Jainism in Odisha (Orissa)

by Ashis Ranjan Sahoo | 2015 | 106,639 words

This essay studies the presence of Jainism in Odisha or Orissa by documenting the Art, Architecture and Iconography of Jaina images, relics, structures and establishments from different districts. In Odisha, archaeological evidences show how Jainism flourished during the 1st century BCE during the reign of emperor Kharavela, stating that Jainism wa...

Minor Brahmi Inscriptions, Udayagiri and Khandagiri

Besides the Hathi-Gumpha inscription of Kharavela, there are other minor Brahmi inscriptions in the twin hillocks of Udayagiri and Khandagiri. Many of them were discovered in 1837 by Lieutenant Kittoe. They were deciphered earlier by Prof. R. D. Banerji during 1915-16 (Epigraphia Indica-XIII) and B.M. Barua (Indian Historical Ouaternry-XIV-1938). Those are presented by R.P. Moapatra in his book Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, published in the year 1981 and re-edited by Dr. N. K. Sahu in his book Kharavela published in the year 1984 and further by S.Agrawal in his book Sri Kharavela, published in the year 2000. But many of those records have now been lost but a few of them have still survived from the ravages of man and nature.

Thus, keeping in mind all the revised text and interpretations prepared by the earlier authors the inscriptions are presented here which will throw welcome light on the history of Kharavela’s time as well as that of Somavamsis in particular and add valuable authentic information to the history of Odisha in general.

1. Manchapuri Cave Inscription, Cave No.9 (Upper Storey)

This inscription is engraved on the raised space between the second and third doorways of the cave[1].

L.1 Araharhta pasadaya
Kalimga[na]m [sama ]nanam
lenam karitam rajino

L.2 Hathi[si]hasa papotasa
dhutuna Kalimga cha[kavatino
sirikhara ]velasa

L.3 Agamahisi [n]a [karitam]

Translation[2] : By the blessing of Arhats the chief queen of Kharavela, the Cakravarti monarch of Kalinga, the great grand-daughter of Hathisiha (Hasti Simha) and the daughter of Lalaka (Lalarka) caused to be excavated the cave for the Sramanas of Kalinga.

2. Manchapuri Cave Inscription, Cave No.9 (Lower storey)

A) This is a single line inscription[3] which incised on a raised bend between the 3rd and 4th doorways from the left and contains.

Airasa maharajasa Kali[m]gadhi patino
Maha[ megha]vaha[nasa]Kudepasirino

Translation[4] : This is the cave of Aira Mahameghavahana Maharaja Kudepasiri, the overlord of Kalinga.

Note: Prof. Banerji[5] has deciphered the word airasa as kharasa. Kudepasiri seems to be the immediate successor of Kharavela.

B) This is also a single line inscription which has been engraved on the right wall of veranda, to the right of the entrance to the right-hand side-chamber of the main wing.

Kumiira Vadukhasa lenam

Translation: The cave of Kumara(prince) Vadukha[6].

N.B.: Vaduka stands an obscure figure in the history of Odisha still now.

3. Sarpa-Gumpha Inscriptions

A) This is a one line inscription incised over the doorway of the Sarpa-Gumpha.

Chulakammasa Kotha jeya cha

Translation: Prof. Banerji translates the line as “the unsurpassable or invincible chamber of Chulakamma (Ksudra Karman)”.[7]

B) This record located at the left of the doorway is of two lines. The inscribed surface is so rough that it is very difficult to distinguish vowel marks or anusvaras. In the first line, last three syllables are badly damaged and quite indistinct. But, a close scrutiny of the published facsimile and the original record read the inscription as[8] :

L.1 Kammasa (kotha) cha

L.2 Khin(a)ya cha pasado.

Translation[9] : “[The pavilion is the] gift of Kamma and Halakhina”. Most probably Halakhina was the wife of Kamma. Chulakamma found in the inscription mentioned above and Kamma of this record indicate official designations rather than the proper names. Kamma may be taken as minister of works (Karma saciva) and Chulakamma appears to be a junior cadre of minister in the Department of works.

