A report on SanskritBrahmi script and Ashoka

Rigveda (padapatha) manuscript in Devanagari, early 19th century. The red horizontal and vertical lines mark low and high pitch changes for chanting.
A northern example of Brahmi epigraphy: ancient terracotta sculpture from Sugh "Child learning Brahmi", showing the first letters of the Brahmi alphabet, 2nd century BCE.
A c. 1st century BCE/CE relief from Sanchi, showing Ashoka on his chariot, visiting the Nagas at Ramagrama.
A 17th-century birch bark manuscript of Pāṇini's grammar treatise from Kashmir
A later (mistaken) theory of a pictographic-acrophonic origin of the Brahmi script, on the model of the Egyptian hieroglyphic script, by Alexander Cunningham in 1877.
Ashoka's Major Rock Edict at Junagadh contains inscriptions by Ashoka (fourteen of the Edicts of Ashoka), Rudradaman I and Skandagupta.
An early use of the word for "Sanskrit" in Late Brahmi script (also called Gupta script): Gupta ashoka sam.jpgGupta ashoka skrr.jpgGupta ashoka t.svg Saṃ-skṛ-ta 
Mandsaur stone inscription of Yashodharman-Vishnuvardhana, 532 CE.
King Ashoka visits Ramagrama, to take relics of the Buddha from the Nagas, but in vain. Southern gateway, Stupa 1, Sanchi.
Sanskrit's link to the Prakrit languages and other Indo-European languages
The Major Rock Edict No.13 of Ashoka, mentions the Greek kings Antiochus, Ptolemy, Antigonus, Magas and Alexander by name, as recipients of his teachings.
The Spitzer Manuscript is dated to about the 2nd century CE (above: folio 383 fragment). Discovered in the Kizil Caves, near the northern branch of the Central Asian Silk Route in northwest China, it is the oldest Sanskrit philosophical manuscript known so far.
Coin of Agathocles with Hindu deities, in Greek and Brahmi.
Obverse: Balarama-Samkarshana with Greek legend: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΓΑΘΟΚΛΕΟΥΣ.
Reverse: Vasudeva-Krishna with Brahmi legend:𑀭𑀸𑀚𑀦𑁂 𑀅𑀕𑀣𑀼𑀓𑁆𑀮𑀬𑁂𑀲 Rājane Agathukleyesa "King Agathocles". Circa 180 BCE.
The Aramaic Inscription of Taxila probably mentions Ashoka.
A 5th-century Sanskrit inscription discovered in Java, Indonesia—one of the earliest in southeast Asia after the Mulavarman inscription discovered in Kutai, eastern Borneo. The Ciaruteun inscription combines two writing scripts and compares the king to the Hindu god Vishnu. It provides a terminus ad quem to the presence of Hinduism in the Indonesian islands. The oldest southeast Asian Sanskrit inscription—called the Vo Canh inscription—so far discovered is near Nha Trang, Vietnam, and it is dated to the late 2nd century to early 3rd century CE.
A 2nd-century BCE Tamil Brahmi inscription from Arittapatti, Madurai India. The southern state of Tamil Nadu has emerged as a major source of Brahmi inscriptions dated between 3rd to 1st centuries BCE.
The Saru Maru commemorative inscription seems to mention the presence of Ashoka in the area of Ujjain as he was still a Prince.
Sanskrit language's historical presence has been attested in many countries. The evidence includes manuscript pages and inscriptions discovered in South Asia, Southeast Asia and Central Asia. These have been dated between 300 and 1800 CE.
A proposed connection between the Brahmi and Indus scripts, made in the 19th century by Alexander Cunningham.
Kanaganahalli inscribed panel portraying Asoka with Brahmi label "King Asoka", 1st–3rd century CE.
