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The Origin of Brahmi Script

S.P. Gupta (Editor) K.S. Ramachandran (Editor)
Synopsis The antiquity of writing in India can be traced back to the still undeciphered ideo-or pictograms on the seals and sealings of the Indus Civilization . Between this and the prolific rock and pillar engravings of Asoka in the Brahmi script there is a gaping hiatus of a millennium and more in the history of writing in India. What is the origin of this Brahmi script which Asoka utilized at its maximum for the propagation of the Dhamma? What are its antecedents, if any? Are the vexed problems defying solution? Here, two prominent scholars, a historian and an archaeologist, have put forth their views in two key-papers. To S.R. Goyal, the historian, Brahmi was invented in the first half of the third century B.C., to the exact during Asoka’s time, gaining support for this theory from Megasthanes’ observation that there was no writing in India in his times. Further, Brahmi does not show any regional variation and most of its forms appear to have been based on primary shapes representing some material objects. On the other hand, to the archaeologist, Soundara Rajan, there is a possibility that Brahmi passed through a stage of evolution from the Vedic-Brahmanical culture-stream flowering after the Vedic Culture had imbibed maritime script-impulses. He is of the opinion that in the pre-Mauryan period, between Panini and the Buddha, Brahmi should have attained a standardized shape as borne out by its structure which is inspired by the Paninian grammar. To him, Brahmi is not an “instant miracle” but was dormant “ for what of actual written contexts of documentation”. On these two views, some eminent epigraphists, historians and archaeologists have offered their comments, which this book is presenting to the world of Indologists and historians.
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About the authors

S.P. Gupta

Dr. S.P. Gupta, born in 1931, presently Chairman, Indian Archaeological Society, New Delhi, is a distinguished archaeologist and art historian who has been awarded several gold medals and the Sir Mortimer Wheeler Prize for excellence in field-archaeology. He has worked and lectured in more than 30 countries of the world. He has authored a number of books including Disposal of the Dead and Physical Types in Ancient India (1971), Tourism, Museums and Monuments (1975), Archaeology of Soviet Central Asia and the Indian Borderlands - two volumes (1978), The Roots of Indian Art (1980) - the French edition of which was published in 1990 and Cultural Tourism in India (2002). He has also edited many books and published about 50 articles in various national and international journals and books.

K.S. Ramachandran

Kattalai S. Ramachandran (b. 1926) graduated from the University of Madras in History and Economics in 1947. Soon after, he joined the Archaeological Survey of India associating himself with the explorations and excavations aspects of the Survey. For more than a quarter of a century Ramachandran has participated in almost all the major excavations conducted by the Survey viz. Sisupalgarh, Sanur, Ujjain, Lothal, Kalibangan, Purana Qila, etc., and has specialized in the Iron Age, particularly of Tamil Nadu. He has also developed a lasting interest in art and iconography. Ranachandran has contributed more than four-score research papers of lasting interest to various journals, besides editing more trhan half a dozen books. His other books are: A Bibliography on Indian Megaliths; Radiocarbon Dates of Archaeological sites in India; A Bibliography of Harappan cultures of India and The Neolithic cultures-an annotated bibliography.

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Bibliographic information

Title The Origin of Brahmi Script
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.1979
Edition 1st ed.
Publisher D.K. Publications
Language: English
length xxiv+128p., Figures; Tables; Notes; References; Abbreviation; Bibliography; 23cm.