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But this is quite misleading. The case of the Samvat era is completely different from the cases of the Julian and Gregorian Calendars. No one speaks of the Gregorian Era or of the Vikramâditya Calendar, so that this parallel was fallacious from the very beginning, and all reasoning based on it was necessarily erroneous.
Prof. Weber has pointed out that we do not know what event formed the starting point of the Samvat era, and has used this as an argument to discredit the traditions of India ; but exactly the same may be said of our own era ; since the birth of Christ is fixed by the authority of the Church in the fourth year B.C. But no one has sought to base on this fact a theory that Julius Cæsar was contemporary with Egbert or Charlemagne; and the transfer of Vikramaditya from the first century before Christ to the sixth century of our era is really something like this.
The movement set on foot by Dr. Bühler and Dr Peterson is remarkable, not so much because it throws back a date in Indian history several centuries; but far more so because it is a vindication of Indian Chronology, as against European conjecture; let us hope that it marks a new era in the study of Sanskrit Chronology and its illustration by the living traditions of the East.
We trust to be able to publish the second, or Pandit Dhruva's, paper in our next issue, when we also hope to have an opportunity of bringing this important inquiry up to date by the light of the most recent researches.-ED.
THE SAMVAT ERA.
By Pandit JWÂLÂ SAHAYA. During the last few years, much has been written, by various Oriental scholars, on the era of the well-known Hindu king, Vikramâditya the Great, so much eulogized by native poets for the encouragement he gave to learning, and whose court was adorned by “the nine illustrious jewels ;" he is held by some to have reigned 57 B.C., while others deny this statement, and urge that the style of Kâlidâsa's poetry cannot be ascribed to a period earlier than the sixth century A.D., a period which has been termed the “ Renaissance of Sanskrit literature.” According to the conjecture of the latter party, Vikramâditya, who had under his protection such poets as Kalidasa and Shanku, flourished in the 6th century A.D. Dr. Fergusson is at the head of those scholars who advance this theory. He maintains that the Vikrama era began in 544 A.D., whereas
according to Hindu chronology it began in 57 B.C. Prof. Max Müller, enforcing the former view, states that “the whole theory would collapse if one single stone or coin could be produced dated contemporaneously 543 of the Samvat of Vikrama." Dr. Weber endorses the view of Holtzmann, which is as follows:—“To assign him (Vikrama) to the first year of his era might be quite as great a mistake as we should commit in placing Pope Gregory XIII. in the first year of the Gregorian Calendar, or even Julius Cæsar in the first year of the Julian period to which his name has been given, i.e., in the year 4713 B.C.” Prof. Peterson argues that this theory is no longer tenable, and shows (in a paper read before a meeting of the Royal Asiatic Society, Bombay) that poetry of the kind exemplified in the books of Kâlidâsa was already an old art in India in the first century of the Christian era. It reached back at least to the poem on the life of Buddha by Ashvaghosha, a Brahman converted to Buddhism, who wrote in the time of Kanishka (78 A.D.). - Prof. Peterson thought that the great triad of grammarians— Pânini, Kâtyâyana and Patanjali — were all poets as well ; and holds that it is no longer desirable to regard with distrust the traditions which assign Vikramâditya and his court to 57 B.C., and represent him as surrounded by famous poets. Dr. Bühler has come to the conclusion that the era was in use before 544 A.D., and Prof. Kielhorn agrees with him.
I have not the slightest hesitation in agreeing with the last-mentioned three scholars ; and the following notes are written to support their view.
The well-known native tradition found in the Jyotirvidabharana makes Kalidasa the most illustrious poet of Vikrama's court ; and his poems and dramas show that he was well-versed in almost every branch of Sanskrit Literature. In his works we find references made to Vedic theology, Hindu philosophy, Pauranic stories, and astrology, so that his writing the Shrutabodha on Prosody and the Jyotirvidâbharana on Astrology is not surprising. He mentions himself in the Jyotirvidâbharana :
Shank y-âdi panditavarâh kavayas tv aneke,
Kavyatrayam sumatikrd Raghuvansha pûrvam,
Varshe sindhuradarshanâmbaragunair yâte kalâu sanmite,
It is evident from the last of these verses that the Jyotirvidabharana was written in 3068 of the Kali Yuga. According to the Kali era the present year is 4993. Hence the book was written 1925 years ago. Various works on Astrology assign the date 3044 of the Yuddhisthra or Kali era to the accession of Vikramâditya, who began to reign 24 years before Kálidâsa composed the Jyotirvidabharana. It can now be mathematically concluded that the Samvat. era was counted from the accession of Vikramaditya.
