Samudra Gupta bahusuvarNaka and Indus Script


The expression ‘bahusuvarNaka’ mentioned in Mulavarman’s yupa inscription may be related to the gold coins of Samudra Gupta

George Coedes provides a succinct reasoning for the presence of Sanskrit epigraphy in Borneo (like the inscription of Mulavarman’s yupa inscription which refers to bahusuvarNaka yajna. I suggest that the expression refers to coins of gold of the type in circulation in India during the reign of Samudra Gupta between 335-75.

Elephant-headed crocodile (fish?) on which Lakshmi stands on a gold Dinar is an Indus Script hieroglyph. karibha ‘trunk of elephant’ ibha ‘elephant’ rebus: karb ‘iron’ ib ‘iron. karA ‘crocodile’ rebus: karA ‘artisan, blacksmith’.

Yupa shown on some Samudraguptagold coins may also be read rebus: meDhi ‘pillar, stake’ Rebus: meD ‘iron’ (Ho.), med ‘copper’ (Slavic)

यागशाला may mean ‘workshop connected with yajna’. This expression is used in Tamil in Sangam texts as follows: யாகசாலை yāka-cālai, n. < id. + šālā. 1. Sacrificial hall; வேள்விச்சாலை. யாகசாலை புக வோடவே (தக்கயாகப். 242). 2. The sacrificial hall of a temple; கோயிலுள் யாகஞ்செய்யும் மண்ட பம். (I. M. P. Cg. 437, 8.) யாகம் yākam, n. < yāga. 1. Sacrifice, of eighteen kinds, viz., cōtiṭṭōmam, aṅkiṭṭōmam, attiyaṅkiṭṭōmam, vācapēyam, atirāttirakam, cōmayākam, kāṇṭakam, cāturmāciyam, cavut- tirāmaṇi, puṇṭarīkam, civakāmam, mayēntiram, aṅkicamaṉ, irācacūyam, accuvamētam, viccuva- cittu, naramētam, piramamētam; சோதிட்டோ மம், அங்கிட்டோமம், அத்தியங்கிட்டோமம், வாசபே யம், அதிராத்திரகம், சோமயாகம், காண்டகம், சாதுர் மாசியம், சவுத்திராமணி, புண்டரீகம், சிவகாமம், மயேந்திரம், அங்கிசமன், இராசசூயம், அச்சுவமேதம், விச்சுவசித்து, நரமேதம், பிரமமேதம் என்ற பதி னெட்டு வகைப்பட்ட வேள்வி. (திவா.)

Archaeometallurgical investigations/studies on ancient mints and how they were relatedto such यागशाला may provide additional light on the possible links of the octagonal brick stake found in fire-altars in sites such as Binjor.altar

Plate VI.5 Napki Malik Obv. Bust of king with winged head-dress; above, buffalo’s head facing Pahlavi legend, Nakpki Malik. Rev.Fire-altar and attendants, wheel over head of each. Similar Sassanian coin motif occurs on Mihiralgula with Jaytu Mihirakula on Figure Plate VI.4 (debased). Source: CJ Brown, Coins of India, AES, 1922. Association of fire-altar with the coin is significant and points to the possibility that yajna kunda as fire-altars also may have been used to produce bahusuvarNaka, gold coins of the type issued by Samudra Gupta.

Punch-marked “…coins from Eran bear the figure of goddess Lakshmi, other show animals (horse and elephant), tree within- railing and various other symbols, such as swastika, triratna, Indradhwaja, dharmachakra, lotus, Ujjain symbol, river with fishes semi-circle design, crescent, cakra, bull, sadarcakra, hill, taurine and the vajra symbol, river with fish and the cross and ball symbol.” Many of these are Indus Script hieroglyphs related to metalwork. Mints of Eran (AirikiNa) and Vidisha have produced a number of ancient coins.

