Rama Caritam of Sandhyakaranandin

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Item Code: NAD487
Author: Mm. Haraprasad Sastri
Publisher: The Asiatic Society
Edition: 2012
ISBN: 9789381574010
Pages: 236
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 10.0 inch X 6.5 inch
Weight 540 gm
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Book Description


Mahamahopadhyaya Haraprasad Sastri acquired the manuscript of Ramacaritam in 1897. The manuscript was written in twelfth century Bengali character and the author of text was Sandhyakara Nandi. Mm. Sastri originally edited the manuscript and the same was published by the Asiatic Society in the Memoir Series in 1910.

The Asiatic Society in 1967 decided to reprint the Ramacaritam as edited with a Preface and Introduction by Mm. Sastri and approached Dr. Radhagovinda Basak Vidyavacaspati, for editing the book with an English translation and fuller notes. Even though Dr. Basak was octogenarian then, he accepted this difficult task and the book was published by the Asiatic Society in 1969.

The present volume is the reprint of the book published in 1969. I am sure the students and scholars in the field would be immensely benefited by this publication.



It is indeed gratifying that pursuant to the decision of the Council of the Asiatic Society in 1967 the important Sanskrit Text, the Rämacharitam by Sandhyãkaranandin, oigina1ly edited by Mahamahopadhyaya Haraprasad Sastri in the Memoir Series in 1910, has been thoroughly revised by our most venerable scholar Dr Radha Govinda Basak, an Honorary Fellow of the Society. We are sincerely grateful to him. Despite the infirmities of age, Dr Basak at the request of the Council has substantially enriched the present edition with an English Translation of the verses and with. Critical notes to important words and expressions used in. the text indicating the different meanings in each case quoting authoritative lexicography. The importance of this unique historical chronicle in Sanskrit throwing light on the political condition of Bengal in I ith and 12th century A.D. can hardly be exaggerated. As the earlier editions of the text published by the Society, and by the Varendra Research Society, are out of print, the present edition will remove a long felt want of the scholars working on the field and I have every reason to believe that it will be immensely useful to them.



Scholars, here and abroad, are fully aware of all the various Indological researches of late Mm. Dr. Haraprasad Sastri, especially of his discovery in a Nepal palm-leaf Manuscript and the first publication (in the Memoirs Volume III. No. 1 of the Asiatic Society, Calcutta, in 1910) of the unique and most difficult Sanskrit epic named the Rcimacarila written by the Bengali poet, Sandhyäkaranandin. The book has since then been published in two more editions, the first of which was an Anglo-Sanskrit edition prepared by Dr. R. C. Majumdar, the late Pandit Nani Gopal Banerji and the present writer and published by the Varendra Research Society (Museum), Rajshahi (now in Pakistan) in 1939. The edition is not, however, easily available at present. The Second edition that the book underwent had been in Bengali prepared by the present writer and published by the General Printers and Publishers, Calcutta, in 1953.

Meanwhile the Asiatic Society’s Council decided to reprint the Rãmacarita as edited with a Preface and Introduction by Mm. Sastri, and the Council of the Society placed the work of editing his Memoirs on the book upon the present writer (now aged more than 83) with a request that it should contain again an English translation and fuller notes. The book, being a difficult text in 220 verses in Aryä metre of various denominations (215 verses only being found in the Manuscript) composed by the poet in Sanskrit ‘figure of speech’ called tea (double en tendre) producing two different meanings simultaneously, one about the career of Raghupati Rama of the Ramãyaia and the second on that of the Gauda monarch, Ramapãla, requires very careful study and hence my notes have been copious. It is needless to state that without the help of Sanskrit lexicography and knowledge of Sanskrit poetics the meaning of the verses of this book cannot be easily comprehended. The old original Manuscript of the text had along with it a separate Ms. containing a Sanskrit commentary only upto verse 35 of Chapter II. Either this old commentator, who had a very intimate knowledge of the history of the Pãla dynasty of Bengal and many other historical personalities and localities, of the period, died before he could complete the i1ca, of the whole work (which runs up to four chapters and an additional section of 20 verses called Kavipraiasti), or we have lost the rest of the commentary, may it not be, for good.

