This volume, a compilation of fourteen research papers of high value, presented at an international seminar organized by the Rajiv Gandhi Campus of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Srngeri, highlights the contribution of Sanskrit to the development of world thought.
The first available text of the entire human race is Rgveda, and it is in Sanskrit. Since then the text-writing tradition of Sanskrit through ages has significantly contributed to the world thought, be it philosophy, math- ematics, astronomy, grammar, medicine, ecology, public administration, poetry and poetics, among many other branches. Taking a cue from such a historical lineage, this volume showcases topics - the contributions of ancient Indian thinkers to linguistics; some speculations on the contribution of Sanskrit to the world thought; significance of Ramayana in world literature; Sanskrit's influence on Western phonetics; arthamatralaghava; elements of ecology in Ramayana; techniques of Theodor Stcherbatsky and his followers in translating Sanskrit philosophical texts; Sanskrit's contribution to conscious studies; donation and value: its concept and expansion; Abhinavagupta's sarvam- sarvatmakam; management wisdom which permeates in Sanskrit texts; twists and turns of Yoga in America; perspective of inspirational leadership from Gita; and reception of Natya in Europe, specifically in Croatia.
The icing on the cake is that the book presents research papers of the top three Sanskrit scholars of the world. This, with other scholarly articles, makes the volume a collector's choice.
Prof. Vempaty Kutumba Sastry, a pundit-scholar of Sanskrit, is well-known for his in-depth knowledge of traditional Sastric lore in general and of Advaita Vedanta and Alamkarasastra, in particular. He has held several offices such as Professor & Head, Department of Sanskrit, Pondicherry Central University (1990-99); first as the Director and then as the Vice-Chancellor of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan; Vice-Chancellor, Sampoornananda Sanskrit University, Varanasi (2008-11) and, presently, heading Sri Somanath Sanskrit University, Gujarat as its Vice-Chancellor. He is the recipient of Vidvatsammana from several prestigious institutions and presided over a dozen of Pandita Parishads all over India. He has been elected as the President of International Association of Sanskrit Studies, Paris (2006) and presided over two World Sanskrit Conferences in Kyoto, Japan (2009) and New Delhi (2012).
I AM glad and feel honoured to place the proceedings of the International Seminar on "The Contribution of Sanskrit to the Development of world Thought" held in the Srngeri Campus of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Karnataka, India, in January 2012.
Sanskrit is the language of the first available text of not only of India but of entire human race. Decidedly, the earliest text available to human race today is Rgveda and its language is Sanskrit. As the text-writing tradition in Sanskrit continued till today, with ups and downs in different periods, there should have been considerable amount of thought content generated by it which can be considered as its contribution to the world thought. With this premise in mind we decided on the topic of the international seminar. It is also felt that international scholars working in various disciplines of Sanskrit can present the paper on the topic given from their respective discipline. Looking into the logistics of reaching a very remote place like Srngeri, a very small village in the hilly region of Western Ghats, it was felt whether we shall be able to get good response from the scholars both quantitatively and qualitatively. But, we have experienced great amount of enthusiasm of international scholars especially regarding the topic and the place as well. We were able to get the presence of most eminent international scholars in the field of Sanskrit studies. I must say that we were fortunate enough to get world number one, two, three of international scholars present in Srngeri during the seminar. Just concluded 15th World Sanskrit conference, jointly organized by the International Association of Sanskrit Studies, Paris and the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi had its share in causing these scholars reach India for the conference.
My sincere thanks are due to all those eminent international and national scholars who took pains to come to Srngeri: and give us the benefit of their scholarship. My thanks are also due to Prof. Radhavallabh Tripathi, the then Vice-Chancellor, Rashtriyia Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi for funding the seminar as well as delivering his learned keynote address.
Prof. George Cardona has been invited to deliver Shri Rajiv Gandhi Memorial International Lecture on this occasion on the theme of the seminar. My sincere and heartfelt thanks are due to him for taking pains to come to Srngeri: despite his age and other engagements. Needless to say that his presentation and presence have enhanced the prestige and level of the seminar containing his findings of research of several decades. We shall ever remain grateful to him for his kind gesture.
