Original manuscript of the Govinda-bhasya handwritten by Baladeva Vidyabhusana
I am glad to announce the discovery of the manuscript of the Pada-kaustubha, a treatise on Sanskrit grammar composed by Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana. According to the Gaudiya Vaisnava Abhidhana, this text was seen by Haridas Baba in the library of one of the Goswamis of the Radha-Ramana temple in Vrindavan more than 60 years ago. Later on, that collection was either sold or given away, and since then the whereabouts of the Pada-kaustubha was unknown. One important feature of this manuscript is that Srila Vidyabhusana tells us the name of his grammar teacher, Shiva-Rama, “by whose mercy I was given access to the nectarean ocean of Panini’s grammar.”
During the last year, I travelled around twelve states in India, visited dozens of public and private libraries and collected a huge amount of digital copies of manuscripts, books and reference materials. As usual, I received cooperation from many parties except the Gaudiyas. Recently, I was allowed to copy many manuscripts in an ancient library of the Nimbarka sampradaya, while in Govardhana I was refused entry to three Gaudiya libraries. Despite my best efforts, I have been criticized and harassed in several ways. I have had people tell me that I am not doing anything special, as the manuscripts are in libraries and anyone going there can find them. Well, if it is that simple, we may wonder why nobody has done anything about it until now. I have also received messages from people demanding copies of the manuscripts, claiming that I have no right to keep them, or as a last recourse, offering me money in exchange. There are also others trying to pass as potential donors and supporters while actually just making up stories to see if somehow they can get hold of a copy. There was even a Gaudiya Math Swami who wrote to me insinuating that I am exploiting Baladeva Vidyabhusana for my own selfish ends.
Notwithstanding such ‘encouragement,’ this last discovery gives me the impetus to go ahead and search for many other lost manuscripts, although there is hardly any hint about their possible location. Important manuscripts have been found in as remote places as Udupi, Madras and Germany, so this may be a life time dedication. There are many collections still to be catalogued, and there are good chances that in the next years we may come across many other Gaudiya texts. I personally met the director of the National Mission for Manuscripts, Prof. Dipti Tripathi, who appreciated our activities and promised to assist us in whatever they can. Despite innumerable difficulties and little support, in two years since the Vidyabhusana Project was launched, we were rewarded with the following successes:
1) Discovery of five unpublished manuscripts: Tattva-dipika, Brahma-sutra-karika-bhasya, Sabda-sudha, Laghu-siddhanta-kaustubha and Pada-kaustubha.
2) Acquisition of digital copies of more than 15.000 pages in manuscripts.
3) Publication of two critical editions with English translation: Chandah-kaustubha and Siddhanta-darpana.
4) Digitization of nearly all printed editions of Srila Vidyabhusana’s works.
In the next year we hope to be able to start uploading the PDF files of all printed editions, which will be freely available for download. We also plan to soon publish the English translation of the “Tattva-dipika” and the “Brahma-sutra-karika-bhasya” along with the original text.
The Baladeva Vidyabhusana Project has the following primary objectives:
1. Search for lost manuscripts. (Such as the commentaries on nine Upanisads, Srimad Bhagavatam, etc.)
2. Digitally preserve manuscripts currently existing in different libraries.
3. Digitally preserve all editions of Vidyabhusana’s books.
4. Digitally preserve articles written about Vidyabhusana.
5. Type all the original texts in digital unicode system, which can be converted into Devanagari, Bengali and Oriyan characters.
6. Prepare a critical edition for each work.
7. Translate all the works into English.
8. Publish all translations with the original Devanagari text.
9. Investigate and verify existent biographical data of Vidyabhusana, including historical evidences of the conflict between the Gaudiyas and the Ramanandis of Rajasthan.
10. Publish a comprehensive biographical work.
I have been travelling extensively and dedicating myself full time to this research work. I wish I could visit all the main research centers and manuscript repositories all over India, but I am working alone and have no financial assistance to be able to afford it, therefore I humbly request those who understand the importance of this project to kindly contribute so that it may be thoroughly successful. The estimated expenses are as follows:
1. Travel in India (by train as far as possible): US 150 per month
2. Lodging boarding expenses during travel: US 250 per month
3. Photocopying, scanning, library charges: US 200 per month
Assistance in the following ways is also requested:
1. Contacting libraries and research institutes in India and abroad.
2. Locating and acquiring texts.
3. Typing devanagari and Bengali texts in transliterated Roman script.
4. Proofreading transliterated texts.
5. Editing and publishing.
For enquiries and donations, please click on the CONTACT link above.
Complete works of Baladeva Vidyabhusana:
1. Isopanisad; (Krishnadas Baba), (Sarasvata Gaudiya Mission), (Shyam Lal,3 comm.), (Bhaktivinoda)
2. Aisvarya-kadambini; (Haridas Shastri), (Haridas das)
3. Kavya-kaustubha; (Haridas das), (Haridas Shastri)
4. Gopala-tapany-upanisad-bhasya; (Haridas das)
5. Chandah-kaustubha-tika; (Haridas das), (Haridas Shastri), (Vrindavan Research Inst.)
6. Tattva-dipika (unpublished manuscript)
7. Tattva-sandarbha-tika; (Harinam Press), (Haridas Shastri), (Nityasvarupa), (Jadavpur), (Acyuta-grantha-mala), (Krishnachandra Bhagavataratna), ( Ramanarayana Vidyaratna), (Jiva-seva-sangha), (Shyam Lal), (Satyananda Gosvami)
8. Prameya-ratnavali; (Haridas Shastri), (Gokul Chandra Goswami), (Sanskrit Parisad), (Kanai Lal), (Gaudiya Math), (Gour Krishna Goswami), (Sundarananda Vidyavinoda), (Sasibhusana Dasa)
9. Pada-kaustubha (unpublished manuscript)
10. Brahma-sutra-karika-bhasya, (unpublished manuscript)
11. Bhagavad-gita (gita-bhusana); (Krishnadas Baba), (Gaudiya Mission), (Vidyananda)
12. Laghu-bhagavatamrta-tika (saranga-rangada); (Haribhakta das), (Ramanarayana Vidyaratna), (Venkatesh Press), (Atul Krishna Gosvami), (Gaurasundar Bhagavata)
13. Laghu-siddhanta-kaustubha (unpublished manuscript)
14. Visnu-sahasra-nama-tika (namartha-sudha); (Krishnadas Baba), (Bhaktivinoda)
15. Vedanta-sutra-Govinda-bhasya; (Sarasvata-Gaudiya Mission), (Harinam Press), (Krishnadas Baba)
16. Vedanta-sutra-suksma-tika; (Sarasvata-Gaudiya Mission), (Shyam Lal Goswami/Krishnagopal Bhakta)
17. Vedanta-syamantaka; (Haridas Shastri), (Umesh Chandra Bhattacharya, Lahore), (Kalidasnath), (Nalinikant Gosvami), (Jagadananda das), (Bala Krishna Goswami), (Shyam Lal Goswami)
18. Sabda-sudha (unpublished manuscript)
19. Srimad-bhagavata-bhasya (vaisnavanandini); prathama skandha, (Haridas das);
dasama skandha (Krishna-Shankar Shastri, incomplete), (Nityasvarupa/Manindra Bahadur)
20. Syamananda-sataka-tika, (Haridas das), (Gopala-Govindananda Goswami)
21. Sahitya-kaumudi; (Haridas Shastri),(Rastriya Sanskrit Samstham),(NirnayaSagar Press)
22. Siddhanta-darpana; (Haridas das), (Gaudiya Math), (Gour Gopal Goswami), (Sajjana-tosani)
23. Siddhanta-ratna; (Krishnadas Baba), (Gopinath Kaviraj), (Shyam Lal Goswami), (Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti), (Adimohana Goswami), (Gaurasundar Bhagavata), (Jagadananda das)
24. Stava-mala-tika; (Nirnaya Sagar Press), (Ramanarayana Vidyaratna), (Nityasvarupa Brahmacari)
1. Commentaries on nine Upanisads (only Isopanisad is available)
2. Commentary on five Sandarbhas of Jiva Gosvami (only Tattva-sandarbha is available)
3. Commentary "Vaisnavanandini" on the complete Srimad-Bhagavatam (only first and tenth skandhas are available)
4. Commentary on Jayadeva's Candraloka
5. Commentary on Rupa Gosvami's Nataka-candrika
Books wrongly attributed to BV:
Krsna-bhavanamrta-tika, (Krsnadeva Sarvabhauma)
Gupta-dhama-chatra, (Kanai Lal)
Gopala-campu-tika, (Viracandra Gosvami)
Padyavali-tika (rasika-rangada), (Viracandra Gosvami)
Bala-tosani, (Hare Krsna acarya)
Samsaya-satini, (Raghunandana Gosvami)
Sadananda-vidhayini-tika , (Vrndavana Cakravarti)
Stavavali-kasika, (Vangesvara Vidyabhusana)
To present moment, the following donors have kindly contributed to this project:
1. A donor from South India (who prefers to remain anonymous) gave a donation of US $90 in September, 2012 and US $220 in December, 2012.
