The present volume includes information on various editions of Valmiki’s Ramayana along with its several commentaries and translations. Besides, other versions of the Ramayana both in Sanskrit, in the regional languages, adaptations and translations, as well as creative works based on the Ramayana theme-including poetry, drama, ballads, hymns and songs, find a place in this volume. This is a joint project of Sahitya Akademi and the Union Academique Internationale, Bruxelles. Sodasi, compiled and edited by Professor Radhavallabh Tripathi, is an anthology of seventy-eight poems hailing from the various regions of this country.
The anthology contradicts the general notion that Sanskrit is an ancient time-hallowed language but hardly suitable for dealing with contemporary themes and situations. The poems included in this volume are distinguished by originality of thought, richness of expression and freshness of approach to subject which mark Sodasi out from other anthologies in Sanskrit. The evocative language of its poetry, coupled with the quality of its expression affirm that quality of its expression affirm that literature and music are inextricably linked together.
The present Anthology comprises 78 Sanskrit poems or excerpts thereof by a total number of sixteen authors. These poems were first brought out between the years 1960 and 1980. It has no been an easy task for me to select representative Sanskrit poets who appeared on the scene during the last two decades, and to cull out the best of their creative work produced during this period. The reason are obvious. Sanskrit is known for its classical literature, eventhough the creative activity in this language of the Sanskrit is generally recognised as the language of the Vedas, the Puranas and the great classics of yore. Consequently, contemporary Sanskrit writing suffers from a prevailing negligence. On the other hand, the number of authors who appear to be very enthusiastic about writing in Sanskrit during these days is not negligible. During the period under reference, quite a few collections of poems or epic poems (mahakavyas) in Sanskrit have appeared. There has been a continuous flow of publications in book from by contemporary Sanskrit authors. But to understand the real vitality of modern creative writings, one should ideally go through the volumes of Sanskrit periodicals like Suryodaya (Monthly), Samskrta Pratibha (Half yearly) and Samvit (quarterly).
The potentiality of modern Sanskrit writings has its own relevance and basis in the contemporary scene. First, Sanskrit is a language-perhaps the only one in which scholars are equally spread in each and every part o f this vast peninsula. That is why the poets included in this Anthology hail from various regions of the country.
Secondly, in spite of the lack of publicity, there has been a continuous tradition of Sanskrit as a medium of communication. There has been, for example, a living tradition of Kavigosthis (poets’ meets) in Sanskrit. Kashi Pundit Sabha has been holding such gosthis for more than a century. Sanskrit Kavi Sammelana were organised a number of times at Varanasi have been holding sessions of poetry recitation by modern Sanskrit poets. In 1967, a society called Kavibharati was formed by the Sanskrit poets of Varanasi, who held fortnightly/monthly meetings for poetry recitation. The Society brought out a journal Lalita to publish Sanskrit poetry and also presented annual volumes of collections comprising poems recited in its meetings. Six volumes of such collections called Kavibharatikusumanjalih have already been brought out. Sanskrit Kavi Sammelana has become a regular feature of the kalidasa Samaroha has become a regular feature of the Kalidas Samaroha held every year at Ujjain. Undoubtedly, Sanskrit still continues to be a potential vehicle of through and emotion and the creative activity it is marked with exuberance and brilliance and should be treated at par with literatures being produced in other modern Indian languages. Writing in a languages that no more serves as a lingua franca amongst the masses probably poses a great challenge, and it is a servere handicap for the modern Sanskrit authors. But then, Sanskrit was not the language of the common people even in the best period of its creative activity, when great classical poets like kalidasa, Bana, Bharavi, Magha and Bhavabhuti had created a world of poetry so pregnant with life, imagination and inspiration. The contemporary literary efforts in other Indian languages too have not been able to do away with the dichotomy between the word that is spoken and the word that is written.
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