Volume: III, Issue: II, July-December 2012
LINTEL INSCRIPTIONS FROM GWALIOR
Epigraphy is an important branch of historical archaeology. It not only provides concrete facts, but also sheds light on various aspects of ancient Indian history‒be it political, social, religious or cultural. In this article an attempt has been made to study and analyse inscriptions engraved on two pieces of lintels which have been recovered from a modern pavement in the Gwalior fort and now preserved in the Gujari Mahal Archaeological Museum of Gwalior. It is in proto-Nāgarī script having twenty two verses in Sanskrit language. Lintels were part of a temple maṇḍapa. A critical study of the lintel inscription situates it in the latter half of the ninth century C.E. both on the basis of palaeography as well as on internal content.
The inscription under discussion is engraved on the upper lintels of the maṇḍapa of a temple. Only two pieces of the lintels bearing inscriptions have been recovered so far from a modern pavement in the Gwalior fort and now preserved in the Gujari Mahal Archaeological Museum of Gwalior. It was reported by M. B. Garde in Annual Report of the Archaeological Department Gwalior State for V.S. 1984/C.E. 1927-28, no. 43-44. Harihar Nivās Dvivedī gives almost the same description in Hindi in Gwālior Rājya kē Abhilekha, no. 618. In Annual Report of Indian Epigraphy for 1952-53, no. B 143 only the reference of Garde is given and Michael D. Willis provides brief information in Inscriptions of Gopakṣetra, [p. 109].
The language of the inscription is Sanskrit and the characters are proto-Nāgarī. The inscription consists 22 Sanskrit verses and must have been composed by an ingenious poet, who was familiar in alaṁkāra. His exaggerated hyperboles will appear startling and amusing even to one accustomed to the usual kāvya style. The characters are usual to the period they belonged. Head-mark is yet to broaden for covering the entire letter and foot-mark of some letters are not well developed. Medial sign u is denoted by usual hook-mark as well as wedged shape foot-mark; medial sign e is shown by a leftward vertical stroke while medial sign ai is formed by a combination of leftward vertical stroke and an ornamented top-stroke.
Of the two lintels, the word prathameyaṁ is engraved at the end of the one lintel inscription signify that the inscription begins with this lintel. On the other hand, the abrupt end of the second lintel suggests that this record completes itself in more than two lintels. Other being not found hence the content of the record remains incomplete. Not only this, but some portions of both the known lintels are worn out so it is not possible to give the reading of the entire portions of these two lintels.
The recovered portion of the inscription contains no date, but on palaeographical grounds and from the mention of contemporary personages, like Vāillabhaṭṭa, his wife Jajjā, their son Alla as well as the ruling king Rāmadeva (a Gurjara-Pratihāra king of Kanauj), whose dates are already known from the Vāillabhaṭṭasvāmin (Caturbhuja) temple inscription of V.S. 932/ C.E. 875 and 933 / C.E. 876 [Hultzsch, E. 1983: 154-162], the inscription might be referred to the latter half of the ninth century.
About the content of the inscription Dvivedī told that it mentions the temple of Viśākha (lord Kārtikeya), Vāillabhaṭṭa of Ānandapura and Gurjara-Pratihāra ruler Rāmadeva [Dvivedi, Harihar Nivas 1947: no. 618]. However, there is no clear reference of any temple of Viśākha and only the invocation at the beginning of the epigraph is addressed to God Viśākha (Kārtikeya) from which it may be contemplated that the inscription was intended to record the construction of or a grant to, a temple of Viśākha [Garde: GAR nos.43-44]. According to Willis [1996: 109] it mentions a temple of Kārtikeya and Vāillabhaṭṭa as well as the Gurjara-Pratihāra Rāmadeva of Ānandapura but the inscription records the association of Ānandapura to the family of Alla and neither the temple of Kārtikeya nor Vāillabhaṭṭa is found mention in the inscription under discussion. In fact, the inscription begins with the auspicious symbol siddham followed by adoration of God Viśākha (Kārtikeya). Then it mentions a virtuous youth, Nāgara (Nāgarabhaṭṭa) of the Varjāra family, who had immigrated from Ānandapura in Lāṭa-maṇḍala, i.e. Vaḍanagara in Gujarat. He had a son, Vāilllabhaṭṭa by name, who was in the service of the illustrious Rāmadeva. He with wife Jajjā had a son called Alla. Their virtues and achievements are referred in general terms and compared with the laudable acts of epic heroes, great scholars like Pāṇinī and others.
