Friday, 01 May, 2009 ,
V SUNDARAM firstname.lastname@example.org
Recently the University of Madras awarded the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Music to E R Saraswathi Venkateswaran who is a gifted and outstanding Sanskrit Scholar.
E R Saraswathi Venkateswaran receiving her Ph D degree in music from Vice-Chancellor of Madras University S Ramachandran.
She has been awarded her Ph.D Degree for her original thesis titled ‘Musical aspects in the SIVATATTVA RATNAKARA BY BASAVA BHUPALA—A study’. It has to be specially noted that E R Saraswathi Venkatesawaran is a housewife nearing 60 years. Her great thesis reminds us that in these crassly commercial days of materialism and globalization, we should not fail in our patriotic duty of continually reminding ourselves about the vanished world of that GLORIOUS PAST of ancient India out of which the living PRESENT has come.
The heroic times and youth of the Hindu race of ancient India that we see in our mind’s eye through the eminently readable and solid thesis of this painstaking scholar, contrasts starkly with the sordid world of science and commerce today. Her thesis expressly seems to tell us in subtle and inspiring ways that their lies a romance in the past of India—there is something in it that seems to be capable of being constantly renewed, something that does not become out of date with the passing of time, an inner quality of earnest enquiry and search, of contemplation and action, of balance and equilibrium, in spite of conflict and contradiction. In whatever and however sordid a manner our modern inhuman Western civilization may change us, the deathless racial and cultural memories of those old and bygone ages will continue to survive and come back to us, with renewed vigour, like the thrilling stories of our joyous childhood among the sterner realities of manhood. Was not Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) speaking on behalf of each one of us when he wrote: ‘The India of Geography, the India of History and Tradition, the India of Religion and Philosophy and above all the India of our Minds and Hearts cannot change.’
|The front cover of ‘Sivatattva Ratnakara’ Published by Oriental Research Institute, University of Mysore in 1964.|‘SIVATATTVA RATNAKARA’ is an Encyclopaedia in Sanskrit verse, consisting of 108 TARANGAS (‘Ripples’) or Sub-sections distributed under 9 KALLOLAS (‘Tides’) or Main Sections. Almost all branches of knowledge and wisdom relating to our ancient lore rooted in Sanatana Dharma have been dealt with in this great work. The author of this massive Sanskrit work ‘Sivatattva Ratnakara’ was Basava Bhupala, who was a Ruler of the KELADI KINGDOM on the West Coast of Karnataka from 1694 AD to 1714 AD. The Keladi Kingdom flourished from about 1500 AD to 1763 AD in the area corresponding to the whole coast of Kanara from Goa in the North to Cannanore in the South, as also parts of the Shimmoga District of Mysore. Keladi was known as Ikkeri and also as Bednur and its rulers were great patrons of art, literature and architecture. The temples of Rameshwara and Veerabhadra in Keladi, the Aghoresvara Temple at Ikkeri, the Devaganga ponds at Nagar, the Campakesaras at Anandpura bear ample testimony to their love of art.
Many of the Rulers of Keladi Dynasty, apart from being great patrons of learning, also produced several notable works in Kannada and Sanskrit on different areas and facets of knowledge and wisdom—secular, religious, spiritual and metaphysical. The great Encyclopaedic work Sivatattva Ratnakara was composed in 30000 Sanskrit verses by the Keladi King Basava Bhupala alias Basappa Naik (Basava Raja) in 1699. Apart from producing his great Encyclopaedia of Sivatattva Ratnakara in Sanskrit, Basava Bhupala was also the author of two other great works—SUBHASITA SURADRAMA in Sanskrit language and SUKTISUDHAKARA in Kannada language. Literary fervour and efflorescence, culture, philosophy, art, science and even the upavedas of the Hindus of ancient India were revived in the Keladi Kingdom and there was an all round Hindu Renaissance in the 16th century AD, reaching its acme under the inspiring leadership of Basava Bhupala.
|Vedanta Kesari K A Lakshmana Shastrigal (1882-1966)|| Ennappadam enkatrama Bagavathar-(1880-1961)|
Saraswathi Venkateswaran, right from the days of her youth displayed an ardent desire to be associated with learned scholars in the fields of Sanskrit Language and Literature on the one hand and distinguished artists in the field of Carnatic Music. It is not therefore surprising that she showed this sensitivity towards both Sanskrit Language and Carnatic Music because her Maternal Grandfather K A Lakshmana Sastrigal (1882-1966) was the Professor of Vedanta in Madras Sanskrit College from 1920 to 1945 and Principal of the same College from 1945 to 1947. He joined the Madras Sanskrit College as a Student in 1907, one year after it was started on 1-2-1906. His classmates in Madras Sanskrit College were ‘Mahamahopadhyaya’ Noorni N S Ananthakrishna Sastrigal, ‘Mahamohapadhyaya’ Padmanabha Sastrigal and S K Ramanatha Sastrigal. Saraswathi’s Paternal Grandfather was Ennapadam Venkatrama Bhagavathar (1880-1959) who was one of the leading exponents of Carnatic Music and Harikatha for nearly five decades from 1900 to 1950. He was honoured by the Madras Music Academy in 1958 for his contributions in the field of Harikatha and Carnatic Music.
