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Vasukalpa: a Court-poet of Kamboja-dynasty King of Dandabhukti-mandala (c. 960 A.D.)

Pratap De, Retired Teacher and Independent Researcher

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Introduction

In an article in JBORS, Vol XXI (1935), at p.42, no.178 Rahul Sankrityayan reported about a Sanskrit anthology in palm-leaf codex at Ngor monastery at central Tibet complete in 41 folios[i] in a script what he termed as M?gadhi. This was bound with some three other hard philosophical/ritualistic Buddhist titles[ii],

(a) v?dany?ya of Dharmak?rti

(b) pr?timok?a-paranik?yasya-vinayak?udrakam

(c) v?hya(alien)-guhyasam?ja-tantra sahita(with) v?dany?ya

The anthology was Subh??itaratna-ko?a (Srk) compiled by Vidy?kara. The collection had a colophon, Pa??ita Bh?m?rjuna-somasya. The calligraphy, Kosambi reports, seems not later than 1150 (proto-Bengali). Later on G. Tucci, who visited the monastery after Sankrityayan also reported to this extent[iii]. D D Kosambi, while editing the text, commented,

“…such a diverse collection could not possibly have been arranged in one bundle by any librarian (at Tibet)…(was) received as a unit from a single distant source. The presumption is strong that all four once formed part of Pa??ita Bh?m?rjuna-somasya’s collection (at Jagaddala?) and reached Tibet in one package during the great exodus following the Muslim conquest of Bihar.”

Kosambi arranged for a copy of this title from Tibet of the 1950’s (from India), apparently utilizing a non-academic channel in whole of Foreign Department in Govt. of India, and used his family inheritance in deep knowledge of classical Sanskrit, privileged as a Konkani Brahmin placed in academic circle of orthodox Pune, to decipher the texts, identify the poets, as well as discoursing some lengthy comments on his perceived decadence of Brahmanical culture in the late period of early medieval native India. With his student V V Gokhale, he edited the anthology, and got it published in Harvard Oriental Series.

While identifying the verses and their authors, he took the help of another anthology from Eastern India, that of Sad?ktikar??m?ta (Skm) compiled by ???dharad?sa son of Va?ud?sa, a great official mah?-s?manta-ch???ma?i of King Lak?ma?asena, last Hindu king of Gau?a. This was compiled by 1206. Kosambi[iv] comments,

???dharad?sa tried much harder than Vidy?kara to name the author of every stanza, not always correctly…he must have a different library at his disposal”.

It has been shown that this Srk. had an incomplete copy at Nepal Durbar Library, where the title and colophon both were missing, and it was noticed by H P ??str?, tentatively under the fictitious heading ‘Kavivacanasamuccaya’. Later on F W Thomas[v] edited this text for Asiatic Society of Bengal with many identifications of poems and poets with critical observation, under the heading ‘Kav?ndra-vacanasamuccaya’. This title is from the first line of the compilation available: n?n?-kav?ndra-vacan?ni-manohar??i.

Among the poets, Kosambi placed Vasukalpa (apparently under many variants, Vasukalpadatta, Kalpadatta, Vasuka, Kalpavasu) at a court of one K?mboja king, which was in a hostile military relation with king of Kali?ga-ma??ala. Aufrecht identified him as a poet later than Yoge?vara, identified by Kosambi belonging to the era of Dharmap?la, (Thomas [1912], p.77) and the poet mentions R?ja?ekhara (active around ~900 AD). So, Vasukalpa must belong to a period later than 920s. Now only K?mboja kings possible in a hostile relation with Kali?ga during 10th century were those who were known from Ird? copper-plate charter given by one Nayap?la, third in the line, second in generation of kings, after R?jyap?la and his son N?r?ya?ap?la reigning from the capital Priya?gu at Da??abhuktima??ala, a territory around south-western part of West Midnapore in West Bengal and part of Balasore in Orissa. So the poet is likely to belong to this court, but under which of the kings, cannot be said.

Kosambi also pointed to another poet, Mahodadhi[vi], who composed a panegyric for one R?jyap?la, the king, homonymous with one of contemporary P?la king of Gau?a, as well as the forerunner of Kamboja-kula kings Da??abhukti-ma??ala. We also take him under consideration as a possible court poet here, at Priya?gu.

Some verses of the collection were translated by Daniels H H Ingalls, who was in contact with this venture of editing for four years and provided a preface (p. ix) to the publication. The translations also were published in HOS. No 44, 1965, in some cases with insightful notes. We may be attentive to his notes also.

We accumulated the data hereafter for the perusal of the readers, with Kosambi’s relevant comments. Available translations are given, without venturing fresh ones.

The Data:

Following are our selections from

  1. Subh??ita-ratnako?a, by Vidy?kara at Jaggaddala-Mah?vih?ra, c.1120 A D. (Ed. by D D Kosambi & V. V Gokhale, Harvard Oriental Series, no.42, 1957)
  2. English Version from An anthology of Sanskrit Court-poetry, ‘Subh??ita-ratnako?a’, trans. Daniells H H Ingalls, Harvard Oriental Series, no. 44, 1965. [Unless stated otherwise]
  3. Sad?ktikar??m?ta of ?r?dharad?sa, by S C Banerji, Firma K L M, Calcutta, 1965)

