dharma in inscriptions 3

A blogpost by Ryosuke Furui & Arlo Griffiths

According to Amarakośa 1.4.300 (syād dharmam astriyāṁ puṇyaśreyasī sukr̥taṁ vr̥ṣaḥ), śreyas is a synonym of dharma. Epigraphic occurrences of this usage seem to be rare. (No entry śreyas is given in D.C. Sircar’s Indian Epigraphical Glossary.)

One occurrence may now be quoted from a copperplate inscription currently being prepared for publication by Ryosuke Furui and Arlo Griffiths on behalf of DHARMA task-force B, dating to the first quarter of the 7th century, issued during the 8th regnal year of Śaśāṅka, who was ruler of Gauḍa (a territory whose heartland corresponded to the western part of Bengal)

In this document, an example of the land-sale grants typically found in Early Medieval Bengal, a close associate of the king (antaraṅga) called Nāgabhaṭagomin addresses the members of the office of the princely advisor (kumārāmātya) and the landholders residing in a district called Petāmeḍḍakhāta that he wishes to make a pious donation of land to brahmins, i.e., a donation of the kind often called dharma. But Nāgabhaṭagomin says instead: bhavatāṁ prītyā kiñ cic chreyam anuṣṭhātum icchāmi. “By your kindness, I wish to carry out some meritorious work (śreyas).”

The inscription is full of grammatical mistakes, and this sentence shows a major howler too: chreyam anuṣṭhātum for chreyo ’nuṣṭhātum.

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