Ashoka's pillar with edits in Allahabad Fort- - its installation by Ashoka at "Prayag" was deliberate!!

The Allahabad Ashoka's

The Allahabad Ashoka's

A gigantic Ashoka pillar believed to have been erected by Ashoka, emperor of the Maurya dynasty, in 232 B.C is a famous attraction in Allahabad city, UP  and this 35 ft tall pillar or  stambha, contains one of the royal edicts of Ashoka and various later inscriptions on it describing the victories of Samudra Gupta (4th century CE). It also has inscriptions by the Mughal emperor Jahangir, from the 17th century and details of his  coronation  as well as the names of many visitors including that of Birbal.

The Allahabad Ashoka's

Above image:  18th CE. sketch by missionary Joseph Tiefenthaler..

The Allahabad Ashoka's

Above image: The Ashoka Pillar at Allahabad in c. 1870.The pillar is seen with a  lion capital atop. It was fashioned by Captain Edward Smith in 1838 and he was criticized for his addition to a heritage monument.................

Made of polished sandstone, its height is 35 feet with a lower diameter of 35 inches and an upper diameter of 26 inches.  Missing in this giant pillar shaft is the customary lotiform bell-shaped capital normally seen in the other Ashoka Pillars. It may be lost for some reason, however, the abacus (almost identical to the one found on the pillar at Sankasya suggesting proximate erection dates), adorned by a "graceful scroll of alternate lotus and honeysuckle" that the statue must have rested upon, was found nearby. The capital must have had   a single lion.

inscriptions/edits the Allahabad Ashoka's

The subject of shifting  or of  in situ installation of the Ashoka pillar has been a  topic of scholarly discussion for more than  a century. According to some scholars of the 19th century, the pillar was not made in Allahabad  and was deliberately shifted to the present site from its original location and erected within Akbar's Allahabad Fort, in Allahabad.  Some historians refute this postulation as  pre-Mughal inscriptions suggest that  it had been already present in its current location before the Mogul period.  

Some of them argue the pillar came probably  from  Kaushambi.  The Ashokan inscriptions suggest its first installation at this place ,an ancient town, about  30 miles  west of its current location which was then the capital of the kingdom of  Koshala. The pillar was moved over to Allahabad during the Mogul time. The broken  pillar discovered at  Kaushambi suggests the Allahabad pillar may be one of a pair. Presumably re-erected in 1605 during the reign of Jahangir. 

Since 1900  discussion on the pillar has heated up and in the 1930s some scholars were of the opinion that the Ashoka pillar was never moved out. Nor was it  shifted  to Allahabad  during the Mogul period, considering its big size, weight and lack of road facility. As Allahabad had been a center of pilgrimage  for the Hindus because of the confluence of Ganges and Yamuna rivers..Countless Hindus even today visit the site Sangamam to perform certain rituals like Tharpanam, etc to their ''pithrus''- departed forefathers. Considering sanctity attached to this place, it is likely  Ashoka might  have installed  the huge pillar with visible edits  at Prayag during his time. Thus the vantage location where thousands of people gather for religious purpose will give  more access and visibility to his edicts. This way Ahshoka's edits would become popular. His edits here are similar to those at  Kaushambi.  As for additional inscription, they  were made on the pillar at Allahabad when it was securely installed. The damages, etc on the pillar surfaces might have happened during installation here. 

According to  archeologist John Irwin from his studies -1979 the Allahabad pillar was never moved out of its original location and it had been  at the the same place - confluence of the rivers Ganges and Yamuna.  He dated the pillar to  pre-Ashokan time  based on all the available evidences  at the site including  major and minor inscriptions as well as textual evidences. These  mentioned  years and months, and the latter "always happened to be Magha. The  popular  bathing pilgrimage festival of the Hindus  Magh Mela" has its roots in this name. Emperor  Ashoka being intelligent as he was carefully took advantage of the location and  added  inscriptions in Brahmi script so that visiting pilgrims to that place and  Buddhist monasteries  would never miss them.

The Ashokan inscriptions on the Allahabad Pillar (along with inscriptions elsewhere)  were well researched and the research work led to  the rediscovery of the Mauryan emperor and the extend of his land. An interesting fact is  inscription  engraved in continuous lines around the column in Brahmi  has  the same six edicts as are observed on  other pillars. The surviving inscriptions from the Ashoka period are "uniform in size, neat and deeply engraved", according to colonial expert Cunningham. 

The pillar can not be accessed easily and the visitors have to get permission from the Indian army that manages the Allahabad fort.  Originally built by emperor Ashoka, it  was later repaired and restored by Mogul king  Akbar in 1583.