Sources of the History of Ancient Rajasthan The territorial unit known as Rajasthan, rhombic in shape, bounded by Pakistan, the Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, is of recent origin. In ancient times this vast arca of land was divided into several sectors which were called by various names, such as Marudesa (desert area of Rajasthan), Jangaldesa (Bikaner and Nagaur arca). Matsyadesa (Jaipur and a part of Alwar and most of Bharatpur), Sapadalaksa (a tract extending from Shekhawati to Ranthambhor), Sursenadesa (area covered by parts of Alwar, Bharatpur, Dholpur and Karauli) Sibidesa (adjoining area of Chitor in Mewar), Medpata (the well–known Sanskritised form of Mewad), Vagada (Dungarpur and Banswara Districts), Arbud (Sirohi and parts of Jodhpur and Palanpur), Mada (Jaisalmer area). Valla and Travani (both of these regions were adjoining to Mada), Gurjaradesa (a part of it was in Marwar), and Malavadesa (present districts of Pertabgarh, Kota, Jhalawar and a part of Tonk).
Rajasthan has a glorious past and a rich cultural heritage. The beginning of the human history of Rajasthan goes back to the period when man first settled in this region, On the basis of roughly chipped implements discovered in the sections and terraces of water courses, which have now turned dry, it is surmised that human history in our country had begun nearly half a million years ago, so was the case with Rajasthan. This fact has now boen proved by researches carried out in the various parts of the region.
With the beginning of the sixth century B.C. the historical evidences become a little distinct throwing light on the history of the political units which flourished in the region. Thereafter the history of the Imperial Mauryas, the Yavanas, the Sakas, the Kushanas,the Hunas and the Vardhanas covers, partly or wholly, the history of the region under review. From the seventh century onward the period of Rajput asscendancy commences and continues to be so till the end of the twelfth century. During this period the most inportant of the Rajpur clans which enjoved considerable strength and wide dominance over Rajasthan were the Pratiharas of Maru and Gurjaradesa, the Guhilas the Paramaras and the Chauhans.
Abundant source-material found scattered all over the region throws a flood of light on the history and culture of ancient Rajasthan. This vast and varied material imav broadly be classified under two heads viz., archaeology and literature. Archacology may further be sub-divided into inscriptions, coins, sculptures and monuments.
In the course of the archacological explorations conducted in the valleys of various rivers like Banas, Luni, Chambal, Sagarmati, etc., and their tributaries, a large number of palcolithic type tools termed hand-axes, cleavers and flakes have been discovered. A study of the Luni basin by VN. Mishra has revealed that it was a much wetter belt than it is at present “The man still lived in a stone age. Flint or flint-like jasper, fossil wood and coarse intractable rock were used for comparatively smaller tools like seraper and pointed tools which were primarily meant for cutting, scraping and piercing animal hids.
Microliths and megaliths discovered from various sites in Rajasthan trace back the histery of the region to a remote past. The great concentration of late stone age sites lies in the Berach basin in Udaipur and Chitor districts, but they extend up to the course of the river Banas into Bhilwara, Ajmer and Tonk districts. In the cast of Rajasthan there are a few sites which cover Kota and Jhalawar on the bed of Chandrabhaga. The major part of the Chambal basin is still to be explored, On the west of the Aravallis the known sits lie in the Luni basin, eight of them in Pali and Jodhpur districts and one in Barmer district. Raw material for tools found at the above sites consists of chert, quartzite, quartz, chalcedony, flint, shale, etc.
During the mircolithic period man was still a savage, withouta permanent housc and vessels for drinking, cooking and storing. Further advance took a long time to come, About four thousand years ago or a bit earlier we find man making progress, both materially and intellectually. in south-eastern and north-castem Rajasthan, which is quite evident from the excavations carried out at Ahar (UJdaipur) and Gilund or Bhagwanpura in the Bhilwara district and Kalibangan in the Sarasvati- Drishadvati regions of Rajasthan. Copper implements, ornanients largely of terracotta beads, pottery and other objects like toys, jars, bowls, etc.Dscovored in course of the excavations at Alar and lgwanpors reveal that man was no longer a food-yatherer only, hut lhe knew alo the procs of grindng of grains and baking of bread Esevations at Kalibamgan has definitely proved the evistence of a flourishing civiiration as old as the Harappan in north-western Rajasthan It is surmined by some of the archacologits that Kalibangan was the third capital of the Indus Valley civilisation, other two being Mohenjodaro and Harappa Examples of the very early architectere of Rajasthan are alos found at Kalibangan The archacological excavations at Noh, four miles from Bharatpur, and al Bagor, twenty-five kilometers west of Bhilwara, have furthere thrown a flood of hght on the pre-historic culture of the region during the Palacolithic, Noolithic and Chalcolithic periods Inscriptions have proved a source of the highest value for the roconstruction of the political and cultural history of ancient Rajasthan The mscriptions engraved on stone and metal are free from the procuss of tampering and decaying which is possible in the case of books and other documents written on perishable material Thus the value of inscriptions as contemporary documents remains undisputable Of the large mumber of inscriptions discovered in Rajasthan, some are very important They are engraved on rocks, big boulders, pillars, walls, copper plates, images, etc.