K?mboja by Vasukalpa from Subh??ita-ratna-ko?a compiled by Vidy?kara

I

No. 1016

Tva? K?mboja vir?jase bhuvi bhavat.t?to divi bhr?jate

tat.t?tastu Vibh??a?a? sa kim.api Brahmaukasi dyotate/

yu?m?bhis.tribhir.ebhir.arpita tanus.tat-k?rtir.ujj?imbhi??

m??ikya-stavaka-traya pra?ayi??? h?rasya dhatte ?riyam//

—Vasukalpasya

[Transl: “You K?mboja, shine upon this earth, your father shines in the heaven and his father is an ornament that shines even in the Brahm?’s world. Your blossoming fame incarnate in these three forms exhibits the beauty of a necklace strung with three sets of gems.][Note: Vibh??a?a?=ornament, somehow (kimapi) shines although so far removed..(There is a) possibility that Vibh??a?a? was part of the name or title of king’s grandfather]

II

No. 1423

               Kar?adbhi? sichay?ñchal?n.atiras?t kurvadbhir.?li?gana?

               grih??nai? kacham.?likhadbhir.adhara? vidr?vayadbhi? kuchau/

               pratyak?e.’pi Kali?ga-ma??ala-pater.anta?pur???m.aho

               dhik.ka??a? vi?apair-vi?air.iva ki? n?ma n.?che??itam//

—Vasukalpasya

[Transl: They catch his women’s skirts, embrace them tight, seize them by the hair and wound their lips, scratch their breasts even until they bleed and this before the face of the monarch of Kali?ga-ma??ala; for now in his defeat the forest trees play all the tricks of leeches with his wives.]

III

No. 1431

Bh?me prasth?nabh?ji sphurad.asi-jalad.?pahnuta.dve?i-vahnau

g?ih??t.?hn?ya sarve bhuvi bhuvana-bhuja?.ch?mara? v? di?o v?/

naiva? ch.edvas.tad?n?? pradhana.dh?ita.dhanur.muktar.?var?aviddha? g?idhr?

m?rdh?n?m.?rdhva? nabhasi rabhasino l?ghaven.oddharanti//

—Vasukalpasya

[Transl: “When the terrible King Bh?ma marches forth, the cloud of his flashing sword quenching his foeman’s fire, ye king of all earth must take forthwith to servitude or to the four directions; if not, the vultures will be swift to seize your heads pierced by the arrows from the bow he holds in battle and lift them lightly to the heaven.”]

IV

No. 1444

Tat-kalpadruma-pu?pa sa?stari-rajas.tat-k?madheno? payas

ta? cha Tryambaka-netra-dagdha-vapu?a? pu?p?yudhasy.?nalam/

padm?y?? ?vasit.?nil.?ni cha ?arat-k?lasya tach.cha sphu?a?

vyom?d?ya vinirmito.’si vidhin? K?mboja tubhya? nama?//

—Vasukalpasya

[Transl: “God took the pollen of wishing trees, milk from cow who grants desire, the fire of Love, whom ?iva’s eye consumed and breath from the Lotus Goddess. For final element he added air, the crystal air of autumn; and with these five created him all praise: Your majesty, K?mboja.]

V

No. 1428

               ambha? kardamat?mupaiti sahas? pa?ka-drava? p???ut??

               p???ur.v?ra?a-kar?at?la-pavanair.dik-pr?nta-n?h?rat?m/

               nimnatva? giraya? sama? vi?amat?? ???ya? janasth?naka?[vii]

               niry?te tvayi R?jyap?la bhavati tyakta-svabh?va? jagat//

—Mahodadhe?

[Water turns to mud and mud turns into dust; the dusts, whipped up by flapping of the ears of elephants, becomes a mist on the horizon. Mountains bow down low and plains are turned into hills; cities grow deserted. Oh R?jyap?la, protector of the kingdom, when you march forth earth turns against her nature.]

(Also, in Sad?ktikar??m?ita, 3.32.5)

VI

No.1576

krudhyad-gandha-kar?ndra-danta-mu?ala-pre?khola-d?pt.?nala-

jv?l?-p?tita-kumbha-mauktika-phala-vyutpanna-l?j?ñjalau |

hasten.?si-may?kha-darbhalatik?-baddhena yuddh.otsavair.

r?jñ? yena sa-l?lam Utkala-pater.Lak?m?? punarbh?? k?it? ||

—vasukalpasya

 

From Sad-ukti-kar??m?ita of ?r?-Dharad?sa

VII

S.5.17.5

[5th Uchch?vacha-prav?ha-v?chaya?, 17th De?a b?chi (5th stanza)]

Kr??at-kinnara-k?min?-vihasita-jyotsn.?valak?m?-k?it??

kast?r?-mada-durdin.?rdra-surabhi? Pragjyoti??y? bhuva?/

n?h?ra-sthala-sa?chari??u–chamar?-l??gula-sa?m?rjan?-

hel.onm?i??ana-meru-pu?pa-rajaso dra??u? sam?h?mahe//

—Vasukalpasya

VIII

S.3.19.1

[3rd Ch??u-prav?ha-v?chayah 19th Vikrama? (1st stanza)]

Deve nirbhara S?hasaika-rasike ni??a?kav?re.dhun?

ni?.s?ma-prasare nir.a?ku?a-matau jñ?te man??.nirdaye/

ni?.sa?patti nir.?yudha? nir.a?ana? nir.bh?mi ni?.sainika?

nis.teja?.cha nir.??raya? cha nikhila? tad.r?jaka? vartate//

—Vasukalpasya

 

IX

S.3.26.1

[3rd Ch??u-prav?ha-v?chayah, 26th Nauk? (1st stanza)]

