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Baladeva Vidyabhusana Project Update: Discovery of original manuscripts

Saturday, 22 December 2012 / Published in Ads / 1,578 views

Dr. Demian Martins: I am delighted to publicly announce the discovery of two manuscripts handwritten by Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana himself: 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. Otherwise, we may infer that they are actually the texts referred to as “Pada-kaustubha” and “Vyakarana-kaumudi” in the lists we often see. 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.

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 210 per month
3. Photocopying, scanning, library charges: US 120 per month

To visualize samples of the discovered manuscripts and read more details about the Baladeva Vidyabhusana Project, please visit the link below, where I also post a brief diary sharing the main happenings, discoveries and hardships in my daily work:

http://vidyabhusanaproject.blogspot.in/

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