Sirpur

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Author of this article is Laxman Burdak लक्ष्मण बुरड़क
Laxman temple Sirpur

Sirpur (सिरपुर) is an ancient historical village in Mahasamund tahsil of Mahasamund district in Chhattisgarh. Huen-Tsang had visited Sirpur in 643 A.D.

Location

Ancient Sirpur is located on the right bank of Mahanadi, 84 km from Raipur. Its ancient name was Shripura (श्रीपुर), meaning 'the city of wealth', was once the capital of Mahakosala or Chhattisgarh and contained a large number of temples.

Variants of name

History

Chhattisgarh, is an important historical Buddhist site of India. An important centre of Buddhism during 6th to 10th century BCE, the place was also visited by the famous Chinese traveller Huien Tsang in the 7th century CE, who also described the city in his accounts as a pillar of Buddhism in the central region. The modern Sirpur, which contains the remains of the ancient and medieval Buddhist era, is one of the most treasured places for the Buddhists and historians.

The Buddhist monastery at Sirpur - Chhattisgarh, which dates back to the 8th century CE, is one of the largest and most important Buddhist monasteries in India, perhaps even more important than that of Nalanda. The site comprises the remains of 100 Buddha Viharas, 4 Jain Vihara, 200 mounds and more than 100 Shiva temples. Besides, a unique nine-room area was also excavated, which has eight ladders leading to the rooms. Built by Mahashivgupt Balarjun, the monastery also consists of a Buddhist female monk, believed to be that of Haritika, who used to abduct and kill infants. It is said that the Buddha stole her child to make her feel the pain of other mothers. The incidence changed her and she became a Buddhist monk. The statue of Haritika also reflects the popularity of female cult in early India.

Map of Mahasamund district

Ancient Sirpur in Mahasamund district of Chhattisgarh State is located on the right bank of Mahanadi, 84 km from Raipur. Right from 5th cent. A.D. on wards up to 8th cent. A.D. it was the capital of Dakshin Kosala, first of Sarabhapriya rules and then of Somavamshis. As per archaeological evidences and copper plates inscription it was not only the political but also religious and cultural capital of the region. After it went into ruins due to floods of Mahanadi, centuries back, it came to live light in 1872, when Dr. Beglar and Sir John Marshall visited it Famous Lakshan temple was excavated during this time. Surang Teela situated in the centre of the village was partly excavated in 1872 A.D.

Tej Ram Sharma, [1] writes that Kosala (कोसल) has been mentioned in Allahabad Stone Pillar Inscription of Samudragupta (=A.D. 335-76) (No. I, L. 19). It is spelt both ways with the dental as well as with the palatal sibilant. It is included in the list of the Daksinapatha kingdoms whose kings were conquered but reinstated by Samudragupta. At that time Mahendra was its ruler. It has been identified with South Kosala corresponding to modern district of Raipur, Sambalpur and Bilaspur of M.P. and Orissa. Its old capital was Sripura (modern Sirpur), 40 miles north-east of Raipur.

Bhim Singh Dahiya [2]writes that It was therefore, not "on account of the low social status of his mother, that Samudragupta was not regarded as an Aryan" but because he himself was, in the eyes of the orthodox Hindus-a Vratya (impure, foreigner) and it was by their force of arms and heroic deeds that they got, not only Agrani Kshatriya (leading warrior) status, but also compelled historians to term their period, as the Golden Age of Indian history. That is why in the above mentioned incidents, the Dharans had to repeat that they were "Arya" and "Kshatriyas". Mahashivagupta, king of Central India, wrote this fact in his Sirpur Prasasti.[3]

The Sirpur stone Inscription mentions the Nripa Suryavarman, which has been identified with Suryavarman son of Isanavarman, the reigning king of tho Maukhari dynasty, and Dutaka of the Haraha Inscription. The Sirpur Stone Inscription of Mahashivagupta refers to the nripa Suryavarman born in the unblemished family of the Varmanas (varmankula) famous for their Suzerainty over Magadha. [4]

Sirpur stone Inscription of Mahasivagupta

Reference - Epigraphia Indica Vol. XI (1911-12): A S I, Edited by E. Hultzsoh, Ph.D., pp. 184-197

Sirpur is a small village on the right bank of the Mahanadi in the Mahasamund tahsil of the Raipur District in the Central Provinces. It is 37 miles north-east of Raipur and 15 miles from Arang. Sirpur was once the capital of Maha-Kosala and was then known as Sripura, as given in the stone inscriptions found there, and also in the copper plates found in Rajim and Baloda. The ruins in and around the village indicate that it was once a great city and there are scores of temple sites, the identification of which is now rendered impossible by the removal of the idols they contained to a place near a brick temple, which is the only one now standing as it was originally built. It is popularly known as the 'Lakshmana temple.' Writing of the bricks with which it is built, Mr. Cousens who visited it in 1904 remarked that they were of a finer make than any he had till then seen, either ancient or modern. They are moulded and carved with, considerable artistic skill. About a third of the temple tower was gone, while the mandapa had totally collapsed and was a heap of ruins when it was taken under Government conservation. It was while removing the debris of this mandapa that the subjoined inscription was found and removed to the Raipur Museum, where it is at present deposited. Sir A. Cunningham visited Sirpur in 1881-82 and noticed all the inscriptions he found there, remarking that one of them must belong to this temple. He was right in supposing that the temple must have had some inscription but it had not come to light then and it was about 2 years ago that it was accidentally discovered.

It is perhaps the biggest inscription yet found in Sirpur. It is engraved on a thick reddish stone, which is not exactly rectangular, the breadth of the upper corner being 3' 8-1/2 and that of the lower 3' 9", while the height at the right side is 2' 3-1/2" and at the left 2' 1-1/2". "The writing covers a space 3' 8" by 2' 1". There are altogether 26 lines of writing, but some parts of the stone coming in contact with others have peeled off, and portions of lines 3, 4, 5, 6 at the left hand top corner and the last 4 lines have been partially damaged. The characters are Nagari, beautifully engraved, their average height being 3/4". They belong to the Northern class of alphabeta of about the 8th or 9th century A.D. The most noticeable peculiarities are the antiquated forms of the letters i, na, sa, dha, tha, bha, and ja. The matra of ā is represented by a top stroke, and e by a small stroke prefixed to the letter. The sign of u is added in the middle of the letter raas usual, but when made long it is bent upwards as in gurupacharane in line 7 and -rupaih in line 12, In the case of the short ru in Purushsttama in line 1, the bend is upwards instead of down- wards, but this is probably a mistake as other short rus have it in the usual way downwards. The signs for ñ and when joined to a class letter appear to be identical : compare puñja in line 1 and maṇḍanam in line 12. Forms of final m occur in LL. 4, 11, 12, 13 and 14 and of and n in LL. 6 and 16 respectively. The language is excellent Sanskrit, highly rhetorical, containing 42 verses in various metres.

The record consists of two parts, viz. a eulogy in 23 verses and rules for the temple management from line 16 to the end. The inscription begins with an invocation to Purushottama, which is in prose. The first three verses are devoted to the praise of the Nrisimha or man-lion incarnation of Vishnu. King Mahāśivagupta, his mother and two ancestors


(father and grandfather), are nest mentioned. The historical information, which is here farnished la that, in the lunar race, there was a hero whose name is illegible (v. 4). His sou was Harshagupta (v. 9). From him was born Mahasivagtipta (v. 12) who was also known as Bālārjuna owing to his proficiency in the use of arms (v. 13). He apparently had a younger brother named Raṇakesarin (v. 12). We are then informed that his mother, named Vāsaṭa (V. 15), was the daughter of Suryavarma, king of Magadha (v. 16). She became a widow (v. 17) and caused to be constructed a temple of Hari (v. 20), the same to -which this inscription was affixed. She and her acts are praised in seven verses (vv, 17 to 28).

