In the early hours of the night of December 1, 1976, Professor Kashinath Vasudev alias Bapusaheb Abhyankar met his tragic end. Even now, after the lapse of three years and more, one shudders at the blood-curdling memory of the horrendous crime of which he was an utterly innocent victim. Who, from among the workers of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute who, on that fateful day, had spoken and discussed things with Professor Abhyankar at the Institute, in the usual hearty manner, till about 5 p. m., could have imagined that, within the short span of about three hours, an outrageous act was going to be perpetrated as the result of which the Sanskrit Muse was going to be bereaved of one of her distinguished sons and a whole tradition of learning was going to be irrevocably brought to an end?
On this occasion, it is not possible — nor is it necessary — to dilate upon the rich and varied contributions which Professor Abeyance has made to Sanskrit studies in general and Parisian studies in particular. I often used to say that if, at any time, Pay himself felt perplexed about something which he had ‘Thin, be might consult Professor Abeyance and get the matter straightened up. I also used to tell Professor Abhyaukar that his presence at the Bandera Institute tended to make younger scholars idle. For, whenever they bad any difficulty in grammar, instead of taking the trouble of hunting for the relevant references in the original texts, they simply turned to him because they knew that the whole Vyakaraia-ästra was on the tip of his tongue. Professor Abeyance had been associated with this Institute, in various capacities, almost since its inception. Many important texts, edited by him, have been included among the Institute’s publications. At the time of his death, he was Chair ray man of the Executive Board of the Institute.
Some time after the tragic death of Professor Abeyance his sons and daughters made over to the Institute a sizable amount of money to enable it to found a Lectureship in memory of their revered father. it is, indeed, gratifying that we have been able to get Professor K. A. Subramanian Ayer, who, as you see, is fairly active though advanced in age, to deliver the first series of the “Professor K. V. Abhyankar Memorial Lectures “. I knew in how high esteem Professor Abhyankar and Professor Ayer held each other. Therefore, even before the Abhyankar Memorial. Lectureship was formally instituted; we had made up our mind to invite Professor Ayer to be the first lecturer. Today Professor Ayer can be justifiably designated the Doyen of Sanskrit’s in India. He served, long and with distinction, as Professor of Sanskrit in Luckhnow University, and, under his able stewardship, the department of Sanskrit there soon became an active centre of Sanskrit studies and research. He has also served as Vice- Chancellor of Lucknow University and the Varanaseya Sanskrit University. And who would fail to enthuse over his magnum opus on Bhartrhari and the Vãkyapadiya? I have often felt that the overemphasis on the linguistic aspect of the Paining thought has considerably hindered a proper appreciation of its contribution to logic and semiotics. Professor Ayer’s magnificent work has gone a long way in setting the matter in the right perspective. His present “Abhyankar Memorial Lectures” will, I am sure, confirm what I have said. .
Professor Ayer, we are greatly beholden to you for having kindly accepted our invitation to deliver the first series of “Professor K. V. Abhyankar Memorial Lectures “.
It is most unfortunate that I have to add a melancholy postscript to the foregoing brief speech which I had made while introducing Professor Ayer’s inaugural lecture and which I had intended to make serve as a Foreword to the printed text of his three lectures. Professor Iyer arrived in Poona with his wife late in the morning of March 27, 1980. He expressed to me, more than once, his great joy at being able to visit Poona after more than twelve years and to meet his old friends and colleagues and more particularly at the opportunity which had come his way of paying grateful homage to the memory of Professor K. V. Abhyankar to whom he owed so much. As scheduled, he delivered his first Lecture on “Some Aspects of Bhartrhari’s abdãdvaita” at the Institute in the evening of March 28, 1980, with Tarkatlrtha Dr. Ashman Sastri Joshi in the chair, and his second lecture on “Bhartrhari on Shoal” in the evening of March 29 with Professor A. M. Garage in the chair. Early in the afternoon of March 30, 1980, on which day he was to have delivered his third and final lecture on “The Vãkyapadlya and the Pyromanias “, Professor Ayer suffered a massive heart-attack and was soon removed to the Institute of Cardiology attached to a well-known Nursing Home in Poona. However in spite of the best efforts of the doctors there, Professor Ayer expired in the morning of March 31. Could there have been a sadder irony than this?
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