About the Book
The National Mission for Manuscripts was established in February 2003 by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India with the purpose of locating, documenting, preserving and disseminating the knowledge content of India's handwritten manuscripts, said to be the largest collection of handwritten knowledge documents in the world. While looking ahead to reconnect with the knowledge of the past, the Mission is in the process of trying to re-contextualize the knowledge contained in manuscripts for the present and the future generations.
The Mission launched a lecture series titled "Tattvabodha" in January 2005. Since then, a monthly lecture series is organized in Delhi and other academic centres all over the country. Tattvabodha has established itself as a forum for intellectual discourse, debate and discussion. Eminent scholars representing different aspects of India's knowledge systems have addressed and interacted with highly receptive audiences over the course of the past few years.
This volume, fifth in the series, contains eleven papers presented by well-known authors in different Tattvabodha lectures organized by the Mission. These papers are in English, Hindi and Sanskrit, covering a variety of subjects of Indian knowledge system.
The authors deliberate on topics such as the closeness of the Rgvedic language to the Proto-Indo-European language; different branches of learning in medieval Bengal; unique manuscripts of Asiatic Society; eighteenth-century Calcutta based on the leads from the British Official Records; Sanskrit as the mind of Silk Route; formation of Kashmiri language; a comparative study of Bengali, Hindi and Malayalam Ramayanas: Arabic manuscripts and Arabi- Malayalam literature of Kerala; Bhakti Literature of Rajasthan; manuscripts on Ayurveda; and published and unpublished commentaries of Bhagavata Purana.
These scholarly articles should invoke keen interest among academicians, scholars and students of Indology.
The journey of the National Mission for Manuscripts started in 2003 when it was established by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The Mission's objectives are to explore, encompass and understand the wealth of information contained in the manuscripts.
In its attempt to disseminate the traditional knowledge contained in the manuscripts, the Mission organizes the Tattvabodha - awareness of the Ultimate Reality - lecture series all around the country in collaboration with various academic institutions. This lecture series provides insights into different areas of knowledge delivered by eminent scholars who are specialists in their respective fields. The Tattvabodha lectures create a forum for intellectual engagement and subsequently tries to re-contextualize the approach to this traditional knowledge to make it relevant to the present and future generations.
The present collection is the fifth volume of Tattvabodha series comprising eleven papers presented by well-known scholars in different Tattvabodha lectures organized by the Mission. The lectures are presented in English, Hindi and Sanskrit and cover variety of areas of Indian knowledge system.
The Greek scholar Prof. Nicholas Kazanas, in his lecture, has taken us through a linguistic journey to conclude the closeness of the Vedic language of J3.gveda to the Pro to- Indo-European language. In his paper, Prof. Karunasindhu Das, based on study of the manuscript collection of Jorasanko Tagore House, Kolkata, has described the prevalence of different branches of learning in medieval Bengal. Prof. Manabendu Banerjee, on the other hand, has identified certain unique manuscripts in the library of Asiatic Society, Calcutta, which may be further explored in-depth by interested students and scholars. Dr. Ranjit Sen, in his lecture, has portrayed an interesting picture of eighteenth-century Calcutta based on information gathered from British Official Records.
Prof. Lokesh Chandra has established that Sanskrit was the mind of the Silk Route. It was the language of refinement and thought, of religion and philosophy, of poetry and prose of the people who spoke several tongues.
Formation of the Kashmiri language is an interesting topic to ponder over. Dr. Shashi Shekhar Toshkhani has meticulously tried to sort out the misconceptions about the formation of the language. The scholar has mentioned of some early Kashmiri works in support of the actual process that led to its surfacing as the regional voice of Kashmir. Dr. Indra Nath Choudhuri has presented a comparative study of Krttivasa Ramaqana (Bengali), Tulsidasa Ramayana (Hindi) and Ezhuthachan Ramayana (Malayalam). Dr. N.A.M. Abdul Kader informs us about the Arabic manuscripts and Arabi-Malayalam literature in Kerala during sixteenth to nineteenth century CE. Dr. Devendra has focused on Bhakti literature of Rajasthan. Dr. Shyam Singh Rajpurohit has compiled the manuscripts on Ayurveda and Dr. Gangadhar Panda has presented an informative paper in Sanskrit on published and unpublished commentaries of Bhagavata Purana.
I hope these papers covering diverse topics will be useful to the readers in general. My thanks goes to the scholars who have presented these papers and also to M/S D.K. Printworld for bringing out this volume. It would not be out of place to mention that the opinions expressed by the individual scholars in their respective papers are their own and the Mission does not take responsibility of expression of their viewpoints.
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