Bh?i?gair.n?v?ka-sa?nibhai? parigata? ?uddh?nta-v?ma-bhr?v??

kar?a-bhra??am.avek?ya ketaka-dala? v?p?-jale santarat/

?r?mat-S?hasamalla-v?ra bhavato nau-s?rtham.anta?-smara

nnut.trast.odya puna? karoti salila-kr???? Gau?.?dhipa?//

—Vasukalpasya

X

S.3.36.1 (same as no. 1381 of Subh??ita-ratna-ko?a)

[3rd Ch??u-prav?ha-v?chayah, 36th A?vadhuli (1st stanza)]

Y?tr? nehasi yasya dig-vijayina? K?mboja-v?h?val?

vi?khollekha-visarpi?i k?iti-raja?pure viyach.chumbati/

bh?nor.v?jibhir.a?ga-kar?a?a-ras.?nanda? sam?s?dito

labdha? ki? cha nabhastal.?maradhun?.pa?ker.uhair.anvaya?//

—Vasukalpasya

[Transl: “Oh King K?mboja, when your victorious army marches forth, from the flood of dust raised by the hoofs of Afghan steeds and spreading the to kiss the sky the horses of the sun seem decked with rouge and the lotuses that grow in heavens’ stream anticipate the closing of their sunset sleep.”]

  1. Comments by D. D. Kosambi

/p.xcvi./

Vasukalpa, Vasukalpadatta (Kalpadatta, Vasuka, Kalpavasu):

(He was) court-poet of king K?mboja of the junior P?la line. The identification rests upon praise of K?mboja by Vasukalpa in our stanzas 1016, 1444 where there is no doubt at all that a king and not a country K?mboja is being flattered. In S 5.17.5a praises specially beautiful land of Assam (Pr?gjyoti?a).

The Din?jpur pillar inscriptionb, consisting a single verse gives the first reference to the king:

Durvv?r.?ri var?thin? pramathane d?ne cha vidy?dharai?

s?nanda? divi yasya m?rgga?a-gu?a-gr?magraho.g?yate/

K?mboj.?nvayajena Gau?a-patina ten.endu.mauler.aya?

pr?s?do niram?yi Kuñjara-gha??-var?e?a bh?bh?????//[viii]

[Transl. by R L Mitra:”By him, whose ability in subduing the forces of his irresistible enemies, and liberality in appreciating the merit of his suitors, are sung by the Vidy?dharas in celestial spheres, by that sovereign of Gau?a, by him who is descendant from Kambojan line, this temple, the beauty of the earth, was erected for the Selene-cephalous (the Shiva) in the year 888”.][ix]

This says that a king of Gau?a (usual title of P?la Kings), descended from the K?mboja line built a temple of ?iva. The script seems to be of 10th century. It may be tempting /p. xcvii./ to take Kuñjara-gha??-var?a as denoting a no.888, which give A.D. 966, But neither the translation nor the ?aka era at that period seem justified.

“We may recall Abhinanda’s patron is named in the same style, and take Kuñjara-gha??-var?a as prince’s family name[x].

(Irda copper-plate)c of which the sixth verse reads:

Kamboja-va??a-tilaka? sthira-vikrama-?r?r.a?r?nta-d?na-mahim?-mahita-prabh?va?/

k?m?p?la-maulichaya-chumbita-p?da-p??ha? p?ithvipati? P?ithur.abh?d.iha R?jyap?la?/6

[Transl. by N G Majumdar: “Here flourished R?jyap?la, an ornament of the Kamboja family, (who was) the very Prithu, the lord of the earth. He (possessed) steadfast prowess and fortune, his majesty was heightened by the glory attained in ceaseless donation, and his foot-stool was kissed by the multitude of the heads of kings.][xi]

“The R?jyap?la here cannot be written off as a figure of speech, for the genealogy is given, and agrees with unquestioned P?la records including plates of R?jyap?la himself (not Abhinanda’s patron, but of a junior branch that succeded Devap?la); even the queen Bh?gyadev? is the same for this R?jyap?la as for the P?las. Thus the reference to a Kamboja line is to distinguish the king from members of the direct line which died out or was deposed quietly. The only question is whether Kamboja of Dinajpur pillar is R?jyap?la himself (as I incline to believe) or his father. Vasukalpa may be placed about the middle of 10th century, at the P?la court[xii].

“The poet, like his patron, is Buddhist-?aiva[xiii], with greater emphasis upon Buddha. A high proportion of his stanzas consist of panegyrics. No. 1423a mentions the defeat of a Kali?ga prince, S.3.19.1a may praise S?hasa. S.3.26.1a praises the naval might of S?hasamalla which so upsets a Gau?a King that he could not enjoy water sports. Whether Bh?ma of No. 1431a is a name or adjective is not clear. S.3.36.1a refers to K?mboja horses, but may be a pun on the king’s name also.”

[Refs:

  1. Corresponding stanzas are cited in Nos. I-X above.
  2. JASB N.S. VII, 1911, p. 619; R D Banerjee, P?las of Bengal, MASB, no V, 1915, pp. 63, 68-69.
  3. EI, XXII, pp. 150-159; EI, XXIV, pp.43ff: IA, XV, pp. 108ff; History of Bengal I, Dacca, pp.190-1.]

Endnotes

[i] Kosambi & Gokhale (ed) [1957] Srk, p.xvi

[ii] ibid, p. xviii

[iii] ibid, p. xviii

[iv] ibid, p.xxi.

