Nepal – the country of the Buddha and the Mt. Everest

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without – Buddha

A History Mired in Controversy

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 2, 2010


Ankit Adhikari

The history of Nepali art and culture seems to be in a murky milieu as two different stone inscriptions of Jaya Verma and Mandev are competing to prove themselves the oldest.

The Culture Department of Tribhuwan University (TU) claims Mandev’s inscription at Changu Narayan temple, dating back to 464 AD, to be the oldest one.

However, according to the Department of Archaeology (DoA), the history long set by Mandev’s inscription has been altered by the discovery of the sculpture of Jaya Verma in 1992 with an inscription dating back to 185 AD.

TU denies the claim of DoA arguing that no other evidence, except the inscription, was found with Jaya Verma’s sculpture. “Jaya Verma’s sculpture has nothing except an inscription. There are no other supporting facts,” said Prof. Bina Poudel, Head of the Department of Culture, TU. “The inscription would have been the authentic one had it possessed some other details. While Verma’s inscription has nothing except his name, Mandev’s inscription details about his kingdom. Besides, it is doubtful because nothing else was found around Verma’s sculpture when it was excavated.”

Nevertheless, the DoA defends its claim stating that there can be no evidence stronger than the inscription. “If the stone-carved letters say that the sculpture is oldest, how can any one deny that?” said Govinda Ghimire, senior archaeologist and photographer at the DoA. Similarly, another archaeologist Prakash Darnal stated that the inscriptions make anything authentic and the sculpture of Jaya Verma has it. “TU should accept the truth and change the course as soon as possible,” he added. “History should not be battered like this.”

In May 1992, while digging the foundation of a house near Maligaon, a statue with the inscription of Jaya Verma was found. This finding, also said to be the most important historical discovery, was a life-size (171x 49 cm) standing male figure carved in local buff sandstone. The statue was broken into four pieces with the right hand missing. The sculpture was excavated by a team of archaeologists from the DoA led by Ghimire.

The archaeologists said the inscription in Brahmi script read, “Samvat 107 Sri paramadevapka Maharajasya Jaya Verma,” meaning “King Jaya Verma on 107 BS (185 AD).” The sculpture of Jay Verma has been kept at the National Museum in Chauni.

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