One of the oldest surviving Sanskrit manuscript pages in Gupta script (c. 828 CE), discovered in Nepal
The word Lipī used by Ashoka to describe his "Edicts". Brahmi script (Li= La+ i; pī= Pa+ ii). The word would be of Old Persian origin ("Dipi").
Stupa of Sanchi. The central stupa was built during the Mauryas, and enlarged during the Sungas, but the decorative gateway is dated to the later dynasty of the Satavahanas.
One of the oldest Hindu Sanskrit inscriptions, the broken pieces of this early-1st-century BCE Hathibada Brahmi Inscription were discovered in Rajasthan. It is a dedication to deities Vāsudeva-Samkarshana (Krishna-Balarama) and mentions a stone temple.
Connections between Phoenician (4th column) and Brahmi (5th column). Note that 6th-to-4th-century BCE Aramaic (not shown) is in many cases intermediate in form between the two.
Illustration of the original Mahabodhi Temple temple built by Asoka at Bodh Gaya. At the center, the Vajrasana, or "Enlightenment Throne of the Buddha", with its supporting columns, being the object of adoration. A Pillar of Ashoka topped by an elephant appears in the right corner. Bharhut relief, 1st century BCE.
in the form of a terracotta plaque
The Prakrit word "Dha-ṃ-ma" (Dharma) in the Brahmi script, as inscribed by Ashoka in his Edicts. Topra Kalan pillar, now in New Delhi (3rd century BCE).
The rediscovered Vajrasana, or "Enlightenment Throne of the Buddha", at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya. It was built by Ashoka to commemorate the enlightenment of the Buddha, about two hundred years before him.
Sanskrit in modern Indian and other Brahmi scripts: May Śiva bless those who take delight in the language of the gods. (Kālidāsa)
Calligraphical evolution: 3rd century BCE calligraphy (top), and a sample of the new calligraphic style introduced by the Indo-Scythians (bottom, fragment of the Mirzapur stele inscription, in the vicinity of Mathura, circa 15 CE). The text is Svāmisya Mahakṣatrapasya Śudasasya "Of the Lord and Great Satrap Śudāsa"
Ashoka and Monk Moggaliputta-Tissa at the Third Buddhist Council. Nava Jetavana, Shravasti.
One of the earliest known Sanskrit inscriptions in Tamil Grantha script at a rock-cut Hindu Trimurti temple (Mandakapattu, c. 615 CE)
Classification of Brahmi characters by James Prinsep in March 1834. The structure of Brahmi (consonantal characters with vocalic "inflections") was properly identified, but the individual values of characters remained undetermined, except for four of the vocalic inflections. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal Volume 3 (March 1834).
A king - most probably Ashoka - with his two queens and three attendants, in a relief at Sanchi. The king's identification with Ashoka is suggested by a similar relief at Kanaganahalli, which bears his name.
The ancient Yūpa inscription (one of the earliest and oldest Sanskrit texts written in ancient Indonesia) dating back to the 4th century CE written by Brahmins under the rule of King Mulavarman of the Kutai Martadipura Kingdom located in eastern Borneo
Norwegian scholar Christian Lassen used the bilingual Greek-Brahmi coinage of Indo-Greek king Agathocles to correctly achieve in 1836 the first secure decipherement of several letters of the Brahmi script, which was later completed by James Prinsep.
Ashoka with his queen, at Kanaganahalli near Sannati, 1st–3rd century CE. The relief bears the inscription "Rāya Asoko" (𑀭𑀸𑀬 𑀅𑀲𑁄𑀓𑁄, "King Ashoka") in Brahmi script. It depicts the king with his queen, two attendants bearing fly-whisks, and one attendant bearing an umbrella.
