Photo IA Nov. 19, 2017
Photo courtesy Prakash Darnal and Shyamsundar Rajbanshi
The inscription is dated Śaka Era 464 (542 CE). It describes Yaśomitra Śākyabhikṣu donating the bronze image of the God Buddha during the reign of the Great King Rāmadeva and the Great Feudatory Kramalīla.
1. ū deya dharmmoyaṃ śākyabhikṣo Yaśomitrasya mātāpitarau pūrvvāṅgamaṅ kṛtvā ācāryyopādhyāyānāṃ sarvvasatvānām anuttarajñānavāptaye
2. stu, bhaṭṭāraka mahārāja śrī rāmadevasya sāgra varṣaśataṃ samājñāpayataḥ mahāsāmante mahārāja śrī kramalīla kuśalini
3. bhagavato buddhasya kāṅsyapratimā pratiṣṭhāpitā * mārggaśīrṣe śukla trayodaśyām saṃvat a-pka cu pka.
[Siddhi symbol]. This deya dharma (virtuous donation) is of Śākyabhikṣu Yaśomitra (donated with the aim) to let be obtained anttarajñāna (lit. "unsurpassed knowledge", a Buddhist teaching) by ācārya-upādhyāya ('teacher'), sarvasattva ("all sentient beings") keeping foremost/including ("pūrvaṅgamaṅ kṛtvā") to parents. This bronze image of the God Buddha was consecrated by the permission of Bhaṭṭāraka Mahārāja ("Enthroned, the Great King"), Blessed Ramadeva, while he was ruling for a long time ("sāgra varṣaśatam", lit. more than hundred years) (along with) well-wisher ("Kuśalini") Mahāsāmanta Mahārāja ("the Great Feudatory, the Great ruler") Blessed Kramalīla.
Dated 13th (lunar day of) waxing moon of the (month of) Mārgaśīrṣa of the (Shaka) Era (in letter-numeral) a-pka cu pka (400 60 4, December 542 CE).
Language and Script
This inscription is written with the traditional Buddhist donation format beginning with deya dharmoyam naming the donor, description of the ruler and his long reign, sāgra varṣaśataṃ, etc., description of the object donated and the date in letter-numerals.
The language of the inscription is similar to another inscription issued during the reign of the king Ramadeva (and also mentioning the feudatory Kramalīla) dated Shaka Era 467 (545 CE) (Gnoli, no. 17: Vajracharya no.39). It can be said regarding the language of this inscription what Gnoli (1956:24) remarked for the later inscription, that it was written in "bad Sanskrit”; Vajracharya also described the same inscription and mentioned it was "a little incorrect. In other inscriptions of the Licchavi period we don’t encounter such badly incorrect (language)” (“yo abhilekhmā ali aśuddha cha. Licchavikālkā aru yati bhaddā aśuddhi pāiṃdaina) (Vajracharya, 1973 no. 39 p. 176)
While checking the reading against the photo of the inscription read by Rajbanshi (2016) in 5 March 2020, Dr. Nayanath Paudel, Licchavi script expert, noticed some different readings (see our reading above; compare with Shyam Sundar Rajbanshi reading below). He noticed 'stu,' instead of 'stu 1' in the beginning of second line, double a-diacritic as superscript and right side stroke in 'jñā'. Dr. Nayanath Paudel has previously discussed with citation about superscript ā-diacritic in jā/jñā and the comma (,) system of writing in Licchavi script (Paudel 2020:kha, 2015:11-27). He read 'kramalīle' instead of kramalīla only. Here the word 'Kuśalini' is used when elsewhere it is Kuśalīḥ. The inscription-carver forgot to write 'ma' in 'mahāsāmanta', and so he inserted it in just below the place where 'ma' was needed. We have supposed symbol of Siddhi at the beginning of the inscription instead of reading 'Om' as some historians write. In a departure from other contemporary inscriptions, there is Dharmacakra symbol at the end of the sentence in the third line (shown in our transcription here as an asterisk *)
Rulers: King and Feudatory
Here are two Rulers mentioned in this inscription – The Enthroned, Great king Rāmadeva and the Great feudatory (Mahāsāmanta) Kramalīla. Kramalīla is also called Mahārāja "the Great ruler". Mahārāja in case of Ramadeva is "the Great king".