These may broadly be classified under two gropus-
1) those engraved by or on behalf of the ruling authority, and
2) those engraved by or on behalf of private individuals.
Inscriptions are the main basis of our chronology. Though some of the inscriptions discovered are undated, yet their characteristic script and language help us in determining their approximate age. Inscriptions mention the name of the ruler, his dynasty and his exploits in political as avell as cultural spheres. They also help us in the location of the kingsdom of the ruler and determining the extent of his empire. Administrative sctup, official hierarchy, inter-state relations, relations between the suzerain and his foudatories and likewise information are available in these inscription
The earlicst specimens of inscriptions in Rajasthan are found on the scals discovered at Kalibangan, they are written in the Harappan script which probably used to be written from right to left. When deciphered, they would throw a flood of light on the history of the period. Earliest epigraphic records of the historic period have also boen found in Rajasthan The two inscrptions of Asoka, found at Bairat (a copy of Minor Rock Edict and the Bhabru Edict, Bhabru near Bairat) in the third century B C, indicate his torritorial jurisdiction and his interest in Buddhism The Bayana (Bijayagath) stone inscription of VS. 428 (AD 371-72) supplies list of the rulers of the Vanka tnbe and desenbes the Pundarika sacrifice performed by Vishnuvardhana. The Gangdhara (Jhalawar district) inscription of V.S. 480 (A D. 423) acquaints us about the Aulikara dynasty ruling from Dasapura (Mandsor) and m information that Mayurakshaka, the minister of Visvavarman constructed a Vishnu temple t also throws light on the feudal syste of the age The two inscriptions from the Bhramara Mata Temple, one dated in VS. 547 and the other undated, found near Chhoti Sadri, distriet Uidaipur, reveal the existence of a royal family called Manavayani which nuled over an area about the borders between Rajasthan and Malwa.
Inscriptions of the post-Gupta period are numerous, of which mention may be made of the following. The Chitorgarh inscription dated AD 713 gives four names of Mori Rajput rulers. A Buddhist Sanskrit inscription from Shergarh dated V.S. 847 mentions the gencalogy of the Naga rulers. The Kaman inscription of the cighth century A.D. and the Bayana inscriptions of V.S. 1027 and V.S. 1100 give useful information regarding the history of the Sursenas, ruling from the sixth century to the twelfth century AD over Kaman and Bayana. The Dhulev plate of Maharaja Bhetti, dated 73 Harsha Era (A D 679), and the two copper grants discoverod from Dungarpur, one dated 48 HE. (A.D. 654) of Bhavahita and the other dated 83HE (AD. 689) of Babhata, all issued fro Kishkindha, and the two Kalyanpur stone inscriptions give un information about the Guhila nulers ruling over the region during the seventh and eight centuries The Nagara inscription of Dhanika of V.S. 741 (AD 684) and The Chatsu incrpiton of Baladitya of V.S. 741 (A.D. 684) and the Chatsu inscription of Baladitya of the tenth century A.D. mention that the Guhilas were ruling over them. The Samoli inscription of the time of Siladitya dated V.S. 703 (AD 646), the Nagada inscription of the period of Aparajita dated V.S. 718 (A D. 661), the Sarmesvara inscription of V.S. 1010 (AD. 953) of the reign of Allata, the Ekalinga stone inscription of V.S. 1028 (A.D. 971) of the period of Naravahana and the Atpur inscription of Saktıkumara dated VS. 1034 (AD. 977) supply us valuable information about the history of the Guhilas when they were ruling over Nagda and Ahar. The Mandor inscription datod V.S. 894 (A.D. 837) or Bauka and Kakkuka inscriptions dated VS. 918 (AD. 861) found at Ghatiyala are very important for the history of the Pratiharas ruling over Mandor, Merta and Ghatiyala. The Bijapura inscription of V.S. 1053 (A.D. 996) of Dhavala mentions the names of his prodecessors ruling over Hastikundi It also relates his exploits From this inscription we also know about the economic condition of the period and the sale-tax levied by the ruler on various commodities sold in the market Other important inscription relating to the history of the Chauhans are : (1) the Dholpur inscription of Chandamahasena dated V.S. 