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Vainyagupta was a king of Gupta dynasty. We know about him from Gunaighar Copper-plate Inscription of Vainyagupta Gupta Year 188 (=A. D. 507).

Interpretation of Vainya

Tej Ram Sharma[1] writes that Vainya is the synonym for the first king Prithu. 109 Hiranand Shastri mentions Vainya as a synonym of Kubera, the god of wealth. According to Sir Richard Burn Vainya was another name of Vajra whom Hiuen Tsang mentions as the son of Baladitya. He chiefly relies on the St. Petersburg dictionary where Vainya is derived from Vena and is connected with Indra; Vajra is the thunderbolt and Vainya is a patronymic from Vena who is Indra.'110' But the suggested identification is extremely far-fetched. Vajra cannot by any stretch of imagination be described as a synonym of Vainya. Moreover, it is difficult to believe that Hiuen Tsang would have referred to the king by such a name in preference of the real name.

In No. 51 ( Nalanda Seal of Vainyagupta), Vainyagupta is mentioned as a paramabhagavata and maharajadhiraja, but in No. 53 (Nalanda Seal of Budhagupta) he is described as a devotee of Lord Shiva (bhagavan mahadevapadanudhyata) and a maharaja only. Some scholars hold the opinion that it shall be wrong to disconnect Vainyagupta from the Gupta family on the basis of the argument that the Guptas were Vaisnavas while Vainyagupta professed to be a Saiva.111 We find both the epithets 'paramabhagavata' and mahadevapadanudhyata' for him in our records.

It is interesting that even his Pādadāsa and Uparika are styled as maharajas (LL.3 and 16). His title Maharaja, therefore, cannot prove that Vainyagupta was an insignificant prince. 112

The legend on No. 51, though partially preserved, resembles in point of style the legend on the other seals of the Imperial Guptas. Here Vainyagupta is specifically called paramabhagavata. Moreover, his name, like those of other kings in the Gupta dynasty ends in the word Gupta. It is thus clear that Vainyagupta belonged to the line of the Imperial Guptas. He seems to have ruled in any case over considerable parts of Bengal and Bihar113 almost immediately after Budhagupta. We do not know anything about the relationship of Vainyagupta with Budhagupta and Bhanugupta of the Eran Inscription of A.D. 510.114 Some scholars assign him a reign of four years before Bhanugupta (A.D.510).115

The regnal period of Vainyagupta witnessed a considerable decline in the power and prestige of the Imperial Guptas. The

Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions 29

rise of the ruling dynasty consisting of Dharmaditya, Gopachandra and Samacharadeva in Central and South-West Bengal in the first half of the sixth Century A.D., possibly points to the extirpation of Gupta rule from Bengal excepting the bhukti (province) of Pundravardhana (North Bengal). 116

Bhim Singh Dahiya identifies that the Vainka of present Central Asia and the Venhval / Benhival Jats are the descendants of Vainya. [2]

Gunaighar Copper-plate Inscription of Vainyagupta Gupta Year 188 (=A. D. 507)

  • (Lines 1-2) Hail! From the victorious camp full of great ships and elephants and horses(1) (situated) at Kripura, the glorious Maharaja Vainyagupta,(2) who meditates on the feet of God Mahadeva, being in good health, issues a command after wishing health to ......, and his own dependents: Be it known to you that
  • (Lines 3-8) For enhancing the religious merits of myself and my parents, on the request of Maharaja Rudradatta, a slave to our feet, in the village of Kantedadaka (कांतेड़दक ग्राम) situated in the "Northern Mandala", eleven Patakas of uncultivated lands in five plots are granted by Me, by means of a copper plate as an Agrahara in absolute possession; for providing perpetually for perfumes, flowers, lights, incense, etc. thrice a day unto the Lord Buddha in the abode of the Vaivarttika congregation of monks (belonging) to the Mahayana, established by the Buddhist monk of the Mahayana, Acaryya Santideva, in the Asrama-'Vihara (dedicated) to Arya-Ava-lokitesvara, which (Vihara) was being constructed in the part of.... by that (king) for the sake of that Acaryya; and for the enjoyment of garments, food, beds, seats, medicines for the sick etc. by that congregation; and also for repairing breaks and cracks in the Vihara.
  • (Lines 8-11) Here again, both veda and smrti (texts) are indeed prescribed.(3) By Reading in the legal text, enjoining special merits both here and hereafter, the sense of

