestern India and has raised a strong presumption that both alphabets were used in the same districts already in the fourth century B. C. during the Akhaemenian period. Finally, Mr. Takukusu’s article on Pali Elements in Chinese has brought us the news that the tradition, asserting an early preservation of the Buddhist scriptures in MSS., is more ancient than the statement in the Life of Hiuen Tsiang could lead us to suppose, and nearly, if not quite as old as the contradictory statement of the Dipavamsa and the Mahavamsa (p. 91, nete). And the most important discovery of a Kharosthi MS. at Khotan shows that during the Kusana period Buddhist MSS. did exist in Northern India and probably had been in use for some time (p. 122f.).

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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