The writer of this enlogy, who calls himself prasastikārah kavih, was Chintāturānka Isana (v. 24) , who in the second part proceeds to lay down the regulations for the management of the temple as follows : Five villages, viz. Tōḍaṅkaṇa, Madhuveḍha, Nālīpadra, Kurapadra, and Vāṇapadra, were given (v. 25) for the maintenance of the temple to which apparently a sattra, or an almshonse was attached. The villages were divided into four shares, three of which (subdivided into three separate parts) were to "be reserved for the maintenance of the almshouse, repairs (to the temple) and for the support of the servants attached to the sanctuary (v. 26). The fourth share was divided into fifteen parts, of which twelve were to be enjoyed by a corresponding number of Brahmanas fully conversant with the Vedas, each of the three Vedas (Rik, Yajus and Saman) having four experts. The remaining three parts were to be enjoyed by a sacrificial priest and two others who were Bhāgavatas. The names of these fifteen persons are duly recorded and it is enjoined that their descendants should inherit the gift if properly qualified for it, otherwise the grant should go to some other relatives by their own selection and not by order of the king (vv. 27 to 34). An additional village named Vargullaka is stated to have been given separately to the god himself, for meeting the expenses of offerings to him (v. 36). The engraver was a certain Ārya Goṇṇa (v. 35), the same who wrote the slab built flat into the pavement of the new work outside the court wall of the Gandhesvara temple at Sirpur.

Like other inscriptions of Sirpur this is also undated, and therefore its age can only be determined from its characters, which, as stated before, belong to the 8th or 9th century A.D. Mahasivagupta who is mentioned in almost all the inscriptions so far found in Sirpur, seems to have been a temple-builder, or at least he encouraged others to build them. Apparently he was a Saiva, although his mother was a Vaishnava and so was his father who is described in verse 20 as upāsitāchyutah, i.e. by whom Vishnu was worshipped. From an inscription in the temple of Gandhesvara (correctly Gandharvesvara as given in an inscription affixed to the parapet there) we know five ancestors of Mahasivagupta, so that our inscription gives no additional information about the family, as it only takes us back to his grandfather. But verse 6 leads us to the important inference that Mahasivagupta's grandfather Chandragupta] had an elder brother who was the king's commander in chief. This elder brother cannot I suppose be any other than the Tivaradeva of the Rajim and Baloda plates. He was the son of Nannadeva, Chandragupta's father. Tivaradeva's inscriptions, were issued from Sripura and he is described as being the 'supreme lord of Kosala', He had apparently no issue and his brother probably succeeded him. A -second historical fact to be gleaned from our inscription is the discovery of one additional name in the line of Varma kings of Magadha, via. Suryavarmā who must have flourished about the 8th century A.D. He apparently belonged to the Western Magadha dynasty. He must have been a contemporary of Chandragupta, to whose son Harshagupta he gave his daughter in marriage.

Attention may be called to the name Raṇakesarin (in verse 12) who would appear to have been a younger brother of Mahasivagupta, although the word has teen used in a double sense. Dr. Kielhorn has drawn attention to this name with a view to show that names


ending in Kesarin were not foreign to this family as a curious coincidence between the Sirpnr kings and the Orissa Kesari family. The second name of Bhavadeva who. Dr. Kielhorn says, was 'a cousin, of Indrabala's son Nannadeva, the father of both Tivaradeva and Chandragnpta, was also Ranakesarin, but we meet it in the direct line here. In spite of the overwhelming paleographic evidence, which tends to disprove any connection between the Sirpnr dynasty and that of the Somavansi kings of Katak (or more correctly of Vinitapura or Yayatinagara), in both of which a Sivagupta occurs, it seems possible that General Cunningham may still prove to have been right in linking them together, although the dates assigned to them by him are all wrong. The kings of Sirpur appear to have been ousted by the kings of Sārabhapura, which place has not been identified as yet. The inscriptions of the latter lave been found in the country round about and in close vicinity of Sirpur, viz at Arang Raipur, Raipur, Khariar and Sarangarh which enclose Sirpnr from all directions, north, south, east and west. I have already identified several of the villages mentioned in them (see above, Vol. IX. p. 283) and their position shows that a very large portion of the present Chhattisgarh Division came under their sway. Probably they could not conquer the whole of Maha-Kosala which extended from the confines of Berar to the boundary of the Katak District. The Sirpur dynasty having been driven further east settled in some place on the bank of the Mahanadi. They still continued to rule at least a part of Kosala. That seems to be the reason why they continued to call themselves 'Lord of Kosala' unwilling to show a reduced front. They had probably lost the western portion of Maha-Kosala for ever, and that seems to be the reason why most of the villages granted by them are situated in the Sambalpur District and the adjoining feudatory states of Patna and Sonpur. The Sirpur dynasty probably regained its former power but could not regain the lost kingdom, as although the Sarabhapura kings seem to have fallen as quickly as they rose, they were succeeded by another rising power, the Haihayas of Tummana, who eclipsed the chiefs of the whole of Chhattisgarh and extended their dominions still farther.

Dr. Fleet assigns the characters of the records of the Somavamsi kings of Katak to the eleventh century and says that even if a somewhat earlier period than what has been arrived at, should be hereafter established for Sivagupta and his successors of the Katak line, the palaeographic changes in so many details appear more than can possibly be covered by the lapse of a single generation. His conclusion is that the kings mentioned in these inscriptions ' are to be placed somewhere between A.D. 1000 and 1100. Since the characters of the Sirpur inscriptions are believed to belong to about the 9th century, it would appear that Dr. Fleet would place an interval of a little more than 100 years to account for the palaeographic difficulties. This is a period which, may easily be covered by three generations, and on examining the genealogical table made out from the records of the Somavamsi kings as given by Dr. Fleet, it seems to me that a link of two generations is at present missing, which further discoveries might bring to light,


There are four kings in this list, but there are only two names, viz. Sivagupta and Bhavagupta. Three of them, have a second name -which may have been their birth-names or titles. The Sivagupta of our inscription had also a second name, i.e. Bālārjuna. This Balarjuna Sivagupta may possibly be the grandfather of the titleless Sivagupta of the Katak inscriptions. By the way it may be noted that his granduncle Tivaradeva who was king was also called Mahasiva as stated in the Baloda and Rajim plates. I suppose that the title of Harshagupta must have been Mahabhavagupta, and any further discoveries giving both the names would, I venture to think, confirm this surmise. So we can trace back the official title of Mahasiva up to Tivarvadeva at least and he was possibly great-great-granduncle of the first Sivagupta of the Somavamsi records. According to this view the genealogical tree of the amalgamated Sirpur and Katak Gupta dynasty would be as under :

Genealogical tree of the amalgamated Sirpur and Katak Gupta dynasty

The Sirpur inscriptions show that Balarjuna Mahasivagupta must have been in a fairly prosperous state and so it was probably his son, a possible Mahabhavagupta, who was ousted from his ancestral capital. If we do not find any of his records, there is nothing to wonder at. A person in calamity driven out of his home would hardly think of bestowing grants or revel in perpetuating his name when his own petition was so shaky, and bis descendants would hardly be inclined to mention one who was in such a plight, it being better to omit than to record his tale of defeats. For the matter of that, they might also have omitted his son Sivagupta's name as he also does not seem to have been in a much better position, but he was the direct ascendant of his renowned son, and it is possible that he might have prepared the way to the conquest of Trikalinga of which all his successors are called adhipati, though no such title attaches to his name in any of the inscriptions. It appears that it was Janamejaya Mahabhavagupta (I) who retrieved the good name of his dynasty by conquering the Trikalinga country. So far as is known, he was the first in his line to take the title of Trikalingadhipati, though it was disputed by the Haihaya kings of Chedi, as we find the title used by the Kalachuri Karnadeva of Tripuri in his Benares plate of 1042 A.D. and by other members of the same family up to 1174 A.D. But they were apparently raiders with superior power, the real rulers of Trikalinga being the Somavamsis. There is little doubt that these two houses came in contact with each other as in one of the Patna plates (marked H) the donor claims a victory over Chedi.

With regard to geographical names, the country of Magadha whence the temple builder was brought in marriage is well known. The other places mentioned are 6 villages given to the temple and its accessories, Of these, I think Karapadra is the same as Kulapadar, 15 miles south-east of Sirpur, and Vargullaka is apparently Gullu, about 10 miles south-west of Sirpur and 5 from Arang. Todankana may be Turenga near Kulapadar. About 4 miles from Turenga there is a village named Madhuban which may be identical with Madhuvedha of the inscription. As regards the remaining two, Nalipadra and Vanapadra, I could not find any villages answering to their names. Vanapadra must have been quite close to Sirpur, as it is stated to be 'on the spot'.