1. The opening expression mahanau etc. occurs in the Gaya plate of Samudragupta (Gupta Ins., p.256) and also in the Banskhera and Madhuban plates of Harsha.
2. Vainya, a spnonym for "the first king" Prthu, is spelt here with the dental nasal as in Rgveda, VIlI. ix, Io. It is now generally spelt with the cerebral (cf.Gupta, Ins., p. 74-- abhijati-gunenavainyam).
3. Apa-vihita is a rare word not found elsewhere.

a (now lost) Vedic text regarding holy gift of lands,(1) and themselves courting even hardships, enemy kings, who (are agreeable to giving) lands to proper persons, should, upon our honour in words and also for themselves acquiring fame) and merits, approve (the grant of) these Patakas unto this Vihara.
  • (Lines 11-14) Regarding keeping up (in future), there are again verses sung by the revered Vyasa, the compiler of the Vedas, and the son of Parasara:--
(v.1) The giver of land rejoices in Heaven for sixty thousand years and he who confiscates and he who assents live in Hell for that period.
(v.2) He who takes away land given by himself or by others rots along with his forefathers becoming a worm in soil.
(v.3) O Yudhishthira, the best of kings, protect carefully the land granted by former (kings) to Brahmins, for, protection is better than the gift itself.
  • (Lines 14-18) In the current year of One Hundred and Eighty-Eight, on the 24th day of the month of Pausa, by the Royal Ambassador, the great Frontier King Maharaja Vijayasena, who is the High Chamberlain, the Officer-in- charge of Elephants, the President of the Board of Five Law Court Officers and President of City Governors, the (royal) command for the gift of these eleven Patakas is made known unto the Kumaramatyas Revajjasvami, Bhamaha and Vatsa-bhojika. (This is) written by Karana-Kayastha Naradatta, who is the Minister in charge of Peace and War.
  • (Lines 18-27) Wherein the first plot of land measuring seven Patakas and nine Dronavapas, the boundary marks are, to the East, the border of the Gunikagrahara village and the field of Engineer Visnu; to the South, the field of Miduvilala(?) (मिदुविलाल-क्षेत्र) and the field belonging to the Royal Vihara; to the West, the Surinasirampurnneka(?) (सूरीनाशीरमपूर्ण्णेक-क्षेत्र) field; to the North, the tank of Dosibhoga,...and the boundaries of the fields of(?) Vampiyaka and Adityabandhu. Of the second plot measur-

1. Reading Smrtam makes much the same sense.

ing tmenty-eight.Dronavapas, the boundaries are, to the East, border of Gunikagrahara village; to the South, the field of Pakkavilala(?); to the West, the field of the Royal Vihara. To the North, the field of Vaidya...... Of the third plot measuring twenty-three Dronavapas the boundaries are to the East, the field of......; to the South, the boundary limit of the field of........; to the West, the field of Jolari (जोलारी-क्षेत्र); to the North, the field of Nagi jodaka (नागी-जोडाक-क्षेत्र). Of the fourth plot of land measuriug thirty Dronavapas, the boundaries are, to the East, the boundary limit of the field of Buddhaka (बुद्धाक-क्षेत्र); to the South, the field of Kalaka (कालाक-क्षेत्र); to the West, the boundary limit of the field of Suryya(सूर्य्य-क्षेत्र); to the North, the field of Mahipala (महिपाल-क्षेत्र) Of the fifth plot of land measuring a couple of Patakas less a quarter, the boundaries are, to the East, the field of Khandaviduggurika (खंडविडुग्गुरिक क्षेत्र); to the South, the field of Manibhadra (मणिभद्र-क्षेत्र); to the West, the boundary limit of the field of Yajnarata; to the North, the boundary limit of the village Nadadadaka (नादड़दक ग्राम).
  • (Lines 27-31) The boundary marks of the low lands(1) belonging to the Vihara are, to the East, the channel between the (two) ports of ships at Cudamani and Nagarasri(2); to the South, the channel, open to ships connnected to the large marshy pond of Ganesvara(3); to the West, the end of the field belonging to the temple of Pradyumnesvara; to the North, the channel (leading) to the port of Pradamara.(4) The boundary marks also of water-logged waste lands pertaining to the right of entrance(5) of this Vihara and paying no