“For important fire ceremonies such as the Soma Yaga, the Athirathra and the Aswamedha the fire altar is set up with 10,008 bricks or 1,008 bricks (Please read my article Hindu’s Magic Numbers). Each brick is cleaned ritually and mantras are chanted while the eagle shape fire pit is constructed. The altar is sprinkled with gold chips. If it is an Aswamedha Yagna the altar that is constructed is three times bigger.In the Valmiki Ramayana we get more details about the Aswamedha performed by King Dasaratha. Gupta Kings issued gold coins after they performed the Aswamedha. Pandya coins were excavated featuring a horse on its side. This proves that they performed the Aswamedha. All credit for this goes to Mudukudumi Peruvazuthi…Pallavas were powerful and they performed the famous Aswamedha (Horse Sacrifice) to establish their political superiority. If we look at the epigraphs and copper plates of that time, they give a long list of the Yagas they performed and the donations they gave on such occasions. Rajathi Rajan I performed an Aswamedha according to his epigraphs. Foreign scholars, with their mischievous propaganda of Aryan Dravidian divide distorted Indian history beyond recognition. They made us believe that there were two different cultures existing in India during ancient times. Anyone who studies our ancient literature without the Aryan Dravidian prejudice will find one culture and unity of thought throughout its 5,000 year history from the northernmost Himalayas to the southernmost oceans. The minute our scholars realise this truth, they will find the key to the Indus script as well.”

Thanks to S. Swaminathan for this perceptive comment on Indus Script. My decipherment of Indus Script Corpora reads rebus the hieroglyphs of the script in Prakritam (Meluhha) lexis of metalwork.

See: Meluhha hieroglyphs on copper seal of Karandai plates (1053 CE), legacy of Indus script

“If we associate ‘as’ with accumulation and ‘va’ with blowing, then aswa would stand for obtaining wealth by blowing. It appears that originally ‘as’ may have been associated with the accumulation of wealth by the smelting of metals. The metals, after all, were the basis of all wealth in the early periods. Perhaps the Rig Vedic people had some relationship with smelting and they use the term ‘Aswamedh Yajna’ to describe the smeltery. Verse 3.29.6 (volume 3, chapter 29, stanza 6) of the Rig Veda tells us that the furnace of the yajna was made of stone. Similarly, verse 1.142.6 tells us that there were openings in the furnace that were closed during the sacrifice, according to protocol. These descriptions indicate that precise control of the fire was very essential for the yajna.”–the-burning-question-29465

RV 3.029.06 When they rub (the sticks) with their arms the radiant Agni bursts forth from the wood like a fleet courser, and like the many-coloured car of the As’vins unresisted in its course, Agni spreads wide around consuming stones and trees.

RV 1.142.06 Let the bright, separable doors, the augmenters of sacrifice, the purifiers of rites, the desired of many, be set open for the gods to enter. [The hymn is addressed to the divinities presiding over the doors of the chamber of sacrifice; asas’cata = not adhering together, mutually separable; asajyama_na-paraspara viprakr.s.t.a, perhaps folding-doors of wide or open doors].

 अश्व √1. अश् Un2.  अश्  ‘to eat, consume’; va ‘wind, air’.

Chandragupta II, gold dinar, c. 375-414. Weight: 7.68 gm, Diameter: 19-20 mm. King standing left, sacrificing at fire altar at left,

Skandagupta, silver drachma, c. 455-467
Weight: 1.67 gm., Diam: 12 mm.
Head of king right /
Fire altar, Brāhmī legend around:
paramabhāgavata maharajadhiraja sri skandagupta kramaditya

S. Kalyanaraman

Sarasvati Research Center December 26, 2015

Gaya copper plate inscription of Samudragupta, the year 9

Gaya, Gаya distr., Bihаr copper Plate of Samudragupta. (G?)9 Vaiщаkha di. 10
(Fl. No. 60; Bh.No. 1540); D. C. Sircar, SI, Bk. III. No. 5, pp. 264-66; R. C. Majumdar, IC. Vol. XI (1944-45), pp. 225-30; P. L. Gupta, PIHC. XVI (1953), pp. 94-5. So-called spurious plate. (Characters of about the beginning of the 8th cent. A.D.)