Only one other dated inscription has been found mentioning the king Rāmadeva in Licchavi inscription, the one mentioned above (Gnoli, no. 17: Vajracharya no.39), from Mrigasthali near by Aryaghat inscribed on the base of of Śivalinga called Nātheśvara, established by one Mānamatī. The date is ŚS 467 (545 CE) which Gnoli (1956:24) read as 469 (Vajracharya 1973:175). This inscription is similar to the present inscription of Guita Bahi in that it also mentions Kramalīla as well as Rāmadeva. Almost all historians have supposed that another undated inscription carved on the base of a well-known Avalokiteśvara image of Ganabahal, down the long lane of Dharahara, Kathmandu is also of the time of (Rāma)deva. (DV 40, Gnoli 18, HJ 42, DR 35). (fig. A). Only the “deva” of the king’s name remains, and the date is lost, but the poor language (Gnoli again calls it “bad Sanskrit” – p. 25) and the style of the inscription are similar.
Thus three images (Nātheśvara, the Gana Bahal Avalokiteśvara and the Guita Buddha) have been found established by devotees (Mānamatī, Maṇigupta-Mahendramatī and Yaśomitra) during the reign of king Rāmadeva (542-545).
Kramalīla is seen as joint-ruler with the king Ramadeva as feudatory. His position is not clearly known. He is seen in the inscription of Mrigasthali of 545 CE as Mahārāja Mahāsāmanta. He enjoyed this post during the joint-ruling time with Basantadeva (506-532) also in 532 CE in the Pāsinkhyo, Balambu inscription (Vajracharya: 1973: 147). He is described as Mahāsāmanta Mahārāja in the present inscription. As Kramalīla is qualified as Śrī and Mahāraja, Dhanavajra Vajracharya thinks, he should be from a Royal family other than Licchavi Royal family. (1973:150) He is seen in power as assistant ruler in Licchavi period for 13 years with kings Basantadeva (506-532), and Rāmadeva (542-545), possibly with kings Manudeva (?), Vāmandeva (538) also in between Basantadeva and Rāmadeva.
The Present inscription seems to be the original pedestal inscription of the present Guita Buddha image, now erected with the pedestal inscription of 1279 CE. The inscription of 1279 recounts that the vihāra – and/or the image - was "fallen down again by earthquake" (punar api patitam bhūmikampāt). Kṣāntiśrī, the pupil of Gautamaśrī Yatīndra, repaired the vihāra and re-established the images in 1279. From this we might surmise that the present bronze Buddha image may have been re-established at least twice in the 737 years from early 6th to late 13th century.
Rajbanshi reading and Nepali translation
The reading and translation in Nepali by Shyamsundar Rajvamshi, from Rajbanshi, Shyam Sundar, 2016. P. 74
ॐ देय धर्म्मोयं शाक्यभिक्षो यशोमित्रस्य मातापितरौ पूर्व्वाङ्गमडकृत्वा आचार्य्यो पाध्यायानां सर्व सत्वानामनुत्तर ज्ञाना वाप्तयै
स्तु १ भट्टारक महाराज श्री रामदेवस्य साग्रा वर्ष शतं समाज्ञा पयत: महासामंते महाराज श्री क्रमलील कुशलिनि
भगवतो बुद्धस्य काङ्स्य प्रतिमा प्रतिष्ठापिता * मार्ग्गशीर्ष शुक्ल त्रयोदश्याम संवत् ४००+६०+४
यो शाक्यभिक्षु यशोमित्रको दानधर्म हो। आफना आमाबुबाको लागि परम्परा देखि चल्दै आएको रीत बमोजिम आचार्य उपाध्ययहरुको कृपाले सम्पर्ण प्राणी लगायत सबैको उद्धार हुने अनुत्तर ज्ञान प्राप्त होस् भनि गद्दिनशीन महाराज श्री रामदेवको सयौ वर्ष देखिको शासनकाल (लामोसमय देखिको शासनकाल) मा महासामन्त महाराज श्री क्रमलीललाइ कुशल मंगल सोधेर भगवानबुद्धको कांस धातुबाट निर्मित (बुद्धको) मुर्ति प्रतिस्थापन सुसम्पन्न गरियो। संवत मिति ४६४ मार्ग शीर शुक्ल त्रयोदशी तिथि।
Gnoli, Raniero, 1956 E. Nepalese Inscriptions in Gupta Characters, Part I: Text, Part II: Plates. Roma: IsMEO.
