Sripura (Archaeological Survey)

by Bikash Chandra Pradhan | 2011 | 37,938 words

This study examines the Archaeological remains of Sripura from the period A.D. 650-800, revealing all varieties of archaeological materials, viz., art and architecture, coins, copper plate and stone epigraphic records and seals etc. highlighting the history and cultural heritage of Shripura. This ancient city was the capital of South Koshala under ...

Meaning and Significance of the Nomenclature

Sripura which literally means the abode (Pura) of the goddess of wealth (Sri or Laksmi)[1], the divine consort of Visnu) came to limelight during the rule of the Sarabhapuriya king Pravararaja, in circa 650 A.D...He proclaimed one of his charters, available so far, from Sripura. Like the Sarabhapuriya kings of the main branch who ruled from Sarabhapura, he carried on the tradition of depicting the image of Gaja-Laksmi or Abhiseka-Laksmi on the seals of his copper plate charters[2]. It was done probably in honour of the deity who was the divine consort of Visnu or Bhagavat, the tutelary god of the Sarabhapuriyas who are known to have borne the epithet Parama Bhagavata, and secondly, the goddess has come to be considered as the symbol of royal prosperity. When Pravararaja founded the rule of the collateral branch of the royal dynasty in cir. 650 A.D. he named the principal metropolis or capital of the newly-founded kingdom as Sripura after the name of the deity and also continued the tradition of keeping the image on the seals of his copper plate records.

Probably the name of Sripura was not in vogue during the time of visit of the Chinese pilgrim Yuan Chwang[3] in 639 A.D. The omission of the name of this place of Kosala or South Kosala in his travelogue would have been surprising in view of his high applause for the Kosalan king and secondly, his description of the flourishing state of Buddhism in Kosala in contrast to the declining state of adjacent regions of Kalinga, Kongoda and Odra visited by him.

Yuan Chwang has given a good note about a monastery named Po-lo-mo-lo-ki-li, the worship of a life-size golden statue of the Buddha and the sojourn of the great Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna at the place, which was located to the south-west of the state capital. The flourishing state of Buddhism, as noted above, finds corroboration with the excavation of a number of monasteries and a number of Buddhist icons and symbols in addition to gigantic life-size Buddha images.

It cannot be presumed that the pilgrim had neglected visiting a place dotted with Buddhist monasteries and lived by numerous brethren numbering about 10,000. It was, of course, a place of pilgrimage, which must have been one among other places in his itinerary.

The above considerations lead us to think that the name that was Sripura as the capital was not existent before 650 A.D. It was Pravararaja who named the place as Sripura after the name of Sri who was the principal Vaisnava goddess and the tutelary deity of his family, and made it his capital in cir. 650 A.D. Since then Sripura became one of the most important among the metropolises of Central-Eastern India, and had started playing a significant role in the history and heritage of the kingdom of Kosala in particular and that of Central-Eastern India in general.

Sripura was the site of a huge corpus of archaeological serendipities in different stages of preservation–some of which have been preserved during the present excavation work carried under the supervision of A.K. Sharma as well as the place of issue and provenance of numerous epigraphic records of two royal dynasties of the kingdom of South Kosala in the period of our survey. The kingdom comprised the eastern part of present Chhattisgarh and the western districts of Orissa. Sripura had emerged as the capital city during the rule of the Sarabhapuriya royal dynasty (Amararya-kula) sometime in the middle of the seventh century A.D. and continued as such under the Panduvamsis (Somavamsis)[4]. It rose steadily as the premier metropolis of South Kosala and reached the apogee of political and cultural attainments in the second half of the eighth century A.D. Indeed, Sripura had played a vital part in bringing the Central-Eastern tract of India i.e. the present Chhattisgarh-West Orissa region, which had so far been sidetracked in the general historical studies of India, into the main stream of Indian history and heritage. The annals of South Kosala had become variegated and epochal by the contributions of Sripura under the rule of the two illustrious dynasties.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Sri or Laksmi has been regarded as the consort if Lorod Visnu in the developments of Vaisnvism in the Gupta age. The goddess is called Sirima Devata in the Barhut Inscription of the Sunga period (Barua, and Sinha, Barhut Inscriptions, pp. 73-74). An early representation of the goddess has been traced in i sculpture of Besnagar or about second century B.C. (Banerjee, Development of Hindu Iconography, Calcutta, 1956, pp. 370-71). Her popularity is known by her representation on early Indian coins of Kausambi, Ujjauyini, Ayodhya, Mathura and by the satraps of the Mathura and of Pantaleon, Agatoles, Maues and Azileses (Allan, Catalogue of Indian Coins: Ancient India, pp. 131, 149, 173; Banerjee, op.cit, p. 151). Her representation is also found on the Gupta coins. The Junagarh Inscription of Skandagupta (CII, III, p. 286) mentions Visnu as i perpetual resort of Laaksmi. She is represented as Lord Vasudeva’s wifie in the Sarnath Inscription of Prakataditya (CII, III, p. 286). The Apsad Inscription of Adityasena (CII, III, No. 42, p. 200 ff) mentions that Madhava, son of Vasudeva, is graced by the attentions of Sri. I Kadamba record of cir Aa.D. 500 starts with the adoration of Bhagavat with Sri on His breast and Brahma on i lotus stretched by i long stalk from His navel (Sircar, D.C., style="text-align:center">The Successors of the Satavahanas, p. 292 fn., Calcutta, 1939). The Sarabhapuriyas called Bhu as Vaisnavi in their records and considered Her as the second wife of Visnu (Cultural Heritage of India, IV, Calcutta, 1975, pp. 138-39 ff, hereinafter referred to as CHI).

[2]:

The earliest epigraphic record of the dynasty, the Pipardula plates (ISPS, Pt. II, I:I) of Maharaja Narendra (cir. 525-50 A.D) contains the motif of Abhiseka-Laksmi flanked by two elephants on Her two sides on the seal of the charter.

[3]:

Travels, pp. 218-2.

[4]:

i. PHSSKO, pp. 56-128. ii. Sastri, A.M., Inscriptions of the Sarabhapuriyas, Panduvamsins and Somavamsins, pp. Part-I, pp. 3-17, 88-117, New Delhi, 1995 hereinafter referred to as ISPS iii. CHCO, op.cit., pp. 143 ff.

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