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Parama Bhattaraka

Parama Bhattaraka is an honorific title denoting ‘Supreme Lord”, used for paramount sovereign, gods and saints. For gods and saints, the title ‘Parama Bhattaraka’ is used in the sense of “worthy of worship” or ‘sacred’. Derived from the Sanskrit bhartr, its plural form bhratarah became bhattara (lord or svamin) in Prakrit with a prefix parama as a superlative. It was commonly used in the inscriptions from the Gupta period (4th century CE) onwards and also in literary works as one of the high-sounding titles of kings.

In the Mathura Stone Pillar Inscription of the Gupta year 61, both Samudragupta and Chandragupta II are called Bhattaraka. In the Udayagiri cave inscription of 401 CE, Chandragupta II is called Parama Bhattaraka. Thence onwards the use of this title for kings becomes very common in combination with other high sounding titles like ‘Parama Bhagavata, Maharajadhiraja, and so on. It is possible that the use of such titles are borrowed from foreigners like the Kushanas and the Sakas, who called themselves ‘Devaputra’, ‘Murunda’ and Swamin in the same sense as Parama Bhattaraka. The feudatories, governors and other state officials, including the crown princes, sometimes used the term ‘Paramabhattarakapadanudhyata (favored by the feet of the Lord paramount) to indicate their connection or respect, to the paramount sovereign in the official records, such as seals and inscriptions. Many at time in such cases the personal name of the sovereign was not mentioned.