Sanskrit festival at Pramati Hillview Academy, Mysore, India
Consonants of the Brahmi script, and evolution down to modern Devanagari, according to James Prinsep, as published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, in March 1838. All the letters are correctly deciphered, except for two missing on the right: 𑀰(ś) and 𑀱(ṣ). Vowels and compounds [[:File:Brahmi script vowels according to James Prinsep March 1838.jpg|here]]. All scripts derived from Brahmi are gathered under the term "Brahmic scripts".
Emperor Ashoka and his Queen at the Deer Park. Sanchi relief.
The word Upāsaka (𑀉𑀧𑀸𑀲𑀓, "Buddhist lay follower", in the Brahmi script), used by Ashoka in his Minor Rock Edict No.1 to describe his affiliation to Buddhism (circa 258 BCE).
The word Brā-hmī in modern Brahmi font
Territories "conquered by the Dhamma" according to Major Rock Edict No.13 of Ashoka (260–218 BCE).
Brahmi consonants.
Distribution of the Edicts of Ashoka, and location of the contemporary Greek city of Ai-Khanoum.
Some major conjunct consonants in the Brahmi script.
The Kandahar Edict of Ashoka, a bilingual inscription (in Greek and Aramaic) by King Ashoka, discovered at Kandahar (National Museum of Afghanistan).
Early Brahmi vowel diacritics.
The Minor Rock Edict of Maski mentions the author as "Devanampriya Asoka", definitively linking both names, and confirming Ashoka as the author of the famous Edicts.
The Brahmi symbol for /ka/, modified to represent different vowels
A c. 1910 painting by Abanindranath Tagore (1871–1951) depicting Ashoka's queen standing in front of the railings of the Buddhist monument at Sanchi (Raisen district, Madhya Pradesh).
A 1st century BCE/CE inscription from Sanchi: "Vedisakehi daṃtakārehi rupakaṃmaṃ kataṃ" (, "Ivory workers from Vidisha have done the carving").
The Ashokan pillar at Lumbini, Nepal, Buddha's birthplace
Middle Brahmi vowel diacritics
The Diamond throne at the Mahabodhi Temple, attributed to Ashoka
1800 years separate these two inscriptions: Brahmi script of the 3rd century BCE (Edict of Ashoka), and its derivative, 16th century CE Devanagari script (1524 CE), on the Delhi-Topra pillar.
Front frieze of the Diamond throne
Kya (vertical assembly of consonants "Ka" Brahmi k.svg and "Ya" Brahmi y.svg), as in "Sa-kya-mu-nī " ( 𑀲𑀓𑁆𑀬𑀫𑀼𑀦𑀻, "Sage of the Shakyas")
Mauryan ringstone, with standing goddess. Northwest Pakistan. 3rd century BCE. British Museum
Sva (Sa+Va)
Rampurva bull capital, detail of the abacus, with two "flame palmettes" framing a lotus surrounded by small rosette flowers.
Sya (Sa+Ya)
Caduceus symbol on a Maurya-era punch-marked coin
Hmī (Ha+Ma+i+i), as in the word "Brāhmī" (𑀩𑁆𑀭𑀸𑀳𑁆𑀫𑀻).
A punch-marked coin attributed to Ashoka<ref>{{cite book |last=Mitchiner |first=Michael |date=1978 |title=Oriental Coins & Their Values: The Ancient and Classical World 600 B.C. - A.D. 650 |publisher=Hawkins Publications |page=544 |isbn=978-0-9041731-6-1}}</ref>
Early/Middle Brahmi legend on the coinage of Chastana: RAJNO MAHAKSHATRAPASA GHSAMOTIKAPUTRASA CHASHTANASA "Of the Rajah, the Great Satrap, son of Ghsamotika, Chashtana". 1st–2nd century CE.<ref>{{cite book |title=Seaby's Coin and Medal Bulletin: July 1980 |date=1980 |publisher=Seaby Publications Ltd. |page=219 |url=https://archive.org/details/seabyscoinmedalb1980base_r0l5/page/218}}</ref>
