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Gitamrta Mahodadhi

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Item Code: NAP954
Author: Brahmasri R. Visvanath Sastri
Publisher: Samskrta Academy, Madras
Language: Sanskrit
Edition: 2018
ISBN: 9788193117026
Pages: 444
Other Details 9.50 X 6.50 inch
Weight 900 gm
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Book Description


Sri R. Visvanatha Sastri (1882 - 1956), my father, worked in the judicial department of South Arcot District in the erstwhile Madras Province of British India and retired as Sub-Court Sheristadar, Cuddalore, in 1939. In his younger years, round about the second decade of the 20th century, when he was working in »: Tirukkoilur and Cuddalore, "every year (probably for four or five years) during the summer recess, sending his wife and children to her fath~r's place, he went over to Canapathy Agraharam in Tanjore District, to be for day and nigh( at the lotus feet of Sri Sri Vasudeva Brahmendra Saraswati and stayed there in his Ashram like a gurukulavasi. He had all his Bhasya paihae this way. It was at this time he was probably also a sahapathi (contemporary student) of Sri S. Kuppuswami Sastry, in whose name the Research Institute K.S.R.I. is known. It seems Vasudeva Brahmendral was also revered by Sri Ramakrishna Sastrigal, my father's father. A picture of this Sri Sri Vasudeva Brahmendra Saraswati remained in father's pl1ja all his life. This Acarya attained Samadhi on 4th March 1931.

During his lifetime, my father gave numerous lectures and expositions of the scriptures including several Saptahas of the Srimad Bhagavatam and Navahas of the Valmiki Ramayana at various places in the present Tamilnadu and Kerala and also in some north Indian locations. One such event is recalled by him with pride in his autobiographical notes. In the early thirties (in October 1934) he gave a fifteen-day exposition of the Bhagavatam at the Mani-karnika ghat in Varanasi in the beatific presence of His Holiness the Kamakoti Sankaracharya Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swamigal (now known as the Kanchi Maha Swamigal) who was then on his first all-India tour.

My father has left 27 original manuscripts expounding the Advaita school of thinking and its symbiosis with Bhakti. The longest of them all is this book. It is a marathon treatise on Advaita through the medium of the Gita and the Upanishads. It consists of 2400 anushtup slokas divided into five chapters. The Gita for him is only a jumping board. He goes into raptures on Shankara's Daksinamurii stotram, covers the 108 Upanishads each in a few slokas, and gets into the saptabhumikas of Mahopanishad. The entire work is an elaboration of Advaitvedanta through a unique track chalked out by himself. He wrote the whole mss as was his custom always, in the Grantha script of the Sanskrit language. The first thing he planned was to send it to the Kanchi Mutt for the Maha Periava to bless it. In the process he decided to have it transcribed into Devanagari script, because not many would be comfortable with Grantha script. I offered to do the transcription and he dictated it to me from the grantha version. While doing so I used to ask him for some of the meanings - not that I understood the rest. While I listened to his explanations, once I ventured to suggest that his slokas might need a commentary by himself since he seemed to be putting meanings and significance into them which were very profound. Fortunately for posterity, he took this meek suggestion of this 27-year-old seriously and spent another two months or so writing a prose commentary (again in Sanskrit, of course in Grantha script) of his own work. All this was finished by October 1954. The resulting manuscript (running up to 879 pages of notebook size writing) now contains therefore both his original slokas and his own Sanskrit commentary (vyakhyana) in prose. This original copy in his grantha handwriting continues to be one of my treasured possessions.

A copy of the original manuscript of just the 2400 slokas alone in Devanagari script is in the Kanchi Mutt Library. Before his passing away, I chanced to ask him: Which ones of your Mss. would you like to have published, ultimately? The answer was that Gitamrita Mahodadhi was his magnum opus, it contained his lifetime of studies and research and it was the one that should see the light of day, if nothing else. In order that the work may have a wider reading, the transcription of the whole work, (including his vyakhyana in prose) into Devanagari script has been done, by the Grace of God, over the years, by me. A xerox copy of this version is in the Library of K.S.R.I. since 1998.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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