2. Jagannivasa Prabhu from Singapore contributed US $120 in January, 2013, US $ 120 in April, 2013 and US $ 115 in July, 2013.
3. Mahananda Prabhu from Bangalore contributed US $110 in February, 2013.
4. Suresh Prabhu from Bangalore contributed US $ 90 in February, 2013.
5. An anonymous donor from Australia contributed US $280 in February, 2013.
6. Madhusudana Prabhu from UK contributed GBP 108 in April, 2013.
7. Govinda Prabhu from Hungary contributed US $ 50 in April, 2013.
8. Smt. Nalini Matu from Denmark contributed EUR 53,50 in May, 2013.
9. Krishna Karuna Prabhu from Denmark contributed EUR 268 in May, 2013.
10. Radha-ramana Prabhu from Australia contributed US $ 10 in June, 2013.
11. Gaura-bhavana Prabhu from Denmark contributed US $ 10 in July, 2013.
12. Rishikesh Prabhu from Coimbatore donated a camera at the cost of $ 110 in September, 2013.
13. Krishna Mohan Prabhu from USA contributed $ 150 in November, 2013.
14. Amarnath Prabhu from Tripura contributed $ 50 in November, 2013.
I express my heartfelt thanks for their kind help in this mission.
VIDYABHUSANA PROJECT DIARY
At some point of my first round searching for manuscripts and books all over India I realized that a diary would be very much appropriate for letting people know what it is like and what I have to face, quite enough to turn off anyone less stubborn. I just regret not having done it before.
Attempting to go to Mathura, I took the city bus, the closest thing to a means of public transportation available from Vrindavan. However, I had to change buses three times, apparently due to “technical problems”. It took me some fifteen minutes to be able to get inside the railway station, for there were hundreds of people camping around, supposedly pilgrims who came because of the Purusottama month.
I arrived in Udaipur and went on foot uphill to the temple of Jagdish (about 3 km). Another 20 min. walking around to get a room. In a guest house they refused to give me a room because I was speaking in Hindi and they concluded that I was Indian (therefore not worthy ripping off). I tried to find out the address of the Rajasthan Oriental Research Institute, but nobody ever heard of it. After calling their main office in Jodhpur, I got at least a place of reference, although they themselves didn’t have the address... The auto driver dropped me on the way, for he also couldn’t figure the location. In another call to Jodhpur they gave me the number of a worker whom I had to call twice for directions, as even in the building opposite to the RORI they also never heard of it... If I had no mobile, I’d have given up. The officer told me straightaway that if I were Indian he would let me shoot the manuscripts at once, but since I am a foreigner, I will need to fill several applications and “come tomorrow” (this is the favorite sentence used by the folks here when they are not getting anything in the deal). I had to take a very crowded local bus and then go uphill again on foot in the middle of the rain and mud.
Bureaucracies being fulfilled, I shot the manuscripts and paid the stipulated rate: 10 rupees per shot. They told me that their office used to be in the King’s palace, but he kicked them out to make a hotel... They also said that the collection kept there was part of the King’s library, previously named “Sarasvati-bhandara” and then “Sajjana-vani-vilasa”. I also visited the Sarasvati Bhavan, where they told me that their manuscripts were given to the National Archives, but they don’t know exactly where they are now... At the royal palace there is also a library, but I was flatly refused entry.
Public bus to Nathdwara. To my surprise the town was unbelievably crowded due to the full moon of the Purusottama month and I had to stand 3 hours in a line to have darsana.
Raining heavily, tough to move around. According to what I was told by several people, there are no Sanskrit libraries and no panditas here. I wished to meet the Tilakayat (head of the Sri Vallabha sampradaya), but I had a hard time in getting even close to the temple.
As I had already booked a bus ticket to Jodhpur, I had to pack. It arrived one hour late and there was no seat available, although I had booked and paid for one in advance. Somehow, after some 3 km away from the bus stand, the tire got punctured, and of course, they had no spare tire. After uselessly waiting for another one hour, I decided to go back: 3 km plus 1 km uphill on foot with 10 kg of luggage. I arrived in the temple right on time to meet the Tilakayat. While waiting in the middle of some 40 people, I was spotted by a jerk so-called pujari who demanded that I explain exactly what I wanted there. I mentioned that I had a few questions for Tilakayat Maharaj, and the guy started saying things like “who are you to talk to him?”, “you’d rather mind your own business in your Nimbarka sampradaya” (!?) As I said that I am not from the Nimbarka sampradaya, he became even madder and started yelling that he knows everything very well... What a day! At last, Maharaj was quite polite sent me to talk to his son, who seems to be scholarly inclined. He was also very polite and promised that he will let me know if he finds any of Vidyabhusana’s works in their personal library, where the original manuscripts of Sri Vallabhacarya are kept. Amen.
Day off to decide where to go. The only option to reach Jodhpur is that very same broken down bus, dirty like a dustbin (Jain Company, for the record). I went to see the Tilakayat’s son again to give him a DVD with some pusti-marga texts. This time that pujari respectfully greeted me and before I left he called me on a corner and gave me some prasada... I sincerily wish that Durvasa muni may visit him some of these days.
Change of itinerary. Most of the day in a train to Jaipur. Soon after it departed, I started having a violent crisis of what seemed to be kidney stone. It was passed 10 PM when I got a room, and as the shops were closed, I couldn’t get any medicine.
The whole day walking up and down, meeting people and visiting libraries. As soon as arrived at Govindaji mandir, a gentleman offered me a full plate of prasada. Apparently the Mahant of Galta didn’t really check his library, but he assured me that at least a Govinda-bhasya must be there. King Jai Singh’s records are still locked and can’t be seen until the court dispute for the royal property is settled, which may last many decades... The librarian at the City Palace promised to see if we can get the negatives. In the evening I got another violent crisis and then remembered that I was supposed to buy some medicine...
Sanjaya Sharma Museum is shifting its collection to a new building. The catalogue is not ready and there is no prevision about it, so they can’t give me a position about the list I gave to them. At the Rajasthan Oriental Research Institute I couldn’t find anything. The library of the Sanskrit College was shifted to a school far away. Remote chances of going in that way. I got several other references, including the Nimbarkacharya Tirtha, some 100 km from Jaipur, where they have a manuscript library too.
Only today I could meet the Mahant of the Govindaji mandir. He promised to bring his library catalogue tomorrow, with a remark that they don’t show their manuscripts so quickly... I talked on the phone with the successor of the current Sriji Maharaj (Head of the Nimbarka Tirtha) and we marked an appointment in Vrndavana.
I arrived in the Govindaji temple exactly at the time I was told to be there just to hear that the Mahant was not present. When I said that he asked me to come at that time, the guys in the office became angry and told me to come after one week! I had another appointment in the evening, but the person also didn’t show up. All these days I’ve been walking all the way from the guest house in the Station area up to the Govindaji temple, some 4 km, and then return on foot also. Today I had to do it twice and it was past 8 PM when I decided to take a bus, since I was exhausted. I usually don’t take it because it is unbearably crowded. It so happened that as soon as I got on the bus, the collector started a quarrel with some passengers and ended up stopping the bus to spank them. I got down and went on foot.
Most of the day in a train to Jodhpur. I arrived in the evening and went straight to office of the Rajasthan Oriental Research Institute, which was not easy to find, as they are unable to give a proper reference for the location and no one goes to these places. According to their website, they offer accommodations for scholars, but upon arriving there I was received by a jerk who seemed determined to drive me away. After bugging me for half-an-hour, the sub director decided to let me stay.
The whole day reading catalogues. From today onwards a peon was appointed to stay in the room next to mine, obviously to keep an eye on me. They probably took for granted that being a foreigner, I must be a terrorist, or at least that I was planning to have parties at night and bring girls and whisky.
At the end of the catalogues I had a list of 80 manuscripts to be seen. More forms, more bureaucracy, more botheration. Spite of God knows how many years there, none of the staff seemed to have an idea of the correct procedure, and I was being told to do this and that just to have to do it again after a few minutes because someone else says that it is not in this way.
Although hardly ever anyone goes there and the guys do nothing most of the day, they are all stressed and annoyed to show a single manuscript. I barely had a few seconds to look each book, and this with someone sitting next to me and pushing me to do it quickly. The jerk in charge of the accommodations told me to vacate by tomorrow. The peon neighbor started to ask me when I am going away. Of course it was a boring job for him.
Many manuscripts to see and I didn’t stop even to take water, so I could check each one. I visited the Mehrangarh library, but they had only a copy of the Chandah-kaustubha, which I did not see because they charge a Rs 500 fee. At least I got to see the catalogue of the Rajasthani Research Institute, in which I found nothing, so I was spared of moving 10 km away to visit them. I got a room next to the railway station. Very noisy, tiny, dirty, without window, and expensive: 375 rupees.