An endeavour has been made in the appended statement to identify places mentioned in other records of these kings, and it may not be out of place here to discuss the unsettled question of the capital of these kings. In the records of the Somavamsis the phrase srimato vijaya-Katakat occurs which has been interpreted to mean ' from the victorious Kataka', the capital, in preference to its simple meaning 'from the victorious camp'. That the latter is the real meaning clearly appears from the copper plates of Mahabhavagupta Janamejaya belonging to the 3rd year of his reign (the oldest of all so far found), in which the word skandhāvārāt has been used instead of the usual kaṭakāt. It will be observed from other inscriptions that whenever kataka is used, the name of the camp (a separate place-name) is invariably given, but this is not the case when the charters purport to be issued from Yayatinagara or Vinitapura, which Dr. Fleet considers to be fanciful names of Kataka itself, It has been assumed that Kataka was the capital of these kings, but I am


unable to share this view. The question, has already been discussed by other scholars, and the identification of Yayatinagara with the modern Jajpur has been suggested, hut Dr. Fleet has pointed out that this suggestion is untenable as the inscriptions distinctly imply that Yayatinagara was on the Mahanadi, whereas Jajpur is only on the Vaitarani, about 50 miles away from the former river.

The names Yayatinagara was apparently imposed upon Vinitapura during the reign of Yayati otherwise known as Mahasivugupta. It is noteworthy that prior to his time the name Yayatinagara does not occur in any inscriptions. In fact he himself used the older name Vinitapura in the records of the 8th and 9th years of his reign, which fact shows that till then the idea of naming the town after himself had not occurred to him. It was probably somewhere between the 15th and 24th year of his reign that the town changed its name. Since then the official name seems to have become Yayatinagara, and we have in all four inscriptions mentioning it, two of which belong to the 24th and 28th years of his own reign, and two to the 3rd and 13th year of his son's. This name apparently continued to be used as long as Vinitapura was the capital, at least in official circles, but as is well known the original name usually sticks so persistently in the popular mind that it is difficult to eradicate it. Many a monarch has endeavoured to change the names of big cities after his own, but the old name has usually asserted the ground, and I suppose the same happened with Vinitapura, which name can now be traced in the corrupted form Binkā. This is a small town in the Sonpur State, 16 miles north of the present capital of that state. It fulfils all the conditions appertaining to Vinitapura. It is on the bank of the Mahanadi, and the river scenery there is as beautiful as described in the inscriptions. From Sirpur it is about 100 miles as the crow flies and about 180 by river quite a safe distance to which, the ousted family might have removed itself. The two places are so situated that if one fled straight to the east he would meet Binka as the first place on the Mahanadi, as between these two places the river flows in a curved Binka, moreover, is central to all the camps from which the kings issued their charters. Of the 13 so far discovered, 5 were issued from the capital itself, 3 from a pleasure garden, which must have been somewhere in the big groves still to be seen on the outskirts of Binka, 3 were issued from Murasima or the present Mursinga in the Patna state, about 11 miles from Binka, one from Sonpur, and one from Vamaṇdāpāti 41 or Bamra, 60 miles to the north-east, but this last was issued by a feudatory from his own head-quarters, and he has mentioned his overlord's capital as Yayatinagara. The villages granted so far as they have been identified are situated close to and round about Binka as a glance on the accompanying map will show. The existence of a village named Rājpāli (meaning royal hamlet) within a mile of the present Binka town is significant. There are also remains of a fort close by and a ghat embankment on the Mahanadi.


Sanskrit text

Translation

  • (Line.1) - Om ! Salutation to Purushottama (Vishnu).
  • (Vers.1.) - Let the discus-holder's (Nrisimha's) foot protect you the foot whose sharp claws emitted a sound like that of gunjd berries (shaken) by the gust of strong winds passing through the long spaces between each other, and (looked) terrific (more so) with the jaws shining with the flame of rays (emanating) from the nails, when they being lifted up, tore through the mass of dark clouds in the sky and revealed the stars with pearly brilliance, like a lion who, having overcome that storehouse of darkness, the elephant, jumps about scattering brilliant pearls (torn from this temples).
  • (V. 2.) - Let that Nrisimha protect yon, who looking with eagerness at (his own) nails, for the enemy (Hiranyakasipu) who had not been secured for being torn with these (claws), happened to see him hiding through fear in the cavern-like cavity in the interior of the deep hollow of those (nails). With a laugh (at his foolishness in taking shelter in the place where he could be easily crushed out), joy (at finding him out) and contempt (at the miserable creature) he split the demon at once with the point of the other claw and threw him away with wrath like dirt that had collected there.
  • (V. 3.) - As if bearing the jaws like a beautiful conch and the tongue like a sword, with the face burning like the discus (and) with the eye- brows (as if carrying) the mace, this form of Vishnu born for devouring, like sins, the demons, presented the appearance of the god of death
  • (V. 4.) - There was the unequalled crest- jewel of the lunar race, whose wealth was wonderful on earth, just as the origin of the moon was miraculous and whose dignity was commensurate with his devotion to the lord of goblins (Siva). He was indeed of manifold virtues, (and) famous on tie earth by the name of (Chandraguptaraja).
  • (V. 5.) - This task is very difficult, this path before (me) insurmountable. I have no guide nor (have I) any friend (who can) share the burden (with me). I accomplish this single-handed
  • (V. 6.) - Even his elder brother shining with regal power, became his follower in battles and (through him) mighty, like him whose weapon is the plough (Balarama), who likewise followed the killer of Kamsa (Krishna) in tearing up the mighty elephants of his unassailable enemy.
  • (V. 7.) - In bravery, a lion killing the elephants with (swelling) frontal globes, rendered dull by the cries (due to) excessive rut, with fodder placed in their mouths, or the trunks hanging down, is like a dog and cannot stand comparison with the king destroying (his) enemies blooming with the prosperity of their treasures, prowess, race and statesmanship.

