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Kausambi

Author(s): Daya Ram Sahni


Source: The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, No. 4 (Oct.,
1927), pp. 689-698
Published by: Cambridge University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25221242
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JOURNAL OF THE
ROYAL ASIATIC SOCIETY
1927
Part IV.-OCTOBER

Kausambi
By DAYA RAM SAHNI, M.A., R.B.
(Archaeological Survey of India)
(PLATE V)
rilHE late Dr. Vincent A. Smith published an article in
the Journal ofttie Royal Asiatic Society for 1898 in which
he sought to disprove Sir Alexander Cunningham's identifi
cations of Kausambi and $ravastl with Kosam in the district
of Allahabad and Set-Maheth (Saheth-Maheth) on the borders
of the Gonda and Bahraich districts respectively. He himself
located Sravasti in the vicinity of the village of Khajura
near Balapur in Nepal and Kausambi at or near Sutna in the
Riwa state. In 1907-8 and 1908-9, when I had the privilege
of co-operating with Dr. J. Ph. Vogel and Sir John Marshall
in the exploration of the ancient mounds at Saheth-Maheth,
I found two inportant imscriptions which finally and con
clusively established the identity of those remains with
Sravasti. I am now in a position to announce the discovery
of an equally important inscription in the vicinity of Kosam
which makes it certain that the extensive remains near that
village mark the actual site of the city of Kausambi. I have
also carefully studied the three inscriptions mentioning the
name of Kausambi which were known to Dr. Smith, and find
that they definitely support the same view.
Kausambi was one of the most important cities of ancient
India. It is mentioned in the Satapatha Brdhmana, the
Rdmdyana, and the Mcgliaduta of Kalidasa. According to
JRAS. OCTOBER 1927. 45

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690 KAUSAMBI

the Kathasaritsacjara, n, 30 seq., it was the birthplace of the


celebrated grammarian Katyayana or Vararuci, as Salatura
was of Panini, and the scene of the Sanskrit play the
RatndvalT, where it is appropriately designated Vatsapattana.
" I knew not," says Vatsa-raja, " that Kausambi was so
wealthy ! She outvies the residence of the God of Wealth.
Her numerous sons are clad in cloth of gold, sprinkled with
the fragrant dust of the colour of dawn, or tinted with the
saffron dye, decked with glittering ornaments, and tossing
their heads proudly with splendid crests fit for Kama himself."
Gautama Buddha spent his ninth retreat (Pali vassa) at
Kausambi, and the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang tells us in
his itinerary that he saw at Kausambi a sandalwood image
of the Buddha which was a true likeness of the Master, having
been carved in his own lifetime. This, as we know, could not
be correct, for no images of the Buddha were made until
several centuries after his parinirvma.
General Cunningham was the first archaeologist to locate
this celebrated city in the extensive ruins lying near the
village of Kosam on the Jumna River, 30 miles or so above
the city of Allahabad. The theory was accepted by scholars.
Dr. Smith, too, admitted the force of some of the arguments
adduced by Cunningham, but rejected the identification on
the ground that the geographical position of Kosam did not
correspond with the indications left by the Chinese pilgrims.
He dismissed the statement of Fa-Hian as worthless, inasmuch
as in his opinion that pilgrim had never personally visited
Kausambi, because instead of saying " you arrive at
Kausambi " or " you reach Kausambi " he contents himself
with simply stating " there is a kingdom named Kausambi '\
Now the fact is that both Fa-Hian and Hiuen Tsang describe
their visits to different places in different words. This much
seems certain, that had Fa-Hian really omitted a visit to
Kausambi, he would have plainly said so, as he does, for
example, with regard to the Daksina, i.e. Southern India and
the places in it: " Fa-Hien, however, was after all unable to go
there ; but having received (above) accounts from men of the