I had planned to go to Bikaner, but this last week overloaded my eyes, patience and pocket, so I spent most of the day in a train back to Jaipur. When I arrived, Jaipur was almost under water. I took a bus from the station, but after getting off in the stop just 200 meters from the guest house I realized that I was surrounded by a river of sewage. To make it worse, it started raining heavily, so I had to stand half-an-hour with my luggage till the rain stopped, then I had to take a riksha just to be able to cross the road. It literally watered down my hope of seeing Govindaji today. I didn’t expect such a prolonged rainy season.
I went to see the Mahant at Govindaji’s but could not because “he was not feeling well.” I then tried to see the Ramanandi Mahant at their temple in the city. As they told me that he was in Galta, I took a bus till the Galta Gate (almost outside Jaipur), climbed the hill up and down, and finally when I reached the temple, I was told that the Mahant was giving a lecture in their temple in the city. Enough for me.
Most of the day in a local train and local bus to reach Karouli. It was late in the afternoon when I got a room and something to drink. The temperature was far higher than in other places, and I got a headache which lasted several hours.
No manuscripts here, but Madana-mohana’s darsana and prasada compensate. Yet I am visibly not in good health due to stress and excessive trips. It’s time to have a break.
20th Sept. to 05th Nov.
Busy time in Vrndavan. Ten days on bed with dengue.
I arrived in Varanasi after 12 PM and went straight to Sampurnananda Sanskrit University to apply for receiving copies of some manuscripts and was told that I should submit the application to the librarian, who happened to be on leave and will come only tomorrow.
What news: the librarian didn’t show up, so I have to come back day after tomorrow, since tomorrow is astami and they are closed.
Most of the day in the BHU library.
Back to Sampurnananda, some 7 km away from the Guest House I am staying at, near Assi Ghat. Yes, the librarian was there, but he just told me that the application should be submitted in the office, not to him. At last, as they lacked the librarian’s absence as an excuse, they accepted my application in the office, but insisted that I take back the copies of my ID card and introduction letter, spite my protest.
Went all the way on foot to Lalita Ghat to visit the Goenka Library. I just had started reading when I received a call from Sampurnananda saying that my application will be sent forward only after I submit a copy of my ID card and give an introduction letter.
11-11-12 to 03-12-12
I had to wait for one week due to the Diwali holiday just to hear that my application was rejected. For several days I was visiting the BHU library to read manuscripts catalogues. I spent a couple of weeks revising the Chandah-kaustubha and to get the page setting done was another novel. I had planned to stay in Varanasi for one week, but after one month I still had many pending issues, so on the 3rd I left for Barddhaman on a Sleeper Class ticket. Freezing cold.
Local bus to Navadvip and boat to Mayapur.
Since long ago I have been trying to have a look at the collection of books kept at Gopinath Gaudiya Math, where I was lodged, but nobody could locate the keys of the almirahs. Finally I paid a professional to make a duplicate key. There was nothing I was looking for.
I went to Navadvip to meet four people, but none of them was there.
Another fruitless visit to Navadvip.
Local train to Kolkata, a real nightmare. Got a shared room at Caitanya Math.
Upon visiting the library at the Sanskrit College I was told that I should have written a letter before coming (!?) The library of the Sanskrit Department of Kolkata University was closed. They told me that the librarian comes whenever he wishes (!?) Around 11 AM I arrived in the central library and to wait a bit to get a visiting permit. Half an hour later someone finally informed me that the person in charge usually does not come before 1 PM. After I complained to the library superintendent, they let me in. In the manuscript section I had to first fill several forms to be able to see the catalogue just to find out that it consists in more the sixty thousand A4 pages kept in some 200 folders without any kind of order. I had a look at one and gave it up. It would take a month to read the whole thing. I took a tram to Sanskrit Sahitya Parisad. The librarian was not there. I had to walk a long way till I got the right direction to the Bangiya Sahitya Parisad. They have quite a few manuscripts of Baladeva, but the charge is 50 rupees per copied page! It was passed 7 PM when I went back to the Math, empty handed.
Visit to the Caitanya Research Institute. I asked to take pictures of a few pages of a book and the librarian declined saying that it would damage it (!?)
Another visit to the Sanskrit College. The principal was there, but the librarian was not. I tried the department library at Kolkata University, and again, no librarian. Spent the rest of the day reading catalogues at the Sanskrit Sahitya Parisad, mostly in a hardly intelligible Bengali handwriting.
I packed and crossed the whole Kolkata to reach Pathpari in the hope that I would get a room there. Got nothing and wasted the day. Back to Gaudiya Math.
Yet another visit to the Sanskrit College. Guess what? The librarian was there, but the principal was not!!! Since I was visibly annoyed, the library staff decided to discuss the matter. I could distinctly hear “the problem is that how can we give permission to a foreigner...” After some time, to my surprise, they just agreed and let me take pictures of the manuscripts. The rest of the day was spent in more catalogues at Sanskrit Sahitya Parisad.
15-12-12 to 17-12-12
At last, I got the room at Pathbari and spent these days consulting their manuscripts.
18-12-12 to 19-12-12
Visit to Remuna. There are rumors of the “discovery” of Baladeva Vidyabhusana’s birth place, but no piece of evidence available. I enquired from several of the locals, but no positive information. Apparently, there are no manuscripts or documents in this place.
Train to Puri. Invitation to stay at Jhajh Pita Math.
There was a deceased Babaji who left a collection in a math which was now taken over by a trust. Since last year I have been trying to have a look at it without any success. This time the officer said that I should go to Bhubaneswar to get permission from his superior...
At Raghunandan Library they have an almirah full of books I needed to see, but they claimed that the key is lost and wouldn’t let me bring someone to open it. On the contrary of what I was told by their pujari last year, they do have a manuscript collection at Gangamata Math, but we will have to get someone to intermediate to deal with them.
Again, on the contrary of what they told me last year, they also have a collection of manuscripts at Siddha Bakul Math, but the key is with the Mahant, who is out of station...
Puri was not very productive, so I moved on. Stopped at Kurma-ksetra for darsana.
Bus to Vizianagar.
Visited the Sanskrit College just to hear that the manuscript collection was shifted to Hyderabad. Yet the principal was very kind and proposed that I give a lecture to the students, but I can’t wait till they arrange it.
28-12-12 to - 01-01-13
End of the year holiday, so I took the opportunity to have darsana in Mangalagiri and Ahobalam.
Bus to Alagadda, bus to Kadapa and train to Tirupati. Arrived at night.
I went to have darsana at Govindaraja mandir and it took much longer they I wished. By the time I arrived in the Oriental Research Institute it was closed for lunch. In the library I was told me that they have no Sanskrit books. I was shocked to hear it. Anyway, I went to see the manuscript library and the director asked me if I had seen the collection of Sanskrit books. As I expressed surprise, he told me that it was located upstairs. Too late, they had already closed...
Arrived right in the opening time and spent a few hours in the manuscript library. The staff was friendly and let me shoot whatever I wished. In the Sanskrit books section, the assistant librarian confessed that he is not very much acquainted with the classification of the books and how to locate them in the stack. At last, this didn’t really matter much, as the books were missing anyway. I also went to the library at the Rastriya Sanskrit Vidyapitha, but the librarian asked me to come after three days to see the catalogue... Late in the evening I went to Tirumala thinking of getting a special darsana ticket for the next day, but there was no such facility and I spent a few hours in the line. Arrived in my room around 1 AM.
Train to Arakkonam and bus to Kanchipuram. After spending time and money trying to find the Sanskrit College in a particular location, I came to the conclusion that I was misled by a wrong map.
Sunday off to visit the Divya-desas. The auto-drivers were asking Rs 800 for a tour around all the temples, so I thought it better to walk. Well done: three hours in the morning and three hours in the evening.
I got the opportunity to see the manuscript collection of the Kanchipuram Sankaracarya in the library of their new college. The staff was very helpful.
Public bus to Chennai. Visit to the Goverment Oriental Manuscript Library. I was lodged in Perambur and it took me one and a half hour to reach the library, almost by the lunch time. I was told that I would need the permission of the librarian to copy anything. As he was not there, I had to wait for a few hours till someone told me that assistant librarian also could give permission...
Visit to the Presidency College. The place is totally decadent and there was no trace of anyone in the Sanskrit dept. or the library. It took me a couple of hours walking around to locate to the Kuppuswami Sastri “Research Institute”, as the address given by them in the website is totally misleading. It was passed 10.30 AM and nobody was the office to pick up the phone. When finally I got a response, the person on the line, whom I surmised to be the sweeper, couldn’t speak a work either in English or Hindi and just harshly hung up on me. I ended up in the police station to ask for help. After several more calls and long walks, I reached the place. The name of the road was wrong and the numbers in it would increase or decrease in any direction. Besides this, nobody in the area knew such a name for the bare reason that it is actually a library in a small Sanskrit School. The supposed sweeper was indeed the assistant librarian. I had to wait for more than two hours to see the manuscript catalogue simply because they had no idea of where it was kept, and yet I had to pay a Rs 100 fee for “consulting the library”. This was one of the worse ones so far. To save the day, a visit to the Oriental Research Institute paid off, as I met the coordinator of the Catalogus Catalogorum Project and they helped a lot.