1. Oм svasti [||] mahаnau-hastyaщva-jayaskandhаvаrаjаyoddhyа-vаsakаt-sarvva-rаjo-cchettu pр-
2. thivyаm-apratirathasya caturudadhi-salilаsvаdita-yaщa(so*)dhanada-varuнendrа-
3. ntaka-samasya kрtаnta-paraщornyаyаgatаneka-go-hiraнya-koтi-pradasya ciroccha-
4. nnащvamedhаharttu mahаrаja-щrи-gupta-prapauttrasya mahаrаja-щrи-ghaтotkaca-pautrasya
5. mahаrаjаdhirаja-щrи-candragupta-puttrasya licchivi-dauhittrasya mahаde-vyа(м*) ku-
6. mаradevyаmutpanna(х*) paramabhаgavato mahаrаjаdhirаja-щrи-samudra-
7. guptaх gаyavaishayika-revatikаgrаme vrаhmaнa-puroga-grаma-vala-
8. tkauшabhyа(?)mаha | eva(м*) cаrtha viditambo bhavatveщa grаmo mayа mаtаpittrorа-
9. tmanaщca puнyаbhivрddhaye bhаradvаja-sagotrаya vahvрcаya sa[vra]hmacа-
10. riнe vrаhmaн-gopadevasvаmine soparikaroddeщenаgrahаratvenаti-
11. sрштaх [|] tadyuшmаbhir-asya щrottavyam-аjга ca karttavyа sarvve [ca] [sa]mucitа grаma-pra-
12. tvayа meya-hiraнyаdayo deyах[|] na cetatprabhрty-etad-аgrahаrikeнanyagrа-
13. mаdi-karada-kuтumbi-kаruk-аdayaх praveщayitavyаm-anyathа niyatam-аgra-
14. hаrаkшepa(х*) syаd-iti [||] sambat 9 vaiщаkha-di 10 [||*]
15 anyagrаmаkшapaтalаdhikрta-dyуta-gopasvаmyаdeщa-likhitaх [|] anyagrаmаkшapaтala Dyуta-Gopasvаmin


Commentaries and variants.

L.1 Symbol for siddhaм later pronounced as oм siddhiх or siddhirasta; read -vаrаd=ayodhyа;
-cchettuх is intended, but read -cchettа. (SI)
L.4 The intended reading is cirotsannащvamedhаёrtturma-. (SI)
L.5 Usually licchavi. (SI)
L.7 Read brаhmaнa, for Valatkauщan see Nalanda inscr.(SI)
L.8 Read -rtho vidito vo, read bhavatveшa.(SI).
L.9 I.e. bhаradvаja-gotra-jаtаya, read bahvрcаya or bahvрca-, read sabrahma-. (SI)
L.10 Read brаhmaн-; uparikara “tax paid by temporary tenants” uddeщa – space above the surface of the land often specifically mentioned as tala. (SI)
L.12 pratyaya = pratyаyа (CII, III, 170, note 5 = tax, revenue); read caitatpra- instead cetatpra and -наnyagrа- instead -nanyagrа-. (SI)
L.13 Read tavyах | anyathа; niyatam-agra- instead niyatam-аgra-. (SI)
L.14 Read saмvat. (SI)
L.15 Supply lekhaх ayam after likhitaх. (SI)

Nalanda copper plate inscription of Samudra Gupta, year 5

1. Nаlandа(Baрgaon), Pатnа distr., Bihаr copper Plate of Samudragupta. (G?)5 Mаgha di.2.
Hiranand Sastri, ASI.AR. 1927-28, p. 138; (Bh. No. 2075)A. Ghosh, EI. Vol. XXV (1939-40), pp. 50-53 and Pl.; D. C. Sircar, EI. Vol. XXVI (1941-42), pp 135-36; SI, Bk. III, No. 4, pp. 262-64; R. C. Majumdar, IC. Vol. XI (1944-45), pp. 225-30; Hiranand Sastri, MASI. No. 66, pp. 77-78; P. L. Gupta, PIHC, XVI (1953), pp. 94-95; B. Upadhyaya, SAII. pt. II, p.50. So-called spurious plate of which (characters seem to belong to Samudragupta’s time, see Bh. List. p. 290, fn.1.