A Maurya-era silver coin of 1 karshapana, possibly from Ashoka's period, workshop of Mathura. Obverse: Symbols including a sun and an animal Reverse: Symbol Dimensions: 13.92 x 11.75 mm Weight: 3.4 g.
Inscribed Kushan statue of Western Satraps King Chastana, with inscription "Shastana" in Middle Brahmi script of the Kushan period (Gupta ashoka ss.svg{{sub|Gupta ashoka sta.jpg}}Gupta ashoka n.svg Ṣa-sta-na).<ref name="JBO">"The three letters give us a complete name, which I read as Ṣastana (vide facsimile and cast). Dr. Vogel read it as Mastana but that is incorrect for Ma was always written with a circular or triangular knob below with two slanting lines joining the knob" in {{cite book |title=Journal of the Bihar and Orissa Research Society |date=1920 |publisher=The Society |url=https://books.google.com/books?id=yKZEAQAAMAAJ |language=en}}</ref>
The Lion Capital of Ashoka in Sarnath, showing its four Asiatic lions standing back to back, and symbolizing the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, supporting the Wheel of Moral law (Dharmachakra, reconstitution per Sarnath Museum notice). The lions stand on a circular abacus, decorated with dharmachakras alternating with four animals in profile: horse, bull, elephant, and lion. The architectural bell below the abacus, is a stylized upside down lotus. Sarnath Museum.
The rulers of the Western Satraps were called Mahākhatapa ("Great Satrap") in their Brahmi script inscriptions, as here in a dedicatory inscription by Prime Minister Ayama in the name of his ruler Nahapana, Manmodi Caves, circa 100 CE.<ref>{{cite book|last1=Burgess|first1=Jas|title=Archaeological Survey Of Western India|date=1883|page=103|url=https://archive.org/stream/in.ernet.dli.2015.35775}}</ref>
Nasik Cave inscription No.10. of Nahapana, Cave No.10.
Gupta script on stone Kanheri Caves, one of the earliest descendants of Brahmi
The Gopika Cave Inscription of Anantavarman, in the Sanskrit language and using the Gupta script. Barabar Caves, Bihar, or 6th century CE.
Coin of Alchon Huns ruler Mihirakula. Obv: Bust of king, with legend in Gupta script (Gupta_allahabad_j.svg)Gupta_allahabad_y.svgGupta_allahabad_tu.jpg{{sup|Gupta_allahabad_mi.jpg}}{{sup|Gupta ashoka hi.jpg}}Gupta_allahabad_r.svgGupta_allahabad_ku.jpgGupta_allahabad_l.svg,<ref>The "h" (Gupta ashoka h.svg) is an early variant of the Gupta script</ref> (Ja)yatu Mihirakula ("Let there be victory to Mihirakula").<ref>{{cite book |last1=Verma |first1=Thakur Prasad |title=The Imperial Maukharis: History of Imperial Maukharis of Kanauj and Harshavardhana |date=2018 |publisher=Notion Press |isbn=9781643248813 |page=264 |url=https://books.google.com/books?id=09FqDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT264 |language=hi}}</ref><ref>{{cite book |last1=Sircar |first1=D. C. |title=Studies in Indian Coins |date=2008 |publisher=Motilal Banarsidass |isbn=9788120829732 |page=376 |url=https://books.google.com/books?id=m1JYwP5tVQUC&pg=PA376 |language=en}}</ref><ref>{{cite book |last1=Tandon |first1=Pankaj | pages=24–34|title=Notes on the Evolution of Alchon Coins Journal of the Oriental Numismatic Society, No. 216, Summer 2013 |date=2013 |publisher= Oriental Numismatic Society |url=http://coinindia.com/galleries-alchon-early.html}} also Coinindia Alchon Coins (for an exact description of this coin type)</ref>
Sanchi inscription of Chandragupta II.

