The inscription was made for malaya-siMha, a general of the Tripuri kalachuri king vijaya-siMha-deva and several of his officials like a certain hari-sImha. The Sanskrit looks pretty strange to me in some places but it has some interesting information. It was most likely made on 30th July 1193 CE, even as the rampage of the army of Islam was occurring further north and east – around the very same time Bhaktiar ud-din Khalji was destroying Nalanda and slaughtering its community. But malaya-siMha launches into a long celebration of his great deeds of archery and the achievements of his ministers. It seems to appear that malaya-siMha and his panegyrist were blissfully unaware of the coming storm that was to end his all too familiar world. Earlier, vijaya-siMha’s father jaya-siMha defeated Shihab-ud-din Ghori in around 1180 CE during one of his early incursion towards the Indian heartland. But squandered his power in battles with the chandellas and other kalachuris where he was badly beaten despite his fiery archery. It was during that invasion of the turuShka that the saiddhAntika vimala-shiva had supposedly performed abhichArika rites for his victory.
There is evidence from medieval manuals of mantra-s that ma~njugoSha was worshipped by the Astika-s. The Rewa inscription provides one clear cut example in this regard from central India. It is clear the composer was an Astika because he declares himself to be a vaidIka in rather immodest terms:
tarke j~nAta matIva yasya chatura shabdArtha shAstre tathA mImAmsAdhigato vipashchid-abhavad vedAnta-yogAdi dhI |
vedAbhyAsarata sadA suviduShAM mUrdhni prabaddhaa~njalir vipra shrI puruShottamo bhuvi mahAn buddhyA cha vAchaspati ||
Here, he states that he is well-versed in logic, grammar and language, mImAmsa, vedAnta, yoga and devotes himself to vedic study. It is interesting that he terms himself vAchaspati – could it be an allusion to ma~njugoSha the deity with which he opens the inscription and feels some personal connection?
The invocation of ma~njughoSha runs thus:
aSTaara-chakraakR^iti pUrNachandra padmAsanastha hima-shaila-gauraM |
savyetarA pANiga [or savyetarapaNiga?] khaDga pusta vakShyAmi natvA khalu ma~njughoShaM ||
Here, ma~njughoSha is described as being white as the himAlaya, seated in the lotus seat of the full moon of the form of a wheel with 8 spokes. He bears a sword in right and book in his left hand. While bauddha-s were extensively patronized by the kalachuri-s, malayasiMha and his men seem to be predominantly Astika-s. In fact vedAnta is described as being upheld with great fervor in intellectual debates in his city. This suggests that by end of the 1100s an integration of the nAstika pantheon, which was once so virulently anti-Astika, into the larger unified Hindu fold was well underway.
Further, understanding of this assimilation of ma~njughoSha (ma~njushrI) in the Astika mantra-shAstra might be obtained by comparing his iconography in the bauddha and Astika realms. It is well-known that the early development of ma~njushrI in the nAstika realm was highly influenced by the now faded kaumAra shAsana (one may look at our earlier note on the ma~njushrI-mUla-kalpa and its acquisition of kaumAra mantra-s). But this is not the issue we are considering here. We are looking at his later development, well after he had evolved beyond the ma~njushrI mUla-kalpa. In the historical/archeological sense we observe such developments relatively late, especially in the kalachuri and adjoining chAlukya realms. Beyond the Rewa inscription we find another striking illustration of the Hindu ma~njushrI in the form of an utsava mUrti in the Baroda museum – possibly from the kalachuri realm of king karNa. Here the central figure of ma~njushrI is flanked on either side by vinAyaka and viShNu. In the south in Karnataka we find temples of ma~njughoSha termed ma~njunAtha (also in Nepal, e.g. Kathmandu ma~njunAtha), which are associated with the chAlukya-s, coastal pANDya-s and southern kalachuri-s in their origin. We see that the ma~njughoSha of Rewa inscription does not closely match the iconography of ma~njughosha as represented in his sAdhana-s in the popular bauddha Tantric compendium the sAdhana mAlA. Here we find that ma~njughoSha is golden in color and holding a lotus and vyAkhyAna mudra and may be depicted as riding a line. Again in the description of the dharma-dhAtu-vAgIShvara maNDala where he is prominent, he is depicted as having attributes like the sword and book, but with 8 hands and 4 multi-colored heads. Instead, we find that the ma~njughoSha of the Rewa inscription has elements closer to the dhyAna-s of other forms of ma~njushrI in the bauddha tantra-s, namely that of dharma-dhAtu-vAgIshvara, ma~njuvajra and arapachana. With all of them Rewa ma~njugoSha shares the lotus-moon seat and usually tend to hold a book and sword, though they may have multiple heads or differ in color.
