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Inscriptions of the Silaharas: Part VI (An Old and Rare Book)

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Item Code: NAZ938
Author: Vasudev Vishnu Mirashi
Edition: 1977
Pages: 456 (Throughout B/w Illustrations)
Other Details 13.00 X 10.00 inch
Weight 2.65 kg
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Book Description
TILL about two centuries ago, the Silahara family, like most other royal families of ancient India, was completely unknown to history. There were indeed several stone inscriptions scattered about in North Konkan and the region round Kolhapur, but none noticed or cared for them. In 1784, during the time of Governor-General Warren Hastings, the Asiatic Society of Bengal was founded, which gave a fillip to the study of Indian antiquities. Four years later, in 1788, the first Volume of its journal, the Asiatic Researches, was published. It contained General Carnac's English translation of the Thana plates of the Silahara king Arikesarin, dated in the Saka year 939 (A.D. 1017). It was prepared by the General with the help of Pandit Ramalochan of Calcutta, and was quite literal, English words being used for Sanskrit ones exactly as in Sanskrit compounds. This volume of the journal was so enthusiastically hailed that it went through as many as five reprints. In one of these, the facsimile of the first plate of the grant, and, in another, its transcript were published.

These plates are not procurable now, but their Sanskrit text conjecturally restored with the help of other Silahara records has been included in the present Volume. Since then several inscriptions of the Silaharas have been published in Indian and foreign periodicals. But they have been edited as they were discovered, and have not been arranged systematically. In 1837 James Prinsep indicated the necessity of arranging systematically the available inscriptional material bearing on ancient Indian history, and also suggested the James Corpus Inscription Indecorum for the Series of its volumes. The first volume of this Series was published exactly a hundred years ago, in 1877, by Sir Alexander Cunningham. Since then it has been re-edited by Dr. Hultzsch. Two more volumes of the Series have also been edited-Vol. II Part I. (Kharoshthi Inscriptions) by Sten Know, and Part ii (Bharhut Inscriptions) by Leaders, Waldschmidt and Mehendale, and Vol. III (Gupta Inscriptions) by Fleet.

In 1935 I was invited by the then Director General of Archaeology to edit a Volume of the inscriptions of the Kalachuri-Chedi Era in the Series. I accepted the arduous task, though with considerable diffidence, as several records of the era had been discovered in the Hindi- speaking part of the then Central Provinces and Berar, where I had been living for a long time. The Volume was published ultimately in 1955. Just about that time I had prepared another collection of inscriptions, viz., that of the records of the Vakatakas, who, in ancient times, were ruling over the Marathi-speaking part of the province. On coming to know of it, the Director General of Archaeology offered to publish it as a Volume of the Corpus Inscription Indecorum. The offer was accepted, and the Volume was published eight years later, in 1963. I have thus in a way tried to pay, however inadequately, the debt I owe to the province where I have spent the best partum life during the last more than fifty years.

After the Vakataka Volume was published, I thought of collecting and editing the available inscriptions of the Silaharas, who were ruling over Konkan where I was born, and over the Kolhapur region where I received my early education. I have spent most of my time during the last dozen years in collecting and editing the inscriptions of that royal family, and in solving the problems presented by its history. I offered my work to the Director General of Archaeology in my letter dated the 31st May 1971, and requested him to supply me the stumpages of some unpublished records of the Silaharas. Ultimately, I submitted the type- script of the Volume to him on the 30th January 1973. It was accepted for publication by him on the 22nd February 1973. I am glad to see its printing completed now.

The present Volume contains all available inscriptions of three out of ten known branches of the Silahara family. They were ruling over North and South Konkan, and over the region round Kolhapur. The remaining branches of the family are not so well-known.

When I thought of undertaking this work, several difficulties presented them. The stumpages of some of the records had not been published. Some have now been lost. Some others are in the Kannada language, and I am wholly ignorant of that language. But my friend Dr: G. S. Gai, Chief Epigraphist for India, rendered me valuable help in overcoming all these difficulties. He got several records copied by an Officer of his Department, supplied transcripts and translations of about half a dozen Kannada inscriptions, and rendered me valuable help in various other ways. I have also received much help from some other friends like Mr. N. Lakshminarayan Rao, Dr. A. N. Upadhye and Mr. V. S. Balkundi. Unfortunately, the latter two are not now with us. I am deeply indebted to all these friends. But for their ungrudging help, this Volume could not have been prepared.