898 (AD. 842), (11) the Harsha stone inscription (Shekaywati) of Vigraharaja II dated V.S. 1030 (A.D. 973), and (iii) the Bijolia rock inscription of Somevara V.S 1226 (A.D. 170). The Banswara plates of Bhoja dated V.S. 1076, the Panahera inscription of VS. 1116, and the Arthuna inscription of VS. 1136 of Chamundaraja are undoubtedly important sources of the history of the Parmara of Arthuna and Baroda. The Vasantgarh inscription of Puranpala dated VS. 1099 and the Abu inscription of Dharavassha dated VS. 1220 fumish information about the Parmara rulers who ruled over Chandravati near Abu. The Jalor nscription of Visala dated V.S. 1174 and the Kiradu stone inscription throw light on the Parmaras ruling over Bhinmal, Kiradu and Jalor
The inscriptions discovered n Rajasthan also throw a flood light on the religious, social and economic conditions of the region. They inform us about the construction of temples (Jain and Brahmanical), installations of images, donationas and charities. The Yupa inscriptions- Nandsa (A.D. 225) in Bhilwara district, Barnala (A.D. 227) in Jaipur district. Baduda (A.D. 238-39) in Kota district, Bichpuri (A.D. 264) near Uniara in Jaipur district, ctc., testify to the resurgence of Brahmanism in the area, There are inscriptions in profusion depicting that Jainism in Rajasthan was in a flourishing condition. There are a few inscriptions which enlighten us with the celebrations of functions and festivals in the region. In short, the epigraphic records constitue the main source of the political and cultural history of ancient Rajasthan.
Coins : Next to the inscriptions, coins are of importance, supplying valuable materials for reconstructing the history of ancient Rajasthan. Thousands of old coins have been found at various places in the region. The biggest hoard of 3075 punch-marked coins, which are the carliest coins of India, was found at Rairh, a place which is at distance of fifty-two miles from Jaipur, These coins bear only figures, devices or symbols, somctimes there are many symbols punched at different times. These symbols convey some vague religious ideas and artistic conventions but do not supply any historical information. These symbols were stamped by the issuing authority in order to guarantee their genuineness and value. Punch-marked coins have also been discovered at other places like Pushkar, Bairat, Nagara, Nagari, Sambhar and Jhalrapatan. Obviously they were the ancient sites in Rajasthan. As a result of excavations, several varieties of coins of different periods have been recovered bearing names, dates, legends, etc., which add our knowledge of the history of the region. Valuable information sold in the market. Other important inscriptions relating to the history Sibis, Uddehikas, Yaudheyas. the Kshatrapas and Gadhaivar co unearthed from various sites of Rajastian. Carlleyle had recorderd fro the surface at Nagar (the Uniara Thikana of Jaipur unit of Rajnsthue over 6. 000 Malava coins of copper which were then ‘lying scattered c the mounds, ike shells on the seashore. These coins supplied the information about forty chicfs of Malava tribe One of the coins of Diemedes, the Greek ruler of Kabul, was discovered during an exploratory survey of the site Naliasar in Sambhar in 1950
Of the big hoards, discovered from different parts of Rajasthan. the Bayana hoard of Gupta coins is worth mentioning. Apparently a buried collection of some rich person, it proves that this region was a part and parcel of the Gupta Empire. The Sarvania hoard proves that the southem part of Rajasthan was under the sway of the Westen Kshatrapas. The coins of the Arjunayanas and the Yaudheyas, bearing the symbol of a standing bull, may well represent the bull before the jupa or sacrificial post. Such coins give us an idea performed by the rulers of those days. Thus Rajasthan has supplied early coins of practically all epochs of the ancient penod including punch- marked, Malava, Sibi, Indo-Greck, Indo Sassanian, Kshatrapa, Kushana and Gupta coins which are preserved at several Museums of Rajasthan, Several Rajput dynasties also issued coins. One of the most interesting among them is a joint coin issucd by Prithviraja III and Muhammadbin- Sam Coins of the Pratiharas with suggestive figures like the Adivaraha throw light on their aspirations and their religion.
