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It is obvious that the several authorities quoted above all refer to the same dynasty, and the question therefore arises—how to reconcile their discrepancies ? The list of the Ain-i-Akbari and that of Táránáth, may be left out of consideration, as they are founded upon tradition, and, in dealing with long lists of names, tradition is always open to mistakes. But the case is different with patents issued during the lifetime of the grantors, and which, from that circumstance, are naturally expected to be accurate in so important a matter as the names of the immediate ancestors of royal personages. Discrepancies in such cases cannot easily be explained away, and in the present instance the difficulty has been greatly enhanced by some of the patents available being imperfect and mutilated. It is the farthest from my wish to cast any reflection on the translators whose works I have to review ; I have high respect for their ability and profound scholarship; but where the originals they had to work upon were smudgy, obliterated, and partially illegible, their translations cannot be implicitly relied upon.
The first discrepancy I have to notice is in the name of the founder of the dynasty. According to three inscriptions, of which two are in a perfect state of preservation, and tradition as recorded by Táránáth, it is Go-pála ; but in a fourth, and that the most defective, it is Lolca-pula ; and the Ain-i. Akbari changes it to Bhu-pula. Assuming Colebrooke's reading of the Dinájpur plate to be in this part correct, I can account for the difference by attributing it to the exigency of metre. The genealogy is given in verse, and the necessity for a word of two syllables, I think, induced the conveyancer to change the first part of the name from the monosyllable go to the dissyllable loka, the meaning remaining unchanged-90 = 'earth' and loka region' or earth. The bhu of the Ain-i-Akbari has the same signification. It might appear repulsive to an Englishman that Mr. Black should change into Mr. Melanos, to suit the convenience of a poet, but in the middle ages it was not uncommon in Europe to translate English names into Latin even in prose epitaphs, and in the present day poets not unfrequently change the quantity of proper names to suit their rhyme. In Sanskrit the practice of using synonyms either for the sake of metre, or for that of rhetoric, was at one time not unknown. If this explanation be not acceptable, it might be supposed that the person referred to had two aliases ; and the writer of the Dinajpur plate used one name, that of the Ain i Akbari another. It is worthy of note that the writer of the Bhagalpur monument was only five generations removed from the founder of the dynasty, whereas that of the Dinajpur plate was separated from him by over twice that interval, and greater faith must be reposed on him who was the nearest to the founder.
The second name is the same in all the three inscriptions in which it occurs, and calls for no remark. The third, however, is not so. In the Bhagalpur record, which is the inost perfect, it is Vák-pála, but in the
Mungher plate Deva-pála. In the Dinájpur plate it is illegible. It appears, however, from the first record that Vák-pála was the younger brother of Dharma-pála, and served as a lieutenant to his brother. The second record in giving the succession of the reigning sovereign, did not, therefore, feel called upon to name him.
In the third record I think the illegible name which Colebrooke could not read and the next name Jaya-pála are not names of reigning sovereigns, but epithets of Dharma-pála, which have been mistaken for proper names. The word pála a protector' is just one of those which a Hindu poet would most likely play upon in a variety of ways, and try to educe as many alliterations out of it as possible, and as Colebrooke says,
so great a part of the inscription is obliterated, (portions of every line being illegible) that it is difficult to discover the purport of the inscription,"* such a mistake was not at all unlikely to happen. If the illegible name be assumed to be Deva-pála, the son of Vák-pála and successor of Dharma-pála, we could not make Jaya-pála his son, for the Bhágalpur plate makes Jaya-pála the son of Vák-pála and brother of Deva-pála, and Vigraha-pála his son. The Budál pillar names Sura-pála only, leaving out Vigraha-pála, but as the object of the pillar was not to give a genealogical table of the kings of the Pála dynasty, but to record the names of the ancestors of one Gurava, the minister of Náráyaņa-pála, naming the kings incidentally as patrons of those ancestors, the omission is not remarkable. The Dinájpur plate names only one person between Deva-pála and Náráyaņa-pála, and his name is illegible. We may reasonably assume it to have been Vigraha-pála.
The sixth name in the Bhagalpur plate has not its counterpart in any other record. Its absence from the Mungher plate is accounted for by the fact of the latter not extending beyond Deva-pála ; and from the Budál plate, on the supposition of the owner of it not having been a patron of the family to whose honour it was dedicated. It should have been present in the Dinajpur plate, but as the entirety of that document is not forthcoming, it is impossible to say precisely whether there is only one name illegible in it after Deva-pála, or two.
Leaving out of consideration the lists of the Ain i Akbari and of Táránáth, which are unreliable and quite irreconcilable, we have only the Dinájpur plate to supply the names of the descendants of Náráyaņa-pála down to Mahi-pála, and it gives us four names viz., Rája-pála, -pála, Vigrahapála and Mahi-pála, which we must accept as correct pending the discovery of some more authentic document. I accept the Naya-pála and Vigraha-pála II. on the same authority, with Sthira-pála and Vasanta-pála as their aliases on the testimony of the Benares stone.
In addition to the above there are four other names in inscriptions, each giving a single name; but as there is nothing reliable to show the order
* As. Researches, IX, p. 434.
of their succession, and further as they do not fall within the scope of this paper, which I wish to confine to the sovereigns of Bengal only, I shall take no note of them. Within the limits which I prescribe for myself, the materials available, as aforesaid, afford a list of eleven reigning sovereigns instead of thirteen, as given by General Cunningham, his Nos. 3 and 4 being inadmissible in the face of the Bhagalpur plate.
The only intelligible date available for these eleven reigns is afforded by the Benares stone, and that is Samvat 1083 = 1026 A. D.