The first attempt to write the political history of the Silaharas of North Konkan was made by Rev. Alexander Kyd Naime in the Bombay Gazetteer, Vol. I, part II (1896). In the same Volume of the Gazetteer Dr. R.G. Bhandarkar gave the history of the Kolhapur Silaharas, and Dr. Fleet that of all the three branches mentioned above. Next Dr. A. S. Altekar also dealt with the history of all the three branches in the Indian Culture, Vol. II. But all these scholars have given only the political history of, these branches. The other aspects of their history have not been touched. Dr. M. G. Dikshit intended to write a comprehensive history of the Silaharas, and had gathered much material for it. It is a matter for regret that he did not live' to complete his work.

After I submitted my work to the Director General of Archaeology, I thought of pub- lashing a short Marathi version of it as I had done before in the case of my two previous Volumes in the C.I.I.; for I was not sure of living to see the English Volume published. I was then in my eightieth year, and had not been keeping good health for some time. I also knew from past experience that the printing of the English Volume would take some years for completion. So I prepared an abridged Marathi version of it and, with the permission of the Director General of Archaeology offered it to the Vidarbha Samshodhan Mandal, Nagpur, for publication. The Mandal published it three years ago with a subsidy from the Maharashtra State Board of Literature and Culture. Since then, some more inscriptions of the Silaharas have come to notice. They have been included in an Appendix.

The present Volume contains sixty-four inscriptions of the Silaharas of North and South Konkan and the region round Kolhapur, and one more of the Yadava king Singhana, who annexed the Kolhapur kingdom. One of these, viz., the aforementioned Thana plates of Arikesarin, is known only from its English translation, and another, the Bhoighar plates of Chhittaraja, was available in a mutilated form as recited from memory by a Vedic scholar.

The Sanskrit texts of these two records have been restored conjecturally with the help of other Silahara inscriptions from North Konkan. All other records have been edited either from their originals or from their published facsimiles. Besides, the present Volume gives the political history of the three branches and describes the administration, religious, social and economic condition, literature, architecture and sculpture of the age. For the account of the Kannada work, the Neminathapurana, given here, I am indebted to my late friend Dr. A. N. Upadhye of Kolhapur. For the illustrations of some Silahara sculptures which were first published in the Bulletin of the Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay, I am thankful to the Director of the Museum, who kindly supplied their photographs. Prof. V. N. Rajaguru of the Polytechnic Institution, Kolhapur, has greatly obliged me by supplying the ground-plans of the Silahara temples" in Kolhapur and Khidrapur.


As many as ten families of the Silaharas are known to have ruled in Maharashtra and Karnataka as evidenced by heir inscriptions." The history of only the of them is .dealt with here. They were all ruling m Maharashtra. One of them occupied North Konkan, comprising the modern districts of Kolaba and Thana, This country was traditionally supposed to comprise 1400 villages’ Its early capital was Purl, from which the country came to be known as Puri-Konkana.P Puri has been variously identified. Some take it to be Gharapuri or Elephanta, about seven miles west of Bombay, famous for its magnificently carved Siva-temples.! There is, however, no inscriptional proof of this identification’s Besides, the island is too small to be the capital of a fairly large kingdom such as that of the Mauryas, who are known to have ruled from there.P Again, the island is cut off from the mainland by a considerable stretch of the sea, and so it is inconvenient for constant and easy communication such as a capital re- quires. Another identification proposed is that Purl is identical with Rajapur in the former Manjra State," which is situated at the mouth of a large creek on the western coast. But this place is almost near the southern end of North Konkan, of which it is known to have been the capital for some time. The capital of a country is generally near its centre for convenience of administration. Surparaka, modern Sopara in the Thada District, the earliest capital of North Konkan, occupied such a place. This is also supported by the discovery of a set of Asoka's rock edicts there." Sthanaka, modern Thana, the capital of the Silaharas of North Konkan, is also situated in the Thana District. So Purl also must have been situated in the same district. It may be noted in this connection that the only known stone inscription of the Mauryas was found at Valqua in the Thada District." Cousens proposed to identify Purl with a site, one mile north of the village Moron in the island of Sublette comprised in the Thad-a District’s? This place is literally sea-girt as described in the Ashore inscription’s but the north and north- east sides are not so separated from the mainland as to have made it difficult for troops to be transported one way or the other. There are extensive ruins of old temples there. We have, however, so far no evidence that the site near Maro] bore the name of Uri. The exact identification of this flourishing capital of the Mauryas must, therefore, be left for future research. Purl ceased to be the capital of North Konkan after the fall of the Mauryas. The Silaharas made Sthanaka, modern Thana, the seat of their government.

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