I am happy to present to the readers, scholarly as well as general ones with a taste for the subject, the first publication of the School of Vedic Studies of Rabindra Bharati University. The volume contains contributions from some outstanding scholars of the area like professors Kashikar, Joshi, Sen and Sharma, an excellent paper from Dr. Samarendranath Sen, an eminent historian of science in India, and a highly interesting paper on Vedic music by Dr. Didhiti Biswas. I am sure these will be received with gratitude and praise by those for whom these are intended.
The Vedic literature is a veritable storehouse of information about a glorious period of the country, a period which, although long past, has not yet lost all its meanings and implications for the present, or, for that matter, the future of this country. There will, of course, be mystifications about the Vedas by people who want to use them for purposes not strictly scholarly. Fundamentalists have been at work with them for long, in their harmful desire to project the image of an etiolated India, where no community except that of the majority exists. I am glad to witness that both Indian and foreign scholars have done immensely valuable research after making this basic, no-nonsense assumption that the Vedas were no superhuman creations; but the handiwork of highly gifted men living in a particular social and environmental fold, who had given exquisite expression to some of the very earthly desires of their society, including those which can be called ‘spiritual’. And it is worth our while to reconstruct their life and time, not just for knowing our own past, for digging up information about a glorious civilization, but also for discovering some basic truths about high human achievement, for finding factors that are conducive to it. That is why all aspects of Vedic research—linguistic, sociological, anthropological, religious-ritualistic, textual-critical, etc. have been so vigorously pursued by the scholars of the world. Using the past for a better future is a dream many of us cherish, for which all such researches can richly contribute. At the same time, I do not want to say that knowledge for its own sake is not a very commendable objective also.
Whichever stand on this is taken by a particular reader, she/he will, I am certain, not fail to appreciate the high standard of scholarship and presentation contained in the papers of this volume. I congratulate the School for bringing out the collection in such a praiseworthy and pleasing shape.
In the last several years, we had the opportunity to organize some seminars. The proceedings of these seminars could not be published for want of funds, though some of the papers presented there were published in the Journal of the Department of Sanskrit of this University. The University has recently decided to publish selected papers accepted in the seminars in the form of small volumes. Accordingly, the School of Vedic Studies is presenting this book containing six papers contributed by distinguished scholars to Vedic seminars organized at Rabindra Bharati University.
Vedic studies include wide areas of research. Many publications have appeared in the past years and the ever growing size of the volumes of Professor R.N Dandekar’s Vedic Bibliography is an indication of the increasing number of publications relating to various aspects of Vedic researches. The present volume contains six papers on six aspects: ritual, grammar, linguistics, text-editing, science, and fine arts.
Of the six papers, C.G. Kashikar’s paper on Ritualistic Studies and S.D. Joshi’s paper on Sanskrit Grammar and Linguistics, Published in the Journal of the Department of Sanskrit, Vol. III; B.R. Sharma’s paper on text-editing and text-critical study in Vol. IV; and Nilmadhav Sen’s paper on Linguistics and Vedic studies in Vol. II of the same Journal were accepted at the Seminar on ‘Vedic Studies: Retrospect and Prospect’ held in 1983. The remaining two papers were accepted at the seminar on ‘Relevance and Direction of Vedic Studies in Modern India’ held in 1991.
The original papers are being printed here; I regret that the discussions following the presentation of these papers could not be recorded. Because of the time-lag between writing the papers and the present publication, some particulars provide in the papers may appear not up-to-date; but we hope, the papers still contain valuable suggestions which have not yet lost relevance. I take this opportunity to express my cordial thanks to the contributors.
It is a matter of deep regret that two of the contributors, Dr. Nilmadhav Sen and Dr. Samarendranath Sen, are no more in this world. This volume is dedicated to their sacred memory as a humble token of our respect and admiration.
My sincere thanks are due to Professor Pabitra Sarkar, the Vice-Chancellor of this University, for kindly sanctioning funds for publication of this book and writing the Foreword, and also for his inspiration behind all activities of our department in general. I am thankful also to my dear colleague, Sri Nabanarayan Bandyopadhyay, for his help in seeing the publication through the press.
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