  • (V. 8.) - Of him, the lord of the rulers of the earth, was born a son famous in the world (who was) a very treasure of jewels, (who had) a large number of undivided allies and (who was) high in character, (thus) resembling the high Maināka hill -which is the offspring of the lord of mountains, viz. the Himadri (mountain), has extensive wings which are unclipped and is a mine of jewels.
  • (V. 9.) - At the time of his birth, the goddess of wealth was transported with joy saying 'It is a long time since I found such a suitable place for myself,' Ever filled with joy (harsha) and verily inaccessible to grief he accordingly bore the name sri Harshagupta.
  • (V. 10.) - His precious days passed in enjoying all the sensuous objects, (they were) indefatigably applied in the path of virtue, and unceasingly (spent) in good assemblies ; they never went fruitless (when employed) in the destruction of hostile power and were uninterruptedly devoted in the service of the elders. Thus they always caused wonder in (the performance of) many pleasing duties simultaneously.
  • (V. 11.) - His enemies' town is hated by the spectators as the walls are crushed to powder, all the joints are separated in various ways, the limbs of the streets are also torn as under, and on all sides there is an exhibition of dry bones. (They exclaim) 'what is to be seen here ? How has the variegated appearance oven of the entrance (of the town) disappeared ?' Thus (saying) (the spectators) hate it like a bad, drama destitute of interest even in the prologue, with torn curtains (bhitti), disjointed incidents, broken dialogues and dry plot.
  • (V. 12.) - From him was born king Mahāśivagupta truly renowned as an incarnation of virtue .(dharmāvatara), who conquered the earth with (his) younger brother Raṇakesarin as did Pritha's first sou (Yudhishthira) with the aid of his younger brother Bhima who was like a lion in battle.
  • (V. 13.) - Indeed ! greater than even his grandfather (as he is) he would beat even his teacher in battle with his prowess and strength ; who would therefore be his vanquisher (karttana)? The crowd of enemies considering him Balarjuna, (to be) an all-conqueror amongst practisers of arms, gave up the hope even for their lives (as they had done) already for their wealth [like the foes of Arjuna (i.e. the sons of Dhritarashtra) who first gave up their hope for wealth when they found that young Arjuna promised to excel Bhishma and surpass Drona in prowess. What was Karna before him in the practice of weapons !]
  • (V. 14.) - He who took deceptive forms for destroying the enemies, who was born black (Krishna) on this (earth) and who again becomes in the future also sinful (Kalki) that Hari (Vishnu) could not really stand comparison with him who kills his enemies without practising any deception, who bears the utmost whiteness and who has no sinful motives.
  • (V. 15.) - Of that lord of men, the conqueror in fierce battles, the illustrious Vāsaṭā was the mother, like the very mane (saṭā) of the man-lion form (of Vishnu) bewildering the minds (even) of wise men (and of the gods), just like the mother of him who rides the peacock (Kartikeya), the daughter of the mountain. (viz. Parvati).
  • (V. 16.) - Born in the unblemished family of the Varmans great on account of (their) supremacy over Magadha, the illustrious (and) pious king Sūryavarmā who had caused trembling in the hearts of the gods by his virtuous acts, having got this daughter, obtained the very proud honour of being the father-in-law of the great lord (Parameshvara) of the East, like Himāchala (who obtained before a similar honour by marrying his daughter Parvati to the great god (Paramesvara), Siva).
  • (V. 17.) - Even after (her) lord went, in heaven, in spite of her always observing fasts and austerities, which cause leanness (of the, body), her unaltered limbs retained their natural charming grace.
  • (V. 18.) - She, like the Vedas, was the shelter to the people belonging to four varnas (castes) and ashramas (or) like Policy to a kingdom, like Wisdom (her self) in deciding between truth and falsehood, (and) the goddess of Wealth herself to the greedy. The spread of all sins was checked by her and the earth that was about in abandon her fidelity (by vowing so to speak Kali age) was again reminded by her, as a friend, of him krita for the sake of of reunion [as a lady's maid reminds her mistress of (of her husbands) acts to bring about a union (between them) when somewhat disturbed.]
  • (V. 19.) - By whom Kali during his own regime (i.e. the Kali age) was dishonoured, that Kali who boasted of having access over to Damayanti in olden times.
  • (V. 20.) - By whom this eternal abode of the lord Hari was caused to be made, to show exactly (the abode Vaikunthah) where her deceased lord lived worshipping daily the imperishable (Vishnu in the heavens)
  • (V. 21.) - Oh, kings ! do not turn your mindsu to sins, seeing what has been clearly described of this wonderful world (Samsara) under the guise of the temple (i.e.) the diversity of acts of all creatures high and low - with cage-like, bodies (passing) through various stages of existence from the celestial beings (downwards).
  • (V. 22.) - This itself tells the kings the appropriate fate of destruction and protection (of charity) by (the waving of) its flags (tossed) by by the unsteady wind, in one moment going down, and in another rising up towards the sky.
  • (V. 23) - On the very bank of (this) ocean of the world, the great boat of dharma has been placed to cross it. This must be protected by kings. Neglected (?) would sink down.
  • (V. 24) - O (future) kings ! (now) listen to the perpetuation which the poet Chintā-turāṅka Īśāna, author of the prasasti, submits to you for the protection of it (i.e. the charity).
  • (7.25.) - Tōḍāṅkaṇa, Madhuveḍha, Nālīpadra, Kurapadra and in thin place (sthāna) Vāṇapadra those five villages are given.
  • (V. 26.) - Of these (village) three shares have been divided in three ways for (the maintenance of) the almshouse, the repair of breaks and cracks (in the temple) and the support of the servants of the sanctuary (one share being allotted for each of the purposes).
  • (V. 27.) - The fourth share has been divided into fifteen parts these are 9for) twelve Brahmanas, four for each Veda.
  • (V. 28.) - Brahma - Trivikrama, Arka and another Vishnudevu, as well as Mahiradeva (are) the four best learned in the Rigveda.

  • (V. 29.) - Similarly, Kapardōpādhyāya, Bhaskara, Madhusudana and Vedagarbha (are) the four fully conversant with the Yajurveda.
  • (V. 30.) - Again, Bhaskaradeva, Sthiropādhyāya, Trailokyahamsa and Mouḍḍha (are) the four accomplished in the Samaveda.
  • (V. 31.) - Their sons and grandsons (who succeed them) should be such as offer sacrifice to fire and know the six supplements of the Vedas, who are not addicted to gambling, prostitutes and such other (bad associations), who have their mouths clean (apittaka) and who are not servants.
  • (V. 32.) - If one does not answer to this description, (he should be abandoned) ; also one who dies sonless -in their places must be appointed other Brahmanas possessing the foregoing qualifications.
  • (V. 33.) - He should be their relative, advanced in age while being learned. He should be appointed by their consent alone and not by order of the king.
  • (V. 34.) - Further, (there are) the Brahmana Vāsavanandin who at sacrifices declares holidays and the two Bhāgavatas by name Vāmana and Sridhara.
  • (V. 35.) - These fifteen parts, (the alienation of which is) prohibited by gift, sale and mortgage, must all be (thus) enjoyed by virtuous men. The writer of this is Ārya-Goṇṇa.
  • (V. 36.) - The village which is on a low level and is known as Vargullaka is separately given (as a supplementary contribution) for the maintenance of the almshouse, for bali, charu and nivedya to the god.
  • (V. 37.) - All the transactions should be performed unanimously by the principal Brahmanas (resident there), and the worshippers (pādamūla) meeting together.
(V. 38.) Oh kings ! protect this organization. Let this arrangement of mutual obligation continue (for ever). Alas ! what indeed, will be the future of your fame !
(V. 39.) - The establishment of (the places of) puṇya (i.e. almshouses, etc.) by those who destroy the (deeds of) glory of others is just like an elephant-bath (throwing dust on one's own head) or an axe for (cutting one's) feet. Therefore, seeing that riches are as fickle as the eyes of an intoxicated woman, it is better to follow the path of virtue and......
(V. 40.) - He who was distinguished for the nobility of his character and family and whose name was Kedāra, became the helmsman of the boat of virtue in the ocean of existence for the queen and got this great receptacle of religious merit built completely.
(V. 41.) - The illustrious king Śivagupta..... the three worlds, gave to Gōṇarya-Bhaṭṭa .....
(V. 42.) - One part of this (gift) which is to be enjoyed by a virtuous Brahmana is reserved for one who is well read in the Sastras and (their) commentaries, as well as the Vedas and is of excellent character.

B S Dahiya on Sirpur Prasasti

Bhim Singh Dahiya[5] writes that It was therefore, not "on account of the low social status of his mother, that Samudragupta was not regarded as an Aryan" but because he himself was, in the eyes of the orthodox Hindus-a Vratya (impure, foreigner) and it was by their force of arms and heroic deeds that they got, not only Agrani Kshatriya (leading warrior) status. but also compelled historians to term their period, as the Golden Age of Indian history. That is why in the above mentioned incidents, the Dharans had to repeat that they were "Arya" and "Kshatriyas". Mahashivagupta, king of Central India, wrote this fact in his Sirpur Prasasti.[6]


Sirpur Gandhesvara temple Inscription of Sivagupta

(In situ.)

Sirpur, whose old name was Sripura (the city of wealth), was once the capital of Mahakosala or Chhattisgarh and contained a large number of temples which have all fallen, the only exceptions being the Lakshmana and Gandhesvara temples. The latter was repaired by the Bhonslas who took all kinds of old material from the ruins of other temples and used it in making the mahamandapa. We therefore find here a number of inscriptions, some of which do not really belong to this temple. Under the present circumstances they have all to be described as Gandhesvara temple inscriptions.

Altogether there are six inscriptions, of which perhaps 2 or 3 only may be said to belong to Gandhesvara temple. The one inscription which specifically mentions the name Gandharvesvara is built into the plinth (on the right side as you enter). It records the arrangement made for the offerings of flowers for the puja of Gandhesvara by one Jejuraka, a subject of prince Siva Gupta in whose kingdom pious people lived. These were to be supplied by malts of Navahatta (new market). The latter may have been a quarter of Sirpur, if not a separate village.

Underneath this record there is a second inscription , one of a similar purport, but giving the genealogy of Siva Gupta. It states that two persons, Nagadeva and Kesava, assigned certain funds for providing garlands of flowers for the worship of Siva by contributions from the gardeners living in the town of Sripura. By way of introduction it is stated that Sivagupta, also styled Balarjuna, was a son of Harshagupta, the son of Chandragupta, who was a son of Nannadeva, also called Nannesvara, the son of Indrabala, who was a son of the prince Udayana, of the family of Sasadhara ' the moon" i.e., of the lunar race ; not as has been stated elsewhere, in consequence of a misreading, 'of the race of Savaras, or of the Savara lineage.' The genealogy of these kings has been discussed in the Sirpur (Lakshmana temple inscription above. The Sripura of this record is the present Sirpur as shown elsewhere.