Old Relics : Besides coins and inscriptions, other remains of antiquarian importance, such as temples, forts, buildings, statues, scriptures, terracottas, and pottery at differert parts of Rajasthan have come to light. They have been found very useful in tracing the history and evolution of culture and art. The circular temple on the Bijak-Ki- Pahari at Bairat is probably the earliest example of the temple architecture in India. There are a few more specimens of the Gupta, later Gupta and carly medieval period temples which are existing either in nuins or renovated. The temples at Mukandara pass, Charchoma and Krishna Vilas in Kota, the Harsat Mata Temple at Abaneri, the Dilwara Jain Temples at Abu, The Jain Temple at Sanganer, the Sun Temples at Varman, Barod and Amer, the fort at Mandor, and the temples at Osia, Kiradu, Nilkantha and Nagda are some notable examples of architectural monuments scattered all over Rajasthan.
Recent explorations and surveys undertaken by the State Department of Archacology and Museum, Rajasthan, have brought to religious practices light some important and interesting monuments in Pali, Jodhpur, Jaimur Nagaur. Jaisalmer and Barmer districts which are welcome additions to the galaxy of the Pratihar cdifices in Rajasthan-important being Makarmandi Mata Temple at Neemja (Pali), Nakati Mata Temple in the village of Jai Bhawanipura in Jaipur, the Siva Temple at Soyala (Jodhpur), the Sun Temple at Dooka (Barmer), the L-shaped Baori at Choti Khatu (Nagaur), the temple of Anandpur, near Merta (Nagaur) and the like,
Plastic art : In the field of plastic art Rajasthan has yielded a rich crop. The life-size stone statue of a standing Yaksha discovered at Noh near Bharatpur is an important and one of the earliest examples of plastic art in India. It can well be compared with somewhat identical and contemporary colossal statucs from Parkham, Besanagar and Patana Of the Important terracottas and sculptures, one clay toy from Rairh presents a female head depicting two hair strings (Venis) falling on her back and a turban put on her head in a traditional manner. It is very interesting to note here the use of the turban by the ladies. The four standing male figures, cach wearing a V-shaped necklace, and a crown and holding a water pot in the left hand represent the carly essays of ancient Rajasthan in the sculptural art; assignable to the Kushana period, they have been discovered at Noh. Mention may also be made of a colossal Kushana Siva Linga, near Nand, seven miles from Pushkar. Plastic remains of the Gupta period are also not inconsiderable. Of them the “Sardar Museum at Jodhpur preserves two colossal red stone pillars, cach measuring about thirteen feet in height and depicting various Krishna-Lila scenes, such as Krishna’s lifting of the Govardhan mountain, fight with Ass, Bull and Horse demons, suppression of Kaliya Serpent, upturning of the carts, ctc., in the elegant style of the Gupta period. Equally important are the Jain bronzes of the post-Gupta period. One under worship in a Jain slirine at Pindawara (near Sirohi) throws much light on the art of metal casting in Rajasthan about 1,250 years ago. One of these images represents Sarsawati (the goddess of learning), while another bronze of this hoard depicts a male divinity in the Kayotsarga pose dated in the Vikrama ycar 744, i.e, 687 A.D.
Sculptures : A brief but very iteresting survey of some ancient bronzes, sculptures and terracottas discovered at various ancient sites in Rajasthan, has been made by Dr. R.C. Agrawal. The whole material of this region has got an important bearing on the Buddhist, Jaina and Brahmanic art of the country. Nothing gives a better idea of the religious condition of ancient Rajasthan than its beautiful sculptures and bronzes
Literature : Literature preserved at various places, both public and private, in Rajasthan forms a yery valuable source for the uters study of ancient Rajasthan, though the aim and attitude of most writers were more Iiterary than historical. The Vedas contain references to the rivers, like the Sarasvati and Drishadvati and the peoples like the Matsyas and the Salvas who during the Epie period resided in Rajasthan. It is also believed that the pandayas during the period of their exile got nened Kaisthan. The Virata Parva of the Mahabharata is specially concerned with Bairat, the capital of the Matsvas. The Epics and the Puranas also provide us with some useful historical material. The Padmapurana enlightens us about the origin of the Pushkar. The Srimalamahatmya, a part of the Skandapurana, gives valuable information regarding the ancient city of Bhinmal and its vicinity, It also gives a list of Indian states which includes, Sakambbara-Sapadalaksha, Mewar- Sapadalaksha, Tomara-Sapadalaksha, Vaguri 88 thousand, Sivadesa 10 thousand and Blhadra 10 thousand. From the Vamanapurana, we know about the existence of several holy places in the Sarasvati-Drishadvati Valley at the time of its composition.
