Patriot Philosopher and scholar, Ranganath Ramchandra Diwakar (b. 1894) and M.A., L.L.B. of the Bombay University is not only a politician with an impressive record of service but one who exudes peace and learning. He started life as a school teacher and then a Prof. of English but was soon sucked up in the political maelstrom. Taking journalism which is still among his abiding interests in his stride he has been a not tax campaigner political prisoner, president of the Karnataka Pradesh congress committee. Member of the constituent assembly minister for information and broadcasting in the Government of India (1948-1952) and governor of Bihar (1952-1957).
A scholar both in Kannada and Sanskrit his works in Kannada and English reflect his penetrating insight into philosophy, culture and yoga. A staunch follower of Mahatma Gandhi and a close student and admirer of Sri Aurobindo from his school days his books on the lives of Sri Aurobindo Paramahansa Sri Ramakrishna and Bhagawan Buddha in this series have become extremely popular. The first one has also been translated in Hindi, Marathi, Kannada and Bengali.
The present book constitutes a comprehensive study of the life and teachings of the Apostle of peace born out of the author’s long stay in Bihar and his pilgrimage to Lumbini. Kapilavastu, Sarnath, Rajgriha, Buddha Gaya, Kusinara and other holy places hallowed by the feet of the great Buddha.
Dr. R.R. Diwakar passed away on 15th January 1990 at the ripe old age of 96.
Probably no Hindu youth interested in religion and philosophy escapes in his early years the direst or indirect influence of Buddha and buddhistic thought. It might be that some times Buddhism is used as a foil in philosophic discussions and written off as something that is atheistic soulless and negative. But still one has to think of it and deal with it. While doing so one cannot but be impressed by the colossal figure which seems to strut across those early centuries. Mahavir was a very great contemporary of Buddha no doubt. But he lacks the personal appeal which Buddha’s story makes to the common mind. Moreover Buddha is a part and parcel of the Hindu pantheon and every one in the south who performs his daily Sandhya or any religious ceremony has to repeat Dandakaranye deshe, Godavaryah dakshine, teere, shalivahana Shake Bauddhavatare Ramakshetre. I am performing this ceremony in Dandakarnya in the region of the river Godavari on the southern side the era being that of Shalivahan, during the period of the incarnation of Vishnu as Buddha in the locality where Rama was staying as a part of a declaration as regards the time and location of his performances.
Even if one ignores these opportunities of acquainting oneself with Buddha it is impossible to fail to be impressed by Asoka. The acquaintance and inspiring. In my college days I was further attracted towards the ethical philosophy of the Dhammapada and I learnt by heart the aphorism sabba papassa akaranam, Kusalassa Upasampada, Sachitta-pariyodapanam etam Buddhanisasam. This is the teaching of Buddha: non doing of all sin doing of everything this is good and meritorious and then purification of the mind. It happened that those were the days when the name of the great Buddhist scholar Prof. Kausambi was very popular. Further it was my good fortune that Prof. Bapat my co-student in the B.A. Class had taken pali as his optional subject and in subsequent years I had again the opportunity of working (as a colleague in the Rajaram College of Kolhapur) with Prof. P.L. Vaidya a profound Sanskrit and Pali Scholar.
But undoubtedly the immediate incentive to study and write about Buddha was due to my close touch with Nalanda and the research institute for Pali and Buddhism located there. This led me to a pilgrimage of Lumbmi, Kapilavastu, Kusinara, Sarnath, Rajgriah, Buddha Gaya and so on while I was in Bihar as Governor from 1952 to 1957. Then came the 2,500th centenary of Buddha in 1956 which filled the whole year with various items connected with Buddha and his great personality as well as his simple teachings.
All these may not have been able to make me give shape to my thoughts on Buddha. It was my close acquaintance and exchange of ideas with Bhikku Jagadish Kashyap the then Director of the Nalanda Institute which finally made me think of writing on Buddha in this series. I am not only thankful but grateful for all the help that the very earnest and learned Bhikku gave me. While the responsibility of writing the book is entirely mine I must say that but for his help and encouragement this book in this form would not have seen the light of the day.
The literature on Buddha and Buddhism is vast varied and in more than dozen important and modern languages of the world. But there is always a place for a popular treatise of this kind in a low-price series like the Bhavan’s book University. The human appeal in the story of Buddha will ever remain a theme which would attract laymen and scholars alike. Here was a human being who in those remote times flung away his princedom became a recluse in search of Truth rose above all conventional ideas evolved and gave a massage to the world in words which are suffused with compassion and rich with inner experience. His words went round the world and even today several hundred millions lead their lives in the name of Buddha and in the light of his teachings. It was his originality his courage of conviction, his realism and above all his rationalism which have given him a very prominent and a permanent place among the religious prophets of the world. It is worthwhile knowing something of this early marvel in religion which has not yet lost its freshness and vigour.
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