founder of the so-called Śaka era, the principal era of Southern India, beginning in A.D. 78: in respect of him we learn from the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea that he was reigning between A.D. 80 and 89, and from inscriptions that he was still reigning in A.D. 120 and 124: at the latter time, his dominions included Nāsik and other territories on the south of the Narbadā; and the Periplus names as his capital a town which it calls Minnagar, and which Ptolemy would locate in such a manner as to suggest that it may be identified with the modern Dōhad in the Pan̄ch Mahāls district of Gujarāt, Bombay. Nahapāna was overthrown, and his family was entirely wiped out, soon after A.D. 125, by the great Sātāvahana king Gautamīputra-Śrī-Sātakarṇi, who thereby recovered the territories on the south of the Narbadā. On the north of that river, however, he was followed by a line of kings founded by his viceroy Chashṭana, son of Ghsamotika, to whom Ptolemy, mentioning him as Tiastanēs, assigns Ujjain as his capital: these names, again, show a foreign origin; but, from the time of his son Jayadāman, the descendants of Chashṭana became Hinduized, and mostly bore purely Indian appellations. The coins show that the descendants of Chashṭana ruled till about A.D. 388, when they were overthrown by the great Gupta dynasty of Northern India. Only a few of their inscriptional records have been discovered: but amongst them a very noteworthy one is the Junāgaḍh (Junagarh) inscription of Chashṭana’s grandson, Rudradāman, bearing a date in A.D. 150; it is remarkable as being the earliest known long inscription written entirely in Sanskṛit.
From Southern India we have, at Nāsik, inscriptions of the Sātavāhana king Gautamīputra-Śrī-Sātakarṇi, mentioned just above, and of his son Vāsisṭhīputra-Śrī-Puḷumāyi, and of another king of that line named Gautamīputra-Śrī-Yajña-Sātakarṇi; and other records of the last-mentioned king come from Kaṇheri near Bombay, and from the Kistna district, Madras, and testify to the wide extent of the dominions of the line to which he belonged. The records of this king carry us on to the opening years of the 3rd century, soon after which time, in those parts at any rate, the power of the Sātavāhana kings came to an end. And we have next, also from Nāsik, an inscription of an Ābhīra king named Īśvarasēna, son of Śivadatta; in this last-mentioned person we probably have the founder of the so-called Kalachuri or Chēdi era, beginning in A.D. 248 or 249, which we trace in Western India for some centuries before the time when it was transferred to, or revived in, Central India, and was invested with its later appellation: we trace it notably in the records of a line of kings who called themselves Traikūṭakas, apparently from Trikūṭa as the ancient name of the great mountain Harischandragaḍ in the Western Ghauts, in the Ahmadnagar district.
We can, of course, mention in this account only the most prominent of the inscriptional records. Keeping for the present to Southern India, we have from Banawāsi in the North Kanara district, Bombay, and from Maḷavaḷḷji in the Shimoga district, Mysore, two inscriptions of a king Hārit putra-Sātakarṇi of the Viṇhukaḍḍa-Chuṭu family, reigning at Vaijayantī, i.e. Banawāsi, which disclose the existence there of another branch, apparently known as the Chuṭu family and having its origin at a place named Vishṇugarta, of the great stock to which the Sātavāhana-Sātakarṇis belonged. And another Maḷavaḷḷi inscription, of a king Śiva-Skandavarman, shows that the Sātakarṇis of that locality were followed by a line of kings known as the Kadambas, who left descendants who continued to rule until about A.D. 650. From the other side of Southern India, an inscription from the stūpa at Jaggayyapēṭa in the Kistna district, Madras, referable to the 3rd century A.D., gives us a king Māḍharīputra-Śrī-Vīra-Purushadatta, of the race of Ikshvāku. And some Prākṛit copperplate inscriptions from the same district, referable to the 4th century, disclose a line of Pallava kings at Kān̄chī, the modern Conjeeveram near Madras, whose descendants, from about A.D. 550, are well known from the later records.