4. Haridasa Cave Inscription

This is a single line inscription and incised over one of the three entrances to the main chamber of the cave from the veranda.

Chulakammasa pasato (do) Kothajey(a) cha15

Translation: The chamber and veranda (or side chamber) are the gift of Chulakamma.

5. Bagha-Gumpha Inscription

The record is incised on the outer wall of the inner chamber particularly over the entrance. It begins with a symbol of vriksachaitya (tree within railing) and ends with a svastika mark[10].

L.1 Nagara Akhadamsa

L.2 Sa Bhutino Lenam

Translation: The cave of Bhuti, the city judge[11].

Notes: Prof. Banerji is apt to take the name as ‘Sabhuti’ instead of Bhuti.

6. Jambesvara Cave Inscription

This inscription has been engraved over the entrances to the inner chamber of the cave[12].

Mahamadasa Bariyaya Nakiyasa lena[m]

Translation[13] : The cave of Mahamada (Mahapatra) Nakiya and Bariya(Varya). The latter seems to be the wife of former.

Note: In the sphere of internal administration the high functionary under Kharavela was the Mahamada, who was the same as most probably the Mahamatra of Kautilya, the minister in charge of general affairs of the kingdom.

7. Chhota-Hati-Gumpha Inscription

This is incised on the outer face of the Tympanum of the arch over the door way. The record consists of single line but very much mutilated and only the last two letters are noticeable[14].

......... sa lenam

Translation: The cave of.........

8. Inscription of Tatowa-Gumpha I

The record is incised over one of the entrances to the inner chamber.[15]

Padamulikasa Kusumasa len[a]ni

Translation: The cave of Kusuma, the padamulika[16].

N.B: The designation Padamulika also occurs in Kirari wooden pillar inscription and has been taken as high cadre of royal attendant by Dr. Sahu. Padamulika literary means one who serves at the feet (of the king).

9. Inscription of Tatowa-Gumpha II

The whole inscription is engraved on the back wall of the inner chamber of the cave. This was noticed for the first time by J.D.M Beglar[17] in the 1882 CE. The letters do not convey any meaning. It is found that it was a repetition of the Indian Brahmi alphabet. The palaeography of this inscription suggests to a later date.

kha ga gha? cha chha
na ta tha da dha na

na ta tha da dha na pa pa pha sa sa sa ha
na ta tha da dha na pa pa pha va bha sa sa ha
ta tha da dha na pa pha va.……sa sa sa ha
ta tha

10. Ananta-Gumpha Inscription

The record is incised on the architrave near the fifth pillar[18].

[-] Dohada Saman[a]nam lenam

Translation: The cave of the Dohada Sramanas.

This record is incised on the rock outside the veranda.

Ko [th]a je[ya] [-]

Translation: Mr. Chakravartti reads it Dajacara while, Dr. Sahu is inclined to decipher the same Kothajeya. There are altogether three symbols, of which the central one resembles the Brahmi letter ja, while the other two may resemble, but are not, letters as has been held by Prof. Banerji[19].

Footnotes and references:


N.K. Sahu, op.cit., p.350.


S. Agrawal, op.cit., p.80.




N.K. Sahu, op.cit., p.353.


R.D. Banerjee, “Inscriptions in the Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves,” EI, XIII, No.13, 1915-16.


S. Agrawal, op.cit., p.81.




N.K. Sahu, op.cit., p.356.


S. Agrawal, op.cit., pp.82-83.


Ibid. p. 358.




S. Agrawal, op.cit., p.84.




N.K. Sahu, op.cit., pp.361-362.


Ibid., p.366.


S. Agrawal, op.cit., p.85.


N.K. Sahu, op.cit., p.365.


Ibid., p.364.


S. Agrawal, op.cit., pp.85-86.

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