Kosambi and Gokhale were handicapped by the absence of a printed edition of the this title, text critical or otherwise, in his time. An initiation was done by Ramavatar Sharma, BI (1912, 1921), but only 2 fascicles were printed. Two manuscripts were reported, one from Shantipore by R L Mitra, Notices, no. 1180, the other from Serampore College. Thomas [1912], p. 12. <It is somewhat widely, but imperfectly, known from an article by Aufrecht (Beiträge zur Kenntnis indischer Dichte, Z. D. M. G. xxxvi, 361-383, 509-59), who had made a complete copy for himself, with collation of both MSS., and had furnished with full index of author’s names and of their verses, also with a list of prat?kas, as well as numerous references. Apparently Aufrecht did not consider his MS. ripe for publication, and it passed with rest of his collectanea into the possession of India Office Library, where it appears as Nos. 57-58, in the Aufrecht Collection (see, “The Aufrecht Collection” in J.R.A.S. 1908, 1029-63.).> Aufrecht’s numbering, as it appears in Thomas [1912] is linear, whereas Ramavatar’s is sectionwise.

We used the edited version of Banerji [1965].

  1. H P ??str? [1901] Report on the search for Sanskrit manuscripts, 1895-1900, Calcutta.
  2. H P ??str? [1934] Descriptive Catalogue of Manuscripts Asiatic Society of Bengal, Vol VII, no.5436 (4766), p.300.

[v] F W Thomas [1912] (Ed. Introduction and notes), ‘Kav?ndravacanasamuccaya’, A Sanskrit Anthology of Verses, Bibliotheca Indica, N S No. 1309.

[vi] Kosambi & Gokhale (ed) [1957] Srk. p. xcxiv.

[vii] Banerji reads ‘janasth?nat??’ in his edition of Saduktikar??m?ita.

 

[viii] This Din?jpur pillar inscription contains an unusually rare expression for ‘army’ in var?thin?, a continuation of Vedic word. No doubt, the children in their first course of Sanskrit at his Guru’s feet would memorise ‘Amarako?a’ and remember in 2nd k???a, k?atriya varga, 79:

dhvajin? v?hin? sen? p?itan.?n?kin? cham??/

var?thin? bala? sainya? chakra? c.?n?kam astriy?m//

Still, the word is rarely used. It is interesting to find that this very word is used by Vasukalpa in one of his panegyrics for his patron:

?e?a? kle?ayitu? di?a? sthagayitu? pe??u? dharitr?-bh?ita?

sindh?n dh?libhare?a kardamayitu? tair.eva roddhu? nabha? |

n?s?re cha muhurmuhu?.chala chal.ety?l?pa-kol?hal?n

kartu? n?tha var?thin.?yam.avan?? jetu? punas.tvadbhujau || (no. 1426)                                                   (Transl.”Able to weary ?e?a[n?ga], hide the four directions, crush mountains and with their dust fill up the streams till they besiege high heaven; able to cause the outcry, ‘run’ and ‘run’ again along the battle-line: your army, lord, is able to do this; but only your two arms can win the world.”)

var?thin? means armoured persons, persons protected by defensive shield; it is related to var?tha, grouped in Amarako?a with ratha-gupti.(same,58)

[ix] see Additional 1

[x]See Additional 2

[xi] See Additional 3

[xii] There is confusion in the statement. It may not be clear now what the basis of confusion was. For Kosambi, this much can be said that such confusion was widespread among the scholars of that time, when scanty data available. The problem was (a) whether Kamboja-kula-tilaka R?jyap?la of Irda-plate, having wife Bh?gyadev? was same or not as R?jyap?la of P?la kings of Gau?a, having wife Bh?gyadev? (b) whether Kamboj?nvaya Gau?apati was same as Kamboja-kula-tilaka R?jyap?la of Irda-plate, only having different epithets. Arguments and opinions for and against had been tracked by R C Majumdar, in his HBD, p.190-1, without committing to an opinion himself. N G Majumdar, who in his reading of Irda plate, denied such possibility, changed his opinion in Modern Review, Sept, 1937, p. 270. Ghosh claimed the identity; of all persons even D C Sircar accepted the identity. [JIH, Vol xv, p. 270.] Only H C Ray rejected the idea. [DHNI, p.309]. However, proposal for identity of Kamboja-kula-tilaka R?jyap?la with that of Gau?apati of Din?jpur pillar inscription is Kosambi’s own.

[xiii] Such uses of Buddhist-?aiva , or Buddist-Vai??ava etc. are plenty in his learned introduction. Whether these were understood as syncretism, or incompetence of the practitioner of religious ideas to understand their own doctrines in a way as our modern day scholars would like them to understand, is not much clear. Interested readers may go through his thesis.

[Additional 1] The translation was taken from the first notice of the artefact by E. V. Westmacott, a colonial officer in the service of the Govt. of Bengal Presidency, where he inserted the translation of ‘Babu Rajendralal Mitra’. [‘Correspondance, Notes and queries’ p.127, Indian Antiquary, Vol I, 1872.] He declared that ‘The Babu afterword told me that the date 888 must refer to either Samvat or the Shaka era, …either A.D.833 or 967, 967 most probably, judging from the style of writing’. The Sahib officer then conjectured, “I think… original temple of Shiva..not in Dinajpur, but in Gauda, the capital of its founder.. brought by Mohammedan to Bannagar, forty-fifty miles north-east of Gauda.” In the note he described, “The pillar in question has eight elephants carved upon it, two on each face, crouching each under a tiger, or some similar animal, which is rampant upon it.” If such idolatric expression in stone had been carried with care to a distance of 50-60 miles away by the Mohammedans of those days from Gau?a to Bannagar, that would have been the first and only time in the history of sub-continent that such activity were undertaken. We better dismiss the Sahib’s bombastic imaginative extrapolation. The pillar was found in jungle at Bannagar/ Bangarh, and was carried by the zamindar to his Dinajpur residence. A better possibility is that the temple with the pillar of mid-tenth century was already in a ruinous condition and taken to forest cover, when Bannagar, actually Devakot, became a military post of the Muslims in 1205, its remains laid there for six centuries more, without being smashed to dust.

