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New Evidence for a Gndhr Origin of the Arapacana Syllabary Author(s): Richard Salomon Reviewed work(s): Source: Journal

of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 110, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1990), pp. 255273 Published by: American Oriental Society Stable URL: . Accessed: 22/12/2012 13:03
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The Arapacana syllabary appears in many Buddhist texts in Sanskrit and other languages in place of the normal Sanskrit varnamald. Unlike the standard system, the Arapacana does not follow any apparent phonetic sequence, and is incomplete, lacking several of the simple vowels and consonants. It also includes several conjunct consonants which are not part of the normal system. Several theories have been proposed as to the origin, nature and purpose of this peculiar system. As for the question of the geographical and linguistic origins of the Arapacana, with which this paper is mainly concerned, the most widely held theory has been that of Konow, who thought that the Arapacana was invented in central Asia. A re-examination of this question, however, shows that it must have originally been formulated in the region of Gandhdra (in the modern North West Frontier Province of Pakistan) and in the GandhirT (Prakrit) language and KharosthTscript, as has been suggested by F. W. Thomas and others. This is established on the basis of both epigraphical evidence, in the form of four occurrences (three of them previously unrecognized) of the Arapacana in Kharosthl documents, and of internal evidence such as the distribution of the characters, particularly the consonant conjuncts, which reflects phonetic and graphic characteristics of an underlying GindhArT / Kharosthl original.


tion of the Arapacana is also found in the Khotanese Book of Zambasta (Konow 1933, 16-17; Emmerick
1968, 120-21 and 454-55) 2 Moreover, as shown by

the so-called "mystical SYLLABARY, THE ARAPACANA alphabet of the Buddhists," which derives its name from its first five letters (a ra pa ca na), is widespread in Buddhist tradition, being attested in numerous texts and other sources in several languages. It occurs, among other places, in several texts of the Prajidpdramitd class, both in the Sanskrit originals and in Chinese and Tibetan translations (Levi 1929, 102-3; Conze 1978, 3; Lamotte 1976, 1867, n. 3), as well as in the Ganidavyuihasection of the Avatamsaka (Levi 1929, 103; Thomas 1950, 199) and in the Chinese translation of the Dharmaguptakavinaya (Levi 1915, 440; Lamotte 1958, 549; also in the MWasarvdstivddavinaya according to Thomas 1950, 199). An adapta-

Brough (1977), the earliest Chinese translation of the Lalitavistara includes a list of words which were evidently arranged in the Indic original in the Arapacana order (see below, and part VI). In later traditions, "Arapacana" is personified as a form of Man-juiff(Lamotte 1958, 550; Malalasekere 1966, 6770; Bhattacharyya 1968, 120-21 and fig. 89).3 In Tibet, the popular mantra arapacanadhi is associated with Man-juirl(Waddell 1934, 151), and is often found inscribed on stones.

l I wish to thank my colleague, Prof. Collett Cox, for reading and discussing this paper with me at some length, as well as for providing several helpful comments and references. I am also grateful to the Department of Asian Languages and Literature of the University of Washington for helping to meet the costs involved in preparing this paper.

2 Some Khotanese texts (also available in Tibetan and Chinese versions) contain a mnemonic sequence of eight syllables, pa, la, ba, ka, ja, dha, sa, and ksa, which appears to be an abridgement of the Arapacana; these syllables are numbers 3, 6, 8, 15, 20, 22, 23, and 25 of the Arapacana. This sequence appears in the Khotanese Anantamukhadharanr(Bailey 1963, 103) and "Book of Vimalakirti"(Bailey 1951, 108-9). I am indebted to Oktor Skjaervo for bringing this point to my attention. 3 For a remarkable inscribed bronze statue of Arapacana and associated deities, see Banerjee 1947.


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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.2 (1990)

akaro mukhah sarvadharmdndmddyanutpannavat / repho mukhah sarvadharmdndmrajo pagatatvdt / pakdro mukhah sarvadharmdndm paramdrthanirdeSt / cakdro mukhah sarvadharmandm cyavanopapattyanupalabdhitvat / The letter a is the head of all the dharmas, because they are unproduced in the beginning. The letter ra is the head of all the dharmas, because they are freed of impurity. The letter pa. . . because of the expounding of the ultimate truth. The letter ca. . . because of the non-apprehension of decease and rebirth,

In its usual form the Arapacana alphabet consists of 42 syllables,4 arranged as follows (variants' given in parentheses): 1. A 2. RA 3. PA 4. CA 5. NA 6. LA 7. DA 8. BA 9. DA 10. SA 11. VA 12. TA 13. YA 14. STA 15. KA 16. SA 17. MA 18. GA 19. THA 20. JA 21. SVA (SVA) 22. DHA 23. SA 24. KHA 25. KSA 26. STA 27. JNA 28. RTHA (HA, PHAITA) 29. BHA 30. CHA 31. SMA 32. HVA 33. TSA (STA) 34. GHA 35. THA 36. NA 37. PHA 38. SKA 39. YSA 40. SCA 41. TA 42. DHA (STA)

It is obvious that the Arapacana is not really an "alphabet" in the sense that the standard Sanskrit varnamdld is; that is to say, it does not constitute a complete list of sounds or letters in a logical phonetic order. Several of the syllables of the standard Indian alphabet are missing (cf. Levi 1929, 102): all the vowels except a, and the consonants fi, #1, jh, and ha (though this latter does occur as a variant of no. 28 according to Uvi; cf. also Thomas 1950, 201). Nor does the syllabary follow any discernible phonetic order, beyond the first letter a; this, in contrast to the standard Indic alphabet which is arranged according to strict phonetic principles. Finally, the alphabet includes twelve conjunct consonants, which are not included at all in the standard alphabet (except for ksa and jfia which are sometimes added at the end by way of special ligatures); and the selection and ordering of these twelve conjuncts also do not follow any clear phonetic principle (more on this point below, and in part V). In many of the texts in which they occur, the letters of the Arapacana alphabet are treated as abbreviations of key words illustrating fundamental points of Buddhist doctrine. Thus for example in the Parcavimsvatisahasrika Praqjfipdramitd(Dutt 1934, 212) we read:

For variants with 43 or even 44 syllables, see below, part II. 5 For the variants see Levi 1929, 102 and Thomas 1950, 200-204.

and so on. Since the selection and ordering of the syllables of the Arapacana are evidently not based on phonetic or linguistic principles, it has been suggested (first by Thomas 1950, 197) that the alphabet arose as something along the lines of a mnemonic device, wherein each aksara represented a major point of doctrine; that is to say, the illustrative words came first, and the alphabet was derived therefrom, rather than vice versa. This hypothesis, however, raises certain problems (as noted by Thomas), among them the fact that no text which might have served as a prototype of such a list has yet been identified. Moreover, the specific terms connected with each syllable vary considerably in the different texts in which the Arapacana occurs; and in the Gandavyuiha,they are not phonetically related to the syllables at all. Despite these doubts, the mnemonic theory was refined by Brough (1977) in his important article on the Arapacana in the Chinese Lalitavistara. In this paper Brough examines the treatment in the older Chinese translation, that of Dharmaraksa made in 308 A.D., of the lipigdldsamdarsana episode, wherein the future Buddha visits a schoolroom and shows his knowledge of 64 scripts, and causes his 10,000 fellow students to produce an explanatory phrase for each letter of the alphabet. In the extant Sanskrit and in the later Chinese translation of Divakara (683 A.D.) the order of the syllables is that of the standard Sanskrit varnamald; but Brough shows beyond any doubt that the Chinese head words in the old Chinese Lalitavistara reflect an Indian original wherein the illustrative words follow the Arapacana order. Moreover, he points out (p. 94) that this text, unlike all others containing the Arapacana, had only head words, without any initial syllables. He therefore offers the "conjecture" that Arapacana arose from "a list of head-words" which "might have been in origin