However, when we turn to the Astika tantra-s we find a close match to Rewa ma~njughoSha in their dhyAna shloka-s of ma~njughoSha. We find two major references to ma~njughoSha in the medieval tantric manuals: the shrIvidyArNava of vidyAraNya yati and the tantra sAra of AgamavAgIsha from the va~nga country. Here the ma~njughoSha mantra-s are variants of the famous nAstika mantra rAja: arapachana dhIH || It is cited as being derived from older lost tantra-s known as the bhairava-tantra (possibly a general reference to the bhairava-tantras?), Agamottara and the kukkuteshvara tantra [Though R1’s father informs me that kukkuteshvara manuscripts were possibly extant in Nepal]. In these Astika tantra-s we find two dhyAna-s.
The shrIvidyArNava dhyAna 1:
saMpUrNa-mANdala-tuShara-marIchi-madhye bAlaM vichintya dhavalaM vara-khaDga-hastaM |
uddAma-kesha-nivahaM [ka~NkaNa-vahaM] vara-pustakAdhyaM prauDhaM [nagnaM] japet kShataja-padma-dalAyatAkShaM ||
In this dhyAna we note he is seated on a full moon, holds the book and the sword and is white in complexion, thus largely matching the form in the inscription.
The second dhyAna is interestingly is related to the ma~njughoSha mentioned in a single arapachana sAdhana composed by the nAstika Tantric ajita-mitra and also inserted into a ma~njuvajra stotra of another nAstika adept named ma~njugarbha.
shashadharam iva shubhraM khaDga-pustA~Nka-pANiM suruchiram ati-shAntaM pa~ncha-chUDaM kumAraM |
pR^ithu-tara-vara-mukhyaM padma-patrAyatAkShaM kumati-dahana-dakShaM ma~njughoShaM namAmi ||
shashadharaM ive shubhraM khaDga-pustA~nka-pANim suruchiram ati-shAntaM pa~nchachIraM kumAram |
pR^ithu-rati [tara]-vara-mokShaM padma-patrAyatAkShaM kumati-dahana-dakShaM ma~njughoShaM praNamya ||
While parts of this dhyAna are unclear (e.g. what does pR^ithu-tara-vara-mukhyaM mean?) this form too largely resembles the one in the inscription, although he is not explicitly stated as sitting on the moon. Finally, Lokesh Chandra shows that in Tibet we have a depiction of such a form of ma~njushrI associated with the arapachana mantra. Thus, even though the traditional bauddha iconography of ma~njughoSha surviving in texts like the ma~njughoSha sAdhana-s of the sAdhana mAlA does not match the Astika version, it appears from the above bauddha dhyAna-s related to the Astika versions that other forms of ma~njushrI, namely arapachana and ma~njuvajra also tended to be identified as ma~njughoSha. It appears that the Astika tradition conception of ma~njughoSha evolved from such a system of identification. Hence, it adopted derivatives of the arapachana mantra as the mantra of ma~njughoSha rather than using traditional bauddha mantra of ma~njughoSha, i.e.: OM vAgIshvara mUH || What the Rewa inscription suggests is that the iconography of ma~njughoSha followed by the medieval mantra-shAstra manuals and its sources like the kukkuTeshvara tantra was indeed the one prevalent amongst Astika-s.
Finally, it may be noted that the variants of the arapachana mantra in the shrIvidyArNava are: aravachanadhIM, aravachana dhIH and aravaMchaladhI
The pa->va transform seen in these forms is suggestive of a possible drAviDa influence in the transformation. drAviDi Prakrits tend to conflate internal pa with va (e.g. Skt pApa -> pAva). Also in the Grantha script these two letters are similar in shape leading to potential confusion.