The Vāillabhaṭṭasvāmin temple inscription of C.E. 875 records that Vāillabhaṭṭa had been chief of the boundaries or maryādādhurya or margrave in the service of king Rāmadeva [EI, I: 154-159]. Alla succeeded his father in office, and was appointed to the guardianship of Gopādri, i.e. of Gwalior fort, by king Śrīmad-Ādivarāha (Bhojadeva) [EI, I: v.22]. The second inscription of C.E. 876 is explicitly called Alla the guardian of the fort or koṭṭapāla of Gōpagiri [EI, I: 159-162]. The first inscription mentions two kings, Rāmadeva, the contemporary of Vāillabhaṭṭa and Śrīmad-Ādivarāha, the contemporary of Alla. At the time of the second inscription the ruler of Gwalior was the parameśvara Bhojadeva. Alla was a great builder of temples and the inscription of Vāillabhaṭṭasvāmin temple records four donations to two temples, Navadurgā and Vāillabhaṭṭasvāmī, which had been built by Alla. Though it is not easy to determine with certainty the purpose of the present inscription due to incomplete information, however, it might me related with the construction of a temple or donation to the temple like other inscriptions of Alla.
These inscriptions are very important from the viewpoint of the history of the Gurjara-Pratihāras as well as the history of the region. Interestingly the inscription of C.E. 875 mentions that ‘having observed the virtues of Alla, the illustrious Ādivarāha, who wished to conquer the three worlds, appointed him to the guardianship of Gopādri’. The strategic location of the Gwalior creates a centre of attention for Gurjara-Pratihāra rulers. The inscription of C.E. 876 provides useful information for the local administration. It mention that ‘Bhojadeva was the ruler, the guardian of the fort or koṭṭapāla Alla commanded Gopagiri, Tattaka commanded the army and the merchant Vavviyāka, the trader Icchuvāka and the other members of the board of the Savviyāka were administering the city’. It is also known from other sources that the area was under the control of Vaiśya rulers. The political scenario of Gopagiri or Gopādri could be better understood in the background of the history of the region [Singh 2007: 54-117].
The descriptions of the Gopādri region and its environment draw attention to the preponderantly āṭavika character of the land and its people and their survival in isolation. In Purāṇas the region is described as part of the Pāripātra (or Pāriyātra) mountain ranges which joined with the Vindhyan system. It is described in Baudhāyana’s Dharmasūtra (l. 125) as forming the boundary between the lands of the Vedic and the non-Vedic people lay in the forest tract. The region was inhabited by Niṣādhas and the Pulindas, Sekas, Aparasekas and also the Mlecchas, Nāgas (Karkoṭaka Nāga), Mṛga-vyādha (hunters) and Taskaras (bands of robbers) [Mahabharata: 24.34, 52.79, 64.2]. The āṭavika linkage of the region seems to be confirmed from the mention of it in the Rock Edict XIII of Aśoka [CII, Vol.I: 66-70] and also from the Prayāga praśasti of Samudragupta [CII Vol.III: 1-17]. Varāhamihira and Bāṇabhaṭṭa mention some of them as Vindhyāṭavī, and Kālidāsa mentions Vindhyapada as the region of their abode. The references to the āṭavikas and their eighteen kingdoms find mention in the Khoh plates of Saṁkṣobha [CII Vol.III: 112-116]. These references put forward that even in the Gupta times the region was a loosely organised political unit in which alliance factor was particularly important. Interestingly the Chinese traveller, Hiuen Tsāng says that the Po-Li-Ye-To-Lo country (Pāriyātra region) was ruled by a Vaiśya king [Beal 1969: 179]. The traders’ guilds continued to exercise control on the trade activities and administration of this region up to the early medieval period as seems indicated in the epigraphs from Gwalior and Sīyaḍoṇī of the Gurjara-Pratihāras time. Such information indicates a kind of social and political system in this region where tribal chiefdoms exercised political control. The local tribes might have claimed new roles as a result of integration. However, a-symmetrical political and social formation in this region may be noticed during the early historical times because all the segments of the hinterland could not have absorbed the varying mould of culture uniformly [Misra 2005: 275-306].