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New Evidence for a GdndhdrrOrigin of the Arapacana Syllabary


a mnemonic device to fix the order of the verses or paragraphs of some important text, by taking the first word of each. Thereafter, the mnemonic would have been further reduced to initial syllables." An explanation along these lines, Brough further points out, would explain several of the peculiarities of the alphabet, including the absence of several of the basic letters, and especially the inclusion, seemingly at random, of a dozen conjuncts. Brough further explains the peculiarities that several of the conjuncts are of the type which would never or rarely occur in initial position (rtha, tsa, sca), and that the greater number of conjuncts appear in the latter part of the alphabet, on the grounds that these might have been the second aksara of the key words, selected in the mnemonic because the first aksara had already been used. For instance RTHA (no. 28) might have been used to represent the word artha because a had already been used at the beginning of the mnemonic sequence. Although the original text cannot be identified, since in Brough's words (ibid.) "the variations in the key-words between the sources are too many to enable us to reconstitute an original list of headwords," his hypothesis is certainly the most plausible offered to date as to the technical origin of the Arapacana syllabary. More controversial, however, is the question of the historical circumstances: that is, the date, place, and sectarian and linguistic connections of its origins. This issue was first raised by Levi (1929, 107-8), who noted that the syllable YSA (no. 39) was used in BrahmT coin legends in the Saka period of Indian history (approximately the first centuries B.C. and A.D.) to reproduce an Iranian z in the name of Ysamotika on the coins of his son, the Western Ksatrapa king Castana (late first and early second centuries A.D.).6 He thus asks (p. 108), "L'alphabet mystique du bouddhisme est-il n&au Cachemir ou ai UjjayinTi?Ou vient-il de plus loin encore vers l'Ouest, des pays limitrophes?" Though Levi declines to express a final opinion on the question, he also

The same spelling is found in the coins of Damaysada / Damajada(grl) I, Castana's great-grandson (Rapson 1908, cxxii), and in inscriptions of Castana's successors as noted by Konow (1933, 14); and in the British Museum seal of Avariysa (Sircar 1965-66, 278-79). In both cases, the conjunct consonant in question was previously read as ghsa (Ddmaghsada, Avarighsa), due to the similarity of the letters for ya and gha in the BrahmTscript of this period. But the reading ysa is almost certainly the correct one, as shown, among other things, by the evidence of the Arapacana ysa as preserved in later texts. (See also LUders 1940, 236-39.)

notes the strong traditional connection of the Arapafor whom he posits cana alphabet with ManhjugrT, "une origine serindienne." The question of the Arapacana's geographical origin was further taken up by Konow (1933), who noted that the word jard, 'old age', which is used in the Panicavims'atikd Prajiidpdramita as the illustration of the Arapacana syllable YSA, is normally spelled ysara in the Saka language of Khotan. This led him to conclude (p. 15) that the Arapacana was formulated by or among speakers of the Saka language using Sanskrit as their "chief sacred language," on the grounds that "the principle [of the Pahcavimsatika] is to explain the aksharas by means of Sanskrit words"; that is to say, that the syllabary was originally formulated in Sanskrit but under the influence of Saka language and orthography. Konow also drew attention to the appearance of Castana, the son of Ysamotika, in central Asian legends, preserved in Uighur translation. Konow cited this is as establishing a cultural connection between the Khotan region of central Asia and western India, by way of the common ethnic background of the Saka rulers, and concluded that the occurrence of the syllable ysa in BrahmTrecords of western India reflects a borrowing of a Saka / central Asian orthographical device (p. 20) into India, rather than the other way around. He thus decided that the Arapacana alphabet was not only used in Khotan (as proven by the Khotanese text referred to above) but may have actually originated there and spread into India.7 Konow's hypothesis of a central Asian origin for the Arapacana has been accepted in many circles (note especially, and influentially, Lamotte 1958, 549: "l'alphabet sur lequel elle est basee n'est pas l'alphabet indien, mais l'alphabet sace ou khotanaise"); but there are several problems with the theory. For one thing, it goes against the general direction of cultural trends in this period, i.e., of Indian influence on central Asia rather than the other way around. Secondly, there are chronological problems, which Konow addressed but failed to solve convincingly, with his attempts to date the Saka orthographical device ysa = za as early as

7 Konow concluded (1933, 24) that "[s]uch indications seem to support Professor Uvi's view that the Arapacana alphabet may have been devised in Eastern Turkestan." But actually Levi (1929) goes no further than to obliquely hint at such a possibility, and thus Thomas (1950, 206) is more accurate in referring to "Levi's hint [my italics] that the Arapacana alphabet may have originated in Chinese Turkestan."

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.2 (1990) crucial role that this language played in the development and expansion of Buddhism in the Saka-Kusana period of the early centuries of the Christian era is still being investigated, and looms larger and larger with each new discovery. Thus a Gandhari role in the origin of the Arapacana syllabary would not be out of line with the current trend of Buddhist historical studies. This Gandhari theory does in fact find at least partial support from Brough, who showed (1977, 94) that the old Chinese Lalitavistara containing words in the Arapacana order "was translated from a Gandhari version." Brough nevertheless concluded that other evidence (discussed below in part VI) "strongly suggests that Gandhari was not the language of the earliest form of the syllabary. In short, the origin of the Arapacana is still a mystery, and will remain so unless some unexpected additional evidence comes to light in the future." In the following sections of this paper I will discuss just such additional evidence in the form of four early documents, all in Kharosthi script, containing portions of the Arapacana. The first such piece of evidence, a KharosthTinscription from Takht-i-bahT,was first published only recently, and not recognized as containing the Arapacana. The second and third, the KharosthT inscriptions in the Lahore and Peshawar museums, have been known for many years, but also were never recognized as Arapacana syllabaries. Only the fourth document, identified by Thomas 1950 as a portion of the Arapacana on a wooden tablet from central Asia, was known to Brough et al., though not in a completely reliable edition (see n. 17). The combined weight of these four documents will lend strong support to Levi's and Thomas' hypothesis of a northwestern (and hence Gandhari) origin, Brough's hesitation on the point notwithstanding.

the first century A.D. Thirdly, his assumption that the Sanskrit illustrative words prove that the original syllabary itself was composed in Sanskrit is not necessarily justified. And finally, he dismissed the relevance of matters of Kharosthi orthography to the Arapacana question, on the grounds (p. 14) that "the aksara ysa has never been found in Kharosth-i"; actually, as will be shown below, the presence of this syllable is one of the chief clues that KharosthTdoes underlie the Arapacana as preserved in Buddhist Sanskrit texts. Further problems with Konow's treatment were raised by Thomas (1950), who disputed Konow's arguments based on the Saka orthography ysa, explaining (p. 206) that the choice of Jara as the illustrative word "does not imply a knowledge of the Saka-KhotanT word ysara = Sanskrit jard."8 He also rightly criticized (ibid.) Konow's explanation of SCA (no. 40) as "an older form or a corruption of Saka tea" (Konow 1933, 19) as "unmaintainable." Thomas therefore concluded (p. 207) that "it is highly improbable that the Prajiid-pdramitd should contain any elements of Central Asian speech or script; and we must be content with LEvi's statement that the alphabet was constituted in a region of India, viz. the north-west or west, where through Saka rule the aksara YSA had become familiar as representing Iranian z."9 Thomas' opinion that the Arapacana alphabet originated in India proper, rather than in central Asia, was endorsed by Conze (1975, 22), who thinks that "it took its present shape in the North West corner of India." If this is correct, we can look for clues to its origin in the Prakrit Gandhari language of this region and in the KharosthTscript which was invariably used to record this language; and the striking and distinctive phonetic and morphological peculiarities of this dialect may be expected to leave discernible traces. The
8 I have already alluded above to the inherent problems


involved in attempting to discern the origins of the Arapacana itself from an examination of the key or illustrative words associated with its letters, as the words are of questionable significance and authenticity. As will be explained below, examinations on the basis of documentary evidence and of the internal structure of the alphabet itself are more reliable and more revealing. 9 It should be noted that Thomas reached this conclusion despite the fact the document which is the subject of his paper, namely the fragment of the Arapacana in Kharosthi (discussed further in part IV of this paper), is a central Asian

Mukherjee 1984 published a new inscription from the British Museum, which he read as follows: 1. abate 2. rad(r)a (or rada) 3. pa'om 4. chama'im 5. na 6. e 7. dana 8. ba

