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Re: Maharaja and raja

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  • Francesco Brighenti
    Caro (= dear) Renzo, ... The subject is discussed in some detail in D.C. Sircar s classic work _Indian Epigraphy_ at . Actually, the
    Message 1 of 14 , Feb 21, 2009
      Caro (= dear) Renzo,

      You asked the List:

      > Is there anyone who knows when the title of maharaja began to be
      > used, instead of the simplest raja, on coins or other kind of
      > documents? Still the great Asoka styled himself raja. The Indo-
      > Greeks instead used maharaja on their coins and inscriptions (see
      > Garuda Pillar). As far as I know the first indigenous king to use
      > the title of maharaja was Kharavela of Kalinga, but I'm not sure.

      The subject is discussed in some detail in D.C. Sircar's classic
      work _Indian Epigraphy_ at <http://tinyurl.com/bh2olh>.

      Actually, the first Yavana (Greek) king who used the title maharaja
      in his coinage appears to have been Eucratides I (reigned ca. 170
      BCE - 145 BCE), who wasn't an Indo-Greek king, being a Graeco-
      Bactrian king instead. Eucratides' bases were, therefore, located in
      Bactria, but he conquered the western parts of the Indo-Greek
      kingdom (which in his age comprised Arachosia, Paropamisadae,
      Gandhara and Western Panjab) as is proved by his abundant bilingual,
      Greek/Prakrit coinage.

      Photo of a bilingual coin of Eucratides I bearing the Kharoshthi
      legend maharajasa evukratidasa '(the coin) of the great king
      Eucratides' on the reverse:


      It also seems to be true that the earliest indigenous South Asian
      king who used the tile maharaja is Kharavela of Kalinga (in his
      Hathigumpha inscription at Bhubaneswar, engraved in Brahmi script in
      a form of Prakrit resembling Pali). The dating of Kharavela's period
      has been the object of a number of controversies during the last
      century, yet the internal evidence from the Hathigumpha inscription
      (the sole piece of evidence for Kharavela's reign) suggests a date
      comprised in the second half of the 1st century BCE (for a full
      discussion of Kharavela's date, see Appendix I of S.
      Chattopadhyaya's book at <http://tinyurl.com/c3wc6r>).

      Therefore, it is apparent that the title maharaja was first used by
      the Yavanas of the northwest, and that it started to be used by
      indigenous South Asian rulers only a century-plus later.

      Kindest regards, and ciao,
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