It may be said here that Sandhyakaranandin had before him a model of such composition in puns, viz, the RJghava-pazdaviya of poet Kavirãja Paridita. This latter poet boasted to say that there were only three poets who were experts in writing in Vakrokti (zaJcroti-mrga-nipuza) dealing with equivocation, namely Subandhu, Bänabhatta and he (Kavirãja) himself, and that he did not know if there was a fourth such poet. We think, however, that Sandhyãkaranandin, the somewhat later author of the .Rjmacarila may be worthily ranked in the list as the fourth such poet.

In the Rajshahi edition we published a Sanskrit commentary of our own on the whole of the uncommented portion (beginning from verse 36 Chapter II). But in this edition of the Asiatic Society I have refrained from publishing the same Sanskrit folic even after a thorough revision, because the second meaning of the verses relating to the Pãla history could not everywhere be vouchsafed by us. I hope, however, that my notes attached at the end of the text may help scholars understand the text and they may enlarge their scope of improving its meaning in future.

In preparing his text Mm. Sastri in many places ignored the special orthographical peculiarities used in the Manuscript, e.g. omission of the avagraha sign, the doubling after a superscript rakdsra of some consonants such as g, ch, z, t, d, bh, m, y, and v, and absence of distinction between b and v, as we generally find in eastern Indian epigraphs, specially in those discovered in Bengal. For the sake of pun in words the poet has resorted to such non- distinction between b and .

In this new edition of the book I have, in the preparation of the text, adopted the method of separating the words by hyphen-marks so that the first meaning relating to the events of Rama’s life as told in the Ramayaia may easily be understood. But for comprehension of the second meaning regarding events in Rämapãla’s life I have put down in the foot-notes the prose order of the verses with relevant division of words, sometimes ignoring strict rules of Sandhi of Sanskrit grammar even in compound words. For publication in this edition the English translation of the book as published in our Rajshahi edition has been revised and improved wherever necessary.

It may be pointed out here that Silacandra, the Buddhist scribe of the original text portion wrote in a script which appears to belong to the 12th- 13th century A.D. and the incidents and episodes of the Pãla dynasty as we find described in the RJmacarita belonged to the 11th-I2th century A.D.

In editing Mm. Sastri’s own preface and Introduction to the book in his Memoirs, I have kept the same as they were, but I have used double- brackets [ j to passages and points where he seemed to be incorrect or failed to grasp the real meaning; and I have added some foot-notes in connection with those portions where he was glaringly wrong. My footnotes have been indicated in progressive serial numbers to avoid confusion with Mm. Sastri’s footnotes numbered from page to page.

By the, direction of the Council of the Asiatic Society, Pandit Pranabendra Narayan Bhattacharyya, Smti-Mahäcãryya, now Mm. Haraprasad Sastri Research Fellow of the Society gave me his learned assistance in preparing largely the press-copy and I was at times benefitted by discussing certain points with him; and for his rendering me such valuable assistance I shall ever, remain grateful to him.

My most hearty thanks are due to the President (then Dr. R. C. Majumdar) and the Council of the Asiatic Society for bestowing on my shoulders the heavy burden of re-editing the RJmacarita. I cannot in this connection, forget to think of my esteemed friend, Dr. S. K. Mitra, General Secretary, and the members of the Staff of the Society for helping me in all possible ways. The press also deserves a mead of praise from the editor for the neat execution of the printing of the book.