Visit to the Adyar “Library”, a real show of incompetence. I was asked a Rs 250 fee just to get in the library. I asked to see some microfilms and they flatly claimed they had none. Although I mentioned I had consulted a book called “A Catalogue of Vaisnava Microfilms in the Adyar Library”, they were adamant. Besides that, I was also told that I wouldn’t be able to see any manuscript because the librarian was not there and only he has the key. As I had a quick look at the rules, I found that Rs 200 of the said fees are actually refundable. When I asked about it, the guy said that it can’t be done before one month period, since they first have to send the money to the treasury. As I kept asking about the rules, the fellow became annoyed and suddenly crumbled my application and gave me back all the money. In this way I got time to another visit to the Madras University to read catalogues.
One of the basic difficulties is that I can’t book train tickets in advance for the bare reason that I don’t know how long it will take me to see a particular library and get the required copies, as only God knows when there will be any staff in it. So I had to spend 8 hours in a bus to reach Kumbakonam, a way more painful than by train.
12-01-13 to 15-01-13
I just came to know that I came in the middle of a major holiday in Tamil Nadu for the occasion of the Makar Sankranti, so there was no chance to find any library open.
Local train and bus to Srirangam. I had to walk around for a couple of hours and couldn’t find any affordable accommodation. At last I was lodged in the ISKCON center.
I visited the Devasthana Library, but the librarian was not there. I was referred to the temple manager, but he was also not present.
The librarian could hardly follow a word in English and not even knew what a manuscript is. Anyway, a brief look around was sufficient to realize that they have none. I went to meet the manager, but it took him half an hour to understand what I wanted and just kept referring me to the library, to the museum, to the book stall, and at last, to a book publisher (!?) Enough for me. I had to spend a long time walking around to locate some pandita who could answer a simple question. It seems that the only large Sanskrit Pathasala in the place was shut down. Somewhere nearby the temple I saw some Sri brahmacaris on the road and I asked to see their teacher. They took me to a young scholar who was speaking fluent Sanskrit and immediately gave me the answer: the Srirangam manuscript collection was shifted to Tanjore after they realized they were not taking good care of it...
Train to Rameswaram. Another hard time to get a room.
It took me hours in a line for a couple of days to get a tatkal ticket to Mysore.
Local train to Madurai. Express train to Mysore.
Just came to know that everything is closed due a Muslim holiday.
Just came to know that everything is closed due a Muslim holiday.
Again closed due to republic day.
Leaving to Udupi with empty hands.
Another nightmare to get a room: everywhere either full or booked. I met the Principal of the Sanskrit College and he referred me to Govindacharya, whose house is about 3 km from the central area. I walked all the way just to hear that he is in Bangalore. I met the head of the Krsnapura Matha and he became indignant upon hearing that their catalogue was published in Madras. Yet he told me to come day after tomorrow to see if they have manuscripts.
I had to shift to another place because the room I got was booked. Visit to a Research Centre at Gita Mandir. I wanted to talk to the head of the Sodde Matha, but the doorkeeper didn’t let me in. After talking to pujari who was passing by, I was allowed in. He promised to check their collection and told me to come tomorrow at the same time.
The guest house was too expensive, so I packed and went to look for another place. After one hour walking here and there I got a place for the same price. At Krsnapura Matha the catalogue numbers changed, so I was asked to come tomorrow again. I had phoned the Palimaru Samshodhana Samsat and marked an appointment at 2 PM. After waiting for some time at the gate, I phoned again and was told to come at 4 PM. I later went to meet the Sodde Matha Svami at the right time, but again the doorkeeper didn’t let me in, although he knew very well that I was expected to be there. Fruitless. I wished I had had the chance to suggest that they appoint the doorkeeper as head of the Matha, since he seems to be a much bigger authority.
Shifted rooms once again, this time in a cheaper place. I was told that I could meet the said Svami in the office at 9.30 AM. I was standing there for one hour till someone told me that he had to attend a program and wouldn’t talk to anyone.
I was told to meet the Svami at 12.30, but the doorkeeper demanded that I bring a receipt to let me in. I went to the counter to ask which receipt I need and the fellow told me that I had to give a donation and he would give me a receipt with which I could go to see the Svami. I picked a 20 rupee note and he became indignant asking me if I know how much a receipt sheet costs. Then I asked how much I should pay to be able to see the Svami and the guy flipped out shouting to me to get out because he wouldn’t give me anything. I went back to the meeting place and the doorkeeper told me to wait. I waited and waited and at last, the Svami just stood up, looked at me and went away. Enough. Night train to Mysore, so freezing that I couldn’t get any sleep.
Arrived in Mysore 5.30 AM and nowhere they wanted to give me room simply out of laziness to get up, although I saw that many rooms were locked. After some thirty minutes walking around, someone agreed to give a place, but I lack words to describe how filthy it was. Later in the morning I went to the Sanskrit College, but apparently the library there was the only place in Mysore which was closed. I then visited the Oriental Research Institute, where they claimed to be in the middle of a renovation work and that I would not be able to see any manuscript in less than six months. Back to my “room”, I realized that it was behind a non-veg “restaurant”. Unable to tolerate the smell, I went all the way to Srirangapatnam to chant my rounds. I came back at night but couldn’t get any sleep due to the disgusting smell and loud talking all night long.
Thus ended another useless visit to Mysore. Train to Bangalore.
Visit to the Dvaita Research Foundation. The librarian was not there and wouldn’t come in this week. The staff didn’t know anything about books or manuscripts, although they have both. At the Purnaprajna Vidyapitha the library was closed. In the office they told me that the librarian would come in a couple of hours. I asked for his phone number to confirm it, but they assured me that there was no need. As I had to spend the time, I went walking up to the Samskrita Bharati (3 km away) to buy some books. Back in the Vidyapitha at the supposed opening time, I found the library still closed. The nonsense in the office told me to look for him upstairs, where they finally told me that the librarian was out of station and that this is not a public library. When I asked for the librarian’s phone number they declined to give me saying that he is also not a public man. Madhvacarya would be so proud of them!
Train to Hyderabad.
One hour walking around to find a room, as no guest house allowed foreigners. Visit to the Sanskrit Academy, where the staff was helpful and let me copy some books. At the Oriental Research Institute neither the director nor the librarian was present. In the Osmania University library the staff didn’t know where the manuscript section is, although there are only two floors. After 10 min being sent up and down, I met the person in charge. After writing down the manuscripts I wanted to see, I was referred to the computer section to see the scans. Although I gave them the correct accession numbers, they were searching for the manuscripts one-by-one and after half-an-hour of fruitless effort, they told me to come tomorrow.
Bus to Yadagiri-gutta.
Bus back to Hyderabad and train to Vishakhapatnam.
Sunday. Darsana at Simhachalam.
Visit to the Andhra Pradesh University. The staff had no idea where the manuscripts were kept and I was sent up and down several times. At last, after figuring where the manuscripts were, I was told to come after one hour, for there was no electricity. After one hour the electricity was back, but they couldn’t find the key of the almirah. This gives an idea of how many people have been consulting them... In the office they told me to come tomorrow and I made it clear that I wouldn’t. It took another hour to open it and another hour to see the manuscript I wished, as they were all thrown inside the almirah without any specific order. I also wished to see a few catalogues, but the staff also didn’t have the slightest idea of where to find them. Night train to Bhubaneswar.
Visit to the State Museum. Unfortunately, the bookworms arrived before me and there was not much left. I also visited the Kedarnath Gavesana Pratisthan, but the library was closed.
Train to Puri. Spent the day meeting people and making contacts.
Visited the office in the Jagannatha temple and met a few people to investigate about Baladeva’s family background.
Sarasvati-puja holiday. I spent 15 hours in a bus to have the darsana of Nila-madhava in Kantilo.
I had booked an early train to be able to reach Mayapur by the evening, but it delayed many hours and I had to spend the night in Kolkata. There was no accommodation available near the station, so I had to cross the city to stay in a Matha.
Crowded local train to Krishnanagar, crowded tempo to Svarup Ganj and crowded boat to Mayapur. Heavy rain and freezing cold. Couldn’t go anywhere else.
I had to meet a few people in Navadvip, but no one was available.
I had booked a train from Krishnanagar to Sealdah and decided to catch a bus instead of a tempo. It took two hours to arrive in the station and the train was gone. I was forced to squeeze in another insanely crowded local train to Kolkata. Most of the day was wasted, yet I visited the Bangiya Sahitya Parisat by 3 PM. I asked to see their descriptive catalogue of manuscripts and the librarian was a bit perplexed. After consulting with the staff, they declared that they don’t have a copy !!! I had to go through the hand list and waited a long time to see the manuscripts I requested, but they couldn’t find them and told me to come after 3 days...
Train to Varanasi, freezing cold.
Visit to BHU.
Visit to Chaukhamba to pick up the just published Chandah-kaustubha. They put my name on the cover instead of the author’s name, besides several other shortcomings. I was disgusted and demanded that they correct it.
