Page:Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal Vol 7, Part 1.djvu/406

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
348
[April,
Examination of the Inscriptions


scription from Junagarh, as soon as we obtain a correct facsimile of it. I may here so far satisfy curiosity as to state that this third inscription, the longest and in some respects the best preserved, though from the smallness and rudeness of the letters it is very difficult to decipher, — is in a more modern character — that alloted to the third century after Christ — or the Gupta alphabet : and that in the opening lines I find an allu- sion to Skanda gupta one of the gupta family, whose name has also been found upon a new series of the Surdshtra coins. The words are ... <*1f$ fw*T ^f?T. ^R^^TT: OT% ^3X (vide Plate XIX.) We shall thus be able to string together by means of the inscriptions and coins of ancient Surdshtra a continued series of names and dates from the time of the Maury a dynasty to that of the Gupta dynasty of Canouj which terminates the catalogues of the Puranas. Dates too did I say ? — Yes I am in hopes of adding even actual dates to the series, for I have been fortunate enough to light upon a clue to the ancient forms of the Sanskrit numerals, and to discover their presence on the very series of Surdshtrian coins to which I have been just alluding. But here again I must solicit a little patience, while I describe the grounds of this new assertion,

§ On the Ancient Sanskrit Numerals.

The most ancient mode of denoting number in the Sanskrit languages, as in the Greek and Latin, was by the use of letters in alphabetical order. This system we find prevalent in all ancient Sanskrit works, as well as in the Pali, the Tibetan and other derivate systems. There do not indeed appear to be any numerals peculiar to the Pali. In their sacred records, the words are always written at length ; they have also the symbolical words of the Sanskrit astronomical works, and what is called the Varna sankhya, or numeral classification of the alphabet. The numerals now employed in Ceylon, Ava, Cambodia, Siam, have hardly the slightest affinity to one another. When this system was exchanged for that of the decimal or cipher notation does not appear to be known, or to have been investigated by the learned. Up to the ninth or tenth century of our era, the Nagari numerals extant on numerous monuments do not differ materially from those now in use. In the Gupta class of inscriptions, as far as I know, no numerals had as yet been found until I noticed some doubtful and unknown symbols on the Bhilsa monument. In the Buddhist pillar inscriptions the dates where they occurred, were uniformly expressed at full length. A few months ago, I was engaged in transcribing and reading with my pandit, some copper-plate grants supposed to be of the third cen- tury, found in Gujerdt by Dr. Burn, whose beautiful copies of them, I