Preface to the First Edition

The manuscript of RJmacariia was acquired by me in 1897. It is a curious work. It is written throughout in double en tender. It is written in imitation of the Raghaa-Pciiasya. Read one way, it Rarnacauta text and gives the connected story of the Ram.yaya. Read another way, it gives the history of Rãthapãladeva of the P1a dynasty of Bengal. The story of Rãmãyaiia is known, but the history of Rãmapala is not known. So it would have been a difficult task to bring out the two meanings distinctly. But fortunately the MS. contained not only the text of Rämacarita, but a commentary of the first canto and of 35 verses of the second. The commentary portion of the manuscript then abruptly came to an end. The commentary, as may be expected, gives fuller account of the reign of Rampala than the text. The other portion of the text is difficult to explain, and I have not attempted to make a commentary of my own. But I have tried, in my introduction, to glean all the historical information possible by the help of the commentary and the inscriptions of the Päla dynasty and’ other sources of Information available to me.

The author of the text is Sandhyakara Nandi, who composed the work in the reign of Madanapala Deva’, [the second son] of Ramapäla, and the fourth king from Rãmapãla, for, he ends his and work with a hearty wish for the long life of Madana pãla. The author enjoyed exceptional opportunities of knowing the events or Rãmapala’s reign and those of his successors, as his father was the [Sand hivigrahika] , or the Minister of Peace and Warb [of Rarnapala], and lived [at Pauiç1ravardhana,4 if not the capital, a suburb.

The Rãrnacarila mentions two more sons of Ramapãla, named Vittapala (II. 36) and Rãjyapala (IV. 6), but these names are not found in any epigraphic records. Kumarapala and Madanapala were his sons who were reigning monarchs.

2 The Rdmacarita states in V. 3 of the Kaiipraiasti that the poet’s father Prajapati was a Sdnclhi which may be equated with Sandhi-vigrahika of the Inscriptions.

It is not clear from the RimacarIta if Prajapati was a Minister of peace and war under Ramapãla himself or any of his successors.

The capital city of the Putravardhana-bhukti seems to have been Pauç1ravaiddhana-pura as mentioned in V. I of the Kavipralasti. We are reminded in this connection of the occurrence of the Prãkrit name Pula-nagale of the capital of the Palas]. When the work was written the events narrated in it were recent and people understood them without difficulty, but the case is quite different now when all memory of the events is lost. The author was unwilling to publish it, but he often repeated stray lokas in assemblies, and so in a short time it became known that he had written a book and his friends pressed him to publish it.

The author belonged to a very respectable5 [family of Värendra Brahmanas, who derived their name from their residence in the Vãrendra country], i.e., North Bengal, the scene of the struggles of Rãmapãla for empire. The residential village from which Sandhyãkara’s family derived their cognomen is [Nanda] ,6 perhaps a contraction of Nandana. The family is still well known. His grandfather was Pinãka Nandi and his father Prajãpati Nandi. The author was not only a poet, but a linguist. As Ramapafa was Rãma, so the poet calls himself Kalikãla VãlmIki.

The manuscript is written in Bengali character of the twelfth century, the commentary though written a few years later was written in the same character. Both are written in a bold and beautiful and hand, the commentary is clearer than the text. A comparison with the dated Bengali MSS. of the 12th century, of which there are two available, leave little doubt that the present MS. belongs to the same century. The scribe to the text was Silacandra, who, from his name, appears to have been a Buddhist by faith. But unfortunately he did not know Sanskrit. He wrote as he saw. He makes mistakes which a little knowledge of Sanskrit might have avoided. He often omits verses and portions of verses. In the commented portions these omissions have been supplied from the commentary, but in the uncommented portion they remain as they are.

The importance of this work for the history of Bengal in the first half of the twelfth, and the second half of the eleventh Unique historical work century can not be over-rated. It is a contemporary record though obscured by double en tendre, and such records are so rare for India, and especially for eastern portion of it, that it may be pro- flounced as unique.

In the introduction I have attempted to write a connected history of the Pãlas of Bengal from their election as kings in about 770 A.D. to the end of Madanapala’s reign which comes close upon The Introduction 1119, the starting-point of the era of the Sena kings of Bengal.