Mitra’s explanation of year 888, rests on Kuñjara as 8, there being eight elephants of quarter, he explained gha?? as three-fold or plural. R. G. Bhandarkar in a note to the above (p.128) protested such explanation, and asked for an authority of gha?? as three-fold. He also had shown that var?e?a is instrumental; this means it indicates the period in doing a thing, which is 888 years! According to P??. 2.3.6 it should have been locative. He rather denied any chronogram in the expression and suggested the meaning ‘he who pours to the array of elephants’. Mitra’s reply (p. 195-6) and Bhandarkar’s further note remained inconclusive. In an article, ‘Din?jpurer prastar-stambha-lipi’ published in a Bengali monthly from Dacca, B?ndhab [Vol.4,1288 B.S./1881], edited by K?l?prasanna Ghosh, someone under the pseudonym ?r??, criticised the translation to show that Kuñjara-gha??-var?a cannot be a chronogram, if at all, it would mean 3X8=24, and not 888. In this he supported Bhandarkar.

[Additional 2] Abhinanda’s patron was Prince H?ravar?a, sometimes equated with Devap?la, or his brother, as Kosambi thought, with one R?jyapala. These var?a– ending names were current and popular among the contemporary Ra??rak?ta ruling families. It may be assumed that such names became popular after the princesses of Ra??rak?ta royal lineages were coming as brides among the Gau?a households. Still it would be too far to assume that ‘Kuñjara-gha??-var?a as prince’s family name. The two persons are different, which Kosambi could not realise. The Dinajpur pillar’s King might well be Kuñjara-gha??-var?a himself, having this as personal name. Kuñjara-gha?? i.e. ‘collection or assembly of Elephants’ can very well be understood as cloud, or Megha or its synonym. Hemachandr?ch?rya identifies 17 such synonyms. The actual name might have been anything like Meghavar?a, J?m?ta-, Jalada- etc.

[Additional 3] This translation is taken from Majumdar’s ‘Irda Copper plate of the Kamboja king Nayapaladeva’, p. 150ff. EI, Vol. XXII (1933-34), 1938. According to the inscription, Nayap?ladeva who was gifting a village of B?ihat-Chattivann? within Da??abhukti mandala of the Varddham?na bhukti in his 13th year was the third King in the line after his father R?jyapala of Kamboja clan, and his brother N?r?ya?ap?la had reigned in succession. Queen of R?jyap?la was Bh?gyadevi. The palaeography of the inscription placed it in the latter part of the 10th century A.D. The name of this King with his wife has a striking similarity with that of R?jyap?la of Imperial P?la of Gau?a, his wife too was named Bh?gyadevi; their reign-periods too were nearly contemporary. But the P?las were of known as belonging to ‘Mihirasya kula’ according to inscr of Vaidyadeva, R?macharita of Sandhy?karanandin assigns them ‘Samudrakula’, whatever might have been its meaning, it was anything other than Kamboja-kula. Other king belonging to the Kamboja clan had a name or epithet Kuñjara-gha??-var?a had built a temple for Lord ?iva at Bangarh/ Devako?a, evident from Din?jpur Pillar inscription, mentioned above. Palaeography suggests nearness in period of all these.

[Additional 4][A draft of “our comments on the Kamboja-problem pertaining to Bengal”]

  1. The relation between the P?la-s of Kamboja lineage at Da??abhukti vis-à-vis the Imperial P?la-s of Gau?a and at least one offshoot of Kamboja king of Gau?a (Kuñjaragha??var?a) has been discussed last time some 30 years ago by D C Sircar (DCS). As no new data is forthcoming, hardly anything dramatic can be added to his assertions, except re-interpreting existing data squeezed to yield something more.
  2. [We take genealogical table of the Imperial P?las of Gau?a according to DCS as below, with necessary corrections by D K Ganguly next.

Scheme of D C Sircar:

  1. Dharmap?la(775-810)> Devap?la(810-47)> [R?jyap?la]>Surap?la I(847-60)
  2. (Dharmap?la)[V?kap?la>Jayap?la>]Vigrahap?la I(860-61)>N?r?ya?ap?la(861-917)>

R?jyap?la(917-52)=Bh?gyadev?>Gop?la II(952-72)>Vigrahap?la II(972-77)>

Mahip?la I(977-1027)>Nayap?la (1027-43) etc(Persons in square bracket didn’t rule)]

