June 25, 2012

Manuscripts Mission Update, West Bengal Report Part 2

Mission for Manuscripts continued in April with a second foray into the mathas and libraries of West Bengal. All told our intrepid team of Smt. Bharati Roy and photographer Ashish visited another eight repositories and photographed a further 81 manuscripts, making a total of 200+ so far. Here’s a few highlights:

Sripat of Srila Rasikananda 

We visited the Sripat (asrama) of Srila Rasikananda Prabhu at Gopiballabhpur in Midnapur. There is a beautiful temple with a repository of all the Goswami literatures. This place is about 400 years old.

Srila Rasikananda was one of the most prominent followers of the Six Goswamis and a contemporary of Srila Shyamananda. His Sripat has a set of his footprints, melted into the rock.

The current Mahanta there is Sri Krsna Kesava Dev Goswami, who comes in direct disciplic succession from Rasikananda.

He was very friendly and gave our team access to all their manuscripts:

Govinda Virudavali
Gitagovinda by Jayadeva
Radhika Sahasranama
Alamkarakaustubha by kavi Karnapura
Gopala Campu by Jiva Gosvami
Govinda Lilamrta by Jiva Gosvami
Uddhava sandesa by Rupa Gosvami
Caitanya candramrta by Pravodhananda Sarasvati
Tattva Sandarbha by Jiva Gosvami
Gitavali by Rupa Gosvami
Vaisnava Vandana by Daivakinandana
Pramabhakticandrika by Narottama Thakura.

Apart from the digital access, an actual manuscript copy on handmade paper of Caitanya Chandramrta by Srila Prabhodananda Sarasvati was presented to the BRC.

Phulia Shantipur Museum 

April 8th our team went to the Phulia Shantipur Museum where the library has 11,000 books along with the works of Sri Krittivas who was the celebrated translator of Ramayana into Bengali. He was a contemporary of Kasiram dasa who did a similar translation of the Mahabharata, and Jayadeva Goswami the famous Vaisnava poet. There we took photos of various paintings depicting the Ramayana.

Krishnanagar Public Library 

The secretary there is Deba Babu and he gave full access to their manuscripts library. In reciprocation Bharati returned on April 18 and presented a set of Srila Prabhupada’s books to their general library.

Sri Monami Roy Museum

A visit to an extensive private museum in Krishnanagar that was established by the late Sri Mohit Roy was also fruitful. Thousands of artifacts are on display. One old newspaper, Hicky’s Bengal Gazette, dates back to 1780. They also have an extensive library of manuscripts and literature.

Sri Monami Roy and his mother are the current custodians of his father’s legacy and they were happy to give us full access for digital copying.

The Sudarsanlala Mandir 

The Sudarsanlala Mandir in Navadwip has an extensive collection of printed works by the Six Goswamis and their followers. The Mahanta there, Sri Bhagavat dasa allowed us to photograph sixteen books, and he also presented us with a manuscripts of the Skanda Purana which is now on display in the BRC library (seen here next to a photo of the Sudarsanlal Deity)

Other notable places visited were:

The Dwijendra Pathagar, Krishnanagar, the place of the great poet Dwijendralal Roy who wrote Dhana Dhanye Puspe Bhara and Vande Mataram, two famous songs which are used as popular anthems of India. This is an old library and the librarian Mr. Apurva Kundu allowed us to photograph eleven manuscripts here.

Bally Sadharan Granthagar Howrah District — 7 manuscripts;
Chandannagar Pustakagar Hoogli District — 2 manuscripts;
Vasanti Durga temple, Baharampur in Murshidabad District