feel honoured to have been asked to contribute a foreword to the book entitled 'Bharatiya dharmasastra men Vrata (Religious vows in Indian theology) by Professor Shrutidhar Jha 'Sevaka', a renowned scholar of Sanskrit of our times. I have gone through his present work thoroghly and I take pleasure in recording my appreciate of the same. It is an excellent research work on Indian theology that not only speaks of sound scholarship and critical acumen of the author but also reveals his sensitive mind and his alertness to a just and religious social order that is the need of the hour.
Throughout the history, the discerning people have been obsessed with trying to understand and interpret 'Dharma'. The word is derived from the Sanskrit root 'Dhr' meaning 'to support, "to uphold' or 'to establish'. Thus, socio-religiously, Dharma is that which upholds private and public life, which establishes social, moral, and religious order, or, at the same time, which characterizes the nature of something. This is why the work has been variously translated as law, virture, merit, propriety, morality, religion etc. From time immemorial, our country in general and the time honored Mithila region in particular have been the stronghold, of 'Dharma' and Dharmasastra. There, too, the most important and terse aspect is Tithinirnaya' -fixing of the exact time or day, for a particular festival or Vrata'. Professor 'Sevaka', through his work, has rendered a yeoman's service to the field by presenting the Nirnayas (verdicts) on all the 'Tithis' (days) raging from the 1st to the 15th of a fortnight. I think, this is the singular achievement of the work. The author delves deep into the issues like Kala Muhurta, the influence of astrology on Dharmasastra and calendar etc.
The contribution of Mithila region to the studies of Dharmasastra has been noteworthy right from the dawn of civilization, hence the oft quoted maxim-Dharmasya nirnayah karyo mithila-vyavaharatha (the verdict on Dharma may be taken from the practices prevailing in Mithila. Following the footsteps of his predecssors, Professor Sevaka has produced such a work as can safely be included into the fold of the standard 'Nibandhas' or 'Dharmasaytriya Nibandhas' theological writings on debatable issues) already extant in number in the field. So far as the contents of the work are concerned, the first chapter discusses the theory of Sanskrit or Hindu theology along with the different aspects of Vrata implications, times, purposes etc. The second chapter deals with the persons entitled to engage in Vratas. The third chapter is devoted to explain the classification of Vratas in the light of various Puranas and Smritis. From fourth to the seventh chapters, we come across a critical examination of the exact or prope Tithis (days) prescribed for the festivals coming round the year. The last chapter deals with a special Vrata Candrayanam in all its aspect.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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