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kausambi 691

country he has narrated them." Kausambi was one of the


eight great places of the Buddhists, and it is extremely
unlikely that having visited other principal places associated
with the career of the Buddha he would have ignored a place
of such great importance. If, therefore, it may be assumed
that Fa-Hian did not rely on mere hearsay, the indications
left by him about the situation of KausTmibi are found to be
extremely satisfactory. Kosam is 92-5 miles distant from
Sarnath and this distance closely corresponds to the thirteen
yojanas which according to the pilgrim separated KauJambi
from the Deer Park. It is true that the actual direction is
west instead of north-west as recorded by Fa-Hian, but such
errors are common enough in the itineraries of both Hiuen
Tsang and Fa-Hian, and there appears no special reason to
stress unduly the disparity in this particular case.
Hiuen Tsang visited Kausambi after Prayaga, modern
Allahabad. Says he, " Going from this city (Prayaga) south
west, we enter into a great forest infested with savage beasts.
. . . Going 500 li or so we come to the country of Kiau
8hang-mi.,> On the map Kosam is only about 30 miles or
180 li nearly west of Allahabad, and unless the pilgrim took
an inconceivably circuitous route, it would be impossible
to reconcile the position of Kosam with that of Kausambi.
I am consequently of opinion that here Hiuen Tsang is
undoubtedly at fault and has overstated the distance. But
is the position near Sutna assigned by Smith to this ancient
city more satisfactory ? I think not; for though the directions
recorded by the pilgrim do carry us to the neighbourhood
of Sutna, this spot would scarcely go into line with other
cities mentioned by him such as $ravasti, Kanyakubja, etc.,
whose sites are precisely known.
It will be seen from what is stated above that had the
accounts of Hiuen Tsang and Fa-Hian been our only sources
of information on the subject in hand, the city of Kausambi
would probably never have been definitely identified. Fortu
nately epigraphical documents come to our help in this as
they have done in other analogous cases.

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692 KAUSAMBI

Vincent Smith was aware of the existence of three inscrip


tions which mentioned the name of Kausambi, viz., one of the
year Samvat 1881, another of Samvat 1621, engraved on the
A6oka pillar standing in situ at Kosam, and a third one
discovered in the ancient fort of Kara distant 9 miles from
Sirathu railway station on the East Indian Railway in the
district of Allahabad. The first document clearly refers to
the locality as Kosambinagar. It is inscribed on a tablet
of red sandstone now fixed into the wall of a modern Dharma
&Lla in the village Pabhosa, 3 miles to the north-west
of the great fort of Kosam Khiraj. It records the. consecra
tion of an image of the illustrious Jina (ParsJvanatha) on Friday,
the 8th day of the dark fortnight of the month Marga^irsa
in Samvat 1881 by Sadhu $rl Hlralal of Allahabad on the
top of the hill of Prabhasa, outside the city of Kausambi.
It is thus clear that the modern villages of Kosam and
Pabhosa were identified already in a.d. 1824-5 by the people
of the country with Kausambi and Prabhasa respectively.
The second inscription is engraved on the upper part of the
shaft of the A6oka Pillar, still in situ in the midst of the
ruins of Kosam. A transliteration of this epigraph was first
published in my Annual Report of the Archaeological Survey
of India, Northern Circle, for the year ending 31st March,
1917, p. 13, and the inscription has since been edited in detail
by Mr. F. E. Pargiter, I.C.S., ret. (Epigraphia Indica, vol. xi,
p. 92). It is written in Nagarl characters, and records the
prayer of five leading goldsmiths with thirteen of their
employees to Gane^a and &va-Bhairava for favour to the
goldsmiths of Kausambi town. Three of the leading gold
smiths belonged to the town itself. The inscription is dated
on the fifth day of the dark fortnight of Caitra, Samvat 1621,
which according to the late Dr. Fleet corresponds to the
20th February, a.d. 1565. The date falls in the reign of
Akbar, whose name is also inscribed on the pillar above this
inscription. Dr. Smith was of opinion that the inscription
of Samvat 1621 simply proved that the persons mentioned
in it resided in the city of Kausambi, but that it was not

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kausambi 693

necessarily identical with the remains extant at Kosam.