The third inscription is on the top of the first. It is incomplete, the first portion having altogether disappeared. The names of the composer and engraver remain. The first was Sumangala, son of Taradatta, and the second Sutradhara Rishigana.

The fourth inscription is engraved on a slab built into the floor at the entrance, It is also in praise of Siva, and mentions the name of Balarjuna, which was another name of Sivagupta. It also appears to refer to offerings of flowers as the malakaras (gardeners) of Pranavahattaka are mentioned. Apparently the Pranavahattaka of this record is the same as Navahattaka of the third inscription noted above.

The fifth one is a pillar bearing inscriptions on 3 sides. They are long records, but much mutilated. In the fourth line of the northern face occurs the name of Sivagupta, and further on it is stated that he obtained the title of Balarjuna by his skill in the use of arrows by which he killed his enemies. In line 14 Sripuri is mentioned, and in line 20 Srimangala, who was apparently the composer of the record. The latter may be identical with the Sumangala of the 3rd inscription noted above. The western face is much too worn to give any information. The eastern face mentions Sivagupta and Balarjuna in lines 4 and 5 respectively.

The sixth inscription is on another pillar opposite to the one described above. On its western face there is a very long record of 54 lines in small letters. It is very much worn. It appears to be a grant of a village, as the word gramo(?) occurs in line 40 and at the end there are imprecatory verses. The inscription on its western face is as bad, and the only name that can be made out is Balarjuna in line 5.

References - Indian Antiquary, Volume XVI II, page 179 ff. ; Cunningham's Archaeological Reports Volume XVII, page 25 ; Cousens' Progress Report, 1904, page 49 ff.

Sirpur Buddha Image Inscription - (In situ) - In the compound of the Gandhesvara temple there is a large image of Buddha with a halo, upon which is engraved the Buddhist confession of faith in letters of the 8th or 9th Century A. D., and runs as follows : :"In The Tathagata (Buddha) explained the cause of those matters which spring from a cause and the mode of its destruction. This was what the great Ascetic taught."

This formulates Buddha's method of salvation. He traced the misery of worldly existence to certain causes and showed how to counteract them and thus attain the highest bliss.

Sirpur Surang mound stone Inscription (Deposited in the Raipur Museum) - This stone is very much damaged. It refers to King Sivagupta of Sirpur. The engraver's name appears to be Siladitya. (Cunningham's Arch&ological Reports Volume XVII, page 27 ; and Cousens' Progress Report, 1904, page 48.)


SIRPUR RIVER GATE-WAY INSCRIPTION. (In situ.) - On the top of the retaining wall outside the river gate-way of the Gandhesvara temple there is a slab with an inscription in Sanskrit; which seems to record the name of Prince Devanandi and the name of the engraver as Gonna who was apparently the same Gonna mentioned in Sirpur Lakshmana temple inscription as above. (Cousens' Progress Report, 1904, page 50.)

Excavations

It was first excavated after independence by Dr. M.G. Dixit from 1953 to 1955 on behalf of M.P. Govt. and University of Sagar. He discovered the famous Anand Prabhu Kuti Vihar and Swastik Vihar and also Siva temples and Jaina viharas, later from 2000 A.D. On behalf of Bodhisatva Nagarjuna smarak sanstha va Anusandhan kendra Shri A.K. Sharma excavated nine sites which yielded Shiva temples, Buddha Viharas with most equisite sculptures and 2.0 m tall sitting monalithic Buddha images and a huge palace complex of 6th cent. A.D. right on the bank of Mahanadi. Since this season (2004-2005) excavation has been continued by Shri Sharma a behalf of Deptt. of Culture, Govt. of Chhattisgarh. This season ten sites have been excavated yielding three Shiva temples, four residential complexes, palace complex a huge Buddha Vihara and most important the Torana Dwar of Surang Teela and a unique pyramidical temple.

The temple Torana Dwara is a unique in Chhattisgarh. The Pyramidical temple 17.0 x 17.0 m is built in five tiers has two garbha-grihas, the west one housing Siva linga and the eastern one housing a 1.10 m tall standing Vishnu image. In the centre of the two garbha-griha the unique Dhyana Tantra, a fine example of Tantrism is present. This type of temple is discovered for the first time in India where the sculptures of Saivism and Vairsnavism have been installed in one temple.

Excavation have yield apart from a number of most beautiful Sculptures, many stone inscriptions, pottery dating back to 2nd cent. B.C. revealing that Sirpur was flourishing right from 2nd cent. B.C. In one of the Siva temples images of 'Baiga' have been engraved showing that the Indigenous people were followers of Hindu religion.So far 184 mounds have been located in an area of 5.0 x 4.0 kms. The layout or the excavated buildings shows that the whole city was planned strictly following the norms of Vastu sastra, as none of the religious and residential buildings face south. To the south cheif house. Another noteworthy features is the presence of a 'Bhandara-griha i.e. a room on the south- western corner of the house which served as a grainary as it has no door and was approached from ceiling. This tradition still continues in Chhattisgarh villages. All the residential complexes are double storeyed.

A 1.8-metre Shivalinga in sirpur, believed to be the tallest in the state, has been found during the recent excavations. The Laxman temple in Sirpur is one of the finest brick temples in the country. Its construction style proves to be a turning point in the temple architecture in the 7th century. Apart from the nine room unique area, one more Buddha vihar with underground rooms and a six foot Buddha statue was also discovered here.

While excavating a huge palace like complex was found in this area. With it a big layer of charcoal was found and so the archaeologists think that this place was burnt down or was an accident. Some of them think that Sirpur was invaded because the trade was affected. Sirpur had been an important port for the trade route. It was on the way from a big port of Allahabad to another big port in Chhattisgarh. Since the traders had to pay more tax due to the smaller ports like Sirpur on the way, they diverted their route and the trade collapsed in Sirpur.

Baleshwar Mahadev temple Sirpur - One surprising thing was found here and that is animal sex. This is not found even on the walls of Khajuraho. This is the rarest of carvings seen in Indian archaeology, according to the archaeologists. It was also believed that the society became sex centric which is evident from these carvings on the walls. Evidences have also came to the light that important buildings were fortified and had cow sheds in the west. Buddhist nunery was also fortified and has its own tank. Each building had covered underground drainage system indicating high degree of sanitation in Sirpur. The layout of the complex show that roads were wide. Palace had its kitchen on north-west corner and was approached by a ramp. As per description of Chinese traveller Huen-Tsang who visited Sirpur in 643 A.D. the king was very generous and respected all the religions, ie. Hindusim, Buddhism and Jainism. It was a great centre of learning and pupil from South-East Asia visited Sirpur for advance education. The Vishnudutta during the time of famous king Maha Sivagupta Teevardev. The unique star-shaped garbha-griha Panchayatan temple was built by Mahasiva gupta Balarjun. As Sirpur has a unique location and the bank of Mahanadi with hundreds of mounds surrounded by thick reserve forest and of site of National importance it has all the potentialities to be developed and declare as world heritage site having eco-friendly atmosphere. It was the centre of unique Culture, history, architecture and iconography.

Sirpur is undoubtedly in area and population were than double the size of Nalanda. Huen-Tsang in his ‘Travellogue’ writes that at Sirpur at a time ready 10,000 students were studying Buddhism. This is attested by the presence of a large number of Buddha Viharas which are double storeyed. The uniqueness of Sirpur is that except for large temple, most of them were built by devotees. Govt. of Chhattisgarh is taking all steps to develop Sirpur as a prime heritage tourist site not only of Chhattisgarh but also of India where people can actually feel the presence of past and dream of future in a calm atmosphere.