1. Oм svasti [|] mahаnau-hastyaщva-jayaskandhаvаrаnandapura-vаsakа[tsa]rvvarа[jocche]ttu(х) pрithivyаmapratirathasya caturudadhi-sali[lаsvа]-
2. dita-yaщaso dhanada-varuнe[ndrа]nta(ka*)-samasya kрitаnta-paraщornyаyаgatаneka-go-hiraнya-koтi-pradasya cirotsa[nnа]-
3. щvamedhаhartturmmahаrаja-Щrи-Gu(pta*)-prapauttrasya mahаrаja-Щrи-Ghaтotkaca-pauttrasya mahаrа[jаdhi]rаja-[Щrи-Candragupta]-putra-
4. sya Licchavi-dau[hi]ttrasya mahаdevyакKumаradevyаmutpanna=paramabhа[gavato mahаrаjаdhirаja-Щrи-Samudragu]ptaх tаvi[rguнya](?)-
5. vai[шayika] bhadrapuшkarakagrаma-krimilаvaiшayikapу[rнanа]gagrа[ma(yoх*)] [brаhmaнapuroga*]-grаma-va[la]tkauшabhyа(?)mаha (|)
6. eva[м*] cаha viditambo bhavatveшau grа[mau] [ma]tаpittorа[tmanaщca] pu[нyаbhivрddha]ye jayabhaттisvаmine
7. .. … … … .. [sopari]karo[ddeщenа]grahа[ratve]nаtisрштaх [|* tadyuшmаbhira[sya]
8. ttraividyasya щrottavyamаjга ca kartta[vyа] [sa]rvve [ca] [sa]mucitа grа(ma*)-pratyа-(yа*)meya-hiraнyаdayo deyа na cetaЫ pra-
9. [bhр]tyanena ttrai[vi]dyonаnya-grаmаdi-karada-kuтumbi-[kаruk]аdayaЫ praveщa[yita]vyа[ma]nyath[а] niyatamаgrahаrаkшepaх
10. [sy]аditi || sambat 5 mаgha-di 2 nivaddhaх[|*
11. anugrаmаkшapaтalаdhi[kрta]-mahаpиlуpati-mahаvalаdhi[kр]ta 20-gopasvаma(myа)deщa-likhitaх [|*]
12. [kumа*]ra-щrи-candraguptaх 21 [||*]


Commentaries and variants.

L.1 Symbol for siddhaм later pronounced as oм siddhiх or siddhirasta.(SI) Sastri read -nуpura.
L.2 Ghosh read: -dаntaka in varuнe[ndrа]nta(ka*).
L.5 Fleet found here two officials named -valatkauщan. (SI)
L.6 Read – cаrtho vidito vo. In inscription used va and ba without differentiation. That is, possibly, the argument for the point of view, that the text fabricated in V-VI AD; read -tvetau in bhavatveшau. (SI)
L.7 Ghosh is inclined to fill up the lacuna by some ephitets of the donee (SI).
L.8 Read щrota- instead щrotta. Supply a word like vacanaм after щrotavyaм; read deyах | na caitatpra- (SI).
L.9 Read tаvyах | anyathа and niyatama-. аkшepa may indicate violation of the condition relating to an agrahаra. (SI)
L.10 There are 3 short horizontal strokes after the usual sign for stop; read saмvat and niba-. Supply the word lekhaх after nibaddha. (SI)
L.11 the Gaya plate reads anyagrаmа-; read mahаbalаdhikрta. (SI)
L.12 Candraguptaх was possibly the dуtaka. (SI)