It seems to me evident from the tenor of the inscription
that the goldsmiths referred to in it were indeed residents of
Kosam which was known as Kausambi in the time of Akbar,
i.e. about four centuries before archaeologists began to identify
these remains with that ancient city.
The inscription from Kara was first made public early in the
nineteenth century, but has never yet been properly edited.
The stone on which the inscription is engraved was built
in the gateway of the ancient fort at Kara, and is now
deposited in the Indian Museum at Calcutta. It was first
published by Mr. H. D. Colebrooke in the year 1809, and
consists of seventeen lines, not sixteen as stated by him.
Mr. Colebrooke correctly made out the first six lines, which
constitute the most important portion of the record, except
the name of the locality mentioned therein which was read
erroneously and gave rise to unnecessary controversy.
Mr. Colebrooke rendered the first six lines as follows :?
" Samvat 1093 on the first day of the light fortnight of
Ashadha. At this auspicious Cata, the great and eminent
prince Yasahpala in the realm of Cansamba and village of
Payahasa commands.''
A somewhat improved reading was published by Mr. James
Prinsep in 1836 (JASB.y vol. v, p. 731), but this emendation
was confined to the alteration of a few letters only, and
the meaning of the epigraph remained as unintelligible as
before. It was left for General Cunningham to use in 1871
(ASR., vol. i, pp. 302-3) the information contained in
the record in connexion with his identification of Kosam with
Kausambi. Dr. Smith, however, rejected this evidence on
the ground that all that the inscription implied was " that
the village of Payahasa, wherever that may have been, was
included in the kingdom of Kausambi", but certainly not
Kara. I have obtained fresh estampages of the inscription
through the courtesy of Rai Bahadur Ramaprasad Chanda,
and one of them is reproduced in this paper. The epigraph is
written in incorrect Sanskrit, but is quite complete, with the

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694 KAUSAMBI

exception of a few aksaras which seem to have disappeared


in the latter portion of the last two lines. The purport of
the inscription seems to be quite clear, and, as will presently
be seen, provides irrefragable proof of the identity of Kosam
with Kausambi.
Text
line.
1 Om.1 Samvat 1093
2 Asacjha audi 1
3 ady = eham(ha) 6rImat-Kate
4 maharajadhiraja
5 6rI-Yasa(6a)hpala[:*] Kau
6 sa(^a)mba-man(Jale Payal[a]
7 sa-grame mahantam = a(a)
8 nusamadisa(sa)ti yatha
9 Pabhoseklya-Mathu
10 ra-Vik[a]tasya sa(sa)sana
11 tvam prasadi(i)krtya matv[a*]
12 bhaga-bhoga-kara-hira
13 n(n)ya-pratyadayadikarh
14 matv = opanetavyam = iti
15 dasa(6a)bandhena saha . . .
16 alabhrta (?)
17 putra-pautranarh . . .

Translation
" Om. In the year Samvat 1093, on the first day of the
bright fortnight of Asadka, to-day (while, encamping) here
at the illustrious Kata, the Maharajadhiraja, the illustrious
YaSahpala commands the Mahant (headman or other official)
in the village of Payalasa in the mandala of Kausambi that,
knowing that (the aforesaid village) has been presented (by
me) as a gift to Mathura Vikta (Vikata) of Pabhosa, the
customary duties, royalties, taxes, gold, other income
(pratyddaya) etc., together with the tenth part of the produce
should be paid (to him) ... of the sons and grandsons."
1 Expressed by a symbol.

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JRAS. 1927. Plate V.

Meohad inscription of Kara inscription of


V.S. 1245. Yasahpala.
[To face p. Gill.

