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Sanskrit Culture of Bengal
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Sanskrit Culture of Bengal
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About the Book

No work on the Sanskrit literature of Bengal (West Bengal) and Bangladesh taken together) has yet been published in English. The result is that the non-Bengali elites and the foreign indologists know very little about it beyond excepting what is written in stray articles published in different journals particularly in the English works on the history of Bengali. So a sustained account of the Sanskrit literature, produced in Bengal, is a desideratum.

The cultural heritage of Bengal represented in the Sanskrit works is vast, varied and valuable. There is hardly any branch of Sanskrit literature, to which Bengal did not make substantial contribution. What is remarkable is that the scholars of this region left the impress of their originality in several domains of which the most prominent are Navya-nyaya, Navya-smrti and Tantra. In fact, these are three colossal pillars on which rests the gargantuan edifice of the culture of medieval Bengal.

In the domain of the poetical literature, too, the Bengali literatures developed a new literary style, known as Gaudi-riti. Till today, Bengal appears to be the pioneer in the realm of Sanskrit anthological literature.

A historical study of Bengali’s contribution to Sanskrit literature reveals the close cultural relation of this province with Nepal and Tibet, the latter preserving, in Tibetan translation, quite a number of Buddhist philosophical and Tantric works, the Sanskrit originals of which have been lost.

The present book is a comprehensive account of the Sanskrit literature, produced and cultivated in Bengal since the earliest times. One volume is not sufficient for a detailed treatment of the subject of this work, therefore, the author has tried to make the book as possible and amply documented.

 

About the Author

S.C. Banerji, a retired professor of Sanskrit, a Fellow of Asiatic Society, Calcutta and recognised by International Biographical Centre, Cambridges. England, as International Man of the Years 1997/98, is a dedicated indologist. He has, to his credit, about sixty books, on different aspects of indology, in English, Bengali and Hindi. Among his English works are A Companion to Sanskrit Literature, A Brief History of Tantra Literature, Studies in the Origin and Development of Yoga, A Companion to Indian Philosophy, New Perspectives in the study of the Puranas, A Brief History of Dharmasastra, Historical Survey of Ancient Indian Grammars (Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit), Principles of Hindu Jurisprudence (2Vols.) Studies in the Mahapuranas, Cultural Reciprocation between India and the World, etc.

 

Preface

No history of Sanskrit Literature can be complete without accounts of the Sanskrit works composed in the different regions of India. The contribution of some provinces, e.g. Kerala, Kashmir and Bihar have been studied.

No work on the Sanskrit literature of Bengal (West Bengal and Bangladesh taken together) has as yet been published in English. The result is that the non-Bebgali elites and the foreign indologists know very little about it beyond excepting what is written in stray articles published in different journals particularly in the English work on the history of Bengal. So, a sustained account of the Sanskrit literature, Produced in Bengali, is a desideratum.

The cultural heritage of this province, represented in the Sanskrit works is vast, varied and valuable. There is hardly any branch of Sanskrit literature, to which Bengal did not make substantial contribution. What is remarkable is that the scholars of this region left the impress of their originality in several domains of which the most prominent are Navya-nyaya, Navya-smrti and Tantra. In fact, these are three colossal pillars on which rests the gargantuan edifice of the culture of medieval Bengal.

In the domain of the poetical literature, too, the Bengali literatures developed a new literary style, known as Gaudi-riti. Till today, Bengal appears to be the pioneer in the realm of Sanskrit anthological literature.

In almost all fields, there are still countless unpublished manuscripts of Sanskrit works written by Bengali scholars through centuries. A historical study of Bengali’s contribution to Sanskrit literature reveals the close cultural relation of this province with Nepal and Tibet, the latter preserving, in Tibetan translation, quite a number of Buddhist philosophical and Tantric works, the Sanskrit originals of which have been lost.

With the advent of the British rule, Calcutta became the cultural hub of the country. The Fort William-College and Asiatic Society of Calcutta added new dimensions to the study of, and researches in various aspects of Sanskrit literature.

