Centuries-Old Sanskrit Inscription Discovered in Dolankara Mountains

SEMEY – On May 9, Semey scientists discovered a rock inscription dating back to the 17th century in the Dolankara Mountains (Tarbagatai ridge). The discovery is believed to be the first Sanskrit inscription found in Kazakhstan.

The find was made by experts of the Scientific Centre of Historical and Sociopolitical Research named after Academician Kozybayev, a branch of the Semipalatinsk State Pedagogical Institute. The Institute’s director Mukhtarbek Karimov was tipped off by local resident Murad Ramazanov on the presence of mysterious rock inscriptions in the Dolankara Mountains. Unfortunately, Ramazanov died before the expedition was organized.

These inscriptions were found with the help of another local, Nurlan Zhumagazin, who was also a guide in the mountains for a senior researcher from the Center, Muhametbek Asylbekov, and a faculty member from the Medical University, Galymbek Bazarbekov. The exact location of the inscriptions was difficult to reach, but the inscription could be seen from afar as it was about one metre long with 15 centimetres high characters.

The inscription turned out to be the well-known Buddhist mantra, “Om mani padme hum” or “Oh, pearl shining in the heart of the lotus” written in Sanskrit. The accuracy of the translation and the discoverers’ conclusions concerning the authenticity of the inscription have been confirmed by well-known Sanskrit scholar, leading researcher of the Institute of History in Kalmyk Republic and Doctor of Historical Sciences Professor Elsa Bakayeva.

The researchers believe the inscription was made in the 17th century and that its author is the prominent Buddhist scholar, theologian and statesman Zaya Pandit. It is believed that he spent the winter of 1642 in the region.

According to Karimov, parts of the northeastern, southeastern and eastern region of Kazakhstan were under Jungar rule in the 17th and 18th centuries. To this day, traces of this era remain, including the Amirsana Zhambyl Jungar fortress-monastery in Tarbagatai. Back in 1952, silver bars were also found in the Chingiztau Mountains with the image of a Buddhist saint on them.

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