Bengal has been home of Tantrism from ancient times. Many practitioners of the Tantrika mode of spiritual discipline lived in Bengal and they propagated the Sakta religious thought and practices among the masses. Many spiritual practitioners hailed from the backward classes, nonetheless they were held in high esteem by the people for their deep spiritual experiences which they preached. Among them the most illustrious and legendary figure was Siddha Matsyendranatha who belonged to this part of the country. His fame as a great Siddha endowed with super-human yogic powers travelled far and wide. He is venerated as a great yogin, a Siddha par excellence both in the Hindu and the Buddhist traditions in this' country, Nepal and Tibet. He is considered to be the founder of powerful Kaula religious tradition, an offshoot of the Sakta Tantrism. Though Kaulism became deeply entrenched in the valley of Kashmir during the 9 - l Oth century A D, it held sway allover the country, its influence percolating in the religious life of people, especially of Kashmir.
The late Professor Prabodh Chandra Bagchi came across manuscripts of four Tantra works ascribed to Matsyendranatha in Nepal. He published them more than flfty years ago. The editor of this text ascribed to Matsyendranath discovered its manuscripts in the library of the Wellcome Institute for History of Medicine, London. It is unique manuscript .which remained un- noticed all these years. The edit obtained a microfilm copy of t?e text which has been edited by him on the basis one single copy of the text ..
I have great pleasure in making this rare and un- published Tantra text available to scholarly world. The work is being issued in the Bibliotheca Indica Sanskrit series of the Society.
I am thankful to the authorities of the Wellcome Institute for History of Medicine, London for kindly granting permission for its publication by the Asiatic Society.
In course of my search for unpublished Saiva and Sakta Tantric manuscripts in different libraries in the U.K., I came across the manuscript copy of the present work, the Matsyendra Samhiia in Wellcome Institute of History of Medicine, Euston Road, London, well known for its rich collection of Mss. on medicine collected from all parts of ancient world. This important Tantric text dealing with the Yogic practices ofKaula School, a power- ful sub-sect within the Sakta Tantric tradition, remained there unknown and unnoticed as its name did not figure in any published Catalogue of Sanskrit Mss.
When I first discovered this work in the library of the Institute, I felt very much excited as I had not found its name mentioned in the Catalogus Catalogorum or any work on history of Sanskrit Literature, Including the well known "Hindu Tantric and Sakta Literature" written by T. Goudriaan and Sanjukt:=t Gupta prepared under the editorship of the late Professor J. Gonda (Wiesbadert 1981) or the bibliography of Tantric literature by the late Mahamahopadhyaya Gopinath Kaviraj (Lucknow 1972). I immediately wrote a letter to Professor Gonda and Dr. Goudriaan to enquire if they had known or seen the text. Both of them promptly replied saying that they were not even aware of the existence of such work. This convinced me of uniqueness of the manuscript of the work.
I obtained a microfilm copy of the text running into 120 folios containing 55 patalas or chapters. from the Wellcome Institute of History of Medicine, London. I am grateful to the authorities of the Institute, particularly the Director Mr. E. J. 'Freeman for kindly granting their permission for its publication. I am also thankful to Dr. D. Wujastyk, Incharge of the Mss section and the Librarian of the Institute for their kind co-operation in making the microfilm copy of the text promptly available to me.
I express very thankfulness to the Keeper of the National Archives, Kathmandu for kindly supplying the microfilm copies of three Manuscripts bearing the same name but dealing with altogether different subject, namely euology of the great Siddha.
As the text is quite large, it is proposed to publish the entire work in two or more parts. The publication of the first twenty Patalas or chapters only has presently been taken up in Part-I, the publication of the rest will follow later.
The manuscript of the text is full oflacunae and has also many gaps at a number of places. As no other copy of the text is available, I was faced with an uphill task in presenting correct version of text. I had to depend entirely on my wits for corrections and resort to heavy dose of emmendation.l can not claim complete success in my effort. At a number of places, I had to leave the text in corrupt form as is found written in the manuscript. I can only offer my sincere apologies for not being unable to remove these defficiencies in this work.
I take this opportunity of offering heartfelt thanks to my young friends Dr. Kunj Vihari Joshi and Dr. Surendra Mohan Misra for assistance in preparing the transcript copy from the manuscript and also suggesting corrections.
I am also obliged to my Senior friends Pandit Madhusudana Vedantasastri and Dr. J. Ganguly for helping me to arrive at correct reading of the text.
I would be failing in my duty if I do not express my deep sense of gratitude to the late Dr. Gaurinath Sastri and Professor Govinda Gopal Mukhopadhyaya, the stalwarts in the field of Sanskrit learning in Bengal, who inspired me to undertake this project and always provided me with scholarly advice.
I express my sincere gratitude to the authorities 'of the Asiatic Society, Professor Ashin Das Gupta, the then Administrator, his successors and Dr. Chandan Roy Choudhury, the present General Secretary for providing me necessary monetary support in undertaking this task. I am also obliged to my numerous friends for providing me with various kinds of help.
I am grateful to members of the Publication Commit- tee, Mr. Nirbed Ray, the Publication Officer and his staff for undertaking and expediting the publication of this work.
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