Sri Chamarajendra Vedaratnamala: The Making of an Immortal Garland of Sacred Sanatana Literature
Chapter 1 – Past Perfect
The indomitable South Indian Sanatana fortress renowned as the magnificent Vijayanagara Empire was founded on a simple but brawny vow: NEVER AGAIN ANOTHER MALIK KAFUR! NO MORE TUGHLAQS SHALL DEFILE OUR TEMPLES AND WOMEN AND SLAUGHTER THE GAU-MATA! It was a sacred Sankalpa that the entire Sanatana society made to itself at all levels and it filled it with the stony muscle of Kshatra, which protected Dharma for the next two and half centuries. Even as the North was repeatedly being devastated with massacre-ridden palace intrigues in the so-called Delhi Sultanate and Hindu Tirtha-Kshetras were being ravaged by Turushkas fuelled by Islam-inspired impunity, this Sankalpa erected the Great Hindu Wall of Dakshina Desha. No Turushka dared look southwards ever since.
The Vijayanagara Empire was an Empire, in fact the last great Empire of classical Sanatana Renaissance in an all-encompassing sense. It produced little if any original work matching the standard of say, the Guptas, because its focus was renewal, rejuvenation and preservation. We observe this signature in all small and great endeavours and accomplishments of its glorious legacy – in art, painting, prose, poetry, drama, sculpture, temple-building, social structures and economic system. The emphasis throughout was continuity. In the devastating circumstances in which the Vijayanagara Empire arose, continuity of centuries of tradition was what gave it the moral authority to rule with an iron fist for so long.
Nowhere is this Virupakshan Stamp of rejuvenation and preservation more pronounced than in its immortal service towards reinvigorating the very foundation of Sanatana Dharma – the vast corpus of its Vedic lore. It was not mere service but an unprecedented, unrepeatable epoch.
The profound roots that germinated this timeless epoch are chiefly found in the Sanatana vision of Vidyāraṇya Swami, the spiritual inspiration of the Vijayanagara Empire. However, the lion’s share of credit for fulfilling it goes to his talented younger brother, Sāyaṇācārya. The brilliant Vijayanagara monarch who supplied the exacting resources and steely protection required for such a mammoth endeavour was Bukkaraya, who shares equal credit in its success.
The incredible brother-duo assembled an extraordinary team of the topmost Veda-vidvān-s in the Vijayanagara Empire and undammed the Tungabhadran flood of spiritual energy and Vedic scholarship required for this Great Aeon of Sanatana renewal at its most foundational level. The final result of this prolonged churning was the nectar named Vedārthaprakāśa, popularly known as Sāyaṇā-bhāṣya, or Sāyaṇācārya’s commentary on the Vedas. In the words of a cultural treasure of our own time, Shatavadhani Dr. Ganesh,
Truer words were never spoken. Indeed, the Vedārthaprakāśa has become the undisputed, de facto authority for clearly, unambiguously realizing the secret of the Veda.
Revival at the Time of Extinction
Five hundred years later, in vastly altered circumstances, another Hindu Kingdom helplessly facing the democratic axe of Dharmic extinction attempted a similar endeavour driven by the same Vidyāraṇyan vision but in a highly constricted precinct. This was the Hindu Kingdom of Mysore which had become independent after the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire, but had retained its ancestral umbilical cord of Sanatana culture and tradition.
Its last illustrious ruler, Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar ascended the throne in 1940, an era of rapid, alarming and multifaceted erosion of Sanatana Dharma. The entire Sanatana community owes an unrepayable debt of gratitude for his singular service to Dharma in both quality and volume given his short-lived tenure as Maharaja.
The contrasting irony can’t be crueller: while Sāyaṇācārya envisioned, authored, and completed his magnum opus Vedārthaprakāśa in order to decisively stamp the comprehensive revival of Sanatana Dharma, Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar attempted to preserve Sāyaṇācārya’s legacy in a desperate era when India was in a vulgar haste to embrace the political system of her colonial oppressor. Sāyaṇācārya was eminently successful because he was himself endowed with Kshatra and the Hindu civilizational climate in his era pulsated with this same warrior-spirit. Hindus in his time were tightly fused a society, different organs of the same body, multicoloured threads of the same fabric. However, in Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar’s time, each organ of this Hindu body was rebelling against one another, chasing the illusion of an independent body for itself. Kshatra was scattered: this among others, is one of the meanings and outcomes of the nascent Indian democracy. This misguided and opportunistic understanding and application of democracy is precisely the virgin field that birthed and enthroned profoundly demonic ideology called Dravidianism. One can speculate another reason for the enormous success of Dravidianism: it arose in a region that did not have the soothing shade and the controlling fist of Dharmic rulers like the Mysore Wodeyars. This is also the reason why the Praja Paksha, a Karnataka carbon-copy of the Justice Party, was a monumental flop.
Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar’s phenomenal attempt at preserving Sāyaṇācārya’s legacy – i.e., the Vedic continuity – was the first and the last of its kind done anywhere in the world at that time. After seventy-five years, it remains unreplicated and unsurpassed—perhaps for eternity. In its underlying ideal, impulse and inspiration, it compares favourably with Sāyaṇācārya’s titanic feat because for those who are genuinely interested in the pursuit of Vedic education today, Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar’s accomplishment is still the lifeboat that has preserved Sāyaṇācārya’s legacy.
This accomplishment is the majestic thirty-six volumes of the Rg Veda Samhita published under the auspices of the Jayachamarajendra Vedaratnamālā (literally, Garland of Vedic Pearls), a division of the Jayachamarajendra Graṃthamālā (literally, Garland of Books).
These volumes comprise the entire Rg Veda Samhita with the original Sanskrit verses along with the Sanskrit text of Sāyaṇācārya's commentary followed by word-to-word Kannada translation of the Vedic verses and Sāyaṇācārya's commentary and an English translation of each verse. We shall examine this in detail in a subsequent instalment of this series.
Consistent with the Sanatana Spirit, it was envisioned not as a publishing endeavour (or that other fashionable word, “project”), but as a Kratu, a Sacred Yajna. After just seven years, this was the Yajna-Phala (Fruit of the Yajna): thirty volumes exceeding twenty-five thousand pages.
It couldn’t have been otherwise because Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar was the last great inheritor of the Vijayanagara legacy to occupy the ruler’s throne of the Hindu Kingdom of Mysore, a throne that was hungrily usurped by Gandhian opportunists. Ever since, Tipu Sultan’s proxy lineage disguised as “Hindu” Congressmen continue to have a field day.
This is the story of Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar’s Yajna, the story of the making of the Jayachamarajendra Vedaratnamālā.
To be continued
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