The task of editing Ramapãlacarita from one single MS., and of writing the history of the Pãlas from the meagre records available, is a very difficult task, and I am fully aware of the imperfections. I hope, however, my readers will look upon the work with indulgence.

I have but very rarely used the Bengal and Tibetan traditions, but I have made full use of the literary treasures of this period examined in Nepal.



The Pãlas in their inscriptions do not claim descent from any mythical beings and even from the Katriya race. Their first progenitor is Dayita - Visnu, a Hindu name. He is described as Sarvavidya Who the Palas were vadata, sanctified by all sorts of knowledge. He was not even a military man. His son was a soldier of fortune who seems to have played an important part in the troublous times which followed the fall of the king of Gaua at the hands of Yaovarma-Deva, the king of Kanauj, about 730 A.D.

In the Rdmacarita the Pãlas are said to have been descended from the Ocean-God. The Bengal tradition, as embodied in the KJñurpãlJ of Ghanarãma’s Dharmamangala, describes how the Ocean God came in the guise of Dharmapala to his banished wife, Vallabhã, and so a son was born to the king. This means that Devapãla was the son of the Ocean-god, and not his uncle Vãkpala, whose descendants really reigned. How the subsequent kings of this dynasty belonged to the Samudrakula is a mystery. As time went on, their pretensions seem to have been on the increase, for Vaidya-Deva in his Assam inscription describes his liege-Lord, Madanapäla, as belonging to solar race.

Räina[pala] carita and the Vaidya Deva-prainsti are very late works. in none of the early inscriptions do the Palas advance any such pretensions. They were Plebeians, and so they thought well to remain. A contemporary of Dharmapãla, however, calls him as Rajabhata-varitiapatita, that is, the descendant of a military officer of some king [see Infra).

They were made kings by election. The subjects forced Gopala to accept the hands of the goddess of fortune. The words in Sanskrit can have two interpretations. They may also mean that the subjects.

How they became forced him to accept revenue or tribute. This is a case of election. Mr. Tawny wrote a paper about elections in ancient India, hut this is a historical instance of election; so the Pälas got the kingdom not by conquest, nor by inheritance, nor by marriage.

The reason is given thus: MJtsya-nyãyamapohiuth, to escape from being absorbed into another kingdom, or to avoid being swallowed up like a fish. The state of the country since 730 A.D. was Why were they elected? deplorable. After the fall of the king of Gauca, the king of Assam conquered greater part of the Eastern India, and Gaucla is mentioned by name as one of the countries held by him in subjection’ at least up to the year 759 A.D. A banished king Jaya-pida of Kãmir came to Pauzclravarddhana2, obtained the hand of the daughter of a local chief, and freed him from the subjection of his liege-Lord (760 or later). Vatsaraja, the Gurjara king, too, is said to have become very proud by acquiring the sovereignty of Gaua and Bengal; and by taking away the two Royal umbrellas of Gau4a (Ep. lad., vol. vi, 243). All this shows how, the country was weak and how torn it was by dissensions. Any great power outside Bengal might easily have conquered it. But fortunately there were no such powerful kings near at hand, and so the Bengalis very wisely thought of electing the son of Vapyaa, a soldier of fortune, to the throne, and saved their independence. This event, I believe, took place shortly after the Kã.mir raid (760 or later). For quarter of a century they had peace, and their country made a good deal of progress; at the end of this quiet time Dharmapala found opportunities to conquer Kanauj [see infra).

The question may be asked, if they were not Katriyas, how could they marry in Ksatriya families, such as Ratraküas, Chedis, and so on?