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New Evidence for a Gdndhiri Origin of the Arapacana Syllabary SALOMON: While Mukherjee declined to give a complete translation of the inscription, which he referred to (p. 18) as "an enigmatic as well as interesting Kharosthl document," he expressed the opinion that "the epigraph records the gift [dana, 1. 7] of a cistern or water reservoir [pal'm, 1. 3] for the exclusive use of the weaker section of the society or civil population or women-folk [abale, 1. 1]." Through the kind assistance of Wladimir Zwalf of the British Museum, I have obtained a photograph (fig. 1) and an eye-copy of the inscription. The inscription is written on the back of a Gandharan relief illustrated in fig. 2, now kept in the British Museum (registration no. 1900.4-14.13), and originally from the important Buddhist monastery site of 10 near Marddn in the North West FronTakht-i-BahT tier Province of Pakistan."1 The piece is tentatively identified as the 'Presentation of the bride to Siddhartha' (Marshall 1960, 34 and plate 27, fig. 41; Hallade 1968, 15, pl. 4). The inscribed rear surface of the stone measures 5 1/2 by 13 1/2 inches (14 by 34 cm). The letters are 3/4 to 1 inch in height, while the numerical figures are 1/4 to 3/8 inches high. Regarding the date of the inscription Mukherjee (1984, 16) says, "Palaeographically it can be dated to the lst-2nd century A.D.," and I am inclined to agree with this estimate. The form of ca, for instance, with the head stroke written as a diagonal line running from upper left to lower right, is typical of inscriptions of the period of the great Kusanas, which according to the most generally accepted chronology would fall within this period. The relief on the rear of which the inscription is written is included by Marshall (1960, 34) among the pieces representing "The Childhood of Gandhara Art." Although he offers no specific estimate for its date, his comments would point toward the same general period, and we would therefore be reasonably safe in attributing the inscription to the early centuries A.D., assuming that it is more or less contemporaneous with the sculpture. In any case it can hardly be later, as the rear surface on which it is inscribed would have been inaccessible once the relief was completed and fixed in place. I read the inscription as follows: 1. 2.


3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

pa ca na la da ba

im ma




a ra

le ba (bra or da?)

For descriptions of the site and relics found there, see Spooner 1907-8 and 1910, 62-78. " The placement of the inscription on the back of a Gandharan relief was not noted by Mukherjee.

Fi. 1. Inscription on the rear of a relief from Takhtibhl. (Photograph courtesy of the British Museum.)

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.2 (1990)

Fig. 2. Front of the Takht-i-bahl relief: Presentation of the bride to Siddhdrtha (?). (Photograph courtesy of the British Museum.) At the upper left side of the inscription, next to lines 1 and 2, are four sets of numerical figures, which I read as does Mukherjee: 1. 2. 3. 4. 20 10 4 4 20 1 1 4 4 1 1 [=44] [=11] [=6] [=9]

The readings of all the numbers are clear, as are most of the letters except those given in parentheses. The second letter in 1. 2 looks very much like the character read as ba in lines 1 and 8, except for a diagonal stroke at the lower right. This syllable could be interpreted as b with an r diacritic, i.e., bra, or as a cursively written da with a diacritic of uncertain phonetic force, i.e., da, such as is found frequently in the central Asian KharosthT documents and occasionally in Indian inscriptions (e.g., in the Wardak vase inscription, Konow 1929, 170, 1. 1: ga4[r]ig[r]ena); but the shape of the character in question is not exactly like the usual form of either of these letters. The second letter in 1. 7 resembles a pa with the right hand vertical extended downwards; the line connecting the two verticals is faint in the photograph, but is clear in Zwalf's eye-copy, as well as on the original (which I was able to examine, once again with Zwalf's assistance, in August 1987). The third character in the same line looks somewhat like a dra tilted 450 counterclockwise. The vertical line after ba in 1. 8 seems to be merely an extraneous mark. There are also a few

other stray marks lightly engraved elsewhere on the stone and faintly visible in the photograph which resemble Kharosthl aksaras, for example, what looks like a pa near the right edge on a level with line 6; but these do not appear to be significant. These revised readings, however, do not provide any more of a satisfactory text than Mukherjee's, at least when read in the conventional Kharosthl fashion, that is from right to left; only 1. 1 gives a plausible word, abale. The arrangement in eight lines of only one to three characters each, moreover, is most unusual, especially since it is clearly not dictated by limitations of space on the stone. It occurred to me, therefore, to try reading the inscription, not in the usual horizontal fashion, but vertically, from top to bottom. Reading the initial letter of each line in this way provides the following interesting result for the first column: a ra pa ca na la da ba

This sequence of eight characters agrees precisely with the beginning of the Arapacana alphabet. But continuing to read the second letters of each line in the same vertical fashion, we have: ba (bra or ia?) im ma (pa?)

This sequence does not correspond to the normal order of the Arapacana, whose ninth through thirteenth letters are DA, SA, VA, TA, and YA (see

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New Evidence for a Gdndhdri Origin of the Arapacana Syllabary


above, part I). The first letter in the second column repeats the last of the first column. The next letter, if da is the correct reading, would be the next (i.e., ninth) letter of Arapacana (except for the additional diacritic). The following im, however, does not fit at all in Arapacana, which includes no vowels except for a at the beginning; and ma would be out of place, as it is the seventeenth letter of Arapacana. Likewise the other im in 1. 4 (third character), and the uncertain letters in 1. 7 do not correspond in any discernible way with the Arapacana arrangement. Nor do the letters in the second column have any evident connection with the key words given in various Buddhist texts for each aksara of the Arapacana alphabet (e.g., a = ddyanutpannatvdt, ra = rajo)9agatatvdt, etc.). The significance of the numerical figures at the left side of the inscription is equally obscure. The total of 44 for the first figure is tantalizingly close to the usual total number of letters, 42, in the Arapacana alphabet. Moreover, some texts give a total of 43 letters, which Conze (1978, 3, n. 1) believes may be genuine; and Thomas (1950, 203) even records an example with 44 letters, but dismisses it as erroneous. The numeral 44 thus could conceivably refer to the total number of letters in a variant form of the Arapacana alphabet, even though the classical formulation usually has 42 letters. For the other three numerals, 11, 6, and 9, however, I am unable to propose any explanation, as they do not seem to correspond to any significant subdivisions or other grouping of the Arapacana. Lamotte (1976, 1868, n. 3), notes that certain texts attribute a special significance to the first 16 letters, but this does not clarify the matter at hand; the second and third numbers total 17, which might conceivably have some relation to this system, but the matter is obviously problematic. There are, therefore, admittedly problems with considering the inscription as a specimen of the Arapacana alphabet pure and simple. Nevertheless, the agreement of the initial letters of each line with the first eight letters of the Arapacana can hardly be insignificant, as the chances of this occurring coincidentally would be exceedingly small. The vertical arrangement of the aksaras, while certainly unusual, is also not wholly without parallels. (For other examples of vertical writing in special calligraphic or quasiritualistic contexts, see Salomon 1980, 45.) Given these points, and keeping in mind the prominence of the Arapacana alphabet in Buddhist tradition as a whole, I am strongly inclined to assume that the inscription is in some way connected with it, and must represent a partial citation of it. But if we do in fact have in this inscription a partial representation of the Arapacana alphabet, it remains

to be explained what the significance of its use there might be, particularly in view of its unusual position on the reverse of a narrative relief. The most obvious explanation would be that the inscription of the sacred alphabet represents something along the lines of a magical charm. On the one hand, this theory would have the advantage of explaining its position on the back of the relief, where it would be permanently concealed; for the practice of ritual or quasi-ritual inscriptions being placed in invisible locations in order to produce spiritual merit for the inscriber or donor is well attested among Kharosthl inscriptions (see, e.g., Konow 1929, 31). But on the other hand, such a theory still leaves unexplained the problem of the aksaras in the second and third vertical lines, which do not agree with the Arapacana ordering, as well as the mysterious numbers at the left side. A second possibility is that the inscription on the back of the stone is something more in the nature of an idle graffito, perhaps inscribed by a monk or student who had studied, or was studying, the Arapacana alphabet. (Such an impression is strengthened by the occurrence of what appear to be other stray letters lightly scratched on the edges of the stone.) The problematic aksaras of the second and third columns might then be dismissed as due to the inscriber's ignorance of the full alphabet, or as some idle or idiosyncratic letter-play on the basis of the Arapacana; or even as some otherwise unknown variant or expansion of it. But this explanation too is less than totally satisfactory, especially in view of the generally consistent form of Arapacana as attested in diverse sources and places in the Buddhist world; such variations as are attested are generally minor and often attributable to textual corruption (see below, part IV); none of them even remotely resembles what we find in the second and third columns of the new inscription. We may therefore propose a third explanation along entirely different lines. We need not automatically assume that the letters on the back of the relief had a mystical rather than a practical purpose. It is at least conceivable that they had to do, not with ritualistic incantations, but rather with such a mundane matter as the location of the stone in the construction of the monument-presumably a stupaon which it originally stood at Takht-i-bahl. I am suggesting, in other words, that the letters on the back of this relief might have constituted some sort of code for the reference of the artisans in arranging the reliefs. For example, the eight Arapacana letters in the right hand (i.e., first) column might have constituted points of reference, while the letters to the left of them referred to specific reliefs or scenes, indicating