1026 A. D. The document when first read was utterly untrustworthy, and in drawing up my monograph of the Sena Rájás I took no notice of it. Although no facsimile has since been published, as General Cunningham obtained a copy of the record from so able an antiquarian as the late Major Kittoe, and himself read the date as given above, I am bound to accept it; for I am of opinion that no one in India in the present day has so thorough a knowledge of Indian lapidary writing as that profound scholar, and he is not at all likely to make a mistake in reading a mediæval figure. The date may be taken to be about the middle of Mahi-pála's reign, and as Mahipála was the most renowned of the Pálas of Bengal, the only one whose name is still remembered by the people, and whose monument, the Mahipála Dighi of Dinajpur, is still in existence, his reign may be fairly assumed to have been of more than average length. If I say it lasted from 1015 to 1040 A. D., I fancy it would not be by any means thought to be improbable.
With this starting-point gained it is necessary to calculate backwards the times of his eight predecessors. For this purpose General Cunningham adopts an average of 25 years. He says, “ Assigning 25 years to a generation, and working backwards from Mahi-pála, the accession of Go-pála, the founder of the dynasty, will fall in the latter half of the 8th century ; or still earlier, if we allow 30 years to each generation. By either reckoning, the rise of the Pála dynasty of Magadha is fixed to the 8th century A. D., at which time great changes would appear to have taken place amongst most of the ruling families of Northern India."*
The General assigns no reason for adopting this average, and I cannot help thinking that it is too high. It is certainly not in accord with data available from Indian history. Twenty reigns of the Mughals, from 1494 to 1806, give an average of 15 years and 7 months. Twenty-one reigns in Kashmir, from 1326 to 1588, give 12 years and 6 months. Forty reigns of the Delhi Pathans yield an average of 9 years and 9 days. Twenty-four reigns of the Bengal Patháns, from 1200 to 1350, produce a little over 6 years. Similarly twenty reigns in Burmah, from 1541 to 1781, offer an average of 12 years. Doubtless these averages are of periods and reigns
* Arch. Surv. Report, III, p. 135.
some of which were much troubled; but in a place like Ceylon, whose
975 II. Dharma-pála,
875 VIII. Vigraha-pála, II,.. 995 III. Deva-pála,
895 IX. Mahi-pála, 1015 to 1010 IV. Vigraha-pála, I 915 X. Naya-pála,
1060 V. Náráyaņa-pála,
935 XI. Vigraba-pála, III, 1080 VI. Rája-pála,
955 The inscriptions noticed above clearly show that all the Pálas were staunch Buddhists; but several of them were tolerant enough to employ Hindus as their principal officers of state; and, though they no doubt encouraged the diffusion of their own religion, they not only did not oppress their people for their religion, but even allowed their Hindu ministers to apply to them, in official and estate documents, praise which could be grateful only to Hindu ears. They went further, and sometimes gave lands for religious purposes which cannot be strictly called Buddhist.
The last question in connexion with the Pálas is the locale or extent of their dominion. Táránáth calls them all kings of Bengal ; so does Abul
Fazl in the Ain-i-Akbari. The Mungher plate does not name the kingdom of the three Pálas, but it was executed when the camp of Deva-pála was pitched at Mudgagiri, į. e., Mungher. The Blágalpur plate was also executed at Mungher, and in it Náráyana-pála is talled the "lord of Anga," or king of Bhagalpur and its neighbourhood, including Mungher. The Budál pillar occurs in the Dinajpur district, and that would show that in the time of Náráyana-pála his minister Gurava had administrative power on the north of the Padmá. The Dinajpur plate not having been fully deciphered, we know not where it was executed, and, though found at A'mgachi, it is possible that the grant may refer to some place at a great distance from it. There can be no doubt, however, that one of the latest kings named in it, Mahi-pála, exercised full severeignty in the province to the north of the Padmá. That vast sheet of water in Dinajpur which still bears his name, the Mahi-pála dighi, is a proof positive on this point. We have also the evidence of the Sárnáth stone which calls him lord of Gauda, though the stone cannot be accepted as a proof of Mahi-pála's reign having extended as far as Benares. In a sacred place of pilgrimage any person could go and dedicate a temple or an image, without in any way acquiring political power in the locality,
Mr. Westmacott, in his "Traces of Buddhism in Dinajpur," supplies several other proofs in support of the sovereignty of the Pálas on the north of the Padma. He says, "In all south-eastern Dinajpur, and the neighbouring parts of Bagurá, remains of Buddhism, and of the Buddhist Pála kings
. It was in this neighbourhood that in the seventh century the Chinese pilgrim Hiouen-Thsang found the Buddhist court of Paundravardhana which I identify with Vardhana Kútí, the residence of a very ancient family, close to Govindaganj, on the Karatoyá. Mr. Fergusson, in his paper on Hiouen-Thsang, quotes from an account of Paundradeśa in the fourth volume of the Oriental Quarterly Magazine,' that Vardhana Kútí, governed by a Yavana, or Musalmán, was one of the chief towns of Nirvritti, comprising Dinajpur, Rangpur and Koch Behar, and consequently the eastern half of Hiouen-Thsang's kingdom of Paundra Vardhana.''* Elsewhere he says:
Dharma-pála, whose fort still bears his name, more than seventy miles north of Vardhana Kúti, and other Pála kings, were ruling east of the Karatoyá long after Bengal had been subdued by the Senas, before whom indeed the Pálas probably retreated by degrees to the north-east, and were supplanted without any great catastrophe." Again, “ close to Jogi-ghopá are extensive brick remains, said to have been the palace of Devá-pála, whether the Deva-pála of the Mungher plate or not I will not say, but certainly of the Amgachi plate. Bhimlá Deví, daughter of Deva-pála, is said by the ignorant pujáris to be represented by one * Ante, XLIV, p. 188.
+ Loc. cit.