1. For talabhumi cf. tala-pataka in the Khalimpur grant 1.52.
2. There are possibly two place names here: it may also mean "at the town of Cudamani," the epithet Sri is then ill construed with nauyoga.
3. Can it be a place name?
4. Also seems to be a place name rather than that of a person.
5. The word pravesya is difficult to interpret. The meaning suggested by Dr. Sukthankar, following Hultzsch, "that which belongs to the pravesa" (a territorial division), Ep. Ind., XVII, p.106 does

requital (tax)' are to the East, the boundary limit of the field belonging to the temple of Pradyumnesvara; to the South, the limit of the field belonging to the Vihara of the Buddhist monk, Acaryya Jitasena; to the West, the stream(2) Hacata; to the North, the tank of Danda(?).
  • (Line 31) The year 188, the 24th day of Pausa.

1. Pratikara can hardly mean 'the right of alienation'; it may simply mean 'tax' (kara) or better'a state allowance.'
2. Gamga 'a stream' survives in the word gang still current in East Bengal (cf. Dr. S.K. Chatterji :loc. cit. pp.305 and 363).

Note on Gunaighar Grant of Vainyagupta G.E. 188 (AD=507)

The Gunaighar Grant of Vainyagupta: The Year 188 Current (Gupta Era): A newly discovered Copperplate from Tippera [The Gunaighar[3] was found about five years ago while taking out mud from a tank by a villager at Gunaighar, a village about 18 miles to the N.W. of the town of Comilla, a mile and a half to the S. W. of P.S. Debidvar in the district of Tippera. In April, 1928, Mr. Baikunthanath Dutt, the famous antiquarian fo Trippera, coming to know of the discovery, personally went there and after some trouble took a loan of the plate for decipherment. He kindly made over the plate to me. It is written lengthwise on both sides, but not fully on the second side. There are 23 lines on the obverse and only 8 lines on the reverse. The legend which is very much corroded rends:-Maharaja Sri Vai(nyaguptah).

The English equivalent of the date according to the modified views of Mr. Pathak would be December 13, 506 A.D. The plate is thus the earliest record found in East Bengal-- earlier than the four Faridpur plates, with which it bears fruitful comparison, being slightly removed in place and time from them. Language of the plate is Sanskrit and excepting the three usual imprecatory verses in lines 12-14, the entire record is generally in correct prose. The word ksetra is once apparently by mistake used in the masculine (line 19). The doubling of consonants before a subscript r as in manibhadra (line 26) and regularly in the word ksettra (except once in line 29); and the doubling of dh before y as in anuddhyato (line 1) and -rmmaddhye (line 28). From the point of view of Lexicography, we may note the word khata (ll. 28 and 29) meaning 'a channel.' It is evidently the original and the more archaic form of the word khatika whence the Bengali word khadi is derived. Similarly the word jola (still current in several places of Bengal as juli or jola) meaning 'a water-course,' is transformed into jolaka in the Khalimpur grant (1. 43) and is probably connected with jotika also. The word nauyoga is unique and probably means a small harbour for boats. Hajjika is another peculiar word which seems to be the origin of the Bengali word haja (cf. the phrase sukha haja of popular dialects) meaning "water-logged." The word vilala is evidently derived from vila with its peculiar meaning (a large watery hollow) current in Bengal. All these words are found in the same portion of the inscription giving the boundary of low and marshy lands at the end (lines 28-30). It is interesting to notice how these words, mostly non-Sanskritic in origin, survive in modern dialects through a millenium and a half, with very little change in their form or meaning.

The plate records a gift of land from the camp of victory at Kripura by Maharaja Vainyagupta made at the instance of his vassal Maharaja Rudradatta in favour of a Buddhist congregation of monks belonging to the Vaivarttika sect of the Mahayana, which was established by a Buddhist monk, Acaryya Santideva in a Vihara dedicated to Avalokitesvara. Two of these titles are new- "Pancadhikaranoparika- patyuparika, " which we interpret as one word i.e. President of a Board of five (District) Court Judges; and "purapaloparika" i.e, President of City Governors.