Nityananda-trayodasi. After several years of quarrel, I received the original hardcopy of my PhD thesis. Thanks to the Catalogus Catalogorum team I came to know that they have a manuscript of the Siddhanta-darpana at the Bharat Kala Bhavan, BHU, which I couldn’t detect before simply because it is not classified as being written by Vidyabhusana, but by Nanda Misra, a name I never looked for. The director told me to write an application and come back after the holiday, on Monday.
24-02-13 and 25-02-13
Sunday and Ravidas Jayanti, everything closed.
I submitted the application at the Kala Bhavan, but they told me to come tomorrow because the man who had the key was out-of-station.
The man with the key came back, but the number I gave didn’t match the manuscript they showed me. I asked to check the number again against the catalogue, but they had none in the manuscript section, so I had to go to the library. The librarian was not there and I had to wait for one hour. By the time I got to see the catalogue and write down further details, it was about 3 PM and the manuscript in-charge told me to come tomorrow. As I said that there is time enough before they close, he got upset and made it clear that he wouldn’t move a from his chair. I also got upset and told him that I was going to complain to the director. He shouted that I could complain to whomever I wish, but he wouldn’t look for any manuscript today. I went downstairs and met the security officer, a very polite Muslin gentleman. He was indignant when I told him what happened and insisted that I wait for the director, who was in a meeting at the moment. Another hour waiting and by the time the director arrive it was passed 4 PM. He was also indignant that the staff was not cooperating, since he had already approved my application. He was shouting to the staff to bring the manuscript section guy to talk to him immediately, but he just left swiftly.
Well, after the entire novel, I arrived there in the morning and the right manuscript was already waiting for me and the staff was “surprisingly” cooperating. Case done.
Chaukhamba called me to say that they had corrected the cover and I could go there to take my copies. I didn’t want my name on the cover at all, but they refused to remove it to avoid more work.
Train to Mathura.
Back to Vrndavan. I was missing home so much. A friend told me that he met one the BBT directors and asked why they don’t invite me to work for them. He replied that they are neither interested in hiring some non-initiated Bhakta Tom nor in publishing all these Vidyabhusana’s “stuffs”. Wow!
I met Satya Narayana Babaji in the morning and he told me that a Gosvami who would help us to get the cooperation of the Gosvamis at Govindajis’ is in Jaipur and would wait for me if I want to go there right now. I barely had time to pack and jump on the train. It shattered my expectations to do bhajan in Vrndavan for a while after so long outside...
I arrived at Govindaji’s right on time and the said Gosvami told me to wait. Instead of taking me to the Mahant, he brought him to meet me, and the man seemed to be annoyed by that. Speaking in Hindi, I briefly reminded him about our Project and he just had started replying in Hindi when the Gosvami stopped him saying that he should speak in English because I don’t know Hindi. The Mahant got even more annoyed and I was outraged by such a show of stupidity. To make it short, he just told me to come again after some two months, the same thing I have been hearing for years. I then visited the King’s Library and they told me to come tomorrow to see the manuscripts I wish. I had to visit the Rajasthan Oriental Research Institute again because last year they showed me only one part of their catalogue, while later I came to know that they have several more. It took them a long time to locate the correct manuscripts, but at last I got to see and copy them. I went to have darsana in the nearby Rama temple and a fellow who introduced himself as a “pandita” called me to talk. Soon he started saying all Mayavada rubbish and I was so indignant that I was blasting him with slokas. One hour wasted with those rascals till they shut up.
I arrived at the Palace Library at 11 AM as I was told, but the staff left me waiting for one hour till they finished reading the newspapers and then told me to come tomorrow. I tried to locate the Sanskrit Academy according to the map, but they had shifted to another place long ago. I then visited the Sanjaya Sharma Museum, where I had a look at their provisional catalogue. Back to the Palace Library, I met the Librarian, who told me that their trust might be interested in getting Maharaj Sawai Jai Singh’s Sanskrit works translated. At the Ramanandi temple in the city they told me that the Mahant was never there.
I went to Galta via the hill and they also said the same thing: the Mahant was never there. I had to ask for his phone number. He told me to call tomorrow to fix a time. At Govindaji’s I asked for a coupon for prasada, but they were over. As I crossed the exit gate, a gentleman asked me how is it that I was going away without taking prasada and took me with him. Afterwards, I went to the Palace Library and finally could have a look at some manuscripts and recordings. I met the Museum Curator, who expressed interest in assisting the Vidyabhusana Project and publishing his books by their Trust.
The Galta Mahant asked me to come to his house, quite out of the way. For the first time in this year, I had to hire an auto to get there and later I realized that the rascal took a much longer way and charged me double. Once there, we had a long talk and Maharaj promised to show me his library soon after Siva-ratri. Another visit to the Palace Library. They will discuss the matter with the Princess to see the possibility of supporting the Vidyabhusana Project and commissioning the translation of King Jai Singh’s works. I went to Govindaji’s planning to have darsana and buy some prasada for tomorrow (today is ekadasi), but they didn’t let me in simply because I had a laptop in my bag. Back to the guest house, I went to buy something in a nearby shop and they gave me 2 laddus from Govindaji !
As the guest house is about 2 km from the station, I decided to check out one hour before the train to Kishangarh. They had no change at the reception and 15 min. were wasted in this. Another 15 min. wasted because no rikshawala would take me for the right fare. Another 15 min. wasted to catch a bus and reach the station and another 15 min. wasted in the line to buy a ticket. There was one min. left for the train to depart and there was no notice about the platform. By the time I could figure it, the train was departing and I had to run, not an easy task with a luggage. Somehow I managed to jump in the last coach, general class. After squeezing through a couple of coaches I came to know that there was no passage to the upper class, so I was confined in the general class for 2 hours. Upon reaching Kishangarh, I had to wait one hour for the bus to Salemabad and then spend another hour to arrive in the Nimbarkacharya Pitha. In the office the clerk just phoned saying that “a sadhu has arrived from Vrndavan” and soon they arranged a room and sumptuous prasada for me. No questions, no forms and no charges. By contrast, if I want to spend one night in an ISKCON temple I have to reply to 100 questions and bring a letter from the GBC.
10-03-13 and 11-03-13
Sriji Maharaj is not in good health, so I couldn’t talk to him. For three days I waited to talk to the Yuvaraj, but he didn’t bother to give me even a couple of minutes. I had to rely on some intermediates to find out about their manuscript collection. Since I was not allowed to see it myself, I take their word: no Vidyabhusana’s work there.
Bus to Kishangarh and local train back to Jaipur.
Visit to the Palace Library. The Princess is out-of-station, so the matter did not progress. Talked to several scholars here and there.
The Galta mahant called me at this home to see the manuscripts. I had to wait for several hours because he was busy.
Finally I found the address of the Sanskrit Academy, but had to walk some 6 km as there was no straight transportation. They told me to come after a couple of months to see their catalogue, for they don’t know where it is kept !!!
I had several things to do in the city and by the time I arrived in the University library, on foot as usually, they were already closing. I had an appointment in the evening with a professor who owns 150 thousand manuscripts. Again another 8 km walk. Lots of things to see and discuss there, but no time.
17-03 to 20-03-13
Train to Jodhpur. Another round of headaches in the Research Institute. Readers may refer to the entries in my previous visit in September and imagine a replay.
Seven hours in a bus to Nathdwara. At the temple guest house, they made a case to give me a room and sent me up and down several times.
22-03 to 26-03
It took me several days to be able to meet the Tilakayat just to hear that he forgot about my request, so we had to start from zero once again. One day before Holi I came to know that my room was booked and I had to vacate. Another trouble to find a place.
Bus to Udaipur and train to Mathura.
28-03-13 to 31-03-13
Vrindavan. Chasing the same folks who have been making promises for years, such as the Oriya Baba library, etc.
Passenger train to Alwar. Hours and hours of argument till I got the chance to see some manuscripts at the Research Institute. I had planned to return to Vrindavan in the evening, but I couldn’t finish the job, so I had to spend the night in a dump infested with mosquitoes.
Case done. Back to Vrindavan.
03-04 to 30-04
Half of the month revising the Siddhanta-darpana against all the manuscripts acquired and the other half visiting people and making contacts. In Govardhan I tried again a few places previously visited. At the samadhi of Advaita das Babaji I was told that they didn’t find any of the books I am looking for. I never gave them any list, though. I got a similar response in the Siddha Manohar das Babaji Ashram. There were lots of other incidents, but I didn’t have time to write down everything. Some time ago someone wrote saying that my diary is too negative, so why should anyone help such a project? If anyone thinks that there is any exaggeration in my words, feel free to try and see on one’s own. By the way, I am intentionally avoid giving any positive information about my findings in this diary, as there are several thieves after me to steal anything I discover.
Passenger train to Kasganj at 6 AM. Two-and-a-half hours standing and being squeezed. The former director of the Vrindavan Research Institute had requested that I send him a letter specifying what I would like to see and on his own accord told me to come on the 1st. Yet he had not kept a single manuscript at hand and l left empty handed after hearing lots of promises. More 3 hours in a passenger train. Arrived in Vrindavan at 10 PM, absolutely exhausted.
02-05-13 and 03-05-13
Chalking out the plan for the summer.
