Umachal rock inscription
The Umachal rock inscription is the earliest epigraphic source discovered in Assam. Dated to the 5th century, the rock description was discovered in the north-eastern slopes of the Nilachal Hills (called Umachal), near Guwahati city. The artifact is dated primarily on the basis of the identification of the named Surendra Varman with Mahendra Varman (fl. c470-494) of the Varman dynasty. The script is in the eastern variety of the Gupta script and the language is Sanskrit prose. Though the Nilachal Hills is known for the Kamakhya Temple, a shakta/tantra site, this temple was for Balabhadra, a god of the Vaishnavite pantheon.
Another inscription, the Nagajari-Khanikargaon rock inscription, though undated, is sometimes claimed as the earliest on stylistic grounds.
swminayay idam guham
"This cave (-temple) of the illustrious Lord Balabhadra has been constructed by Maharajadhiraja Sri Surendra Varman."
- The rock inscription came into view when an old banyan tree was uprooted. (Sircar 1971, p. 79) The first report on the artifact was published by R. M. Nath (Sharma 1978, p. 1)
- "...in ancient India, kings were sometimes mentioned by the synonyms of their names, Surendra Varman may tentatively be identified with Mahendra Varman...Surendra and Mahendra both indicate Indra." (Sircar 1971, p. 81)
- (Sharma 1978, p. 3)
- "...It is, however, more likely that Bhagavata Balabhadrasvamin of the present inscription is no other than the Vaishnavite deity variously called Balabhadra, Baladeva, Balarama, Sankarsana etc." (Sircar 1971, p. 81)
- (Sharma 1978, p. 2)
- Sharma, Mukunda Madhava (1978). Inscriptions of Ancient Assam. Guwahati, Assam: Gauhati University.
- Sircar, D. C. (1971). Studies In The Religious Life Of Ancient And Medieval India. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Retrieved February 17, 2013.