Sanskrit, Part 2

BY: SUN STAFF

Murag Kapoot Manuscript, 18th c.


Jan 15, CANADA (SUN) — A three-part summary of the history and application of the Sanskrit language.

A great many of the fundamental books of Indian philosophy were written in Sanskrit. Indian philosophy is generally divided into two groups: theism and atheism. These divisions are based on the acceptance or denial of the Veda. The six systems of astika philosophy are the Nyaya of Gautama, Vaishesika of Kanada, Sankhya of Kapila, Yoga of Patanjali, Mimamsa of Jaimini and the Vedanta of Vadarayana. The nastika systems are Buddha, Jain and Charvaka. In Bengal the Navyanyaya and the Vaisnava philosophy (based on Radha-Krsna) were widely studied. Tantra is a different stream of literature. Its various divisions are mantra, jnana, yoga, kriya, charya etc.

Dharmashastra and Smrtishastra were written based on religious and social rituals, and dealt with atonement, caste-system, king's duties, and different laws. It is also known as smrti. Dharmashastras composed under the name of Gautama, Vaudhayana and Vashistha merit mention. These books were composed in approximately 600 BC-300 AD. Among the smrti books, Manusanghita and Yajnavalkyasmrti are worth mentioning. Among smrti-writers of Bengal, Raghunandana's name stands out.

In science and other subjects some remarkable books are Vatsyayana's (c. 300-400 AD), Charaka and Sushrutasanghita on medical science (called as Ayurveda), and Arthashastra on political science by Kautilya or Chanakya. In addition, many books were written on chemistry, botany, astronomy, mathematics, music, learning of theft, cooking, agriculture, elephant breeding, animal breeding, human breeding, etc.

Sanskrit Study in Bengal

It is difficult to ascertain when the study of Sanskrit began in Bengal, but it is certain that its history is very old, as is proved by an inscription found around 350 AD in the Gupta period. A clear picture of the study of Sanskrit in the region can be traced from 700 AD. The writing style of Bengal scholars was known as Gaudi to rhetoricians.

Sanskritic studies developed considerably in the Pala and Sena periods. At the beginning of Muslim rule, Sanskrit study faced some checks, but in later periods its development was once more worth mentioning. In particular, the practice of Nyaya that centered around Navadvipa is noteworthy. Bengal was very famous for navyanyaya from 1500-1700 AD. At the time of British rule in 1800-1900 AD Sanskrit study revived again. However, in the last part of the twentieth century, the study of Sanskrit declined in popularity although it is still studied seriously.

The Pala Period (750-1161 AD)

Though the Pala kings were Buddhist, during their reign the practice of Sanskrit language and literature is noteworthy. Notable works of the period include the Venisanghara of Bhattanarayana (800 AD), Mudraraksasa of Vishakhadatta (800/900 AD), Ramacharita of Abhinanda (900 AD), Anargharaghava of Murari (900-1000 AD), Kaulajnananirnaya of Matsyendranatha (first part of 1000 AD), of Noakhali, Chandakaushika of Ksemishvara (c 1000 AD), Bodhimargapanjika and Bodhipradipa of Atisha Dipankara (980-1050 AD), of Vikrampur, Chhandomanjari of Gangadasa (1000-1100 AD), Herukasadhana of Divakarachandra (1000-1100 AD), Chikitsasarasanggraha of Chakrapani Datta (1100 AD), Kichakavadha of Nitivarman (1100 AD), Ramacharita of Sandhyakara Nandi (c 1084-1155 AD), Shabdapradipa and Vrksayurveda of Sureshwara (1100-1200 AD).

The Sena Period (1097-1260)

The Sena kings were Hindu. In this period, Sanskrit language and literature as well as the texts of the Hindu religion were studied widely. Many people believe that this was the golden era of Sanskrit studies in Bengal. Vallalasena (1159-1185) and Laksmanasena (1185-1206) were both scholars and fond of literature. In the court of Laksmanasena there were the five celebrated Sanskrit poets: Jayadeva, Umapati, Dhoyi, Govardhana and Sharana. Vallalasena himself wrote Danasagara, Amrtasagara, Pratisthasagara, Acharasagara and Vratasagara.

