[INDOLOGY] Pataliputra & Patna

Matthew Kapstein mkapstei at uchicago.edu
Thu Oct 3 10:55:33 UTC 2013

Rennell's Memoir is available in google books, but, as his reasons for having proposed the identification
of Patna and Pataliputra - in advance of course of archeological researches, which began in earnest
only some decades later - are really quite interesting, I paste the text of the relevant pages here, minus the
notes. It's, I think, a wonderful example of 18th c. geographical scholarship:

p. 39 Between Alexander's position on the Hyphasis, (Setlege) and the Jomanes (Jumna) Pliny reckons 336 miles, which exceeds the distance between these rivers in the line of the great road be tween Lahore and Delhi, by about 106 miles : and this distance is not ascertained by the march of an army, but by order of Seleucm Nicator ; and is therefore as worthy of belief as the account of the distance between the Jumna and Ganges, which was done at the same time. But 336 miles is really the distance between the Jumna and that part of the Hyphasis (or Setlege) below the conflux

p. 40 of the Bea: which I suppose to have been Alexander's position when he erected his altars. Pliny then proceeds to state that Palibothra is 425 miles below the conflux of the Ganges and Jumna ; and the mouth of the Gan ges 638 below that ; or 1063 below the conflux. It is true that this distance on the map is only 1000 such miles by the road; but we ought to reflect, that our own ideas of this distance did. not come nearer the truth, after we had had an intercourse of near two centuries, with India; and indeed until the present time: for it will be found that M. P'Anville's map of India published in 1752, represents the distance in question as much short of the mark, as Pliny goes beyond it. Therefore by this account Pali bothra should be 425 parts in 1063, of the distance between Al lahabad and the mouth of the Ganges ; or nearly about the town of Bar, 40 miles below Patna. We can hardly doubt after this account of Pliny's, but that some very large city stood nearly in the position which he afligns to Pali bothra ; but that this city was the capital of India, and the place visited by the Grecian Ambassadors, I do by no means suppose. I rather incline to think that the city meant by Pliny, stood on the site of Patna; and that the true Palibothra was no other than Ca- noge, or Kinnoge, for reasons which I shall presently shew. Canoge, the ruin« of which are of a very great extent, was for a series of ages the capital of Hindoostan ; but it is now reduced to the size of a middling town. It is situated on the right bank of the Ganges *, near the place where the Calini river (or Collynuddy) joins it. It is said to have been built more than 1000 years before our æra; and is mentioned as the capital of Hindoostan uoder the predecessor of Phoor, or Porus, who fought against Alexander -j-. The successor of Porus, Sinsarchund ("the Sandrocotta of the Greeks)

p. 41 paid a tribute to Alexander's successors : and Jona, the second in suc cession from Sinsarchund, reigned at Canoge *. We have no reason to suppose that the capital was removed from Canoge, in the interval between the time of the predecessor of Porus, and the time of Jona ; and therefore Canoge was without doubt the place where the Ambassadors of Seleucus were received, <ibout 300 years be fore our æra : and this place the Ambasladors mention by the name of Palibothra. In point of extent and magnificence, Ca noge answers perfectly to the description given of Palibothra. The Indian histories are full of the accounts of its grandeur, and populousness. No longer ago than the sixth century, it contained 30,000 shops, in which bectelnut, which the Indians, (almost universally) chew, as the Europeans do Tobacco, was fold. There were also 60,000 bands of musicians and singers, who paid a tax to government -j-. In A. D. 10 18, it was seized on by the Gaznian emperors. It has been said that Canoge is situated near the conflux of the Calini river with the Ganges. This river, though not the third in magnitude amongst the rivers of India, is yet no inconsiderable one; and as the beds of many of the lesser rivers of that country spread to'a very great width, the Calini might, in a season when its bed was full, be mistaken for a much larger river than it really is. M. D'Anville informs us % that Eratojlbenus, the librarian of Alexandria, under Ptolemy Evergetes, wrote, that it appeared by the measure of a royal route §, that the distance from the western ex treme of India to Palibothra, was 10,000 stadia. M. D'Anville fays in the fame place, that the stadium is the 1050th part of a degree of a great circle. Now, the distance from the Indus at Attock, to Ca noge, is just 9 degrees and half, which makes 9975 stadia; or in

p. 42 round numbers, as the other account is probably taken, 10,000 ^f- I think this, in some degree, corroborates my opinion, that Canoge is the same with Palibothra. Ptolemy* places Palibothra in latitude 27°; and between the towns of Malibi on the west, and Athenagarum on the east. The latitude given for Palibothra, is within 3 miles of that of Canoge -J- y and the latitudes of Maliba and Athenagarum, are nearly those of Matura, and Audiah, or Oude J : and the proportional distances of the former from Palibothra, answer minutely to those of the latter from Canoge. To this we may add, that Athenagarum is situated on the right bank of a large river, which joins the Ganges on the left, a great way below Palibothra; answering to the Gogra, Os Oude river. The Uxcntius Mons, by which the hills £>f Bundel- cund and Bahar are evidently, meant (by the circumstance of their lying between Panama, or Panna, and the head of the Adamas river, or that of Sumbulpour and Cattack) are placed about 3 de grees on the south of Palibothra, or in latitude 24° ; and on the north side of them, and- within 18 miles of its true latitude § is PanaJJ'a, which, no doubt, is intended for Panna, the famous Diamond mine. Now, as the Bundelcund hills are only 30 miles from Allahabad, and near 2 degrees from Canoge, it appears improbable that Alla habad should be the place meant for Palibothra; although it is highly probable that Canoge may. I am of opinion that some reliance may be placed on Ptolemy's latitude of Palibothra ; for on a comparison of the latitudes of five different places between the Indus and Ganges, I find the greatest

p. 43 difference to be only 1 2 minutes *, between his latitudes and mine* It must not be forgotten, that the country between Panjab and Palibbthra, was the part of India, of all others the best known to the ancients.'

Matthew Kapstein
Directeur d'études,
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes

Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
The University of Chicago

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