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ŚĀRADĀ AND ṬĀKARĪ ALPHABETS: ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT

BHUSHAN KUMAR KAUL DEAMBI

2008 xxiii+173pp., ISBN:81-246-0412-6, Rs. 900(HB)


 

Among the Indian scripts the Śāradā script has a pride of place. Though an alphabet of Kashmir par excellence it remained for several centuries a popular script of an extensive area of north-western India including Afghanistan, Gandhāra or north-western Pakistan, the Darad territories of Gilgit, Chilas and Chitral, Ladakh, Jammu, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi. The epigraphic and literary records written in the Śāradā script that have surfaced in these regions have thrown welcome light on many facets of the history and culture of the area of their provenance. Nearly the entire extant manuscripts of Sanskrit works including those on science, mathematics and erotics besides some old Kashmiri texts are written in this script.

The Śāradā alphabet was replaced in the thirteenth century by its descendant, Devāśeṣa, which in turn gave rise to the modern alphabet of Ṭākarī. The epigraphic, literary and other valuable
documents of Himachal Pradesh available are mostly written in Devāśeṣa and Ṭākarī. But it is sad that the number of scholars having a sound knowledge of the ṣāradā and Ṭākarī scripts is extremely small. There is every apprehension of the complete loss of these two scripts unless serious measures are taken to disseminate the knowledge under the guidance of the epigraphy stalwart to our younger generation of scholars.

The entire study of the present work is based on original records and is comprehensively illustrated by palaeographic tables and charts prepared from published facsimiles, photographs, original inscriptions and manuscripts. To give an idea of the records written in these two scripts, printed photographs of the inscriptions, manuscripts, documents, etc., have been given at the end of the book.

It is hoped that the book would serve as a guide and an aid for the scholars interested in the study of the important and valuable records written in ṣāradā and Ṭākarī scripts which are otherwise preserved in museums and libraries in India and abroad.

 


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