  1. DCS considered R?jyap?la, the first K?mboja of Da??abhukti as a feudal lord (or, in his terminology, sub-ordinate ruler) planted by the Imperial P?las of Gau?a in a nearly similar line as Samudravarman of K?mar?pa, a pratyanta-n?ipati (border king) who was supposed to became obedient to the Gupta-s during Samudragupta (~350 AD), and he assigned Kamboja Rajyapala’s period at ~980 AD. DCS considered R?jyap?la of Gau?a ruled during (~920-952). Here DCS is now superseded by new data; he considered N?r?ya?ap?la, father of R?jyap?la of Gau?a, ruled directly after ??rap?la of Dharma-Deva line, and P?la territory was consumed by Mahendrap?la (885-908) of Pratih?ra dynasty, North-Western adversary of the P?las during N?r?ya?a’s reign. Nowadays it has been shown that Gau?a had a Mahendrap?la of its own, earlier to the Pratih?ra one & had another Gop?la (II) in Dharma’s line, before N?raya?ap?la. To accommodate them, it is necessary to advance the rule of R?jyap?la by more than a decade. So, R?jyap?la cannot be placed earlier than ~930 AD, and he could not rule much beyond ~965 AD. A plausible compromise may be found in D K Gangopadhyay’s Intro to DCS’s P?la-Sena yuger Ba?sh?nucarit etc 2nd ed, 2009, as (c932-964 AD).
  1. Scheme of D K Ganguly:
  2. Dharmap?la(774-806)> Devap?la(806-45)>[R?jyap?la]>Mahendrap?la(845-60)+Surap?la I(860-72)>Gop?l II(872-77)
  3. (Dharmap?la)[V?kap?la>Jayap?la>]Vigrahap?la I(877-78)>N?r?ya?ap?la(878-932)>

R?jyap?la(932-64)=Bh?gyadev?>Gop?la III(964-76)>Vigrahap?la II(976-77)>Mahip?la I(977-1027) >Nayap?la (1027-43) etc (Persons in square bracket didn’t rule)

  1. Moreover, DCS’s argument regarding the start of K?mboja R?jyap?la seems flawed; he placed it on 980 AD, which on all account is certainly within the period of Mahip?la I (c977-1027), 3rd generation after R?jyap?la —(this is reasonably fixed). If K?mboja R?jyap?la is to be related to the said Gau?a monarchs in terms of political expediency, why should he assume a name of one who had long expired; the name should have been that of Mahip?la (I). We think DCS was influenced by the name of Nayap?la of Kamboja lineage at Da??abhukti as a contemporary of his namesake in the Gau?a monarchy of (1027-       c.1045). This compulsion has forced him to discount another name, Dharmap?la (as a continuation of Nayap?la, to be placed earlier to this Dharmap?la) from the dynastic list of the K?mbojas of Da??abhukti.
  2. Dharmap?la was recorded as King of Da??abhukti, he was routed by R?jendra Chola’s army in its North-Eastern campaign during ~1021-2 AD. We think, after this K?mboja dynasty here was gone, and polity here had been reorganized on behalf of the Gau?a administration in rather flimsy way. The route remained vulnerable militarily; Kalachuri G??geyadeva/ Kar?a from central India might have made many inroads through this “Da??a”/highway, shaking the Gau?a-s further. Such a consideration would place R?jyap?la of K?mboja as a junior contemporary of R?jyap?la of Gau?a, say at ~950-960 AD. The former’s elder son N?r?ya?a may not last long; junior son, Nayap?la’s 14-15th RY can be placed in the first decade of 11th cent.
  3. Identity of the K?mboja dynasty that ruled at Da??abhukti and the other at Gau?a, at a slightly earlier date, has been discussed. Their inter-relationship, as well as possible relation with the P?la military aristocracy is also enquired into.
  1. Most of the later inscriptions of N?raya?ap?la of Gau?a (say from the second decade of 10th) is confined in S Bihar area and nowhere in the Varendra/ North Bengal. On the other hand Gau?a monarch of Kamboja lineage cannot be placed after R?jyap?la of Gau?a, an inscription from North Bengal by one of his officers proved his possession over there. The inscription suggests that the officer was by then promoted twice in his post (the officer Ya?od?sa had been made sachiva from mantrin, then promoted to tantr?dhik?rin ) suggesting that R?yap?la’s recovery over there had happened quite early of his reign, we think it can hardly likely to be placed after ~940 AD.
  2. In the same vein R?jyap?la recovered many domains including one trounced by the tribe named ‘Mlechchha’.

[Mlechchhair.uchchhanna-kalpai? parijana-vikalair.A?gaKali?gaVa?gairO??rair.u???na-j?vair.apagata-kapa?ai? P???yaKar???aL??ai?/

Suhmai? s.opaprad?nair.asi-bhaya-chakitair.GgurjjaraK??taCh?nair.]

It has been suggested that by ‘Mlechchha’ the poet might have meant the Arab Muslims of contemporary Sind area, hence it should be poetic verbose at best.

