DR. KARAN SINGH apart from his unique record of 70 years in public life beginning from the age of 18 when he was appointed Regent of Jammu & Kashmir by his father Maharaja Hari Singh, is also well known as an intellectual and a patron of scholarship and cultural activities. He has written over 20 books, the latest of which is Shiva: Lord of the Cosmic Dance (Speaking Tiger) and Reflections (Shubhi Publications). He has been the Chancellor of the Jammu & Kashmir University, the Banaras Hindu University and the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Among his many activities is presiding over the Dharmarth Trust, Jammu & Kashmir. This Trust was set up by Maharaja Gulab Singh when he founded the State of Jammu & Kashmir in 1846, and manages over a hundred temples and shrines in the State including the famous Shankracharya and Kheer Bhawani temples in the valley and the Shri Ranbireshwar Shiva temple and the great Shri Raghunath Mandir complex in Jammu. A renowned temple builder, Maharaja Ranbir Singh (1857-1885) sent scholars around the country to collect rare manuscripts. These are now preserved in the Shri Ranbir Sanskrit Research Institute Library within the temple premises. It is from this great collection that the current unique publication has been produced. Like his ancestors Dr. Karan Singh has always been a great patron of Sanskrit. When he joined Parliament in 1967 he set up the Sansadiya Sanskrit Parishad which suggested two important measures, subsequently adopted by the Government of India. The first was the celebration of Raksha Bandhan every year as Sanskrit Diwas and the second was Sanskrit news bulletins on All India Radio. Earlier he was Chairman of the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan. Deeply committed to the cultural and spiritual tradition of lndia, Dr. Karan Singh has, throughout his life, promoted the study of Sanskrit and research into Sanskrit texts. With his deep insight into the Indian cultural tradition, as well as his wide exposure to Western literature and civilisation, Dr. Karan Singh is recognised as an outstanding thinker and leader in India and abroad.
DR. KAMAL K MISHRA is on the faculty of the Department of Sanskrit, University of Calcutta since 2008. He earned his Ph.D in Sanskrit Epigraphy from University of Delhi, and thereafter completed his ICSSR Post Doctoral research at JNU, Delhi. He has been working in the field of Sanskrit studies, especially in epigraphy, palaeography and manuscriptology as well as indic studies.
Under the patronage of the Dogra Royal family of J&K, he has several scholarly publications includes Descriptive Catalog of Oriental Manuscripts in Sri Ranbir Sanskrit Research Institute, Jammu, J&K in 3 volumes with Stein, Patkar and Shastri, Commissioned by Dharmarth Trust J&K (MLBD, 2022). Currently he is engaged in path breaking research on Who is the real author : Mahakavi Kalidasa or his wife Vidyotma the learned princess of Kasi ? (Hindi and English both, MLBD). As a cultural diplomat, he also worked as Director, Indian Cultural Center, High Commission of India at Suva, Republic of Fiji.
If the Vedas, to paraphrase Kalidasa, can be compared to the mighty Himalayas stretching majestically from the Hindu Kush in the West all the way across to the Eastern sea, like some gigantic measuring rod against which the world's great traditions will have to be gauged, then the Upanishads may be likened to those great Himalayan peaks which stand in splendour reflecting on their eternal snows the sparkling glory of the sun of wisdom. They have rightly been described as the supreme expression of the Hindu mind, indeed one of the high watermarks of the human spirit since the dawn of civilization A record of the deepest spiritual experiences of a whole series of Rishis or sages across many centuries, they are, as Sri Aurobindo puts it "documents of revelatory and intuitive philosophy of an inexhaustible light, power and largeness and, whether wricten in verse or cadenced prose, spiritual poems of an absolute and unfailing inspiration, inimitable in phrase, wonderful in rhythm and expression.’’
The traditional classification of the Vedas by Western scholars into the Karmakanda dealing with ritualistic action and sacrifice, and the Jnänkända concerned with philosophy cannot be considered sacrosanct. Vedic hymns are by no means merely ritualistic in the sense that they are used only for purposes of the sacrificial Yajnas. In fact, if rightly interpreted, they contain the deepest spiritual truths veiled in an intricate and imposing symbolism. Nonetheless, the Upanishads do constitute the Vedanta, or the culmination of the Vedas, both because chronologically they come at the end of the Vedic collections and also because of the sublime philosophical nature and superb poetical structure that they present.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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