Thus, a comprehensive account of the Sanskrit literature, produced and cultivated in Bengal since the earliest times, is necessary for the full appraisal of India’s contribution to this literature. One volume is not sufficient for detailed treatment of the subject of this work. We have, therefore, tried to make our accounts as brief as possible and amply documented. Though a Bengali, I have not allowed parochialism to dominate my thoughts, and have tried to be as objective as possible.

A few appendices have been added for the facility of the readers.

Finally, an up- to-date bibliography has been given.

My labour, spread over a long period, will be adequately rewarded if the present work goes someway in apprising the scholarly world at large of the extent and worth of the Sanskrit culture in Bengal through ages.

But for the ungrudging help of my wife Smt. Ramala Devi, and my daughter, prof. Dr. Chhanda Chakraborty, it would not have been possible for me to write this book.

M/s Sharada publishing House has shown genuine interest in ndology by undertaking the publication of this work.

 

Contents

 

  Preface v
  Abbreviations vii
  Important Dates ix
Chapter 1. Geography of Bengal 1
Chapter 2. Political and social Background 4
Chapter 3. Philosophy (Six Orthidox Systems) 13
Chapter 4. Gaudiya Vaisnava Philosophy, Theology and Bhakticult 47
Chapter 5. Smirti-Sastra 66
Chapter 6 Tantra Sastra 84
Chapter 7. Grammar 125
Chapter 8. Puranas of Bengal 155
Chapter 9. Poetical Literature 182
Chapter 10. Dramatic Literature 252
Chapter 11. Medical Literature (Ayurveda or Vaidyaka-Sastra) 275
Chapter 12. Poetics, Prosody, Dramaturgy and Vaisnava Rasasastra (Alankarasastra, Chandahsastra, Natyasatra and Rasasatra) 291
Chapter 13. Lexcal Literature 319
Chapter 14. Epigraphical Literature 331
Chapter 15. Miscellaneous Works 334
Chapter 16. Influence of Sanskrit Literature on the Literature and life of the Bengalis 351
Chapter 17. Sanskrit Literature and Rabindranath 397
Chapter 18. Epilogue 410

 

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Sanskrit Culture of Bengal

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About the Book

No work on the Sanskrit literature of Bengal (West Bengal) and Bangladesh taken together) has yet been published in English. The result is that the non-Bengali elites and the foreign indologists know very little about it beyond excepting what is written in stray articles published in different journals particularly in the English works on the history of Bengali. So a sustained account of the Sanskrit literature, produced in Bengal, is a desideratum.

The cultural heritage of Bengal represented in the Sanskrit works is vast, varied and valuable. There is hardly any branch of Sanskrit literature, to which Bengal did not make substantial contribution. What is remarkable is that the scholars of this region left the impress of their originality in several domains of which the most prominent are Navya-nyaya, Navya-smrti and Tantra. In fact, these are three colossal pillars on which rests the gargantuan edifice of the culture of medieval Bengal.

In the domain of the poetical literature, too, the Bengali literatures developed a new literary style, known as Gaudi-riti. Till today, Bengal appears to be the pioneer in the realm of Sanskrit anthological literature.

A historical study of Bengali’s contribution to Sanskrit literature reveals the close cultural relation of this province with Nepal and Tibet, the latter preserving, in Tibetan translation, quite a number of Buddhist philosophical and Tantric works, the Sanskrit originals of which have been lost.

The present book is a comprehensive account of the Sanskrit literature, produced and cultivated in Bengal since the earliest times. One volume is not sufficient for a detailed treatment of the subject of this work, therefore, the author has tried to make the book as possible and amply documented.

 

About the Author

S.C. Banerji, a retired professor of Sanskrit, a Fellow of Asiatic Society, Calcutta and recognised by International Biographical Centre, Cambridges. England, as International Man of the Years 1997/98, is a dedicated indologist. He has, to his credit, about sixty books, on different aspects of indology, in English, Bengali and Hindi. Among his English works are A Companion to Sanskrit Literature, A Brief History of Tantra Literature, Studies in the Origin and Development of Yoga, A Companion to Indian Philosophy, New Perspectives in the study of the Puranas, A Brief History of Dharmasastra, Historical Survey of Ancient Indian Grammars (Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit), Principles of Hindu Jurisprudence (2Vols.) Studies in the Mahapuranas, Cultural Reciprocation between India and the World, etc.

