Dr. Om Prakash Pandey is Curator of Bettiah Govt. Museum and In-charge of Gandhi Smarak Museum, Bhitiharwa (W.Champaran), Bihar. Author of Sarnath ki Kala, Dr. Pandey has published more than fifty research papers in national Journals on Art and Culture of ancient and early medieval Bihar. He is the Executive Editor of Bodhi-Chakra, Journal of Buddhist history and culture, Buddha Sanskriti Kendra, Patna, which he is also the Hony, Secretary. He has also edited a book Mahatma Gandhi Ka Champaran Satyagrah, Dr. Sinha and Dr. Pandey have edited a book Anga Sanskriti Vividha Ayam.
We are conscious of the fact that this type of study involves a close interaction between History, Archaeology and Anthropology and is beset with severe constraints of methodology. Shortcomings, if any, in the book thus is entirely ours. We, however, hope that the revised edition will further define the contours of 'Manjusha Art' and help us in identifying its manifestation in terms of socio-economic and religious background and functions.
Manjusha art has often been referred to as 'snake paintings' by the westerns who consider it as Modern Art. W.G. Archer, an ICS officer who worked in different parts of Bihar between 1931 and 1948 first discovered this art for the outside world and compared it with the works of Picasso and Jackson Pollock. Archer, in fact, took some of these paintings to the India Office Library in London as part of the Archer Collection. Since then much water has flown in the Ganges. Manjusha Art has now become a hot selling cake with local print and electronic media giving it wide publicity. It was in such a scenario that Dr. O.P. Pandey, Curator, Bhagalpur Museum showed me about fifteen Manjusha Paintings done by Mrs. Chakraborty Devi and a three tiered fully decorated Manjusha. Dr. Pandey pointed out that manjusha art was closely associated with the popular angika folk tale of Bihula and Vishahari. Since then both of us started working on this art. The result is before you in the form of book.
While working on the book we were benefitted by a number of persons in one way or the other. Sri Rajesh Srivastava, Secretary, Angika Development Society was the source of our inspiration and we find it difficult to acknowledge gifts of help and encouragement bestowed by him. Dr. A.K. Singh, Professor of Arts in B.H.U., Varanasi graciously agreed to discuss the subject and technique of the manjusha art and we are obliged to him. Prof. R.K. Shiromani of the University Department of English, T.M. Bhagalpur University, Bhagalpur affectionately allowed us to utilise some of his English translation of angika folk songs related to Bihula-Vishahari Gatha and we are indebted to him.
We are thankful to Sri Mayank Nikunj and Miss Smita Rajshree for helping us in getting the Gatha translated into English. Sri Jyotish Chandra Sharma, Dr. Santwana Sah and Sri Bijay Kumar Das were always there to help us whenever we fumbled with either the spirit of the Gatha or with angika words, and we feel obliged to them.
We are thankful to Sri S.K. Tyagi and Dr. K.K. Mandal of the University Department of A.I.H.C. & Archaeology, T.M. Bhagalpur University, Bhagalpur and Dr. Raman Kumar Singh of Delhi University, Delhi for their critical appreciation and important suggestions. We have no words to thank Prof. D.N. Chaudhary, Department of Zoology, J.P. University, Chapra, who readily agreed to prepare the list of poisonous and non-poisonous snakes of Bhagalpur for our benefit. Dr. Amitabh Kumar of T.M. Bhagalpur University, Bhagalpur helped us in preparing the Bibliography and we are obliged to him.
We are thankful to Professor Shyam Sharma, Retired of Fine Arts, Patna University, Patna, Dr. Amarendra of Bhagalpur and Sri Shekhar of Ranchi for their valuable comments and suggestions. Mr. Ajit Kr. Jha and Mr. Dilip Kumar, local photo-journalists, allowed us to use some of their personal photographs of manjusha paintings and we are obliged to them.
We find it difficult to acknowledge gifts and encouragement bestowed on us by Dr. M.C. Verma, Prof. of Zoology, T.M. Bhagalpur University, Bhagalpur, Dr. Shailendra Narain, Deptt. Of History, T.N.B. Law College, Bhagalpur and Sri Tripurari Sharan Vinayak of T.M. Bhagalpur University, Bhagalpur. Dr. (Mrs.) Ritoo Sinha and Mrs. Reema. Pandey deserves our special thanks for their ungrudging support in completion of the book.
In the context of Early Indian History the problem of oral and the when the gatha took its present form is difficult to fix. The Gatha and songs are in angika language which is the local dialect of Bhagalpur and its adjoining areas. Scholars have tried to trace the origin of Angika from the Middle Indo-Aryan language loosely called Prakrit. A simplified and colloquial form of it called Avahattha (i.e. Apabhrasta) was the direct ancestor of the Eastern New Indo-Aryan languages. This literary Apabhramsa-Avahatta is known to us by a mass of literary records. From a study of them, it is evident that it had local forms in the separate regions of the country. These regional forms gave rise to different Eastern Indo-Aryan dialects some time about A.D. 1000.44 This has been accepted as the starting point in the career of the new Indo-Aryan language in Eastern India and Angika was perhaps one such language. The word Angika evolved from 'Anga' i.e. part of body. In local parlance it means a piece of garment that tightly fits on the body. The famous and one of the earliest Mahayana Text Lalitavistara (first century A.D.) in its chapter X45 provides a list of sixty four scripts in which 'Angi lipi' i.e. the script of Anga is placed at the fourth place. This has tempted local scholars to equate 'Angika' with 'Prachya' of Ardamagadhi47 branches of Prakrit. Trace of Angika has been found in the Siddhacharya Padas also known as 'Charyapadas' extending over a period .from A.D. 8th to A.D. 12th centuries.48 Most of the earliest composer of Charyapadas like Sarahapad, Sabrapa, Dharmapa, Champapa and Lucikpa were from the Anga region. Rahul Sankrityayan in his work on Siddha literature has indicated that the Siddha literature was composed in the language that was in vogue in the Bhagalpur region when Vikramshila Mahavihara was flourishing. In fact it was Rahul Sankrityayan who gave the name Angika to the language.
Outside the charyapadas, we have no indication of the state of vernacular prior to A.D. 1200. Geographically, Bhagalpur lies in a kind of crossroads between the Middle Ganga plain and the Bengal delta and several cultures criss-crosses it from all directions. In such a situation Ardhamagadhi branch of Prakrit, which came in vogue during the age of Buddha, was still the language in use. Sanskrit, however, continued to be the language par excellence.5° for the time being if we accept that Angika emerged as a local variety of the new Indo-Aryan vernacular language during the age of Sidhacharyas it still remained to be dominated by the Ardhamagadhi and its existence was insignificant. Angika language nevertheless was embedded in the masses particularly among the lower classes.
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