Reverting to Northern India, we have from the extreme north-west a few inscriptions dated in the era of 58 B.C. which carry us on to A.D. 322. The tale is then taken up chiefly by the records of the great Gupta kings of Pāṭaliputra, i.e. Patna, who rose to power in A.D. 320, and gradually extended their sway until it assumed dimensions almost commensurate with those of Aśōka and Kaṇishka: the records of this series are somewhat numerous; and a very noteworthy one amongst them is the inscription of Samudragupta, incised at some time about A.D. 375 on one of the pillars of Aśōka now standing at Allahābād, which gives us a wide insight into the political divisions, with their contemporaneous rulers, of both Northern and Southern India: it is also interesting because it, or another record of the same king at Éraṇ in the Saugar district, Central Provinces, marks the commencement of the habitual use of Sanskṛit for inscriptional purposes. The inscriptions of the Gupta series run on to about A.D. 530. But the power of the dynasty had by that time become much curtailed, largely owing to an irruption of the Hūṇs under Tōramāṇa and Mihirakula, who established themselves at Siālkōṭ, the ancient Śākala, in the Punjab. We have inscriptional records of these two persons, not only from Kura in the Salt Range, not very far from Siālkōṭ, but also from Éraṇ and from Gwālior. And next after these we have inscriptions from Mandasōr in Mālwā, notably on two great monolith pillars of victory, of a king Vishṇuvardhana-Yaśōdharman, which show that he overthrew Mihirakula shortly before A.D. 532, and, describing him as subjugating territories to which not even the Guptas and the Hūṇs had been able to penetrate, indicate that he in his turn established for a while another great paramount sovereignty in Northern India.
We have thus brought our survey of the inscriptions of India down to the 6th century A.D. There then arose various dynasties in different parts of the country: in Northern India, in Kāṭhiāwār, the Maitrakas of Valabhī; at Kanauj, the Maukharis, who, after no great lapse of time, were followed by the line to which belonged the great Harshavardhana, “the warlike lord (as the southern records style him) of all the region of the north;” and, in Behār, another line of Guptas, usually known as the Guptas of Magadha: in Southern India, the Chalukyas, who, holding about A.D. 625 the whole northern part of Southern India from sea to sea, then split up into two branches, the Western Chalukyas of Bādāmi in the Bijāpūr district, Bombay, and the Eastern Chalukyas of Veṅgī in the Godāvarī district, Madras; and, below them, the successors of the original Pallavas of Kāñchī (Conjeeveram). These all had their time, and passed away. And they and their successors have left us so great a wealth of inscriptional records that no further detailed account can be attempted within the limits available here. We must pass on to a few brief remarks about the language of the records and the characters in which they were written.
The inscriptions of Aśōka present two alphabets, which differ radically and widely: one of them is known as the Brāhmī; the other, as the Kharōshṭhī or Kharōshṭrī. For the decipherment of the Brāhmī alphabet we are indebted to James Alphabets. Prinsep, who determined the value of practically all the letters between 1834 and 1837. The decipherment of the Kharōshṭhī alphabet was a more difficult and a longer task: it was virtually finished, some twenty years later, by the united efforts of C. Masson, Prinsep, C. L. Lassen, H. H. Wilson, E. Norris, Sir A. Cunningham, and John Dowson; but there are still a few points of detail in respect of which finality has not been attained.
The Kharōshṭhī script was written from right to left, and is undeniably of Semitic origin; and the theory about it, based on the known fact that the valley of the Indus was a Persian satrapy in the time of Darius (521-485 B.C.), is that the Aramaic script was then introduced into that territory, and that the Kharōshṭhī is an adaptation of it. Except in a few intrusive cases, the use of the Kharōshṭhī in India was limited to the valley of the Indus, and to the Punjab as defined on the south by the territory watered by the Biās (Beas) and the Satlaj (Sutlej): and the eastern locality of the meeting of the two alphabets is marked by coins bearing Kharōshṭhī and Brāhmī legends which come from the districts of the Jālandhar (Jullundhur) division, and by two short rock-cut records, each presented in both the alphabets, at Paṭhyār and Kanhiāra in the Kāṇgṛa valley. Outside India, this script was notably current in Afghānistān; and documents written in it have in recent years been found in Chinese Turkestān. In India it continued in use, as far as our present knowledge goes, down to A.D. 343.
The Brāhmī alphabet, written from left to right, belonged to the remainder of India; but it must also have been current in learned circles even in the territory where popular usage favoured the other script. Various views about its origin have been advanced: amongst