The whole day in the Janma-bhumi library. In the evening I tried to locate two collections in the city. In the first one the man insisted that he had none of Vidyabhusana’s works and I then asked him to explain how I could get his name and address correctly and a wrong list of manuscripts. He shut up and told me to come another day. Sounded more like a “get out”. The address of the other one was insufficient and I couldn’t find the place. Arrived in Vrindavan almost 9 PM.
I went to the Oriya Baba Ashram for the 15th time in the last weeks. The person in charge was not there, as usually.
Tempo to Mathura and train to Delhi. I was lodged in a dump in Pahar Ganj and the bed was full of bugs. In a few minutes I was swollen after so many bites. Spite shifting me, the manager was adamant that he couldn’t see a single bug. The second “room” had as many bugs. When I complained again, the staff said: “So what!? There are bugs everywhere, why are you making a case?” I didn’t get any sleep.
In the morning I moved to another “guest house”. In this one the “rooms” don’t have any window. In the morning I went to meet the director of the National Mission for Manuscripts, who made a few promises to help our project. I spent the rest of the day in the Delhi University. I wished to consult a book in the rare book section, but the staff couldn’t locate it. It was supposed to be available in digital format, but I was told that the system has not been working for already three months...
I had a waiting list ticket to Haridwar, but in the Railway website there was nothing about its status. I checked out and rushed to the station early morning. Just before a couple of minutes before the train left I found that it was not confirmed. I decided to forget about it and return to Vrindavan, something I am always eager to do.
No one at Oriya Baba’s, so I visited the Akhandananda Saraswati Library. While I was complaining to the librarian about the difficulty in finding a book which published in Vrindavan, a devotee came in are said that he has the book! At Gadadhar Bhatta Pith, the Gosvami told me that he has been putting me on hold for all these months to test my patience.
The whole day in the Janmabhumi library reading catalogues and reference books.
Since early morning meeting scholars around. Visited the Rama-Krishna Mission Library, but they could not locate the only book I wanted to see. At Surma-kunj, I gave a copy of a manuscript to which the Mahant was looking for and he promised to help us with a non-cooperative neighbor. Arrived back after 9 PM.
A couple of weeks ago, the principal of the Nimbarka College had asked to call him on the eleventh, when the examinations ended. I didn’t bother ask what the examinations have to do with the library, as for sure the librarian is not appearing for any exam. Upon calling him, he told me to come today at 10 AM. Finally, when I arrived, he said that the librarian was leaving on vacation and that I should come in July. That means they don’t have the slightest embarrassment to make me waste 2 weeks (and I really had other places to go) and still make me come in the office just to say this. Not to speak that the librarian was comfortably sitting there and when I asked why we couldn’t see the library today, they replied that it is a very difficult and time consuming job to take a book out of the shelf!!! In this way I waste 90% of my time because of people who do nothing the whole day and think that others also have nothing to do. At Oriya Baba’s I finally met the person in charge and he promised to show me the library in this week...
13-05 to 25-05-13
Several visits to Mathura and some libraries in the Vrindavan area. Finally, I got a copy of the last printed book which completes the whole collection in devanagari. At Oriya Baba’s, the man keeps on making me play the fool. The temperature is daily around 48 C and I am hardly getting any sleep.
At last, the date stipulated by the Gosvami at Bhattaji Pitha to see his library, the only reason that hold me here till the middle of the summer. I walked for 30 min. under the sun to arrive there at 12 and he merely said that today he is busy and that I should come tomorrow. Note that I met him a couple of days ago to confirm the date and time, and he assured me that I didn’t need to call before coming. Another 30 min. under the sun on the way back.
The same as usually: another fruitless visit to Oriya Baba’s. We fixed for tomorrow at Bhattaji Pitha.
No appointed honored.
I waited much more than I should. Train to Varanasi.
I wished to see to the Visvanatha Library, but it was closed.
I met the Vice-chancellor at Sampurnananda Sanskrit University to see if he would help with the manuscripts issue. He just referred me to the librarian, who is not the least interested in cooperating. Visit to the Nagari Pracarini Sabha, but the librarian was not there.
Visit to the BHU library.
Train to Barddhaman, hot and crowded like hell. I barely survived.
Bus to Navadvip, riksha to the ghat and boat to Mayapur.
As usually, most of the people I have to meet are out-of-station. The gosvami at Shashi Bhushan Pathagar told me to come tomorrow to see his catalogue.
Finally, when I got to see the catalogue at Shashi Bhushan Pathagar, I noticed that it was incomplete. I will have to consult the NMM list online and come back tomorrow.
After two years trying, today I got the chance to see a couple of manuscripts at SBP, but spite of a previous promise that I would be allowed to copy whatever I wished, now the Gosvami decided that he has to consult his father first. He told me to come tomorrow...
The Gosvami claimed that his father "was in a bad mood" and declined. He told me to come tomorrow to see if he changes his mind. Enough for me. At the old Sanskrit College I was given some books. I met the director of the Puratattva Parisad, which has a library but is not working. All I got from him was some good references and more names of people to meet. I went to the Mahaprabhu mandir to meet the Visnu Prasada Gosvami. I asked the pujari if his name was Visnu Prasada and he reply “yes”, but that I should come after 2 PM to meet him. Of course, I have nothing else to do in life besides crossing the river up-and-down several times a day... Yet it was 11 AM, so I went back to Mayapur. When I returned to Navadvip around 2 PM, the pujari now decided that he is not called Visnu Prasada and then showed me the house of the person I am looking for, just opposite the temple. The old gentleman was at home the whole day, so I just realized folly. He was polite and sent me to another Gosvami who could help me to locate an old publication. Another half-an-hour trying to locate his house. Finally, he indeed promised to help in the matter, and of course, I will have to go there several times again. My life is passing in this way. And today a Gaudiya Math sannyasi wrote to me insinuating that I am exploiting Vidyabhusana’s works for my selfish ends. What a world, eh?
The rainy season has already started here and there is water all over, so not much chance to go anywhere.
Boat to Navadvip, riksha to the station and train to Kolkata.
One-and-a-half hour in two crowded local buses to reach the Belur Math. It was the hottest day so far. They refused to let me see the library under the excuse that it is meant only for their members. Another bus to Uttarpara to visit the Jaikrishna Library. I had to wait half-an-hour because it opens at 12. I was asked which kind of books I am looking for and I said that I need to see some old Sanskrit and Bengali books. The guy left and came back 30 min. later bringing a heap of old books chosen at random (!) When I asked about the catalogue, I was told to go to the next building. At the point, it had started raining heavily and I had to wait for another 30 min. Afterwards I met the librarian, who was quite efficient and gave me a few good reference books and let me shoot whatever I needed. Another bus to the Bangiya Sahitya Parisad. I intended to register as a member, but they said that they are not accepting new members at present. The librarian was kind enough to let me consult the books as a visitor. I arrived back almost 9 PM.
Second round in the Bangiya Sahitya Parisad. It took me a long time to convince the staff to bring me a manuscript of the Govinda-bhasya simply because it was written “Brahma-sutra-bhasya” on it, as they assumed that it was not the same book. At last, it was painful to see that the world lost another manuscript to the bookworms. I wished we had more interest in our books than the insects have.
Visit to the Kolkata University library. The fellow at the reception was very much hesitant to let me in and he thought that my research is not a sufficient reason to see the library! It didn’t take me much to realize that there was nothing for me there. Visit to the Sanskrit College library. I was about 2.30 PM and the librarian told me that I should rather come tomorrow, since it is so late and they close at 4 PM... After bargaining, I got to see at least one book. From there I went on foot to the Chaitanya Library, several km away. To my surprise, the library works from 7 to 9, both morning and evening. I wouldn’t wait that long.
I was in the Chaitanya Library around 7.30 AM, but the guy really started working around 8 AM. When I asked to see the catalogue, I was shown only part of it. Upon asking for the rest, I was told that it was locked in the office and that the person in charge comes only on Sundays... I found a list of public libraries in Kolkata somewhere in the web and wasted time trying to locate one of them just to know that it was shut down long ago. It is raining heavily everyday, so there is not much I can do, since it is hard to go anywhere and I simply can’t get good shots if there is no sunlight.
Train to Balasore. I was taking rest on the upper berth and a fellow put his luggage on my head.
15-06-13 to 16-06-13
Remuna, in a room full of frogs. No news around, only Khirchor and khir.
I had to take a bus to the station, but they refused to let me take my bag inside, although the bus was empty. I was too indignant to wait for the next one, so I walked 2.5 km on foot with my 10 kg bag expecting to get some transportation in the main road. Nothing. I ended up having to catch the next bus on the same route, this time insanely crowded. For half-an-hour I was pushed and shouted at. The train to Puri was one hour delayed and there was no place to sit in the station. When I finally got in the train, I found that my booked seat was occupied...
Although I got a room, they made it clear that I will have to vacate before the ratha-yatra. I tried to find another place, but everywhere is the same story.
19-06-13 to 22-06-13
I visited the office of the King of Puri and they told me that he would come on the 23rd. Raining heavily every day, not much can be done outside.