Other books of the period that merit mention are Vyavaharatilaka, Karmanusthanapaddhati, Prayashcittakarana of Bhavadevabhatta (1100-1200); Naisadhacharita of Shriharsa (1200 AD); Aryashaptashati of Govardhanacharya, Pavanaduta of Dhoyi, Gitagovinda of Jayadeva, Saduktikarnamrta of Shridharadasa (1200 AD), Haralata and Pitrdayita of Aniruddhabhatta, a preceptor of Vallalasena; Brahmanasarvasva, Mimangsasarvasva, Vaisnavasarvasva, Shaivasarvasva, Panditasarvasva of Halayudha Mishra, the court-judge of Laksmanasena; Bhasavrtti, Haravali, Ekaksarakosa of Purusottamadeva (1200 AD); Durghatavrtti of Sharanadeva (1200 AD) etc., Kalikapurana (1000-1100), Vrhannandikeshvarapurana (1100-1400) and Devibhagavata were also composed in this period.

The Muslim Period (1206-1757)

In this period Sanskrit was widely studied. Many books were written in every branch of literature and philosophy. The main books were written by the Vaisnava poets. Navadvipa, the sacred place of the Vaisnavas, became the main centre of Sanskrit study. Some notable books of this time are Padyavali, Harinamamrtavyakarana, Ujjvalanilamani of Rupa Gosvami; Shrikrsnachaitanyacharitamrta of Murari Gupta (1500-1600); Vrhadbhagavatamrta, Vaisnavatosini of Sanatan Gosvami (c 1465-1555); Danakelichintamani of Raghunath Das (c 1490-1577); Suktimuktavali of Vishvanath Siddhantapanchanan (1500-1600); Bhramaraduta, Pikaduta of Rudra Nyayavachaspati (1500-1600); Satsandarbha, Harinamamrta of Jiva Gosvami; Chaitanyacharitamrta, Chaitanychandrodaya, Gauraganoddeshadipika, Alangkarakaustubha of Kavikarnapura; Shurjanacharita of Chandrashekhar (1600-1700), Padyamuktavali of Govinda Bhattacharya (1700 AD); Vikhyatavijaya of King Laksmanamanikya (1600-1700); Vaikunthavijaya of Amaramanikya, Apadeshashataka of Chandramanikya; Kautukaratnakara of Raghunath Kavitarkika, the court poet of Laksmanamanikya (these Manikyas are the kings of bhulua, the present Noakhali of Bangladesh); Anandalatikachampu of Krishnanath Sarvabhauma and his wife Vaijayanti (1700 AD); Shyamarahasya of Priyangvada (1700 AD); Shrikrsnabhavanamrta of Vishvanath Chakravarti (1700 AD), Padankaduta of Shrikrsna Sarvabhauma (1700-1800), etc.

Notable books about Navyasmrti are Dayabhaga of Jimutavahana (c 1050-1150), Prayashchittaviveka of Shulapani (c 1375-1460), Smrtisagara of Kullubhatta (1500 AD), Krtyatattvarnava of Shrinath Acharyachudamani (1500-1600), Astavingsatitattva, Dayabhagatika of Raghunandan Bhattacharya (1500-1600), etc. These books influenced the Hindu society of that time deeply, and continue to do so today.

Other important books on philosophy are Anumanapariksa of Vasudeva Sarvabhauma (c 1430-1540), Pratyaksamanididhiti, Anumanadidhiti of Raghunath Shiromani (1500-1600), Nyayarahasya of Ramabhadra Sarvabhauma (1600 AD), Advaitasiddhi, Vedantakalpalatika, Advaitamanjari of Madhusudan Saraswati (1525-1632), inhabitant of Kotalipara, Gopalganj (the greater Faridpur); Vijnanamrtabhasya of Vijnanabhiksu (1600-1700), etc.

On Vyakarana notable books are Mugdhavodha of Vopadeva, Sangksiptasara of Kramadishvara (1500 AD), Katantrapradipa of Pundarikaksa Vidyasagara (1500-1600); on the lexicon Abhidhanatantra of Jatadhara (1500 AD), of Chittagong, Padachandrika of Vrihaspati Rayamukuta (1500 AD), Ekavarnarthasanggraha and Dvirupadhvanisanggraha of Bharat Mallick, Trikandaviveka of Ramanath Vidyavachaspati etc are books worth mentioning.

Noteworthy books on rhetoric and prosody are Kavyavilasa and Vrttaratnavali of Chiranjiv Bhattacharya (1700-1800); on tantra the Tantrasara of Krsnananda Agamavagisha (1600 AD), Shaktanandatarangini of Brahmanandagiri (1600 AD), and Shyamarahasya, Satkarmollasa, Tattvanandatarangini of Purnananda Paramahangsa Parivrajaka (1600 AD) are considered important.


Source: Compiled by Narayan Chandra Biswas for Banglapedia



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