Report on the Buddhist Cave Temples and Their Inscriptions

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Item Code: IDJ477
Author: Jas Burgess
Edition: 1994
Pages: 242 (B/W Plates: 79)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 10.8 X" 8.4"
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Book Description


As explained in the introductory chapter of this volume, it is not intended to be considered as a complete report in itself, but to afford much additional material for the study of Buddhist Cave Architecture which could not be comprised within the limits of the second part of the work on The Cave Temples, published last year, and to supply a tolerably complete account of the inscriptions found on the walls of these Caves. Much of the materials here supplied consists of drawings of architectural details-principally from the Caves at Ajanta-which hardly require description. These drawings, with the woodcuts and autotype illustrations, speak for themselves, and show what a field for artistic study is presented by such remains of ancient Indian art.

It may be mentioned that the Buddhist Caves at Elura and some minor groups have not been alluded to in this volume. For the latter, there is scarcely any additional information or illustration to present beyond what is supplied by the volume on The Cave Temples, or in previous Reports; and for the former, it seems preferable to threat of the Elura Caves as a whole, and to describe the Caves-Buddhist, Brahmanical, and Jaina-found there, as a series complete in itself. Moreover, the number of inscriptions to be given in the next volume is so very much smaller that this arrangement will help to keep the volumes more nearly of the same size.

It remains to express my thanks to friends who have spared no pains to render me every assistance. James Fergusson, Esq., D. C. L. has taken the greatest interest in the work, and has helped very largely by revising the proofs of several whole chapters, and supplying many important additions; Professor G. Buhler, C. I. E., has not only translated anew the Nasik and Ajanta inscriptions but has revised and corrected the whole of the chapter on the inscriptions, while to him and E. Thomas, Esq., F. R. S., I am indebted for several suggestions in the chapter on Palaeography; and to Pandit Bhagwanlal Indraji is due the credit of having prepared the facsimiles of nearly all the inscriptions now published.

The next volume will contain additional illustrations of the Elura Caves, and of the other groups of Brahmanical and Jaina Rock Temples.


One of the principal objects sought to be attained by the publication last year of The Cave Temples of India was to present to those interested in the study of Indian Archaeology a general survey of all the known examples of rock-cut architecture in that country. As mentioned in that work, the number of these exceeds a thousand, and though by far the greater number of them are found in the Bombay Presidency and immediately adjoining districts, others exist, either singly or in groups, both in Bengal and Madras, but under forms as various as the localities are distant from the typical examples of Western India.

Another source of complexity arises from the caves being divided among the three principal religions which prevailed in India during the ages in which they were excavated. The oldest and most extensive series are those belonging to the Buddhist religion, whose votaries were the first, and for long the only, cave excavators. These were succeeded by the Brahmanical Caves, when that faith, in its turn, replaced the once dominant religion of the "Mild Ascetic." A smaller but hardly less interesting series of caves belongs to the Jains, who, at a later age, sought to rival the Brahmans in the magnificence of their rock-cut architecture. Their ages, too, are as various as either the localities in which they are found or the purposes to which they were dedicated. The oldest of all are the simple cells excavated for Buddhist monks during the reign of Asoka (B. C. 263-25), or immediately after that date, in the granite rocks of Bihar; and the series extends down to the most modern Bauddha caves at Ajanta or Aurangabad, probably as late as 700 A D. The Brahmanical Caves overlap these by a hundred or a hundred and fifty years, and may extend down to the tenth century, while the Jaina excavations, commencing about the same time as the Brahmanical, were continued in the rock at Gwalior down to the middle of the fifteenth century.

It was of course impossible within the limits of a single octavo volume, to which that work was necessarily restricted, to do more than point out the geographical arrangement of the various groups, their chronological characteristics, and to describe, and the most interesting peculiarities of each of the various groups of caves, wherever situated, leaving the more detailed examination of individual examples for other opportunities.