 

Preface

No history of Sanskrit Literature can be complete without accounts of the Sanskrit works composed in the different regions of India. The contribution of some provinces, e.g. Kerala, Kashmir and Bihar have been studied.

No work on the Sanskrit literature of Bengal (West Bengal and Bangladesh taken together) has as yet been published in English. The result is that the non-Bebgali elites and the foreign indologists know very little about it beyond excepting what is written in stray articles published in different journals particularly in the English work on the history of Bengal. So, a sustained account of the Sanskrit literature, Produced in Bengali, is a desideratum.

The cultural heritage of this province, represented in the Sanskrit works is vast, varied and valuable. There is hardly any branch of Sanskrit literature, to which Bengal did not make substantial contribution. What is remarkable is that the scholars of this region left the impress of their originality in several domains of which the most prominent are Navya-nyaya, Navya-smrti and Tantra. In fact, these are three colossal pillars on which rests the gargantuan edifice of the culture of medieval Bengal.

In the domain of the poetical literature, too, the Bengali literatures developed a new literary style, known as Gaudi-riti. Till today, Bengal appears to be the pioneer in the realm of Sanskrit anthological literature.

In almost all fields, there are still countless unpublished manuscripts of Sanskrit works written by Bengali scholars through centuries. A historical study of Bengali’s contribution to Sanskrit literature reveals the close cultural relation of this province with Nepal and Tibet, the latter preserving, in Tibetan translation, quite a number of Buddhist philosophical and Tantric works, the Sanskrit originals of which have been lost.

With the advent of the British rule, Calcutta became the cultural hub of the country. The Fort William-College and Asiatic Society of Calcutta added new dimensions to the study of, and researches in various aspects of Sanskrit literature.

Thus, a comprehensive account of the Sanskrit literature, produced and cultivated in Bengal since the earliest times, is necessary for the full appraisal of India’s contribution to this literature. One volume is not sufficient for detailed treatment of the subject of this work. We have, therefore, tried to make our accounts as brief as possible and amply documented. Though a Bengali, I have not allowed parochialism to dominate my thoughts, and have tried to be as objective as possible.

A few appendices have been added for the facility of the readers.

Finally, an up- to-date bibliography has been given.

My labour, spread over a long period, will be adequately rewarded if the present work goes someway in apprising the scholarly world at large of the extent and worth of the Sanskrit culture in Bengal through ages.

But for the ungrudging help of my wife Smt. Ramala Devi, and my daughter, prof. Dr. Chhanda Chakraborty, it would not have been possible for me to write this book.

M/s Sharada publishing House has shown genuine interest in ndology by undertaking the publication of this work.

 

Contents

 

  Preface v
  Abbreviations vii
  Important Dates ix
Chapter 1. Geography of Bengal 1
Chapter 2. Political and social Background 4
Chapter 3. Philosophy (Six Orthidox Systems) 13
Chapter 4. Gaudiya Vaisnava Philosophy, Theology and Bhakticult 47
Chapter 5. Smirti-Sastra 66
Chapter 6 Tantra Sastra 84
Chapter 7. Grammar 125
Chapter 8. Puranas of Bengal 155
Chapter 9. Poetical Literature 182
Chapter 10. Dramatic Literature 252
Chapter 11. Medical Literature (Ayurveda or Vaidyaka-Sastra) 275
Chapter 12. Poetics, Prosody, Dramaturgy and Vaisnava Rasasastra (Alankarasastra, Chandahsastra, Natyasatra and Rasasatra) 291
Chapter 13. Lexcal Literature 319
Chapter 14. Epigraphical Literature 331
Chapter 15. Miscellaneous Works 334
Chapter 16. Influence of Sanskrit Literature on the Literature and life of the Bengalis 351
Chapter 17. Sanskrit Literature and Rabindranath 397
Chapter 18. Epilogue 410

 

Sample Pages




















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