Cover page of Dr Saraswathi’s highly acclaimed Ph D thesis
With such a formidable family background, Saraswathi Venkateswaran, has stated with great humility and reverence, in her preface to her doctoral thesis: ‘I was dreaming of involving myself in both the fields of Sanskrit and Carnatic Music. And at last with the Divine Grace, the life for that dream came in the form of my subject for my thesis ‘Musical Aspects in the Sivattatva Ratnakara by Basava Bhupala—A study’.’ She has been very fortunate in having as her guide and mentor a very outstanding Sanskrit Scholar Dr S Revathi, Professor in the Department of Sanskrit, in the University of Madras.
|The front cover of ‘Sivatattva Ratnakara’ Published by Oriental Research Institute, University of Mysore in 1964.|
What has been deliberately suppressed by the Western Scholars rooted in the Eurocentric Anti-Hindu tradition is that the Keladi King Basava Bhupala produced the first ever Encyclopedia of the World in any language, Sivatattva Ratnakara in Sanskrit in 1699—29 years before the first Encyclopedia in English by Ephraim Chambers in 1728 and 52 years before the first Encyclopedia in the French Language by Denis Diderot in 1751. The Sansrkirt Encyclopedia of Basava Bhupala published in 1699 was in no way less detailed or less verstile than the cyclopedia of Ephraim Chambers in English published in 1728 (London) or Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers of Denis Diderot in French published in 1751 (Paris). Saraswathi Venkateswaran has made a signal contribution to the advancement of Sanskrit learning by producing her thesis on Sivatattva Ratnakara. The Madras University and its Vice Chancellor Ramachandran have to be congratulated for recognizing the outstanding academic work of Dr Smt Saraswathi Venkateswaran.
‘Heard of by many,
Known to few,
Who led a Life between Fame and Obscurity
Neither abounding nor deficient in Learning
Devoted to Study, but as a Man
Who thinks himself bound to all Offices of Humanity,
Having finished his Life and Labours together,
Here desires to rest
|Title page of the First Volume of Encyclopédie published in 1751|
Denis Diderot (1713-1784)
The Cyclopedia of Ephraim Chambers provided the inspiration for the landmark Encyclopedia of Denis Diderot (1713-1784), in French Language. His work began as a French translation of Chambers’ work in 1743 and was completed in 1745.
Denis Diderot (1713 – 1784) was a French philosopher and writer. He was a prominent figure during the Enlightenment and is best known for serving as chief editor of and contributor to the Encyclopédie. In collaboration with d’Alembert, Denis Diderot subsequently embarked on his greatest project, The Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers. I am presenting below the title page of this Encyclopaedia in French published in 1751, 52 years after Basava Bhupala produced his landmark Encyclopedia in Sanskrit in 1699.
In 1750 an elaborate prospectus announced the project to a delighted public, and in 1751 the first volume was published. In 1772, the 27th last and final volume of the Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers was brought out.
|A Cyclopedia by Ephraim Chambers (1728)|
This massive work of Denis Diderot was very unorthodox and had many forward-thinking ideas for the time. Diderot stated within this work, ‘An encyclopedia ought to make good the failure to execute such a project hitherto, and should encompass not only the fields already covered by the academies, but each and every branch of human knowledge. Upon encompassing every branch of knowledge this will give, the power to change men’s common way of thinking.’ This idea was profound and intriguing, as it was one of the first works during the Enlightenment. Diderot wanted to give all people the ability to further their knowledge and, in a sense, allow every person to have any knowledge they sought of the world. The work sought to bring together all knowledge of the time and condense this information for all to use.
What has been deliberately suppressed by the Western Scholars rooted in the Eurocentric Anti-Hindu tradition is that the Keladi King Basava Bhupala produced the first ever Encyclopedia of the World in any language, Sivatattva Ratnakara in Sanskrit in 1699—29 years before the first Encyclopedia in English by Ephraim Chambers in 1728 and 52 years before the first Encyclopedia in the French Language by Denis Diderot in 1751. The Sansrkirt Encyclopedia of Basava Bhupala published in 1699 was now way less detail are less verstile than the cyclopedia of Ephraim Chambers in English published in 1728 (London) or Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers of Denis Diderot in French published in 1751 (Paris). Saraswathi Venkateswaran has made a signal contribution to the advancement of Sanskrit learning by producing her thesis on Sivatattva Ratnakara. The Madras University and its Vice Chancellor Ramachandran have to be congratulated for recognizing the outstanding academic work of Dr Smt Saraswathi Venkateswaran.
(To be contd...)
(The writer is a retired IAS officer)
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