The plate thus brings to light the name of a new king Maharaja Vainyagupta, who was reigning in the easternmost; corner of India four years before the earliest known date of Bhanugupta (510 A.D.) and about a quarter of a century before the great: Yasodharman, whose dominions extended up to the Lauhitya. As his appellative shows that he belongs to a distant scion of the Gupta family and he must have declared his independence during the troubled times of Huna supermacy. He was not probably directly connected with the Imperial Guptas, who were Vaisnavas by religion, while Vainyagupta was professedly a Saiva: his emblem is identical with the Saiva emblems of the Maitraka dynasty of Valabhi and of the famous Harshavardhana. His title Maharaja shows that he was not a paramount sovereign; but neither was he a mere petty chief for, besides issuing Royal Seals in his own name, he claims to have under him one "Maharaja as his vassal and another as his Dutaka.

The plate is probably the earliest epigraphic record of a Brahmanic king making a gift of land to a Buddhist monastery.

The total measure of the granted land divided into five plots is II Patakas, comprised in one village named Kanteda daka situated in Uttara Mandala.

The lands were situated near the find place of the plate. The name of the village Gunikagrahara, which can be safely identified with Gunaighar. None of other place-names can be identified now. The fact that these lands were situated in the Northern Mandala may lead us to conjecture that the main kingdom of Vainyagupta with the Headquarters were probably situated in the southern part of the District of Tippera.

Sanskrit Text


1. Svasti Maha-nau-hasty = asva-jayaskandhavarat = Kri-purad = bhagavan = Mahadeva-padanuddhyato Maharaja-Sri-Vainyaguptah

2. kusali(l).....svapadopajivinas = ca kusalam = asamsya samajnapayati viditam bhavatam = astu yatha

3. maya matapittror = atmanas = ca pu(nya)bhivr(ddha)ye smat = padadasa-Maharaja-Rudradatta-vijnapyad = anenaiva Mahayanika-Sakyabhiksv = a-

1 About 8 letters are effaced by corrosion here.

4. caryya-Santidevam = uddisya gopa (?) 1........, gbhage (?) karyyamanakaryyavalokitesvarasrama vihare anenai-

5. vacaryyena pratipadita (ka? ) Mahayanika (?)-Vaivarttika(2) -bhiksusaghanam(3) = parigrahe Bhagavato Buddhasya satatam triskalam

6. gandha-puspa-dipa-dhupadi-pra(4)........sya bhiksusamghasya ca civara-pindapata-sayanasana-glana- pratyaya- bhaisajyadi-

7. paribhogaya vihare(5) (ca) khanda-phutta-pratisamskara- karanaya Uttara-Mandalika-Kantedadaka-grame sarvato bho-

8. genagraharatvenaikadasa-khila-patakah pancabhih kh- and is = tamrapattenatisrstah(||*) Api ca khalu sruti-smrti-.

9. hapavihita (||*) Punya-bhumidana-srutim = aihik = amuttrika-phalavisese smrto (?)(6) bhavatah samupagamya svatastu pi-.

10. dam = apy = urikrtya pattrebhyo bhumim(7)... dvisa(? ) dbhir = asmad = vacana-gauravat = sva-yaso-dharmmavaptaye c = aite

11. pataka asmin = bi (? vi) hare sasvat = kalam = abhy(8)

1 This important portion apparently giving the situation of the Vihara is almost lost by corrosion: the last word seems to be digbhage.

2 The superscript r is formed here below the top-stroke (cf purvvena in l. 28 below).

3 Read sanghanam. The letter gh has a curl here to the left which is not found in the letter in l.6 below.

4 The portion effaced here would read something like-varttanaya ta-."

5 The superior stroke for a in -ha- is unusual, looking like that for e.

6 Read smrtau or smrtam.

7 About 4 letters are indistinct here.

8 4 or 5 letters are cut off here reading something like -anumantavyah.