The region must have been in a blooming order under the Guptas as is apparent from the artefacts. Invasion of the Huṇa leader Toramāṇa rushed the disaster of Gupta Empire. The Gwalior inscription of Mihirakula confirms that some part of the region was in Huṇa possession. Yaśodharman of Mandsaur emerged as a meteor in the political sphere, achieved brilliant success against the Huṇas and seems to have rewarded struggle against Mihirkula and conquered him. In the second quarter of the eighth century the region was under the rule of Yaśovarman of Kanauj whose conquests are described in the Gauḍavaho of Vākpati. Lalitāditya had a considerable sway in the reign ruled by Yaśovarman as known from Kalhaṇa’s description [Stein 1961]. It is interesting to note a short inscription in the temple 17 at Naresar (District Morena) reading Śrī Karkoṭakeśvaradevaḥ [Singh 1997: 611-614] which resonance like the name of the dynasty ‘Karkoṭa’ to which Lalitāditya belonged. The son and successor of Yaśovarman was Āmarāja or Āma, who was converted to Jainism by a Jaina saint named Bappabhaṭṭi in Samvat 807 / C.E. 750, as informed by Rājaśekhara. The Bappabhaṭṭacarita and the Prabandhakośa indicate that Āma held his court at Gopagiri, but according to the Prabhāvakacarita he, like his father Yaśovarman, reigned at Kanauj and not altogether at Gopagiri. Although other texts do not confirm this statement about Āma’s occupation of Gwalior as well some scholar identified Āma with Gurjara-Pratihāra Nāgabhaṭa I [Meister JOI: 354-358].
Thus, Gopādri region seems to emerge in ancient times as a distinct eco-zone with its vast forest cover and an early vast mass of ravine-ravaged wasteland with sparse habitation and shifting settlements of the forest based communities, depending not insubstantially on violent, mercenary pursuits including even pillaging and plunder, which eventually became a way of life. Archaeological and historical records available so far, on Gopādri region arrests attention for what it holds in term of early institutional formation and organisational network in the region. The kind of socio-economic stratification and network, as seen in northern India and elsewhere, from the Vedic times down to the Guptas and even later, does not seems to occur here. Artisans and traders seem leading in the region, virtually running the administration through the council of the chief. Hiuen Tsang also seems to indicate presence of a belt of Vaiśya ruler from Gwalior to Ujjain. Till the emergence of Gurjara-Pratihāras, in the ninth century, there is a distinct presence of the bhaṭas (warriors) whose status fluctuated from the state of mercenary warriors to that of koṭṭapāla, rājā, bhūpa, nṛpati, mahāsāmantādhipati, mahārājādhirāja and finally in the eleventh century of that of nṛpa-cakravartī. This entire corpus of information about absence of a centralised political authority and about large pockets of forest based communities, people and their chiefdoms, small habitation subsisting on incipient agricultural pursuits, pastorals and forest produce in a land of sub-subsistence resources, calls for an alternative mode of enquiry into the making of institutional history of the region, rather than looking for an operative system based on agrarian economy we may have to look for its roots in early forest-based (vanaja) institutions and their organising mechanism. Studies indicate communities’ transition from nomadic to pastoral states and then on to tribal chiefdoms after which, by ninth century C.E., a feudal system seems to have been imposed on the region from outside [Misra 1999: 59-78].
