After the detailed and exhaustive Introduction which the Editor has prefixed to the Sanskrit Text of the Niti-Manjari it is hardly necessary to write a Foreward, and yet it must be written, if for nothing else, at least for expressing my delight at the thoroughness with which the Editor, Pandit Sitaram Joshi M.A., has done his labour of love. All the quotations and references which occur in the body of the Text have been carefully traced to their sources, and all questions relating to the author and the value of his work have been fully discussed.
I will only add a few words on one or two aspects of the work which have particularly struck me. It is interesting to note that the author belongs to an age which is not remarkable as a period of Renaissance of Vedic learning, or even as that of Sanskrit learning in any of its other branches. And yet the author has made this valuable contribution to literature not only as an erudite Vedic scholar, but as one who knows how to utilize the Vedic legends of hoary antiquity for teaching every-day morality in our life. Neither the early Vedic Rsis nor any of the great thinkers of the Upanisadic age were didactic writers. Even the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, like all other master pieces of the world’s greatest poets, are not intended to serve as mere hand-books of moral teaching. The Buddhist Jatakas are the first attempt in this direction, followed later by the well-know Panacatantra and Hitopadesa. But to none of the writers of these and similar works it occurred to draw upon the Veda for the purpose of composing a book of moral tales. The credit for doing this belongs to Dya Dviveda, the author of the Niti-Manjari.
I introduce this work with great pleasure to the attention of Sanskrit educationists and hope that its publication will be adequately appreciated.
Herewith we beg to present the text of Dya Dviveda’s Nitimanjari to the votaries of Sanskrit Learning. No apology is indeed needed for the publication of this work, which, with its unique and varied importance, will speak for itself. It is a wonder that, though it MSS. were noticed in many catalogues and its importance recognized by some eminent orientalists, it could not so long attract an editor and see light anywhere.
The author, Dya Dviveda, brought to bear upon his Nitimanjari his stupendous scholarship and made it what it is. He was well-versed in almost all branches of Vedic Literature and was at the same time quite conversant with many departments of Sanskrit Literature as well. Primarily Nitimanjari is a beautiful bunch of gnomic and didactic verses like those which are found in the Carucarya of Ksemendra or in the Upadesa sataka of Gumani. But there is a striking difference between these and the Nitimanjari. The moral maxims contained in the Carucarya and Upadesasataka are supported by Pauranic illustrations but, Nitimanjari has all illustrations drawn from the Vedic legends, with references to the rcas of Rgveda alluding to them. In the commentaries which follow, we find full descriptions of those legends quoted from old authoritative works. Taken together, they form a good collection of Vedic legends and are thus of very great use to all students of Vedic mythology. The rcas are in themselves a very happy and helpful selection of Rgvedic mantras both from mythological as well as exegetical points of view. If they are properly studied with the help of the comments and notes supplied by the author they form surely a very good introduction to the study of Vedic literature in general and Rgveda in particular.
It has been realized by scholars, ancient and modern, that none can safely sail through the ocean of the Vedas without equipping oneself properly with an exact knowledge of a number of sciences and lores. Among these, the knowledge of legends connected with rsis, devats etc. is imperatively essential. But such a specialized knowledge can be had only after years patient labour and under proper guidance. Here in Niti-manjari, we find Dya Dviveda imparting that knowledge to us in an easy and attractive manner and thus preparing us for further studies of deep and diversified nature. Nitimanjari is thus intended for and is in fact useful to both a specialist as well as to a lay man. It is equally of interest to a Sanskritist, as well as to a Vaidika. It is scholarly by providing materials for Vedic studies and makes a special contribution to the study of comparative mythology in general and Vedic mythology in particular. It is at the same time popular owing to the moral maxims of intrinsic value and instructive by the teaching of proverbial wisdom, making a direct appeal to the heart by apt illustrations of ancient sages and gods. It abounds in materials of rare combination, opening up new lines of study and research, quite competent to pay amply the labours of genuine scholars. The Pauranic legends are as well known as Vedic ones are little known and so any attempt to elucidate the latter, as is actually done by the author of Nitimanjari, cannot but be welcome to all lovers of Sanskrit Learning.
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