Since I took charge as Director of the Oriental Institute in 1996, I had cherished an ardent desire to publish this illustrated manuscript of Saundaryalahari- the beautiful stotra-kavya composed by Adya Sri Sarikarácārya in praise of the Mother Supreme-with faithful reproductions of the exquisite miniatures with golden colour, emended Sanskrit text, translations of the poem in four languages, introduction, notes on its philosophical and aesthetic aspects etc. Fortunately my request to translate the poem was accepted by such eminent scholars as Prof. Radhavallabh Tripathi (for Hindi), Prof. Smt. Saroja Bhate (for Marathi) and Shri Harish Jhaveri (for English translation and introduction) et el. I had myself undertaken to contribute Gujarati translation and notes, appendices etc.
The plan was grand but costly due to the golden colour used in the paintings in the Mother's crowns, ornaments and thrones etc. and could not be executed due to non-availability of sufficient funds for the project. In the meanwhile, I retired as Director in 2001, yet the production could not be undertaken during all these years for various reasons. It is only after a span of fifteen years that this beautiful manuscript is being presented in a printed form for the appreciation of a larger group of connoiscurs.
As mentioned above, I have been fortunate in being able to enlist co-operation of eminent scholars in this book. Prof.Radhavallabhji is an eminent indologist, a renowned scholar of Indian aesthetics, himself a creative writer in Sanskrit and Hindi and Vice-Chancellor of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan at present, Prof. Sarojaji is a universally acknowledged master of Indian Grammaric traditions, and Hon./ Gen. secretary of two national bodies of Sanskrit studies: the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (Pune) and All-India Oriental Conference. Shri Harish Jhaveri is an eminent Supreme Court advocate, a great student of Indian and Western philosophies, a serious scholar of Sanskrit, but above all a Sadhaka devotee of the Mother. I thank them sincerely for their warm response to my request for translations, for patiently bearing with me for fifteen long years for their publication. am particularly thankful to Shri Jhaveri for the great efforts he has made almost in Miltonic conditions to write the Introduction which, I would aver, is an important statement in comparative philosophy and deserved a much better display than I have been able to give it in this miniature production.
Many there were who had shown continuous and keen interest in the publication of this work Particular mention may be made of P.P. Dandiswami Shri Sadanand Saraswatiji Maharaj (Dwarka) who had offered to bear the cost of copyright amount if needed for this publication, and Prof. Dipti Tripathi, Director, National Manuscripts Mission, Delhi who had offered to undertake the entire publication under NMM. My sincere thanks to them.
The Sundarsalakurt of Sankardeu is one of the Best Supas devotional poems of the Sanskrit Literature. It is the most important Test in Praise of Goddess, having nearly one hundred finit verses in Sikharin metre. The work is of tremendous value for followers of Tasma worship Even as poum it has unparalleled poetic and Aesthetic merit. For the ordinary devotee of Goddess also the Poem has great impact as a stotra of great devotional significance.
The Oriental Institute has a unique Manuscript of the text. It has 105 beautiful colourful pictures, along with the Test of the Saundaryalahart. The pictures, not only contain use of different natural colours, hat are also embedded with the perciosas pure golden pigment Such a Manuscript is not found in complete form anywhere in the world, while the other one available in the Baroda Museum is fragmentary. There was great demand for the publication of the said Manuscript. The Honourable Vice-Chancellor, Prof Dr Yogesh Singh took keen interest in its publication and constituted a committee, with a Shri Tushar Vyas, Syndicate member as convener, Dr. Sweta Prajapati, Syndicate member. Prof. Dr. M.L Wadekar, Offg Director and Shri P/N. Srivastav, Honourary Press-Manager, M. S. University of Baroda press as members. The committee also decided to publish the translation of the text in Four languages-namely English, Hindi, Gujarati and Marathi, prepared by Shri Harish Zaver, Prof. Dr. Radhavallabh Topathi, Prof. Dr. R.1 Nanavati and Prof. Dr. Saroja Bhate respectively We are grateful to these scholars for their whole-hearted co-operation in execution of the work. We are thankful to Prof. Dr. R.L Nanavati for carefully correcting and finalizing the proofs of the book. We are also thankful to Shri Vishvas Ingale, Manager, Aakar Packart, Vadodara for accepting the challenging and time bound jobs of printing the pictures, with gold powder process and D.TP composing the Text in Sanskrit and translation in other four languages. We are very glad to present the work to the world of scholars.
We are also thankful to the University authorities and U.CC for sanctioning the grant, needed for its publication. The work is being primed with the financial assistance received from the UGC under XI plan.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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