For the history of the Gurjara-Pratihāras period, information is available in Sāgaratāla [Majumdar EI XVIII: 99-114], Vāillabhaṭṭasvāmin temple [EI I: 154-162], Sīyaḍoṇī [Kielhorn EI I: 162-179], Rakhetrā [Singh 2012: 75-82] and other contemporary inscriptions. Gurjara-Pratihāras ruled from the second quarter of the eighth century to the first quarter of the eleventh century C.E., with varying region under their dominion, but their governance by and large lasted in the north and central part of India up to the middle of the tenth century C.E. During this period, the region from Gopādri down to Dasārṇa was under the Gurjara-Pratihāras sway, who ruled earlier from Ujjain and afterward from Kanauj (Kānyakubja). The dynasty of the Gurjara-Pratihāras seems to have established itself with the appearance of Nāgabhaṭa I, in the second quarter of the eighth century C.E. The Gwalior inscription of Bhoja describes him as the ‘shelter of the worlds and as one who appeared as the image of the old sage having crushed the large armies of the powerful Mleccha king, the destroyer of virtue’ and undoubtedly he achieved peculiarity as a grand national hero by overpowering the Arabs [Mazumdar 1964: 20]. The next two rulers in the line, Kakustha or Kakkuka and Devarāja were his brother’s son. The son and successor of Devarāja was Vatsarāja (c. C.E. 770-805), the region around Gopādri seems to have been occupied by him. The author of a Jaina work, Kuvalayamālā (Ch. II, p. 23) says that he composed the work in C.E. 778 at Jāvālipura (modern Jālor) which was at the time ruled by the raṇahastin (war-elephant) Vatsarāja. Jaina works prove his kingdom comprised both Mālava and eastern Rājaputānā. There is no doubt that Vatsarāja gradually extended his dominions in the north. The Gwalior inscription records that he forcibly wrested the empire from the famous Bhaṇḍi clan. Rāṣṭrakūṭa inscriptions [EI VI: 248; Indian Antiquary XI: 157] mention that he defeated the lord of Gauḍas, probably Dharmapāla [Mazumdar 1964: 19-43; B.D. Misra 1993]. The Gwalior inscription of Bhoja records that Nāgabhaṭa II (c. C.E. 805-833), ‘desirous of the great growth of virtuous acts enjoyed in the Vedas, performed a series of religious ceremonies according to the custom of the Kṣatriya families and, after having defeated Cakrāyudha, Kanauj seems to have been confined to the Gurjara-Pratihāra kingdom and served as the capital city. He defeated the lord of Vaṅga, and the king of Āndhra, Sindhu, Vidarbha and Kaliṅga, were attracted towards him or perhaps sought his kindness and he forcibly seized the hill forts of the kings of Ānartta (north Saurāṣṭra), Mālava, Kirāta (in the Himālayan region), Turuṣka, Vatsa (Kauśāṁbī region) and Matsya (eastern Rajasthan). During the time of Rāmabhadra or Rāmadeva (c. C.E. 833-836) the region around Gwalior persistent under his efficient reins is apparent from the inscription under discussion and the Vāillabhaṭṭasvāmin temple inscription in Gwalior fort. These inscriptions record about a person named Vāillabhaṭṭa in the service of illustrious Rāmadeva (Rāmabhadra), who never transgressed his duty of chief of the boundaries (maryādādhuryatām-alaṅghayatā). Bhoja (c. C.E. 836-885) is called Mihira and Śrīmad-ādivarāha. The pillar inscription of C.E. 862 indicates that great feudatory (mahāsāmanta) Viṣṇuvarman was the governor of the Deogaḍh region [Kielhorn EI IV: 309]. Vāillabhaṭṭasvāmin temple inscription of C.E. 876 mention that Śrīmad-ādivarāha (Bhojadeva) appointed Alla, the son of Vāillabhaṭṭa as the guardian of Gopādri or koṭṭapāla of Gopagiri. The hereditary position of Vāillabhaṭṭa and Alla under the Gurjara-Pratihāra kings indicates a continual authority of the Gurjara-Pratihāras over the Gwalior region. Within a few years of his accession Bhoja succeeded in re-establishing the fortunes of his family to a considerable extent, but soon he had to measure his strength with the Pāla king Devapāla. There is no doubt that he renewed his aggressive career sometime in the third quarter of the ninth century C.E. [Majumdar 1964: 30]. The reputation of a strong ruler, able to maintain peace in his kingdom and defend it against external dangers and he stood as a safeguard of defence against Muslim attack, and left this task as a revered legacy to his successors [Majumdar 1964: 32]. Bhojadeva seems to have earned a lasting fame in the Gwalior region.