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.2 (1990) the agreement of the letters of the first column of the inscription with the first eight syllables of the Arapacana alphabet is almost certainly neither coincidental nor insignificant; and that, while their purpose on the relief and their relationship to the other letters and numbers remains uncertain, they do provide an important clue for the long-standing problem of the origin of the Arapacana alphabet.

their intended order of placement on the monument. We might speculate, then, that the unexplained letters were abbreviations for the names or labels of narrative scenes. Thus im, which occurs twice (lines 3 and 4) (and which, as noted above, could not be an Arapacana letter) might stand for Indra (written imdra in Kharosthi), referring, for instance, to a scene such as Indra's visit to the mountain cave (the Indrasailaguha), a favorite subject in Gandharan art and one which is attested at Takht-i-bdhT(Spooner 1910, 23). The syllable ma might stand for Mara (Kharosthi mara) in a scene such as the Buddha's temptation by Mara and his daughters, also common in Gandharan sculpture, including Takht-i-bdhi (Lyons and Ingholt 1957, 65, no. 62). Likewise ba in line 1 might denote a scene of the visit to the ascetic Bavari, again found at Takht-i-bahT(Hargreaves 1930, 43, Peshawar Museum no. 1151); and so on. According to this hypothesis, the numerical figures at the upper left might be explained as referring to the total number of reliefs and some sub-divisions in their arrangement. Similar graffiti-like inscriptions of isolated aksaras and numerical figures to indicate the arrangement of the pieces on which they are written are well-attested in Kharosthliand other inscriptions; see, for example, the Kharosthl numbers inscribed on brick tiles to indicate their ordering at Harwan (Kak 1933, 109), and the Brahmi letters apparently inscribed in alphabetic sequence on pillars at BodhGaya (Cunningham 1892, 8; Grierson 1896). Note also the comments of Taddei (1979, 397-98, n. 12): "The position of a slab in a frieze is often indicated in Gandharan reliefs by kharosth! numerals or letters incised either on the back or on the smooth surfaces of the front." And although it might seem strange for the mystical Arapacana alphabet to be used for such a mundane purpose, the Arapacana alphabet would have been so familiar to the inhabitants of a Buddhist monastic establishment that it could have come to function virtually as a standard alphabet in place of the elsewhere more usual Sanskrit varnamili. Of course, this last hypothesis is speculative, and I would decline, for the present at least, to commit myself to any one of the possible explanations of the significance of the new inscription; the correct answer may well be something entirely different. One potentially fruitful avenue of further investigation would be to examine the back of other reliefs from Takht-ibahl and other Gandharan monastery sites. It would not be too surprising if some of these were to reveal similar inscriptions12 which could help to clarify the enigma of the present one. For the meantime, therefore, I would commit myself only to the position that

The incident in the early life of the future Buddha in which he visits a school and exhibits a knowledge of 64 scripts (see above, part I) is a common subject in Gandharan sculpture (see Foucher 1905, 322-26) as well as in other phases of Buddhist art, for example, at Ajanta, Tun-huang, and Barabudur (see Krom 1926, 44, and references given there). In two of the Gandharan pieces, the slate or board on which the Buddha writes actually bears a legible inscription in Kharosthi. The pieces in question are: (1) No. 206 in the Lahore Museum; findspot unknown. Konow 1929, 130-31 and pl. XXIV.2; Majumdar 1924, 11, no. 28; Vogel 1903-4, 244 (no. 4), 245-47, and pl. LXVI. 1; Boyer 1904, 685-86; Foucher 1905, 324-26 and fig. 167. See figs. 3 and 4. (2) No. 347 in the Peshawar Museum; findspot unknown, but probably "from the Khudu Khel country." Konow 1929, 129-30 and pl. XXIV.3; Spooner 1910, 9-10; Hargreaves 1930, 24-25; Majumdar 1924, 19, no. 56; Lyons and Ingholt 1957, 55, no. 25, and fig. 25; Shakur 1946, 23-24, no. 23, and pl. VIII.2. See figs. 5 and 6. The Lahore sculpture shows the future Buddha"3 seated and holding on his lap a writing board. The board is upside down with respect to the sitting figure, so that the letters inscribed on it appear right-side up to the viewer (Foucher 1905, 324). The inscription
12 One other inscription on the back of a sculpture from Takht-i-bahi has been noted (Konow 1929, 63), but this seems to be an ordinary donative record and hence not revealing in the present context. (Cf. also the comments of Taddei 1979, quoted above.) " Konow (1929, 130) identifies the figure holding the tablet as Visvamitra, the writing teacher in the Lalitavistara story but as shown by Vogel (1903-4, of the LipiSdIdsamdarSana; 246), it must be the Bodhisattva himself. Cf. the following note.

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Origin of the Arapacana Syllabary SALOMON: New Evidence for a GdndhdrT


Fig. 4. Detail of the Lahore Museum sculpture: Cast of the inscription on the writing board. material presented above, we should now consider the possibility that the text may be part of the Arapacana syllabary; for we have already seen one example of Arapacana in a Gandharl inscription, and from Brough (1977) we know that it was followed in an version of the Lalitavistara. The first early Gandh-arT visible aksara, read as sa by Boyer et al. and as "a mutilated sam" by Konow, is problematic; but it could be seen as ram, or rather as ra with a pleonastic anusvdra-like flourish at the bottom, as is seen in other Kharosthl letters (cf. below, part IV). The next character may well be pa, as read by Boyer et al., if the faint extension at the upper left which led Konow to read ka is an extraneous mark. The third letter, read by all as ra, is in fact ca; the diagonal line at the upper left which distinguishes it from ra is faint, but clearly visible. The next letter is definitely na as read by Konow (Boyer reads na). The final letter, after the space covered by the Buddha's right hand, which according to Konow "seems to be ta," is very faint, but could be ba. I therefore propose the following reading: (ra[m?]) pa ca na . .. (ba) and reconstruct: [*a] rapa ca na [*la da] ba. In other words, I suggest that the Lahore writingboard inscription comprises the first eight letters of the Arapacana, exactly as in the first column of the Takht-i-bahl inscription described above. Certain problems, it must be conceded, remain. The reading of ra is highly uncertain, and ba is also unsure. Moreover, na instead of na is incorrect for the Arapacana, where na is separately included as syllable no. 36. This, however, may be explained as symptomatic of the well-attested confusion in Kharosthl inscriptions generally of the retroflex and dental nasals, which were not clearly distinguished in the GandharT dialect.

Fig. 3. Lahore Museum relief: The Buddha with the writing board. piece was read by Boyer (1904, 685-86) as saparana [hi]ta, "Le bien de soi-meme et des autres" (= svaparesdm hitam). (Boyer supplied the letter [hi], supposing it to be concealed by the Buddha's right hand, which covers the portion of the slate between the aksaras read as na and ta.) Boyer associated this with dtmaparahitam, which is given in the Lalitavistara as the phrase illustrative of the letter a. Foucher (1905, 325) further suggested reconstructing the beginning of the inscription, which is concealed by the Buddha's left hand, as ata, thus reading the whole as (ata) saparana (hi)tam. Konow, however (1929, 131), read [s]amk'arana [anica*]ta, i.e., samskdrdndm anityatd, "(the impermanence) of the Samskaras," corresponding to anityah sarvasamskdrasabdah given in the Lalitavistara as the illustration for a (thus obviating the need to "admettre que le sculpteur reproduit une forme populaire oui l'd du pkt. ata '6tait emis' le premier, tandis que l'ecrivain, en sanskritisant la legende, n'a pu 'enoncer' qu'en second lieu, dans l'ordre alphabetique, l'd du skt. atman"; Foucher 1905, 325). According to Konow (1929, 131), "The first akshara cannot be sa, but is a mutilated sam.... In the second ... we have the same modified form of ka which occurs in the words samk'ara and dukhak'andha of the Kurram casket inscription." He also estimates the number of syllables covered by the Buddha's right hand as two or three, rather than one, as supposed by Boyer. Thus there are considerable differences of opinion about the reading of this inscription (which is far from clear on the stone). But in light of the new

