Panditaraja Jagannatha probably lived from 1572 1665 A. D. He was born into a scholarly family of Andhra Brahmins and became a very famous poet. He resided at the Delhi Durbar and held a high position at the court; the Emperor Sah Jahan bestowed on him the honourable title for this book. The legend about the origin of the poem is as follows: when Panditaraja Jagannatha was living at the Delhi Durbar he fell in love with a Muslim woman at the court, and he was therefore excommunicated by the Brahmin community. Panditaraja Jagannatha went to Varanasi for atonement; and his entreaties to goddess Ganga for purification are the theme of several Gangalahari verses. Panditaraja Jagannatha wrote this poem at Pancaganga ghat, where 52 steps led to the Ganges river; the 52 steps courrespond to the 52 slokas in this poem. The legend states that with the completion of each verse, goddess Ganga was so pleased that the river rose one step, and thus with the last sloka, the 52nd verse, she reached Panditaraja Jagannatha who was sitting at the highest step. Thus being absolved by goddess Ganga, Panditaraja Jagannatha was reaccepted by the Brahmin community. In some other works of Panditaraja Jagannatha verses of the Gangalahari are quoted, which means that they were written after this poem was completed. Panditaraja Jagannatha composed several benedictory verses and other works:
A small insect-eaten booklet with the Gangalahari and its commentary by Sadasiva was discovered in a second hand bookshop in Varanasi and presented to me by a friend in 1995. The cover mentions Pandurang Jawaji as the name of the publisher, and the Nirnaya-sagara press in Bombay, but no date is given. Immediately I felt a great liking for this text; I checked all over India but could not find an English translation of this commentary on the Gangalahari.
I was introduced to Professor Srinarayana Misra, head of the Sanskrit department of B. H. U. (Banaras Hindu University, U. P., India), who instantly recalled how his father had taught him as a young boy to recite this poem. I am very grateful to Professor Srinarayana Misra, who gladly consented to read the text with me in the winter of 1995-96. Commentaries are sometimes boring, unintelligible or confusing; but regarding this commentary, for me personally it was very enlightening and so much fun to see the practical application of grammar rules that I decided to publish this teaching on Sri Sadasiva's commentary. In the original commentary many Paninian sutras etc. are quoted fully or partly, without mentioning their reference numbers. Professor Srinarayana Misra proposed to add in brackets the numbers of the Paninian sutras, for the benefit of students of grammar. Single brackets around the numbers are used when the Paninian sutras have been quoted in full, and double brackets indicate Pa. Su. Which have not been quoted fully but are alluded to. Also the numbers of the Unadi sutras (U. Su.), Gana sutras (Am.), Dhatu patha (Dha.Pa.) and Amara kosa (Am.) are mentioned. I hope the additional explanations by Professor Srinarayana Misra about the commentary, especially in connection with the Paninian sutras, will be appreciated by the readers.
The outlay of this book is as follows: first there are five introductory slokas written by the commentator Sri Sadasiva, with their translations. Then follows each sloka of the Gangalahari poem separately, with the introduction and commentary thereon by Sri Sadasiva, followed by the translation of the introduction, the translation of the actual sloka and the translation and additional explanation of the commentary on that sloka. In the original commentary the words discussed, referring to words used in the slokas, were not written in bold as is done here for clarity. All transliterated Samskrit words have been typed in italics. Mistakes in the original booklet, like anusvaras before a vowel or at the end of a sentence, have been corrected. At the end appear five slokas, added by the commentator; in the fourth final sloka he mentions his name Sadasiva and the second final sloka gives the date of completion of the commentary.
I want to express my sincere thanks to Professor Srinarayana Misra for his beautiful way of teaching, and his patience when we read the present manuscript together.
I hope this book will be of use to beginners in Samskrit as an introduction on how to read commentaries.
From the Jacket:
Jagannatha (1572-1665) was a famous Sanskrit poet residing at the Delhi Durbar where Emperor Sah Jahan bestowed on him the honourable title of Panditaraja. He feel in love with a Muslim woman at the court and was consequently excommunicated by the Brahmin community. Thereafter he went to Varanasi, where he composed the poem known as Gangalahari, verses entreating Goddess Ganga for purification.
About the Author:
Irma Schotsman (1935) from the Netherlands retired early from her job because of health problems. In 1985 she began studying Sanskrit in Kathmandu (Nepal). In 1990 she moved to Varanasi (Benares, India) where she continued her studies. Reading Sanskrit language has given her so much satisfication that she is now working on word-by-word translations for students (Asvagosa's Buddhacarita, 1995; Hanuman in Valmiki's Ramayana, forthcoming). The present work on Gangalahari is meant as an introduction on how to read Sanskrit commentaries.
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