scripts and Sanskrit

Whitney Cox wc3 at SOAS.AC.UK
Tue Jan 12 12:26:35 UTC 2010

At the risk of being self-aggrandizing, I have a forthcoming article
on the (epigraphic) use of Nāgarī in the 11th and 12th century western
Deccan.  I would be happy to share off-prints with anyone interested
once it appears.  Please contact me off-list,

Whitney Cox

2010/1/12 Dominic Goodall <dominic.goodall at>:
> In the discussion about scripts used for Sanskrit over the last few days,
> the widespread use of Devanāgarī (outside its "native" area) well before
> print seems to have been somewhat overlooked.
> S.A. Srinivasan's discussion of contamination has some interesting remarks
> on the relationship between Devanāgarī and other scripts on pp.4--5 of his
> edition of the Tattvakaumudī.
> (Vācaspatimiśras Tattvakaumudī. Ein Beitrag zur Textkritik bei
> kontaminierter Überlieferung.
> Srinavasa Ayya Srinivasan. Hamburg, 1967.)
> Srinivasan is, as he explains, echoing Sukthankar's prolegomena to the
> Ādiparvan of the Mahābhārata, on p.LXII of which, for instance, we may read:
> "The Devanāgarī script plays in the Mahābhārata textual tradition the
> important rôle of being the commonest medium of the contamination of
> different Mahābhārata versions.  A Devanāgarī manuscript of the Mahābhārata
> may, in fact, contain practically any version or combination of versions."
> Geographical location no doubt goes a long way to explain the dominance of
> Devanāgarī.  Presumably centres such as Benares, a pilgrimage site and
> therefore a place at which many texts must have been copied by people from
> many regions, had a role to play.
> And long before Devanāgarī, there is evidence of the use, in certain
> contexts, of a North-Indian standard (a proto-Nāgarī) well beyond North
> Indian boundaries: digraphic inscriptions (using both a South Indian and a
> North Indian script type) are found on Pallava monuments of the early C8th,
> for instance, and somewhat later in Cambodia.
> One wonders, by the way, what centres (and what other factors) created the
> South Indian and South East Asian script-standard of the 5th to 8th
> centuries.
> As for script-names, these are notoriously uncertain. Is it known when the
> Kashmirian script became known as Śāradā ?  And is there any old name at all
> known for the South Indian script-type so very widely used in the 5th to 8th
> centuries ?  South-East-Asianists today, of course, call it "Pallava
> Grantha"; but presumably this wasn't how it was known in C6th Karnataka or
> C6th Orissa or C6th Cambodia.
> Dominic Goodall
> Pondicherry Centre,
> Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient


Dr. Whitney Cox
Department of the Languages and Cultures of South Asia,
School of Oriental and African Studies
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG

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