Early Mediaeval Inscriptions

Article excerpt

Early Medieval Inscriptions edited by Dhanavajra Vajracharya. Kirtipur: Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies, Tribhuvan University. 2068. With Nagari transliteration, Nepali translation, and commentary. Black and white plates; 381 pp. ISBN 978-9937-524-19-3. Price?

Medieval Epigraphy Project: Old and New

For more than a decade and a half, since joining the Institute of Nepalese Studies on July 10, 1971, the late Dhanavajra Vajracharya (1932-1994) (DVV, hereafter) was consistently productive, completing and publishing works on the history and epigraphy of Nepal almost every year. Then, something happened in 1984 which lie probably didn't foresee: a relatively unknown but influential person came to head this research institute. DVV had been entertaining the hope that he would be made the de facto chief of the on-going National History Project. But unfortunately, the newly appointed Executive-Director, Kumar Khadga Bikram Shaha, chose a relatively young person to look after the Project. This was probably an unexpected but major shock to DVV, leading to a noticeable decline in his institutional productivity and participation thereafter. Soon he succumbed to a gradual decline in his physical condition as well, ultimately affected by diabetes which proved fatal, ending his life in 1994, prematurely at the age of 62.

Among the projects DVV took up at Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies during his productive phase, the Medieval Epigraphy was undoubtedly a major one consisting of a manuscript-file of more than 1,500 inscriptions in Sanskrit, or Sanskrit mixed with old Newar}, inscribed mostly on stone in different Nepalese scripts, dated between NS 107-880. The first volume consisted of 143 early medieval inscriptions in Sanskrit and Classical Newar} from the Nepal Valley, dated between NS 107-602, in Nagar} transliteration, with Nepali translation and in some cases, elaborate commentary relating to social, cultural and political history which interested and preoccupied him mostly. Most of these inscriptions were, of course, already published in local journals. They were collected and published later on by D.R. Regmi in two volumes in 1965/66. Unreliable as Regmi's readings were, DW had, however, read their texts all over again, either from the extant rubbings in the collection of the National Archives, or from the original inscriptions in situ. He had submitted an initial draft of this work to the CNAS Research Committee for consideration for publication in summer 1985. CNAS had limited publication fund, and there was a long queue of research reports. The new Director had his own innovative agenda. As DVV saw little hope of seeing this voluminous and forbiddingly costly project in print he had literally dumped all the hefty files under the jute carpet in his CNAS room When I took Professor Yujiro Hayashi and Ms Kazue Iwamoto of the Toyota Foundation, Tokyo to meet him and discuss about the possibilities of editing and publishing the inscriptions under the aegis of the Toyota Foundation that was exactly where he pulled out the dusty files from. As the Foundation was positive in its initial response, I wrote a proposal for a Three-Year International Grant beginning FY 1986-1989, covering research as well as publication grant of about NRs 2.1 million. By 1994, because of a gradual decline in his mental and physical condition, DVV and his associates in the project were unable to complete a press-ready version of any of the planned four volumes. So more than half of the grant funds were never disbursed. However, Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies posthumously published a volume of inscriptions from Lalitpur in 1999 out of its own publication funds.

Contacts with DVV

As our academic training and intellectual backgrounds were so divergent, my acquaintance with DVV was incidental before we began to meet more frequently in CNAS Research Committee, in seminars and finally in Nepal Bhasha Dictionary Committee (founded on January 26, 1980). …