  1. Interestingly, there was another P?la-line of Kings in contemporary K?mar?pa (whom unfortunately local historians there consider to have had started at a period of first decade of 11th cent, ignoring all synchronism with the Gau?a & Va?ga kings, whose dates are reasonably established). That dynasty at K?mar?pa claimed that they replaced a Mlechchha dynasty to revive the Bhauma lieage of Naraka-Bhagadatta.
  2. Such a claim by K?mar?pa kings was simply ignored outside their own domain. One of their kings, Indrap?la (~960-990) boasted of win over a Va?ga king Kaly??achandra (975-1000) of Chandra dynasty, whereas Kaly??a’s inscription claimed of defeating ‘Mlechchha-s of Lauhitya-bank’. Possibly Sylhet area was the bone of contention, and Kaly??a succeeded in retaining it. This shows that the P?las of K?mar?pa could well be the required ‘Mlechchha’ of R?jyap?la of Gau? The phrase, ‘Mlechchhair.uchchhanna-kalpai? parijana-vikalair’ could very well suggest that the Mlechchha army from K?mar?pa was doing havoc over Kamboja’s occupation in Northern Bengal. Ch?na might have a veiled reference to a Kamboja group from Tibet [settled during Devapala’s rule? after collapse of Tibetan Empire, c 942? naturalized by now?][See also, Sircar [19712], fn (e)]
  3. A K?mar?pa king, Ratnap?la of P?la lineage, was claimed to have defeated R?jyap?la of Gau?a near the Ganges (the King’s own inscription ignored to put the feat in his inscriptions, it was his grandson at a much later day, when everybody was likely to forget the outcome, did it on his behalf). As R?jyap?la really recovered the territory for good, it appeared that K?mar?pa king in fact   trounced the then K?mboja ruler of Gau?a at an earlier date. The ousted ruler, or his other scions, surrendered before R?jyap?la, who now with the help of the Kambojas (and possibly also with the help of ?richandra of Va?ga) campaigned to dive out the ruler of K?mar?pa-‘Mlechchha’ army, and wisely accepted the Kambojas into his array of military aristocracy. One result was the planting a Kamboja settlement as a border-guard at Da??abhukti, against any military movement from Kali?ga side, the other might have been positing this group against ‘Mlechchha’ inroad from ‘Lauhitya-bank’.
  4. [It is said that there is a very interesting reference to K?mboja settlements along with T?mraliptakas as well as Pr?gjyoti?as in Brahmapur??a (BrP). By a common consensus the present available edition of BrP is taken to be an upapur??a of Orissa-Kosala-Andhra origin, its different portion was added at different times. Corresponding part might have been added during 12-13th But the references are unclear, we failed to locate it. See fn. (f)]
  5. DCS has also shown that ?richandra of Va?ga in his inscription of RY 5 (~930 AD) mentioned mysterious activities of Kambojas at Samata?a (Comilla of SE British province of Bengal at present) just prior to his father Trailokyachandra’s expedition over there. ?richandra ruled for 50 years (925-975), his son Kaly??achandra (975-1000) too ruled for a mature 25 years. This necessitates that Trailokyachandra had died rather young and lived not after early middle stage of his life. So we can say his activities at Samatata could have been very well around ~920 AD, and Kamboja activity there cannot be placed much earlier. This can again happen if Kamboja rule is placed at Varendra and North Bengal immediately before this. So Kamboj?nvayaja Kuñjaragha??var?a is to be found there at this very time. This is the time N?r?ya?ap?la’s inscriptions drew a blank here.
  6. Moreover, we are forced to conclude that Kamboja revolt was planned, not by Kamboja themselves. There was a political aspirant group who allied with this armed clan to do the havoc on P?la polity. Eastern domains, from whence apparently the P?la dynasty evolved during the middle of 8th cent (as the Siyan Inscr. of Nayap?la apparently had shown regarding the activity of Gop?la I at Samata?a, and possibly the designation of ‘samudrakula’ for the dynasty by Sandhy?karanandin in R?macharita) was full of resources for the survival of P?la empire, it is here the strike was enforced to choke the polity of vital supplies.[It appears that starting from R?jyap?la to the early years of Mahip?la, the imperial P?las did try to recover the lost ground at this territory under the rubric of pitrya r?jya unsuccessfully, ref. fn(g) by DCS] Hence all the activities at Northern Bengal can be put around ~ 920 AD to a few years earlier.
  7. K?mboja Nayap?la remembered R?jyap?la, his father as the progenitor of the dynasty at Da?? Vasukalpa’s verses (as is cited in the anthology of our article) nowhere mention his patron’s name: anyone of at least three, if not four (if we take Dharmap?la of R?jendra Chola fame in this line, which is almost certain) kings could be his patron. On the other hand poet Mahodadhi definitely mentioned R?jyap?la’s name. Association of Elephant army, mud to dust in their march, might hint at R?jyap?la of Dan?abhukti (not that R?jyap?la of Gau?a could not have Elephant army, still Orissa is more renowned for its elephants, and Elephant was a symbolic for location here). Selections from Vasukalpa left no such indication. Still he certainly mentions memorable associations for his patron’s second and immediate ancestors (including Bibh??ana in place of Bh?bh??ana of Dinajpur inscription). His mentioning Bh?ma (forceful) might be adjective-use. Most interesting is his mentioning with praise the land of Pr?gjyoti?a and one naval hero S?hasamalla (in two verses at least) as an adversary of Gau?a. Da??abhukti being landlocked didn’t need formidable navy. Apparently he remembered past events pertaining to his own as well as his patron’s lineages. S?hasamalla might have been the leader who kept Gau?a monarchs at bay (confined to S Bihar) along the Ga?g? and had lead the Kamboja army to Samata?a, as said above. In that case the patron king would be K?mboja R?jyap?la
  8. The king was in charge of a territory from where he was to keep Kali?ga-ma??ala at bay. Nothing is said about Utkala, strangely. First half of 10th was a time when Bhauma-Karas of Utkala was being dissipated by the Somavan??s of Dak?ina-Kosala. Their whereabouts remained unknown immediately after ~940 AD.

However, another verse of Vasukalpa (from Subh??ita0): krudhyad.gandha.kar?ndra.danta.mu?ala.pre?khola.d?pt?nala. jv?l?.p?tita.kumbha.mauktika.phala.vyutpanna.l?j?ñjalau/

hasten?si.may?kha.darbha.latik?.baddhena’ yuddhotsavair.r?jñ?

yena sa.l?lam.Utkala.pater.lak?m?? punarbh?? k?it? //(v. 1576) Vasukalpasya.

