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Sirkap Bronze Seal of first Century CE


A Bronze Seal of first Century CE was unearthed in 1914-15 by Marshall on the Sirkap site of Ancient Taxila in Punjab of Pakistan which contained the figure of Shiva with two arms with a bilingual legend in Brahmi and Karoshti scripts as "SHIVARAK****ASA". This seal shows a Club being held in right hand in a knotted pattern as seen for Heracles. Maues ( 60-50 BCE ) is the earliest of Pre Kushana rulers who had adapted this in his Square Copper coins where Shiva holding the Trident and Club are shown. It is said that in a variant Coin by Maues we can also see a Dwarf trampled under the feet of Shiva. Unfortunately I could not source images of these coins as they are very rare but documented, in British Museum, not on public display. In the same pattern Shiva with a Trishula is being shown in the coins of Gondophares ( 30-15 BCE ) with a Palm tree being held in an extended right hand. Posture seen in Sirkap Seal is different from that seen in Gondophares and Vima Khadphises coins; the left leg is placed similarly in all, whereas the right leg with bent knee is stretched forward in the Seal. The Indo Greek coins showing Heracles with a club are of the same pattern of the Club element. The Indian loin cloth and Turban on the head are starkly in contrast with the Shiva figure shown in a Hellenistic Style. Bronze seal No.12 unearthed at Sirkap, Taxila, was described by Marshall in ASI Archaeological Review 1914-15 ( Page 15, Pl. XXIV, 50 ) as Heracles trampling a bull shaped Dragon. The Kharoshti legend was read by him as Tidusa Vibhumitrasa while Konow read it as Badusa Vispamitrasa translated as "Of the Young Brahman Visvamitra". This probably depicts Shiva as Vishwamitra, the name of the person in this Seal being after the name of the God depicted. The Bull below the left leg of the main figure is significant. These names are frequently also seen as various forms of Shiva ( on some silver coins of Audumbara Chief Dharaghosha ) and one of his aspects is well known to us as Vatuka Bhairava. Maues Square coins in British Museum are documented in detail by Gardner, who explains it as a Male figure with Chlamys flying behind, holds a club and Trident. A similar one is also seen in Punjab Museum in a Maues coin with the Male deity striding to left with flowing draperies, holding a club in right hand and long spear or Sceptre in left. The Script Shivarak****asa means "One Protected by Shiva" and the Coin with this script shows almost exactly the same form of Shiva from other coins, with his Trident held on left hand resting on his left shoulder and a knotted Club in right hand. From these we can infer that in Coinage the first to depict Shiva were indeed the foreign rulers of Ancient India and also evidently earlier to Gondophares.

Similarly Cunningahm's "Coins of Indo-Scythians and Kushans" ( Page 30, Pl.II,Fig13) it is explained that a male figure facing front is seen with an elephant goad over the left shoulder. The Ankusa being Shiva's attribute is also seen in Kanishka and Huvishka coins and so it should be Shiva only. Maues coins show only a Trishula in Shiva's hand and sometimes a dwarfish figure being trampled is frequently interpreted as Poseidon. This is also seen in the coins of Antimachus Theos. Obviously in an Indian perspective we cannot help being reminded of the Apasmara Purusha under Shiva's feet.

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