It is not definitely known as how and when the alphabet received the appellation Sarada. Sarada, the goddess of learning has been the tutelary deity of Kashmir. The famed centre of learning from ancient times is likely to have been named after Sarada desa or Sarada mandala.
The Sarada inscriptions discovered in Kashmir asserts the correctness of the chronology as given by Kalhana as well as his successors. They also let large useful information about the contemporary culture of ancient and medieval Kashmir not known from other sources. The inscriptions of Sarada have been dated back to the 8th century A.D. But use of Sarada in manuscripts doesn’t figure till the twelfth century, first discovered a mathematical treatise in Bakhshali village in Peshawar district of Pakistan, as mentioned above. Later Munimata and Manimala dated 14th were recovered from Kashmir. Birch bark manuscripts dated around 16th century of Shakuntala, Adi and Sabha Parvan of Mahabharata and also of Kathasaritasagara have been found.
Sarada script continued to be in vogue in Himachal Pradesh and Punjab till 13th century when it was replaced by its own evolved form, Devashesha that too eventually gave rise to the modern alphabets of Gurumukhi and Takari. The distinguishing knobs and wedges of Sarada gave way to loops and triangles of Takari script. However, in Kashmir, Sarada script still has a meagre survival in the older generation of the priestly class.
(The author is a freelance writer with varied interests reachable at [email protected])