नेवा: स इन्टरनेट रेडियो

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A short biography of Shankhadhar

A short biography of Shankhadhar

Painting: Prem Man Chitrakar
Shankhadhar founded Nepal Era in October 20, 879 AD. He is called Sākhvā alternately. Now -a-days people have misnomer that Shankhadhar is a given name and Sākhvā a caste title. But linguistic study of his names recorded in manuscripts and inscriptions as Śaṅkudatta, Śaṃkhvā and Śaṅkhadhara showed that the name Śaṅkudatta bifurcated into the names Sākhvā and Śaṅkhadhara. Shankhadhar has announced a National Hero by Nepal Government in November 18, 1999 AD. His foundation Nepal Era recognized as National Era of Nepal recently by the Government in October 24, 2008.
Present book Śaṅkhadharakṛta Nepālasaṃvat (Nepal Era founded by Shankhadhar) is a step towards scientific study of Shankhadhar and his work. By the suffix - datta in his name, it came to know that he is a Vaiśya (third varṇa in Hindu caste system). Newars are obviously granted as Vaiśya while the community considered an ethnic group.
The Vernacular (Gorkha language) Chronicles of 19th Century gave a story of a merchant Sākhvā got abundance of gold converted from sand taken in a auspicious time of Suvarṇasiddhi and he cleared debts of people and so Nepal Era came in use. This story is an exaggeration, but there is a record of “levellig of debts” (bu lon) in Tubetan Tangyur described happened in Nepal and the era elapsed 251 years when the author Śrīsena wrote his treatise on 84 Siddhas.

Almost all Vernacular Chronicles describe that Sākhvā is a merchant. Merchant is called Sāhu in Newari, which is a developed form of the word Sārthavāha (“the leader of a caravan/trader”). From this, we know that Shankhadhar is a Sārthavāha of late Licchavi period. Several Sārthavāhas have established different cultural monuments in Licchavi period. Shankhadar is one of them.
The real name of Shankhadhar-Śaṅkudatta recorded in the Vāsiṣţha-lainga-upapurāṇa of NS 766 (AD 1646) scribed in Paśupatideśa. It indicates that Shankhadhar is inhabitant of that area. We know from Medieval history of Nepalmandal that in around 9th century, Nandala (Naraḥ=Handugaun) - Gvala (Devapatan) was the capital of Nepalmandal. The most possibly Raghavadeva was reigning there at that time. Shankhadhar got permission to make free of debts of people of the capital and so Nepal Era came in use in his name. But later people forgot it and when the short versions of Gopalādi Rājavaṃśāvalī compiled in 16th century in Sanskrit scribe described that King Rāghavadeva himself commenced the Era in the name of Paśupati.
Now, it is clear that Śaṅkudatta founded the Nepal Era. His name popularized by astrologers in their treatises as Śaṅkhadhara and chroniclers popularized as Sākhvā to him.

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