His Sanskrit name "" means "painless, without sorrow" (the a privativum and śoka, "pain, distress").

- Ashoka

The underlying system of numeration, however, was older, as the earliest attested orally transmitted example dates to the middle of the 3rd century CE in a Sanskrit prose adaptation of a lost Greek work on astrology.

- Brahmi script

As of 2018, Harry Falk refined his view by affirming that Brahmi was developed from scratch in a rational way at the time of Ashoka, by consciously combining the advantages of the pre-existing Greek script and northern Kharosthi script.

- Brahmi script

The oldest datable writing systems for Sanskrit are the Brāhmī script, the related Kharoṣṭhī script and the Brahmi derivatives.

- Sanskrit

The most extensive inscriptions that have survived into the modern era are the rock edicts and pillar inscriptions of the 3rd century BCE Mauryan emperor Ashoka, but these are not in Sanskrit.

- Sanskrit

Most of Ashoka's inscriptions are written in a mixture of various Prakrit dialects, in the Brahmi script.

- Ashoka
Rigveda (padapatha) manuscript in Devanagari, early 19th century. The red horizontal and vertical lines mark low and high pitch changes for chanting.

2 related topics with Alpha


Burmese Kammavaca manuscript written in Pali in the 'Burmese' script.


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Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent.

Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent.

Burmese Kammavaca manuscript written in Pali in the 'Burmese' script.
19th century Burmese Kammavācā (confession for Buddhist monks), written in Pali on gilded palm leaf

In early time, it was written in Brahmi script.

Pāḷi, as a Middle Indo-Aryan language, is different from Classical Sanskrit more with regard to its dialectal base than the time of its origin.

Around the time of Ashoka there had been more linguistic divergence, and an attempt was made to assemble all the material.

A map of India in the 2nd century AD showing the extent of the Kushan Empire (in yellow) during the reign of Kanishka. Most historians consider the empire to have variously extended as far east as the middle Ganges plain, to Varanasi on the confluence of the Ganges and the Jumna, or probably even Pataliputra.