“It does seem probable, however, that the conquests of Samudragupta (around 335-75) in southern India, and the subsequent submission of the Pallava sovereign with his viceroys, produced serious perturbations that in turn resulted in the exodus of certain elements of the southern aristocracy to the countries to the east. We have seen that Levi attributes the probable presence of an Ino-Scythian on the throne of Funan in 357 to the conquest of the Ganga Valley by Samudragupt. This episode was perhaps merely the prelude to a more general movement which, from the middle of the fourth century to the midde of the fifth, brought princes, Brahmans, and scholrs to the peninsula and islands which were already Indianized and in regular contact with India. These Indians were responsible for the introduction of Sanskrit epigraphy in Champa, then in Borneo and Java.” (Coedes, George, 1964, The Indianized states of southeast Asia, Honolulu, East-West Center PRess, pp. 55-56),

Samudragupta (c.335-380) minted some remarkably detailed and informative coins

(downloaded Jan. 2006)

“Samudragupta (circa 335 – 380 AD) AV Stater. Obverse: King standing left, holding long sceptre in left hand, right hand lowered to an altar; Garuda standard to left. In Brahmi: ‘Samudra’ in right field; and partial marginal legend. Reverse: Goddess Lakshmi enthroned facing, holding cornucopia; symbol to left. In Brahmi: ‘Parakramah’ to right.”

Another example of the same general type, also with Brahmi inscriptions

(downloaded May 2006)

“GUPTA KINGS of INDIA. Samudragupta. 335-380 AD. Gold Dinar (7.47 gm; 20 mm). Standard Type. Samudragupta, nimbate, standing left, holding standard; Garuda standard behind / The goddess Laksmi seated facing on throne, holding diadem.”


Samudragupta playing the vina; *a look at the whole coin*

(downloaded March 2004)

“King bare-headed, wearing only waist cloth and jewelary, seated on couch with sloped back, playing the vina (Indian lyre), Samudragupta, gold dinar, obverse, Ca.355-380, The Skanhe Collection, ACSAA.”

A coin of Samudragupta’s depicting a horse-sacrifice

(downloaded Mar. 2006)

“Circa 335-380 AD. AV Dinar (7.62 gm; 20 mm). Ashvamedha type. Sacrificial horse standing left before pedestal with filleted yupa post, from which a banner flutters; “si” on footstool below / The queen, not nimbate, standing left on lotus-form mat, holding chouri (fly whisk) and cloth, suchi (filleted spear) before her. Brahmi legend right: Asvamedhaparakrama.”

Samudragupta, in Kushan attire, performs a sacrifice

(downloaded March 2004)

“King standing, wearing a kushan style coat and trousers, holding a tall standard in his left hand, sacrificing over an altar. In the field to his right is his garudadhvaja. Samudragupta, gold dinar, Ca.355-380, The Skanhe Collection, ACSAA.”

The goddess Lakshmi is honored by Samudragupta

(downloaded March 2004)

“Lakshmi standing on a makara (elephant headed fish) to the left, holding long stemmed lotus in left hand, her right hand extended to her side, Samudragupta, gold dinar, Ca.355-380, The Skanhe Collection, ACSAA.”

A gold dinar of Chandragupta II, Samudragupta’s successor, also honors Lakshmi

(downloaded May 2006)

“GUPTA KINGS of INDIA. Chandragupta II. 380-414 AD. Gold Dinar (9.07 gm; 20 mm). Chandragupta standing left, holding arrow and bow; Garuda standard behind / The goddess Laksmi seated facing, holding diadem and lotus.”

Another gold dinar of Chandragupta II, also honoring Lakshmi


“Chandra Gupta II 375-414 AD. Gold Dinar (7.67 gm; 18 mm). Chandragupta riding horse right, he holds a bow above the horse’s head and a whip by his side / The goddess Lakshmi, nimbate, seated left on wicker stool, holding diadem and lotus..”


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