Scholar’s Comment Regarding the British Confirmation
Posted by worldamity on April 26, 2010
Following is a scholar’s comment regarding the British confirmation:
- I attach a copy of the family seal of the Palpa rajas, of whom the last, Raja Prithvi Pal Sen or Sena, was overthrown by the Gorkas in 1801. You will see that at the centre of the seal is a Buddhist stupa complete up harmika umbrella and central axis. This indicates that they regarded themselves as protectors of the Buddhist stupas within their territory in the tarai.
- You will that the upper section of the broken Ashokan pillar at Nigliva Sagar near Taulihawa carries a second inscription reading Sri Ripa Malla siram jayatu. Likewise at Lumbini. So Raja Ripu Malla in the fourteenth century clearly knew of the significance of Lumbini.
- General Khadga Shumsher Rana, exiled to the Western Tarai by his younger brother Prime Minister Bir Shumsher and appointed Governor of Tamsem/Palpa in 1887, knew all about Lumbini and the Nigliva Sagar upper pillar. The first British official to hear of pillars and inscriptions in the Nepal Tarai was Dr William Hoey, Commissioner of Gorakhpur, but from Gen. Khadga. Here is a quote from Hoey: ‘In 1893 I came to know Kharga [Khadga] Shamsher Jan, Governor of Tausem [Tamsem/Palpa], and he corresponded with me about Buddhism in Nepal, and he even sent me rubbings from pillars, but these were not of Asoka lettering . . I did nothing, as I could not go to the places, but I had supplied Kharga Shamsher with heel-ball, and instructed him how to take rubbings. The rubbings he sent were taken under my direction.’ These rubbings were of the two pillar inscriptions made by Raja Ripa Malla, because the Ashokan inscriptions were at that time buried under ground.
- Also aware of pillars and inscriptions in Nepal was Major Jaskaran Singh of Balrampur, who family owned land on both sides of the border. In March 1893 he wrote of an inscribed stone pillar somewhere inside Nepal territory. As a result the British Resident in Kathmandu applied to the Nepal Durbar for permission to allow a British archaeologist to enter the Nepal tarai. That permission was granted in February 1895, and in March 1895 Dr Anton Alois Fuhrer of the Lucknow Museum entered the Nepal Tarai – but further to the west of Taulihawa. He was then redirected to the Taulihawa area – almost certainly by order of Gen. Khadga. He then ‘found’ the Nigliva Sagar with its Malla inscription beside the lake and then made the genuine discovery of the stump of the pillar with its Ashokan inscription, which was almost buried in the undergrowth. We must give credit to Dr Fuhrer for this discovery but it is the only credit he merits.
- Dr. Fuhrer did NOT discover the Lumbini site as all the books state and as he claimed. In September 1896 the Nepal Durbar gave Dr Fuhrer permission to return to Nigliva Sagar to continue his excavation under the strict supervision of a Nepali liason officer with some Nepali sappers. In November 1896 he reached Nigliva Sagar but was met there by a messenger from Gen. Khadga telling him to come to his camp at Padariya village. When he met the general at Padariya village Dr Fuhrer was taken to a site a mile to the NE, where he was shown the (Lumbini) pillar sticking out of the ground. Of this pillar, Gen Khadga himself wrote three years later that when he received orders from his brother Bir Shumsher in Kathmandu to meet Dr Fuhrer at Nigliva Sagar he had at once written back ‘to report the existence of the Padariya monolith which had already struck very much for its unique shape and surroundings characteristic of Ashoka-pillars’. He was himself planning to excavate round the pillar but needed to get his brother’s permission: ‘It is only needless for me to remark that I had a mind to clear the debris round it for finding any inscriptions, the existence of which to me had seemed very probable’. Gen Khadga then received permission from Bir Shumsher to excavate at Lumbini and it was for this reason that he summoned Dr Fuhrer to Padariya.
- Dr Fuhrer did not excavate at Lumbini. It is quite clear from his account and from Gen. Khadga’s account that he was taken by Gen. Khadga to see the pillar and advised him that if there was an Ashokan inscription it would be found ‘if a search was made below the surface of the ground’. He then left the site. When he returned Gen. Khadga’s sappers had dug away at the base and had uncovered the Ashokan inscription. This was witnessed by a British planter from across the border, Duncan Ricketts. Gen Khadga then took two rubbings of the inscription which he (unwisely) gave to Dr Fuhrer, who immediately went back to his camp at Nigliva Sagar and afterwards claimed the discover of Lumbini for himself.
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