Some of the pecple living in the region under review were known to Panini. Patanjali in his great commentary (Mahabhashya) on the Ashtadhyayi mentions about the Yavana attack on Madhyamika (a town near Chitor) within his living memory.
The traditions preserved in the Vedas, the Epics and the Puranas thus form the aam source of infomation for the history of the carliest period ; and for the period before the sixth century B.C. they constitute our only source. The Buddhist and Jain literatures of the succceding period form a valuable supplementary and corroborative evidence and supply us with very important bstorical data. The Buddhist scriptures speak of caravans passing through sandy places of Rajasthan at night guided by professional niyyamakas. The Padataditaka spcaks satirically of the habits of Daserakas (pcople of Marwar). Literature of the age, in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Apabhransa, old Hindi or old Rajasthani, depicts the life of the people and their institutions (political, social, cconomic and religious), handicrafts, clothes, ormaments, etc. Of the few books throwing light on life in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Malwa or Westeren Aryavarta, mention may be made of Dhamabindu, Dhurtakhyana and Samaraichchkatha of Haribhadra Sur (A.D. 700-70), Kuvalayamala- Katha of Udyotana Suri (A. D 778) Upamitilihavaprapancha Katha and Bri harkathakosa respetively of Siddharsi Suri. (A. D.905) and Harisena (A.D. 931) Lilavatikathu and Kathakosaprakarana of Jinesvara Suri (e AD. 10-25), Sringarananjari of Bhoja Paramara (c. 1010-55 A. D.), Inanapanchami-Katha of Mahesvara, Jambusvami Charita of
Gunapala, ete. From the Dharmopadesamala-vivarana of Jayasimha Suri written in A.D. 858, it is known that Nagaur was in the kingdom of the Pratihara nuler Mihirabhoja. The Tirthamalas are another important source material, as they point out the names of the tirthas, their origin together with the miracles associated with them, their importance and the descriptions of temples and images. Dhanapala, in his poem Satyapuriyamahavira-Utsaha, supplies us valuable information about the holy places like Sanchor, Ahar, Srimala, Korta and Naraina which were in existence in the tenth century A.D The Sakalatirthastavana by Siddharshi (twelfth century AD.) is important, as it gives a list of holy places, most of which are located in Rajasthan. Important information can be had from the Jain Pattavalis or Guravavalis The Kharatari-gachchapattavali covering the period between V.S. 1211 and 1393 is very useful for political and social condition of the people of different parts of Rajasthan. It refers to th. activities held at Ajmer, Chitor, Barmer, Narhad, Phalodi, Kheda Bikampur, Mandor and Sanchor, when the Jain Acharyas visited them Sometimes we are acquainted with the rulers of these towns who were otherwise unknown. The Upakesagachcha Pattavali and the Korantagachchapattavali are particularly related to the towns of Osia and Korta respectively.
The accounts of the foreign travellers, Arabs as well as Chinese, provide us with valuable material to reconstruct the history of the ruling dynasty of the age. Yuan Chwang refers to a Kshatriya ruler of the Gurjara country who has been identified by some scholars with a Pratihara prince of the Mandor family. The Arab travellers speak of Jurz, i.e.. Gurjara as one of the big states of India. Sulaiman writes abont the administration of Bhoja.
For the last days of the Pratihara Empire, we have useful information from Muslim works like Kitab Zainul Akhbar of Mahmud Girdızi, Turikh-i-Yamini of Al-Utbi, Tarikh-i-Firishta and Tabaqat-i- Nasiri.
Rajashekhara, the author of the Kavyamimamsa, Kshemisvara, the author of the Chandakausika and Pampa mention valuable facts about the Pratihara history and culture. The Prithvirajavijayamahakavya of Jayanaka, written carlier than A.D. 1200, throws light on the history of the Chauhans up to A.D. I191, Its account is supplemented by Hammirmahakavya of Naya Chandra Suri the Surya kanta of Chandra- shekhar. Of these Kavyas, special mention may be made of works by Hemchandra Suri, Somesbara, Mentunga and Raj Shekhar.