Kushan Empire

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A map of India in the 2nd century AD showing the extent of the Kushan Empire (in yellow) during the reign of Kanishka. Most historians consider the empire to have variously extended as far east as the middle Ganges plain, to Varanasi on the confluence of the Ganges and the Jumna, or probably even Pataliputra.
A map of India in the 2nd century AD showing the extent of the Kushan Empire (in yellow) during the reign of Kanishka. Most historians consider the empire to have variously extended as far east as the middle Ganges plain, to Varanasi on the confluence of the Ganges and the Jumna, or probably even Pataliputra.
Yuezhi nobleman and priest over a fire altar. Noin-Ula.
The ethnonym "KOϷ ϷANO" (Koshshano, "Kushan") in Greek alphabet (with the addition of the letter Ϸ, "Sh") on a coin of the first known Kushan ruler Heraios (1st century AD).
the famous head of a Yuezhi prince
Greek alphabet (narrow columns) with Kushan script (wide columns)
Early gold coin of Kanishka I with Greek language legend and Hellenistic divinity Helios. (c. AD 120).
Obverse: Kanishka standing, clad in heavy Kushan coat and long boots, flames emanating from shoulders, holding a standard in his left hand, and making a sacrifice over an altar. Greek legend: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΝ ΚΑΝΗϷΚΟΥ
Basileus Basileon Kanishkoy
"[Coin] of Kanishka, king of kings". Reverse: Standing Helios in Hellenistic style, forming a benediction gesture with the right hand. Legend in Greek script: ΗΛΙΟΣ Helios Kanishka monogram (tamgha) to the left.
Kushan territories (full line) and maximum extent of Kushan control under Kanishka the Great. The extent of Kushan control is notably documented in the Rabatak inscription. The northern expansion into the Tarim Basin is mainly suggested by coin finds and Chinese chronicles.
Map showing the four empires of Eurasia in the 2nd century AD. "For a time, the Kushan Empire was the centerpoint of the major civilizations".
Eastern reach as far as Bengal: Samatata coinage of king Vira Jadamarah, in imitation of the Kushan coinage of Kanishka I. The text of the legend is a meaningless imitation. Bengal, circa 2nd-3rd century AD.
Kumara/Kartikeya with a Kushan devotee, 2nd century AD
Kushan prince, said to be Huvishka, making a donation to a Boddhisattva.
Shiva Linga worshipped by Kushan devotees, circa 2nd century AD
The Ahin Posh stupa was dedicated in the 2nd century AD under the Kushans, and contained coins of Kushan and Roman Emperors.
Early Mahayana Buddhist triad. From left to right, a Kushan devotee, Maitreya, the Buddha, Avalokitesvara, and a Buddhist monk. 2nd–3rd century, Gandhara
The head of a Gandhara Bodhisattava said to resemble a Kushan prince, as seen in [[:File:KushanHead.jpg|the portrait of the prince]] from Khalchayan. Philadelphia Museum.
Greco-Roman gladiator on a glass vessel, Begram, 2nd century
Mahasena on a coin of Huvishka
Four-faced Oesho
Rishti or Riom<ref>{{cite journal |quote=The reading of the name of the deity on this coin is very much uncertain and disputed (Riom, Riddhi, Rishthi, Rise....) |last1=Fleet |first1=J.F. |title=The Introduction of the Greek Uncial and Cursive Characters into India |journal=The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland |year=1908 |volume=1908 |page=179, note 1 |jstor=25210545}}</ref><ref>{{cite book |quote=The name Riom as read by Gardner, was read by Cunningham as Ride, who equated it with Riddhi, the Indian goddess of fortune. F.W. Thomas has read the name as Rhea |last1=Shrava |first1=Satya |title=The Kushāṇa Numismatics |year=1985 |publisher=Pranava Prakashan |page=29 |url=https://books.google.com/books?id=_1EaAAAAYAAJ}}</ref>
Oesho or Shiva
Oesho or Shiva with bull
Skanda and Visakha
Kushan Carnelian seal representing the "ΑΔϷΟ" (adsho Atar), with triratana symbol left, and Kanishka the Great's dynastic mark right
Coin of Kanishka I, with a depiction of the Buddha and legend "Boddo" in Greek script
Coin of Vima Kadphises. Deity Oesho on the reverse, thought to be Shiva,<ref name="sino-platonic.org"/>{{sfn|Bopearachchi|2007|pp=41–53}}<ref>Perkins, J. (2007). Three-headed Śiva on the Reverse of Vima Kadphises's Copper Coinage. South Asian Studies, 23(1), 31–37</ref> or the Zoroastrian Vayu.<ref>{{cite book |editor-last1=Errington |editor-first1=Elizabeth |author=Fitzwilliam Museum |title=The Crossroads of Asia: transformation in image and symbol in the art of ancient Afghanistan and Pakistan |date=1992 |publisher=Ancient India and Iran Trust |isbn=9780951839911 |page=87 |url=https://books.google.com/books?id=pfLpAAAAMAAJ}}</ref>
<center>Kanishka I:
<center>Kanishka I:
<center>Kanishka I:
<center>Kanishka I:
<center>Vasudeva I:
<center>Vasudeva I:
<center>Kanishka II:

The Kushan Empire (, Kushano; कुषाण वंश; Brahmi: , ; BHS: ; , Kušan-xšaθr; 貴霜 Guì-shuāng ) was a syncretic empire, formed by the Yuezhi, in the Bactrian territories in the early 1st century.

Several inscriptions in Sanskrit in the Brahmi script, such as the Mathura inscription of the statue of Vima Kadphises, refer to the Kushan Emperor as , Ku-ṣā-ṇa ("Kushana").

Along with his predecessors in the region, the Indo-Greek king Menander I (Milinda) and the Indian emperors Ashoka and Harsha Vardhana, Kanishka is considered by Buddhism as one of its greatest benefactors.