The present Catalogue of pedestal inscriptions on the images of Jain idols preserved at Patan contains 'a little less than 1750 entries (making allowance for a few multiple entries made on the same number), covering a period of more than nine centuries from Vikram Sam. 1110 to 2036 (1053 to 1979 A.D). The entries are arranged in strict chronological sequence so far as the main body of the Catalogue is concerned. It is only in the Supplements that the chronological order has not been strictly adhered to. But in view of the highly limited number of such entries, scholars will agree that this does not take away much from the value of the catalogue for historical analysis. The editor has given his reasons for his separating these entries from the main body of his Catalogue, in his Preface. For the sake of completeness, he borrowed these from the earlier compilation by Sri Buddhisagara-Siiri and has had recourse to following the latter's sequence.
(A) VALUE OF THE INSCRIPTIONS FOR LINGUISTIC STUDIES
The importance of these inscriptions for the light they throw on the nuances of linguistic adaptations and developments in practical life have been described at some length with illuminative examples by Prof. Bhayani in his learned Hindi Introduction, which has been lost beyond recovery due to some negligence somewhere. He had demonstrated these adaptations with particular reference to names of persons both male and female and advanced some very interesting explanations for the changes in name-styles through different epochs. In the context of the wide currency of k after names of women, he has put forward an ingenious suggestion that this could be the resultant of two common linguistic processes: prioritization of devi into dai and the subsequent elision of the final vowel juxtaposed with another vowel.
I would like to record here a similar intriguing suffixing of 7 exclusively to names of female ancestors in the Vedic ritual of pitr-tarpana, while offering libations of water to the departed names of three generations. For instance, in the case of male ancestors the word added to the name with the necessary declensional case etc. But in the case of female ancestors, it is usual to add e.g. I must confess that I have not been able to understand the meaning, significance or purpose of this nor to explain its philological roots. In fact, there is also an alternative practice, which is in vogue in some families where this intriguing T is substituted by simple after the female names.
My own family belongs to this latter tradition. Perhaps, it may be possible to correlate this after female names in ritualistic religious usage in the south with the k after female names in these secular usages in Gujarat. In any case, the line of explanation suggested above linking k with cannot hold good in the case of cut . It will also be necessary to examine whether this k after female names was confined only to the Jain community or had a wider range of application.
There is one more possibility, which may not be ruled out altogether, though it may be a remote possibility. The suffixed to female names in these inscriptions could as well be just another of the many abbreviations freely adopted in these inscriptions as an expedient for saving space, like for Nicirboci and so on. In fact, these inscriptions bristle with such abbreviations, specially improvised for economizing space. I have dwelt upon these at some length in a subsequent section of this Introduction.
Though these pedestal inscriptions are all extremely brief, comprising one single sentence and though they are all set on an almost rigid stereotyped pattern, they shed some invaluable light on the following points of philological or linguistic interest :
I. The use of Sanskrit in records of enduring value.
2. The use and standardization of abbreviations in Sanskrit.
3. Adaptation of the Sanskrit language to changing requirements and situations; peculiar devices and methods improvised in these inscriptions for overcoming the limitations of space.
4. The vernacularisation of some typical Sanskrit words, leading to new patterns of words and hybrid formations and the interesting light those formations can throw on linguistic evolution.
5. The chronological stage at which the local regional language steps into gradually takes its place alongside with Sanskrit. I shall briefly dwell upon these seriatim : 1. Sanskrit as language of records : These pedestal inscriptions numbering nearly two thousand and spread over a time-span of nearly ten centuries all drawn from a highly limited area of Gujarat provide unequivocal evidence for the continuous use of Sanskrit language as the most popular and accepted medium for maintaining records of enduring value. It is highly significant that Sanskrit continued to hold its sway until late nineteenth century when the first indications become available-at least as far as this compilation is concerned of the regional language making its incursions into this field. This is a circumstance of utmost importance in assessing the extent of the hold of Sanskrit on the society of this region.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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