I took the opportunity that the rain stopped and tried to go to the office of the King. In the middle of the way I was caught by a storm and became surrounded by streams of sewage. One hour to get there just to hear that the King is in Bhubaneswar.
25-06-13 to 17-06-13
Ratha-yatra and almost daily rain made it difficult to do anything outside, so I spent my time classifying lots of reference materials, downloading catalogues and reading them.
Train to Gaya in the evening of the Bahuda-yatra, the only day when seats were available... but it was tough to reach the station.
Quite a few thousand manuscripts at Magadha University, but not much of our stuff. Visit to the Visnupada mandir.
I got up in the morning, took a shower, put clean clothes and went to catch a bus to Bodh Gaya. While I was waiting on the road, a fellow filled his mouth with water and spat on the floor, splashing my feet and clothes. I went back to my room, took another shower, put my clothes to wash and decided that I wouldn’t go anywhere else but to the station to get away from this place.
Train to Allahabad. The very same old nightmare to get a room: nowhere foreigners are allowed. I ended up in a Muslim slum. I lack words to describe it, but it suffice to say that there is a common bathroom from whose ceiling drops water when someone is taking bath upstairs. In the afternoon I went to visit the Nimbarka Pitha. Even 200 meters away nobody knew the place and the rascals were deliberately sending me up and down. At last, when I got there I came to know that the pandita I was going to meet had passed away years ago.
It rained intensely the whole night. When I looked outside in the morning, I could see only a river of sewage in all directions. Very morose, as I already got a skin infection on my feet, guess why... I really have lots of things to do here, but the situation is turning me down, so I was looking at the railway timetable. No train available so soon; fleeing is not an option... By 10 AM the sewage subsided enough to let me search for something that may resemble an accommodation. I had to bargain for a room without window, all I could find around. The roads were blocked due to a protest, so I had to walk 4 km to reach the Ganganath Jha Research Institute. Although there was sun when I came out and the prevision was of good weather, in the middle of the way a devastating storm started. In a few seconds I was in an island surrounded by sewage. I swore to myself that from now on I will follow Lord Caitanya’s example and not move around during the monsoon. By 1 PM the rain had stopped and I was searching for the Institute. The only thing mentioned in their website about the location is “nearby the Allahabad Museum.” What news... in front of the Museum nobody had ever heard of the place. A policeman standing right below the huge board written “ALLAHABAD MUSEUM” even told me that the museum is very far from there... Some years ago I would have become flabbergasted. After this usual waste of time, I found the place, which is indeed just behind the Museum. At last, some good collections to see.
The whole day in the Ganganath Jha Library, quite entertained by shelves of manuscript catalogues and research journals.
Early in the morning I went to visit the Bindu Madhava temple. I arrived at the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan around 10 AM and had to wait half-an-hour till they open and another half-an-hour till the staff shows up. It took me another hour to fill applications and see their catalogue. Finally, when I requested to see the manuscripts I wish, they told me to come tomorrow, since the fellow who has the keys didn’t come today... I then went to see the Museum library and the person in charge said that since I didn’t mark any appointment, he had no obligation to show me anything today and that next time I should contact him in advance... Quite enough of Allahabad and its heaps of garbage all over. Night train to Mathura.
So relieved to be back in Vrindavan!
26-08-13 to 21-08-13
It is still raining, so I’ve not visited many places. Yet I am catching up with several pending issues in the area. I had to oversee the details print the Siddhanta-darpana. A few visits to Mathura to meet panditas, search for manuscripts and to consult the Janmabhumi library. I got a good amount of soft books in this period.
Tempo to Mathura and train to New Delhi. I had to go personally to the Embassy of Brazil just to get a letter to apply for a scholarship for the Vidyabhusana Project and in this way wasted time and money due to their “efficiency”. It then took me almost 2 hours and a few km on foot to reach the University Grants Commission office address given in the form, in the South Campus of Delhi University. Upon arriving there, the receptionist was adamant that I was in the wrong address and referred me to their main office, some 15 km away. I freaked out and at last someone decided that they could dispatch the application to the other office. It was already late and I was too exhausted to go back to Vrindavan, so I had to spend the night in Delhi.
Train to Mathura and tempo to Vrindavan.
Several hours looking the Akhandananda library up and down.
The fellow at the Oriya Baba ashram this time asked me to come right after janmastami.
26-08-13 to 27-08-13
Planning my next tour around Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharastra and Madhya Pradesh. Got the train tickets.
Sri Krsna janmastami. Started a new translation.
In the morning I went to meet the Mahant of the Maluk Pith, who supposedly has a manuscript library. I fruitlessly waited for hours for an opportunity to talk to him. The time for Srila Prabhupada’s puspanjali was up, so I walked off. In the afternoon I met an old book seller and got some stuff from him. At Oriya Baba’s, guess what? The dude told me to come another day, as he was too tired due to the janmastami celebration...
A long time spent in classifying the recently acquired digital collections. I am envisioning the idea of digitizing the complete publications of Rama Narayana Vidyaratna (Murshidabad), Puridas (Vrindavan), Haridas Baba (Navadvip) and Krsnadas Baba (Kusuma-sarovara).
Another day visiting the same places and meeting the same people.
Tempo to Mathura and train to Udaipur.
Left my luggage in the station and went to the RORI office, some 7 km away. Although I had phoned a couple of days before to ask if I could come today, now the librarian announced that I could read as much as I want, but that I wouldn’t be able to make any copy, as his boss is on leave till next week... After a few hours checking some manuscripts, I took a bus to Nathdwara.
Maharaj is out-of-station, so no chance to see anything in the temple library. I visited the Sahitya Mandal, where they have some manuscripts, but they didn’t let me see anything under the excuse that everything is packed and they have no catalogue.
Apart from Nathji’s darsana and prasada, nothing was accomplished here, so I took a bus to Udaipur and a train to Mathura.
Spent the morning in the Akhandananda Library and the evening meeting people around.
Due to the other night on the train with a fan at full speed on my face the whole trip, I woke up with a very severe case of tonsillitis.
I waited for one hour in the office of the Nimbarka College till the principal decided to tell me to come tomorrow because the librarian wouldn’t come today.
Although the librarian was there, I had to wait more than one hour till the principal decided to tell me that the man was “too busy” and wouldn’t show me anything today. Given the number of months I’ve been waiting and the trouble I had to be moving around with a lot of pain in my throat, I went straight to complain to the Mahanta who is in charge of the College, a couple of km away. He did hear me very politely and assured me that he will get them to work.
It worked like a charm! At last, I got to see some manuscripts, never mind if showed in a bitter mood... Oh, too early to feel relieved: after showing me three texts, the librarian declared that it was enough of hard work for a single day and that I should come tomorrow. As I was feeling like taking some medicine, I gave in.
When I arrived in the College, it was closed. They will “open” only after Radhastami, four days later.
11-09-13 to 13-09-13
I waited for a couple of hours in the office of the College, but the librarian didn’t show up. We see how much effective complaints can be here...
I went again to the College, again it was closed. Spent the rest of the morning in the Akhandananda Library. After so many days looking the books one-by-one, I found something I was searching for.
Two and a half hours sitting in the office of the Nimbarka College till someone told me that the librarian is on leave for one week.
Last year I was told that there was nothing at the Bon Maharaj College. Today I decided to try to have a look. After going through the “parampara”, I was allowed inside the library to see as much as I wish. I was surprised to find a goldmine there. What a pity that I came so late...
Tempo to Mathura. Train to Baroda. Another expedition has begun.
Visit to the Baroda Oriental Research Institute. Cooperative staff, but high fees, so I will have to wait for sponsorship to afford it.
21-09-13 and 22-10-13
Bus to Dakor. For years I’ve been missing Ranchorji, so I couldn’t miss this opportunity.
I waited most of the morning to see if the rain would stop. It didn’t. Even so, I had to catch a bus to Ahmedabad. Arrived late in the afternoon and after dropping my luggage at the ISKCON temple, I went straight to visit the Bhagavata Vidyapitha. Somehow I was dreaming that they might have a huge library with hundreds of Bhagavatam manuscripts and perhaps all editions ever published. Nothing of the sort. As soon as I left, a heavy storm caught me on the way. I didn’t know that even by the end of September it rains this much in Gujarat...
Visit to the L.D. Institute of Indology, which hosts about 75.000 manuscripts. In the reference library I requested to see the manuscript catalogue and the fellow told me to go to the manuscript section. In the manuscript section they told me that the catalogue is in the reference section. When I went back, the guy picked the phone and started an argument. At last, they settled the matter and I was shown the catalogue in the reference section... I had a list of reference books I wished to consult, but he could find only one and told me to look for the other ones in another library. By 2 PM they closed for lunch, so I went to the J.B. Institute. When I asked to see the manuscript catalogue, the librarian sent me to the office upstairs. The clerk in the office was puzzled and couldn’t figure why he sent me there, which is actually a sales cell. I went downstairs and the librarian said that if there is any copy of the catalogue, it is upstairs, for the ones in the library got lost (!) Back to the office. The clerk was not very pleased with the issue but tried to locate a copy for me. There was none. He told me to try in another library, many km away. I couldn’t avoid commenting how smart idea that I have to travel several km to see the catalogue of their library... I then asked to see a manuscript whose reference I had previously taken note. I was told to come tomorrow, for the person in charge was on leave... By 3:30 they were already getting ready to close, although the timing is supposed to be up to 5 PM. Gujarati credibility has gone quite down on my scale today... One hour waiting at the bus stop. As soon as I got on the bus, another heavy storm started. The bus was crowded and people started to freak out because there was hardly any window and they were being washed down...