सिरपुर का इतिहास

पुण्य सलिला महानदी के तट पर स्थित सिरपुर का अतित सांस्कृतिक, समृध्दि तथा वास्तुकला के लालित्य सें ओतप्रोत रहा है। सिरपुर प्राचीन काल में श्रीपुर के नाम से विख्यात रहा है तथा पाण्डुवंशीय शासकों के काल में इसे दक्षिण कोसल की राजधानी होने का गौरव प्राप्त रहा है। सिरपुर की प्राचीनता का सर्वप्रथम परिचय शरभपुरीय शासक प्रवरराज तथा महासुदेवराज के ताम्रपत्रों से उपलब्ध होता है जिनमें श्रीपुर से भूमिदान दिया गया था। पाण्डुवंशीय शासकों के काल में सिरपुर महत्तवपुर्ण राजनैतिक एवं सांस्कृतिक केंद्र के रूप में प्रतिष्ठित हुआ महाशिवगुप्त बालार्जुनों के 57 वर्षीय सुदिर्घ शासनकाल में यहां अनेक मंदिर, बौध्द विहार, सरोवर तथा उद्यानों का निर्माण करवाया गया। सातवीं सदी ईस्वी में चीन के महान पर्यटक तथा विध्दान ह्वेनसांग ने सिरपुर की यात्रा की थी। उस समय यहां लगभग 100 संघाराम थे तथा महायान संप्रदाय के 10000 भिक्षु निवास करते थे। महाशिवगुप्त बालार्जुन ने स्वयं शैवमतावलंबी होते हुए भी बौध्द विहारों को उदारतापूर्वक प्रचुर दान देकर संरक्षण प्रदान किया था। यहाँ मुख्य दर्शनीय स्थल हैं -

लक्ष्मण मंदिर - यह मंदिर ईटों से निर्मित भारत के सर्वोत्ताम मंदिरों में से एक है। अलंकार सौंदर्य मौलिक अभिप्राय तथा निर्माण कौशल की दृष्टि से यह अपूर्व है। लगभग 7 फुट ऊंचे पाषाण निर्मित जगती पर स्थित यह मंदिर अत्यंत भव्य है। पंचरथ प्रकार का यह मंदिर गर्भगृह, अंतराल तथा मंदिर के बाहय भित्तियों में कुट-द्वार तथा वातायन आकृति, चैत्य गवाक्ष, भारवाहकगण, गज, कीर्तिमुख एवं कर्ण आमलक आदि अभिप्राय दर्शनीय है। मंदिर का प्रवेश द्वार अत्यंत आकर्षक है। द्वारशीर्ष पर शेषदायी विष्णु प्रदर्शित है। उभय द्वारशाखा पर विष्णु के प्रमुख अवतार, कृष्ण लीला के दृश्य, अलंकरणात्मक प्रतीक, मिथुन, दृश्य तथा वैष्णव द्वारपालों का अंकन है। गर्भगृह के भीतर नागराज शेष की बैठी हुई सौम्य प्रतिमा रखी है। लक्ष्मण मंदिर का निर्माण महाशिवगुप्त बाजार्जुन की माता वासटा ने अपने दिवंगत पति की स्मृति में करवाया था। वासटा का मगध के राजा सूर्यवर्मन की पुत्री थी। अभिलेखनिय साक्ष्य के आधार पर इस मंदिर का निर्माण काल ईस्वी 650 के लगभग मान्य है।

गंधेश्वर मंदिर - महानदी के तट पर स्थित इस मंदिर का प्रचीन नाम गंधेश्वर था। यह सतत पूजित शिव मंदिर है। इसका निर्माण प्राचीन मंदिरों एवं विहारों से प्राप्त स्थापत्य खण्डों से किया गया है। स्थापित्यकला की दृष्टि से इस मंदिर का विशेष महत्तव नही है। मंदिर परिसर में विभिन्न भग्नावशेषों से संग्रहीत अनेक कलात्मक प्रतिमायें सरंक्षित कर रखी गई है। इनमें भूमिस्पर्श मुद्रा में बुध्द, नटराज, उमा-महेश्वर, वराह, वामन, महिषासुरमर्दिनी आदि की प्रतिमायें अत्यंत कलात्मक है। गंधेश्वर मंदिर की द्वारशाखा पर शिव लीला के विविध दृश्यों में रावण के शीर्ष पर गदर्भ निर्मित है। विभिन्न पर्वो तथा मेला के समय यहां अत्याधिक दर्शनार्थी आते है।

बौध्द विहार - बौध्दधर्म से संबंधित अवशेषों की दृष्टि से सिरपुर विशेष महत्वपूर्ण है। उत्खनन कार्य से यहां दो बौध्द विहार के अवशेष प्रकाश में आये हैं विहारों के निर्माण में मुख्य रूप से ईटों का उपयोग किया गया है। इन विहारों की तल योजना में गुप्तकालीन मंदिर तथा आवासीय भवन निर्माण कला का सुंदर समन्वय है। विहार में प्रमुख स्थाविर तथा अन्य भिक्षुओं के ध्यान, अध्ययन-अध्यापन तथा निवास की सुविधा थी। इन विहारों के मुख्य कक्ष में भगवान बुध्द की भूमिस्पर्श मुद्रा में लगभग साढे छं फुट ऊंची प्रतिमा प्रस्थापित है। इनके अतिरिक्त्ता अवलोकितेश्वर तथा मकरवाहिनी गंगा भी मिली है।

यहां के प्रमुख विहार से मिले अभिलेख से ज्ञात होता है कि महाशिवगुप्त बालार्जुन के राजत्वकाल में आनंदप्रभु नामक भिक्षु ने इसका निर्माण करवाया था। इस मठ में निवास के लिए 14 कमरे थे। यह विहार दो मंजिला था। विहार के सम्मुख तोरणद्वार था जिसके दोनों और द्वारपालों की प्रतिमायें रही है। अभिलेख के आधार पर इस विहार का नामकरण आनंदप्रभु कुटी विहार किया गया है। इसी के सन्निकट एक अन्य ध्वस्त विहार भी उत्खन्न से प्रकाश में बाया है। तल योजना के आधार पर इसे स्वास्तिक विहार के नाम से जाना जाता है। यहां पर भी भूमिस्पर्श मुद्रा में बुध्द की प्रतिमा प्रस्थापित है। सिरपुर से बौध्दधर्म से संबंधित पाषाण प्रतिमाओं के अतिरिक्त्ता धातु प्रतिमायें तथा मृण्मय पुरावशेष भी उपलब्ध हुए हैं।

राम मंदिर - लक्ष्मण मंदिर से कुछ दूरी पर पूर्व की ओर ईटों से निर्मित एक भग्न तथा जीर्ण -शीर्ण मंदिर अवशिष्ट है। यह राममंदिर के नाम से प्रसिध्द है। इस मंदिर के ऊर्ध्व विन्यास में कोण तथा भुजाओं के संयोजन से निर्मित प्रतिरथ ताराकृति की रचना करतें है। इस कलात्मक मंदिर का संपूर्ण शिखर नष्ट हो चुका है तथा भग्न प्राय: भित्तियां बच रहे है। लक्ष्मण मंदिर तथा राम मंदिर के निर्माण में कुछ दशकों का अंतराल है।

संग्रहालय - लक्ष्मण मंदिर परिसर में भारतीय पुरातत्वीय सर्वेक्षण विभाग द्वारा स्थापित संग्रहालय में सिरपुर से प्राप्त अनेक दुर्लभ प्रतिमांए तथा स्थापित्य खण्ड संरक्षित कर रखी गयी है। ये कलाकृतियां शैव, वैष्णव, बौध्द तथा जैन धर्म से संबधित है। ऐसी ही एक अंगडाई लेती हुई नायिका की प्रतिमा में सौंन्दर्य, अनुराग तथा चपलता का अद्भुत सामंजस्य है। काले पाषाण से निर्मित चतुर्मख शिवलिंग के प्रशांत मुख पर लास्य के भाव है। उनके कंठ तथा जटा-जूट में मुक्ताहार गुंफित है। केशीवध को प्रदर्शित करती हुई प्रतिमा में कृष्ण तथा अश्व का अंकन अत्यंत प्रभावोत्पादक है। महिषासुरमर्दिनी प्रतिमा में देवी के अनुग्रह तथा संहारक शक्ति की व्यंजना है। इनके अतिरिक्त यहां अनेक प्रतिमायें प्रदर्शित हैं। जिनमें नृसिंह, अंबिका, चामुंडा, विष्णु, वराह, सूर्य प्रतिमा के भाग, शिशु सहित मातृका, तीर्थकार पार्श्वनाथ, दुर्गा, नाग पुरूष तथा बुध्द विशेष महत्वपूर्ण है। सिरपुर से संग्रहित नाग पुरूष की एक मानवाकार प्रतिमा रायपुर संग्रहालय में भी प्रदर्शित है।

