Nothing new is normally undertaken in India without offering an obeisance to the Allmighty or to one of his divine manifestations and without propitiating the cosmic powers which guide and control all creative activities of human beings on this earth. Literary writings are no exceptions to this. Almost all Sanskrit works open up with beautiful benedictory verses of high literary merit and of great oginality. Every author tries to excel and outshine his predecessor through his fanciful originality and imaginative creativity by composing one or more verses in the glory of his Istadevata describing same striking traits of his or her personality in a manner in which it has not been done before.
Though the main purpose behind the composition of such benedictory verses is said to be ‘destruction of obstacles’ (vighnavinasa) in the progress of the work leading to its successful completion, yet perhaps there is much more to this practice behind the scene. In many cases the hidden motive of the author to establish himself firmly in the field of literature as a poet of high flown imagination and of great literary acumen with the very first verse of his work, cannot be ruled out. Consequently, he pours in all his poetic skill and all his literary capabilities in this opening verses. These auspicious verses therefore, which are now being presented in the present volume to the lovers of devotional poetry, can be termed as the real ‘jewels’ of Sanskrit literature.
The verses has been culled from all possible sources-form published work form unpublished manuscripts in our collection and from quotations in the catalogues of MMS, from the anthologies of Subhasitas as well as from Sanskrit inscriptions. This first part contains verses pertaining to-first of all (and to whom else?)- the prathamapujya Lord Ganesa, he destroyed of impediments; as well as to Siva, Karttikeya and Hanumat-popularly believed to be a son of Siva.
Almost all facets and aspects of Bhakti-right from dasya to sakhya and from madhurya to vatsalya find their beautiful expression in these auspicious verses. While offering salutation to his Istadevata, an author often does not shun to describe even a weak point or a frivolous aspects of the personality of his Adored One in an amusing manner, and yet this does not minimize his devotion and respect towards the Dirty!
No claim is being made as to the completeness of this collection. Sources at our disposal were limited and so also the time for working on this Project and the money for its publication. Add to this, the encumbrances that an India Housewife has to face for whom it is not easy to travel to other cities to look for material available in the libraries located there. But the present volume may at least serve as a significant signpost (what you call ‘Wegweiser’ in German) with its arrow pointing towards a hitherto uninvestigated field of research which is worth pursuing.
Further volumes are planned. The second volume, larger than this one and deo favente et volente, coming close on the heels of the first volume, consists of Mangalacarana verses relating to Visnu, his various incarnations, the manifold aspects of Mother goddess and also some ‘kvacid anyato pi’.
The idea to pick up Mangalacarana verses from varied sources and to publish them as a collection arose in my mind while examining individual manuscripts for purchase in this Institute as a part of the ‘Scheme for Collection and Preservation of Sanskrit MSS’ entrusted to us by the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan. While examining the manuscript I invariable started a new manuscript offered for sale by first reading aloud its benedictory verse to the members of the purchase Committee because it tells a lot not only about the religious conviction and mental set-up of the author but also reveals the quality of his work and perhaps much more. Every second or third manuscript of an unknown work thus examined threw up surprise of encounter with fresh and hitherto unknown verses of high literary quality which enraptured the sahrdaya members of the Committee. The desire to collect them all for connoisseurs of literature grew stronger and stronger in my mind till I asked Dr. Smt. Bina Misra, Manuscript Pandit and Curtor-in-charge in our Institute, to start collecting these verses from the manuscripts and printed works in our library. She gladly and willingly accepted this onorous assignment and worked patiently over years under our guidance on this Project resulting in this wonderfully splendid collection of high literary value which, incidentally, also serves as an important source material for the history of Hinduism. The value of this work is further commendably enhanced by a precise and scholarly introduction of Mrs. Misra on the nature and various aspects of the rite of Mangalacarana.
I bless Mrs Bina Misra and congratulate her for producing this exquisite anthology of its own kid-a Subhasitasangraha of novel character containing only opening verses of literary compositions which may well serve as an hors-d’oeuvre to a high degree of aesthetic enjoyment.
Let he gourmets of literary feasts relish the collection and, if gratified, give their blessings for the future academic endeavors of this Institute.
It is very gratifying that the second volume of the Mangalamanimala is being issued by the Vidyapeetha within a few months of the appearance of the first one. This volume, as announced in the first volume, pertains to benedictory verses relating mainly to Visnu and his various incarnations-including his special forms or Amsavataras. Since the Rama and the Krsna incarnations have a separate cult of their own and have developed themselves more or less as independent deities, they have been accorded separate sections. Kama the god of love, being regarded as the son of Laksmi and Visnu also figures among the Vaisnava deities.
The first volume has been very well received by the lovers of Sanskrit and hope that they shall extend the same warm welcome to this volume as well. I thank Mrs. Beena Misra for preparing this volume in this wonderful manner with a scholarly introduction and hope that the third volume on mother goddess and other female deities shall also see the light of day before long.
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