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.2 (1990)

Fig. 6. Detail of the Peshawar Museum sculpture: The inscription on the writing board.
: t

Here again there are serious discrepancies

in the

Fig. 5. Peshawar Museum sculpture: Visvamitra with the writing board, Bodhisattva on the right. These doubts, moreover, may be dispelled by a comparison with the second example, i.e., the inscription on the Peshawar Museum lipis'ldsamdarsana sculpture (figs. 5 and 6). This piece shows the teacher Visvdmitra14 seated on a chair with the writing board held upside down under his right arm. The rather badly worn inscription, written across the top of the board, was read by Majumdar (1924, 19, n. 3) as parana [hi]da. Konow (1929, 130), however, read samts'areIi devama, "in the world (whichever) writings (of) gods and men (there are)," with the comment (129) "I am not able to read the record with certainty."'5 He associates this interpretation with the passage in the Rilpasamdarsanasection (which follows the lipisldsaamdarsana) of the Lalitavistara reading mdnusyaloke 'tha ca devaloke ... ydvanti kecil lipi sarvaloke / tatraisa pdramgatu 'uddhasattvah, taking samts'are as = samsare and Ii as an abbreviation for
lipi. Not the Bodhisattva, as stated by Konow (1929, 129); cf. the preceding note. Konow seems to have switched the Peshawar and Lahore pieces in his descriptions. 15 Earlier Konow (1926, 36) had read the inscription as a date, sam[vats'a]rae 20; but he evidently discarded this reading, as he does not refer to it in Konow 1929.

different readings, as well as problems'with the textual identification; but it is interesting to note that MaJumdar saw in the Peshawar inscription essentially the same text as at Lahore. Now the first letter, read by him as pa and by Konow as sam, is very much defaced, but we can accept pa as at least a plausible possibility. The second letter is ra according to Majumdar and ts'a according to Konow; but, as in the Lahore inscription, it can just as well be read as a somewhat cursively written ca. For the third character I again prefer Majumdar'sna to Konow's re; there does appear in the estampage a vertical mark above which could be taken as a vowel diacritic, but it is not actually attached to the aksara and hence may be only a stray mark on the stone. Konow (p. 130) says that the next character, which Majumdar read as [hi], "looks like la, with a sloping line across the head. Though the line slopes the wrong way, I think it possible to read ii." He then reads the fifth letter (Majumdar's da) as de, "with the estroke protruding from the upper curve of the letter and running into the i of iU."Considering the peculiarity of the supposed diacritic running into both consonants, I am again inclined to disregard it as an extraneous mark, and read la and da. As for the final two syllables (not read by Majumdar), Konow calls the first of them "a fairly clear va"; but in his plate it is hardly visible. It is somewhat clearer in the photograph in Ingholt and Lyons (1957, fig. 25), and could well be read as ba, although the head portion seems to be partially defaced. In the final letter Konow sees a broad ma." But here again the letter is "6apparently hardly visible in the plate; in the photograph it is slightly clearer, though hardly recognizable as a full Kharosthi character. It may be pointed out, however, that there is a paleographic similarity between Konow's ma and the Arapacana letter which would appear in this position, dIa, whose upper portion, excluding the vertical, closely resembles ma. At this

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Origin of the Arapacana Syllabary New Evidence for a GandhdrT


Fig. 7. Fragment of the Arapacana syllabary in KharosthTon a wooden tablet from Niya. (Photograph courtesy of the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books, the British Library.) than the standard alphabetic order, shows that this form of the story was current in Gandhdra of the early Christian era (and was, very likely, the original form of the story). This being the case, and given the increasingly evident popularity of Arapacana in early times, it would be only natural that artists would write out the first eight or ten letters (or as many as would fit on the writing tablet in the relief) of the Arapacana to illustrate this well known incident. In conclusion, the Peshawar and Lahore inscriptions corroborate the other textual and epigraphic indications that the Arapacana syllabary was current and popular in Kusana-period Gandhdra, and was the alphabet which was followed in the original form of the lipisdldsamdarsana legend. This evidence further suggests, without proving in and of itself, that the syllabary itself may have originated in this sphere; a possibility which, as will be shown below in part V, can be further corroborated on internal grounds.

point the inscription runs into the right hand of the teacher Vi'vdmitra, and the missing vertical may have been concealed by it. da is therefore a possible, if far from certain, reading for the last aksara. In conclusion, then, I would propose the following reading for the Peshawar Museum inscription:
... (pa) ca na 1(a) d(a) (ba) (da).

That is to say, the extant text seems to contain syllables 3 through 9 of the Arapacana alphabet. If this is correct, there should have been. two more letters at the beginning (i.e., on the right), namely a and ra; in the photograph the (proper) upper right corner of the writing tablet (at the lower left in the relief as a whole) seems to be broken off or worn away, and the missing space is more or less that of two syllables. I would therefore reconstruct the Peshawar inscription as: [*a ra] pa ca na la da ba Cda. Although the readings of both inscriptions are by no means totally clear, I consider it virtually certain that they are in fact partial Arapacana syllabaries. The similarity between them, though denied by Konow, was apparent to Majumdar, and can hardly be coincidental. Konow's textual identifications are forced at best, and (as he himself admitted in the case of the Peshawar inscription) not entirely appropriate to the context. The Arapacana, moreover, is exactly what we should expect, given what we now know about the history of the alphabet. For, not only do we have another inscriptional occurrence from the same general time and region, but, more importantly, Brough's discovery in the early Chinese Lalitavistara of an underlying Kharosthl/ Gndhdri source wherein the lipis'ldsaMdarsana follows the Arapacana, rather

As first pointed out by Thomas (1950, 194), the Kharosthl document (fig. 7), written on a wooden tablet discovered by Sir Aurel Stein at the Niya River site in Chinese Turkestan (now the Xinjiang-Uighur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China) and published by Boyer, Rapson, and Senart (1927, 187 [no. 512]), is a fragment of an Arapacana syllabary. The object in question was described by Stein (1921, 1.257) as: N. Oblong tablet. Obv. along upper edge row of Khar[osthl]. characters with the long strokes carried down from each and curved over to form lotus-petal border along lower edge. Rev. split off. Good condition; ends broken. 6Y2"x 1/8" x Y16".

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.2 (1990) the document in question as read by Boyer et al., however, could not be satisfactorily reconciled by Thomas; but several of them can now be clarified with reference to the original document, as follows: 1) Before the first letter read by Boyer et al. and Thomas there remain traces of two prior aksaras. The second of these can be recognized with reasonable certainty as MA, the seventeenth syllable of the Arapacana. The one preceding it should be SA, and while the remaining traces are too meager to read it as such (only the lower portion of the non-distinctive vertical line is clear), there is nothing that would contradict this; we can therefore hypothetically reconstruct it as SA. 2) The first complete letter is definitely GA, as already noted. 3) The third complete letter was read by Boyer et al. as DAM or JA. Although JA would be expected in this position in the Arapacana, the letter is not the normal form of ja, as its left hand member is bent into a hook shape rather than a straight diagonal line as in the usual Kharosthija. This makes the reading DA, or perhaps rather JHA, more likely. It is possible, however, that the scribe (who was evidently not an expert; see the further comments below) actually intended a JA, and I have tentatively read the syllable as such. 4) The fourth complete letter was read by Boyer et al. as DHAM.19 Thomas suggested (p. 203) that "the true reading would be SVA,`' but the letter is actually quite clearly SPA,20 not SVA or SVA as found in the usual Arapacana. But the discrepancy can be explained on dialectal grounds, as sp and sv (as also sp and sv) can alternate in Gandhari, e.g., sparga and svaga = Sanskrit svarga in the Dharmapada (Brough 1962, 103); see also the remarks below on character 14.
'9 Thomas (p. 203) further comments, "It seems possible that in place of DHA . . . the editors intended DA." This is not correct, although Thomas was on the right track in suspecting that the earlier reading was wrong. The editors no doubt had in mind the variant form of dha given in their (Boyer et al. 1929) pl. XIV, no. 72 (actually of uncertain value; see Boyer et al. 1929, 305), which it does resemble somewhat. 20 This is the usual form of Kharosth! spa (a) as found in inscriptions and other documents; for example, in the Jamalgarh! pedestal inscription (Konow 1929, 114), spamiasa (misread by Konow as sdmiasa; cf. Salomon 1985-86, 284-85) = svdminah, and in the Gandhari Dharmapada, v. 344, 1. 356 (Brough 1962, 175 and pl. XVII); as opposed to the central Asian form of the syllable (S) as illustrated in Boyer et al. 1929, pl. XIV, no. 243.

