I thank the authorities of the University of Madras for inviting me to deliver the Professor L. Venkataratnam Endowment Lectures for 1971. This is one of the recently endowed lectures, with which I was connected as convener for the first few years, and as far as I remember, among those who have lectured under this Endowment, I am the only one who had been a student of Prof. L. Venkataratnam and closely associated with him in the Sanskrit Department of the Presidency College, Madras.
These Lectures were delivered at the University of Madras on the 23rd and 24th of September, 1971. I must express my gratitude to the University for giving me permission to publish these lectures privately and to His Highness the Maharajah of Banaras, Dr. Vibhuti Narain Singh, Founder and Chairman of the All-India Kashiraj Trust, for including the publication of these lectures in the programme of the Purana Department of the Trust.
I have explained in the opening paragraphs the scope of these lectures. What I have dealt with here forms part of a chain of studies undertaken by me, on the Ramayana from different points of view. A few of these studies have been published and several remain to be brought out. References are made to the former in the course of the lectures. Special attention may be drawn to one of them, the long paper on the Tattavasamgraha-ramayana of Ramabrahmananda, with an appendix on the same author's shorter work, the Ramayanatattvadarpana; both these texts offer a large amount of material on Rama culled from different Puranas and Purana-like compilations but oriented specifically to the philosophical and esoteric understanding of the Rama-incarnation and to the Rama-cult in all its aspects.
I am thankful to the Maharajah of Banaras for his Foreword. In the reading of the proofs of this book and the preparation of the indexes, I have received assistance from Dr. S. S. Janaki for which I thank her. I must express my thanks also to the M.L. J. Press, Madras, who printed this work.
When, in addition to the various activities in the fields of Dharma, I thought of some literary project as part of the work of the All-India Kashiraj Trust, it appeared to me most appropriate to take up the Puranas with which Hinduism was most intimately connected. Also from the historical and cultural point of view, this branch of Sanskrit literature contained very valuable material. The work was important also from the literary aspect and that of textual criticism. Not only for general reading but also for research, improved editions and critical editions of the Puranas were necessary and concentrated work on this branch was a desideratum.
When I was thinking of scholars who could help me in this long-term Purana Project, a work hinging primarily on manuscripts, the name of Dr. V. Raghavan, Professor of Sanskrit at that time at the University of Madras, was the first to come to my mind. He had been engaged on the compilation of the Nezv Catalogus Catalogorum of Sanskrit manuscripts, toured all over the country and the world, visited the largest number of manuscript collections, public and private, and was a ready referencer on matters of manuscripts, works and authors. As a member of the Sanskrit Commission and the seniormost active scholar on the Central Sanskrit Board, he had rendered continuous and conspicuous service to the cause of Sanskrit education and studies at all levels.
I am glad to say that Dr. Raghavan has been of constant help to the All-India Kashiraj Trust in the Purana Project from the beginning. As one who combines with scholarship, a constructive faith in the ideals and values of our culture and literature, he has been our friend, philosopher and guide.
The two Itihasas go with the Puranas and ltihasa-purana has always been a composite concept. In the Purana Bulletin of Purana Department and in our contributory publications, the whole field of ltihasa-Purana has been comprehended. The present publication is an illustration of the intimate relation of the two ltihasas between themselves, and of these two with the Puranas. The internal connections of this literature and the permeation of it by the epic of Valmiki in ideas and expressions, have a text-critical value. Meticulous care, range, organisation and presentation, style and readability have marked Dr. Raghavan's, writings. In the present study, as elsewhere, he shows not only his mastery of the minutiae of the subject but also the over-all comprehension.
I hope Dr. V. Raghavan will give us now more of his time to develop the work of the Purana Project and more of his work for our Publication programme. From the holy Vyasa-Kasi, I invoke the blessings of Vyasa and Lord Visvanatha on him for his further contributions to Sanskrit and Indian Culture.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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