A few words on the theme of the seminar may not be out of place here. As it is well known, the entire Rgveda is in the form of metrical composition. These metrical compositions do have mathematical precision. Though it has drawn less attention than Panini's Astadhyayi, Pingala's Chandassastra, none the less, is scientific, mathematical and based on computational techniques. The twenty-six divisions of chandas, starting with one letter for a pada to the size of twenty-six letters for a pada culminated in presenting a mind-boggling number of varieties of metrical compositions. We see a number of such metrical compositions in the ~9veda. This fact suggests the height of mathematical acumen which has been gained by the rsis of the Rgveda.
Equally well known are the lofty ideas regarding nature, life, environment, philosophy and human welfare. Seen from the point of view of antiquity the statements such as "a no bhadrah kratavo yantu visvatah", "sam no astu dvipade sam catu$pade", "sangacchaddhvam samvadadhvam", "madhuvata rtayate madhu ksaranti sindhavah", "madhvirnassantvosadhih", "devanam sakhyamupasedima vayam", "mata me prthivi putroham Prthivyah", "madhu dyaurastu nah pita", "mitrasya tva caksusa sarvani bhutani samikse", "ma kascid duhkhamapnuyat" and "vayam rastre jagryama" present before us the evolution of human mind to the highest point ever reached by humanity. The huge . volume of research output in the Vedic studies during the last two centuries stands in attestation of contribution of the Vedic texts to the development of world thought.
Even the concept of devata in Sanskrit literature, which is usually understood as a matter of faith, is based on logical and scientific principles. Says Brhaddevata:
Conceiving the presiding deity (abhimanini devata) in respect of natural objects and forces is not an insignificant event in the human history. The etymology of word devata (dyotanat devah) reveals the mind of rsis. Because of these and many more other underlying principles of concept of devata the pantheistic approach of Hindu religion can be better appreciated. The idea of possibility of invoking and sending away of gods in any mundane object or on one's own self or idol is a unique and an interesting one in the Vedic tradition which is the basis for all the sacrificial rituals as well as patterns of worship in Indian culture. This was possible because of concept of sarvatmabhava preached in the Vedic texts, directly or indirectly, which is a leap forward in elevating once own self. In fact, the idea of man becoming god is great with far-reaching effects (manusad daivyam upaimi). All these Vedic efforts culminate in making man and world to occupy the centre stage.
The Siksa and Pratisakhya texts also contributed quite a lot to the science of speech and standards of speech. First of all they came out with amazing theories of speech mechanism which are held scientific and perfect by the present-day scientists. Stating that vivaksa kindles the bodily fire and holding the kindled bodily fire is responsible for generation of air which is very important for utterance and speech act is not only attested by present-day science but also gives us insight into the advanced stages of scientific evolution of those far off ages. As is well known they gave us the most scientific varnaamala based on the starting and end points of striking of air against various places of vault of the oral and nasal cavities. Even though intonation and svara are natural phenomena and even though several other languages do have one or the other kind of intonation patterns, change of svara in the combination of group of words or in respect of anuloma and viloma recitational patterns is worth understanding along with the scientific background of such changes. Change of meaning of a word on the basis of change of intonation is a unique contribution which has larger bearing upon deciding the meaning of the text. Unfortunately, since Sanskrit could not retain intonation beyond Vedic period, the significance of intonation is understood less in degree.
PANINI’S greatness has been universally acknowledged. He also represents the high point of Indian thought on language and its description, the history of which extends back to predecessors of Panini. It is demonstrable, moreover, that Panini did more than merely accept and codify such earlier work. He subjected it to critical evaluation, accepting or rejecting aspects of what his predecessors had done in view of his own work and its aims. What pre-Paninian thinkers and Panini carried out in describing Sanskrit - both the current language (bhasa) of Panini's time (c. 500 BCE) and the Vedic usage that preceded him - represents accomplishments in linguistic theory and methodology that merit being considered historically without precedent. In what follows, I shall outline briefly three such major accomplishments:
1. A distinction was made between phonetics and phonology: speech production and rules describing operations that concern systematic speech units.
2. Scholars recognized posited structures from which are derived utterances found in particular texts and in the language of a community.
3. Scholars also recognized rules and possible relations among them that determined how the rules should apply.
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