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« Tuna 3 / 2016

Junagadhi Inscription: Communal Propaganda Ancient Indian Style

In the Kāṭhiāwāḍ Peninsula in the Indian Republic, two kilometres east of the town of Junagadh, on a site that has been inhabited for thousands of years, stands Mount Girnar. Different religions (Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism) consider Girnar Hill a holy site. Near the base of the mountain stands a conical piece of rock, and on that rock there are inscriptions from three famous ancient Indian rulers. Here we find the Rock Edicts of the famous King Ašoka Devanamrya Priyadaršin (ruled ca. 274/268 to 234/232 B. C.) of the Maurya Dynasty (4th-2nd century B. C.), the inscription of the Indo-Scythian Prince Rudradaman (ruled ca. 130–160 A. D.), and texts from Skandagupta (ruled 456–467 A. D.) of the Gupta Dynasty (4th-6th century A. D.).

The current article focuses on the Junagadh inscription of Rudradaman. We analyse the textual (epigraphical) and the historical context, and read the text as ancient propaganda, assisted by modern propaganda techniques. The article includes of the full text of the inscription, translated from the original into Estonian.

The main question of the article is: how reliable is the information in the inscription? And more broadly: can inscriptions as such be regarded as reliable historical sources? Thus, the question is not why, but how the inscription of Rudradaman was, and still is, lying to us.