On Air 4: More News from Benares (and some from the North-Eastern Provinces)

The fourth release of the Cambridge Digital Library includes thirteen new descriptions of Sanskrit manuscripts.

The present release adds detailed descriptions of five manuscripts (Add.891, Add.894, Add.895, Add.1037 and Add.1715) of works belonging to the classical school of Vedic exegesis (Mīmāṃsā). Fifteen Mīmāṃsā manuscripts have been identified so far in the Cambridge collection. Most of them belong to the Cowell collection[1] and are written on paper in Devanāgarī script, but a notable exception is a recently identified South Indian manuscript (on palm-leaves and in Malayalam script) of Sucarita Miśra’s Kāśikā on Kumārila Bhaṭṭa’s Ślokavārttika (1.1.1-4).[2] The dates of these manuscripts range from the mid-sixteenth century (Add. 1034, to be included in the fifth release) to the late nineteenth-century. Most texts are individual sections of larger works, dealing with specific exegetical or ritual topics such as the validity of non-injunctive Vedic sentences (mantras, arthavādas), assignment (viniyoga) of a ritual element to a main procedure, entitlement (adhikāra) to perform a Vedic sacrifice, etc. The manuscripts generally bear the sign of repeated use for personal study or perhaps teaching (corrections, annotations, etc.). The works belong either to the tradition of commentaries and sub-commentaries on Śabara’s Bhāṣya (Add. 891, Add. 1037, two sections of Kumārila’s Tantravārttika)or to the genre of semi-independent treatises known as adhikaraṇamālās(“Garlands of Chapters”), much in favour among Mīmāṃsakas in the second millennium. Many works of this last category are still awaiting publication, like for instance Rāghavānanda Sarasvatī’s Nyāyāvalīdīdhiti, pro­bably written in the 18th century. Three manuscripts of this work are kept in Cambridge (Add. 894, Add. 895, and Add. 1715), which together cover most of books 1-7 of the Mī­māṃsāsūtras.

Two other manuscripts from the Cowell collection included in this release are Add.893 and Add.906. The first one contains a philosophical treatise on logic, the Padārthamālā by Jayarāma Nyāyapañcānana, who belonged “to the Bengali school of Navya-Nyāya and was active in the 17th century. The date of copy of the manuscript, 1692 saṃvat (= 1636 AD), may thus be very close to the date of composition of the text” (from the entry on Add.893). Add.906 is a 19th century manuscript of one of the most famous compendia (nibandha) on Hindu law, composed by Vācaspati Miśra II from Mithilā, the Vivādacintāmaṇi. Until modern times, this text was considered to be a major authoritative source on legal matters in Mithilā (Bihar).[3]

Six manuscripts in this release belong to the Bendall collection: Add.2252, Add.2418, Add.2464, Add.2514.1, Add.2514.2, and Or.153. During two journeys in Northern India and Nepal in 1884-1885 and 1898-1899, Prof. Cecil Bendall collected ca. 600 manuscripts. While descriptions of some of the manuscripts collected in 1884-1885 are available in a report written by Bendall,[4] the ones included in this release have been collected by him in his second journey and are described for the first time in the Cambridge Digital Library.

Add.2252 is a manuscript of the Antakṛddaśāvivaraṇa by Abhayadeva, a Sanskrit commentary on the eighth Aṅga of the Śvetāmbara canon. The manuscript was written in 1637 CE and like Add.2286,[5] it belongs to a set of manuscripts of the 45 Śvetāmbara āgamas commissioned by the members of the same family. This set is now scattered among different libraries in India and Europe.

Add.2418 is a modern manuscript written in 1807 CE, containing an unpublished commentary on the Ghaṭakarpara, the Ghaṭakarparaṭīka composed by a certain Tārācandra or Tārānātha. The last stanza of the text in this manuscript[6] is particularly interesting as to the issue of authorship, since it names Tārācandra in connection to a revision of the commentary (either he is not the author of the commentary and just revised it, or the manuscript witnesses a version revised by the author himself).

Add.2464, Add.2514.1, Add.2514.2 are modern manuscripts of grammatical works, all related to Bhaṭṭoji Dīkṣita’s Siddhāntakaumudī. Add.2464 is a manuscript of the Śābdabodha by Rāmakṛṣṇa, a text consisting of grammatical explanations of several exemplar sentences taken from the kāraka section of the Siddhāntakaumudī. Add.2514.1 is a modern copy (1749 CE) of the Laghusiddhāntakaumudī, an abridgement of the Siddhāntakaumudī. In this manuscript, a stray folio (Add.2514.2) containing a section of the Tattvabodhinī of Jñānendra Sarasvatī, a 16th-century commentary on the Siddhāntakaumudī, has been inserted between folios 63 and 64.

Last but not least, Or.153 is an old palm-leaf manuscript (13th century) of the Aparimitāyurdhāraṇīsūtra, a very popular Nepalese sūtra[7] and one of the most frequently copied sūtras in Dunhuang.[8] This manuscript is a witness of a recension slightly different than the one on which M. Walleser’s edition is based.[9]

1. This collection consists of manuscripts bought by various individuals in Vārāṇasī in the 1870’s on behalf of Prof. Cowell (cf. the brief note in the post on the third release).

2. This manuscript belongs to a batch of South Indian manuscripts acquired by the Cambridge University Library from the book dealer Robert E. Stolper between 1990 and 1991, and still awaits to be assigned a definitive shelf-mark.

3. We would like to thank our external collaborator Dr Hugo David for the careful cataloguing of these manuscripts and for having provided us with this paragraph on their character for this post.

4. Bendall, Cecil, A Journey of Literary and Archaeological Research in Nepal and Northern India, During the Winter of 1884-5.

(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1886) [download].

5. See the post on the third release.

6. tārācaṃdrābhidheyena bālavyutpattihetave || ghaṭakharparaṭīkeyaṃ saṃśodhya prakaṭīkṛtā.

7. The Cambridge Collections comprise five manuscripts of this text.

8. Payne, Richard K, “Aparamitāyus: ‘Tantra’ and ‘Pure Land’ in Medieval Indian Buddhism?”, Pacific World: Journal of the Institute of Buddhist Studies issue 9 pp. 273-308, Third Series (2007), p. 274.

9. Walleser, Max (ed.), Aparimitāyur-jñāna-nāma-mahāyana-sūtram. Nach einer nepalesischen Sanskrit-Handschrift mit der tibetischen und chinesischen Version herausgegeben und übersetzt von M. Walleser. Vorgelegt von Chr. Bartholomae, Sitzungsberichte der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften. Philosophisch-Historische Klasse 1916.12 (Heidelberg: C. Winter, 1916).