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साहित्यकौमुदि: Sahitya Kaumudi (An Old and Rare Book)

We are happy to place in the hands of our readers a new edition of the Sahityakaumudi by Baladeva Vidyabhusaua. The work was first published in 1897 A. D. by the Nirnayasagar Press, Bombay and has since long been out of print. It is mainly due to the non-availability of the text that it is not so widely known and does not occupy that important a place among the works of Sanskrit literary criticism which it deserves. The text which is printed here with the Kripanandini commentary of the author marks an improvement over the Nirnayasagar edition since Dr. B. M. Awasthi has utilized an additional manuscript preserved in the B. 0. R. I., Poona to restore the text.

Baladeva Vidyabhusana was probably born in the fourth decade of the 18th century in the district of BAL sore (Balegvara) in Orissa. This was the period when Marathas were ruling over Orissa and the Sanskrit was experiencing an unprecedented upsurge in this region. Ballades were an ardent follower of Catania who had flooded Orissa with devotion to Krishna some two and a half centuries before. Baladeva was, however, not only a dedicated bhakta but also an erudite Icaria of his school who had studied at the feet of Govinda Kantian, one of the greatest saint-philosophers of his time. In fact, it is he who has won the recognition of Philosiphical School for the acintya-bhedabhedavada of Caitanaya and has established it on a firm foundation by writing Navas on the Prasthanatrayi in the light of Catania’s teachings. This was a task which even the Gosvamins of Vrindavana had failed to do. His Sidhantaratna, Siddhantadar-pafla and Prame.jaratnavali are reckoned among the best and the most profound productions of Caitanaya school of Vaisnavism.

It was a peculiarity of the Acaryas belonging to Caitanaya school that besides witting terse and tough philosophical treatises, they produced beautiful literary works in pure, lucid and lyrical Sanskrit to propagate the teachings of their master, Like Srlharsa they were masters of both Darlan as well as shifty. Following the tradition of his predecessors, Baladeva wt-cue commentaries on several literary works and composed the present Litearly work on the principles of literary criticism.

Sahityakamudi, however, is not a product of the genius of Baladeva in its it is a product of the combined genius of Mammata as well as of Baladeva. The karakas are exactly those of Kavyaprakaja whereas the vrtti and the illustrative verses have been supplied by Baladeva. These illustra-tions have mostly been culled from the writings of the Catania school and they invariably move around the theme of Krishna and Radha. A widespread notion about the authorship of Kavyaprakdia in Bengal was that the kdrilcas of this work were originally composed by Bharata, the first and the foremost of all the Acaryas pertaining to Sahityagastra, and that Mammata had supplied only the vrtti and udaharapas to the original work of Bharata. What Mammata had done and became famous for, Baladeva also endeavored to do -in his own manner and tried to make this work a means to prpagate the glory of the Divine Couple. No serious scholar would today share the view held by the scholars of Bengal about the authorship of Kavyaprakaga. In matters of alathkdras, gunas and closa etc., the Karikas represent an age of historical development which was achieved long after Bharata wrote his Nalyalastra. That however such a view was held and remained in vogue, is interesting in itself and indirectly indicates the high esteem in which the work, especially its karika-portion, was held by the Pandits of Bengal.

Though Sahityakaumudi can never replace Kavyaprakaia, nor can it vie with the monumental work of Mammata as regards the profundity and scholarship, it has an importance of its own. In a simple, short and lucid languge it explains the principles of Sanskrit literary criticism as enshrined in the karakas of Mammata and offers a much easier and convenient access to them than the tough work of the Vagdevatavatara. Bala-deva has also added an extra pariccheda (not olds !) at the end of his work in order to make room for a few additional `alaritkaras' which he thought were missing in the original work of Bharata'.

I hope, the scholars will find the work published here with a candid exposition of the author himself and embellished with many useful appen-dices, valuable and interesting and shall welcome its publication.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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