Boyer et al. give the following reading for the surviving aksaras (alternative readings in parentheses16):
... ram(da) tham dam(ja) dham gam kham

cham stam nam nom(da) nkam(tsa) pham tsam(ka)...



Although the agreement is by no means perfect, these letters correspond on the whole with nos. 18-33 of the classical Arapacana alphabet: 18. GA 19. THA 20.JA 21. SVA (SVA) 22. DHA 23. SA 24. KHA 25. KSA 26.STA 27. JNA 28. RTHA (HA, PHA, ITA) 29. BHA 30. CHA 31.SMA 32. HVA 33. TSA (STA) ...

Thomas was able to reconcile a few of the discrepancies even though he did not have access to the original document. Thus for the first letter read by Boyer et al. as ram or da, Thomas (p. 203) suggests that "a correction ... to GA . . . seems justifiable." My examination of the original document18 confirmed this suggestion; the upper portion of the syllable in question is worn off, but the traces remaining, including curved lines on both sides of the vertical, make it clear that the original reading could not have been ra or da, but rather must have been ga (see fig. 7). Most of the discrepancies between the standard Arapacana and
16 With regard to the inscription as a whole, Boyer et al. remark (n. 1) "it may be doubted if the anusvara is intended in these aksaras, except in the case of sam and kham where it is certain." The reference here is to the curved portions of the bottom of each letter, constituting what Stein (quoted above) described as "a lotus-petal border." I am inclined to see these as calligraphic flourishes rather than as anusvdra diacritics; see below, n. 23. 17 In 194, n. 1, Thomas says "The original tablet, sent to India along with the rest of the collection, is reported as at present untraceable there." But in the slip of "Berichtigungen" added to the volume in which the paper is published, we read that "[t]he original tablet, not sent to India along with the rest of the collection, is at present preserved in the British Museum. The readings are in general sufficiently clear." Thus Thomas evidently was eventually able to see the original, but not to utilize it for his paper. The photograph printed here in fig. 7 is to my knowledge the first published reproduction of the document. 18 Seen in August, 1987, at the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books of the British Library, where it is catalogued under the number Or. 8211 / 1390.

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New Evidence for a GdndhdrT Origin of the Arapacana Syllabary


5) The eighth character, read by Boyer et al. as CHAM, is, as noted by Thomas (p. 203), the same as Sanskrit KSA, the difference being essentially one of transliteration only. It should be noted, however, that the aksara does not have the horizontal diacritic line above which is usually found with it in central Asian Kharosth1,but not in Indian Kharosthi. 6) The eleventh letter, read as NOM or DA by Boyer et al., is the most problematic of all. The corresponding letter of the Arapacana is RTHA (with several variants;21 see above, part I, and Thomas 1950, 201, no. 28). Thomas (p. 204) suggests "conceivably NO, if actual in the Kharosthi, was the sinless [sic] misreading of a Brahml RTHA his original having probably been in that script."22This explanation is, however, hardly acceptable on paleographic grounds, as Brahmi rtha has no resemblance to no. The character in question on the original document actually resembles a normal tha (compare the second complete character) with the right hand horizontal member tilted sharply upward. It is not at all clear what precisely this syllable is meant to represent, but as it is clearly not a normal form for either no or da we should rather think in terms of some variant of tha, as would be expected in this position in the Arapacana. But the aberrant form could hardly be explained as indicating the prefixed r of RTHA, since pre-consonantal r is normally expressed in KharosthT by a loop pointing to the right at the bottom of the character, and there is no trace of such on the document. It is just barely conceivable that, due to the peculiar calligraphic flourish at the bottom of each syllable in this document (probably not meant as anusvdra as thought by the first editors; see notes 16 and 23) the prefixed r could not be attached in the usual way, and was indicated by the aberrant form of the consonant; but in fact I know of no parallel for such a form. I have therefore tentatively read the syllable as THA, on the assumption that it is some unusual form of normal Kharosthi tha.
" The fact that this syllable is subject to more variation than any other in the Arapacana is presumably related to the paleographical problem discussed here, in that both seem to reflect uncertainty as to the correct syllable in this position. 22 In this connection note also Thomas' suggestion (1950,
205, n. 1) that the syllables na sa la ra a written upside down

7) For the fourteenth syllable, read as NKAM or TSA by Boyer et al., Thomas (p. 204) suggests SMA (as appears in the normal Arapacana in this position) or TSMA. The actual letter, however, cannot be either of these, and in fact resembles very closely, except for a more extended upward curve at the upper left, the fourth character, which I read as SPA. I think that in fact it too has to be read as such, even though this would produce an unexpected and undesired repetition of the syllable. Now Sanskrit sm regularly corresponds to Gandhari sv, and the latter, as noted above, alternates in Gandhari with sp; moreover, as will be seen below (part VI), the Arapacana attested in the Chinese Lalitavistara also reflects variation and confusion among these syllables. The duplication of the syllable SPA may thus be due to scribal error resulting from dialectal ambiguities (as discussed further below). 8) After TSA, the last letter read by the earlier editors, the original document shows traces of two more letters. According to the Arapacana syllabary, these should be GHA and THA, and the traces of the first syllable, with a curve at the right side, would indeed suggest GHA. Of the last letter, only a portion of the vertical remains, which has no distinctive features but could be part of THA. I thus propose to read the document as follows (substituting standard modern transcriptions for those used by Boyer et al., e.g., ksa and vha instead of chia
and phia):23 ... [sa] (ma) (ga) tha (ja) spa dha sa

kha ksa sta fia (tha) bha cha (spa) vha tsa (gha) [tha]... This corresponds, for the most part, with syllables 16 through 35 of the standard Arapacana syllabary: 16. SA 17. MA 18. GA 19. THA 20. JA 21. SVA (SVA) 22. DHA 23. SA 24. KHA 25. KSA 26. STA 27. JAA 28. RTHA (HA, PHA, ITA) 29. BHA 30. CHA 31. SMA 32. HVA 33. TSA (STA) 34. GHA 35. THA

in the margin of Kharosth1document 511 (Boyer et al. 1927, 186 [s]), which contains verses in Buddhist Sanskrit and was found in the same room at the Niya site as the document in
question here, "might conceivably be arala (for pa)cana

rendered in Brahmi left-to-right order from a Brahmi original."

23 Here square brackets are used to indicate a syllable reconstructed from slight remaining traces, while parentheses indicate a probable, but less than definite reading. As explained above (n. 16), I am inclined to take the curves at the bottom of the aksaras as ornamental flourishes rather than as anusvdra marks; such cases of ambiguous, anusvdra-like marks are not uncommon in other Kharosthi documents.

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.2 (1990) has at best a marginal status as a separate morpheme and grapheme in Gandhari and Kharosthi (see Brough 1962, 59); h does occur as an independent grapheme, but as will be shown below, the jfia of the Sanskritized classical Arapacana was probably substituted for an original Gandhar-ih. The absence of h is difficult to explain (though it does sometimes appear as a variant of no. 28; see above, part I), but is in any case not decisive for the question of the linguistic origin of the Arapacana, since h is common to all Old and Middle Indo-Aryan languages and Indic scripts. The evidence of the missing consonants, however, is hardly decisive in and of itself, since most of the syllables concerned are rare in both Sanskrit and Prakrit generally, so that their absence could well be attributed to statistical coincidence.25 But the anomalous occurrences of twelve compound consonants in the classical Arapacana as preserved in the Sanskrit language and in Brahmi-derived scripts provides stronger evidence for a Gandhari / Kharosthi origin of the syllabary. The twelve conjuncts are: STA (14), SVA (21), KSA (25), STA (26), JAA (27), RTHA (28), SMA (31), HVA (32), TSA (33), SKA (38), YSA (39), and SCA (40). Of these twelve, all but one-JAA-exist in one form or another in the KharosthT script and the Gandhari language, either as explicit paleographically analyzable conjuncts, or in the form of distinct characters whose paleographical components are not entirely clear but whose phonetic value can be determined by the Sanskrit or other cognates of the words in which they occur. Explicit conjunct characters are found in KharosthT for SVA, RTHA, SMA, and TSA;26 and it is important to keep in mind that these are not merely graphic archaisms, but reflect the actual retention and distinct pronunciation of these consonantal groups more or less as in Sanskrit. (Gandhart stands apart from other MIA dialects in that it generally tends to be much less prone to the assimilation or separation of original consonant clusters.) Among the remaining eight conjuncts: STA is represented occasionally (but only in the central Asian documents) by an explicit conjunct (Boyer et al. 1929, pl. XIV no. 233). More commonly, Sanskrit sta corresponds to the KharosthTcharacter (7) which is conventionally transliterated as tha, or
25 The exception here is jha, which is generally common in MIA but marginal in Gandhari. Its absence from the Arapacana thus is a significant point in favor of a Gandhari origin. 26 This last conjunct has in the past often been read as tsa; but Brough (1962, 73-74) has authoritatively established its probable value as tsa on both linguistic and paleographic grounds.