This poem clearly shows that Vasukalpa’s patron was a kind of shelter (Utkalapater.lak?m?? punarbh?? k?it?) for Utkala-pati, king of Utkala. This is a situation immediately around ~940 AD when Bhauma-Karas were being eroded out by the powerful Somavan??s of S Kosala, as they were approaching from Kali?ga-side where their power was at first consolidated.

[We take the starting of Bhauma-Kara era at AD 736+ as is taken by Orissa historians as well as B N Mukherjee, A M Shastri etc in deference to DCS, D K Ganguli, A Bhattacharya etc., who suggested AD 831+]

Refs:

  1. Mitra, R L [1872] pp. 127ff. in Ind. Ant., Vol I
  2. Chanda, R P [1911] p. 619, in JPASB, Vol VII
  3. Bhandarkar, D R List of Inscriptions, No. 1726.
  4. Banerji, R D [1911] The P?las of Bengal, pp. 68-69
  5. Bandyopadhyay, R D, B??l?r Itihas2,(in Bengali) 1330 BS, 237ff
  6. Majumdar, N G [1933 ] “Irda plate of Nayap?la’ in Ep. Ind. Vol XXII, pp. 150ff
  7. Sircar, D C, [1981] ‘Date of the Irda and Kalanda Plates’ Aspects of History of Orissa, Vol III, Department of History, Sambalpur University, pp 424-27
  8. Ramesh, K [1989] Kalanda Copper-plate charter of Nayap?ladeva Ep. Ind. XLI
  9. Sircar, D. C. [1973] “Pashchimbhag plate of ?r?candra, Regnal Years 5’ pp. 19-40, in Epigraphic Discoveries in East Pakistan, Sanskrit College, Calcutta.
  10. Sircar, D C [1957 ] ‘Bhaturiya Pillar Inscription of R?jyap?la’, pp. 150ff. Ep. Ind. XXXIII.
  11. Sircar, D C, [1982] ‘Some Facts about Mahip?la and the Kambojas’. Seminar on Early Historical Perspective of North Bengal, Souvenir, Balurghat College, 1982, pp 3-7.
  12. Sircar, D C., [1987] ‘Some Facts about Mahip?la and the Kambojas’ in “Early Historical Perspective of North Bengal, pp 58-63, (Ed) B N Mukherjee & P K Bhattacharyya, NBU, Raja Rammohanpur, Darjeeling. India.
  13. Sircar, D C, [1982] P?la-Sena Juger Ba?sh?nucarit (in Bengali), 1st Ed.
  14. Ganguly, D K [2009] Intro to D C Sircar, P?la-Sena Juger Ba?sh?nucarit (in Bengali), 2nd Ed.
  15. Majumdar, R C, [1971] History of Ancient Bengal,
  16. Satpathy, S [1997], Da??abhukti as known from Inscriptions, JAS, (Calcutta) Vol 39.1
  17. Sircar, D C [1973] Epigraphic Discoveries of East Pakistan.
  18. Sircar, D C [19712] Studies in Geography etc, p 104n.

fn(e):

Tibet in Indian languages:

Earliest designations for the Politico-cultural unit now known as Tibet, in Indian languages of different parts of India, are not well charted. We do not know from when the typical Indian designation ‘Bho?a’ for the country came in forth and continued to be used.

fn (f):

Singh writes, ‘’ The Brahmapur??a mentions the Kambojas with Pragjyotisas and Tamraliptakas. They are probably those who figure in the history of Bengal”. (p.168, M R Singh, “Geographical data in Early Puranas- A Critical Study” Punthi Pustak, Calcutta, 1972)

He refers to v. 53.16 (p.208, n 537). His edition is that of Anandasrama series, this we couldn’t consult (archive.org version is useless as the edition substitutes a large section of BrP by verses from Padmapur??a-?dikha??a).

That by Peter Schreiner and Renate Söhnen, Tübingen Pur??a Project or that of Venkateshwara Press does not contain the verse in situ. It seems that there is some mistake in verse no. we couldn’t trace.

fn(g):

(ref. to articles by DCS)

  1. Gop?l II Mandhuk (Comilla) image inscr. 1st year, IHQ, Vol XXVIII, p.55
  2. Mahip?la Baghaura image inscr. 3rd yr, Ep. Ind.XVII, pp. 355ff.
  3. Mahip?la N?r?yanpur Image Inscr. 4th year (?) IC, Vol, 121ff.
  4. Mahip?la Bangarh plate, 9th yr
  5. Sircar, D C [1940] IC, Vol VII, p. 411
  6. Mahip?la Belava plate, 5th year, (pitrya r?jya), Ep.Ind. XXIX, p.1
  7. Kaly??achandra’s Dacca copper inscr. of 24th Ep. Disc.E P, 8, 51.

Pratap De is a retired teacher and independent researcher. Email: pratap.c.de@hotmail.com

 

Chitrolekha International Magazine on Art and Design, (ISSN 2231-4822), Vol. 4, No. 1, 2014, URL of the Issue: www.chitrolekha.com/v4n1.php, Available at www.chitrolekha.com/V4/n1/04_Kamboja-Poet_Vasukalpa_Dandabhuktimandala.pdf, Kolkata, India. © www.chitrolekha.com

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