Page images


Page 68.–For Purņas'ubhakaran, read Purņas'ubhakaraní.

Page 320.-In line 21, and also line 26, in place of No. X., read No. IX.


[ocr errors]

ALIKE as to limits and as to influence, the Indian kingdoms of former times were, with few exceptions, inconsiderable; such of them as lay conterminous were often at open feud; and their cities, or fortified towns, constituted, in fact, their only stable boundaries. It was, probably, with the dominion of the Kâśis as it was with other seats of Hindu power. Deriving its origin from some city, as Pratishthâna,' or Vârâņasî,” it must have acquired extent and consideration by very gradual development.

At least since a hundred and twenty years before our era, Vârâņasî, as denoting a city, has been a name

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Vide infra, p. xxv., note 1. ? Also called Varâņasî and Varaņasî, according to the Haima-kośa and the Sabdaratnávali, respectively. The latter of these vocabularies is of small authority.

A rational system of Romanized spelling would give us, instead of Benares, Banâras. The form agite was the work, perhaps, of the Muhammadans. It should appear that the inetathesis of r and ?, in the original word, must be later than the times of Fă Hian and Hiouen Thsang.

Vide infra, p. xxviii., notes 1 and 2. In the ordinary belief of the vulgar of Benares, the name of their city is connected with Raja Banâr,-a mythical magnate, of whom mention is associated with that of the reformer Kabîr, of the beginning of the fifteenth century. Asiatic Researches, Vol. XVI., p. 57. “According to some of the Muhammadan accounts,” says Mr. James


familiar to Brahmanical literature. The word is crudely referred, by modern inventiveness, to a combination of Varañâ and Asi ;? and all the other explanations that we have of its source are equally questionable. Prinsep, but without naming his voucher for the statement, Benares

was governed by a Raja Banâr, at the time of one of Mahmûd's invasions, or in A.D. 1017, when one of his generals penetrated to the province, and defeated the Raja."--Benares Illustrated, p. 9. General Cunningham states that Raja Banâr is traditionally believed to have rebuilt Benares about eight hundred years ago. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, for 1863, Supplementary Number, p. xcvi.

Vârâņasî is specified more than once in Patanjali's Mahábháshya. On the age of that work, see my edition of Professor Wilson's translation of the Vishnu-purána, Vol. II., p. 189, ad calcem.

. So allege the Pandits of the present day; repeating, no doubt, a long-current conceit of their predecessors : see the Asiatic Researches, , Vol. III., pp. 409, 410. This notion, though it has found expression in the Araish-i-mahfil and other recent Muhammadan books, is, I believe, only implied in the Puranas. It is said, for instance, in the third chapter of the Vámana-purdņa, that Vârâņasi lies between the Varana and the Asi:

हरिरुवाच ।
महेश्वर शृणुष्वेमां मम वाचं कलखनाम ।
ब्रह्महत्याक्षयकरी शुभदां पुण्यवर्धिनीम् ॥
यो सौ ब्रह्माण्डके पुण्ये मदंशप्रभवो व्ययः ।
प्रयागे वसते नित्यं योगशायीति विश्रुतः ॥
चरणाक्षिणात्तस्य विनिर्गता सरिद्वरा।
विशुता वरणेत्येव सर्वपापहरा शुभा ॥
सव्यादन्या द्वितीया च असिरित्येव विश्रुता।
ते उभे च सरिछ्रेष्ठे लोकपूज्ये बभूवतुः ॥
तयोर्मध्ये तु यो देशस्तत्क्षेत्रं योगशायिनः ।
त्रैलोक्यप्रवरतीर्थ सर्वपापप्रमोचनम् ॥
न तादृशं हि गगणे न भूम्यां न रसातले ।
तत्रास्ति नगरी पुण्या ख्याता वाराणसी शुभा।
यस्यां हि भोगिनो नाशं प्रयान्ति भवतो लयम् ॥

Convertible, in later usage, with Vârâņasî is the de

There is a statement to the like effect in a section of the Padmapurana, the Kasi-máhátmya, V., 58 :

वाराणसीति यत्ख्यातं तन्मानं निगदामि वः ।

दक्षिणोत्तरयोनद्यो वरणासिश्च पूर्वतः ॥ The same idea occurs more than once in a putative appendage to the Skanda-purâņa, the Kasi-khanda. It will suffice to quote XXX., 20, 21:

दक्षिणोत्तरदिग्भागे कृत्वासिं वरणां सुराः ॥

क्षेत्रस्य मोक्षनिक्षेपरक्षारिवृतिमाययुः। Particular reference may, also, be made to stanzas 69 and 70 of the same chapter; and similar passages might be extracted from other Purâņas.