Thus Thomas' identification of the document as a fragment of a (presumably) originally complete Arapacana alphabet in Kharosthi is confirmed by an examination of the original which was not available to him at the time he wrote his article. This examination also clarifies some, though not all, of the discrepancies between it and the standard syllabary as preserved in various Buddhist Sanskrit texts. The document appears not to have been written with particular skill, perhaps representing the work of a student or novice; if so, this would explain some of the remaining discrepancies and inconsistencies, such as the repetition of the syllable spa. (These and the other remaining discrepancies, such as NA corresponding to J&A of the texts, will be further discussed below.)

Of the four early documentary instances of the Arapacana syllabary now known, three-the Takht-ibahi inscriptionand the two writing-boardinscriptionscome from the Gandhart-speakingnorthwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, dating from about the first two centuries A.D.; while the fourth, probably slightly later in date, comes from the region of central Asia in which Gandhari, in a variant dialect affected by the local language, had become the official language and lingua franca. Thus there is strong a priori evidence in favor of the theory of a northwestern and Gandharl, as opposed to a central Asian, origin for the syllabary. Moreover, the syllabary has certain internal graphic and phonetic features which corroborate the epigraphical indications of a GandharT/ northwestern origin. First of all, as noted above in part I, the syllabary is incomplete in several respects when compared to the Sanskrit varnamdld; and the letters that are missing may be taken to suggest an underlying Gandharl / Kharosthli stratum. The absence of the vowels other than a is suggestive of a KharosthTconnection, since in this script initial vowels are written as diacritic variants of the a (reflecting the Semitic origin of the script), rather than with distinct characters for the different vowels as is generally done in Brahmi (cf. Thomas 1950, 196). This being the case, the initial vowel signs for i, u, o, etc. were probably not perceived by writers of Gandharliin KharosthTscript as separate graphemes. The simple consonants which are absentn, jh, 11,and h-also point toward, or at least do not contradict, a Gandhari / Kharosthi background. h, first of all, is entirely absent in Kharosthi.24jha too
24 Earlier readings of conjunct consonants with n as initial member are now known to have been incorrect; see Burrow 1937, 18.

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New Evidence for a GdndhdrT Origin of the Arapacana Syllabary


to V, transliterated iha. The precise phonetic value of both of these characters is uncertain and probably variable; for a complete discussion of the complex problems involved see Brough 1962, 75-77. But what is important for our purposes is that the KharosthT script and the Gandhari language which it recorded evidently did retain a distinct character and sound which corresponded to (though it may not have been phonetically identical with) Sanskrit sta.27 KSA is commonly represented in Kharosthi by the character Y, which is evidently not a graphic combination of the characters for k and S,28 but which nonetheless regularly corresponds to Sanskrit ksa. (On the pronunciation of this letter see Bailey 194346, 774 and Brough 1962, 72). STA is written in KharosthTwith a conjunct (7j) which may or may not be a stylized combination of sa and ta (Brough 1962, 75). But here too, even if the graphic origins are not clear, the phonetic value is evident from the Sanskrit correspondences. HVA corresponds to a fairly common Kharosthi character 7C, usually transliterated as vha- in inscriptions and as pia in the central Asian documents, which may be a cursive graphic combination of va and ha. This character is used to represent a non-Sanskritic labial fricative (/f/) which is peculiar, among Old and and which is Middle Indo-Aryan dialects, to GandharT, distinct therein from the aspirate labial stop (pha). Sanskrit SKA sometimes corresponds in Kharosthi to a variant or diacritic form of ka, transliterated ka, with the vertical line extended upward (%) (Brough 1962, 75). Although here too the precise phonetic value of the character is not certain, it indicates that a distinct sound and grapheme corresponding to Sanskrit ska was preserved in Gandhari. The conjunct YSA, as has long been recognized (see above, part I), was used in certain forms of Brahmi script to represent the voiced sibilant /z/, occurring in Iranian names and loan words in Sanskrit. In Gandhari, however, this or a similar sound was a common phoneme native to the language itself, not just used in loan words; in the Kharosthi script it was most commonly represented by ja with a diacritic horizontal line above (7) see Brough 1962, 59-60.29

The occurrence of YSA in the Brahmi-derived versions of Arapacana is presumably an attempt at Sanskritizing the native Gandhari syllable za, which (following Brough's theory of the mnemonic origin of the Arapacana) might have come from an original word such asjana (i.e., zana) = Skt. dhydna. GandharT Most likely it was this diacritic ja which would have appeared in position 39 of an (original) KharosthT Arapacana, corresponding to the YSA of the Sanskrit / Brahmi syllabary; but unfortunately none of the extant partial KharosthTArapacanas contain this letter (cf. Thomas 1950, 205), so this cannot be confirmed. SCA is typically represented in GandharT/KharosthTby the normal character for ca with the addition of a diacritic horizontal line above (i). The pronunciation of this character was presumably similar if not identical to Sanskrit sca. Thus of the twelve consonant conjuncts in the Sanskritized Arapacana, eleven have direct counterparts in the form of distinct graphic elements in KharosthT/ GandharT.Only JRA seems to lack such a correspondent. The regular correspondent of Sanskrit jha in Kharosthi / Gandharl is the palatal nasal ni, as in other MIA languages. Even in the few documents (such as Boyer et al. 1927, nos. 510, 511, 523) which record Sanskrit texts in Kharosthi script, there is no Kharosthl character for jia. This may be merely coincidental, since, as far as I have been able to determine, no word with jia happens to occur in these or other Kharosthi-Sanskrit documents, so that we can only speculate as to how the conjunct would have been rendered in Kharosthi had it occurred in the Sanskrit. This problem aside, it can hardly be coincidental that eleven of the twelve conjuncts in Arapacana have graphic and phonetic counterparts in the Kharosthl script and in the Gandhari language, whereas most or all of them would not have occurred in other MIA dialects. Especially when taken in combination with the epigraphical evidence discussed above, this strongly indicates that, if the linguistic and geographical origins of the Arapacana are to be sought in MIA, they must be found in Gandhari. Of course, we must still consider the possibilitywhich was taken for granted by Levi and Konow-of a Sanskrit origin. Against this, first of all, is YSA, which would hardly be expected in a Sanskrit original. It is true, as we have seen, that such a character was used in certain cases in Sanskrit; but this only in
for this purpose, and is therefore the one most likely to have underlain the BrahmT ysa.

