Sahityakaumudi of Sri Baladeva Vidyabhushana


Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana

Feb 06, 2014 — CANADA (SUN) — Attributions to Mammata with respect to the Sahityakaumudi of Srila Baladeva Vidyabhushana.

What follows are excerpts from an interesting report produced in 1884 by Professor Peter Peterson for the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. The Professor was asked by the Society to make a search for, to document, and in some cases to acquire for the Government various Sanskrit manuscripts. In his Reports on a Search for Sanskrit Manuscripts with an Index of Books, Prof. Peterson describes an important Vaisnava manuscript discovered in the collection of H.H. the Maharaja of Alwar, which helps to establish certain references in the works Sri Baladeva Vidyabhushana.

Professor Peterson begins with a few comments on the circumstances of his manuscript expedition, and this gives us a taste of the experience a scholar of the Vedas might have when digging into libraries of rare texts, unearthing important finds that help the world to understand how these transcendental literatures originated and were passed down.

    "FOR three months of the year under report I was absent from India, having been delegated by Government to attend on their behalf the Sixth International Congress of Orientalists, which assembled at Leiden in the month of September. During the remaining period of the year I was unable, on account of other duties, to go on tour in search of manuscripts, except in the short Christmas vacation. Of that I had previously determined to take advantage, in order to visit Alwar (Ulwar), a place to which my Jeypore friends drew my attention in 1882 when however I was unable to visit it, and which was one of several localities kindly indicated to me as likely to prove fruitful by Dr. Buhler, with whom I had the good fortune to be able to confer at Leiden.

    On the eve of starting I was sorry to learn that H. H. the Maharaja of Alwar, to examine whose library was the chief object of my intended visit, was, with Col. Peacocke, Political Resident, absent at Calcutta. Dr. W. W. Hunter's good offices there secured the immediate despatch of telegraphic instructions to the State officials to allow me access to the library as often, and for as long periods, as might be convenient to myself. [ ]

    I arrived at Alwar on the 26th of December, and was able to give almost the whole of the following five days to the work of going over the palace library. Mr. Eastwick, in his Handbook of Western Rajputana, speaks in high terms of the way in which this collection is kept, and I have certainly seen no library which can compare with it in that respect. Each manuscript is in a separate cloth, and an outside label, placed where it can best catch the eye, gives the name of the book and of the author. The manuscripts are arranged according to subjects in separate book cases and bear numbers that tally with the admirable catalogue compiled by the present excellent librarian, Joshi Gangada. The tax we made upon this worthy gentleman's skill was no light one as, in addition to my own party of four, we were never without the assistance of three or four Shastris from the town engaged in examining such manuscripts as we could not ourselves overtake. Book after book was handed to each member of the party with a promptitude that would not have disgraced the best kept London library." [ ]

Next follows a lengthy report on the many Vedic texts discovered in the Maharaja of Alwar's library. Although fascinating, we will save that narration for another time. Instead, we pick up at the point where Professor Peterson describes a manuscript by Srila Baladeva Vidyabhushana, which helped him to answer questions raised in a previous report of his regarding certain attributions to Mammata in Sri Vidyabhushana's commentaries.

    "In my First Report I endeavoured to show reason for doubting the correctness of the theory which refers The Sahityakaumudi of Sri-Vidyabhushana, both the metrical rules of the Kavyaprakasa and the running commentary in prose which accompanies them to one author, Mammata.

    In the present book I had the good fortune at Alwar to light upon a work which, if it does not establish what I attempted to draw from the data previously available, may, I think, be claimed as showing that four hundred years ago the theory for which I asked consideration was, in some parts of India, the current view.

