Dear List,

Since I don’t know anything about the topic discussed here, I asked a Tamil-Sanskrit scholar friend of mine about it and he responded. I’m pasting his response below:

12 years

It is discussed here in this MarAthi site -

प्राकृत -
एताय अथाय इदं लेखापितं इमस अथस वढि युजंतु हीनि च मा लोचेतव्या । द्वादसवासाभिसितेन देवानं प्रियेन प्रियदशिना राञा इदं लेखापितं ।

संस्कृत छाया -
एतस्मै अर्थाय इदं लिखितम् 
अस्य अर्थस्य वृध्यै युजन्तु हीना च मा द्रष्टव्या । द्वादशवर्षाभिषिक्तेन देवानां प्रियेण प्रियदर्सिना राज्ञा इदं लिखितम् ।


Hope it helps. 


On Apr 27, 2014, at 4:18 AM, Artur Karp <> wrote:

Dear List, 


Recently, I came upon a claim (not published so far) that the Aśokan formula (X-number)varṣābhiiktena [like in RE I, Girnar, dbādasavāsābhisitenadoes not convey the information on the number of years since the king's anointment, but, rather, the information on the successive number of abhishekas the king would perform on every anniversary of his rule's inauguration. 


So - not "the year X since my inauguration", but, against the standard renderings: "the year of my Xth abhisheka".


Is there any linguistic reason for this kind of the formula's reinterpretation? The compound's structure?


While looking through materials I have on hand, I came across the following statement in Jan Gonda's 1957 paper on Indian kingship (Ancient Indian kingship from the religious point of view, Numen, Vol. 4, Fasc. 2, p. 135): 


<<As  the  Asvamedha  is  the  king  of  sacrifices  701),  and  as  on  the  other hand the  sacrificer,  i.e.  the  king,  is  identical with  the  asvamedha,  certain  peculiarities  of  this  ritual  are  stated  to  correspond  to  certain  qualities  of  the  king.  Thus  he  is  disposed  to  be  "strong  in  arms",  because  the  front  legs  of  two  goats  sacrificed  during  the  asvamedha  are tied - "he  thereby lays  strength  into  the  front  legs" 702)  and  strong  in  thighs,  for  similar  reasons.  Before  we  leave  this  point  we  should  call attention  to  an  important  statement  made in  the  Visnudharmottara-purana  703).  On  every  anniversary  of  the  first  'coronation'  the  king  should  repeat  the  rites;  this  leads  to  welfare,  to  increase  of  the  country,  to  the  destruction  of  the  enemies  and  so  on.  Then  the  'inauguration'  has  become  cyclic,  annually  carrying  the  ruler  and  his  realm  beyond  a  difficult  stage,  and  recreating  the  beneficial  power  inherent  in  kingship [boldfaces mine, A. K.]>>


Is there - apart from the Vishnudharmottara-purana fragment quoted by Gonda - any evidence for such an annual royal ritual to be found anywhere in the corpus of Śastric/Buddhist literature?


Any comment would be much appreciated.


Artur Karp

Senior Lecturer in Sanskrit and Pali (ret.)
South Asian Studies Deptt
Oriental Faculty
University of Warsaw

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