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The Bargaon Copper-plate Inscription of Assam

The Bargaon Copper-plate

The epigraphical(inscriptions) remains like the Iron Pillar, Allahabad Pillar inscription etc are very famous.  In Assam too we have a few inscriptions. Out of the many inscription found, one of the important one is the Bargaon Copper Plate Inscription.

The Bargaon Copper Plate Inscription is located in Tezpur city of the Sonitpur district of Assam. This copper plate was issued by king Ratnapala of the Bhauma-Naraka or the Pala dynasty of Brahmapala. The copper plate grant was issued in the 25th regnal year of king Ratnapala. His father went to heaven after having him seated on the throne because “great men know how to perform a proper act at the right time”. This suggests  that Brahmapala was very old when he abdicated his throne in favour of his son.

This grant consists of three copper plates bound together in a ring attached to a laddle shaped seal. The seal has the mark of an elephant head and has a legend that represents the donor as Maharajadhiraja Sri Ratnapalavarmandeva, the lord of Pragjyotishpura. The said inscription begins with an adoration to the dancing form of Sankara (Siva) as well as “the Lauhitya sea”(brahmaputra). The donor of the grant is described as Paramesvara-Paramabhattaraka-Maharajadhiraja Ratnapalavarmandeva who resided at Durjayapura or the city called Durjaya situated in the “Lauhitya sea” in the country of Pragjyotisha.

The king made the grant of a plot of land having the capacity to yield 2000 units of paddy in Lavukuti-kshetra situated in the Trayodasa grama vishaya (i.e. the district consisting thirteen villages) in the Uttara kula or division on the northern bank of Brahmaputra. The list of people addressed by the king in announcing the grant is similar to the one in the grants of Balavarman of the Mlechchha dynasty of Salastambha. The list of priviledges to be enjoyed by the donee is likewise similar to that noticed in Balavarman’s grant.

The donee was the Brahmana Viradatta of the Parasara gotra, Kanva-sakha and Vajsaneya charana. He was the grandson of the great vedic scholar named Devadatta. It is seen that the donee’s family name was Datta which is now a non-brahmanical surname in Eastern India. The king made the grant on the occassion of the Vishnupadi-sankranti i.e. about the beginning of any of the four months of Jyaishtha, Bhadra, Agrahayana and Phalguna. The purpose of the grants is stated as usual to have been the fame and religious merit of the king himself and his parents.

The literary portion which is a mixture of prose and poetry gives us a genuine impression that during Ratnapala’s reign Kamrupa had a high standard of literary and scholarly activities. It is interesting to note that the author of the inscription follows Bana Bhatta’s style in describing Prabhakaravardhana in Harshacharita in the description of Ratnapala.

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