Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has joined the Andhra Pradesh Official Languages Commission to say that early forms of the Telugu language and its script indeed existed 2,400 years ago.

D. Jithendra Das, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Hyderabad Circle, cited three inscriptions discovered at Bhattiprolu in Guntur district that contained several Telugu roots or words, as “indisputable evidence” in support of the finding. All these inscriptions date back to 400 B.C. He showed magnified pictures of these inscriptions as also charts relating to evolution of Telugu letters since Mauryan times to journalists here on Wednesday. An English translation of one inscription reads: “Gift of the slab by venerable Midikilayakha.”

Dr. Das and A.B.K. Prasad, Official Languages Commission Chairman, explained that Midikilayakha might be an independent Andhra king at that time. Bhattiprolu indicated, without an iota of doubt, the existence of Telugu words even a century before Emperor Ashoka (300 BC). Asked if the ASI would testify its findings before the Union government to secure classical language status to Telugu, Dr. Das said he would do so if asked by the Centre and “not on our own.”

Telugu language was found more refined in the inscriptions found at Kantamnenivarigudem, Guntupalli in West Godavari district, and Gummadidurru and Ghantasala in Krishna district.