Gurjara-Pratihāras were powerful rulers, and struck to Gwalior persistently, recognising its great strategic and military position in the contemporary political scenario. The Vāillabhaṭṭasvāmin temple inscription of C.E. 875 and 876 gives pre-eminence to Gopagiri as a strong centre in the neighbouring areas, though Gopagiri seems to have stood as a satellite of Kanauj even as it served the military purpose of controlling the hinterland. The armies of the Rāṣṭrakūṭas in the course of their northern campaigns might have passed through the region in the tripartite struggle for power between the Gurjara-Pratihāras, the Pālas and the Rāṣṭrakūṭas. For instance in C.E. 903, a bloody battle between Rāṣṭrakūṭas’ feudatory, mahāsāmantādhipati Guṇarāja and feudatory of the Gurjara-Pratihāras’ Undabhaṭa was fought on the bank of the river Madhuveṇi at Terhi in which the koṭṭapāla Caṇḍiyāṇa, a mahā-aśvapati, an adherent or follower of Guṅarāja, with others lost their lives [Singh 1994-95: 137-42]. Gwalior fort was turned into a ‘koṭa’ or fortress with Alla, son of Vāillabhaṭṭa as its koṭṭapāla who served as the maryādādhurya, ‘warden of marches’ meant to take care of the security needs of Gopagiri fort and its surroundings in the near or distant regions within or outside the empire of Gurjara-Pratihāras. The inscription of C.E. 875 refers to the other officers, the commander of the army or balādhikṛta, a council of administrators of town or sthānādhikṛta, the chief of oilmen’s guild or taillika-mahattaka and chief of gardeners or mālika-mahara. It appears that in the lack of centralised political authority and regular ruling dynasties till the ninth century C.E. tribal chiefdoms exercised political control and there is a distinct presence of bhaṭas like Undabhaṭa, Durbhaṭa, Nāgarabhaṭa, Vāillabhaṭa, Allabhaṭa, Gobhaṭa and others whose position graduated from mercenary warrior to that of koṭṭapāla, rājā, bhūpa, nṛpati, mahāsāmantādhipati to mahārājādhirāja. Here one notices a surprising pattern in the polity highlighting absence of the overlord and claim of dominance by the bhaṭas who occasionally proclaimed themselves as mahārājādhirāja even as they invoked their overlord. The Sīyaḍoṇī inscription mentions Undabhaṭa, who is described as mahāpratihāra, samadhigataśeṣa-mahāśavda and mahāsāmantādhipati. From the introductory remarks to the donations we learn that the town of Sīyaḍoṇī was held by the mahārājādhirāja, the illustrious Durbhaṭa in C.E. 912 and by mahārājādhirāja Niṣkalaṅka during C.E. 948-968. Under these nobles, the affairs of the town would seem to have been managed by an assembly of five called pañcakula, and by a committee of two, appointed from time to time by the town. The mahārājādhirājas themselves were subordinate to, and derived their authority from, the paramount lords of the country, i.e. Gurjara-Pratihāras. Thus, the inscriptions from Gwalior and Sīyaḍoṇī are significant to be familiar with the local administration and the development of political institutions in the region.
