Vo Canh stele, sand stone, 3rd – 4th centuries AD., Vo Canh village, Vinh Trung commune, Dien Khanh district, Khanh Hoa province
Vo Canh stele, sand stone, 3rd – 4th centuries AD., Vo Canh village, Vinh Trung commune, Dien Khanh district, Khanh Hoa province.
The stele was originally erected near a collapsed brick tower in Vo Canh village, Vinh Trung commune, Nha Trang city. The Institute of Far Eastern Studies transported it to the former Louis Finot museum (now the Vietnam National Museum of History) in 1910 AD.
The stele is a four-sided cylindrical stone. Brahmi inscription lines are carved continuously on the three sides of the stele of which two verses are written in the Vasantatilaka poetic style while the rest are sentences. The carving is now unclearly seen. This inscription style is similar to that of Amaravati (Indian) steles in the 3rd–4th centuries AD.
The content of the inscriptions provides a lot of historical information about the Champa Kingdom. There exist several translation versions of the inscriptions and different opinions, but many scholars in the later period highly appreciate and agree with the translation version and notes by Louis Finot which tell about the merit of a king from Sri Mara family who created the first dynasty of the Champa Kingdom.
Some of the characters on the stele say “lokasyàsya gatàgati” (the death and the survival / come and go in this world) or “prajànàn karuna” (tolerance / merciful compassion for sentient beings) reflect the strong influence of Buddhism from India to the Champa inhabitants, especially Champa Brahman, early in history (since the first centuries AD.).
The Vo Canh stele is the earliest evidence of the introduction of Sanskrit language and religious thought (Buddhism) from Indian into Champa. It is also the oldest in Southeast Asia which reflects the introduction and strong influence of Indian civilization into Champa in particular and into Southeast Asia in general.