Joshi, Hari, 1973 (HJ). Nepālako Prācīna Abhilekha (Ancient Inscriptions of Nepal). Kathmandu: Royal Nepal Academy, VS 2030.
Paudel, Nayanath, 2015. "Itihāsa-saṃśodhana: Eutā lekha" (An article on History-Correction), Sandarbhaśrī, 16:1/VS 2072 Sāuna, Bhadau ra Asoja, pp. 16-27.
Paudel, Nayanath, 2020. Viśiṣṭa vidvānko dṛṣṭidoṣa (A faulty view of the distinguished scholar), Annapūrṇa, Nepali daily, Phursada (Supplement), Saturday, 11 January, p. kha.
Rajbanshi, Shyam Sundar, 2016, Pāṭan guitabahīko aprakāśita licchavikālakā abhilekha. (Unpublished inscription of Licchavi Period from Patan Guita Bahi). Abhilekha (National Archives, Kathmandu), No. 33 (VS 2072), pp. 74-76.
Rajbanshi, Shyam Sundar, 2017. Paṭan guitalabahīko licchavi caitya abhilekhako pariṣkṛta pāṭha (Refined text of the Lichhavi Caitya inscription of Guita Bahi, Patan), pp. 91-94.
Regmi, D. R. 1966 (DR). Medieval Nepal, Part III. Source materials for the History and Culture of Nepal, 740-768 A. D. Calcutta Firma K.L. Mukhopadhyaya. Inscription No. xxi: On the base of an image of Dipankara Buddha inside of the main shrine of Guitabahi, Patan, pp. 11-12. (Date figure missing.)
Regmi, D. R. 1983. Inscriptions of Ancient Nepal, Vol I : Inscriptions, Vol. II : Translation, Vol. III : Plates.
Vajracharya, Dhanavajra, 1973 (DV). Licchavikālakā abhilekha (Inscriptions of the Licchavi Period) . Second ed. 1996. Kirtipur : Centre for Research on Nepal and Asia, VS 2030 Āṣāḍha.
Vajracharya, Dhanavajra, 2011. Pūrvamadhyakālakā abhilikha (Inscriptions of the Early Medieval Period). Inscri. No. 44: "Lalitpur guitaḥbihārako ne. saṃ. 399 ko abhilekha," pp. 138-139 (Text and Nepali translation), p. 140 (rubbing).
Vajracharya, Herakaji, 1999. Guitaḥ Bahi Vihāra Sangha. Yala (Patan): Dīpāvatī Pustakālaya, NS 1119. Ne. saṃ, 399 māgha śukla Pratipadā Taḥdhaṃbahi: Prathamaśrī mahāvihārayā gandhurī devatāyā kvaphalay cvaṃgu Prācīna rañjanā lipi aṃkita pādapīṭha abhilekha (First lunar-day of waxing fortnight of Nepal Saṃvat 399: Pedestal inscription, inscribed with old Ranjana (?) script in the pedestal of the Gandhuri God of Taḥdhaṃbahī/Prathamaśrī Mahāvihār, pp. 61-62. Footnote 38, pp. 87-88, translated into Newari by Shantaharsha Vajracharya)