27 Note that Bailey (1949-51, 398, n. 1) proposed transliterating the traditional Kharosthi tha ( ) as sta. 28 The paleographic origin of this and several other nonanalyzable Kharosthi "conjuncts"remains unexplained. 29 Here too the actual paleographic situation is complex, as several characters, including jha and (in intervocalic position) sa, sa, and dha, were apparently also used to render / z/ in KharosthL.But ja was the most distinctive character used

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.2 (1990) evidently was reinterpreted as jia, this being both the nearest common phonetic equivalent, and (as would have been readily apparent to a scribe with some knowledge of Sanskrit) the commonest Sanskrit source of Gandharliha. Thus the classical Arapacana can be best accounted for as a semi-Sanskritized version of an underlying Gandhari original. The notion of a process, perhaps more or less haphazard, of Sanskritization is consistent with the variation and evident uncertainty as to the correct syllables in several places in the versions of the Arapacana preserved in Sanskrit texts. We have seen above that the central Asian Arapacana document also displays similar uncertainties and inconsistencies, such as the repetition of the syllable SPA, which seem to reflect confusions and contaminations orthographies. between Sanskrit and GandharT Of course, if the classical Arapacana is the product of the Sanskritized MIA original, we must also consider the other Prakrits (or hybrid dialects) as possible sources. In principle, at least, this is a possibility; in such a case, the Sanskrit-appearing conjuncts would represent a reconstruction of the original Prakrit syllables (e.g., RTHA reconstructed from a Prakrit T(T)HA), or perhaps rather of the key words with which they were associated (e.g., artha from attha). Nonetheless, the pattern of these conjuncts is in almost every case much more readily associable with the phonetic structure of GandharT. This, together with the now strong documentary evidence, makes it unlikely that any other Prakrit dialect underlay the Arapacana.

a very limited geographical and chronological sphere, and in epigraphical and numismatic contexts only, and even there only for writing Iranian or other foreign names and loan words (mostly official titles and the like). If, as seems most likely, the original Arapacana arose as some sort of mnemonic device based on a Buddhist canonical or didactic text, there could hardly be any reason for such foreign words to occur in it. Moreover, the general pattern of the remaining eleven conjuncts also does not point toward an original formulation of the Arapacana in Sanskrit. Several of them, particularly HVA, TSA, and SCA, are relatively uncommon in Sanskrit, whereas some of the most common consonant groups of Sanskrit (e.g., pra, tra, sya, etc.) do not appear. origin for All indications, then, point to a GandharT the Arapacana syllabary; but some problems remain. There is, first of all, the matter of the syllable jia, which did not exist in that language. But from the central Asian document (above, part IV) it would seem that the early forms of Arapacana had ha in this position (no. 27). This, along with other discrepancies between this document30and the classical form of the Arapacana, suggests that an original Gandharl Arapacana was subjected to a process of Sanskritization, albeit perhaps gradual and unsystematic, and that the form in which the Arapacana has come down to us in Buddhist Sanskrit texts reflects both a linguistic adaptation to Sanskrit and a graphic adaptation to BrahmTderived scripts. Such a development would be fully consistent with the typical patterns of linguistic development of Buddhist literature in general. One can easily imagine how a translator or editor who was familiar with both GandharTand Sanskrit would have readily Sanskritized distinctive KharosthTcharacters such as vha, th'a, or ka into their Sanskrit counterparts hva, sta, and ska. A few characters, though, notably ja (i.e. /za/) and na would have presented problems. The former would be most readily reproduced in Sanskrit by its nearest phonetic equivalent ja, but this had already been used in the alphabet (no. 20). It therefore had to be rendered by ysa, which was current as a graphic device in the Saka-Kusana era for writing foreign names and words, as noted above. ha also presented a problem in that it could not stand as an independent phoneme in Sanskrit. It thus
30 Very likely, similar patterns of divergence from the classical form would have emerged, had the other inscriptional records of the Arapacana contained complete versions of the syllabary. But since they contain (at most) only the first ten syllables, among which none of the conjuncts occur, they do not provide us with any further data on this matter.

We thus have strong indications on historical, epigraphical, paleographic, and linguistic grounds3' that the Arapacana syllabary was originally formulated in the Gandhari language and recorded in the KharosthT script. But it must still be taken into account that Brough-never a voice to be taken lightly-expressed origin for the Arapacana, as doubts about a GandharT already cited in part I of this paper. Brough does agree that the Chinese text in question was translated from a Gandharl version of the Lalitavistara, on the grounds of such examples as no. 10, SA, for which the head word in the Chinese translation reflects an underlying
further indication from the side of the history of Buddhism is the occurrence (referred to above, part I) of the Arapacana in the Vinaya of the Dharmaguptakas, a sect which seems to be associated with the Gandhari language; see von Hinuber 1985, 73-75.
3 'A

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New Evidence for a GdndhdrT Origin of the Arapacana Syllabary


Gandhari sadha = Sanskrit sraddhd (Brough 1977, 88-89). Nevertheless, he concludes (p. 94) that other evidence "strongly suggests that Gandhari was not the language of the earliest form of the syllabary." Here he is referring particularly to the character d 'self', corresponding to no. 31, SMA, of the Arapacana. Now the normal phonetic development in Gandhari is for Sanskrit sm to become sv; this is reflected in no. 21 of the Lalitavistara list, which indicates an original Gandhari svadi = Skt. smrti for the syllable SVA (Brough 1977, 90). But in no. 31, a head word presumably reflecting Sanskrit sva- is used to illustrate SMA; this reverse development would be difficult to explain for an originally GandharT Arapacana (p. 92), and Brough takes this to indicate that the Arapacana was not originally formulated in that dialect. But such a reverse phonetic development could be explained as the result of hyper-Sanskritization or some similar misunderstanding, such as are commonly attested in Gandhari and in other MIA languages. Furthermore, it is surely significant that the two syllables in question, nos. 21 and 31 of the classical Arapacana, are precisely those for which the central Asian Arapacana has the same syllable, SPA. This indicates that there has been some kind of textual / dialectal problem in the history of the syllabary at these points. Though given the available materials it does not seem possible to sort out the details of the process and clearly reconstruct the originals, it is surely significant that the patterns of variation involving the syllables sma/sva/spa in the central Asian Arapacana and in the Lalitavistara reflect phonetic developments which are typical of Gdndhari, but not of other IA languages. Seen in this context, one case of what would seem to be a phonetic development that is the reverse of what would be expected in GandharTis hardly cause to rule out the language as a source: on the contrary, the situation as a whole speaks in favor of GandharT. Thus a case can be made that the new documents now available, all pointing toward a Gdndharl origin, constitute the "unexpected additional evidence" Brough (p. 94) hoped for to solve the "mystery"of the original of the Arapacana; and that their combined force outweighs Brough's doubts on the point, which are after all based mainly on the single point noted above. In conclusion, then, all the evidence now available-three inscriptions from the Gandharl region, a document from central Asia, the Chinese translation of a GandharT Lalitavistara with words arranged in the Arapacana order, and the internal phonetic and paleographic characteristics of the classical Arapacana as preserved in various Sanskrit

texts-points toward an original formulation in GandharT,overlaid with a gradual Sanskritization. Despite complex and perhaps unsolvable problems about some specific details and some minor inconsistencies in the different attestations, it now seems nearly definite that the syllabary was originally formulated in a Gandhari-speaking environment and written in the Kharosthl script. We are of course still left with the question of the rationale behind the selection and ordering of the syllables themselves, and on this point I have little to add to Brough's ingenious theory, mentioned above, of a formulation from the head words of some important text. The information provided here would suggest that such a text must have been in Gandhar1; but if so, there is little hope of identifying it, at least in its original Gandharli form, since we have in this language only the Dharmapada and a few inscriptional fragments of Buddhist texts. In view of the continued new discoveries and progress of research in GandharT in recent years, however, the situation is not quite hopeless. But one other possibility may be mentioned here; we should keep in mind that we do not know for certain what the normal order of syllables was in the Gdndhari / Kharosthi alphabet. It is usually assumed that it was either the same as the normal Brahmi ordering (a a i i. ... ka kha ga gha, etc.), or as in its Semitic prototype (a ba ga da, etc.; Thomas [1950, 196] assumes that the order followed that of Aramaic). But so far as I know there is no documentary evidence that proves either of these. Thus it may be kept in mind as a remote possibility that the Arapacana syllabary derives, not from a textual mnemonic as proposed by Brough, but from some pre-existent Gandhdri arrangement of syllables. In this connection it is interesting to note that the terracotta plaque from Sugh (Chhabra 1974) and similar pieces (Shastri 1985, 75) show scenes similar to those of the two writing board inscriptions discussed above, with portions of the BrdhmTalphabet, in its standard order, on the writing board; in light of this the Gandharan sculptures might be taken as a similar representation of the ordinary Kharosthi alphabet as written by a schoolboy. The hypothesis that the Arapacana syllabary was a pre-existing standard ordering-an "alphabet," so to speak-would have the advantage of being in accord with the principle pointed out by Thomas (1950, 196) that "[i]n 'charade' literature universally the order of the letters is the prius, and the order of the signified notions is dependent." On the other hand, the presence of a limited and seemingly arbitrary selection of consonantal conjuncts in the Arapacana would be hard to explain in

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Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.2 (1990) mnemonic origin must remain for the time being the preferable alternative.

any derivation from a normal "alphabet";and for this reason, more than any other, Brough's hypothesis of a


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