    The Sahityakaumudi of Sri-Vidyabhushana begins with a verse from which it appears that the author was a disciple of the Bengal religious reformer Chaitanya, who is the hero of the Chaitanyacharanamrita, and who was born about 1484 A.D. It will be noticed that the verse corroborates the tradition with regard to the conversion of king Prataparudra Gajapati by Chaitanya, to which Aufrecht calls attention. [1] The verse runs:

      "I worship that Vishnu the ocean of delight by whose mercy, when he dwelt among men in the form of Chaitanya, Gajapati was washed from his sins and in a moment found peace. Him none can conquer: and yet his saints subdue him."

    I have not attempted to give the double reference here. The second verse is:

      "In this work of mine the learned will find (1) the sutras Bharata wrote, (2) a succinct commentary, and (3) examples whose only theme is Krishna's praise: this is its title to their consideration."

    The work accordingly then begins: Nishpratyuhapraripsitaparisa-mfiptikamo munih samuchitam girdevim prak pranamati. And students of alamkara are prepared to hear that the first sutram is the familiar niyatikritaniyamarahitdm with which the Kavyaprakasa opens, but to which there is here an entirely independent commentary.

    The colophon of the first parichchheda, as the divisions of this book are called, is

      iti bharatasiitravrittau sahityakaumudyaip kavyaprayojana-hetusvarupa- riseshanirnayo nitma prathamah parichchhedah.

    Turning to the colophon of the tenth Book, I light upon another fact to which I am disposed to attach a good deal of significance. From the occurrence, in all copies of the Kavyaprakasa which I have seen, of the words sampurnam idam kfivyalaksbanam standing before the colophon ascribing the work to Mammata, I was led to suggest that we have here preserved to us no obscure indication that the collection of metrical karikas was a separate work, with sopie such title as Kavyam or Kavyalakshanam. This view has Sri-Vidyabhushana's support. For when the author of the present book has all but finished the task he sets himself, he says:

      "And now I have explained the whole of the Kavyalakshanam [that is, the hook so called]. This is a short commentary on the sutras of Bharata, which has been composed, with the help of the existing commentaries of Mammata and others, by Sri-Vidyabhushana."

    Then follows the colophon:

      "iti bharatasutravrittau sahityakaumudyam arthalaittkaranirupano nama dasamah parichchhedah."

    When the author says that he has now explained the whole of his text, he is referring to the fact that, like some other writers on rhetoric, he closes his work with a supplementary chapter on matters not discussed by the authority he is chiefly following:

      "May Krishna shine in my heart: Krishna through whose mercy nothing is wanting to his faithful ones."

    In the following chapter some rules which are wanting in Bharati's book will be expounded.

    Without dwelling at present on the fact that the sage Bharata is put forward as the author of the Kavyalakshanam, the common text of the Kavyaprakasa, the Kavyapradipa, the Sahityakaumudi, and how many other books on alamkara we do not know, I think it will not be disputed that the way in which Sri-Vidyabhushana refers to Mammata as one of several previous commentators on the book, almost precludes the idea that he had ever heard of the theory that Mammata himself wrote the karikas.

    The commentator, who unfortunately does not give his name, is still more explicit. After reverence paid to Krishna and Vidyabhushana, he tells us that Bharata threw into concise karikas the science of poetry as it stood in the Vahnipurana and other works, and that to explain these is the object of the Sahityakaumudi.

    A circumstance in the explanation of the first verse leads to the interesting conclusion that the book before me may very possibly be that written prima manu, or by the author of the commentary himself. For he starts by undertaking to make three meanings out of the first verse: an attempt in which he fortunately breaks down when he comes to meaning No 3. He has then not only to draw his pen through the half-given gloss, but to go back and amend his promise, so that the word "third meaning" shall not appear.

    He tells us that Chaitanya was the paramapreshthaguru of his author, and that by Gajapati is meant Prataparudra, king of the Atkalas."

    [1] Oxford Catalogue, p. 148, Note. Aufrecht quotes Sterling As. Res XV.> 284 : " It is added that about this time Chytunga or Chytan Mahaprabhu (i.e. ^TF*T) came from Naddia in Bengal to visit the temple of Jagannath, and that he performed miracles before the Raja (Prataparudra)."


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