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kausambi 695

It will be observed that the locality named in the inscrip


tion which Messrs. Colebrooke and Prinsep had read as
Payahasa is in reality Payalasa. According to the reading
available to Dr. Smith he would appear to have been fully
justified in rejecting the document as evidence of Kosam
being Kau&LmbI, because there is really no place of the name
of Payahasa in the vicinity of Kara. With Payalasa in place
of Payahasa the position becomes quite clear. There is a
place of the name of Paras (map Pras) just 5 miles N.N.W.
of Kara, and I have no doubt that this must be identical
with the Payalasa of our inscription. The change of I to r
is as common in the dialects of the United Provinces as the
converse case of r to I. As examples I may mention sidr for
Sanskrit $rgdlat sdra for Sanskrit sydla, etc. In the same way
Payalasa first changed to Payarasa, which is now further
simplified to Paras or Pras. The village of Pras is just 30
miles N.N.W. from Kosam. It is thus obvious that this
place formed part of the ancient kingdom of Kausambi
in the eleventh century a.d. The capital of the kingdom must
therefore be looked for in this very neighbourhood, and Kosam
fulfils all the conditions. The king Yasahpala was presumably
a prince of the Pratihara dynasty of Kanauj.
The new inscription referred to in the beginning of this
note was brought to light when I was engaged some time ago
in re-erecting, in its original vertical position, the A?oka
pillar still in situ at Kosam. It is engraved on the door-jamb
of a ruined temple in the village of Meohar, distant 7 miles
from Kosam. The door-jamb is 4 ft. 10 in. in height, and was
lying in front of the temple. My efforts, combined with those
of the District Magistrate of Allahabad, to have the stone
transferred to the Provincial Museum, Lucknow, have proved
fruitless, but the villagers have set the stone back into its
original position and restored the shrine, so that there is no
danger of its being damaged or lost, The inscription consists
of three lines measuring 4 ft. 3 in., 4 ft. 3 in., and about 10 in.
respectively. It is in a very good state of preservation, but
a portion measuring about 7 in. is obliterated in each of the

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696 KAUSAMBI

first two and a smaller portion in the third line. The inscrip
tion is written in clear-cut Nagarl characters and in the
Sanskrit language. The epigraph records that in the year
Samvat 1245 x (a.d. 1189) in the reign of King Jayaccandra
(of Kanauj) a certain {?rlvastavya Thakkura built a temple
of [Si]ddhesvara (Mahadeva) in the village of Mehavada in
the district of KauSambi. This village still exists in the
vicinity of Kosam and is known by its ancient name.
Text
1. 1. Om.2 Paramabhattarak-etyadi-rajavall-pamcatay
opet - a & vapati - gaj apati - narapati - raj atray - adhipati - vividha
vid[ya - vicara - vacaspati]-6rimaj - Jayaccandra
1. 2. deva-rajye Samvata(t) 1245 ady ? eha Kauiamba
pattalayam Mehavacja - gna(gra)ma - vastika - Srlvastavya
Tha[kkura] . . . [Si*]
1. 3. ddhesVarasya prasadam s aka[rayat]
Translation
" Om. To-day, in the year Samvat 1245, in the reign of the
illustrious Jayaccandradeva, who is equipped with the five
royal titles beginning with Paramabhavtaraka, who is the chief
of the three classes of rulers, the akmpati> the gajapati, and
the narapati, who is a Vacaspati in discussions relating to the
various sciences, here the $rivastavya, the Thakkura ... a
resident in the village of Mehavada in the district of Kausambi,
caused a temple of [Si]ddhesVara to be made."
It is thus evident that Kara, which was an important
principality during the Mughal period and whose fort on the
banks of the Ganges still presents a picturesque site, Pras,
and Meohar were all situated in the kingdom of Kausambi.
The remains of its capital, which have come down to us at
Kosam, extend over several miles ; and well might the visitor
exclaim with king Udayana of the sixth century B.C., "I
knew not that Kausambi was (once) so wealthy."
General Cunningham has discussed in great detail the
1 This date is interesting, as it increases the duration of Jayaccandra's
reign by about two years.
* Expressed by a symbol.

