By Swami Harshananda
Epigraphs or inscriptions especially those of a permanent nature like stone edicts are an important source of the history of a country. Tracing them, collecting the texts and translating them into the current language is an arduous task. James Burgess (CE 1832-1916), the Director-General of Archaeology of the Government of India, took the lead and brought out the first issue of a journal devoted to this subject under the name Epigraphia Indica in October 1888.
Many volumes of these issues were brought out in 1892 and 1894. Originally, inscriptions in Sanskrit, Prākṛt, Tamilian, Arabic and Persian languages were brought out. Later on, the Persian and Arabian languages were dropped from the purview. The well-known epigraphist Hultzch (CE 1857-1927) who was the associate editor of this journal, made some important changes in it. As per his suggestions, it was brought out once in three months. One volume of eight issues was published every two years. The first seven issues contained the texts of the inscriptions and the eighth contained the index. The format was also changed.
Other scholars who have contributed to the journal’s development include John George Buhler (CE 1837-1898), Franz Kielhorn (CE 1840-1908), D. R. Bhandarkar, R. D. Bannerji, R. C. Majumdar, C. R. Krishnamacharlu and a host of others. The journal was devoted entirely to the publication of inscriptions and has made a name for itself in the annals of Indological research.
The work has progressed fairly well. Till 1970, 36 volumes containing more than 15,000 pages of material, have been published. Sten Konow (CE 1867-1948) was the last European editor. After him, many distinguished scholars have worked as an editor. These renowned editors are:
- V. Venkiah
- Hirananda Sastry
- K. N. Dixit
- N. C. Chakravarthy
- B. C. Chabra
It was started in CE 1886 by Louis Rice (CE 1837-1927) under the aegis of the Maharaja and Dewan of that time in Mysore. It has also carved out a distinct place for itself.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore