Forgery is ancient!
“Forgery in epigraphic records is not a modern development, it existed in ancient India also”, said former Director of Indian Museum (Kolkata), Dr. Shyamalkanti Chakravarti, here on Monday.
“One full chapter of Kautilya’s ‘Arthashastra’ is dedicated to the checking of coins by the authorities from time to time and the punishments for such crimes are also prescribed”, said Dr. Chakravarti while presiding over the sixth day of the special course on ‘Gupta Inscriptions’ being organised by Jnana-Pravaha in Samne Ghat here.
He shared some of his experiences while dealing with art objects and inscriptions and informed that a spurious copperplate found from Kapileshwar in Orissa had been a major attraction for some historians and politicians as it was the copy of the Lumbini inscription of Ashoka, which became the base of their efforts to establish Orissa as the birthplace of Gautam Buddha.
“Interestingly, two names of scribes and a few numerals are also present in this epigraph, which are not part of the original Lumbini inscription”, he said, adding that forgery in epigraphic records was found more in South India. “Probably because the complexities with landed properties were more there in comparison to north India”, he said.
Director of Jnana-Pravaha, Prof. RC Sharma also recollected some interesting incidents with counterfeit materials, which he experienced during his long academic and administrative career. He informed that making copies of inscriptions always did not carry a bad intention in ancient India.
“During the Kushana period, when there was a lot of interaction between the Gandhara and Mathura regions, a copy of an inscription in Kharoshti script was made in Gandhara and brought to Mathura where Brahmi script was in vogue”,
he said, adding “the original inscription in Gandhara region was installed near a well carrying potable water and the copy was placed near a well in Mathura having salty water”.
“The intention was to make the water of this well sweet as well. Obviously, the contents of the original script were unknown to the person who made the copy”, he said. Director of Parshvanath Vidyapeeth Prof. Maheshwari Prasad also delivered a lecture.