Moreover I recently secured a Sanskrit MS. named Gurjaradeshabhúpâvali, which helps much to dissipate doubts on the subject. The book, consisting of about 100 stanzas, was written by Rangavijaya, a Jaina, in Samvat 1865. So little historical literature in Sanskrit has come down to us that even a small historical record is a great boon to modern investigators. The author gives a very detailed account of the kings of Gujarat from the death of Mahâvîra, the teacher of Jainism, to the decline and fall of the Mughal power in India. I give a brief synopsis of what he says of the Hindu Râjâs.
The very night when Mahâvîra, the Tîrthankâra, breathed his last, Pâlaka ascended the throne and reigned sixty years. He was succeeded by the nine Nandas, whose rule lasted for 155 years. Then followed the Mauryan dynasty of Chandragupta, which held the throne of Gujarat for 108 years. After this we find the names of Puspamitra, Balamitra, and Naravâhana ; these reigns
occupy 130 years. Gardabhilla, who ruled for 13 years only, is described as having lost the throne through the intrigues of Shyâmâchârya Saraswati. The Sâkas (Scythians) then occupied the land for 4 years, and were subsequently driven out by Vikramâditya, the King of Ujjayinî, who ascended the throne 470 years after the death of Mahâvîra. He has been greatly eulogized for his liberality and benevolence. He instituted a new era of samvatsaras (years), and reigned 86 years. His son succeeded him, but another king, Shâlivâhana, rose into power after 135 samvatsaras (years) had passed, and created the Shâka era. I think it better to quote what the author says about Vikramaditya and Shâlivâhana :
After 50 years' reign of Shâlivâhana, Balamitra the Pious became king, and reigned for 100 years. From Samvat 285 years the author names Kings Harimitra, Priyamitra and Bhânumitra, whose reigns lasted up to Samvat 557. Then followed Ama, Bhoja, and 5 others, who ruled for 245 years. Banarâja, the first of the Chaura dynasty, was King of Gujarat for 60 years, during which time he built the city of Pattana. Other Chaura kings are as follows :Yogarâja, 35 years ; Kshemarâja, 26 years ; Bâhadurâja, 29 years; Badhar Singh, 25 years ; Ratnâditya, 15 years; and Sâmanta Singh, 7 years. Altogether the Chauras reigned 196 years.
We now come to Samvat 998 when Mûlarâja took the sovereignty of Gujarat and held it for 55 years. He was
undoubtedly the first of the Châlukya dynasty. Then followed kings of this family, and reigned about 245 years. The most famous among them is Kumârapâla (Sani. 1199-12 30). His clever minister Vâhada built the temple of Jinapati in Bhrgupura, the capital of the Lât Country. In Samvat 1298 Vîradhavala ascended the throne, and dying ten years after was followed by four Râjâs who ruled Gujarat for 63 years ; the last of these, Karana Deva (Sam. 1361-68), was succeeded by Khizr Khan Khilji. * Thenceforward Gujarat became the possession of Mohammadan Kings, and the author comes down to the time of the Mughal Emperor, Shah Alam.
This author seems to have compiled his epitome from some larger books of history before him. Though so little historical literature is preserved in the Brahmanical books, yet recent researches have shown that Jaina libraries can throw much light on the ancient history of India. Recent investigations have also shown that Jainism came into existence about the same time as Buddhisını, and that both these systems branched off quite independently of each other, from a common form of asceticism which had existed long before the 6th century before Christ. According to the Gurjaradeshabhûpâvali, Mahâvira, the 24th Tîrthankâra of the Jainas, died 527 B.C. I am told by a learned teacher of Jainism that the death of Mahavíra occurred 16 years after that of the founder of Buddhism. The latter happened 2434 years ago, if we give some weight to the Buddhistic chronologyt prevalent even now among the Buddhists.
The Pâlaka mentioned in this book is very likely the Râjâ named in Shûdraka's drama named Toy-cart. Pâlaka died in 467 B.C. ; and nine Nandas reigned till 312 B.C. The Mauryas had possession of Gujarat from 312 to 204 B.C.
* From this period, we have Mussulman synchronisms for the history of India.
† The Buddhistic era now is 2434. Notice that 16+470 + 1948, the current Samvat = 2434.
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