धातु प्रतिमायें - सातवीं-आठवी सदी ईस्वी में सिरपुर धातू प्रतिमांओं के निर्माण के केन्द्र के रूप में स्थापित हो चुका था, इस काल में सिरपुर महायान धर्म का प्रसिध्द केंद्र था। सिरपुर में सर्वप्रथम 1939 में धातु प्रतिमाओं का भण्डार प्राप्त हुआ था। यहां से प्राप्त धातु प्रतिमायें रायपुर, नागपुर, नई दिल्ली स्थित संग्रहालयों तथा मुम्बई के भारतीय विद्या भवन में संरक्षित है। सिरपुर से प्राप्त धातु प्रतिमाओं का प्रदर्शन इंग्लैंड, जर्मनी तथा अमेरिका में किया जा चुका है।

सिरपुर की धातु प्रतिमाओं में श्री एवं शील का अद्भुत संतुलन है। यहां से प्राप्त धातु प्रतिमाओं में बुध्द, अवलोकितेश्वर पद्मपाणि, वज्रपाणि, मंजूश्री, तारा आदि के अतिरिक्त ऋषभनाथ तथा प्रतिमायें भी उपलब्ध हुई है। इन प्रतिमाओं के प्रदीप्त मुख, अर्ध निमीलित नेत्र, वरद मुद्रा युक्त हथेली की अंगुलियों एवं परिधान के तरंगवत सिलवटों में आध्यात्मिक सौंदर्य के साथ कला का चरमोत्कर्ष व्याप्त है।

1. बौध्द विहार -(तीवरदेव महाविहार) - दक्षिण कोसल अब तक सबसे बडे विहार के रूप में परिगणित तीवरदेव बौध्द विहार अरूण कुमार शर्मा महोदय को उत्खनन के दौरन प्राप्त हुआ। यह बौध्द विहार कसडोल जाने वाले मार्ग पर दाहिनी और लक्ष्मण मंदिर से लगभग 1 कि. मी. पूर्व स्थित है। वस्तुत: यह पुरा क्षेत्र एक बौध्द सांस्कृतिक संकुल ही है क्योंकी इसी परिसर में अन्य विहार भी स्थित है। किन्तु तीवर देव महाविहार अपनी विशालता, भव्यता, अद्भुत शिल्प कौशल की दृष्टि से अद्वितीय है। उत्खनन के दौरान प्राप्त अभिलेखीय साक्ष्यों के आधार पर उत्खननकर्ता द्वारा इसे तीवर देव महाविहार के नाम से अभिहित किया गया है। बौध्द महाविहार लगभग 902 वर्ग मी. परिक्षेत्र में निर्मित है, जिसे लगभग दो भागों में विभाजित किया जा सकता है। प्रथम विहार के मध्य में 16 अलंकृत प्रस्तर स्तंभो वाला मण्डप है। जिसका आकार 8.6 गुणा 7.6 मी है. इस विहार की सबसे बडी विशेषता इसका अत्यंत अलंकृत प्रवेशद्वार है, जिसे देखकर बौध्द विहार की अपेक्षा किसी मंदिर के गर्भगृह क प्रवेशद्वार की द्वार शाखाओं स्मरण होती है। इस विहार के प्रवेश द्वार के शिल्पांकन में सार्वधिक महत्वपुर्ण पशु मैथुन का दृश्य है जिसमें हाथियो को मैथुन मुद्रा में प्रदर्शित किया गया है इस लिए भी रोचक एवं जिज्ञासावर्ध्दक है कि प्राय: बौध्द विहारों में ऐसे शिल्पांकन का अभाव है। इसी प्रकार पंचतंत्र वर्णित मगरमच्छ एवं वानर की कथा का उत्कीर्णन भी अत्यंत महत्वपूर्ण है। तथा मंगोलियाई, हाव-भाव युक्त नारी मूर्तियां भी आकर्षण का केन्द्र है।

2. शिव मंदिर समूह ( शिव मंदिर क्रमांक 1 )

सन 1953-54 में स्व. दीक्षित महोदय के निर्देशन में लक्ष्मण मंदिर के उत्तारी पार्श्व में लगभग 300 मी. दूर स्थित इस विशल टीले का उत्खनन किया गया । जिससे उन्हें प्त्रचायतन शैली के शिव मंदिर की प्राप्ति हुई । यह 8 10 फीट ऊंचे, प्रस्तर खण्डों द्वारा निर्मित अधिष्ठान पर स्थित था। जिसमें लगभग साढे चार फुट ऊँचा शिलिंग स्थापित है। जिसके सम्मुख ईटों की दो कोठरियां थी। स्व. दीक्षित महोदय के अनुसार प्रत्येक पार्श्व में 2-2 अन्य छोटी प्रतिमांण भी थी जिसके आधार पर उन्होंने इसे पज्चायतन शैली के मन्दिरों में ( मुख्य देवालय केन्द्र में तथा चारों कोनो पर एक-एक देवालय होता है) सम्मिलित मानते हैं।

शिव मंदिर क्रमांक -2 - यह आन्नद प्रभु कुटी विहार के समीप सिरपुर से सेनकपाट जाने वाले मार्ग पर भग्नावस्था में स्थित है। यह शिव मंदिर भी स्व. दीक्षित को उत्खनन में प्राप्त हुआ था। वर्तमान में मंदिर का गर्भगृह, शिवलिंग सहित अंतराल एवं मण्डप दृष्टव्य है।

शिव मंदिर क्रमांक 3 - सन् 1999-2000 में डॉ. जोशी एवं र्श्मा महोदय द्वारा संपादित उत्खनन के फलस्वरूप् ज्ञात एवं शेष मंदिर इष्टिका निर्मित है। पंचस्थ शैली में निर्मित इस मंदिर की मात्र भूयोजना अवशेष है। अर्थात शिखर आदि वर्तमान में अनुपलब्ध है। मंदिर की योजना में मुख्य गर्भगृह,अन्तराल एवं मण्डप है। मंदिर का अधिष्ठान सं जंघा तक का भाग प्रस्तर एवं मण्डप है। मंदिर का अधिष्ठान से जंघा तक का भाग प्रस्तर एवं शेष इष्टिका निर्मित है। गर्भगृह में योनिपीठ में चार फीट ऊंचा शिलिंग स्थापित है। इसके अतिरिक्त मंदिर में अन्य शिलिंग एवं परम्परागत प्रणालिका भी दिखाई देती है।

पंचायतन बालेश्वर महादेव मंदिर - बोधिस्त नागार्जुन स्मारक संस्था व अनुसंधान केनद्र मनसर (नागपुर) द्वारा श्री कुमार शर्मा महोदय के संचालन ( 2003-04) में सम्पन्न हुए उत्खनन में इस महत्वपूर्ण शैव मंदिर की प्राप्ति हुई है।

लक्ष्मण मंदिर से लगभग 1 कि. मी. पहले बाएँ पार्श्व में यह पचायतन शिव मंदिर स्थित है। वस्तुत : तारकाकार तल योजना के आधार पर निर्मित यह युगल मंदिर है, जो पृथक पृथक काले प्रस्तर खंडों द्वारा निर्मित अधिष्ठोनों पर स्थित है। मंदिरो के नामकरण के संदर्भ में उल्लेखनीय है कि उत्खनन के दौरन शिवगुप्त राजस लेख युक्त की मिटटी के छाप मिलने से एवं महाशिवगुप्त की बालार्जुन उपाधि एवं असके ताम्रपत्र में उल्लिखित बालेश्वर मंदिर के आधार पर उत्खनकर्ता द्वारा यह नामकरण किया गया है। पश्चिमभिमुख निर्मित इस युगल शिव मंदिर के चारों कोनों पर एक-एक अन्य मंदिर के अवशेष मिले हैं, जिसके आधार पर इसे पचायतन शैली के मंदिर से अभिहित किया गया। वस्तुत: पज्चायतन शौली में एक मंदिर तथा शेष उसके चारों कोनों में निर्मित होते है। बालेश्वर मंदिर की लंबाई 22 मी. तथा चौडाई 10 मी. है। मंदिर का जंघा तक का निर्माण सिरपुर के अन्य स्मारको के समान प्रस्तर खण्डों से तथा जंघे से ऊपर इष्टिका (ईटों) द्वारा निर्मित है। मंदिर की निर्माण योजना में गर्भगृह, अंतराल, मण्डप तथा एक से अधिक बरामदों का निर्माण किया गया था। बरामदों को विभाजित करने के लिए दीवारों तथा अष्टकोणीय प्रसतर स्तंभे का उपयोग किया गया है। इन स्तंभों के मध्य अत्यंत अलंकृत युगल एवं सिहं ब्याल आदि की मूर्तियाँ स्थापित की गई है। तथा विभिन्न कथाओं का अंकन है। मंदिर के उत्खनन से प्राप्त मृण-मुद्रा तथा अभिलेख आदि के अध्ययन एवं लिपि शास्त्रीय प्रमाणों के आधार पर इस मंदिर का निर्माण लगभग सातवीं सदी ईस्वी है।

