About the Author
The author was born in a small village in 1916. He had his school education in the Hindu High School, Karwar and Garud High School, Dhulia and college, Pune. He had the good fortune to study Sanskrit under the guidance of Shri. V.H. Nijsure and Prof. R.N. Dandekar and mathematics under the guidance of Prof. D.D. Koshambi, and Prof. D.W. Kerkar. He stood first in Sanskrit in the Matriculation examination (1933) and secured the Jagannath Shankarshet Scholarship. He stood first in the B.A. and M.A. examination of then Bombay University and was the chancellor's medalist (in Mathematics, 1939). He topped the list of successful candidates in the Indian civil service held at Delhi in 1940.
He served the erstwhile Bombay and Maharashtra state as Collector of Pune. Development commissioner, Bombay and as finance secretary. During his stay at Nasik, he had the privilege to read Shankara Bhashya on the Brahma-sutra with his holiness the late Dr. Kurtakoti, Shankaracharya of Karavira Peeth. He went to the government of India in 1962 and worked as Programme advisor, planning commission, additional secretary, ministry of home and retired and finance secretary in 1974.
After retirement he worked in all for ten years as a trustee and chief trustee of Shri Jnaneshwar Maharaj Sansthan at Alandi and has been working as Chairman, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Pune Kendra, His three works, The yoga of Patanjali, The Mahabharata, its Genesis and growth, A statistical study of the Bhagavadgita as a synthesis have been published by the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune. His translations of Jnaneshwari in Marathi, Hindi and English have been published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Pune Kendra.
The textual problem posed by Ramayana has been summarized by Weber in a slogan, 'as many Ramayana as there are manuscripts (Guruge, p. 25). Many manuscripts contain passages which are not to be found in others and they differ as regards the arrangement of the cantoes, verses and words. The Ramayana is very aptly described by Hopkins as a 'concordant discord' or more appropriately a concord full of discord. As a result of the statistical study undertaken by the author it was found that the original Ramayana by Valmiki was a harmonious whole and that the discordant elements in it were due to accretions which had taken place over a long period. Fortunately, the critical edition of Valmiki's Ramayana prepared by the oriental institute, M.S. University, Baroda was available for this study.
The critical edition of any work gives only a reliable text which existed at a particular time, depending upon the dates of the earliest manuscript available. The critical edition as it turned out from this study seemed to have existed in the first century A.D. and this is a remarkable achievement, considering that the oldest Ms. Available to the critical editors was one from Nepal dated 1020 A.D. This shows that the methods used for the preparation of the critical text were sound and effective. It, therefore, became necessary to devise a method by which we could find out the accretins, which had taken place since the composition of the epic poem and indicate, if possible, the different stages of its growth.
Brockington (pp. 16-61) has made an extensive study of the linguistic features of the critical text of Ramayana and made an admirable attempt of fix the stages of its growth. This method, however, is open to the objection, firstly that there is a subjective element in the choice of the linguistic features. Secondly no author can write continuously in a homogenous style and so a method has to be found by which we can separate the chance variations in his style from those which are significantly different. The statistical method employed by the author has been fully explained in the appedices, Paper I, paras 1-6 of the Rog.
The statistical study disclosed six distinct styles of anushtubha verses represented by distinct statistical indices. The R-style shlokas represented the original Ramayana, as it contained an account of all the basic events of the Raama story. Of the critical edition, which consists of 17868 shlokas in the critical edition belong to the original Ramayana. The original Ramayana of Valmiki, which we shell designate as Raamacharita, as determined by the study is shown as Annexture A.
The statistical study further disclosed five styles alpha, B,C, Beta and U, which are represented by distinct statistical indices. Thus the Ramayana underwent five successive stages of growth by five redactors. On the basis of their styles, they have been identified as Suta and his son sauti (450 B.C.), author of Harivamsha (2nd century B.C.), the author of Parvasangraha (1st century B.C.) and the author of the U-style (1st century A.D.). Of these the first four redactors are the same, who have also made a additions to the Mbh. (Mgg.pp. 16-63). As early as 1906, C.V. Vaidya, a great Mahabharata scholar, observed that the Ramayana took its present form in 100 A.D., as result of its reshaping and remodeling with interpolations. The main features of the expansion of original Ramayana are given in Annexture II.
How and when the narrative came to be divided into sargas and kandas is a matter of conjecture. The reference to the division of the epic into sargas is to be found in the Uttara-kanda passages inserted by the author of the U-style. It is stated that Kush and Lava recited twenty sargas a day and that the whole poem was 500 sargas long. It must be stated that there was no occasion to state this in the earlier kandas.
The question arises whether the original Ramayana contained the verses in long metres. A sarga usually ended with a long metre verse, which recapitulated the action of the sarga or paraphrased the preceding shloka (Brockington, p. 50). Since Valmiki is said to have invented the Shloka, it is very unlikely that the elaborate metres were known in his time. Though attempts have been made to show that these long metre verses were indispensable to the narrative, C.V. Vaidya rightly held that all verses other than the shlokas could be treated as interpolations. He stated that they were added to make the Ramayana conform to the definition of a mahakavya. Most of these tag verses are obviously redundant and could be dropped without affecting the thread of narration (Brockington, p. 50). The exclusion of the ling metre verses presents the epic as a continuous narrative, suitable for oral recitation and transmission.
Valmiki, the author or Raamacharita, enjoys the reputation of being and adikavi, the first poet in Sanskrit by literature. We have, however, very little information as to who he was and when he lived. He must have lived at least two centuries before Vaishampayana, the author of the original Bharata in the Mahabharata, who mentions him by name (VII. 118.48) and refers to him as bhagavan (VIII. 18.7). On the basis of the available information, his date has been fixed as the 12th century B.C. only a generation after Raama (see ROG, chapter 5).
Valmiki's Raamcharita is undoubtedly a superb poem of high literary quality. There is no reason to doubt the literary tradition that it is the adikavya, the first long poetry in Sanskrit lay literature, though as pointed out by Brockington (p. 189), the concept of Ramayana as an adikavya occurs in the late phalashruti of the Yuddhakanda (370). But we get an allusion to a poet (kavi) in the Balakanda (4.20), which belongs to the Raamacharita. Valmiki's shloka metre is described as musical with equal syllables and adapted to the rhythm of a stringed lute (tantri, 1.2.17). The poet underscores this musical connection between its recitation and singing by juxtaposing the two verbs, patha, 'to recite' and 'gai' to sing (pathyegeyeca, 1.4.7). The increasing veneration of Raama and Valmiki's artistic presentation of the story have been factors in the popularity of the epic not only in India but also in South-East Asia. The Ramayana is indeed the fountain source of Raama literature not only in Inian languages both ancient and modern, but also in the languages of Southeast Asia. The popularity of the Ramayana story can be gauged from the fact that it has been transcribed in all literary forms, namely long poems, lyrics, dramas, one-act plays, prose, and prose mixed with poetry (champu). Valmiki has depicted Raama as a conquering hero equal to Indra in prowess. This comparison is apt, as Indra's conquest of the asura kings was followed by Raama's victory over the Dravidian king Raavana. His popularity, however, does not rest on the conquest of rakshasas, but also on the conquest of millions of human hearts in the Indian sub-continent and in the Southeast Asia over a period of three millennia.
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