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kausambi 697

topography of the ancient city of Kausambi as described


by Hiuen Tsang, and tried to identify some of the most
important buildings mentioned by the Chinese pilgrim with
the existing remains. Dr. Smith considered them to be as
untenable as the identification of Kosam with Kausambi.
No systematic excavations have been attempted at Kosam,
and as the only monument, namely, the inscribed A3oka
pillar still in situ in the ancient Fort of Kosam, is not referred
to by Hiuen Tsang, it is impossible to identify any of the
numerous edifices referred to by Hiuen Tsang with certainty.
According to this pilgrim the ancient city of Kausambi was
30 li or about 5 miles in circuit. There were in it ten
Sangharamas, which were already in ruins and deserted in
his time, and fifty temples of the orthodox Hindus. Besides
these there were eleven other important edifices, including
a vihara of the sandalwood statue of Buddha referred to
above, two large stupas of A6oka, one of which contained the
hair and nail relics of the Master, a stone dwelling of the
Naga deity 8 or 9 li to the south-west of the city and
the house of the nobleman Ghosira. General Cunningham
identified the dwelling of the Naga with the hill of Prabhasa,
which according to Cunningham is the only rock in the
Antarvedi or the Doab of the Ganges and the Jumna. This
hill is, however, 3 miles to the north-west of Kosam,
instead of 8 or 9 li to the south-west of it. I am
inclined to think that the direction recorded by Hiuen Tsang
must be wrong. As regards the distance, I agree with General
Cunningham in thinking that the distance of the rock from
the city might well have been 2 miles instead of 3 miles,
as the remains of the city outside the fortified enclosure
extend to a considerable distance on all sides except on the
south, where on account of the river no buildings could be
constructed outside the walled area.
It is curious that Hiuen Tsang mentions neither the A6oka
pillar, which is still standing in the middle of the fortified
enclosure at Kosam, nor the other pillar, which is stated to have
been transferred from that place to the Allahabad fort by the

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<)98 KAUSAMBI

Mughal king Akbar. The fact that there is no A6oka inscrip


tion engraved on the former pillar appears to me to supply
further evidence of the Allahabad pillar having originally
been erected at Kausambi, for had the existing pillar alone
been set up by Asoka in that city he would not have failed
to inscribe some sort of a record upon it. The capitals of
both these columns are missing. I had hoped, when I was
engaged in re-erecting the pillar at Kosam, which had fallen
down a few centuries ago, and was lying in an inclined position,
to recover its capital. The excavation around the pillar was,
however, limited to a small area and revealed no trace of
the capital. It may, however, still be buried in the ground
under the debris, and may some day be brought to light, like
the capitals of the two pillars at Rampurwa.1 My little
excavation brought to light, however, a number of coins
of the Kausambi type and terracotta toys and other objects.
I was also enabled to discover three Brahmi inscriptions in
the villages in the neighbourhood of Kosam. They have been
published in the Epigraphia Indica. One of them records the
erection of a stone railing (vedikd) by a certain householder
who was the grandson of a votary of Manibhadra. Other
inscriptions devoted to the worship of this yaksa are known,
and I may particularly mention one found at Bhi^a, in the same
district as Kosam. The other two inscriptions were installed
in the reigns of certain Maharajas named &vamegha and
Bhadramegha. These chiefs are not yet known from any
other source. The remains of Kosam have yielded other
images, which have been described in the Annual Report of
the Archaeological Survey of India, 1913-14, p. 262 seq. Nor
should I omit a mention of a copper coin which was probably
found at the same place and is now deposited in the Indian
Museum at Calcutta. It is engraved in Brahmi characters
with the name Kosabi, i.e. KauJambi.
The evidence brought together in this paper appears to
leave no manner of doubt as to Kosam being the modern
representative of Kausambi.
1 Vide Annual Report of the Archceological Survey of India, pt. ii, for
1907-8.

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