A paramount contributor to the speed, success and inestimable quality of the Vedaratnamala volumes was the attitude of its scholars. This attitude is what truly fulfilled the vision of Sri Siddalinga Swami and brought Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar’s Sankalpa to fruition. The phrase sanctified conviction best describes it. Indeed, attitude more than approach makes all the difference between success and timelessness. To the team of the Vēdavimarśana vidvanmaṇḍali, this was not merely a project or just another work of scholarship. Anybody who is acquainted with even rudimentary Vedic learning can testify from experience the profound impact it leaves on the person’s life. Apart from the profound knowledge it imparts, Vedic learning is an intrinsic value that one realizes. It is something that cannot be fully articulated. It is what our tradition calls anubhavaika vedya. And here we have a team of first-rate scholars and Vidvans whose life-breath was the Veda. We get a tangential glimpse of this attitude from the Vedaratnamala volumes themselves:
We are reminded of the Vedic scholar, the towering Hanagal Virupaksha Sastri’s profound attitude towards learning and imparting Vedic education. As also his biting note about the approach of Western scholars towards our sacred lore: “Yes, they also learn our Vedas but do they have Pujya Buddhi (an attitude of reverence) towards it?”
The uniqueness and singularity of the Vedaratnamala volumes becomes more pronounced when we compare it with similar work done by other Samsthanams (Princely States) of the period. Baroda, Kashmir, Travancore, Kashi, and other States in the Maratha region did publish valuable work in the Vedic and Upanishadic realm. However, these were largely piecemeal in nature. The Chamarajendra Vedaratnamala was and remains the only work that was undertaken in a rigorous, systematic, comprehensive and time-bound fashion.
As we have narrated earlier, the Vedaratnamala relies on and is entirely faithful to Sāyaṇācārya’s commentary on the Vedas titled Vedārthaprakāśa. The introduction to the corpus of Vedic literature in the very first volume runs up to four hundred pages, a masterclass and an entire education in all aspects of the Vedas. It also provides an exhaustive reasoning for using Sāyaṇācārya’s commentary backed up by solid evidence, strength of tradition and rigorous systematization. Following this great ācārya’s hallowed footsteps, the Vedaratnamala evolved a twelvefold structure which can be summarized as follows:
1. Twenty-five chapters (or sections) which provide a preparatory backgrounder for approaching Vedic learning. This also forms the preface.
2. Introduction to Sāyaṇācārya’s Rg Veda commentary, which is “mandatory for any attempt to derive the accurate meaning of the Veda sans errors of omission and commission.”
3. The meaning of each Mantra of the Rg Veda. Each Sukta is taken up individually and its Mandala, Anuvaka, Ashtaka, Adhyaya, Varga, Rishi, Chhandas, Devata, and the number of the Rk are given.
4. This is followed by the saṃhitā pāṭha displaying the svara marks in “large font to facilitate easy reading.”
5. Next is the pada pāṭha or word-by-word rendering of the mantra likewise with svara marks.
6. This is followed by the Sanskrit text of Sāyaṇācārya’s original commentary.
7. Word-by-word meaning of the mantra in simple Kannada is given next.
8. After this, the full meaning of the mantra is explained in Kannada, titled bhāvārtha or essence of the mantra.
9. This is followed by a simple English translation of the mantra.
10. The section that follows this is known as Special Meaning, describing the special or unique meanings of the mantra in certain circumstances.
11. Next is a section titled Distinctive Topics. This contains prolific details of the meanings of some words in the Rg Veda mantras classified according to their common meanings, special meanings, relationship with other words, and change in their meanings when used in other mantras. This section also describes some upākhyāna-s (episodes or stories), topics related to Devatas and Yajnas. If this was not enough, it also explains in detail the opinions of Western scholars and puts them in their proper place.
The final section is entirely devoted to Grammar. It is faithful to Maharshi Panini and also uses the expositions of other renowned Sanskrit grammarians.
The volumes are rounded off with a detailed alphabetical index of the Rg Vedic Mantras.
A whopping sixty-two authoritative source texts are listed by the Vedaratnamala team. This is of course a partial list.
The first volume of the Rg Veda Samhita was published in the Sarvajit Samvatsara on the āśvayuja śukla daśami or October 24, 1947, two months after India attained political independence.
After this, this profound Yajna continued with the same intensity, devotion, and determined pace. The result was that in less than a decade, a whopping 25,000 pages spread over thirty volumes of the Rg Veda Samhita became one of the greatest treasures that the Wodeyar dynasty bestowed upon Karnataka and the whole world. The thirty-sixth and final volume was published in 1961, marking the completion of this mammoth Yajna. The total corpus runs up to 32,000 pages.
Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar personally oversaw various aspects of this sacred endeavor offering valuable suggestions with respect to both aesthetics, content and execution. Without sacrificing quality for speed, he simultaneously engaged four printing presses in Mysore and distributed among them this staggering mass of manuscripts: Sharada Press, Vinayaka Printing Press, Shakti Electric Press, Chamundeshwari Electric Press and Panchacharya Press. The presses too, regarded this as sacred work and created special types for the volumes and brought out elegant works of art. Only the topmost quality of paper was used with Calico binding. Hundreds of families in Karnataka who have preserved these first editions still regard the collection with justified pride.
Given the substantial expenditure involved, the Rg Veda Samhita volumes were sold at a heavily subsidized price. But there’s more. Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar donated hundreds of copies of the volumes to various libraries, educational institutions, Mathas and individual Vidvans and scholars. The profound descriptions of Daana (charity) elaborated in our Dharmasastras found their twenty-first-century embodiment in Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar. Indeed, the great Maharaja had subordinated his royal crown at the vedayajñavedi –the altar of this great Vedic Yajna. And as it should, it turned out to be his crowning glory.
Unfortunately, the sweeping changes that “independence” wrought put a permanent halt to the remainder of this Yajna: of publishing similar work on the other three Vedas.
From a different perspective, we can conclusively declare that the Jayachamarajendra Vedaratnamala volumes are the decisive and the most authoritative counters to Max Mueller’s translations of the Vedas.
Along with the Vedaratnamala, the Maharaja also sponsored the translation and publication of twenty-four Puranas engaging nineteen Vidvans. The total corpus of the Jayachamarajendra Granthamala stands at a magnificent 2.5 lakh pages.
The Great Hindu Tragedy repeated even in this case.
Speaking on the hundredth anniversary of Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar III, the eminent Kannada poet, D.R. Bendre recounted how he met a German scholar in Pondicherry who lavished praise on the Vedaratnamala volumes and eulogized the munificence and dedication of Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar. Then, Bendre wistfully noted how even this much-coveted praise from White-skinned people failed to wake up the Kannada people to this priceless cultural treasure lying await in their own backyard.
The same cultural negligence, the same criminal apathy and fundamental poverty is reflected in the fact that apart from Sri A.R. Krishna Sastri and Dr. Anantarangachar, not one Kannada literary eminence, editor, journalist, newspaper or magazine has deigned to write a single word about the Jayachamarajendra Granthamala. As if it didn’t exist.
1. Vibhutipurusha Vidyaranya: Shatavadhani Dr. Ganesh
2. Personal guidance from Shatavadhani Dr. Ganesh
3. Sri Jayachamarajendra Vedaratanamala: Vols 1 & 36
4. Sri Jayachamarajendra Grantharatnamale: Review by Dr. N. Anantarangachar
5. Sri Jayachamarajendra Grantharatnamale: Review by Dr. H.V. Nagaraja Rao
6. Mysore Palace Publications: B.K. Shivaramaiah
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