Except in Mr. Fergusson's work on the rock-cut temples of India, published in 1845, no such general survey of the whole subject had been previously in 1839, and since then new series of caves have been discovered; others that he was not able to visit personally, have been described; inscriptions have been deciphered; and, generally, such progress has been made, that new edition of his work-which this one on the Cave Temples practically is-had become indispensable. Neither of these works, however, pretend to exhaust the subject, but the latter will probably be found to be a useful manual or those who desire to obtain a general idea of this interesting class of monument, and will enable any one who in future whishes to attempt a monograph of any single cave, or group of excavations, to dispense with any description of the whole series, and at once to assign to it its proper position among the Cave temples of India. it cannot, however, or a moment be understood to supersede the necessity for more detailed description of individual caves or of monographs of groups, which would occupy at least a dozen quarto volumes if carried out with the unless which the interest of the subject seems to demand.

The present volumes are intended as a commencement at least of such a series for the caves of Western India. in the first it is intended to amplify and extend the description of some of the more notable groups of Buddhist Caves, which do not seem to have been hitherto sufficiently describe, to illustrate them with additional details and drawings selected from the materials accumulated by the Survey, and to apply to the dates such rectifications as have only become apparent since the work on The Cave Temples was sent to the press. In the next volume it is proposed to apply the same process to the Brahmanical Rock-cut Temples-especially to the Kailasa at Elura, the Jogesvari Cave, and generally-with the Badami and other caves described in previous reports-to supplement the enforced brevity of the volume on The Cave Temples.

Owing to the very limited space available in The Cave Temples, it was found impossible to do more than allude in the most cursory manner to the numerous inscriptions that are found everywhere, especially in the earlier Buddhist caves, or to translate any of them, except some of the very shortest. In the present volumes this deficiency will be supplied: for though it is only too true that the cave inscriptions yield few facts of much historical value, and such data as they contain can rarely be affiliated to any known era, still, in the total absence of contemporary written records, they are, except the architectural indications, almost the only guides we have to lead us to a knowledge of the dates of the caves and of the objects for which they were excavated. Many of these inscriptions, it is true, have been copied before, and various attempts made to translate them. The materials available were, however, generally only faulty eye-copies. During the progress of the present survey all, or very nearly all, have been recopied by impressions from the rock, so as to ensure their perfect accuracy in every respect, and the progress made during the last thirty or forty years in our knowledge of the Pali language, in which most of them are written, renders the decipherment of them much more certain and satisfactory than has hitherto been the case. These cave inscriptions are consequently intended to form a new and important feature in the present volumes.

As these volumes may be regarded as supplementary to that on The Cave Temples, it will be unnecessary to repeat the accounts there given of the different groups of caves, their localities, dimensions, &c.: in fact, most of the materials in this are additions to the illustration there given, selected from the mass of materials collected by the Survey, and it is some of the more numerous but less known groups, a more minute enumeration will be given than space permitted in the general account.




  Introduction 1
I Bhaja Caves 3
II Kondane Caves 8
  Cave at Ambivale 10
III Pitalkhora Caves 11
IV Caves of Kuda and S. Konkan 12
  Pala or Mahad Caves. 18
  Kol Caves 19
V Karadh Caves 20
VI Bedsa and Karle Caves 22
  Karle 23
  Sailarwadi 25
VII Junnar Caves 26
  Caves in Sivaneri Hill 26
  Tulja Lena Group 30
  Caves in the Sulaiman Hills 30
  Caves in Manmodi Hill 33
VIII Nasik Caves 37
IX Ajanta Caves 43
  The Earlier Caves 43
X The Later Caves at Ajanta 47
  Ghatotkachh Cave 60
XI Kanheri Caves 60
XII Caves of Kondivte 70
XIII Paleography 72
XIV Inscriptions From the Buddhist Caves 82
  1. Bhaja Inscriptions 82
  2. Kondane Inscription 83
  3. Pitalkhora Inscriptions 83
  4. Kuda Inscription 84
  5. Inscriptions at Mahad, Kol, and Karadh 88
  6. Bedsa Inscriptions 89
  7. Earliest Karle Inscriptions 90
  Sailarwadi Inscription 92
  8. Junnar Inscriptions 92
  9. Kshatrapa and Andra Inscriptions at Karle, Junnar, and Nasik 98
  10. Nasik Inscriptions of Private Individuals 114
  11. Ajanta Inscriptions 116
  Chammak Copperplate Grant 117
  12. Ajanta Painted Inscriptions 136
  13. Ghatotkacha Cave Inscription 138

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