Saturday, December 22, 2012

Baladeva Vidyabhusana Project Update

I am delighted to publicly announce the discovery of two manuscripts authored by Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana: one called “Sabda-sudha”,dated 1801 Samvat (1744 A.D.), and the other called“Laghu-siddhanta-kaustubha”, undated. Until now, these treatises were unknown and there is no mention of them in any of the main Gaudiya catalogues.An important peculiarity of the Sabdha-sudha manuscript is that Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana mentions the name of his father: Gangadhara Manikya. This evidence will resolve more than a hundred years of controversy regarding Vidyabhusana’s parentage. Some claim that he was born in a vaisya family; some claim he was born in a ksatriya family; and others claim he was born in a brahmana family. Only accurate historical information based on documented evidence can prevent this kind of speculation, for definitely a man cannot be born in three different families at the same time. Manikya seems to be a common ksatriya title, but only after a detailed research about the Manikyas in Orissa we will be able to come to a conclusion.

I was also fortunate enough to acquire a copy of the original manuscript of the Govinda-bhasya signed by Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana. Thanks to the National Mission for Manuscripts, I obtained a list of contacts holding private manuscript collections and most of the owners are cooperating in letting me copy the texts I need. I personally met the head of the Vallabha-sampradaya, who promptly agreed to share whatever manuscripts of Vidyabhusana they might have in their library, which is almost five hundred years old. I also spoke with the head of the Nimbarka-sampradaya, who promised to help us. They own several ancient manuscript libraries in several places in India. Unfortunately, the Gaudiyas are the most non cooperative people I have faced. At the Bag Bazaar Gaudiya Math in Kolkata, I was not even allowed to see the library, and at the Sri Caitanya Research Institute, also in Kolkata, they refused to let me take pictures of a couple of pages of a printed book. Curiously, sometimes devotees ask me why so many Gaudiya books are lost. I can’t give a better answer than the prevalence of this type of non cooperative attitude.

As for the government libraries, each has its own sets of rules. At the Sarasvati-bhavan in Varanasi they have 25 of Vidyabhusana’s manuscripts and with the help of a pandita we are on the way to get copies of them all. At the Sanskrit College in Kolkata they allowed me to copy their manuscripts after I passed through the bureaucratic process. At Bangiya Sahitya Parisad they have quite a few titles, but due to their exorbitant charges (50 rupees per page), I left empty handed.

1 comment:

  1. "Unfortunately, the Gaudiyas are the most non cooperative people I have faced." :-)
    In fact it is sad. I personally find them quite sectarian in their dealings. When we read Srila Prabhupada biography, it appears that they are quite difficult to work with. It is really strange that such mentality arose from a sampradaya which had given great souls like Srila Bhaktissidanta, his guru and his father. This show us how difficult it was for Srila Prabhupada when he came to the West and asked for their help.