सिरपुर में 26 सौ साल पुराना घंटा मिला

प्राचीन छत्तीसगढ़ (दक्षिण कोशल) की राजधानी रहे सिरपुर में पुरावशेषों की खोदाई के दौरान करीब 2६00 साल पुराना घंटा मिला है। पुरातत्ववेत्ता डा अरुण कुमार शर्मा का दावा है कि यह घंटा ईसा पूर्व तीसरी-चौथी सदी का है। लोहे-तांबे जैसे कठोर धातु से निर्मित इस घंटा का उपयोग तब वाच टावर के पहरेदार द्वारा किया जाता था। प्राचीन भारत के मध्य में स्थित सिरपुर अंतरराष्ट्रीय व्यापार का केंद्र हुआ करता था। यह घंटा और पहरेदार द्वारा उपयोग में लाए जाने वाले हथियारों का सदियों पुराना धातु निर्मित सामग्री सिरपुर में पहली बार मिला है। सिरपुर में पुरावशेष उत्खनन के निदेशक व पुरातत्ववेत्ता डा शर्मा ने 'भास्करÓ को बताया कि सिरपुर में अब तक 38 टीलों की खोदाई हो चुकी है। पुरावशेषों की खोदाई के दौरान प्राचीन सिरपुर की बसाहट और इसके प्राचीन उद्योग नगरी होने का प्रमाण मिला है। यहां खोदाई के दौरान ईसा पूर्व छठवीं शताब्दी में पत्थरों से निर्मित तहखाना और आयुर्वेदिक स्नानागार भी मिला है। जिस स्थान पर यह तहखाना और घंटाघर मिला है, वहीं पर 36 अन्नागार और 9 आयुर्वेदिक स्नानकुंड भी मिले हंै। सदियों पूर्व सिरपुर मध्य भारत की व्यापार नगरी भी रही है। जहां दूर देश से व्यापारी आते थे। महानदी के तट पर स्थित सिरपुर अरब देशों में चावल निर्यात का प्रमुख केंद्र था। डा शर्मा का दावा है कि सूरत बंदरगाह होते हुए सदियों पूर्व अरबदेश के व्यापारी यहां आते थे। तब यहां धातुओं को गलाकर मूर्तियां और आकर्षक बर्तन, जेवरात आदि बनाने का कारोबार होता था। यह घंटाघर इसी व्यावसायिक केंद्र के पास मिला है। पुरातत्ववेत्ता डा शर्मा का कहना है कि पहले समय के ज्ञान के लिए घड़ी जैसे उपकरणों का अविष्कार नहीं हुआ था तब यह घंटाघर ही सिरपुर के व्यवसायियों और यहां के रहवासियों के लिए समय की जानकारी देने का एकमात्र साधन रहा होगा। प्राचीनकाल में घंटा,मिनट और सेकंड के स्थान पर पहर, पल और छिन समय के सूचक हुआ करते थे। रात्रिकाल को चार पहर में बांटा गया था। सिरपुर में मिले इस घंटा को ईसा पूर्व तीसरी-चौथी सदी का होना बताया जा रहा है। मिट्टी में सैकड़ों साल तक दबे रहने और जंग लगने से घंटा जीर्ण अवस्था में है। घंटा के साथ ही दो छोटी घंटियंा भी मिली हैं। बड़े घंटा की लंबाई 33 सेमी, चौड़ाई 26 सेमी और मोटाई 16 सेमी है। सिरपुर में मिले इन पुरावशेषों के आधार पर सिरपुर को कला और संस्कृति के साथ ही प्रमुख व्यापारिक केंद्र होने का दावा किया जा रहा है। [7]

सिरपुर में अष्टधातु की 79 प्रतिमाएं मिलीं

सिरपुर में एक टीले की खुदाई में अष्टधातु की 79 प्रतिमाएं मिली हैं। खुदाई का काम देख रहे भारतीय पुरातत्व सर्वेक्षण के पुरातत्ववेत्ता अरुणकुमार शर्मा ने बताया कि बौद्ध धर्म से संबंधित ये प्रतिमाएं सातवीं शताब्दी के आसपास की हैं। यह पहला मौका है, जब सिरपुर में धातु प्रतिमाएं मिली हैं। इससे पहले सिरपुर में आमतौर पर पाषाण प्रतिमाएं मिलती रही हैं। सिरपुर में प्राचीन शहर श्रीपुर के नगर विन्यास की खोज में टीलों की खुदाई पिछले कई सालों से की जा रही है। एक पखवाड़े पहले टीला क्रमांक 30 और 31 की खुदाई का काम शुरू हुआ। इसमें एक नया बौद्ध विहार मिला। सिरपुर में बौद्ध विहार और गौतम बुद्ध की ध्यान मुद्रा वाली पाषाण प्रतिमाएं मिलती रही हैं।

इसलिए किसी को ज्यादा आश्चर्य नहीं हुआ, पर खुदाई में जब अष्टधातु की एक प्रतिमा मिली तो पुरातत्ववेत्ता भी चौंक गए। इसके बाद खुदाई में अतिरिक्त सावधानी बरती गई। एक के बाद छह इंच से कम लंबी करीब 79 प्रतिमाएं टीले से निकलीं। इसमें भगवान बुद्ध, बोधिसत्व, तारा, मंजूश्री, मैत्रेय, पद्मपाणि, वज्रपाणि, अवलोकितेश्वर, भृकुटि आदि की प्रतिमाएं शामिल हैं।

पुरातत्ववेत्ताओं का अनुमान है कि प्रतिमाएं सातवीं सदी में दक्षिण कोशल की राजधानी 'श्रीपुर' के तत्कालीन कलाकारों द्वारा निर्मित हैं। प्रतिमाओं को ढालने में प्रयोग किए गए कुछ उपकरणों के अवशेष भी खुदाई में मिले हैं। कुछ मूर्तियों पर चांदी की लेयर चढ़ी है। धातु प्रतिमाओं के साथ गौतम बुद्ध की भूस्पर्श मुद्रा वाली करीब तीन फुट ऊंची लाल पत्थर की प्रतिमा भी मिली है। इसके आजू-बाजू बोधिसत्व खड़े हैं।

पुरातत्वविदों के अनुसार सिरपुर में भूस्पर्श ध्यानमुद्रा वाली प्रतिमा पहली बार मिली है। धातु प्रतिमाओं के साथ-साथ महासंग्राम में प्रयुक्त होने वाला धारदार अचूक अस्त्र 'वज्र' भी मिला है। करीब छह इंच लंबा यह अस्त्र कांसे जैसी किसी धातु का बना है। पुरातत्ववेत्ता इसकी ऐतिहासिक पृष्ठभूमि की खोजबीन में जुटे हैं। बताया जाता है कि बोधिसत्व के एक रूप वज्रपाणि द्वारा सातवीं शताब्दी में संग्राम के लिए इस 'वज्र' का उपयोग किया गया था।

टीले में देशभर के विभिन्न स्तूपों और सिरपुर के प्राचीन परिदृश्य का स्तूप माडल भी दबा मिला। इसके आधार पर 'श्रीपुर' की नगर संरचना का अध्ययन कर इसके स्वरूप की बारीकियों को जानने की कोशिश पुरातत्व-विज्ञानी करेंगे। टीले की खुदाई में गड़ा धन मिलने की अफवाह पूरे सिरपुर इलाके में पिछले हफ्ते भर से फैली हुई है। श्री शर्मा ने साफ किया है कि इस तरह की बातों में सत्यता नहीं है। संभव है कि धातु की प्रतिमाओं को किसी ने गड़ा धन समझ लिया हो। [8] [9]

References


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