.........(||*) Anupalanam = prati ca Bhagavata Parasaratma- jena Vedavya-

12 sena Vyasena gitah sloka bhavanti (||*) Sastim varsa sa(hasra) ni svargge modati bhumidah (l*) Aksepta c = anumanta ca ta-

13 nyeva nake(1) vaset (||*) Svadattam paradattam = va yo hareta (vasu)ndharam (1*)(sa) visthayam krmir=bhu- tva pitrbhih saha pacyate

14 Purvadattam dvijatibhyo yatnad = raksa yudhisthira (l*) Mahim mahimatam srestha danat = sreyonupalanam (||*) Varttaman = astasity = u-

15 ttara-sata-samvatsare pausamasasya caturvvinsa- titama-divase Dutakena Mahapratihara-Mahapilupati-Pan- cadhi-

16 karanoparika-patyuparika-(2) ?? -purapaloparika- Maharaja-sri-maha-samanta- Vijayasenen = aited = ekadasapata- ka-da-

17 nayajnam = anubhavitah Kumaramatya-Revajjasvami- Bhamaha-Vatsabhogikah (||*) Likhitam Sandhi-vigrahari (3) karana-kaya-

18 stha-Naradattena (||*) Yattr = aika-ksettra-khande nava-dronavapa-dhika-sapta-pataka-parimane sima lingani Purvvena Guneka

19 grahara-grama-sima Visnu-vardhaki-ksettras = ca Daksinena Miduvilala (?) -ksettram Rajavihara-ksettranca Pascimena Surinasiram = purnneka-

20 ksettram Uttarena Dosibhoga-puskarini (4) ........ vam = piyak = Adityavandhuksettrananca sima (||*)

1 Read narake

2 2 letters cannot be correctly deciphered here: it is possibly sura or pura, in the letter case a repetitoin by mistake of the same word pura.

3 Read -vigrahadhikari-.

4 A number of letters here as well as in ll.22 and 23 below are all but effaced. It will serve no useful purpose by conjectural readings of these portions.

21. Dvitiya- khandasy = astavinsati- dronavapa- parima- nasya sima Purvvena Gunikagrahara-grama-sima Daksinena Pakka-

22. vilala(?)-ksettram Pascimena Rajavihara-ksettram Uttarena Vaidya(?)-ksettram (||*) Tritiya-khandasya trayovinsati-dronavapa-

23. parimanasya sima Purvvena ... ... ksettram Daksinena-nakhaddarccarika(?)-ksettrasima Pascimena


24. J(o?)lari-ksettram Uttarena nagijodaka-ksettram (||*) Caturthasya trimsaddronavapa-parimana-ksettra-khandasya sima Purvvena.

25. Buddhaka-ksettra-sima Daksinena Kalaka-ksettram Pascimena (S)uryya-ksettra-sima Uttarena Mahipala-ksettram (||*) (Pa)ncamasya

26. padona-pataka-dvaya-parimana-ksettra-khandasya sima Purvvena Khanda-vid(u) ggurika-ksettram Daksinena Mani- bhaddra-

27. ksettram Pascimena Yajnarata-ksettra-sima Uttarena Nadadadaka-gramasimeti (||*) Vihara-talabhumer = api sima- lingani

28. Purvvena Cudamani-Nagarasri-Nauyogayor = mmaddhye Jola Daksinena Ganesvara-vilala-puskarinya nau-khatah

29. Pascimena Pradyumnesvara-devakula-ksetra-prantah Uttarena Pradamara-Nauyoga-khatah(||*) Etad= Vihara- pravesya-sunya-pratikara-

30. hajika-khila-bhumer = api sima-lingani Purvvena Pradyumnesvara-devakula-ksettra-sima Daksinena Sakyabhiksv = acaryya-Jita-

31. Sena-Vaiharika-ksettravasa(?) nah Pascimena Ha (?) cata-gamga Uttarena Danda-puskini(1)c = eti || Sam 100 80 8 possya-di (2) 20 4.

1. Read -puskarina. 2. Read -pausa-


  1. Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions, pp.27-29
  2. Bhim Singh Dahiya, Jats the Ancient Rulers ( A clan study), 1980, Sterling Publishers New Delhi , p. 291
  3. By Dinesh Chandra Bhattacharyya, The Indian Historical Quarterly, Vol 6:1, 1930.03 pp. 45-60

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