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Epigraphic Records

M.R. Raghava Varier

Edited by K.V. Ramesh
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2012, pp. 392, Rs. 2100.00


India is one of the richest countries in epigraphic documents, belonging mainly to the ancient and medieval periods of history. These documents are invaluable in that they contain brief hints or elaborate accounts of past events and practices. They are the main sources to reconstruct the ancient and medieval history of India. The number of such inscriptions comes to hundreds of thousands and therefore, the importance of the study of inscriptions in understanding various aspects of economy, society and culture of Indian History cannot be exaggerated. At the same time, these epigraphic records, most of them written in different regional idioms, are replete with a large number of words and usages, the meanings of which have become obsolete. Against this intellectual background the volume under review becomes not only helpful but essential and unavoidable in understanding the meanings of technical terms used in epigraphic records. Intellectual exercises of this kind were started in the initial years of the British colonial rule in the nineteenth century. Reputed scholars such as Herman H. Wilson were engaged in preparing a dictionary of terms in Indian inscriptions. He published his Glossary of Judicial and Revenue Terms in 1855 and a reprint of this work was brought out in 1966. Wilson’s volume did not include the terms that were not in use in his time, i.e., the nineteenth century. Therefore, the present project is the first attempt at preparing a dictionary of technical terms in the epigraphic records pertaining to a period from the earliest times up to the nineteenth century. The present volume, as stated in the foreword, covers a wide range of areas including fiscal, commercial, social, legal, and educational aspects. It also includes the terms pertaining to religious activities and folk culture. This Volume I comprises the letters from A to D. The learned editor, a highly accomplished scholar and epigraphist, discusses some features of South Indian palaeography in general and provides a brief note on comparison of the northern and the southern varieties of the Brahmi characters. The volume addresses the needs of a wide range of readers including students and teachers of South Indian history and the major Dravidian languages, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. In addition, the volume is useful for Sanskrit scholars also since it includes a large number of Sanskrit terms both in the tatsama, i.e., literal as well as tadbhava, adapted forms. These terms would ...

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