Archaeological Survey of India Current Affairs - 2020

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South India’s earliest Sanskrit Inscription found in A.P.

The Epigraphy Branch of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has discovered the earliest Sanskrit inscription to have been discovered in South India as on date. This significant finding is also the earliest epigraphic evidence for ‘Saptamatrika’ cult so far. The discovery was made in Chebrolu village in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. The inscription came to light when some local villagers informed ASI authorities about a pillar with some engravings when they were restoring and repairing local Bheemeshwara temple. ASI called for conservation and preservation of pillar given its historical importance.

Key Findings

What is Saptamatrikas? They are a group of seven female deities worshipped in Hinduism as personifying the energy of their respective consorts. There are references of Saptamatrika worship in early Kadamba copper plates as well as early Chalukyas and Eastern Chalukya copper plates. But this new discovery predates them by almost 200 years.

The Inscription found: It is in Sanskrit and in Brahmi characters and was issued by Satavahana king Vijaya in 207 A.D. The inscription records construction of a prasada (temple), a mandapa (a pavilion for public rituals) and consecration of images on southern side of temple by a person named Kartika for merit of king at temple of Bhagavathi (Goddess) Saktimatruka (Saptamatrika) at Tambrape (which is the ancient name of Chebrolou). All the available records when verified, proved that Chebrolu inscription of Satavahana king Vijaya issued in his 5th regnal year (207 A.D.) is also the earliest datable Sanskrit inscription from South India so far. Until now the Nagarjunakonda inscription of Ikshavaku king Ehavala Chantamula issued in his 11th regnal year (4th century A.D.) was considered the earliest Sanskrit inscription in South India.

The place also yielded another inscription which is in Prakrit language and of Brahmi characters and belongs to 1st century A.D. This is thus the earliest epigraphic reference to Mutts and records gift of a cloister mandapa and chaitya to bhavatho (Lord) of the Gadasa Mutt by a person hailing from Tabaava.

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Sign boards in Chinese language put up at 5 ASI sites

Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel informed that sign boards in Chinese language have been put up at five Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) protected Archaeological Sites located in Uttar Pradesh (UP). ASI Sites Include- (1) Sarnath, (2) the Buddhist relics at Chaukhandi Stupa, (3) Kushinagar and the Mahaparinirvana Temple, (4) Piparahwa and (5) Shravasti.

Key Highlights

Tourism Ministry had earlier instructed ASI that sign boards of foreign languages will be installed at all iconic archaeological sites, keeping in mind the convenience of foreign travellers.

Objective of this initiative is to increase the footfall of both both foreign as well as domestic tourists under Prime Minister’s Vision 2020.

Progress: In this series of effort by Tourism Ministry, the work of installing sign boards in Sinhali language has been completed in November 2019 in view of the large number of Sri Lankan tourists visiting Sanchi.

Condition: Sign boards of foreign languages will be installed where over 1 lakh tourists from a particular country visit those places every year. A total of 5 such foreign country languages can be included in it.

Way Ahead: In order to increase number of domestic tourists, Tourism Ministry is considering various cultural fairs and other events through which people of India will get to know country in a better way.

About Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)

It is an Indian government agency that was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham who was also the  first Director-General of ASI. It is attached to Union Ministry of Culture. It is responsible for archaeological research as well as conservation & preservation of cultural monuments in India.

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