The reason is not far to seek. The term Katriya has undergone various changes of meaning. About 400 B.C. it meant a caste. But the Purãnas are unanimous in saying that the Katriyas were all destroyed by Nandas, and this is borne out by a passage in Savara’s authoritiative commentary on the Main Jens Sat ras.3 He says that the word Rãja meant a Katriya engaged under government or in the army in Aryavartta, but in the Andhra country, others so engaged would be called a Rãjl. So gradually Rail and Ksatriya became synonymous, and so, many powerful invaders have been included in the meaning of the term Katriya. Under the circumstances it is no wonder that Pãlas when they had ruled for two or three generations should be re- garded as Katriyas. But still SirhhagIri in his Vyasa Purãtia imbedded in the Validlacarita after recounting all the Katriyas in India in the 12th century, speaks of the Pãlas as the worst of Katriyas.

Oharmapala is the second king of the Plia dynasty. It is not known when he began to reign and when his reign came to an end, but it is known - that the Khalimpur grant (J.A.S.B., 1894, p. 39 ci seq., Date of Dhannapala .

and )achrzth1en, Gutting, 1903, p. 308) was made in the 32nd year of his reign, so he must have reigned at least 32 years or longer. But the question is, when did he reign ? In Vigrahapala’s Bhagalpur grant (md. Ant. vol? xv, p. 304) there is a statement that he conquered Indra of Kanauj, but at the request of old Brãhmins of Pãulcãla he conferred the crown of Kanauj on Cakrãyudha. So Cakrayudha was his contemporary. In a Gwaliãr inscription (Jsfachrichten, Gottingen, 1905, P. 300), while giving a history of the wars of Nagabhala, a Parihãra king, it is stated that Nagabhala humbled Cakrayudha who was a dependant. It has been already said that Cakrayudha was a dependant of Dharmapala, so Nagabhata and Dharmapala belong to the same time. And we know from another inscription that Nagabhaa was ruling in the year 815 A.D. (Epi. md., vol. ix, p.1 98).

In an inscription not yet published, but extracts from which have been given by S. J3handarkar in the Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 1906 (J.B.B.R.A.S., No. lxi, p. 116), are described the militarV operations of Govinda the third, the Rãrakuta king of Manyakhe a. He led a victorious army from the south to the foot of the Himalayas. Dharma and Cakrãyudha submitted to him, but he had to fight with Nagabhata. So all these four kings were contemporaries. Govinda’s certain dates range from 794 to 813, and his son’s dates range from 817 to 877 A.D. Indra whom Dharma replaced was reigning in 783 A.D. (Kielhorn’s List of Southern Inscriptions, Epi. md., vol. viii). So the order of events is this:

Indra reigning in 783 A.D., Indra replaced by Cakrãyudha, Cakrayudha defeated by Nagabhata, Nagabhata defeated by Govinda. All these events must have taken place between 783 and 816 AiD. So Dharma’s conquest of Kanauj must be placed somewhere between 783 and 816.

But the Rästraküa prince, Parabala, whose daughter Dharmapala married, constructed a temple at Pãthari in 861 A.D. (Epi. md., vol. ix, p. 248.) This would appear rather inconsistent. But Parabala must have been a very old man when he constructed the temple, for young princes are not fond of such religious works. And it can be proved that Parabala and his father lived long.

Nagavaloka, a prince of Guzrat, was very prosperous in the year 756 (Epi md., vol. ix, p. 251). The founder of Chahumana family was one of his favoured officers (Epi. md., vol. ii, p. 121). But some time after this he was severely beaten by Karkarãja (Epi. md., vol. ix, p. 253), who sacked his capital, and Parabala was Karkaraja’s son. So a century must have elapsed between Karkarãja and Parabala and it is not impossible for Dharmapala to marry a daughter of Parabala.

The date of Dharmapala, therefore, must fall between 783 A.D. when Indra was reigning at Kanauj, and 817 when Govinda’s son became king on the death of his father, and in an early part of this period to allow so many wars to come in succession.




Foreword ix
Preface xi
Introduction xv
Index xxi-xxxviii

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