The Asi—now known as the Asî, and still trickling during the rainy season, despite Father Vivien de Saint-Martin's scepticism as to its existence,—has a niche in the Haima-kośa, a work of the twelfth century. The Varuņā (sic) and Asî are named in the Calcutta edition of the Mahabharata, Bhishma-parvan, śl. 338.

But, in my annotations on the English translation of the Vishnu-purána, Vol. II., p. 152, it is surmised that this stanza is an interpolation; and it may be added that is omitted from the text of the Mahabharata as accepted by the commentator Nilakaņķha; while the scholiast Arjunamiśra reads, at least in my manuscript, Charuņâ and Asi.

Dr. Schwanbeck-Megasthenis Indica, p. 36, note,-is reminded, by Arrian's 'Epévvedis, of Varanasi. Hereupon, Professor LassenIndische Alterthumskunde, Vol. I., Appendix, p. LIV.,--precipitately took the two for one; and he still holds to this opinion ; for, in the second edition of his great work, Vol. I., p. 161, note 1, (1867), he writes: “Des Megasthenes Erennesis ist die vereinigte Varâņast." This “conjunct Varanasi "--or, rather, what he unwarrantably calls its modern name, Baranasi,-he compounds, incautiously, after Mr. Walter Hamilton, of two unknown streams, the Varâ and the Naśî.

The Jabala - Upanishad places Avimukta - which is a Paurâ ņik title of Benares,-between the Varaņâ and the Nâsî or Nâsî; and the commentator, Sankarananda, disciple of Anandâtman, etymologizes the words. An anonymous expositor of the same Upanishad, whose work I consulted in India, reads varaņd and asi, explains them by pingalâ and idd, and makes the result of their conjunction, várâņasí, in some acceptation or other, to be equivalent to sushumnd. One need not stop to expatiate on such trifling.

signation Kâği' or Kâsî.? Whence it arose history has

Something of the same sort is to be seen in the fifth chapter of the Kasi-khanda.

Father Vivien de Saint-Martin—the genesis of whose fictitious river I trace in note 2 to p. xxviii.,-began with being disposed to make the Asî an affluent to the Varâ ņâ, with a Varâņasî below their confluence, and the city Varâņasî therefrom denominated. Mémoires sur les Contrées Occidentales, Vol. II., p. 361. Here " il serait trèspossible que l'un de ces ruisseaux se fût nommé Asî, et qu'après sa réunion à la Varâņâ, la petite rivière eût pris le nom composé de Varâņasi qu'elle aurait communiqué à la ville.” This, as speculation, will pass; but, to this writer, with his bias in favour of the theological or mythopeic method of geographizing, what are, at first, only suggestions, very soon ripen into indubitable certainties : Cette rivière (the 'Epévveris], la dernière de la liste d’Arrien, se reconnait sans difficulté dans la Varanasi, petite rivière qui se jette dans la gauche du Gange à Bénarès, qui en a pris son nom (en sanscrit Vârânâsî).” Étude sur la Géographie Grecque et Latine de l'Inde, p. 286.

This author more than inclines to see Vârânâsî in the words Erarasa (or Cragausa) metropolis, foisted into the Latin translation of Ptolemy. Ibid., pp. 227, 351. Here, very much as just above, having to do with a Latin interpolation, he sets out with describing it as such, and as offering "un reste de ressemblance qu'on entrevoit encore à travers la corruption du mot ; and, a little while afterwards, as if process of time necessarily stood for an accession of facts and reasons, persuades himself that he may speak of une ville


Ptolémée énumère sous le nom altéré d'Erarasa," and that he finds, therein, “la trace bien reconnaissable de Vârânâsi, forme sanscrite de notre Bénarès."

I have everywhere scrupulously reproduced the varieties of spelling indulged in by the writer just cited.

The final d and the initial a of two words coalescing into a compound might, possibly, yield a; and Varana and Asi would, therefore, combine into Varaṇast. But this form seems to be the peculiar property of a single recent and very indifferent lexicographer; and, moreover, the name of the second stream is, correctly, Asi, not Asi. In the Kasi-khanda, XXX., 18, it is the subject of a pun, in connexion with asi, a sword.”

1 This is the oldest form, and that recognized in the Taima-kośa and by Ujjwaladatta's commentary on the Unnadi-sútra.

· Kâği is not so markedly feminine as the more usual Kâśî, its derivative. Most Indian cities have feminine appellations.

« PreviousContinue »