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Patna,-its ancient Names.


so many associations, as the Pataliputra of the Hindoos, the Palibothra of the Greeks, and the Potolitse of the Chinese, all referring to the city which is known in our day under the name of Patna. The name of Pataliputra does not occur either in Menu or the Mahabharat, the capital of ancient Magadha having in those ages been Rajgriha. It was in the middle of the sixth century before Christ that Ajatsutra founded the city of Pataliputra. This prince,' says Lassen, 'appears to have long had the intention of conquering Vasali ;* for it is recorded that his two ministers, Sunitha and Vasyankara, founded in the village of Patali a fortress against the Vriggi; this took place a short time before the death of Buddha. It is, no doubt, the place where the town Patali-putra, afterwards so famous, arose ; its situation is distinctly defined by the circumstance, that Buddha on his tour from Nalanda to Vaisali came to that place.' Under its ancient name of Pataliputra, the place stands before the eyes of the modern traveller as the capital of the Nandas, of Chandra-Gupta, and of Asoca ; as the scene where were played those outwitting Machiavellian policies between Rakshasa and Chanakya, which form the subject of the drama of Mudra Rakshasa, where Megasthenes had arrived on an embassy from Seleucus and resided for many years, leaving behind a record that possesses no ordinary claims upon our attention ; whence Asoca issued his famous edicts about Buddhism, and sent missionaries to preach in

* Identified by General Cunningham with the modern Besarh, 20 miles north of Hajipoor.



Egypt, Syria, and Greece; and whence vessels plied to Ceylon in a fortnight, and carried Mahindra with a branch of the sacred peepul tree of Buddha. It is from the writings of Megasthenes that we learn that ‘Palibothra was eight miles long and one and a half broad, defended by a deep ditch and a high rampart, with 570 towers, and 64 gates'-—a state of grandeur of which not a tithe is possessed by the present city.

Much doubt had prevailed for a long time as to the site of Palibothra, of which such a splendid account had been left behind by the Greeks. Dr Spry states that as many cities have been brought forward by modern writers to prefer their claims to the Palibothra of India, as of old contested for the birth-place of Homer.' There was D’Anville who identified it with Allahabad, Wilford with Rajmahal, and Franklin with Bhaugulpore: until, at last, the Erranoboas of Arrian was found to correspond with the Hiraneyabah, or the Soane ; the name of Pataliputra turned out in Hindoo writings to accord with that of Palibothra, and the travels of Fa Hian and Hwen Thsang shed a light on the question to leave no more doubt as to the identity of the place. In the drama of Mudra Rakshasa, 'one of the characters describes the trampling down of the banks of the Soane, as the army approaches to Pataliputra.'

Though the Hindoo dramatist has laid many of his scenes at Pataliputra, little, however, can be gleaned from him as to the topography of that ancient city. Besides, we think his accounts to refer to an afterAncient state of Patna.


period-if not to his own age, at least to the age of the Gupta kings in the second and third centuries, when, probably, it acquired the poetic appellation of Kusoomapur, rendered by the Chinese into Kia-so-mo-polu. This is a name which it must have derived from the beauty of the numerous fields, gardens, and groves by which the place seems to have been surrounded in all ages. The Pratiredaka or informers of Asoca were to bring him intelligence even when he was promenading in his garden.' There is a passage in the drama alluded to above, where Rakshasa repeats the following lines :

* These gardens mark the city's pleasant confines,

And oft were honoured by my sovereign's presence.' In the present day, there is no end of topes and orchards and gardens surrounding Patna, and forming the suburban retreats of its inhabitants.

Hwen Thsang next treats us with an account of Patna in the seventh century. The court of the kings of Magadha, remarked by Wilford 'as one of the most brilliant that ever existed,' had then lost much of its splendour. The lord paramountcy of the Mauryas and Guptas had become extinct, and their sovereignty broken up. Pataliputra then acknowledged the supremacy of Harsha Vardhana, and its Rajah was an attendant tributary in the triumphal procession of that monarch from Patna to Kanouge. The city then abounded with many Buddhist temples and monasterie s but the monks are represented as having fallen off in practice from the rigorous system enjoined to them, and merged into the laity, and · living with the heretics' and 'no better than they.'

In the time of the Mussulman conquest, the capital of Behar is said to have been removed to the town of that name, and its Rajah to have become so degenerated as to abscond from his capital, leaving it destitute, to be taken by a detachment of two hundred men, who put a number of the unopposing Brahmins to the sword, and plundered all the inhabitants.' It is not known when the removal of the capital to Behar had taken place. Probably it happened on the ascendancy of the Rahtores at Kannouje, or of the Senas at Gour. But no doubt is to be entertained as to that removal having been the cause which first led to the decline of Patna, and to its gradual insignificance and obscurity, owing to which it is not mentioned in the early years of Mahomedan history.

As described by Ralph Fitch, Patna was in the end of the sixteenth century 'a large city, but contained only houses of earth and straw. The country was much infested by robbers, wandering like the Arabians from place to place. The people were greatly imposed upon by idle persons assuming the appearance of sanctity. One of these sat asleep on horseback in the marketplace, while the crowd came and reverentially touched his feet. They thought him a great man, but—sure he was a lazy lubber-I left him there sleeping.'

Modern Patna has an imposing appearance from the river. But inside the walls, the town is disgusting, disagreeable, and mean. The huts and houses are

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unsightly and slovenly. The passages are narrow, crooked, and irregular, so as to render a passage through them on an elephant or in a palankeen always difficult, and often impracticable. There is only one street tolerably wide, that runs from the eastern to the western gate, but it is by no means straight nor regularly built. In the middle of the town is a long narrow sheet of water, which, as it dries up, becomes exceedingly dirty, offensive, and malarious. The suburbs are built in a straggling and ill-defined manner, and they are bare and thin of population. The country here is low and flooded during the rains, and being thickly planted, is the source of great unhealthiness to the town. Ancient Pataliputra had been eight miles long and two and a half broad. Modern Patna is little more than a mile from east to west, and three-quarters of a mile from north to south—though the inhabitants pretend it to extend nearly nine miles along the banks of the Ganges from Jaffer Khan's garden to Bankipore. Of the towers and gateways spoken of by Megasthenes, or of the lofty pillars, columns, and turrets of the Suganga palace mentioned by the Hindoo dramatist, not a trace exists surviving the ravages of time and

There is no building in Patna now which is two hundred years old. Chanakya's house with old walls, from which a thatched roof projects, covered by a parcel of fuel stuck up to dry, and furnished with a bit of stone for bruising cow-dung fuel,' may easily be recognised in a squalid hut of the present day. But there is no lofty building from which Chandragupta may see


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