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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
i 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 91TH was the work, perhaps, of the Muhammadans. It should appear that the metathesis of r and n, 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 begin. ning 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 ; 2 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-purâņa, 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 Vâmana-purâņa, that Vârâņasî lies between the Varañâ and the Asi :
• हरिरुवाच ।
Convertible, in later usage, with Vârâņasî is the de
may, also to TamT
There is a statement to the like effect in a section of the Padmapurâņa, the Kaśî-máhatmya, V., 58:
वाराणसीति यख्यातं तन्मानं निगदामि वः ।
दक्षिणोत्तरयोनद्यो वरणासिश्च पूर्वतः ॥ The same idea occurs more than once in a putative appendage to the Skanda-purana, the Káśî-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 Asi, 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 Varuņâ (sic) and Asî are named in the Calcutta edition of the Mahâbhârata, Bhishma-parvan, śl. 338. But, in my annotations on the English translation of the Vishnu-purâna, 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 Nîlakaạtha; 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 'EpÉVVEOLS, of Varâņasî. 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 Varâņasi.” This “conjunct Varânasî ”—or, rather, what he unwarrantably calls its modern name, Barânaśî,-he compounds, incautiously, after Mr. Walter Hamilton, of two unknown streams, the Varâ and the Naśi.
The Jabala-upanishad places Avimukta — which is a Paurâņik title of Benares,-between the Varaņâ and the Nâśî or Nâsî; and the commentator, Sankarânanda, disciple of Anandâtman, etymologizes the words. An anonymous expositor of the same Upanishad, whose work I consulted in India, reads varand and asi, explains them by pingala and idd, and makes the result of their conjunction, váránasi, in some acceptation or other, to be equivalent to sushumnd. One need not stop to expatiate on such trifling.
possible contrées Oce city Varáhe Varána ogan with be:
signation Kâśior Kâsî. Whence it arose history has
Something of the same sort is to be seen in the fifth chapter of the Kási-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 Varâņâ, 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 Varâņasî 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 'EpévveOS), la dernière de la liste d’Arrien, se reconnaît sans difficulté dans la Varânasî, petite rivière qui se jette dans la gauche du Gange à Bénarès, qui en a pris son nom (en sanscrit Vârânâsî).” Etude 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 que Ptolémée énumère sous le nom altéré d'Erarasa," and that he finds, therein, “la trace bien reconnaissable de Vârânâsî, 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 Varaṇa and Asî would, therefore, combine into Varaņasî. 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 Asî. In the Kaść-khanda, XXX., 18, it is the subject of a pun, in connexion with asi, “a sword.”
i This is the oldest form, and that recognized in the Haima-kosa and by Ujjwaladatta's commentary on the Unnadi-sútra.
2 Kâśi is not so markedly feminine as the more usual Kâsî, its derivative. Most Indian cities have feminine appellations.
long forgotten ;' but conjecture may, possibly, unravel its etymology.
Among the descendants of Âyus 3 was Kâśa, whose son is noticed under the patronyms of Kâśeya, Kâsîya, and Kâśi.The regal successors of Kâśi, and
Kâśikâ is found in the Kási-khanda, XXX., 70, and elsewhere. Compare Avantikâ for Avantî, as in note 1 to p. xxxiii., infra.
| The vocabularists refer the word to káś, “to shine.” And herewith agrees the Kási-khanda, XXVI., 67 :
काशतेत्र यतो ज्योतिस्तदनाख्येयमीश्वर।
अतो नामापरं चास्तु काशीति प्रथितं विभो। In the stanza immediately preceding this, the city is called Muktikshetra. Krishṇa is speaking; and he says that the radiance of Kâsî emanates from Siva.
If, where they interpret Kâsî by "splendid,” Colonel Wilford and his numerous followers intend to take the word from the adjective kâśin, they have forgotten that the feminine is not káśi, but káśini. See the Asiatic Researches, Vol. III., p. 409.
? Professor Wilson has already written : “ It seems probable that the city [of Kâsî] was founded, not by him [Kshattravșiddha], but by his grandson or great-grandson, denominated Kâśa and Kâśirâja.” Mr. James Prinsep’s Benares Illustrated, p. 8. It is meant, here, I suppose, to hint a derivative connexion of Kâsî with Kâśa or Kâśirâja. The latter name Professor Wilson everywhere puts, erroneously, for “King Kâśi.” See note 7 in the present page.
3 See the English Vishnu-purâna, Vol. IV., pp. 30-32.
4 Compare Mâņạûkeya, from Mâņạûka; and Swâphalki, from Swaphalka.
5 So reads the Harivañśa, śl. 1734, in the best MSS. accessible to me.
6 Gana on Pâņini, IV., II., 90; and the Brahma-purana.
7 Bhagavata-purâņa, IX., XVII., 4. In the Vishnu-purâna, he is called Käsiraja; but the term, a compound, is there to be explained “ Raja Kâśi.” Differently, Kásirája, Käsipati, etc., descriptive of Ajátaśatru, Divodâsa, Pratardana, and others, signify “Raja of the Kâśis.” That anfartst: may be the same as afuo 99: is clear from the Mahabharata, Anuśásana-parvan, śl. 1949 and 1952.