It rained the whole night and the whole morning. By 11:30 AM the rain stopped and I took an auto to reach the B.J.Institute by 12. It was closed and the gatekeeper said that the “working” day was cancelled due to the rain. Curiously, it seemed that everyone else was working. Yet I had a train in the evening, but it was also cancelled.
Still raining. I was very morose and thinking of cancelling everything and go back to Vrindavan. By 11 AM it stopped raining and I went to book a ticket to Bombay for the evening. What a surprise: the director of the B.J. Institute was present today and became strangely excited when he saw me. He quickly invited me to see the museum and eloquently started to speak about the items on display. Funnily, a photographer was following us and shooting lots of pics. I took up the play. Since I was very “cooperative”, he did his role: the catalogues were presented before me in no time and I was allowed to see and copy whatever I wished! Job done. One hour at the bus stop... Later I took an auto to the railway station and the guy wanted to charge me almost double. Enraged, I gave him as much as I thought fine and said that if it is not enough, then he could call the police. He took the cash and let me go.
Spite the rumors that the rail track was flooded, the train arrived, being delayed by two hours only. In the morning I went to the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. I went to the counter in the library and said that I wanted to see a thesis. The guy insisted that they had no thesis at all. As I protested, he sent me to the librarian, who was even more emphatic in claiming that they definitely have no thesis. I had to keep on insisting till they told me to see the catalogue. In fact, in a few seconds I wrote down the reference. No one had idea of where it was kept, so I had to wait for a long time. Finally, they brought the thesis to me and after having a look, I requested to copy it. The librarian flatly refused saying that they have a rule that thesis can’t be copied, except for one or two pages. How curious that some minutes ago they had no thesis in the library and now they have even rules about it! I went to meet the director. The fellow said that he can’t break the rules of the institute (although he obviously has no idea of them) and can’t give orders to the librarian! I started arguing and he picked the phone to talk to the librarian. This time the librarian told him that they can allow 10 % of the thesis to be copied. I had to remark how from two pages the rule changed into 10 % in just a few minutes once again! I asked if I could take pictures of this 10 %. He declined. Pictures are not allowed, only xerox. Everything very coherent and very sensible! I left utterly disgusted. Another place just meant for giving jobs to incompetent rascals, and if people come ro research, let them go to the dogs. I took a train to the Bombay University. The library was closed for lunch. It started raining while I walked to the Asiatic Society. At the entrance there is a public library and I requested to see a book. The guy told me to sit down. After sitting for half and hour I was indignant and asked what is the matter. He replied that the staff went for lunch. I was almost yelling: “why the hell you didn’t tell me this before?” There is a common trend everywhere in this country: they don’t have the slightest hesitation to make us waste time, as they themselves don’t have anything to do and think that this is probably the case of everyone else. I went to the Asiatic Society library, took note of a few reference books and went to the counter. They said that I would have to pay Rs 100 daily for consultation! When I asked if they would allow me to take pics of the books, they declared: “Rs 100 per shot!” As far as xerox is concerned, because it demands the maintenance of a machine and the salary of an employ, it costs only Rs 2 per page. Again, a show of coherence! Walking in the rain, I then went to the University library. Lots of bureaucracy and nobody will show me anything till I fill all the forms and get all the signatures. Too much for a single day.
Still raining and my health is not good, so I will do my homework today.
Train to Pune. Raining the whole day.
Visit to the Bhandarkar Institute. In comparison to most libraries I’ve been visiting, it is quite well run and has a cooperative staff. In a few minutes I had all the manuscripts I wished before me. By the time they closed, it was already rush hour and all buses were totally packed. More than one hour at the stop and then a couple of buses. Almost three hours spent in this way. At least the rain stopped.
Attempting to go to the Deccan College, by a double misinformation I ended up 12 km away from there. It took me four hours to reach the place, then I had to wait for another hour because it was lunch time... Not much time left, but I got to see the catalogues and some reference books.
Gandhi Jayanti, public holiday. Home work.
Visit to the Anand Ashram, which has nearly 20,000 manuscripts and published more than 100 Sanskrit books. Next, the Bharata Itihasa Samsodhana Mandapa, which holds 34,000 manuscripts.
Train to Ujjain.
I arrived at the Scindia Oriental Research Institute at 10 AM; the staff started to arrive at 10:30; the librarian arrived after 11:30; and the director arrived after 1 PM... I hardly could see anything before everyone was present. I was taken to the sub director, who assured me that I could shoot whatever I wished. I wrote down the number of a manuscript and handed the slip to the librarian. After waiting for 15 minutes and noticing that the guy didn’t move a finger, I asked how long it would take. He asked me back how long for what, since he had no idea of what I was waiting for. I gasped. I reminded him in a clear tone that the sub director had referred me to him to see the manuscripts. The magic words being said, he rang the bell and handed the slip to the staff. Then started another drama: they had no idea of how to find the given number and kept on bringing me the wrong manuscript. More half and hour to locate it. Soon after I started to shoot the pages, someone came in and objected. I was then sent to the director, who demanded that I “write an application, fill the forms and pay the fees”. Thanks God I had just the right amount at hand. Later on I had a list of reference books I wished to consult. After seeing seven books and asking for another one, the librarian declined claiming that they have a rule that no more than four books can be consulted in a day! It occurred to me that I myself should have some set of rules to preserve whatever is left of my mental sanity after visiting such “libraries” day after day...
Train to Mathura. The sleeper class was literally hijacked by a crowd without reservation, and there was no trace of any ticket collector during the whole journey. Somehow I was lucky to have an upper berth and to succeed in kicking out the guys who were lying on it. Whoever was on the lower berths had to sit the whole night.
Back to Godhead.
08-10-13 to 13-10-13
Again on the track, getting on the case of the same folks who have been promising to show me their libraries for aeons...
Visit to several libraries in Govardhan town. Refused entry in all of them. One of them read “Abhiram Granthagar” at the gate, but when I mentioned that I was looking for some old books, they replied that they have none. As I referred to the name written at the entrance and asked how possibly they can have no old books, they evaded the question by saying that it would be very difficult to find the key. At last, they came to the point and made it clear that it would take too long to let me see the books and that they prefer to remain sitting down idly as they were doing before I came to disturb. In the nearby Caitanya Mahaprabhu mandir they also have a library and gave me a similar reception claiming that the books are meant for them only and by no means they would let me see anything. Somehow I couldn’t detect the slightest trace of literacy in their auras... For the first time I am considering seriously the idea of using the local media to let everyone know that this Project is welcome at the libraries of the Rama-Krishna Mission, Akhandananda Sarasvati Ashram, Nimbarkas’, Sri Vaisnavas’, Madhvas’, Sankaras’, government and private institutes all over the country, while in Gaudiya temples and libraries they don’t want to hear a word.
I went to the Nimbarka College, but it was closed. I was told to come to the Bhataji mandir today. Again turned down and told to come day after tomorrow. Visit to the Braj Culture Research Centre.
I tried the Nimbarka College once again. Still closed. Someone told me they will open again after one week... I guess they have to rest due to such a hard work they do opening for a couple of hours a week a few months a year...
Visit to the Bon Maharaj College. It was closed and will open only on the 21st...
Visit to the Radha-Syamasundar mandir. We made some arrangements to visit the Syamananda Pitha in Gopivallabhpur.
I had an appointment at the Bhattaji mandir at 3 o’clock, and once again, upon arriving there, the Goswami told me that he is too busy. He has done this about ten times so far.
Finally the Nimbarka College opened again and I was fortunate to meet the Mahant there, so I got to see some granthas.
On the plea of the “Diwali”, no library opened for one month. Finally they showed up again in the office of the Nimbaka College, but refused to let me see anything today “because we didn’t bring the key.” I’ve been hearing this kind of rubbish since the beginning of the year and this time I really lost my patience. We started an argument and soon they were yelling at me. I had to call the Mahant to report them. They shut up but were stubborn: if I want to see the manuscripts I should “come tomorrow.” I wouldn’t cancel my ticket on the word of such characterless rascals. Tempo to Mathura and train to Allahabad.
I went to see the librarian in the Allahabad Museum, but although I sent him a message beforehand to “mark an appointment to see the manuscripts” as he had commanded in my last visit, he claimed that he received nothing and that he is too busy to show me anything. I then went to the Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, where I was previously told that they wouldn’t show me any manuscript because the staff was on leave, and therefore I should come another day. This time they told me that they have no staff at all to hand the manuscripts to any possible reader, so there is no point in going there again and again. Fabulous! Another useless trip to Allahabad dump city.