Friday, April 13, 2012
The Gaudiya Grantha Mandir and Jiva Institute of Vaishnava Studies
To make a project like the Gaudiya Grantha Mandira function to perfection, money is important. Although we recently received two 100$ donations, the total amount donated since the inception of this site ten years ago comes to only a little over $1000, much of it from a single benefactor.
Not having institutional backing is simultaneously a blessing -- one is free to work or not as one likes -- as well as frustrating if one has real goals set in mind. I have never approached GGM as anything other than a labor of love and I have been satisfied with my own continuing efforts to share books I discover and wish to go through on my own.
Though the site has always had wider potential, I have at least been able to maintain its minimal purpose over the years, with the result that a fair number of texts (nearly 600) is now available, many of which are rare and interesting from both a scholarly and devotional point of view.
Of course there is only so much one person can do, and my lack of intense ambition to see the global purpose of this site realized is ultimately a loss for everyone interested in Vaishnavism, regardless of sampradaya, faith or scholarly purpose. This is a project in the spirit of Bhaktivinoda Thakur, Ramnarayan Vidyaratna, Siddhanta Saraswati, Haridas Das Babaji, Puridas Mahashaya, Kusumsarovarwala Krishnadas Baba and the many other great discoverers and dedicated researchers of Vaishnava literature over the last two centuries.
Now Srila Satya Narayan Dasji of the Jiva Institute of Vaishnava Studies in Vrindavan has long recognized the value of the Grantha Mandir project and recently come forward with his support, both moral and material. An official announcement will be forthcoming when everything has been put in place.
In the first instance we will have to find typists who are competent and have a modicum of Sanskrit knowledge. So far we have found one such person and I am in the process of training two others, one who can type Hindi the other who knows Sanskrit but has no experience with keyboards. Progress will clearly be slow, but hopefully steady.
Our first priority will be to complete the commentaries to the principal lila-granthas of the Gaudiya sampradaya--Govinda-līlāmṛta, Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta and Kṛṣṇāhnika-kaumudī; the other priority is the tikas to the 10th canto of the Bhāgavatam.
The list of texts we still want to get on the site, it is still fairly lengthy. The addition of the considerable corpus of Bengali and Brajbhasha texts is one direction into which we hope to expand, but there is no shortage of Sanskrit works that need to be made available for researchers.
Having other people working at GGM means I will have to commit more time supervising them and editing the texts that others have typed and less time doing it myself in isolation, but from another standpoint, this is actually better for reading, as typing can be done with only superficial understanding of meaning, which is not true for proofreading. From the standpoint of quality, the standards will likely improve.
Of course, the best way to go would probably be to have professional typists who can just churn the stuff out and then hire competent Sanskritists to proofread. At some point this may be possible.
The connection with Jiva also likely means that there will be some upgrading of the site itself. This aspect of GGM has been neglected for too long. Discussions are underway.
The original idea of the Grantha Mandir, as I was explaining to a prospect yesterday, was to be able to enter as fully as possible the mind of someone like Jiva Goswami by having full access to the very texts that he would have known. It may not be possible to ever fully duplicate that, but it would certainly be helpful -- not only for knowing what he accepted, but also for what he rejected. The all-important search function that GGM texts allows for the kind of quick research that was never before possible.
A case in point might be the Muktā-phalam of Vopadeva and its Kaivalya-dipika commentary by Hemadri Suri. These were clearly known to the Goswamis and appreciated, but the siddhantas were not fully accepted. Some of the influences can be intimated obliquely. For instance, Jiva Goswami's manner of naming the speaker of individual verses or sections of the Bhagavatam in the Sandarbhas may well be modeled on Muktā-phalam -- I have not seen it anywhere else.
Moreover, Vopadeva's classification of the Bhagavata according to the literary rasas from the tradition, along with Hemadri's commentary (Hemadri also wrote a book on poetics, Alaṅkāra-cūḍāmaṇi) present an analysis that could clearly be seen as a precursor to or inspiration for Rupa Goswami's Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu. More research will have to be done and the GGM edition of Muktā-phalam will no doubt be an invaluable resource for whoever does the work.
Thus by knowing Muktā-phalam, whether one considers it a strong or weak influence on the Goswamis, it nevertheless adds to our understanding of their general knowledge or the state of knowledge about the Bhagavatam to which they would have been privy.
On the whole, I continue with the Grantha Mandir at the expense of other important projects that I have started, including my own translation work and original contributions to the understanding of Vaishnava spirituality (what to speak of Vrindavan Today!).
There are now hundreds of devotee scholars who work on these texts, but very few seem willing to take the time to help improve this facility for the benefit of others, either by sharing upgraded versions when they themselves make use of them in their research, or even by simply reporting the mistakes that they detect. Hopefully the institutional affiliation with Jiva will give a boost in this direction also.
The GGM forums are the best place to contribute in this way, rather than by email. If you do use a GGM text for research purpose or more intensive study, please, please think of others and share your discoveries of errors, alternate readings, etc., with future scholars.
These forums could also be a good place for discussing other aspects of these texts also. Scholars are a solitary bunch generally. They are sensitive to criticism and also competitive and protective of their own discoveries. Those who are of the Vaishnava persuasion should perhaps consider the quality of generosity (audarya) as a model for an approach to the scholarly life. The current Western system of academia tends to exacerbate the individualistic rather than collegial (ironically) approach. There is still a possibility that GGM could serve as a community for those in the tradition who wish to share and learn.
Hopefully, the new developments at GGM will lead to closer contact with our members in the form of newsletters and so on and will help to make the original purpose of the site a reality.
It should be noted that for the 100$ donation, GGM benefactors receive a CD with all the GGM texts in their most up-to-date condition along with numerous other texts such as the Mahābhārata, Rāmāyaṇa, Padma-purāṇa, Nārada-purāṇa, Rigveda, and Manu-saṁhitā, in Balaram font, etc.
We are, of course, always welcoming of new sponsors. Radhe Radhe.
Grantha Mandir forums.