This edition of Bhavabhuti’s Malati- Madhava is based on the following copies:-
A. The Calcutta edition of 1866 by Kailasacandra Datta. The text of this differs very little, if at all, from that of the older print brought out at the same place. My object in this edition was to bring together the various forms of the text that prevail in different parts of India. An edition based on a number of Mss., however large, is by no means satisfactory if the Mss. come from the same place or country. I have, therefore, taken this Calcutta print as a fair representative of the Bengal text, and collated it along with the other Mss.
B. A Ms, from the Library of Anna Sastri Agase of Ratnagiri. Unfortunately, the last sheet of this, containing a few speeches at the end, is lost. A Ms. of the Vikramorvasi from the same Library, which I have lent to my friend Mr. Shankar P. Pandit, appears from the colophon to have been transcribed at Benares about sixty years ago. In external appearance, this resembles B. So much, that both were undoubtedly written by the same person and at about the same time. B. therefore is about sixty years old, and may be taken to be a representative of the Benares text.
C. From Nasik, copied for the Government of Bombay under the superintendence of Dr. Buhler and deposited in the Elphinstone College.
D. This is accompanied by the commentary and comes down to about the middle of Act VI. It belongs to the same collection as C. and is a recent copy. This also is from Nasik.
E. This belongs to the Library of the Elphinstone College, and is one of a valuable collection which appears to have existed in the Library almost since the foundation of the College. These Mss. appear to have been copies made for somebody upon a uniform plan; for all of them are of the folio size. They do not seem to have been used by any Sastris. There is a Sloka at the end of E. which gives the date when the Ms. was copied, in these words:- वसुगगनरसेलासमितेब्दे i.e., in the year Ksaya, 1608 of the Saka Era, corresponding to 1686 A.D. But this could hardly be the date of the Ms, wherefore the Sloka appears to have been copied from the original of which our E. is a transcript.
G. This was procured by Mr. Ganesa Bhikaji Gunjikar, B. A., from a Gujarati Brahman and kindly lent to me. The last sheet containing but a few lines is wanting, so that if it contained a date at all, it is not available. But the Ms. does appear to be very old.
N. This is a Ms. written on Tala leaves in the Tailanga characters and kindly lent to me by Mr. Narasimmiyengar of Bangalor. It represents the southern text of the play.
For this edition A., C., and N. have been collated throughout, and B. up to the middle of Act X for the reason given above. N. was received after 168 pages had been printed off. Its readings, therefore, for the first four Acts and 68 lines of the fifth, have been given in an Appendix. D. Could be used only up to the middle of Act VI, and after that E. which is similar to it in many respects was put in its place. I got G. when the seventh Act was being printed off. It has, therefore, been used in the eight Act at a place where there is a lacuna in E. and in the tenth after B. breaks off. G., however, was frequently consulted when I had to choose a reading for the text, and some of its variations are noticed in the explanatory notes.
All these Mss. are independent of each other, and there is no such resemblance between any two as to entitle them to be classed together as belonging to one family. Still, however, in cases of difference, A. and D. agree with each other oftener than with any of the others, and so do B. and C. Hence A. and D. bear a distant relationship to each other which points to a common origin at some remote time, and so do B. and C. I have, in such cases, generally chosen the reading of B. and C. as representing an ancient redaction of the text prevailing in the country between Benares and Nasik, and given the other in the footnotes. E. bears to A. the same relationship that D. does Hence, it was chosen to supply the place of D. in the later Acts. N., though it very often stands alone agrees more with B. and C. than with any of the rest. When B. and C. do not agree, the reading of the majority has been adopted in the text. And this, I believe, is the proper thing to do, when Mss. from different parts of the country, so independent of each other, are collated. These are the general principles observed in this edition but in some cases they were departed from, when a good reading could not be obtained by strictly adhering to them. The readings of B., C. and of the majority are, in these cases, thrown into the footnotes. I have not considered myself bound to adopt Jagaddhara’s readings. Even in his time separated as it was from that of the poet by about eight hundred years, as will be shown hereafter, the text of the play was unsettled, and not unfrequently he himself gives varice lectiones. His text appears generally, though not invariably, to agree with A. In the last two Acts, however, the agreement is not so great, and often his reading is the same as that of B. or N. He seems to have gone upon a Ms. representing the redaction prevalent in his own country. If he was a native of Mithila, as is not unlikely, since his grandfather lived, according to Dr. Hall, at Videhanagara, that circumstance explains why his text should agree so much with A. which represents Bengal and the adjacent provinces. The fact that he is nearer to the poet than our Mss. by more than three hundred years, does not signify much under the circumstances I have stated. And, I think a reading, as to which even modern Mss. representing the text prevalent in different parts of India agree, is more likely to be the reading of the poet than that given by a single Ms. more than three hundred years old, which pretty closely agrees with a recent one containing the prevailing text of a certain province only. Besides, the reading of our commentator cannot be determined with certainty, in a good many cases, since he often gives only a paraphrase and passes over large portions of the prose passages. Where it could be, it was duly considered in framing the text of this edition.
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