Siddham1 / suravara-sevitapādā-dhdhasta-tamā nīlakaṇṭhamārūḍhā / indukalevat= anurvvo Vaiśākhī bhavabhide bhavatāt // Lāṭābhidhāna-maṇḍala-maṇḍana bhūte-vibhūti-mānbhaṭṭaḥ / Śrīmaty=Ānandapure Varjjā-
rāṅkollukaḥ sobhūt // akhilaṁ bhūtalametadbhrāntvādhdhara dhūmapaṭalamāruhya / svarggamagādiva devāndidṛikṣu vidyāyaśo yasya // agnyā hitohito yo samate vara Nāgaro gurahapadauh=āsurasrajamāraṁ tana-
yaṁ sakala kulālaṁkṛtiṁ kṛtinaṁ // nānādeśāyāta śrotṛśatabhyoṁbhyadhāyi-sadmatranaṁ / yasya sadāhutabhujrihūtasānāryya sugandhigandhena // Rudra Viśākha duhitaraṁ jīyāṁsa kulodgātā pariṇināya /
Vāillabhaṭṭamavrajita Ravimahasaṁyāsutamasūtra // svapnepi yā jātu-na-dṛṣṭa-pūrvvā manorathānāmapi yā na bhūmiḥ / Śrī Rāmadevaṁ guṇanīrarāśim=ārādhyatāṁ saṁpadamāptavānāpatāyū dasābhyāmapi
yaḥ sugatopi na nindita-trayī-dharmmaḥ / īśopi Virūpākṣo nonoyo bhogyarpi vyālaḥ // mātaṁga dāna kaluṣita tanurapi śaucāptabhūri-mahimāyaḥ / Dhṛtarāṣṭropi Yudhiṣṭhira kṛtapakṣo yo vinā
vyājaṁ // Pāṇinīya ivopetaḥ prakṛtyā guṇayuktaṣā / paribhāṣāgamaiḥ kiṁṭhunipāti ta subhṛnnayaḥ // saccārittrā yatyau vadhūḥ pareṣāṁnuputsatkāṁ-strīṣu / śattrautha-mānyamānaupīttaliṁ gattaya prāpa //
Ōṁ2 hītānām=abhayapradānaniratobhītiprado vidviṣā kāntānāṁ ratidaḥ śaśīvasu-hṛdāṁ nettrotpalānandanaḥ / bhṛtyānāṁ bharaṇakṣamoti viduṣāṁ kalpadrumōpy= arthināmeka-nijapadā // vira
................... hiddadhatāpi mahāniyogaṁ śaśvatsatām=amṛta-vṛṣṭirasacchirorttiḥ / yenārjjitā jagatiśauca yaśaḥpatākā sthāsyatyasāta vitare suciraṁ sva-vaṁśe // madhye
..................... mahā .............. nirvvāhaḥ samabhūdakṛtvima-guṇātsatsvāmikāyadatoya yadyasyatadruddṛ / tāśitikarī vuddhoti vidviratya-sūkhakṛtvatara surimama suyasya
vadatsatvārahi-suṣatmanaha na kūvāvakratte-padasa .............. dihara krudhava niḥsṛtaṁ satākṣihṛtaḥ // hata Meghanādaṁ sainye saṁgrāme cchinna-Kuṁbhakarṇṇāda / śrī Rāmadeva bhakto Lakṣmaṇa
iva yo yaśo lebhe // pariṇinnāya dhīmāśāṁ Rāmadevasa ....................... lasya Somadāsutāṁ // Ajanikumārasanayo Viṣṇukayā Jajjayālla etāsaṁ / guṇavāṁstayor= dvitīyo
jahā sa Karṇṇasyayo-dātṛ // madhye rājasamūhaṁsto kolaṁkāmavarāyadda / Vāillabhaṭṭatavratyolloyapidaṁśa dita nṛpareṇa // yodhovihita-virūpaḥ prabhaṣottama iva samudrajopetaḥ / Duḥśāsanamavadhīdyo Bhīmo Bhīma-i-
va mānadhanaḥ // dhvasta-jagattejo apinakhudauśociḥ kṣatikṣāmodatya / prahaṣididivai vadanaṁ hriyetaju-Iṁdrāmvarai Bhāsvān // vipakṣayamata-gajamātmaṁbhidyayosinā / muktāphalānijośrābha mūrttaṁyaśa ivābhave //
1. Expressed by a symbol.
2. Expressed by a symbol.
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1. Lintel Inscription One
2. Lintel Inscription Two