MATERIAL: Copper Plate
TYPE: Manuscript
DIMENSIONS: 385 x 270 mm, 14 lines of of deeply incised script, Sanskrit and Hindi.
COMPONENTS: 14 lines of of deeply incised script, Sanskrit and Hindi
ITEM ID: 4283

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Donation of Land by Maharaja Catra Singh

DATE
Year: 1770
Decade: 1770s
Century: 18th (1701-1800)
Notes: Dated Baisakh budi VS 1837 = 1770 AD

After a salutation to Catraji the Maharaja and an invocation of the god Sri Rama the word Sahi, ‘true’ or ‘witnessed’ is written above the body of the text. The text states that the act of donation to the recipient and their descendants occurs by the words of the landlord. There is a set of concluding Sanskrit verses which states “Those men who protect land given by others or themselves will go to heaven as long as the Moon and the Sun exist / Those men who take away land given by others or by themselves will go to hell as long as the Moon and the Sun exist”. The date of the document in Vikram Samvat (2001 AD+ VS 2058) is given at the end.

Most celebrated among the texts which might quite possibly be the work of a single man are the monumental Srngaraprakasa, a work on aesthetics which contributes the peculiar doctrine of self-exaltation (ahamkarabhimana), the Sarasvatikanthabharana on poetics, and the ­Campuramayana.

Given Bhojadeva’s profound interest in the subtleties of poetic doc­trine it is hardly surprising, then, that he should become portrayed as a cultural hero by later courtly poets.

Inscriptional evidence from his many vassals and enemies allow us to get a clearer picture of Bhojadeva’s exploits. He waged numerous wars to extend his territories. Some of these he won, some he lost. On one occassion he was even forced out of his capital city of Dhara when it was stormed by Somesvara I (reg. 1040-69 AD). The last war he waged may have been an unsuccessful campaign against a powerful alliance of the Cedi King Karnadeva (reg. 1042-1122 AD) and the Calukya King Bhimadeva I (reg. 1022-63 AD).

Originally, there must have been a second plate attached by rings to the present plate. This would have contained the date, an engraved facsimile of Bhojadeva’s signature, and the imperial seal of Garuda holding a hooded cobra. Like the other two copper plates issued by Bhojadeva, this plate gives the lineage of the Paramara’s back to Harsadeva alias Siyaka II. The succession is: [1.] Harsadeva (alias Siyaka II) [2.] Vakpatirajadeva [3.] Sindhurãjadeva [4.] Bhojadeva. This is important evidence, for it confirms that Harsadeva must indeed be none other than Siyaka II as was stated by the Paramara court poet Padmagupta in his elaborate eulogy of his patron in the Navasahasankacarita.

The Paramaras of Malava were a wealthy dynasty who sponsored the Saivasiddhanta as their state religion and also showed reverence to the allied Pasupata system. There survive copperplates recording land grants made by some of the powerful Saivacaryas who were the royal preceptors who had initiated some of the Paramara emperors. It appears, furthermore, that such Saivacaryas were often patronised by the rulers of several competing dynasties. The present inscription mentions such a preceptor: Vidyacakravartin. Bhojadeva makes his land grants with his express “permission”.

Although the earliest records of the Paramaras show they ruled from Dhara, it is likely that they originally had their court in Avanti or in the ancient and wealthy city of Ujjain, which they appear to visited regularly. The present grant is in fact issued in the city of Ujjain. One reason for the transfer of their capital may have been the proximity of the factitious Solanki dynasty in neighbouring Anahilavada.

THE TEXT:
Considering that this is nothing more important than a land grant, the text of the inscription is a work of considerable poetic merit. The full text will have contained nine or ten verses interspersed with elegant prose in the Campu style. Without doubt this is a composition of Bho­jadeva himself, He emerges as a refined poet exhorting his subjects to lead lives of detachment and generous charity. When he compares his own sovereign power to the unsteadiness of clouds shaken by the wind, this is no empty poetic convention. His reign was a turbulent period of wars and alliances, he was surrounded by powerful and ambitious ene­mies seeking ascendancy in central India, ever ready to take advantage of any weakness. When Bhojadeva urges his subjects to follow religion, this too is sincere. Malava was the heartland of the Saivasiddhanta, and Bhojadeva himself was an initiate and wrote complex and learned technical works on its philosophy and ritual.
As is customary the text begins with homages to Siva in his manifes­tation as Vyomakesa, the tutelary deity of the Paramara’s state religion.

“Om Hail! Triumphant is the Lord of emptiness, who, for the benefit of his creation, bears on his head the lunar crest, (curving) as though it were the sprout from which sprung the universe. May the matted locks of the enemy of Cupid, tawny like writhing lightning in the dread sky at the end of the world, ever grant you favours. The sovereign monarch, King over kings, paramount lord, the illustrious Bhojadeva, in good health, the successor to the sovereign monarch, King over kings, paramount lord, Sindhurajadeva, the successor to the sovereign monarch, King over kings paramount lord, Vakpatirajadeva, the successor to the sovereign monarch, King over kings, paramount lord, Harsadeva…”

Bhojadeva then addresses all of his officials, and states that he has arrived in Ujjain from his capital Dhara, He introduces the substance of the grant as follows:

“After paying homage to Siva the husband of Bhavani, the Lord of all that moves and all that moves not, and realising that worldly existence is without essence, and that this my sovereignty over the world is as uncertain as clouds blowing in the wind, that the enjoyment of sensory objects endures but for a flash, that for humans the vital breaths are as uncertain as a drop of water on the tip of a blade of grass,— Alas! my friends, Dharma is the best aid on the journey to the next world. Fortune is like the felly of the wheel of becoming, those who gain it and do not donate it in charity reap a reward of deep regret.”

Then Bhojadeva donates specified plots of land, measured in halas (e.g. the amount of land that can be plowed with one set of oxen) in cer­tain villages to a number of brahmins. The names are partially obscured but careful cleaning of the plate will make them legible. This could yield significant information about the geography of early Malava.

All of this is done with the express permission of a Pasupata master called Vidyacakravartin.